Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter

A blessed feast to those celebrating Easter on the Roman Catholic calendar.

Plan for Westminster chapel to host gay weddings

For the last 700 years, it has been the main place of Christian worship in the Palace of Westminster, aside from brief periods as a wine cellar and a stable for Oliver Cromwell’s horses.

But now, it seems, the Government has a new role in mind for the chapel of St Mary Undercroft, which is nestled in a crypt beneath Parliament.

Ministers are considering changing the historic Anglican chapel into a multi-faith prayer room – so that it can be used to conduct same-sex weddings.

Under the gay marriage legislation currently passing through Parliament, the chapel will not be able to offer such ceremonies, because the Church of England is to be exempt from the new law.

To get round this and to ensure same sex marriages can be held there, plans have been introduced to convert the room into a multi-faith area.
Read the rest here.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Marcus Brauchli on David Stockman's New Book

...Now, he has cast his acid eye on the country’s entire economic edifice. What the former divinity student sees doesn’t merely dismay, it outrages him morally, page after page, chapter after chapter. Stockman’s new tract, “The Great Deformation,” is a kaleidoscopic rant against people, institutions and practices he knows well. He attacks, upends, eviscerates, mocks and denigrates them all, usually with some justification, always in the brutalist prose of a manifesto.

The New Deal was a “political gong show,” and Franklin D. Roosevelt and Richard M. Nixon were “peas in a statist pod.” Morgan Stanley’s former chief executive, John Mack, is a “ruthless gambler and bully who never hesitated to exploit any avenue to make a buck.” Reagan’s defense secretary, Caspar Weinberger, was “obdurate and imperious on everything within his brief.” Alan Greenspan and Milton Friedman get entire chapters dedicated to their free-market heresies.

But here’s the thing: Even as he indulges his spleen, Stockman produces a persuasive and deeply relevant indictment of a system dangerously akilter.

Over the past 40 years, the United States has become a strange fantasy land where many politicians think deficits don’t matter, regulators are closely entwined with their charges, and the Federal Reserve manages the economy through high-stakes, high-risk experimentation. The financial turmoil of the past few years is just a glimpse of what lies at the end of the road we’re on, Stockman warns.

In showing us where it leads, he takes the long way, ambling past the wreckage of fiscal and market calamities dating back a century, pausing to praise the gleaming fiscal conservatism of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, then arriving at the ever-more-dire failures of the last generation.

The country began veering badly off course, Stockman argues, in August 1971. That was when Nixon decided to scrap the international financial arrangement that anchored the dollar’s value to gold and thus other currencies in the decades after World War II. “In an act that cascaded down through the decades, Richard Nixon caused the United States to default on its . . . obligations . . . and thereby inaugurated an era of global trade imbalance, currency pegging and manipulation, massive debt creation, and financial speculation that had no historic antecedents,” Stockman writes. “It became the era of bubble finance.”
Read the rest here.

The name of the book is ‘The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America’ by David Stockman.

Concern Rises Over North Korean Saber Rattling

The latest round of threats exchanged by North Korea and the United States is dragging on longer and taking on a more virulent tone than in the past, provoking deep concerns among American officials and their allies.

Following blustery warnings by Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s 30-year-old leader, and videos depicting North Korean attacks on the United States, the Obama administration took the unprecedented step this week of sending two stealth bombers to South Korea as part of an ongoing military training exercise.
Read the rest here.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete

Pope Francis washes the feet of inmates in juvenile prison

ROME – Since he was elected leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis has proved many times over that he wants to break away from clerical privilege, come down from St. Peter’s throne and act as a humble servant of the faithful.

And on Holy Thursday he reinforced the idea that he will champion social outcasts and the poor by washing the feet of a dozen young inmates in a juvenile detention center.

The washing of feet is an important religious rite on Holy Thursday -- the day Christianity celebrates Jesus’ Last Supper ahead of his crucifixion -- as it re-enacts Christ’s humble gesture toward his disciples before the meal.
Read the rest here.

Predictably the traddies are having a stroke over this. Seriously, take a look at some of the commentary over at Rorate (here and here). The Pharisaical legalism is breathtaking. In fairness I am a little disturbed by this Pope's reputation (which seems to be accurate) for having little regard for liturgy. But neither did John Paul II.

Congressional Abdication and the Rise of the Imperial Presidency

IN MATTERS of foreign policy, Congress, and especially the Senate, was designed as a hedge against the abuses exhibited by overeager European monarchs who for centuries had whimsically entangled their countries in misguided adventures. America would not be such a place. The Constitution would protect our governmental process from the overreach of a single executive who might otherwise succumb to the impulsive temptation to unilaterally risk our country’s blood, treasure and international prestige. Congress was given the power to declare war and appropriate funds, thus eliminating any resemblance to European-style monarchies when it came to the presidential war power.

Importantly and often forgotten these days, Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution was also carefully drawn to give Congress, not the president, certain powers over the structure and use of the military. True, the president would act as commander in chief, but only in the sense that he would be executing policies shepherded within the boundaries of legislative powers. In some cases his power is narrowed further by the requirement that he obtain the “Advice and Consent” of two-thirds of the Senate. Congress, not the president, would “raise and support Armies,” with the Constitution limiting appropriations for such armies to no more than two years. This was a clear signal that in our new country there would be no standing army to be sent off on foreign adventures at the whim of a pseudomonarch. The United States would not engage in unchecked, perpetual military campaigns.

Congress would also “provide and maintain a Navy,” with no time limit on such appropriations. This distinction between “raising” an army and “maintaining” a navy marked a recognition of the reality that our country would need to protect vital sea-lanes as a matter of commercial and national security, confront acts of piracy—the eighteenth-century equivalent of international terrorism—and act as a deterrent to large-scale war.

Practical circumstances have changed, but basic philosophical principles should not. We reluctantly became a global military power in the aftermath of World War II, despite our initial effort to follow historical patterns and demobilize. NATO was not established until 1949, and the 1950 invasion of South Korea surprised us. In the ensuing decades, the changing nature of modern warfare, the growth of the military-industrial complex and national-security policies in the wake of the Cold War all have contributed to a mammoth defense structure and an atrophied role for Congress that would not have been recognizable when the Constitution was written. And there is little doubt that Dwight D. Eisenhower, who led the vast Allied armies on the battlefields of Europe in World War II and who later as president warned ominously of the growth of what he himself termed the “military-industrial complex,” is now spinning in his tomb.

Perhaps the greatest changes in our defense posture and in the ever-decreasing role of Congress occurred in the years following the terrorist attacks on U.S. soil of September 11, 2001. Powers quickly shifted to the presidency as the call went up for centralized decision making in a traumatized nation where quick, decisive action was considered necessary. It was considered politically dangerous and even unpatriotic to question this shift, lest one be accused of impeding national safety during a time of war. Few dared to question the judgment of military leaders, many of whom were untested and almost all of whom followed the age-old axiom of continually asking for more troops, more money and more authority. Members of Congress fell all over themselves to prove they were behind the troops and behind the wars.
Read the rest here.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Clean Friday Matins

Ecumenical dialogue at its best

"...The introduction of the institution of female bishops will lead to the elimination of even a theoretical possibility of the Moscow Patriarchate recognizing the church hierarchy of the Anglican Church, the communications service of the Department for External Church Relations reported on Saturday.

"I would like you to know about that and take our opinion into account when this issue arises again," Metropolitan Hilarion said.
Read the rest here.
HT: T-19


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Triumph of Orthodoxy

Christ the Savior Cathedral 26 March 2013

Barack Obama - The President that Nixon Always Wanted to Be

This month, I spoke at an event commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Watergate scandal with some of its survivors at the National Press Club. While much of the discussion looked back at the historic clash with President Nixon, I was struck by a different question: Who actually won? From unilateral military actions to warrantless surveillance that were key parts of the basis for Nixon's impending impeachment, the painful fact is that Barack Obama is the president that Nixon always wanted to be.

Four decades ago, Nixon was halted in his determined effort to create an "imperial presidency" with unilateral powers and privileges. In 2013, Obama wields those very same powers openly and without serious opposition. The success of Obama in acquiring the long-denied powers of Nixon is one of his most remarkable, if ignoble, accomplishments. Consider a few examples:
Read the rest here.

This is just damning.

Thought for the day...

From Byzantine Texas.

Enough already!

The political abuse of an ancient tradition needs to stop. And yes, both sides have done it over the last decade but its getting ridiculous. We need to reinstate the rule that Navy ships will only be named after deceased persons and there should be a five year waiting period from their death before they can be considered for the honor. (I'd waive the five year wait for Medal of Honor recipients.)

Breaking with tradition Pope Francis declines Palace

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has decided not to move into the papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace, but to live in a suite in the Vatican guesthouse where he has been since the beginning of the conclave that elected him, said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman.

"He is experimenting with this type of living arrangement, which is simple," but allows him "to live in community with others," both the permanent residents -- priests and bishops who work at the Vatican -- as well as guests coming to the Vatican for meetings and conferences, Father Lombardi said March 26.
Read the rest here.

Supreme Court hears arguments on gay marriage

A cautious and conflicted Supreme Court on Tuesday took up for the first time a detailed examination of same-sex marriage, and wondered openly about whether it was time for the court to render a judgment.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, considered to be the pivotal vote on the issue, said the court was in “uncharted waters.” He questioned whether it should have accepted the case, which concerns California’s constitutional amendment, approved by voters, that restricts marriage to heterosexual couples.
Read the rest here.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Unitarians Debate Polyamory

The joke about Unitarians is that they’re where you go when you don’t know where to go. Theirs is the religion of last resort for the intermarried, the ambivalent, the folks who want a faith community without too many rules. It is perhaps no surprise that the Unitarian Universalist Association is one of the fastest-growing denominations in the country, ballooning 15 percent over the past decade, when other established churches were shrinking. Politically progressive to its core, it draws from the pool of people who might otherwise be “nones” – unaffiliated with any church at all.

But within the ranks of the UUA over the past few years, there has been some quiet unrest concerning a small but activist group that vociferously supports polyamory. That is to say “the practice of loving and relating intimately to more than one other person at a time,” according to a mission statement by Unitarian Universalists for Polyamory Awareness (UUPA). The UUPA “encourages spiritual wholeness regarding polyamory,” including the right of polyamorous people to have their unions blessed by a minister.
Read the rest here.

I can't believe the UUs are ahead of the Piskies on this one, though only by a nose. But then again the UUs are really just uber-Low Church Episcopalians. In any case I thought this was such a great story to stumble across on the Sunday of Orthodoxy.

Sunday of Orthodoxy

Friday, March 22, 2013

Memory Eternal

It is with sadness that I learned of the recent passing of Frank Thornton, better known to millions of fans as Capt. Peacock from the British television comedy series "Are you being served?" One of the last surviving members of the cast he reposed Saturday at the age of 92.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Matins and Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts

From the Church of the Holy Trinity.

Forgiveness Sunday at Optina Monastery

Oooops - Innocent Man Freed After 23 Years in Prison

A man who spent more than two decades behind bars for the cold-blooded slaying of a Brooklyn rabbi was released Thursday into the arms of his weeping relatives after a reinvestigation by prosecutors cast serious doubt on evidence used to convict him.

"Sir, you are free to go," a judge told a smiling, white-haired David Ranta moments after prosecutors announced they supported tossing out the 1991 conviction.

Ranta's pregnant daughter — a 2-year-old when he was jailed — sisters and other supporters burst into applause and swarmed him as he walked out of the courtroom. His parents had died while he was in prison.
Read the rest here.

Yep. We definitely need to bring back the electric chair.

The Conservative Argument Against DOMA

“[U]nder the Constitution, the regulation and control of marital and family relationships are reserved to the States.”
-Sherrer v. Sherrer (1948)

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is an exception to the rule that a law’s title is as uninformative about the law’s purpose as the titles of Marx Brothers movies (“Duck Soup,” “Horse Feathers,” “Animal Crackers”) are about those movies’ contents. DOMA’s purpose is precisely what its title says. Which is why many conservatives and liberals should be uneasy Wednesday when the Supreme Court hears arguments about its constitutionality.

Conservatives who supported DOMA should, after 17years’ reflection, want the act overturned because its purpose is constitutionally improper. Liberals who want the act struck down should be discomfited by the reason the court should give when doing this.
Read the rest here.

Is this the worst allergy season ever?

In a trend that may make your eyes water just thinking about it, seasonal allergy experts are confirming that 2013 allergies are going to start sooner -- and last longer -- in most parts of the country. 
Read the rest here.
I don't know about ever, but I've been pretty miserable for the last few weeks, and yes, on both coasts. Spring... the birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming the grass is greening... blech. You can have it.

Court: Law barring monks from making coffins is unconstitutional

A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that monks at St. Joseph Abbey near Covington should be allowed to sell handmade caskets from their monastery, despite opposition from Louisiana's funeral home directors who claimed a sole right to sell caskets in the state. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's decision to strike down a state law limiting casket sales to licensed members of the funeral industry.

The decision marks a victory for the Benedictine monastery, which has struggled for several years for the right to sell simple, wooden caskets built by monks in a woodshop to fund their medical and education needs. In 2007, the State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors ordered the abbey to cease sales after a funeral home owner filed a formal complaint.
Read the rest here.

Cyprus scrambles to avert meltdown

NICOSIA (Reuters) - Cyprus considered nationalizing pension funds and ordered banks to stay shut till next week to avert financial chaos after it rejected the terms of a European Union bailout and turned to Russia for aid.

Crisis talks among the political leadership in Nicosia are set to resume on Thursday after late-night meetings to discuss a "Plan B" broke up on Wednesday without result.

EU officials voiced frustration but little sympathy for an ambitious but now bust banking system that extended itself well beyond the island; Russia, whose citizens have billions to lose in those Cypriot banks, called the EU a "bull in a china shop".
Read the rest here.

Pope Francis Visits Downton Abbey

When Pope Francis was elected, we didn't know much about him. When Pope Benedict was elected Pope, we knew exactly who he was. Pope Benedict had scores of published books and he had a been a visible and known prelate at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Benedict was in many ways the right hand man of John Paul II and we knew what to expect.

Pope Francis is entirely unknown to most of us. As a result, most folks have had to rely on only one source of information for the past week or so: photographs. Hence, most of the controversy over Pope Francis has boiled over "what is the Pope wearing or not wearing?"

As I was thinking about this, I realized that Pope Francis's wardrobe and customs have created as much excitement as a Downton Abbey episode! Black shoes on a Pope? What would the Dowager Countess say? My goodness!

For those that have never seen Downton Abbey, it's essentially a BBC drama centered on the "scandals" of an English Earl and his family as they wrestle with wearing black tie at dinner instead of white tie and whether noble blood necessitates a valet to help one dress. Other profound controversies include whether the Irish son-in-law should wear a morning suit, and which servant gets to wear the livery of a footman. As you can tell, it is an epic mini-series of deep philosophical distinctions...
An amusing read with a sound point. Read the rest here.

For Sale

Sometimes I think the internet is one giant garage sale. But the prices can be a little steep. A random look at things for sale found two of possible interest to reactionaries like me...

One 1929 Cadillac Fleetwood Transformable Limousine, possibly the last of its design. Asking price $250,000. Oh yeah it was also the official limo and parade car for President Herbert Hoover.
See here for the listing and more photos. Home Jeeves!

One 12th century Bavarian castle complete with moat. It's been renovated to make it quite liveable while retaining much of its medieval and military ambiance. Asking price $7.4 million. See here for details and more photos.

"Sovereign Man" movement is no longer just white racists

The nuts are now equal opportunity.
Like many people excited about a new home, Lamont Butler invited friends over to check his out. He had a lot to show them. The Bethesda mansion is among the largest in the region and featured floors of imported marble, 12 bedroom suites, six kitchens and a history of playing host to political gatherings, including ones during which Bill Clinton and Al Gore helped plant trees out back.

But the personable 28-year-old, known to wear a red fez, didn’t own the mansion; he had simply slipped inside and claimed it. Taking part in an odd and perplexing phenomenon popping up in cities across the country, Butler said the Bethesda mansion belonged to him because he is a Moorish American National. He’d drawn up paperwork that he said proved it all, with references to a 1787 peace treaty and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
Read the rest here.

European Central Bank Gives Ultimatum to Cyprus

BERLIN — Cyprus on Thursday received a stark ultimatum from the European Central Bank: The tiny island nation must find $7.5 billion to bolster its failing banks by Monday or see them collapse.

The announcement that the European Central Bank would withdraw emergency funding from Cyprus’s teetering banks if no bailout is in place by Monday gave urgency to the country’s scramble to find cash. It came as European leaders warned in the strongest terms yet Thursday that if Cyprus’s banks fail, problems could quickly spread to the other 16 nations that share the euro currency.
Read the rest here.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Fast Has Begun

Apologies to all. I had intended, and clearly forgot, to post a note on Sunday to the effect that there would be little or no blogging during the first three days of Lent. I ask forgiveness from anyone whom I may have offended or otherwise injured through any action thought or words, especially on this blog. Please forgive me. I wish you all a blessed fast.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Blessed Feast of St. Patrick (and Cheesefare) to All

White in Philly; A Candid Discussion of Race

My younger son goes to Temple, where he’s a sophomore. This year he’s living in an apartment with two friends at 19th and Diamond, just a few blocks from campus. It’s a dangerous neighborhood. Whenever I go see Nick, I get antsy and wonder what I was thinking, allowing him to rent there.

One day, before I pick him up for lunch, I stop to talk to a cop who’s parked a block away from Nick’s apartment.

“Is he already enrolled for classes?” the cop says when I point out where my son lives.
Read the rest here.

Cyprus plans to confiscate up to 10% of bank deposits

It is a bad day to have your money deposited in a bank in the Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus. And it may just mean some bad days ahead for the rest of us.

Early Saturday, the nation reached an agreement with international lenders for bailout help. Part of the agreement: Bank depositors with more than 100,000 euros ($131,000) in their accounts will take a 9.9 percent haircut. Even those with less in savings will see their accounts reduced by 6.75 percent. That’s right: Anyone with money in a Cypriot bank will have significantly less money when the banks open for business Tuesday than they did on Friday. Cypriots have reacted with this perfectly rational reaction: lining up at ATM machines to try to get as much money out in the form of cash before the money they have in their accounts is reduced.
Read the rest here.

I think this is a colossal mistake. People are very logically going to conclude that if this can happen in Cyprus why not in another debt strapped country? It could precipitate a run on banks in every Euro Zone country that has major debt problems. If I lived in Greece Italy Spain or Portugal I would be waiting at my bank on Monday morning to yank every Euro and then convert half to gold and silver coins and bury them in the backyard.

Pope Francis: "Carnival time is over"

No more ermine shoulder capes or gilt thrones.
The first 48 hours of the pontificate of Pope Francis have given the world a foretaste of what it is going to be like to have a Jesuit priest for the first time in history as leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholic believers.

Minutes after the election result was declared in the Sistine Chapel, a Vatican official called the Master of Ceremonies offered to the new Pope the traditional papal red cape trimmed with ermine that his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI gladly wore on ceremonial occasions.

"No thank you, Monsignore," Pope Francis is reported to have replied. "You put it on instead. Carnival time is over!"

It was just one small sign out of many this week that as Massimo Franco, one of Italy's shrewdest political editorial writers, commented in the Corriere Della Sera, "the era of the Pope-King and of the Vatican court is over".
Read the rest here.

It is fast becoming clear that the new Pope is not merely "low church," but is also at least moderately hostile to anything hinting at the high church ceremonial that his predecessor was seeking to bring back.

Friday, March 15, 2013

From the Rumor Mill: Has spring cleaning started in Rome?

There are conflicting reports as to what exactly happened or is in the process of happening. That said it appears that during his visit on day 1 of his reign to the Basilica of St. Mary in Rome, Pope Francis bumped into Cardinal Bernard Law formerly of Boston. It goes without saying that His Eminence departed his post under a cloud and is likely the only man in Boston more unpopular than Bill Buckner. In any event he went into what I think could be fairly described as voluntary exile and was given a cushy post as dean of the aforementioned basilica.

With the arrival of the new Pope yesterday (who came to venerate and pray before a famed icon of the Theotokos) Law made what some are calling a discreet appearance to greet the new pontiff. This is where the reports start to diverge. According to the Holy See there was a brief exchange of words and nothing more.

However other sources, including in the Italian press for what that's worth, are reporting that Francis told Card. Law that he was not to enter the basilica again and that arrangements would quickly be made for new accommodations, in a cloistered monastery.


HT: Deacon Paul

Paying the bill

Thursday, March 14, 2013

U.S. plans to let spy agencies scour Americans' finances

(Reuters) - The Obama administration is drawing up plans to give all U.S. spy agencies full access to a massive database that contains financial data on American citizens and others who bank in the country, according to a Treasury Department document seen by Reuters.

The proposed plan represents a major step by U.S. intelligence agencies to spot and track down terrorist networks and crime syndicates by bringing together financial databanks, criminal records and military intelligence. The plan, which legal experts say is permissible under U.S. law, is nonetheless likely to trigger intense criticism from privacy advocates.
Read the rest here.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina Is Pope Francis

The College of Cardinals has elected the first non-European Pope in at least a thousand years and the first Jesuit. Time will tell but what little I know of the new Pontiff suggests that he is a highly charismatic reformer and at least moderately liberal. He has a reputation for great personal humility, some of which I think was on display on the loggia tonight as well as in his choice of names, and a passionate concern for the poor.

For now I would not suggest waiting for the return of the papal coronation or the sedia gestatoria.

White Smoke

The world waits...

Waiting for the smoke to clear

After two rounds of unsuccessful papal balloting one thing does seem to be working. The Vatican appears to have greatly improved its famous system of smoke signals, black for inconclusive ballots and white for a new pope. In past years the smoke was more often a shade of gray and the crowds were left to guess if it was supposed to be white or black. The cardinals however began adding chemicals that left no doubt as to what color the smoke was following the last two rounds of voting. It was black.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sunday of Judgment (Meatfare)

There will be limited blogging over the next couple days as I am wrapping up my trip home and traveling.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Scenes from the Patriarchal Service Commemorating the 400th Anniversary of the Russian Imperial Dynasty

March 6th (NS) in the Cathedral of the Dormition in the Kremlin. Also in attendance was H.I.H. The Grand Duchess Maria, Rightful Empress of All Russia.

William McKeachie Reflets on Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

...Although I am no fan of the Curial system, of Tridentine ecclesiology, or of Rome’s soteriological compromises in dogma, it seems to this Anglican that Joseph Ratzinger was the providentially right man in the right job(s) for the last several decades.

He has helped steer the Roman Catholic Church closer to mutuality with Bible believing Protestants to a greater degree than any other pope since the Reformation; he has been a true mentor for orthodox Christians of many denominational stripes and an incomparably better biblical theologian than many who call themselves Protestant; and there has been no more stalwart spiritual warrior against the ideological assault on Christian civilization from without, and its betrayal from within, among his generation.

In the face of the twin twenty - first century threats to the Gospel from Mohammedanism and Secularism, all adherents of Nicene Christianity are better quipped spiritually and intellectually to “fight the good fight” than they were before Benedict XVI’s pontificate.

As we await the emergence of his successor, thanksgiving for the servant leadership of Joseph Ratzinger during the last half century should be both oecumenical and fervent.
Read the rest here.

North & South Korea exchange heated rhetoric as China shows signs of losing patience

SEOUL, South Korea — Angrily responding to the United Nations Security Council’s unanimous decision to impose tightened sanctions, North Korea said on Friday that it was nullifying all nonaggression agreements with South Korea, with one of its top generals claiming that his country had nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles ready to blast off.

Matching the harsh warning with a toughened stance, South Korea said Friday that if Pyongyang attacked the South with a nuclear weapon, the government of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un would be “erased from the earth.”

Such language marked the most hostile exchange between the two Koreas, still technically at war, since they engaged in an artillery skirmish three years ago.

The verbal warfare represented a clash of nerves between the young North Korean leader, who is building his credentials as head of his militaristic country, and Park Geun-hye, South Korea’s first female president, who considers former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of Britain her role model and has stressed security as her top priority.
Read the rest here.

Why Paul Krugman (and Dick Cheney) is Wrong

Dick Cheney and Paul Krugman have declared from opposite sides of the ideological divide that deficits don’t matter, but they simply have it wrong. Reasonable liberals and conservatives can disagree on what role the federal government should play yet still believe that government should resume paying its way.

It has become part of Keynesian lore in recent years that public debt is essentially free, that we needn’t worry about its buildup and that we should devote all of our attention to short-term concerns since, as John Maynard Keynes wrote, “in the long run, we are all dead.” But that crude interpretation of Keynesian economics is deeply misguided; Keynes himself disagreed with it.
Read the rest here.

Conclave to BeginTuesday

ROME — The papal conclave to elect the new leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics will begin on Tuesday afternoon, a Vatican spokesman announced.

Cardinals will enter the closed meeting after holding a special Mass in St. Peter's Basilica in the morning, Father Federico Lombardi said in a statement Friday.

Apart from eating and sleeping, they will not be allowed to leave the conclave until they have chosen who will succeed Pope Benedict XVI, who announced his abdication on Feb. 10 and formally ended his papacy on Feb. 28, citing his increasing physical frailty.
Read the rest here.

Is the Depression Finally Winding Down?

OK, I'm no an economist. I just play one on the blogosphere. But there are some interesting signs out there. The US Government is actually trimming (albeit only slightly) its spending. And far from the sky falling as a consequence of the interminable budget battles and gridlock, unemployment is falling sharply and the stock market has been on a tear the likes of which we haven't seen in a long time.

Of course the Fed is also printing money at the rate of a cool $85 billion per month and pumping it into the real estate and bond markets. So one could argue that we are just creating a new government sponsored asset bubble and maybe laying the ground work for a nasty dose of inflation, Time will tell. But I'm not making any firm wagers on which way this is going to play out.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Rand Paul gets his answer

About that filibuster...

"It has come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question: 'Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil.' The answer to that question is no." 

-Eric Holder Attorney General of the United States
From here.

This is just sick

Crystal Kelley got paid $22,000 to have a baby. But that wasn’t the only offer the 29-year-old Connecticut mother of two received. After an utrasound at 21-weeks revealed significant medical issues, the parents offered her $10,000 more if she agreed to an abortion.

The gross immorality of that second offer tells us that there is a lot wrong with the first arrangement. It is intolerable that our society continues to put up with an unregulated, free market in hiring cash-starved women to make babies.
Read the rest here.

It gets worse, much worse.

400 Years Ago

After more than a decade of near anarchy on 21 February (OS) / March 6 (NS) 1613 an assembly of the Russian nobles offered the crown to sixteen year old Michael Romanov who became Czar Michael I and the first of the House of Romanov to rule Russia. Solemn ceremonies marked the anniversary throughout Russia yesterday including a hierarchical liturgy in the Imperial Crypt in the Fortress of Peter & Paul in St. Petersburg and the ringing of the bells in the Kremlin Cathedrals.

Czar Michael I the first Romanov Czar

H.I.H. Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna de jure Czarina and Empress of All Russia

God Save Her Imperial Majesty!

North Korea threatens nuclear attack on US

SEOUL — North Korea on Thursday threatened a preemptive nuclear strike against the United States and other purported aggressors, describing Washington as a “criminal threatening global peace.”

Although Pyongyang routinely vows to demolish the United States in a sacred war, the threat issued Thursday marked a major escalation of rhetoric just hours before the U.N. Security Council is to discuss new sanctions aiming at reining in the North’s weapons program and restricting illicit overseas trade.
Read the rest here.

Rand Paul Ends Lengthy Filibuster

He didn't break any records but he raised an issue that many people wee not even aware of to the forefront of America's political consciousness. My guess is that White House is going to be under a lot of pressure over this issue in the coming days.

Filibuster +12 hrs: High Drama in the Senate

It's past midnight here on the right coast and Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky) is continuing his historic filibuster. It has been over twelve hours since he seized control of the Senate floor and announced that he would not yield it until either his voice failed or the White House definitively answered the question which can be summed up as "Does the President believe he has the legal authority to assassinate American citizens on US soil without trial?"

The galleries are reported to be packed with spectators including many members of the House of Representatives who have come over to witness this rarest of congressional spectacles. For the first time I can remember, excepting votes or quorum calls, the floor of the Senate chamber is crowded with Senators from both parties, some of whom have been making lengthy remarks thinly disguised as questions in an effort to give Senator Paul a break from the long ordeal of continually standing and speaking.

True filibusters are exceedingly rare and one of this duration has not been seen in decades. And yes they actually have records of the longer ones and Senator Paul has a ways to go if he wants to break the records for any of the five longest filibusters...

5. Sen. William Proxmire (D-Wis.): 4 a.m.
4. Sen. Robert La Follette (R-Wis.): 6:11 a.m.
3. Sen. Wayne Morse (I-Ore.): 10:14 a.m.
2. D’Amato: 11:18 a.m.
1. Sen. Strom Thurmond (D-S.C): 12:06 p.m

Stand with Rand!

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Filibuster (8 hrs and still going)

As of this posting Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is still filibustering the nominee for CIA Director over the administration's assertion that it has the right to assassinate American citizens on US soil without trial. Of course in the short term the filibuster is doomed to fail. But at least he is taking a stand and drawing attention to Obama's criminal policies.

Update: It looks like some left leaning news outlets are doing their best to bury this story. Just looked over at the NY Times and its not even mentioned on the front page of their website. Other sites while noting it have it way down in the list of stories.

Battle Looms Over Budgets and Deficits

...Right now Washington is obsessed with the sequester and the blame game and the “continuing resolution” and the next debt-ceiling showdown. And not without reason. Heck, the president is canceling White House tours, so things are tough all over.

But Paul Ryan’s new budget, slated to be unveiled next week, will alter the debate in ways no one has prepared for.

To be sure, I expect Ryan’s new blueprint to be another exercise in faith-based budgeting, a duplicitous document that pretends once more that taxes don’t need to rise as the baby boomers retire and we double the number of people on Social Security and Medicare (though Ryan will quietly bank Obama’s recent tax hikes on top earners). It will thus rely on magic asterisks while ravaging government, save for programs serving seniors and defense.

But – and this a big “but” – Ryan’s plan will call for the budget to be balanced in 10 years.

This new goal is a game-changer. Until now, Ryan’s plans have been regressive, phony blueprints that also mocked all notions of prudence by not reaching balance for three decades. Though he managed to fool the press and even many arbiters of budget sanity into thinking otherwise, Ryan’s plans were never fiscally conservative.

Next week, Ryan’s plan will still be regressive and phony. But if early reports are correct, it will show on paper a path to balance in 10 years. No matter how magic the asterisks and specious the assumptions, the embrace of this goal will transform the debate.

Why? Because even as Democrats attack Ryan’s plans along familiar lines – critiques the press has heard for years now and will find boring – they will be forced to respond to what’s new here. Are Democrats in favor of balancing the budget or not? If not, why not? You mean never? And if so, by when?
Read the rest here.

Senator Rand Paul Launches Old Fashioned Filibuster Against CIA Nominee

“I will speak until I can no longer speak,” Paul said. “I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court.”

Paul began his filibuster at 11:47 a.m. Eastern time. Around the one-hour mark, he acknowledged “I can’t talk forever” and said his throat was getting dry.
Read the rest here.

Good for him! Obama has refused to rule out assassinating American citizens on American soil.


A  blog reader has advised me that yesterday when Venezuela's El Commandante passed to wherever Marxist thugs go when they die, it was also the 60th anniversary of Joesph Stalin's death. File that under things that make you go hmmmm...

More on Deaconesses

Dr. Cyril Jenkins has posted some thoughts on Fr. David Bissias' excellent refutation of the heretic Valerie Karras and her call for women to be ordained in the Orthodox Church. It touches on a number of issues that Fr. David omitted or did not explore as fully as he might have. You can read it here.

This is one of the more disturbing things I have read

Two weeks ago, after Pope Benedict XVI had announced to the world that he would be resigning the office of Peter as of February 28th, I put the Pope’s picture, that usually hangs in the rectory, in the church. A handful of people told me that they would rather it not be there. They explained that the feeling was while he was Pope, as well as his time as a Cardinal, Pope Benedict had made hurtful and hateful statements regarding the LGBT Community and thus, his picture should not be placed on the altar of MHR. I was also warned, many parishioners would walk out of Sunday Mass if the picture was not removed. I spoke with a close priest friend of mine, and even though both of us were saddened by this, the wisest course, I felt, was to remove the Pope’s picture.
Read the rest here.

This is a parish that urgently needs to be suppressed and a priest who needs to be assigned to some duty where he can do no harm until he has demonstrated a reasonable level of comprehension and submission to the doctrine of the church from which he draws his salary.

Israel: New Coalition May Limit Influence of Ultra-Orthodox

 What if Israel had a coalition government that was not beholden to the fervently Orthodox parties’ hold on matters of marriage, divorce, conversion, and army exemptions for yeshiva students?

That possibility is beginning to appear likely, generating enthusiasm among the leaders of the liberal streams as well as the Modern Orthodox.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been trying these last few weeks since the national election to form a coalition that would include the haredi (or, ultra-Orthodox) parties that have supported him in the past in return for funding for their schools and projects, and control of the Interior Ministry, which deals with issues of religious law in citizens’ personal lives.

But the two surprise successes of the election, Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid and Naftali Bennett of the Jewish Home Party, have held firm to their post-election alliance, saying they would not join a government with the haredi parties. And it appears Netanyahu has little choice but to go along.

It would be the first government since 2003 formed without the haredi parties.
Read the rest here.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Venezuelan Strongman Hugo Chavez is Dead

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who went from a young conspiratorial soldier who dreamed of revolution to the fiery anti-U.S. leader of one of the world’s great oil powers, died March 5 in Caracas of complications from an unspecified cancer in his pelvic area.

He was 58 and had been president since 1999, longer than any other democratically elected leader in the Americas. Vice President Nicolas Maduro announced the death.
Read the rest here.

Student suspended for wrestling loaded revolver away from gunman

A 16-year-old student from Fort Myers, Fla., was suspended for three days after he wrestled a loaded gun away from another student on the school bus.

The Cypress Lake High School student grappled a loaded .22-caliber RG-14 revolver away from the 15-year-old suspect on the ride home Tuesday.

Witnesses say the suspect, a football player, aimed the weapon point-blank at a teammate and threatened to shoot him.
Read the rest here.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Joyce Carol Oates depicts 'highly bigoted' Woodrow Wilson in new novel

Acclaimed author Joyce Carol Oates explains why she has portrayed former US President Woodrow Wilson as 'highly bigoted and contemptuous of women’s suffrage' in her upcoming novel The Accursed.
Read the rest here.

For my take on Wilson see here.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Letter from Patriarch Kirill to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

March 1, 2013
Your Holiness!

In these exceptional days for you, I would like to express the feelings of brotherly love in Christ and respect.

The decision to leave the position of Bishop of Rome, which you, with humility and simplicity, announced on February 11 this year, has found a ready response in the hearts of millions of Catholics.

We have always been close to your consistent ministry, marked by uncompromisingness in matters of faith and unswerving adherence to the living Tradition of the Church. At a time when the ideology of permissiveness and moral relativism tries to dislodge the moral values of life, you boldly raised your voice in defence of the ideals of the Gospel, the high dignity of man and his vocation to freedom from sin.

I have warm memories of our meeting when you were elected to the Roman See. During your ministry we received a positive impetus in the relations between our Churches, responding to the modern world as a witness to Christ crucified and risen. I sincerely hope what developed during your active participation, a good trusting relationship between the Orthodox and the Catholics, will continue to grow with your successor.

Please accept my sincere wishes for good health, long life and help from above in prayer and in your theological writings.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace" (Romans 15:13).

With love in the Lord,

+ Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia

From here.
HT: Blog reader Dave B.

Romanian Church Reconciles with Jerusalem Patriarchate

A schism that should never have been and which makes us look silly if not downright petty has been resolved, praise God. See here for details.

Queen Elizabeth Hospitalized By Severe Stomach Flu

The Queen has been admitted to hospital in London after experiencing symptoms of gastroenteritis, Buckingham Palace said today. All official engagements for this week will be either postponed or cancelled as a precaution, the Palace added.

Her Majesty, who is 86, is expected to stay at the King Edward VII hospital in London for two days and is otherwise said to be in “good health and good spirits”.

A Royal visit to Rome planned for later this week will be cancelled or postponed, Buckingham Palace confirmed.
Read the rest here.

Update: It appears that HM The Queen has recovered rapidly and has left the hospital.

Fr David Bissias Refutes Valerie A. Karras on Women's Ordination

The eminent physicist Wolfgang Pauli was well-known for his abrupt and scathing criticism of colleagues, often proclaiming their work “utterly wrong” (ganz falsch).  Once, when asked for a comment on an article by a younger physicist, he replied, “Not only is this not right, this is not even wrong [das ist nicht einmal falsch]!”  He meant that the article’s assertions could not be tested and therefore proven correct or wrong.  Scientifically, “not even wrong” meant something worse than “utterly wrong”: that the effort provided no benefit whatsoever to the scientific endeavor, for even disproven theories contribute to scientific progress.

If Pauli were an Orthodox Christian theologian, he might have responded in a similar manner to Valerie A. Karras’ article, “Theologies of Women and Ordained Ministry.”[1]  Obviously, her general argument cannot be scientifically “tested,” but that is not the point.  The article makes numerous valid observations, but none of them amounts to even a single “theology” of women; nor is there criticism of several such “theologies of women.”  However, the questions that Karras rightly poses merit answers by the contemporary Church.  Unfortunately, the answer she suggests or, often more accurately, implies, cannot be judged right or wrong based on the argument she presents.  Thus, es ist nicht einmal falsch—it is not even wrong.

The ultimate point of her article is that there is no “theological” justification for the Church to continue excluding women from the ranks of the presbyter and bishop, not to mention other ministries in the life of the contemporary Church.  To make this point more attractive, Karras relies on anecdotal evidence of women’s “subservient” position in the Church, a limited reading of patristic authorities, false analogies, a narrow view of an Orthodox “anthropology,” an overly-schematized view of “history” and an eschatology which is certainly subject to dispute.  If this is not enough, she has also neglected apparently more contrary evidence from ancient and contemporary authors and canonical sources (including Holy Scripture), largely dismissed contemporary “hard” science and social science and, perhaps most importantly, ignored a great deal of the liturgical-sacramental life of the Church.  The discerning reader cannot but help notice that her argument reveals a predetermined conclusion which is not at all supported directly and positively by the evidence Karras provides, and she certainly has not provided convincing arguments to account for the more obvious contrary evidence (such as Holy Scripture) that seems to support a conclusion opposite of her own.
Read the rest here.
HT: Dr. Tighe

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Greece reclassified to 'emerging market' from developed

A major fund manager has reclassified Greece from a developed to an emerging market, in an unprecedented move reflecting the "unfortunate economic tailspin" of the Greek economy, which has threatened the future of the euro.

Russell Investments, which advises funds with $2.4 trillion (£1.6 trillion) in assets, said the Greek economy has been a "world concern" since it revealed unsustainable levels of public debt in 2009.

The American-based company said Greece, which Russell designated as a developed market in 2001, has been on a path towards reclassification as an emerging market since 2010, having failed Russell's operational and macro risk tests, including per-capita income, total market capitalisation and the level of trading volume, which determine the economic health and status of countries.
Read the rest here.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Hail Armageddon

“The worst-case scenario for us,” a leading anti-budget-cuts lobbyist told The Post, “is the sequester hits and nothing bad really happens.”

Think about that. Worst case? That a government drowning in debt should cut back by 2.2 percent — and the country survives. That a government now borrowing 35 cents of every dollar it spends reduces that borrowing by two cents “and nothing bad really happens.” Oh, the humanity!

A normal citizen might think this a good thing. For reactionary liberalism, however, whatever sum our ever-inflating government happens to spend today (now double what Bill Clinton spent in his last year) is the Platonic ideal — the reduction of which, however minuscule, is a national calamity.
Read the rest here.

Detroit Nearing Bankruptcy

Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan on Friday declared a fiscal state of emergency in Detroit in a move that could lead to the appointment of a financial manager who could file for the largest municipal bankruptcy ever.

Snyder's decision allows the city a 10-day grace period to formulate a plan to fix its finances before the governor reconsiders appointing an emergency manager who would likely drastically reduce services.

The Republican governor said he had identified a top candidate for the position, but he declined to name the person.

"I believe it's appropriate to declare the city of Detroit in financial emergency," Snyder said at a forum in Detroit.

Snyder said he agreed with a Feb. 19 report by a six-member team of experts that concluded Michigan's largest city is in dire financial shape and a plan put in place last April to aid Detroit was not sufficiently working.
Read the rest here.

The burning question for the day

What to have for lunch?

Liberals adrift on a sea of red ink

One revealing stress test of a political viewpoint is the way it deals with facts that are large, consequential and ideologically inconvenient.

For conservatives, the challenge is climate change. A variety of studies, using increasingly refined methodologies, indicate that climate change is happening and that greenhouse emissions play a contributing role. But many on the right aren’t comfortable with the policy implications. So some deny the science; more ignore or downplay it.

For liberals, the challenge is deficits and debt. President Obama argues that we are “more than halfway towards the $4 trillion in deficit reduction that economists and elected officials from both parties say we need to stabilize our debt.” Economist Paul Krugman calls the deficit “a problem that is already, to a large degree, solved.” At a recent meeting of the House Financial Services Committee, two Democratic members objected to the display of the debt clock — a running count of the federal debt — as “a political prop designed to message ideologically.” Numbers, it turns out, have an offensive ideological bias.

Downplaying the debt — arguing that it has stabilized as a percentage of gross domestic product in a 10-year window — has become an ideological commitment on the left. It is often accompanied by criticism of the “deficit scolds” who attribute moral content to a mathematical dispute.
Read the rest here.