Saturday, January 31, 2015

150 Years Ago Today: The death knell of slavery

On this date in 1865 the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America passed the House of Representatives and was sent to the states where it was swiftly ratified. The Senate had already passed the amendment and there was little doubt that the states (those still in the Union or under Federal military occupation) would ratify it. Only in the House of Representatives was there any doubt, and the battle was fierce with most Democrats strongly opposed.

With the Republican Party having put support for an abolition amendment into its platform in the 1864 general election there was strong GOP support. Most Democrats, especially rebel sympathizers nicknamed  "copperheads," resisted the amendment employing a variety of arguments including deference to State's Rights and Federalism as well as more dramatic rhetoric designed to play on popular fear and prejudice. It was, many warned, the beginning of a revolution that would only end with Negro citizenship, Negro votes and miscegenation. In the end a handful of Northern Democrats saw the writing on the wall and moved to support the amendment. Other votes were procured via backroom deals, political arm twisting and in a few cases, outright bribery. 

Amendment XIII
Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Taking a hard look at the Obama-Netanyahu feud

WASHINGTON — For six years, the pattern has been the same. A dispute between American and Israeli leaders spills out into the open. Analysts declare the relationship in crisis. Then the two sides try to tamp down emotions and argue that the rupture is not as dire as it looks.

In the latest falling-out between President Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the first part of the pattern has certainly held — but not the second. This time, senior officials in both Washington and Jerusalem are making little effort to paper over the seriousness of the rift and even less, it seems, to try to repair it.

The diplomatic break touched off by Mr. Netanyahu’s decision to negotiate an address to Congress without first telling Mr. Obama is about much more than a speech. It reflects fundamentally different world views between the leaders of two longtime allies: an American president eager for a historic rapprochement with Iran and an Israeli premier nursing an existential fear of a nuclear-armed enemy.

Read the rest here.
From here.

The 1965 Missal: The Real Mass of Vatican II?

There is an essay by Msgr Charles Pope that may be of interest to Roman Catholics, particularly those of a traditionalist bent. I am not going to excerpt it. Just go here and read it all.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Catholic archbishop responds to first woman bishop in Church of England

(Vatican Radio) The Catholic archbishop of Birmingham says he wishes the Church of England’s first female bishop well in her ministry and will be remembering her in his prayers. Archbishop Bernard Longley is the Catholic co-chair of ARCIC, the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission. He told Vatican Radio that the consecration of Bishop Libby Lane on Monday was a “historic moment in the life of the Church of England” but noted that there has long been “the presence, the witness and the work of women” as bishops within the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Read the rest here

God and Sports

Seems like a lot of people think God takes an active interest in sports teams and events. My take...

As a fan of the New York Metropolitans (What? You thought I’d cheer for the Cardinals?) I view God’s involvement in sports as a testing and strengthening of character in preparation for eventual martyrdom.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Fred Reed: Women in the Military - Fiat Equality

Sigh. I have just read that a young woman named Sage Santangelo has failed the infantry-trainimg course for Marine officers at Quantico, bringing the rate of female failure to 29 out of 29. As an old hand with thirty years covering the military, I can attest that this vu is getting more deja all the time. Women have never succeeded at physical things in the military becauese they can't. More on that in a moment.

Santangelo seems a most impressive woman. Any woman who would attempt the TBE course is necessarily impressive. We are not talking pampered Swarthmore brats in Women' Studies. She reports making her first solo lfight [sic] at fifteen, climbing most of Colorado's highest peaks, playing goalie on a boy's hockey team. She is Marine material, and has my respect.

But she washed out on day one. Even tough, fiercely determined, highly athletic women can't do it. It isn't their fault. We are born with the equipment we are born with.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

70 Years Ago: The Word Gets a Glimpse of Hell

Seventy years ago today the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp was liberated. About 7,500 inmates were found. The rest had been killed or forced into a death march back to Germany by the SS in an effort to eliminate witnesses to their crimes. Although the exact figure will likely never be known, virtually all reputable historians agree that during its years of operation somewhere around a million people were killed there by a combination of starvation, disease, shootings, hangings, torture and psuedoscientific medical experiments. But the vast majority were systematically murdered by gassing carried out on an industrial scale. The mass killings reached their height during the summer of 1944 with the gassing of around 12,000 men women and children every day as part of the planned liquidation of the Jews of Hungary.

Hungarian Jews waiting to be taken to the gas chambers.

Around 90% of those who died in the camp were Jews, with the rest being a combination of Soviet POWs, non Jewish Poles, Gypsies, political prisoners, criminals, homosexuals and others classified as undesirable or subhuman by the Third Reich. Overall it is estimated that about one in every six Jews killed by the Nazis died at Auschwitz. Today large parts of the camp remain preserved as a permanent memorial to the dead and although only one of many extermination camps, Auschwitz has become a global symbol of Nazi brutality.

Tens of thousands of shoes from those gassed.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Greece: Far left wins election - setting stage for battle with Europe

ATHENS — Greece rejected the punishing economics of austerity on Sunday and sent a warning signal to the rest of Europe as the left-wing Syriza party won a decisive victory in national elections, positioning its tough-talking leader, Alexis Tsipras, to become the next prime minister.

With 60 percent of the vote counted, Syriza had 36 percent, almost eight points ahead of the governing center-right New Democracy Party of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who had conceded defeat. The only uncertainty was whether Syriza would muster an outright parliamentary majority or if it would have to form a coalition.

Appearing before a throng of supporters outside Athens University late Sunday night, Mr. Tsipras, 40, declared that the era of austerity was over and promised to revive the Greek economy. He also said his government would not allow Greece’s creditors to strangle the country.

“Greece will now move ahead with hope, and reach out to Europe, and Europe is going to change,” he said. “The verdict is clear: We will bring an end to the vicious circle of austerity.”

Read the rest here.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Guns and Politics

California Bans Judges From Boy Scouts

California judges will no longer be allowed to participate in the Boy Scouts organization after the state Supreme Court voted this week to eliminate an exception to a rule that bars jurists from being a part of discriminatory organizations.

The Boy Scouts of America continues to bar gay and lesbian adults from serving as leaders in the organization, even after lifting a ban on openly gay youth.

California's judicial code of ethics bars judges from holding "membership in any organization that practices invidious discrimination on the basis of race, sex, gender, religion, national origin, ethnicity or sexual orientation."

Read the rest here.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Thomas Cromwell was the Islamic State of his day

Forget Wolf Hall: this pathologically ambitious "ruffian" sent hundreds to the chopping block and destroyed England's religious and artistic heritage.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Patriarch Kirill Calls for Ban on Abortion in Speech to Russian Parliament

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church has called upon MPs to begin a campaign against abortions, starting with canceling state sponsorship for the procedure and aiming at a total nationwide ban.

“If we manage to cut the number of abortions by 50 percent we would have stable and powerful population growth,” Patriarch Kirill said, speaking before the Lower House on Thursday. This was the first ever speech of the head of the Russian Orthodox Church before the State Duma.

“The argument that a ban would cause an increase in the number of underground abortions is pure nonsense. People have to pay money for these operations and our task is to make the price of a legal infanticide the same as of the illegal one. Taxpayers must not pay for this,” the church leader told the MPs, suggesting the exclusion of abortion from the list of services covered by the obligatory medical insurance program.

Read the rest here.
HT: Ordo Antiquus

Scary Rumors: Pope Francis is Considering a Vatican III

I dislike posting rumors and gossip, but this is all over the internet, and sadly it is not beyond the realm of possibility. Apparently the unconfirmed report from Andrea Gagliarducci, an Italian journalist, is that Pope Francis may be preparing a document that would announce a Third Vatican Council.

I am shuddering at the mere thought. But I stress that as of right now, the journalist himself has stated that there is no confirmation. 

German Priest Suspended for Speaking at anti-Islamic Rally

A Catholic priest in Germany has been banned from giving sermons or representing the church after speaking at a Pegida rally.

Father Paul Spaetling, from the Diocese of Munster, told the rally that Europe had spent over a thousand years fighting against Islam.

He said that he did not agree that Islam had a place in the country, which the German chancellor had said.

Pegida protest against what they call the 'Islamisation' of Europe, and have been accused of xenophobia.

The spokesman for the diocese, Stephan Kronenburg, said Father Paul's simplistic view of history was "not compatible with the Christian message of love, kindness and inclusion".


Paris Flat Locked Before World War II Opened

A Paris apartment, locked and abandoned on the eve of the war, and somehow left untouched for seven decades, is opened. Think of a giant time capsule giving us a glimpse of a bygone era with a secret love affair dating all the way back to the belle epoch for flavor.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Former BIS Economist Warns of Dangers in QE

The economic prophet who foresaw the Lehman crisis with uncanny accuracy is even more worried about the world's financial system going into 2015.

Beggar-thy-neighbour devaluations are spreading to every region. All the major central banks are stoking asset bubbles deliberately to put off the day of reckoning. This time emerging markets have been drawn into the quagmire as well, corrupted by the leakage from quantitative easing (QE) in the West.

"We are in a world that is dangerously unanchored," said William White, the Swiss-based chairman of the OECD's Review Committee. "We're seeing true currency wars and everybody is doing it, and I have no idea where this is going to end."

Mr White is a former chief economist to the Bank for International Settlements - the bank of central banks - and currently an advisor to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Read the rest here.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Meet the Islamic Thought Police

“You have shamed the community,” a fellow Muslim in Morgantown, W.Va., said to me as we sat in a Panera Bread in 2004. “Stop writing.”

Then 38, I had just written an essay for The Washington Post’s Outlook section arguing that women should be allowed to pray in the main halls of mosques, rather than in segregated spaces, as most mosques in America are arranged. An American Muslim born in India, I grew up in a tolerant but conservative family. In my hometown mosque, I had disobeyed the rules and prayed in the men’s area, about 20 feet behind the men gathered for Ramadan prayers.

Later, an all-male tribunal tried to ban me. An elder suggested having men surround me at the mosque so that I would be “scared off.” Now the man across the table was telling me to shut up.

“I won’t stop writing,” I said.

It was the first time a fellow Muslim had pressed me to refrain from criticizing the way our faith was practiced. But in the past decade, such attempts at censorship have become more common. This is largely because of the rising power and influence of the “ghairat brigade,” an honor corps that tries to silence debate on extremist ideology in order to protect the image of Islam. It meets even sound critiques with hideous, disproportionate responses.

Read the rest here.

50 Years Ago: Remembering Churchill's funeral and the sunset of the Empire

Churchill’s passing at 8am that Saturday morning – 50 years ago this week – at his home in Hyde Park Gate in London did not come as a surprise to anybody. He was 90 years old, after all, and he had suffered a massive stroke two weeks previously.

Yet it did seem a historically significant moment, coming at a time when the Labour government was considering withdrawing all troops from east of Suez and so closing down the last remnants on the British Empire. “Now Britain is no longer a great power,” said Charles de Gaulle when he heard the news.

Many commentators in the British press agreed with him, and saw in the ceremony at St Paul’s the end of the era of British greatness. With the uninspiring Harold Wilson in Downing Street – about as un-Churchillian a figure imaginable – wrestling with recurrent economic problems that were soon to force the government into a humiliating devaluation of sterling, it was natural to fit Churchill’s death into an overall narrative of decline and malaise.

“The day of giants is gone for ever,” the historian Sir Arthur Bryant wrote in the Illustrated London News. Churchill’s own detective agreed, saying: “If the king dies you can say 'Long live the king’, but now Sir Winston’s gone, who is there? There’s no one of his stature left.” A L Rowse, the Oxford don, was equally pessimistic, writing: “The sun is going down on the British Empire.”

Read the rest here.

Israel's Netanyahu seeks more trade partners citing Islamization and anti-Semitism in Europe

Benjamin Netanyahu risked opening a new rift with European leaders on Sunday by announcing plans to boost trade with Asia because Western Europe, its main partner, was experiencing "a wave of Islamisation, anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism".

The Israeli prime minister's comments at a weekly cabinet meeting came as he prepared to welcome Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister, who arrived in Israel accompanied by around 100 heads of leading Japanese companies.

"We definitely want to reduce our dependence on certain markets in western Europe," said Mr Netanyahu while advocating increased trade with Japan, India and China.

Read the rest here.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The joys of being a lame duck President with a hostile Congress

You can make all kinds of ridiculous proposals that you know are going nowhere.
President Obama plans to propose raising $320 billion over the next 10 years in new taxes targeting wealthy individuals and big financial institutions to pay for new programs designed to help lower- and middle-income families, senior administration officials said Saturday.
Read the rest here.

Friday, January 16, 2015

An Unvarnished Look at Vladimir Putin

A new PBS Front Line documentary takes a hard look at one of the most controversial figures in the world today. It's not pretty, but I suspect it's not unfair either. While there is much to admire about Russian history and culture, the current government is not on that list.

Watch it here.

Thank You Eric Holder

Now there is a blog title I never expected to write without sarcasm. But giving credit where it is due, this is a hugely important move in defense of civil liberties.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Friday barred local and state police from using federal law to seize cash, cars and other property without evidence that a crime occurred.

Holder’s action represents the most sweeping check on police power to confiscate personal property since the seizures began three decades ago as part of the war on drugs.
 Read the rest here.

Supreme Court Will Decide Gay Marriage

No surprise. Given the conflicting rulings at the appellate court level they really had no choice.

Why Switzerland is wreaking havoc in the global currency markets

This is how a currency peg ends. This is how a currency peg ends. Yes, with a bang, actually.

The Swiss National Bank (SNB) shocked markets on Thursday by announcing that it would no longer hold the value of the Swiss franc down at 1.2 per euro, although it would lower interest rates from -0.25 to -0.75 percent. Mayhem ensued. The Swiss franc immediately shot up as much as 39 percent against the euro, before settling at "only" up 17 percent on the day. This is basically the biggest single-day move for a rich country's currency, as economist David Zervos points out, in the last 40 years. And it's sent Switzerland's stock market down 10 percent, as its suddenly more expensive currency will cripple its exporters by making their goods more expensive abroad.

Now let's back up a minute. Why was Switzerland pushing its currency down, and why has it stopped now? Well, in four words, it's the euro crisis. Back in 2011, you see, what looked like the imminent end of the euro made people want to move their money to the safety of Swiss banks. It wasn't about the secrecy, though. It was the fact that Swiss banks use Swiss francs, and those wouldn't get devalued like, say, Italian euros would if the common currency broke apart. The problem, though, was that this flood of incoming money pushed Switzerland's currency up too much, over 40 percent in just a year. The Swiss franc got so expensive that Swiss exporters, who sell 56 percent of their goods to the EU, were becoming uncompetitive, and Swiss prices were starting to fall.

And then the SNB remembered that a central bank can always push its currency down just by printing more of it. So that's what it did. Even better, it told everybody that this was what it was doing. It said it would buy as many euros with newly-printed Swiss francs as it took to keep the Swiss franc from being worth more than 1.2 per euro. That meant that, for awhile, the SNB didn't actually have to do anything, since nobody wants to bet against somebody with infinite money.

Read the rest here.

Further evidence of severe global deflationary pressure.

Thursday, January 15, 2015


HT: Daily Paul
Via Wilson Revolution Unplugged

Pope Francis on Charlie Hebdo: ‘You cannot insult the faith of others’

A week after the massacre at the headquarters of a French publication known for insulting adherents of several faiths, Pope Francis told reporters that freedom of expression has its limits when it comes to insulting religion.

Read the rest here.

Fred Reed: Diversity: Koom. Bah. Humbug

Regarding the unsurprising slaughter in Paris:
Diversity is a disaster. Why people cannot see this is a mystery. A country can ignore an unfortunate reality, but it cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring it. Why governments allow and even encourage immigration of incompatible populations is a greater mystery. Few things cause more misery, hatred, death, and destruction than does diversity. One may wish it were not so, but it is so.

Read the rest here.

Disclaimer: This post should not be viewed as an endorsement of brother Fred's column, though I think he makes some some points worthy of discussion.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

AEP: Europe's imperial court is a threat to democracy

The European Court of Justice has declared legal supremacy over the sovereign state of Germany, and therefore of Britain, France, Denmark and Poland as well. 

The ECJ's advocate-general has not only brushed aside the careful findings of the German constitutional court on a matter of highest importance, he has gone so far as to claim that Germany is obliged to submit to the final decision. "We cannot possibly accept this and they know it," said one German jurist close to the case.

The matter at hand is whether the European Central Bank broke the law with its back-stop plan for Italian and Spanish debt (OMT) in 2012. The teleological ECJ - always eager to further the cause of EU integration - did come up with the politically-correct answer as expected. The ECB is in the clear. The opinion is a green light for quantitative easing next week, legally never in doubt. 

The European Court did defer to the Verfassungsgericht in Karlsruhe on a few points. The ECB must not get mixed up with the EU bail-out fund (ESM) or take part in Troika rescue operations. But these details are not the deeper import of the case.

The opinion is a vaulting assertion of EU primacy. If the Karlsruhe accepts this, the implication is that Germany will no longer be a fully self-governing sovereign state. 

Read the rest here.

Top Anglicans: Church of England cannot carry on as it is unless decline ‘urgently’ reversed

The Church of England will no longer be able to carry on its current form unless the downward spiral its membership is reversed “as a matter of urgency”, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have warned. 

Read the rest here.

Sorry your lordship; the problem is not administrative, it's spiritual.

Pope considers adding cardinal-electors for next conclave

(ANSA) - Vatican City, January 9 - Pope Francis is considering the feasibility of expanding the number of cardinal electors who will chose the next pontiff to 140 from the current 120.

Read the rest here.

Hmmmm... I cannot imagine why he would do such a thing.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Sorry, liberals, Scandinavian countries aren’t utopias

Want proof that the liberal social-democratic society works?

Look to Denmark, the country that routinely leads the world in happiness surveys. It’s also notable for having the highest taxes on Earth, plus a comfy social-safety net: Child care is mostly free, as is public school and even private school, and you can stay on unemployment benefits for a long time. Everyone is on an equal footing, both income-wise and socially: Go to a party and you wouldn’t be surprised to see a TV star talking to a roofer.

The combination of massive taxes and benefits for the unsuccessful means top and bottom get shaved off: Pretty much everyone is proudly middle class. Danes belong to more civic associations and clubs than anyone else; they love performing in large groups. At Christmas they do wacky things like hold hands and run around the house together, singing festive songs. They’re a real-life Whoville.

In the American liberal compass, the needle is always pointing to places like Denmark. Everything they most fervently hope for here has already happened there.

So: Why does no one seem particularly interested in visiting Denmark? (“Honey, on our European trip, I want to see Tuscany, Paris, Berlin and . . . Jutland!”) Visitors say Danes are joyless to be around. Denmark suffers from high rates of alcoholism. In its use of antidepressants it ranks fourth in the world. (Its fellow Nordics the Icelanders are in front by a wide margin.) Some 5% of Danish men have had sex with an animal. (I could have lived without that piece of information.) Denmark’s productivity is in decline, its workers put in only 28 hours a week, and everybody you meet seems to have a government job. Oh, and as The Telegraph put it, it’s “the cancer capital of the world.”

So how happy can these drunk, depressed, lazy, tumor-ridden, pig-bonking bureaucrats really be?

Read the rest here.
(Fixed the link)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Russia continues to reel as credit rating is slashed

Fitch has downgraded Russia's credit rating and painted a horrific picture of a struggling economy rocked by a collapsing rouble, falling oil prices, high inflation and declining international reserves.

The ratings agency cut the country to BBB- from BBB with a negative outlook, meaning further downgrades are possible.

But it was the language Fitch used in its reasoning that was most shocking.

Read the rest here.

Russian government bonds are now just one short step from being graded as "junk."

Saturday, January 10, 2015

A British ex-Pat on why he loves Romania

His 25 reasons for why he loves Romania wore both informative and at times funny.

HT: Dr. Tighe

Pondering French gun laws and the terrible "what ifs"

When American audiences read of a dramatic event in a foreign country, they often frame it in terms of the political debates occurring at home. As such, it was no surprise that after shootings at the satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris this week, some Americans began to wonder about gun control laws.

"Isn't it interesting that the tragedy in Paris took place in one of the toughest gun control countries in the world?" American reality television star Donald Trump wrote on Twitter shortly after the news broke. The tweet prompted both praise (over a thousand retweets) and scorn (Trump was labelled a "moron" and an "idiot" by other tweeters).

Trump, a perennial attention seeker, was likely attempting to score political points and insult liberals with his tweet. But behind the disingenuity, there is is a genuinely troubling question: Why didn't France's gun laws save the Charlie Hebdo victims?

Read the rest here.

So, would the outcome have been different if this had gone down somewhere a bit more friendly to the right of self-defense? We will never know with any certainty, but let's consider a hypothetical alternative scenario.

Let's move the crime from Paris to San Antonio Texas. Texas, for those who don't pay attention to such things has a pretty libertarian approach to gun ownership. Assuming you are not a convicted felon, you can pretty much own anything that is legally sold in the United States. A concealed carry permit is required if you want to carry a weapon, but again, barring a serious criminal record getting one is mostly just a matter of filing some paperwork and getting fingerprinted.

So would the victims have been armed? Again, we cannot know with any certainty. These were mostly left wing wienies, so maybe not. But even Democrats have been known to pack heat in Texas. And we are talking about people who had been directly, and very credibly threatened. My gut says at least some of the ten targeted victims would have been armed.

Would the presence of one or more armed persons among the victims have changed the outcome? This is HUGELY speculative because there are so many variables. How many would have been armed? What would they be carrying? Remember the bad guys had fully automatic assault weapons and were at least competent in their use. And contrary to rumor those kinds of guns are generally illegal, even in Texas. So the victims would almost certainly have been outgunned. Most likely they would have been carrying sidearms of some kind. And then we have to factor in training. The bad guys had some. Who knows about our victims. And of course the bad guys were fanatics willing, and perhaps even desirous of dying in their twisted cause. So it's unlikely they would have been deterred or frightened off by a few shots fired in their direction. But probably the one factor that would have weighed most against the victims is that the bad guys were wearing at least some level of body armor. That, plus the huge difference in firepower would have tipped the odds severely in favor of the terrorists.

Conclusion: The best that can be said with even a moderate level of confidence is that the bad guys would not have had a walk over. Which is to say that if even one or two of the victims had been carrying something as simple as a .38 revolver, it would have instantly added a degree of danger and complication that the assassins did not have to face in France.

Friday, January 09, 2015

How long can you last...

...before hitting the "off" button or violently regurgitating?

HT: Fr. Z on whose post you can find some interesting (and amusing) commentary.

Atlanta's Mayor Sacks Fire Chief for Anti-Gay Religious Comments

Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran — the subject of recent controversy over remarks made in a self-published religious book — has been terminated from the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department, Mayor Kasim Reed announced today.
Cochran returned to work today following a month-long suspension for comments in his 2013 book “Who Told You That You Are Naked?” Many criticized the book as promoting discriminatory and anti-gay views, while Cochran’s suspension — and now termination — has since become the focus of a fight over “religious liberty.”

Read the rest here. See also this related story.
HT: Dr. Tighe

David Brooks: I Am Not Charlie Hebdo

The journalists at Charlie Hebdo are now rightly being celebrated as martyrs on behalf of freedom of expression, but let’s face it: If they had tried to publish their satirical newspaper on any American university campus over the last two decades it wouldn’t have lasted 30 seconds. Student and faculty groups would have accused them of hate speech. The administration would have cut financing and shut them down.

Public reaction to the attack in Paris has revealed that there are a lot of people who are quick to lionize those who offend the views of Islamist terrorists in France but who are a lot less tolerant toward those who offend their own views at home.
Just look at all the people who have overreacted to campus micro-aggressions. The University of Illinois fired a professor who taught the Roman Catholic view on homosexuality. The University of Kansas suspended a professor for writing a harsh tweet against the N.R.A. Vanderbilt University derecognized a Christian group that insisted that it be led by Christians.

Read the rest here.

Good points. Defending someone's right to be an anti-religious bigot should not be seen as an endorsement. And freedom of expression runs in every direction, something that far too many liberals don't want to acknowledge.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Quote of the day...

"This may sound pompous, but I would rather die standing than live on my knees."

-Stéphane Charbonnier Senior Editor of Charlie Hebdo and martyr to the cause of human liberty

Je suis Charlie

Republican Congress Plans to Dilute Regulation of Wall Street

WASHINGTON, Jan 7 (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives expects to vote Wednesday on legislation retooling a series of financial regulations, an early sign that Republican leaders will attack President Barack Obama's Wall Street reforms this year.

Scaling back reforms including the so-called Volcker rule on banks is a top Republican priority as stated on the website of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California

The proposal is one of the first votes House lawmakers will take this year after the Republican Party formally took control of both chambers of the U.S. Congress this week following last November's congressional elections.

Read the rest here.

Ignoring the fact that this is just plain wrong, it's also stupid politics. The GOP is playing into the hands of Obama. The mega  banks are as crooked as my dog's hind legs and pretty much everybody knows it. Obama will veto anything along the lines of what the GOP is planning thus coming across as a hero for the folks on Main Street who are sick of the preferential treatment that the Wall Street banksters get.

Massacre in Paris

Prayers for everyone affected.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Christ is born! (Again)

A joyous Feast of the Nativity to those on the traditional church calendar.

Many Years!

To George and Barbara Bush on their 70th (!) wedding anniversary.

“I married the first man I ever kissed; when I tell my children that they just about throw up.” -Barbara Bush

HT: Fr. Z

GQ Magazine eat your heart out

Introducing the 1926 man and car of the year.

When cops are the killers

Over the holidays, a federal district judge in Massachusetts issued a ruling in the lawsuit brought by the family of Eurie Stamps, a 68-year-old man shot and killed by a Framingham, Mass., SWAT team during a drug raid in 2011. The ruling actually allows the lawsuit to go forward, but only in a limited capacity. The family will only be permitted to sue the officer who shot Stamps, and only for compensatory damages. The family’s bid for punitive damages and its claims against the city were dismissed. In fact, despite the fact that Stamps was not suspected of any crime, that he was fully compliant with the police when they stormed his house with guns, that the raid on his home itself was unnecessary, and that the judge concedes that Stamps did absolutely nothing to facilitate his own killing, the family has already lost on eight of their 10 claims before the case will even get to a jury. (Though that could still change, as both sides could appeal.)

Read the rest here.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

What pit bull activism says about our culture

Last weekend in Saanich, B.C., a 16-day old baby was mauled by her family’s pit bull-Rottweiler mix on the same day as an elderly man was attacked by two pit bull dogs outside a Langley, B.C. dollar store. News like this is reported, but commentary-wise, dog-related public safety is virtually an orphan topic. Which is why I adopted it.
Public-safety regulation is usually linked to what is deemed a critical number of injuries or deaths. Between 1971 and 1980, for example, Ford produced three million Pintos. Due to a peculiarity in the Pinto’s structural design, its fuel tank was prone to puncture in rear-end collisions. Consequently, over Pinto’s 10 years in operation, 26 people died in fires that a better design could have prevented. Ford was forced to retire the model in the interest of public safety.

By coincidence, there are about three million pit bull type dogs in North America today, representing 6% of all breeds. But about 26 people die from pit bull type dogs in the U.S. every year (out of about 40 from all 400 breeds combined). Pit bull type dogs maul, maim, disfigure or dismember hundreds more. By no coincidence, when pit bulls were few in number — 200,00 before 1970, most clustered in marginal districts — dogbite-related fatalities in the general population were freakishly rare. In my youth, when middle-class neighbourhood dogs ran loose, and average families didn’t own fighting dogs, years went by without a single fatality. If pit bull type dogs were cars, they’d be long gone. But unlike car victims, pit bull tragedies don’t arouse public outrage.

Read the rest here.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Russian Orthodox Church Publishes Scathing Attack on Pro-Gay UNICEF

As Christians around the world got ready to contemplate the innocence of the child Jesus, last week the Russian Orthodox Church took on a UNICEF paper that says children have LGBT rights.

The Patriarch’s Commission on the Family of the Russian Orthodox Church released a scathing statement criticizing a UNICEF position paper that urges countries to protect LGBT rights because, it says, it is in the “best interests of children.” The Commission turns the tables on UNICEF and says: “Placing children to be raised by same-sex couples is a gross violation of the rights and interests of a child.”

The Orthodox Commission said it was “gravely concerned” that UNICEF would throw its weight behind what it calls notions that are “devoid of sound international legal basis” and “contrary to most of the nations’ traditional cultures, as well as norms of natural and religious morality.” As a result, the commission says it is “harmful to the international community and will undermine the moral legitimacy of UNICEF and other UN bodies.”

Read the rest here.

Episcopal Church to Host Dinner Celebrating Abortion

St. James Episcopal Church will celebrate 42 years of abortion with Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid Missouri on January 22, 2015 for their Chili for Choice. 

Read the rest here.

The Episcopal "Church" is simply apostate. It is not a Christian body and it is time to say this frankly. All of the Orthodox jurisdictions need to stop sucking up to these pagan child killers and terminate any so-called ecumenical dialogue. Further we need to stop recognizing their sacraments, yes including baptisms. I would sooner accept Mormon baptisms as potentially Christian (they are not). It is time for us to stop living in the land of make believe.

Friday, January 02, 2015

A Reflection on Modern China by an American ex-Patriot

...The question about capitalism is... tough to answer. In my mind, white-bread-American capitalism is a combination of a company trying to make money in the confines of a society that's sure as hell gonna know if it dumps metric tons of company waste in the nearest river while being watched over by a government that is reasonably free from graft and will freak out if that dumping happens while also operating in a society where everyone has the freedom to take pictures with their cell phones and put them up on Twitter if the rivers turn purple/blue/green, etc.

China is... different.  On one hand, Chinese (and, of course, Japanese) people work a thousand circles around a typical American. Capitalists could find this attractive, of course. A capitalist might be really thrilled by the idea that in China there really aren't weekends and the average worker gets one day off PER MONTH. Also, in China the workers sometimes come from other parts of the country and leave their children behind. This is because in China children tend to be raised by the grandparents, and this is because there are mandatory retirement ages (in the 50s for both men and women though the men are usually allowed to work a bit longer than women), so that there is really no such thing as older workers.

The family relationship in China is one where the husband and wife and child also have the husband's parents living with them in a tiny little apartment. The husband and wife both work, the grandparents were mandatorily retired years ago, and take care of the grandchild. The husband and wife might work where they live or one or both might work in another city altogether tons of miles away. They all might see each other once or twice a year. This is why "golden week" or other such vacation weeks are so incredibly important... it's when families see each other.

Sons are more valued than daughters not because one gender is more prized than another but because sons are usually an aging parent's only hope for a semi-comfortable retirement. When you grow old, you move in with your SON, not your daughter, for your daughter already married some guy and his parents already live with them and there ain't no room for you and even if there were, it's not what's done. If you have no son, you're pretty much screwed, unless you've amassed money, but that doesn't happen for the typical worker in China.

Sure, there is unbelievable wealth in China, but the typical worker doesn't have any of it. Business and moneymaking in China is wrapped in graft, rolled up in intellectual property theft, and includes generous amounts of corporate espionage.  One could argue that it's actually far more capitalistic than what you see in America! Businesses, free from that pesky EPA, can (and will) dump what they wish in the rivers.  Free from labor laws, they can (and will) have workers working 16 hour days with only one day off a month.  Free from any kind of court system that functions, they can (and will) steal intellectual property from any and all without shame or even self-consciousness.  There was an "Apple" store (the fake kind) just down the street from my apartment the whole entire time I lived in Chengdu. It looked and functioned EXACTLY like a real "Apple" store. They had the logo out front, the same shirts worn by the workers inside, the same displays/posters/advertising, the same everything. Anyone would have thought that it was a real Apple store, but it was total fraud from start to finish. And no one cared at all or did anything about it, because in China it was totally normal. 

Read the rest here.

I think this may be one of the best short descriptions of modern China that I have read. The description of China's economy reminds me in many ways of our own during the so called "Gilded Age."

Thursday, January 01, 2015

RIP: Mario Cuomo

The onetime lion of the left, former New York Governor Mario Cuomo (father to the current Governor) has reposed. I never cared for his politics, but he was one of the last truly grand orators of the old school in American public life. Hearing him speak about his parents coming over from Italy could bring a tear to the eyes of the most hardened conservative and his speech to the 1984 Democratic Convention brought the house down. As a Catholic who supported abortion rights he clashed often, and publicly, with the leadership of his church, usually in the person of the late Archbishop John Cardinal O'Connor.

UGCC is Equipping Ukrainian Troops

Ternopil, Ukraine — As the train bringing the wounded soldier home from the front line grinds to a halt, the crowd on the platform bursts into patriotic song. Maj. Ruslan Androsyuk’s three-year-old son jumps into his arms, unsteadying him as he limps from the carriage.

Relatives and friends wave balloons and Ukrainian flags, welcoming Major Androsyuk back after a mine ripped through his armored personnel carrier in the Donetsk region, leaving him with a broken leg, fractured ribs, and pierced lungs. “If it wasn’t for his bulletproof vest he wouldn’t have survived,” says his wife Olga, choking back tears.

But it wasn't Ukraine's government that supplied Androsyuk his gear. Like hundreds of other soldiers fighting against pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, his equipment was provided by the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC).

...The UGCC's direct role in the conflict is substantial. The powerful UGCC dioceses of Lviv and Ternopil have donated over $200,000 worth of equipment since March to Ukrainian forces, mostly body armor, ammunition, helmets, sleeping bags, stretchers, and medical supplies, official church records show.

Read the rest here.
HT: Ordo Antiquus

In fairness there is little doubt that some of the Orthodox churches are also meddling to varying degrees on both sides, with the canonical Church backing the Russians and the schismatics backing the nationalists. But it has become fashionable for Catholics to pretend that it is only the evil Orthodox who are interfering, and of course this is simply not true. The UGCC has been involved up to its eyeballs in the anti-Russian Ukrainian nationalist movement from its inception.

From my perspective this low intensity civil war is a spectacular tragedy and  an indictment of all the major churches in Ukraine, none of whom have clean hands in this business.