Monday, June 30, 2014

Memo to Pope Francis and Patriarch Kyril

Communism is not compatible with Christianity. It is arguably the most patently evil ideology yet devised and widely subscribed to by human beings. How these two men could not grasp that is a mystery to me. I am especially embarrassed by Patriarch Kyril's action which I find indefensible. But the Pope should know better too.

Two More Big Wins from the Supreme Court

Unlike the two big ones from last week, today's decisions were not unanimous. But in a pair of 5-4 rulings the court limited the power of public sector unions to force non-members to pay union fees and also ruled in the much anticipated Hobby Lobby case that "closely held" private companies with a strong religious ethos cannot be compelled to pay for employee contraceptives.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

100 Years Ago: The Beginning of the End of Civilization

Go here to read the entire edition of The New York Tribune from June 29, 1914.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Ukraine's Ancient Hatreds

IN 1708, Charles XII of Sweden invaded Ukraine. His aim was to use it as a base for a final advance on Peter the Great’s Moscow. The Cossack hetman, Ivan Mazeppa, decided to throw his lot in with the Swedes in a bid to secure Ukraine’s complete independence. His decision split the Cossacks; while some followed Mazeppa, others elected a new leader, Ivan Skoropadsky, who reaffirmed his loyalty to the Cossack alliance with Russia. The following year, Charles was defeated by Peter at the climactic Battle of Poltava, Russia emerged as a player in European affairs, Ukraine was brought under closer control by the imperial government and Mazeppa fled into exile.

Was he a traitor who received his just rewards for his perfidy? Or was he a freedom fighter? The former is a more prevalent attitude in eastern Ukraine as well as the dominant narrative in Russia itself. The Russian Orthodox Church thus anathematized Mazeppa for breaking his oath of loyalty to Peter, and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which remains affiliated with the Moscow Patriarchate, continues to refuse to lift this sentence. Mazeppa is held up as an example of traitors who would sunder the unity of the East Slavic peoples. For Ukrainians who seek to join the Euro-Atlantic community, conversely, Mazeppa is a tragic hero who failed to bring Ukraine out from under Russian domination through an alliance with Western powers. His portrait graces the Ukrainian ten-hryvnia note. (Keep in mind that neither Benedict Arnold nor Robert E. Lee can be found on U.S. money.) However, a street named in his honor in Kiev was changed after the government of Viktor Yanukovych came to power in 2010.
Read the rest here.
HT: Dr. Tighe

On the Eve of the End of the World

The news coverage was remarkably pedestrian.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Yet another great court ruling

Here's to another great decision from the courts for personal freedom, and a black eye for the nanny state.
The Bloomberg big-soda ban is officially dead.

The state’s highest court on Thursday refused to reinstate New York City’s controversial limits on sales of jumbo sugary drinks, exhausting the city’s final appeal and handing a major victory to the American soft-drink industry, which bitterly opposed the plan.

In a 20-page opinion, Judge Eugene F. Pigott Jr. of the New York State Court of Appeals wrote that the city’s Board of Health “exceeded the scope of its regulatory authority” in enacting the proposal, which was championed by former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.
Read the rest here.

OK. Let's be brutally honest here. Soda is one of the worst things sold for human consumption that doesn't come with a health warning label attached. But while the government is within its rights to warn the citizenry about the health risks of certain products, in the end what people choose to eat or drink is their own business. So for those craving a super sized cup of liquid diabetes, drink up and rejoice! It's still a semi free country, even in New York.

Three Big Wins for Constitutional Government

The US Supreme Court has delivered a series of rare unanimous decisions that curb the power of the state and protect civil liberties.

In the first case the 9-0 ruling said that cops must get a warrant before they can go looking through someone's cell phone, even if that person has been arrested. The court held that in the modern world people keep much of their lives on their cell phones and that this clearly was the sort of thing the framers had in mind when they wrote the Fourth Amendment.

In the second case, the court delivered a stinging rebuke to President Obama's claim that he had the authority to decide when the Senate was or was not in session and could make recess appointments when he said so. Bottom line; no Mr. President, you don't get to decide when Congress is in session or not.

And in the third case, the still unanimous court struck down buffer zones set up around murder factories er... abortion mills to keep protestors away. The court, ruled that this violates the First Amendment rights of anti-abortion protestors.

All in all its been a great 24 hours for civil libertarians, constitutional government and the rule of law in general.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Archbishop Leo of Finland: Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches form fullness of Orthodoxy

Helsinki: In his speech during the reception provided to the Patriarchs of Alexandria on 23rd June 2014, Archbishop Leo of Karelia and All Finland stated that Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches form the fullness of Orthodoxy. He also recalled that late lamented Patriarch Athenagoras, always stressed on the true essence and fullness of Orthodoxy in Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches.

Archbishop Leo stressed that the relationship between the Church of Finland and Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate is very deep. There are large numbers of Coptic communities living in different parts of Finland. He recalled meeting with the predecessors of Coptic (Pope Shenouda III) and Alexandrian Patriarchates (Parthenius III & Peter VII).

The Primate of Finnish Church thanked Pope Tawadros II and Pope Theodore II for their historical visit to Finland and blessed presence in the country.

Several Orthodox Prelates, faithful and high level delegations from different organizations attended the events.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Yet another schism in the Ukraine

This time it's among the Greek Rite Catholics . I am starting to wonder if there might be something in the water over there. It seems that whatever its political problems, it is also the land of ecclesiological chaos.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

George Will: Stopping a lawless president

Serious as are the policy disagreements roiling Washington, none is as important as the structural distortion threatening constitutional equilibrium. Institutional derangement driven by unchecked presidential aggrandizement did not begin with Barack Obama, but his offenses against the separation of powers have been egregious in quantity and qualitatively different.

Regarding immigration, health care, welfare, education, drug policy and more, Obama has suspended, waived and rewritten laws, including the Affordable Care Act. It required the employer mandate to begin this year. But Obama wrote a new law, giving to companies of a certain size a delay until 2016 and stipulating that other employers must certify they will not drop employees to avoid the mandate. Doing so would trigger criminal perjury charges; so he created a new crime, that of adopting a business practice he opposes.

Presidents must exercise some discretion in interpreting laws, must have some latitude in allocating finite resources to the enforcement of laws and must have some freedom to act in the absence of law. Obama, however, has perpetrated more than 40 suspensions of laws. Were presidents the sole judges of the limits of their latitude, they would effectively have plenary power to vitiate the separation of powers, the Founders’ bulwark against despotism.
Read the rest here.

Judges are voiding fraudulent lawsuits

On March 7 a California appellate court upheld a trial judge’s finding that what had been billed as a watershed liability verdict against Dole Food over pesticide use in Nicaragua was actually the product of a conspiracy by corrupt plaintiffs’ lawyers. That decision came only three days after a federal judge in New York ruled that a multibillion-dollar pollution judgment against Chevron (CVX) in 2011 was so tainted by bribery and coercion that it wasn’t worth the paper it was written on.

Meanwhile, in Texas, a prominent class-action injury lawyer faces mounting woes because of allegations that he faked thousands of damage claims against BP (BP) related to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. When you combine these cases with the criminal convictions several years ago of plaintiffs-bar titans Mel Weiss, Bill Lerach, and Dickie Scruggs—all of whom served time for corrupting the civil justice system—it’s hard to deny that there’s deep dysfunction within a powerful portion of the legal profession that claims to fight corporate abuse on behalf of the little guy.
Read the rest here.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Brooklyn: Lawyers whine as educated white people "taint" jury pool

Brooklyn’s courthouses are being rocked by the “Williamsburg Effect.”

The influx of well-off and educated white people to trendy neighborhoods such as Williamsburg is rapidly “gentrifying’’ the borough’s jury pool — and transforming verdicts, lawyers and judges told The Post.

It’s good news for prosecutors in criminal cases — and bad news for plaintiffs in civil lawsuits, they said.
Read the rest here.

Spain: Juan Carlos Abdicates - Felipe VI is Inaugurated as King

King Juan Carlos has formally abdicated and his son has succeeded as Felipe VI. Although the actual ceremony was decidedly low key and completely secular, tens of thousands lined the streets to cheer the new King in a demonstration of popular support for the monarchy.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Srdja Trifkovic: The Ever More Complex Levantine Puzzle

“...The unrepentant interventionist cabal in Washington will reject such advice with horror and indignation. They still claim that Bashar can be removed, Iran sanctioned ad infinitum and preferably bombed, Iraq kept together, Jordan and Lebanon stabilized, and Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf relied upon… if only the U.S. would accept its “regional responsibilities” and become “fully engaged” yet again. They also claim that the latest disaster in Iraq is the consequence of the December 2011 American withdrawal. All that is nonsense. The chronic crisis in Iraq, which has been going on with occasional acute eruptions for 13 years, is the consequence of the illegal, unnecessary, costly, and tragic Iraq war, tirelessly urged and waged under countless false pretenses by these same people. They belong in jail or in mental asylum, not in Washington’s “foreign policy community.”
Read the rest here.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Crisis in Iraq

The government of Iraq, by which I mean the one we installed, appears to be collapsing in the face of a well organized campaign by Islamic fundamentalists. (Details here). On which subject, I don't agree with his more hard line ethno-racialism, but AG's points 4 & 5 are spot on.

I feel very badly for the people in Iraq. And I feel even worse because I can't say with a straight face that it is none of our business. It should not be any of our business. But as our former Secretary of State once famously observed; if you break it, you own it. Iraq is our mess because we broke that country, and I am deeply conflicted about what to do about it.

Two Catholic Priests Shot - One Killed in AZ

Sad news from Rorate Caeli.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Surprise Defeat of Eric Cantor Rattles DC Establishment

The defeat of the second-ranking Republican in the House by an ill-funded, little-known tea party-backed candidate ranks as the biggest congressional upset in modern memory and will immediately generate a series of political and policy-related shock waves in Washington and the Richmond-area 7th District.

"People don't know how to respond because it's never been contemplated," said one Virginia Republican strategist, granted anonymity to speak candidly about Cantor's loss. (Worth noting: Cantor didn't just lose. He got walloped; David Brat, his challenger, won 56 percent to 44 percent.)

In conversations with a handful of GOP operatives in the aftermath of Cantor's loss --  a loss blamed largely on an inept campaign consulting team that misread the level of vitriol directed at the candidate due to his place in Republican leadership and the perception he supported so-called "amnesty" for illegal immigrants -- there were several common threads about what it means for politics inside and outside the House.
Read the rest here.

The Irish Orphanage Horror Story...

800 babies in a septic tank? Yeah, it looks like a media driven hoax. It's all over the internet but not surprisingly it's getting scant attention in the MSM. Here's just one of the many articles debunking it.

HT: Dr. Tighe

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Once again...

Dad is back in the hospital. Limited posting for the next few days. This is getting discouraging.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Ortho-Cath Ecumenical Group calls for married clergy in Eastern Rite

Read the story here. Mixed feeling on this one. I deeply sympathize with the Greek Rite Catholics who have lived with 2nd class status in the Catholic Church pretty much for as long as they have existed. And I am delighted that some high ranking people in their church seem to be coming around on this subject. But I am less sanguine about OUR clergy opining on this in any kind of official capacity. In the end, they are not Orthodox and we are not Catholic. Its an internal disciplinary issue of the Catholic Church for them to sort out, not us.

I guess what I'm saying is, it's none of our business.

Surviving D Day - and the guilt

A 19 year old Leo Scheer during World War II
As Leo Scheer swam for Omaha Beach from his burning landing craft that morning, he watched a pattern of machine gun bullets splash toward him and stop short.

On the beach, he spotted a land mine a foot from his head just as he was about to trip it. And when a buddy was about to make a hazardous dash under fire, Scheer pulled him back just in time to save his life.

Amid all the bloodshed and destruction of World War II’s D-Day landings on June 6, 1944, something always seemed to shield Scheer from disaster.
Read the rest here.

D Day


It's almost impossible to imagine what it was like on the home front June 6, 1944. But you can get an idea by listening to some of the wall to wall news coverage that was broadcast periodically interrupted by patriotic music and prayer from famous clergy and FDR. It must have been gut wrenching for families with loved ones in the service. Radio coverage...

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Senators reach bipartisan deal on bill to fix VA

Senators announced a bipartisan agreement Thursday to address several issues at the beleaguered Department of Veterans Affairs that they expect will help reduce long wait times for veterans seeking care while also providing hundreds of millions of dollars to hire more doctors and nurses to treat veterans.

"Right now we have a crisis on our hands and it’s imperative that we deal with that crisis," Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said in announcing the deal Thursday afternoon.

The agreement will allow eligible veterans to use non-VA medical care if they are experiencing long wait times or live more than 40 miles from the nearest VA hospital or clinic. Veterans could choose instead to opt into the Medicare program, visit federally-qualified health centers, Indian Health Centers or facilities run by the Defense Department.

To address burgeoning demand for VA care, the bill would authorize the department to enter into leases for 26 major medical facilities in 18 states nationwide and to spend $500 million to hire new doctors and nurses with expedited hiring authority.
Read the rest here.

Dear God, Congress is doing something productive and they are doing it quickly. I think I need to go lie down.

Democrats Quietly Cheer Tea Party Win in Mississippi

WASHINGTON — It is a major headache for the national Republican Party and perhaps the biggest break Democrats have been handed in this difficult election year: a three-week runoff campaign in Mississippi between a party elder, Senator Thad Cochran, and the sometimes unpredictable Tea Party favorite, Chris McDaniel.
Read the rest here.

Personally I think this is wishful thinking. Mississippi is among the reddest of states. In all likelihood historians will say that the election was settled by the GOP primary.

Monday, June 02, 2014

The remarkable legacy of Spain's King Juan Carlos

Beset by mishaps while on hunting trips and rumours of extramarital flings, the latter years of King Juan Carlos I of Spain resemble that of many of Europe's royals in the tabloid age. But beyond the occasional headlines in Spain's prensa rosa – or red-top newspapers – he will be remembered for skilfully transiting his land from backward military dictatorship to modern European state.

With Spain bitterly divided in the post-war years between Republicans and Fascists, the young monarch faced hostile generals on the Right and contemptuous Communists on the Left, and was widely expected to end up as "Juan Carlos the Brief". Instead, as his 38 years on the throne was to prove, he played a key role in smoothing Spain's path to democracy, deftly courting allies on both sides and almost single-handedly thwarting a military coup in 1981.
Read the rest here.

King Juan Carlos of Spain to Abdicate

His Most Catholic Majesty Juan Carlos de Borbón of Spain has announced he will abdicate sometime early next year in favor of his son, Crown Prince Felipe. I really hate this wave of abdications. Nonetheless I wish His Majesty a long and happy retirement.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

FOUNTAIN OF IMMORTALITY - Meditation on the Orthodox Divine Liturgy

Widespread Corruption Taints World's Most Popular Sport

JOHANNESBURG — A soccer referee named Ibrahim Chaibou walked into a bank in a small South African city carrying a bag filled with as much as $100,000 in $100 bills, according to another referee traveling with him. The deposit was so large that a bank employee gave Mr. Chaibou a gift of commemorative coins bearing the likeness of Nelson Mandela.

Later that night in May 2010, Mr. Chaibou refereed an exhibition match between South Africa and Guatemala in preparation for the World Cup, the world’s most popular sporting event. Even to the casual fan, his calls were suspicious — he called two penalties for hand balls even though the ball went nowhere near the players’ hands.

Mr. Chaibou, a native of Niger, had been chosen to work the match by a company based in Singapore that was a front for a notorious match-rigging syndicate, according to an internal, confidential report by FIFA, soccer’s world governing body.
Read the rest here.