Monday, December 29, 2014

And now for something a bit more serious

Dan Carlin discusses the background of one of the  most important, and largely forgotten, chapters in American history. The pivotal moment when the United States decided to step into the world of Great Power politics and conflicts, and began its transformation into the imperial power it is has become.

Kaiser Bill's Yacht

A brief musical interlude

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Bishop of Antwerp advocates church blessings for homosexual unions

The [Roman Catholic] Bishop of Antwerp, Johan Bonny advocates an ecclesiastical recognition of homosexual relationships. The dogma that the Catholic Church can only accept male-female relationships, he put in question in an interview with this newspaper. "There should be a diversity of recognition forms." 

With his plea Bonny, is one of the first church leaders who attacks the absolute monopoly of the male-female marriage. "We have to look inside the church for a formal recognition of the relationality which is also present in many gay couples. As a variety of legal frameworks in society exist for partners, he wants to instate a diversity of recognition forms in the church." 

Read the rest here.
Original source

Greece: Here we go again

 ATHENS — The long-dormant euro crisis could come roaring back to life Monday with a vote in the Greek Parliament that is expected to bring down the pro-austerity government and open the way for a radical leftist party to take power for the first time in the history of the European Union.

The vote will be watched closely around the continent as a marker of economic peril in the year ahead as Europe gazes into the abyss of another recession. But it could also be a key political milestone as the center gives way to forces that were once relegated to the European fringe and are now buoyed by a populist, anti-austerity backlash.

For Greece, the expected collapse of the government comes just as the economy here had begun to stabilize. Now, with the far-left Syriza Party forecast to win the elections that would follow at the end of January , all bets are off.

The party has vowed to halt payment on Greece’s debt until the terms of the country’s $284 billion bailout agreements can be renegotiated, and it says it will thumb its nose at international lenders by ramping up public spending.

Read the rest here.

A Sea of Blue in Mourning

The temperature was generous for the season. Christmas decorations bedecked doorways and windows, clashing with the morning’s solemn event: the funeral of a police officer whose barbaric death has sliced deep into the city’s conscience and tested its character.

On Saturday, one week removed from the slayings, the city wept for an officer, Rafael Ramos, N.Y.P.D. Shield No. 6335, who was murdered Dec. 20 along with another officer for their choice of occupation.

The turnout was extraordinary. Though no reliable count was made, it appeared that more than 20,000 police officers came to Queens, from as far away as Wisconsin and California and England, some driving through the night to make it. Bordering streets were shut to traffic for blocks around. Traffic lights continued to change their colors, but there was no traffic, nothing but thick rows of police officers as far as anyone could see.

Read the rest here.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Pope Francis and the Social Gospel

Standing before a statue of Mary near the Spanish Steps on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Benedict XVI reminded his listeners that the Gospel is the good news of freedom from sin, that it is "the proclamation of the victory of grace over sin, of life over death."  Proponents of the "social gospel" have forgotten this.  The mission of the Church is not to eradicate poverty or social injustice.  As Dr. Dietrich von Hildebrand explains, while "a deep interest in the earthly welfare of our neighbor is a central duty of the Christian and an essential demand of the love of neighbor," still, "it is definitely no part of the message of Christ that there is to be no more poverty, no more war, that the earth is to become a natural paradise."

Proponents of the "social gospel" fail to understand, as Dr. Hildebrand reminds us, that "..the primary task of the Church is the proclamation of the divine Revelation, the protection of it against all heresies, the the sanctification of the soul of the individual, the securing of his eternal salvation - this is the spreading of the kingdom of God on earth, and not the attempt to build up an earthly paradise." (Essay entitled This-Worldliness).

Dr. Hildebrand explains that, "...the motive of many for eliminating poverty (which itself is not morally wicked, but only a morally relevant evil) is not rooted in the spirit of Christ or His Gospel, but in a humanitarian ideal.  The widespread tendency today to demand everything as a right and to refuse to accept any gifts is surely no manifestation of a Christian spirit.  There is in reality a clear, sharply delineated difference between justice and love.  Justice can and should be protected and demanded by state law; but love of neighbor could never be demanded by any law.  For it is a duty before God, and no state law could or should prescribe it or enforce it.  Love of neighbor presupposes the fulfillment of the claims of justice, but it goes far beyond this.  The words of the Gospel, 'if someone asks you to go one mile, go two miles with him,' clearly go far beyond the sphere of justice.  Of course, it is a pharisaical hypocrisy to the demands of justice as if one were giving alms.  But it is a terrible pride not to want to accept any alms, and to demand that which comes as a gift.  The true Christian should be happier to receive alms and to be grateful for them, than simply to receive what he has a right to.  When he receives a gift he is happy not only over the good which is the gift, but also over the goodness of the giver; and he experiences it as a great source of happiness that he can and should be grateful."

Read the rest here.

I have for sometime been wondering if one of the Pope's objectives is not to turn the RCC into a sort of liturgical Salvation Army.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Some Christmas Music

A Romanian Christmas Hymn

Agni Parthene (O Virgin Pure) in English

Fred on Cuba

...The embargo is the mean-spirited vengeance on the wrong people by a Washington miffed because Fidel beat them. He was a monster, yes, but Washington has never shown a disposition to avoid the company of monsters. Thing is, he won, and he made clowns of the CIA—or more correctly was a bystander as they made fools of themselves. This Washington cannot forgive.

What earthly purpose is the strangulation of the island thought to serve? Yes, yes, I kinow. “Castro is a Comminiss.” Right, got it. Today, Cuba. Tomorrow Arkansas. And so a ratpack of naïve adolescent petulants in the Senate are going to save the free world, which barely includes the United States, from a tiny impoverished country impoverished because we are saving the world from it. Whatever happened to grownups?

Read the rest here.

Monday, December 22, 2014

North Korea's Internet Crashes

It's a mostly symbolic gesture. The whole country has fewer IP addresses than any medium sized office building in Manhattan. But it does send a message to others who may have been watching and getting ideas of their own. We know where the "Off Switch" is, and we know how to use it.

Pope Francis Launches Blistering Attack on Vatican Bureaucracy

The original title of this post was "Pope Sharply Criticizes Vatican Curia." But honestly that was not an accurate description. This was a very broad and scathing attack.

Paul Krugman: Conquest Is for Losers

More than a century has passed since Norman Angell, a British journalist and politician, published “The Great Illusion,” a treatise arguing that the age of conquest was or at least should be over. He didn’t predict an end to warfare, but he did argue that aggressive wars no longer made sense — that modern warfare impoverishes the victors as well as the vanquished.

He was right, but it’s apparently a hard lesson to absorb. Certainly Vladimir Putin never got the memo. And neither did our own neocons, whose acute case of Putin envy shows that they learned nothing from the Iraq debacle.

Angell’s case was simple: Plunder isn’t what it used to be. You can’t treat a modern society the way ancient Rome treated a conquered province without destroying the very wealth you’re trying to seize. And meanwhile, war or the threat of war, by disrupting trade and financial connections, inflicts large costs over and above the direct expense of maintaining and deploying armies. War makes you poorer and weaker, even if you win.

Read the rest here.

I can't believe I'm about to write this, but here goes. While I could quibble with some details, Krugman is basically right.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Rothbard (etc.) on Egalitarianism

There are a lot of things you can say about the left, but one of its most salient characteristics is its total rejection of logic, mathematics, science, and anything that can be considered 'thinking.' With the left, it's all feelings. This is why the left seized on the principle of equality before the law and twisted it into a notion of the intrinsic equality of all people everywhere, an idea, as Orwell put it, so absurd that only an intellectual could entertain it. Of course, he mean [sic] self-styled intellectual, people who reject facts and dress up their whims and enthusiasms with logical-sounding rhetoric. And whims are the opposite of logic, and enthusiasm for an idea is no proof of its validity.

Read the rest here.
HT: The Young Fogey

More Delusion from the Anglicans

The historic consecration of the Rev Libby Lane will transform the perception of an institution that has long been considered out of touch.

Read the rest of the drivel here (if you must).
HT: T-19

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Two NYPD Officers Assassinated

Almost certainly a revenge attack for the killing of Eric Garnier. One wonders if Al Sharpton will lead a march protesting their murder.

Memory eternal.

ISIS selling Christian artifacts, turning churches into torture chambers

The Islamic State is turning Christian churches in Iraq and Syria into dungeons and torture chambers after stripping them of priceless artifacts to sell on the black market, according to reports.

Ancient relics and even entire murals are being torn from the houses of worship and smuggled out through the same routes previously established for moving oil and weapons in and out of the so-called caliphate, a vast region the jihadist army has claimed as sovereign under Sharia law.

Read the rest here.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Appeals court: Gun control must meet toughest test

Breaking ranks with other federal appeals courts, and probably setting up a major test case for the Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has ruled that laws imposing controls on the personal right to have a gun must satisfy the most rigorous constitutional test.  And, in another split with other courts, it was the first to strike down a federal gun law under the Constitution’s Second Amendment as expanded by the Supreme Court six years ago.

Since the Justices’ ruling in 2008 in District of Columbia v. Heller, finding in the Second Amendment a guarantee of a right to have a gun for personal use, at least in some circumstances, federal courts have struggled with how to apply that ruling in specific cases testing specific gun laws.  Before the Sixth Circuit ruled, however, none had declared that gun laws should be judged by a “strict scrutiny” test.

The Sixth Circuit’s decision came on Thursday in the case of Tyler v. Hillsdale County Sheriff’s Department, involving a southern Michigan man, now seventy-three years ago, who was involuntarily sent to a mental institution for only a brief period nearly thirty years ago.  He has long functioned normally in society, and is now considered to be mentally healthy and not dangerous.

Because of the brief stay in that institution, however, he is barred for life from having a gun, under the federal law that the Sixth Circuit has now nullified because it failed the “strict scrutiny” test.  He is not eligible for a special federal-state program that gives some who are barred by law from gun ownership a chance to become eligible to have a gun, because Michigan does not take part in that program, and he cannot get relief under another federal program that Congress has refused to fund.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

How the Patron Saint of Catholic Traditionalism Helped Start the Revolution

In the modern struggles and disagreements over the Liturgy, there tends to be a list of friends and opponents depending on one’s stance. For those of us with a more traditional leaning, Pope St. Pius X looms large as a friend and an image of tradition. He is usually seen as a defender of the tradition and a great proponent of what is called today the Extraordinary Form or Traditional Latin Mass (TLM)—so much so that the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) takes its name from him.

And yet things, people, and movements are seldom as simple as we would like them to be. Despite many good reasons for admiring Pope St. Pius X’s attention to the Sacred Liturgy, he also (arguably) helped lay the groundwork for the revolution that would follow, not so much by his ideas but by his rather sweeping use of papal authority to influence and change the Liturgy in his day.

Read the rest here.

In fairness, I think Catholic Traddies revere Pius X less for his liturgical contributions than for his unreserved condemnation of Modernism, with which, all other differences aside, I suspect we Orthodox could heartily agree. Still there is some fascinating history here.

Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev: Atheism and Orthodoxy in Modern Russia

In this talk I propose to outline the history of atheism in Russia during the last hundred years. I will start by considering the kind of atheism present in Russia before the Revolution. Then I will say something about the development of atheism during the Soviet period. And finally I will conclude with some observations concerning the nature of Russian post-Soviet atheism.

I should like to begin with the following questions. How did it happen that the country known as ‘Holy Russia’, with such a long history of Orthodox Christianity, was in a very short period of time turned by the Bolsheviks into ‘the first atheist state in the world’? How was it possible that the very same people who were taught religion in secondary schools in the 1910s with their own hands destroyed churches and burned holy icons in the 1920s? What is the explanation of the fact that the Orthodox Church, which was so powerful in the Russian Empire, was almost reduced to zero by its former members?

I should say at once that I cannot interpret what happened in Russia in 1917 as an accident, the seizure of power by a small group of villains. Rather I perceive in the Russian revolution the ultimate outcome of the processes which were going on within the pre-revolutionary society and so, to a considerable extent, within the Russian Church (as there was no separation between Church and society).

I would claim that the Russian revolution was the offspring of both the Russian monarchy and the Church. The roots of the post-revolutionary atheism should be looked for in pre-revolutionary Russian society and in the Church.

It has been said that Russia was baptized but not enlightened. Indeed, as far as the 19th century is concerned, it is clear that enlightenment was very often in conflict with religion: the masses of illiterate peasants kept their traditional beliefs, but more and more educated people, even from a purely religious background, rejected faith and became atheists. Chernyshevsky and Dobroliubov are classic examples: both came from clerical families, both became atheists after studying in theological seminaries. For people like Dostoyevsky religion was something that had to be rediscovered, after having been lost as a result of his education. Tolstoy, on the other hand, came to a certain type of faith in God but remained alien to the Orthodox Church. It is clear, when one looks at the pre-revolutionary period, that there was a huge gap between the Church and the world of educated people, the so-called intelligentsia, and this gap was constantly growing.

But on the eve of the revolution it became more and more clear that atheism had also invaded the mass of ordinary people. Berdyaev wrote at that time that the simple Russian baba, who was supposed to be religious, was no longer a reality but a myth: she had become a nihilist and an atheist. I would like to quote some more from what this great Russian philosopher wrote in 1917, several months before the October revolution:

“The Russian nation always considered itself to be Christian. Many Russian thinkers and artists were even inclined to regard it as a nation which is Christian par excellence. The Slavophiles thought that Russian people live by the Orthodox faith, which is the only true faith containing the entire truth… Dostoevsky preached that. The Russian nation is a bearer of God… But, it was here that revolution broke out, and it…revealed a spiritual emptiness in Russian people.

Read the rest here.

This is a rather thought provoking piece originally from 2001. It was recently reposted on a Catholic blog and I think it worth some sober reflection.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Quote of the day...

Truths are not relative. What is relative are opinions about truth. 
-Nicolás Gómez Dávila

Monday, December 15, 2014

Russian Central Bank Hikes Interest Rate to 17% as Ruble Collapses

Russia just raised interest rates to 17% from 10.5%.

According to a statement from Russia's central bank, Russia has taken its key interest rate to 17% from 10.5% in a stunning decision made after the collapse of the ruble on Monday.

The Bank of Russia's statement said the decision was driven by the need to limit significant devaluation in the ruble and inflation risks.

The announcement was made at 1 a.m. local time in Moscow.

Last Thursday, Russia hiked rates to 10.5% from 8% in an effort to combat inflation, which rose 9.1% year-on-year in November.

This surprise announcement from Russia comes after the ruble got absolutely crushed on Monday, losing more than 10% of its value against the US dollar, as the  ruble fell to below 64 against the dollar on Monday; earlier this year, one dollar bought about 35 rubles.

Read the rest here.

Not just gay issues: Why hundreds of congregations made final break with mainline denominations

In 2005, two congregations left the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). In 2006, three churches departed.

But the floodgates have lifted since then as decades-old tensions between liberals and conservatives have reached breaking points.

After a 2011 decision allowing gay ordinations, 270 congregations left in 2012 and 2013. And church analysts estimate upwards of another 100 churches may leave by the end of the year as presbyteries vote on a proposal to rewrite the church’s constitution to refer to marriage as being between “two people” instead of the union of “a man and a woman.”

In the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, some 600 congregations left in 2010 and 2011 following the denomination’s 2009 decision allowing the ordination of pastors in same-sex relationships.

That the denominations’ changing stances on gay ordinations and same-sex marriages were a key factor in the exodus is without question. But new research into why congregations decided to leave reveal differences on sexuality issues were only part of a much larger divide.

Among the broader, longstanding concerns that convinced departing congregations that they no longer had a home in their denominations that Carthage College researchers found were:

• “Bullying” tactics by denominational leaders.
• A perceived abandonment of foundational principles of Scripture and tradition.
• The devaluation of personal faith.

“The ones that left said reform was not possible,” said Carthage sociologist Wayne Thompson, study leader.

Read the rest here.

IOPS to present White Book on slain Mideast Christians at UN

Moscow, December 15, Interfax - The Imperial Orthodox Palestinian Society (IOPS) has announced the creation of a White Book on crimes against Christians in the Middle East, which will be presented at the United Nations Human Rights Council in February 2015.

"We are working to compile the so-called White Book, containing a sorrowful list of names of the slain and tortured Christians, instances of churches and shrines being destroyed, and eyewitness accounts. We would like to present this book at the UN HRC at its next session in late February - early March," IOPS Vice President Yelena Agapova told a general meeting of IOPS members.

The book will be available in Russian, Arabic and English.

Read the rest here.

Pope Francis praises Pius XII and more alarming quotes from Rome

If I were a Roman Catholic of the serious kind, as opposed to the Episcopalian wannabes, I would be looking for a bunker to hide in until this Pope retires or is called home. Yea yea, I know... he can't teach formal heresy. Setting aside that debatable claim, the man doesn't have to proclaim heresy ex cathedra to do some really major damage. I think there are way too many otherwise sober Catholics who are in denial about how bad this Pope is shaping up to be.

The latest from Rome via Rocco Palmo.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Amidst Russian provocations Sweden begins to grasp the perils of disarmament

Stockholm (AFP) - With an assertive Russia next door, Sweden has started to beef up its military after a decade of downsizing, but a credible deterrent may take years to achieve, analysts warn.

In one of Sweden's most dramatic steps since the end of the Cold War, it has brought back the option of using reservists to boost its military force, making no attempt to hide the fact that the main motivation behind the move is Russia.

Read the rest here.

Non-interventionism is a fine foreign policy. But a neutral country that is unable or unwilling to defend itself is just a free lunch waiting for someone to start eating.

Frank the Hippie Pope and Bart the Patriarch Sing Love Songs

From the people at Lutheran Satire.

Gay Christians choosing celibacy emerge from the closet

When Eve Tushnet converted to Catholicism in 1998, she thought she might be the world’s first celibate Catholic lesbian.

Having grown up in a liberal, upper Northwest Washington home before moving on to Yale University, the then-19-year-old knew no other gay Catholics who embraced the church’s ban on sex outside heterosexual marriage. Her decision to abstain made her an outlier.

“Everyone I knew totally rejected it,” she said of the church’s teaching on gay sexuality.

Today, Tushnet is a leader in a small but growing movement of celibate gay Christians who find it easier than before to be out of the closet in their traditional churches because they’re celibate. She is busy speaking at conservative Christian conferences with other celibate Catholics and Protestants and is the most well-known of 20 bloggers who post on, a site for celibate gay and lesbian Christians that draws thousands of visitors each month.

Read the rest here.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

New York City Cops Are Furious With Mayor de Blasio

So yeah, how does the first Democratic mayor of one of the most Democratic cities in the country in twenty or so years deal with the recent controversial police shootings? He tells his son, who almost certainly has around the clock police protection, to be very careful in his dealings with cops. Look, I have been a frequent critic of cops over reacting to situations or abusing their authority; but this clown seems bent on elevating hypocrisy to unusual heights, even for a hard core lefty. Not surprisingly rank and file NYPD don't much care for the man, putting it as gently as I can.

I stopped caring today

Today, I stopped caring about my fellow man. I stopped caring about my community, my neighbors, and those I serve. I stopped caring today because a once noble profession has become despised, hated, distrusted, and mostly unwanted.

I stopped caring today because parents refuse to teach their kids right from wrong and blame us when they are caught breaking the law. I stopped caring today because parents tell their little kids to be good or “the police will take you away” embedding a fear from year one. Moms hate us in their schools because we frighten them and remind them of the evil that lurks in the world.

They would rather we stay unseen, but close by if needed, but readily available to “fix their kid.” I stopped caring today because we work to keep our streets safe from mayhem in the form of reckless, drunk, high, or speeding drivers, only to be hated for it, yet hated even more because we didn’t catch the drunk before he killed someone they may know.

Nevertheless, we are just another tool used by government to generate “revenue.” I stopped caring today because Liberals hate the police as we carry guns, scare kids, and take away their drugs. We always kill innocent people with unjust violence. We are called bullies for using a Taser during a fight, but are condemned further for not first tasing the guy who pulls a gun on us.

Read the rest here.
HT: l82start

A Sad Day for the Royal Canadian Navy

OTTAWA, Dec 12 (Reuters) – The Royal Canadian Navy on Friday imposed an almost total ban on sailors drinking at sea, after a warship had to be recalled from an international exercise because inebriated crew members got into trouble.

Sailors had hitherto been allowed to drink off duty. Now, they will only be able to sample alcohol on special occasions such as Christmas, if the captain gives permission.

In addition, beer vending machines will be removed from vessels. And in the rare instances when sailors are allowed to drink, they will have to pay more, since ships will hike the price of alcohol served in their onboard bars.

Read the rest here.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Happy Birthday Edward G. Robinson

One of the Hollywood greats

Greenpeace Activists Damage Ancient Peruvian Cultural Landmark

When the stunt-planners at Greenpeace sent teams of activists to trespass this week at Peru's Nazca archeological site, they must have thought their bumper-sticker messaging would look good on a Facebook page next to the 2,000-year-old geodesic drawings.

After all, the group is known for stringing banners from bridges and skyscrapers to draw attention to its environmental campaigns, and with U.N. climate talks taking place in Lima this week, the activists clearly wanted to make an impact.

And so they have. The impact of their footprints on the fragile desert site, in fact, will last "hundreds or thousands of years," according to outraged Peruvian officials.

So furious is the Peruvian government that it has barred the Greenpeace activists from leaving the country and is preparing criminal charges for "attacking archeological monuments," punishable by up to eight years in prison.

Read the rest here.

Is there no limit to what these so called liberal activists will do to gain attention for themselves? They habitually act in a manner that screams "IT'S ALL ABOUT US AND OUR CAUSE!" Nothing, and no one else matters including the rule of law. And now apparently even minimal respect for incredibly fragile ancient cultural landmarks must yield to their left wing narcissism.

These self absorbed spoiled brats are in serious need of a "time out." Lock them up and throw the key away. It's long over due.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Waiting for the storm

So all week we have been warned to start building an ark here in California. The biggest storm in forever was supposed to roll in last night and just dump water on us for days. As of 12:30 PM today it's breezy, overcast and bone dry. I don't think I have been this disappointed since Geraldo Rivera opened Al Capone's vault.

Update: OK, we got some rain. Big deal. It looks like folks up north took a hit though.

Monday, December 08, 2014

China's stock mania decouples from economic reality

China’s stock market boom has reached outright mania, with equities galloping higher at a parabolic rate, despite threats of a crackdown by regulators and the continued slowdown of the national economy. 

The Shanghai Composite Index has risen 32pc in the past six weeks, blowing through 3,000 to a three-and-a-half-year high even though corporate earnings are declining steeply.

Read the rest here.

Fred Reed on the News Racket

It is curious: Though I have spent a lifetime in journalism, I do not read a newspaper, not the New York Times nor the Washington Post nor the Wall Street Journal. Nor do I have television service.

Why? Because, having worked in that restaurant, I know better than to eat there. The foregoing media are quasi-governmental organs, predictably predictable and predictably dishonest. The truth is not in them.

Read the rest here.

In case there was any doubt

Yes, Europe has gone mad.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Johnathan Tepper: Why I'm giving up my passport

LONDON — THE mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who was born in New York and holds both American and British passports, recently said that he would not pay a tax bill from the United States on capital gains from the sale of his home in the London borough of Islington. Mr. Johnson pointed out that he hasn’t lived in America since he was 5. He’d like to renounce his citizenship, but said the process was “very difficult.”

It is, but I am doing it. My “in-person final loss of citizenship appointment” is scheduled for Jan. 14 at the United States Consulate here. My British passport, acquired in 2012, will be my only one.

Read the rest here.

Some Thoughts on College

Friend of the blog Anti-Gnostic has a perspicacious post up on some of the problems with college today, in particular its unhealthy relationship with government. I encourage everyone to read it here. To this I will add a somewhat less irenic critique of the socio-political culture on modern campuses from Messrs. Penn & Teller.

Part 1

Part 2

Warning: For the uninitiated, Penn & Teller tend to be VERY frank on just about any topic they (really Penn is the only who talks) are addressing. Which is to say that the two linked videos are definitely Rated PG-13, mostly for potty language. So yeah, some blog readers may wish to skip this post.

RIP: Fabiola Dowager Queen of the Belgians

Belgium's Dowager Queen Fabiola, the devoutly Roman Catholic widow of King Baudouin, has reposed at the age of 86.

Memory eternal!

Worst Op-Ed of the Week

And a strong contender for the worst of the month...

In last month’s deep and damning Rolling Stone report about sexual assault at the University of Virginia, a reporter told the story of “Jackie,” who said she was gang raped at a fraternity party and then essentially ignored by the administration. It helped dramatize what happens when the claims of victims are not taken seriously.

Now the narrative appears to be falling apart: Her rapist wasn’t in the frat that she says he was a member of; the house held no party on the night of the assault; and other details are wobbly. Many people (not least U-Va. administrators) will be tempted to see this as a reminder that officials, reporters and the general public should hear both sides of the story and collect all the evidence before coming to a conclusion in rape cases. This is what we mean in America when we say someone is “innocent until proven guilty.” After all, look what happened to the Duke lacrosse players.

In important ways, this is wrong. We should believe, as a matter of default, what an accuser says. Ultimately, the costs of wrongly disbelieving a survivor far outweigh the costs of calling someone a rapist. Even if Jackie fabricated her account, U-Va. should have taken her word for it during the period while they endeavored to prove or disprove the accusation. This is not a legal argument about what standards we should use in the courts; it’s a moral one, about what happens outside the legal system.

The accused would have a rough period. He might be suspended from his job; friends might defriend him on Facebook. In the case of Bill Cosby, we might have to stop watching his shows, consuming his books or buying tickets to his traveling stand-up routine. But false accusations are exceedingly rare, and errors can be undone by an investigation that clears the accused, especially if it is done quickly.

Read the rest here.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Speaking of morons...

I am back online after a long day without internet. Yes, I am aware that you want a detailed explanation of how such a thing could happen. It went down thusly...

The house I rent has two very large, indeed sprawling pine trees in the yard that help to shade it during the often brutal summer days. However the tree limbs have grown to the point where they overhang the road to a degree that sometimes they fall off creating potential traffic hazards. The city has, somewhat understandably gotten a bit irritated and after the latest such incident they sent a crew over to trim one of the trees back. Since the landlord has thus far shown little interest in the matter, I have no real issue with the city's decision.

But in the course of trimming the tree branches that overhang the road... they CUT THE BLEEPING INTERNET CABLE LINE! After making sure they left word to the effect that the landlord would be billed for the trimming, they got into their truck, performed a well executed K Turn and then stopped before the downed internet cable lying in the street. At which point our fearless tree trimming heroes got out of the vehicle, gathered around the downed cable, picked it up and passed the end around. Then they dropped it, got back into their truck and without another word, DROVE OVER THE DOWNED CABLE and left.

I cannot of course be certain, but I will hazard a guess that no man on the tree trimming detail makes less than $50,000 a year plus full civil service benefits.

It took most of the day to get the Charter internet repair guy out here; not his fault, they were backed up with service calls. Once here the poor guy spent about an hour and half rerunning the cable and then another half hour fiddling with the modem which didn't want to read the signal. He ended up installing a new one. Oh, I forgot to mention that the outdoor work was done mostly in the dark and it was raining. Happily we were his last call for the day. I gave him a couple bottles of Guinness in gratitude for his outstanding customer service.

As for what I'd like to give the the city's tree trimming crew, one wonders if they would even know what a piece of coal looks like. I hope Charter sends a nasty note and a bill to the city.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Quote of the day...

The man is a good-hearted moron, and I mean that in a completely non-malicious way. He is a sentimental, gushing, huggy-bear and would make a great parish priest, but is in well over his head as Patriarch of an autocephalous Church.

-Fellow blogger Anti-Gnostic on Pope Francis from the comment thread here.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Pope Francis Sacks Commander of Swiss Guards

The commander of the Swiss Guard at the Vatican has been removed from his post, apparently as a result of Pope Francis’s unease at the security chief’s militaristic style... 

...The pope’s apparent discomfort with the gruelling shifts and strict rules of the Swiss Guard, which were enforced by Anrig, has been evident since his election in 2013. Italian press reports said the pontiff wanted to see a less rigid military corp and one that was less obsessed by rules.

Read the rest here.

Now that's the ticket. Because everyone knows that the surest foundation stone for a crack military/security service is lax discipline.

It is perhaps worth noting that assassination, like larceny, is primarily a crime of opportunity. Heads of state and other VIPs who insist on moving about in open cars, without bodyguards or who deliberately keep their security at bay are worse than fools. This is because ordinary people can choose to take foolish risks, and in most cases the danger is primarily or exclusively to them alone. But when you are a pope, president or king you are almost never alone in public. The assassin spraying bullets or setting off a bomb is not going to worry about "collateral damage." In the modern world the opposite is more likely to be the case. If you have a martyr complex, that's fine. But you don't have the right to endanger other people by your actions.

Quote of the day...

"You just can't say that, just as you can't say that all Christians are fundamentalists. We have our share of them (fundamentalists). All religions have these little groups,"
- Pope Francis responding to critics of Islam's violent track record

I think we have reached a point where it's time to admit that this Pope has a problem with his off the cuff remarks. Honestly I really don't think that he believes there is some equivalence between conservative or "fundamentalist" Christians, whom he has made it very clear that he doesn't like, and Islamic savages who chop the heads off of women and children for being Christians. But when he makes these kinds of boneheaded comments, it is like a flashing neon sign, practically begging his critics to flay him. And before the inevitable, he was quoted out of context arguments start flying in from his loyal defenders, my response is maybe and maybe not. But so what if he was? He should know better than to be saying things that can be so easily taken advantage of by the enemies of his church. And what about all of the other times he has made comments that make even moderate Catholics cringe? This is getting out of hand.

Flash bulletin: He is the Pope of Rome!

Yet he continues to speak extemporaneously in a manner suggesting his comments are of no more importance than those of the village priest. Popes should never hold press conferences. Never! Not EVER! Nor should he be giving unprepared sermons at his daily Masses. But for whatever reason, he does not seem to have grasped that his words carry massive weight and are going to be parsed and dissected by people all over the world. Often these are people with an agenda.

Benedict XVI occasionally made comments that caused trouble. But compared to Francis, he was a paragon of restraint and caution. I don't know if there is someone in the Vatican with the stature to tell this Pope he is behaving badly, to the point of causing scandal with his careless words. But I hope there is. In the meantime I offer this alternative quote for reflection...

"I find it is the things I have never said that have caused me the least trouble."
- Calvin Coolidge

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Gay Marriage Acceptance by Finnish Lutheran Archbishop Prompts Mass Resignations

I am not sure about the term "mass resignations," but some 8,000 people did resign from the state church over the weekend. At least that's something.

Read the story here.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Russia Reels as Oil Plunges and Sanctions Bite

The Russian rouble has suffered its steepest one-day drop since the default crisis in 1998 as capital flight accelerates, raising the risk of emergency exchange controls and tightening the noose on Russian companies and bodies with more than $680bn (£432bn) of external debt.

The currency has been in freefall since Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states vetoed calls by weaker Opec members for a cut in crude oil output, a move viewed by the Kremlin as a strategic attack on Russia.

A fresh plunge in Brent prices to a five-year low of $67.50 a barrel on Monday caused the dam to break, triggering a 9pc slide in the rouble in a matter of hours.

Analysts said it took huge intervention by the Russian central bank to stop the rout and stablize the rouble at 52.07 to the dollar. “They must have spent billions,” said Tim Ash, at Standard Bank.

It is extremely rare for a major country to collapse in this fashion, and the trauma is likely to have political consequences. "This has become disorderly. There are no real buyers of the rouble. We know that voices close to president Vladimir Putin want capital controls, and we cannot rule this out," said Lars Christensen, at Danske Bank.

Read the rest here.

Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew Meet

The joint declaration.

And before everybody starts flipping out over "Black Bart" trying restore communion with Rome, I suggest a glance at this uncommonly realistic assessment from a Roman Catholic source. Bottom line; it aint happening anytime in the foreseeable future.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

A blessed feast to everyone. No blogging for a couple days.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Congress plans to add $450B to the deficit, mostly with tax cuts for corporations

Congressional negotiators were considering a package of tax breaks Tuesday that would add as much as $450 billion to the federal budget deficit over the next decade, wiping out most of the revenue gains President Obama won from Republicans just two years ago.

The package could grow even larger if Democrats succeed in persuading Republicans to tack on additional items sought by the White House: Permanent expansion of the child tax credit and a popular tax break for working families, which together could boost the cost by nearly $100 billion.

Read the rest here.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Dr. Adam DeVille Severely Criticizes Met. Hilarion (MP)

Christian Unity Cannot Be Built on Lies

Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, the “foreign affairs minister” of the Russian Orthodox Church, is, as George Weigel observed recently in First Things, a talented man, “charming and witty.” However, the gifted Hilarion, Weigel rightly noted, “does not always speak the truth.” Hilarion is rather like the Energizer Bunny: he goes on and on and on repeating tirelessly whatever pernicious propaganda the Russians want to spread. He has three channels to choose from: tired and outright lies about Ukrainian Catholics, repeated ad nauseam for over a decade now; useful if rather vague calls for Christians to co-operate in addressing the social ills of our time (same-sex marriage, divorce, abortion); and tendentious distortions of his own Orthodox tradition, particularly her ecclesiology. It is the third I wish to address.

Read the rest here.

Progressive baseball in 1910

Either that or their catcher was spending waaay too much time in the tanning booth.

Preview of coming attractions?

In Great Britain some patients are waiting more than 24 hrs to be seen in hospital emergency rooms as the country's National Health Service is reported to be under severe strain.

Read the story here.

Shamelessly stolen from here.

Finland feeling vulnerable amid Russian provocations

HELSINKI — Wedged hard against Russia’s northwestern border, peaceable Finland has long gone out of its way to avoid prodding the nuclear-armed bear next door.

But now the bear is provoking Finland, repeatedly guiding military planes into Finnish airspace and deploying submarines and helicopters to chase after Finnish research vessels in international waters.

The incidents are part of a pattern of aggressive Russian behavior that has radiated across Europe but that has been especially unnerving for countries such as Finland that live outside the protective bubble of NATO.

Read the rest here.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The New Version of School House Rock

Via the funny people at SNL.

I am shocked!

(Reuters) - - A banking culture that implicitly puts financial gain above all else fuels greed and dishonesty and makes bankers more likely to cheat, according to the findings of a scientific study.

Read the rest here.

Feast of St. Michael the Archangel

Liturgy in the Archangel Cathedral in the Kremlin

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Two Men Freed 40 Years After Being Sentenced to Death - Both Innocent

(CLEVELAND) -- On May 25, 1975, Ricky Jackson and Wiley Bridgeman went to jail for a murder they didn’t commit. Sentenced to death on the testimony of a single juvenile witness, the men continued to protest their innocence through years of incarceration.

On Friday, nearly 40 years later, they walked out of prison as free men after the state’s witness in the case admitted that he concocted his testimony under police intimidation.

A case suffused with emotion culminated in exoneration Friday morning, when Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Richard McMonagle formally dismissed all charges against Jackson after a brief hearing. Bridgeman, whose case was heard separately, was exonerated two hours later by Judge David Matia.

The two joined Bridgeman’s younger brother Ronnie, now known as Kwame Ajamu, who was found guilty of the same crime and eventually paroled in 2003.

The three were originally jailed for the 1975 murder of Harry Franks, a Cleveland businessman, after a 12-year-old witness named Edward Vernon told police that he had seen them attack the victim. No physical evidence linked them to the crime scene. Jackson was just 19 years old when he was sentenced to die, Wiley Bridgeman was 20, and Ronnie Bridgeman was 17.

Read the rest here.

We are in a Constitutional Crisis

...After announcing that he intended to act unilaterally in the face of congressional opposition, Obama ordered the non-enforcement of various laws — including numerous changes to the Affordable Care Act — moved hundreds of millions of dollars away from the purposes for which Congress approved the spending and claimed sweeping authority to act without judicial or legislative controls.

A growing crisis in our constitutional system threatens to fundamentally alter the balance of powers — and accountability — within our government. This crisis did not begin with Obama, but it has reached a constitutional tipping point during his presidency. Indeed, it is enough to bring the two of us — a liberal academic and a conservative U.S. senator — together in shared concern over the future of our 225-year-old constitutional system of self­governance.

We believe that people of good faith can likewise transcend politics and forge a bipartisan coalition to examine these changes. In our view, the gridlock in Washington is not simply the result of toxic divisions. The dysfunctional politics we are experiencing may in part be the result of a deeper corrosion — a dangerous instability that is growing within our Madisonian system.

Read the rest here.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Is Yiddish Enough?

...Mr. Moster had grown up one of 17 children in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish family in Borough Park, Brooklyn, where most Hasidic men marry young and, right after finishing yeshiva, or high school, either immediately enter the work force or dedicate themselves to Talmudic studies. But if Mr. Moster’s educational ambitions were unusual among his peers, his limited grasp of English was not.

There are 250 Jewish private schools in New York City, and though some schools, like Ramaz on the Upper East Side, have intensive secular curriculums, many do not. Nearly one-third of all students in Jewish schools are “English language learners,” according to the city’s Department of Education. Yiddish is the Hasidic community’s first language, and both parents and educators report that many boys’ schools do not teach the A B C’s until children are 7 or 8 years old. Boys in elementary and middle school study religious subjects from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. followed by approximately 90 minutes of English and math. At 13, when boys formally enter yeshiva, most stop receiving any English instruction.

This has been true for decades, even though Hasidic schools receive millions of dollars in government funds and are required by state law to teach a curriculum that is “equivalent” to what public schools offer.

Read the rest here.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Cops Raid Wrong House; Bomb Room With 2yr Old

VENTURA, Calif. (CN) - A 2-year-old boy was burned by a police smoke bomb in a terrifying "no knock" raid at the wrong home, his family claims in court...

In their lawsuit, the Salinas family says they were sleeping on April 16, around 4 a.m., when they were awakened by scuffling footsteps and vehicles outside their condominium. When Jose Salinas drew the curtains of his bedroom window, he saw the barrel of a policeman's gun pointed at him.

Police broke the front windows of the home and set off three smoke bombs. Police then crashed through the front door with guns drawn, yelling, "Get down and put your hands to your head!"

With laser guns pointed at them, Paulina and Jose Salinas were handcuffed and put to their knees. Their 10-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son were shoved into a corner.

As police approached one of the bedrooms, Paulina Salinas and her two older children told officers there was a 2-year-old in the room. Police ignored them, told them to cover their ears, and threw a smoke bomb into the room as 2-year-old Justin Salinas stood near the door.

When the smoke bomb detonated, shrapnel from the blast hit Justin in the foot, causing first-degree burns and glass cuts.

The family was detained for four hours although "there was no resemblance of any claimant to any of the previous tenants at the location," according to the complaint.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Snow Tsunami Slams Buffalo NY

I am a native New Yorker and as such am no stranger to snow and ice. Those who live in Buffalo however take a certain perverse pride in their weather. This westernmost of New York's big cities is practically synonymous with ugly winter storms that roll in from the Great Lakes dumping a foot or more of snow at a time... with unpleasant regularity and near daily snow squalls dropping an inch or three. In Buffalo it has been said that there are two seasons, winter and the 4th of July. And one can well believe it with annual snowfalls often topping 100(!) inches. So let's just say that these people are not in the habit of fainting at the first sight of the white fluffy stuff.

But the storm now battering these hardy folk is one likely to be long remembered. Over the next 48 hrs or so Buffalo is expecting somewhere in the neighborhood of six feet of snow (70+ inches in various places). How bad is that? It is bad enough that Buffalo is paying this storm their ultimate tribute.

They are giving the kids a day off from school tomorrow.

Hotel guests ‘fined’ for leaving bad review on TripAdvisor

A couple have been "fined" £100 by a Blackpool hotel they described as a "rotten stinking hovel" on travel review website TripAdvisor.

Tony and Jan Jenkinson posted the negative comments after being unimpressed with the one night they spent at the Broadway Hotel.

The couple, from Whitehaven, later found £100 charged to their credit card. The hotel said its policy was to charge for "bad" reviews.

Read the rest here.

More Evidence of Global Warming

All 50 states are currently experiencing sub-freezing temperatures. Yes, even Hawaii.

Questions About Sharpton’s Finances Accompany His Rise in Influence

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who came to prominence as an imposing figure in a track suit, shouting indignantly at the powerful, stood quietly on a stage last month at the Four Seasons restaurant, his now slender frame wrapped in a finely tailored suit, as men in power lined up to exclaim their admiration for him.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo hailed him as a civil rights icon. President Obama sent an aide to read a message commending Mr. Sharpton’s “dedication to the righteous cause of perfecting our union.” Major corporations sponsored the lavish affair...

...Obscured in his ascent, however, has been his troubling financial past, which continues to shadow his present.

Mr. Sharpton has regularly sidestepped the sorts of obligations most people see as inevitable, like taxes, rent and other bills. Records reviewed by The New York Times show more than $4.5 million in current state and federal tax liens against him and his for-profit businesses. And though he said in recent interviews that he was paying both down, his balance with the state, at least, has actually grown in recent years. His National Action Network appears to have been sustained for years by not paying federal payroll taxes on its employees.

With the tax liability outstanding, Mr. Sharpton traveled first class and collected a sizable salary, the kind of practice by nonprofit groups that the United States Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration recently characterized as “abusive,” or “potentially criminal” if the failure to turn over or collect taxes is willful.

Read the rest here.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Thanks to Jonathan Gruber for revealing Obamacare deception

Democrats are desperately distancing themselves from Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber. He “never worked on our staff,” President Obama said this weekend in Brisbane, Australia, (even though Gruber was paid almost $400,000 by his administration, is the intellectual author of the individual mandate and met in the Oval Office with Obama and the head of the Congressional Budget Office to pore over the bill). “I don’t know who he is,” Nancy Pelosi declared on Capitol Hill (even though she repeatedly cited him by name during the Obamacare debate).

The reason Democrats are running from Gruber is the same reason conservatives should be thanking him: Gruber has exposed what liberals really think of the American people.

Read the rest here.

Death: Forget closure, normal grief can last forever

Queen Victoria wore mourning for the rest of her life after Prince Albert's death.

When I was three years old my brother was born. He had a heart condition, and after being in and out of hospital for the whole of his little life, he died when I was five. The time after he was gone was a long and empty period of terrible loneliness and the hollow aching of grief. His death has quite literally marked me, the way all tragedies mark us, particularly when they happen when we’re small.

Even after all these years, there is still a raw place inside that is close enough to the surface to open up again with any big blow and all but double its impact. Even after years of therapy. Even with a long and involved period of training to be a therapist. Even with everything I supposedly know about losses and their impact.

There’s nothing particularly special about this story. While most of us imagine grief should be temporary, our optimism about the transience of loss is not supported by the facts. The death of children and of siblings affects the quality of the rest of our lives. The death of a parent when we are young has long-term measurable impacts on our mental health.

Closure doesn’t appear to be an accurate metaphor for the general course of our human bereavements. Instead, “normal” grief can last in some form for a lifetime.

Read the rest here.

Britain: PM Cameron Issues Blunt Warning on Global Economy

LONDON — In a starkly downbeat assessment, British Prime Minister David Cameron has written that the world’s economy could be headed for another fall.

“Six years on from the financial crash that brought the world to its knees, red warning lights are once again flashing on the dashboard of the global economy,” Cameron writes in a piece published in Monday’s edition of Britain’s Guardian newspaper.

The prime minister cites a euro-zone economy that is “teetering on the brink of a possible third recession, with high unemployment, falling growth and the real risk of falling prices too.” He also references emerging market economies that “were the driver of growth in the early stages of the recovery” but are now slowing, as well as stalled trade talks, instability in the Middle East, war in Ukraine and the spread of Ebola.

Read the rest here.

Cardinal O’Malley: ‘If I Were Founding a Church, I’d Love to Have Women Priests’

Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston has said that were he to start a church he would “love to have women priests”.

The outspoken remarks came during an interview with 60 Minutes on American television network CBS.

Asked by reporter Norah O’Donnell whether excluding women from the Church hierarchy was immoral, Cardinal O’Malley said, “Christ would never ask us to do something immoral. It’s a matter of vocation and what God has given to us.”

Read the rest here.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Great Immigration Betrayal

IN the months since President Obama first seem poised — as he now seems poised again — to issue a sweeping executive amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants, we’ve learned two important things about how this administration approaches its constitutional obligations.

First, we now have a clear sense of the legal arguments that will be used to justify the kind of move Obama himself previously described as a betrayal of our political order. They are, as expected, lawyerly in the worst sense, persuasive only if abstracted from any sense of precedent or proportion or political normality.

Second, we now have a clearer sense of just how anti-democratically this president may be willing to proceed.

Read the rest here.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Vatican Approves Married Clergy for Eastern Rite in the West

The Vatican has taken steps to end a long simmering controversy. With the approval of Pope Francis, most restrictions in the diaspora on ordaining married men, or importing married clergy from the East are being lifted. The broad enforcement of the Latin discipline of celibacy on all Eastern Rite clergy in the West has been a sore point for more than a century.

Details here.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Not Your Typical Christmas Ad

It's popping up all over the web, but if you haven't already seen it, here is the Christmas advertisement from the British supermarket chain Sainsbury's. While I don't generally get sappy over advertising, this one struck a nerve. For those unfamiliar with the background, it's based on the very real Christmas truce of 1914 during World War I. Read about it here.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


Statement of the Brotherhood of the Orthodox Clergy Association of Houston and Southeast Texas on the Comments of Fr. Robert Arida on Homosexuality...

Read it here.

Former British PM Major Warms UK May Quit European Union Over Immigration

Britain has just a 50-50 chance of remaining in the European Union, Sir John Major has warned, saying that opposition to continued membership of the European Union has reached “a critical mass”.

In a speech in Berlin on Thursday Sir John warned that Britain’s frustration was “no game”, adding: “There is a very real risk of separation that could damage the future of the United Kingdom – and Europe as a whole.”

Read the rest here.

Defying the Law; Obama Prepares to Govern By Executive Order

WASHINGTON — President Obama will ignore angry protests from Republicans and announce as soon as next week a broad overhaul of the nation’s immigration enforcement system that will protect up to five million undocumented immigrants from the threat of deportation and provide many of them with work permits, according to administration officials who have direct knowledge of the plan.

Read the rest here.

Many banks defy bankruptcy rulings and demand payment

In the netherworld of consumer debt, there are zombies: bills that cannot be killed even by declaring personal bankruptcy.

Tens of thousands of Americans who went through bankruptcy are still haunted by debts long after — sometimes as long as a decade after — federal judges have extinguished the bills in court.

The problem, state and federal officials suspect, is that some of the nation’s biggest banks ignore bankruptcy court discharges, which render the debts void. Paying no heed to the courts, the banks keep the debts alive on credit reports, essentially forcing borrowers to make payments on bills that they do not legally owe.

Read the rest here.

Banks are the enemy!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

U.S. Sailors Assaulted by Turkish Nationalists in Istanbul

ISTANBUL — Members of a Turkish nationalist youth group assaulted three visiting American sailors in Istanbul on Wednesday, hurling balloons filled with red paint at them, putting white sacks over their heads and calling them murderers.

A video posted online by the group, the Turkish Youth Union, or T.G.B., shows a dozen of its members staging an anti-American protest in the touristy Eminonu district and attacking the sailors, who were not in uniform, in broad daylight.

The sailors had just disembarked from the guided missile destroyer Ross, docked in Istanbul for a few days. They escaped and returned to the ship, and all shore leave for the crew was canceled.

Read the rest here.

Christmas stricken from schools calendar

Christmas and Easter have been stricken from next year’s school calendar in Montgomery County. So have Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah.

Montgomery’s Board of Education voted 7 to 1 Tuesday to eliminate references to all religious holidays on the published calendar for 2015-2016, a decision that followed a request from Muslim community leaders to give equal billing to the Muslim holy day of Eid al-Adha.

In practical terms, Montgomery schools will still be closed for the Christian and Jewish holidays, as in previous years, and students will still get the same days off, as planned.

Board members said Tuesday that the new calendar will reflect days the state requires the system to be closed and that it will close on other days that have shown a high level of student and staff absenteeism. Though those days happen to coincide with major Christian and Jewish holidays, board members made clear that the days off are not meant to observe those religious holidays, which they say is not legally permitted.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Geert Wilders on the Islamization of Europe

I come to America with a mission. All is not well in the old world. There is a tremendous danger looming, and it is very difficult to be optimistic. We might be in the final stages of the Islamization of Europe. This not only is a clear and present danger to the future of Europe itself, it is a threat to America and the sheer survival of the West. The danger I see looming is the scenario of America as the last man standing. The United States as the last bastion of Western civilization, facing an Islamic Europe. In a generation or two, the US will ask itself: who lost Europe? Patriots from around Europe risk their lives every day to prevent precisely this scenario form becoming a reality.

Read the rest here.

Armistice Day

What if Mormon Missionaries Were Honest About Their Beliefs?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Islamic Prayer Service to be Held in National Cathedral

WASHINGTON -- Washington National Cathedral and five Muslim groups announced today the first celebration of Muslim Friday prayers (Jumaa) at the Cathedral on Friday, November 14.

Read the rest here. (Scroll down a bit)

The Leader of the Loyal Opposition

It's been expected for a while now, but for the record Pope Paul VII has removed Cardinal Burke from his position as the chief justice for the Catholic Church's version of the Supreme Court. He has been appointed as chaplain for the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, a position that is being universally referred to as purely ceremonial. As far as I am aware no one on either side of the increasingly sharp divide within the Catholic Church is pretending that this is anything other than a very public de-facto dismissal.

On the upside, Burke's status as the leader of the loyal opposition has now been firmly cemented. May God grant him many years!

Friday, November 07, 2014

Fr Robert Arida: Why Don’t You Become Episcopalian?

It's getting a lot of attention in the blogosphere. An Orthodox priest (OCA) recently posted a silly piece suggesting we take a hint from the Episcopalians and embrace the modern culture of everything goes. Now Fr. Johannes Jacobse (AOANA) has posted a scathing response that ends with the question in the title of the post. Read it here.

See also these related discussions from Rod Dreher and Christopher Johnson. And still more from Dreher on the broad based and very sharp criticism being directed at Fr. Robert's essay.

HT: Dr.Tighe

Supreme Court Likely to Take Gay Marriage Case

I am not easily surprised in politics or constitutional legal cases, but yesterday's decision by a three judge panel of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upholding four state bans on homosexual marriage was a bolt from the blue. With that decision we now have incompatible opinions on a critical constitutional issue at the appellate court level. I see no means by which the Supreme Court can continue to duck the matter. They will take the case, perhaps even hearing arguments late during this term.

An issue I had thought settled has suddenly become very unsettled. However, while I am extremely pleased, I will let the champagne chill until the SCOTUS hands down its ruling.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

A Republican Rout

It's 9PM PST (midnight on the right coast) and the GOP has regained control of the US Senate. The exact margin won't be known for a while, but it is possible that when the dust settles they may have gained a stunning nine seats. Meanwhile in the generally overlooked House of Representatives, the GOP looks like it will enjoy its biggest majority since the 1920s.

I think Mr. Obama is in for a tough final two years in office.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Pakistani Christian Couple Is Tortured and Burned to Death by Angry Mob

LAHORE, Pakistan — An enraged mob tortured a Pakistani Christian couple and incinerated their bodies in a brick kiln in eastern Pakistan on Tuesday after they were accused of burning a Quran, police officials said.

Read the rest here.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

St. Nicholas at Ground Zero

A short video showing the plans for the reconstructed St.Nicholas that was flattened on 9-11. They seem to have taken their inspiration from the new Roman Catholic cathedral in LA. Too big. Too modern. Way too sterile. This was a place where simplicity with traditional Orthodox iconography and interior design would have been far better. Color me unimpressed.

HT: Fr.Z

Decree of Excommunication by the Union of Eritrean Monasteries Against the Usurper Yof­tahe Dimet­ros

Spiritual greetings to you.

It is common knowledge that for over ten years, you, the individuals known as Mr. Yoftahe Dimetros Gebre-mariam and the priest Habtom Russom, have been administrating the Orthodox Tewahdo Church of Eritrea.

It is a truth known to everyone that during your administration, the church that is ancient, Apostolic, Holy and a bastion of peace and unity has been turned into a place of bedlam; its vision distorted; its mission disrupted; and enveloped by a fog of divisiveness which has placed her at a great peril. This is due to your wicked actions which fell outside the parameters of the rule of law. Most of all, you’ve rendered a church that was a source of faith, good moral behavior; a teacher, guide and protector of law and order, and the book of God into a haven for hypocrites and self-serving beasts by destroying its pillars of law and sacraments. You’re the cause and effect of this saddening phenomenon that is exhausting the church and wrecking havoc on it; this is the truth we have been closely following and carefully weighing to determine its veracity. You’re therefore primarily responsible for all the Church’s problems that have gotten worse under your tenure as administrators.

In regard to this, we, the Union of Eritrean Monasteries, have advised and warned you repeatedly, directly and through the Holy Synod and other concerned parties, in writing and verbally, to take quick corrective decisions to nib the problems in the bud. In spite of this, you failed to awaken your conscience and correct the way you conducted and ran your affairs; but you also misconstrued our patience and foolishly led the Church from bad to worse; making her slide backwards like a crab. We’ve become keenly aware and certain that your labor and mission is not to promote the interests and growth of the Church, but to hasten its demise and disintegration so you can serve your own individual interests and gain fame.

Although it is very difficult to compile and list all the damage you’ve incurred and are incurring on the Holy Orthodox Tewahdo Church, but in order to clarify all your misdeeds and transgressions with the hope that it might help you to repent, we’ve classified them into nine categories:

1. You’ve repeatedly violated and allowed the violation of the pillars of sacraments, canons and the traditions of the Church;

2. You’ve unlawfully taken over and monopolized the powers of the Holy Synod and the papacy of His Holiness the Patriarch, and the Archbishops of the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church; and in their name and without their consent, you’ve taken illegal actions;

3. You’ve become partial and a cover to the hypocrites; and served them well by providing them solid ground;

4. You’ve strangled all aspects of the Church’s apostolic mission and spiritual activities and weakened the Church; labored to weaken and destroy the Union of Monasteries;

5. You’ve committed and allowed acts that brought in the causes for strife and dissension and put the unity of the Church in jeopardy;

6. You’ve being using your illegally acquired powers and dictatorial administrations to excommunicate and harass innocent servants of the Church, among whom were fathers from the monasteries and without any due process;

7. You’ve enabled corruptions and wickedness (contrary to spirituality) to spread within the Church.

In spite of your serious transgressions on the canons, religious traditions, the holy Church and sacredness, we’ve repeatedly reached out and implored you to correct your dictatorial wickedness, but you’ve failed to head our advice. We, the Union of Monasteries, should not allow our limitless patience to be taken for granted; our Church be the play-ground of anyone who dares to come and highjack it as if it doesn’t have owners; we can’t tie our hands behind our backs and watch, for that will be an utter abdication of our most important spiritual obligations. We, therefore, excommunicate you, Mr. Yoftahe Dimetros Gebremariam, and the priest, Habtom Russom Habte, in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, by the authority of Peter and Paul, the three hundred eighteen fathers of the Orthodox faith, Timothy the Apostle, Abune Selema Kessate Birhan and all holy fathers of the monasteries of Eritrea, effective this hour.

Read the rest here.

Friday, October 31, 2014

A sad night for the kids

About a half hour before sunset a cold steady rain, the first in ages, started to fall. It has been gaining in intensity and I have not had a single trick or treater come to the door. As badly as we need the rain, its timing really is pretty crappy. I am not so old that I can't recall the joy of what I now refer to as national juvenile diabetes day. And Halloween on a Friday night, with no school the next day to limit how late you can roam in search of free candy, was the best.

Alas this night is not fit for man nor beast nor spook.

Quote of the day...

"At this very critical moment, there is a strong sense that the church is like a ship without a rudder.”

-Archbishop Raymond Card. Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura


Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Liberal Catholic Ponders the Possibility of a Conservative Schism

Until this weekend, I had largely believed in the liberal narrative which holds that Pope Francis’s reforms of the Catholic church are unstoppable. But the conservative backlash has been so fierce and so far-reaching that for the first time a split looks a real, if distant, possibility.

One leading conservative, the Australian Cardinal George Pell, published over the weekend a homily he had prepared for the traditional Latin mass at which he started ruminating on papal authority. Pope Francis, he said, was the 266th pope, “and history has seen 37 false or antipopes”.

Why mention them, except to raise the possibility that Francis might turn out to be the 38th false pope, rather than the 266th real one?

This is a fascinating nudge in the direction of an established strain of conservative fringe belief: that liberalising popes are not in fact real popes, but imposters, sent by the devil. The explanation has an attractively deranged logic: if the pope is always right, as traditionalists would like to believe, and if this particular pope is clearly wrong, as traditionalists also believe, then obviously this pope is not the real pope. Splinter groups have held this view ever since the liberalising papacy of Pope John XXIII at the start of the 1960s. I don’t think that’s what Pell meant, but it was odd and threatening to bring the subject up at all.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Survey Shows Poor Grasp of Doctrine by Evangelicals

My guess is that similar rather embarrassing results would be returned by a survey of Catholic or Orthodox laity. In any case you can read it here.

HT: Dr. Tighe

US Navy Bows to Political Correctness

The Navy said it will deploy enlisted female sailors in 2016 aboard submarines with female officers already assigned to them. 

In July, the Navy announced that enlisted female sailors will begin deploying on submarines in 2016. The enlisted women will be placed on ships with female officers where those naval officers can function as role-models and mentors, Connor said. 

"We will build upon the ships that have women officers to lead and bring in senior women at the chief petty officer level just like we did with the women supply officers," he explained.

Read the rest here.