Monday, November 27, 2023

Milei to Send ‘Shock’ Package to Argentina’s Congress on Day One

(Bloomberg) -- President-elect Javier Milei plans to call congress into an extraordinary session and send a large package of reforms to stabilize Argentina’s economy on Dec. 11, the day after his inauguration.

“This is urgent,” he said in an interview broadcast Sunday by LN+ TV, adding that Argentina can’t wait for the usual start of congressional sessions in March. “Solving the central bank’s problems as soon as possible” and “halting monetary emission” that causes inflation are among the urgent issues he intends to tackle with lawmakers, he said.

Once his government gets public finances and the central bank balance sheet in order, it will be able to start lifting capital controls and unifying the country’s diverse exchange rates, Milei said, repeating that he never promised to close the central bank on day one.

The positive market reaction to Milei’s win in the Nov. 19 runoff, evidenced by a rally of sovereign bonds and YPF’s debt, emboldened the libertarian economist to pursue his “shock therapy” agenda of fiscal adjustment.

“This has given us greater strength to redouble our bets in favor of fiscal order,” he said, adding the market read the signs his incoming government sent “to perfection.”

“If the financial markets accompany us and interest rates fall, this will be painful but a lot less painful,” he said of the impact of the spending cuts his government proposes — a key concern in a country where more than 40% of the population lives below the poverty line.

Read the rest here.

From draining the swamp to reviving the "spoils system"

Part of the plan being cooked up by his loyalists for Trump Admin 2.0 is to gut 140 years of civil service reform and bring back the old spoils system introduced by (ironically) Andrew Jackson and the Democratic Party back in the 1830s. The way it worked was simple. The party that won the election fired all or most of the civil service employees and replaced them with their own loyalists. The modern Trumpian motive is to combat the mythical "deep state." But it seems more directed towards undermining the rule of law, asserting direct political control over key executive agencies such as the DOJ in order to shut down any inconvenient criminal investigations and allow for the prosecution of his enemies and critics. Indeed, Trump has not been shy on this subject, being quite open in his declaration that he will use the power of the state to go after his enemies.

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Catholic Priest Disciplined for Allowing Sacrilegious Music Video Shoot in Church

A Catholic priest was relieved of his duties for granting singer Sabrina Carpenter permission to shoot a music video at his Brooklyn church.

The Diocese of Brooklyn removed Monsignor Jamie J. Gigantiello from his post  at Our Lady of Mount Carmel-Annunciation Parish following backlash for Carpenter’s “Feather” music video, which came out on Oct. 31. The Catholic News Agency was the first to report his ouster.

The gory yet girly “Feather” video is bookended by funeral-inspired scenes filmed at the Williamsburg house of worship.

In the video, cameras follow Carpenter as she leads men into traffic, stirs up a bloody gym brawl and traps someone in an elevator to their apparent death.

Afterwards, Carpenter dons a short black tulle dress and lace veil as she skips up and down the center aisle, and dances in front of the pastel-adorned altar surrounded by softly-colored coffins.

It ends with Carpenter, a former Disney Channel star, driving away from the church in a hot pink hearse.

Read the rest here.

100 Years Ago: Remembering Warren Harding's trip to Alaska

Part I

Part II

Part III

Pope Francis is ill, but still plans to travel to Dubai

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Sunday revealed that he has a lung inflammation but will go later this week to Dubai to address the climate change conference. 

Read the rest here.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

The Gen Z Rising Star in Conservative Reporting

To understand the motivation of Aaron Sibarium, Yalie, Gen Z reporter and conservative media darling, it’s instructive to travel back in time to last December, and do a little eavesdropping.

Right outside D.C., in a small studio apartment tucked inside an urban-suburban complex in Arlington, Virginia, Sibarium chats it up with libertarian writer Richard Hanania in a video call for a podcast exploring “the right-wing echo chamber.” In other contexts, on other podcasts (like his own), you can find Sibarium leaning into his more conservative opinions, but this is not one of these moments. He’s here to punch right. 

“Everyone on the right wants to write essays and have their grand theories about political economy and the American Right taken very seriously from the time they’re young,” he says, “and the problem is that A) when you’re 22, you don’t really know anything and B) there’s a surplus of that writing already.” 

What he values, he says, is something different from the conservative hot take-machine: real investigations, seeking out scoops, digging for data. As he sees it, he’s providing a rare service, occupying a narrow journalistic niche: old-school, shoe-leather reporting from a conservative point of view. 

“It’s rare to see someone who will cover something like, say, race-based treatment of Covid drugs … who also is like not a crank and has an IQ above 120,” Sibarium says, cracking half a smile. 

This quip is effectively Sibarium’s Statement of Purpose. In the 2½ years since he became a reporter, he’s snared some major scoops: There was his piece exploring how states, advised by the FDA to do so, used racial preferences in rationing scarce Covid-19 drugs, giving preference to young people of color over older white people. (Some of the states stopped the practice soon after he reported on them.) He broke a story that exposed the Columbia Law School’s plans to require video statements from applicants, presumably to evade the Supreme Court decision banning the consideration of race in admissions. (Columbia abandoned that plan, insisting it was a mistake, when Sibarium asked them about it.) And he uncovered Yale administrators’ bullying of a non-Black student who called his apartment a “trap house” in a party invitation, a scandal that brought personnel changes to the school. 

Sibarium, a staff writer at the Washington Free Beacon, is 27, diminutive, nasally and “formerly autistic.” (More on that later.) He’s become a force on the right who’s drawn praise from conservatives as far apart as Tucker Carlson and David French, who called Sibarium “a rising star reporter.” Sibarium doesn’t see his project as wholly new, as there has been conservative reporting for decades, but he’s trying to do something a little different.

“What maybe is new-ish about my personal project,” Sibarium says, is that he is trying “to report on the culture war in a way that is fairly aggressive and combative.”

As Americans’ trust in media has cratered, driven almost entirely by independents and Republicans, Sibarium has hunkered down, abstained from flirtations with fascism and racism (in imagery, group chats or pseudonymous op-eds) and done what some people have long been begging conservatives to do more of: pure reporting, digging up and revealing new information. Sibarium has done that, quietly, without sting operations — and without the millions of eyeballs turned on pundits like Ben Shapiro, Dan Bongino and Carlson.  

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Oswald did it, and he did it alone.

This video presents a good summary of the facts (as opposed to conjecture and mythology) surrounding one of the most tragic events in American history. Polls continue to show that most people believe there was some kind of elaborate conspiracy at the heart of Kennedy's murder. The only problem is that there is not a shred of credible evidence that supports that. Belief in a conspiracy can only be sustained by ignoring the mountains of actual hard evidence, all of which points to Oswald.

Two books do an excellent job debunking the myths, misinformation, and outright lies that are pervasive among conspiracy theorists. There are others, but IMO these are the best.

Case Closed by Gerald Posner

Reclaiming History by Vincent Bugliosi (This book is massive and took me more than six months to read. It is available in almost any well stocked public library.)

Sixty years ago

Monday, November 20, 2023

Rome: The synodal Church will be guided by the spirit of the age

The camera never lies; except that it does. A still photograph taken out of context can be wholly misleading. A video less so, since it provides context. The October Synod in Rome has produced two contradictory responses in observers.

Those who look at the still photograph have been saying “nothing has changed. The catastrophists were wrong. See, no women priests, no homosexual blessings, no change”.

But the opposite is the case. The video tells a different story. One might begin any assessment by asking, if there is no change, what was the Synod all about? Why the cost, the enormous expenditure of effort? Was it really all to enable a couple of hundred hand-picked people the opportunity to self-soothe and engage in ecclesiastical group therapy?

Clearly not. Instrumentum Laboris offered a clear indication that a new kind of theological language was being used, and for a purpose: to facilitate the evolution into a new kind of Church. Salvation was replaced by politics and therapy. The Catholic journalist Jeanne Smits argued that evolution was the wrong term.

She said: “It’s a revolution that’s fundamentally abandoning the definition of the Church as the mystical body of Christ, in order to see it as … a new Church.”

For observers who have watched other ecclesial bodies over the last 50 years, the strategies employed by the proponents of the new synodality look very familiar.

The Episcopalians in America trod this path in the 1980s, as did the Anglicans in England in the 1990s. When the Anglicans turned to the device of detaching theology from the tradition and moving it into encounter groups they chose the term “indaba”.

Indaba is a Zulu concept which describes a gathering for purposeful discussion. It was designed to facilitate “listening as well as speaking and the emergence of wisdom and a common mind”.

Does that sound a little familiar?

It does all the more so when you add the trope “listening to, or in, the ‘spirit’”.

The Anglicans failed to define what they meant by the “spirit”, in exactly the same way as members of the recent Synod bandied about the word as if it should deflect all criticism or save them from any further accountability of examination of what they meant by it.

The task of discernment was equally foreign to both Anglican and Catholic progressives. Traditional Christianity, on the other hand, has always placed considerable emphasis on being able to tell the difference between the different spirits.

Even Hegel knew enough to define what “spirit” meant for him, but political or therapeutic Christianity has no experience or expertise in this. The strategy was as clear as it was pneumatically incompetent.

It was intended to relocate the epistemology that defines the Church – to detach it from Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium and relocate it in the newly authoritative context of therapeutic “group encounter” precisely so that it could be claimed that the “spirit” had informed the Church. But all the indications are that this is not the Holy Spirit. How otherwise could one explain the Holy Spirit was contradicting what He effected in the past?

Instead this appears to be the spirit of the age, since the values it stimulates and promotes are the opposite of those of the apostolic or renewed Church. How is the anticipated revolution to be achieved, given that no significant decision were arrived at on this occasion?

Answer: by establishing two effective mechanisms to change what the Church believes and practises; the creation of the principle and process of synodality itself and the adjudicating concept of the sensus fidei.

Read the rest here.
HT: Dr. Tighe

Napoleon's hat sells for $2 million

PARIS — A faded and cracked felt bicorne hat worn by Napoléon Bonaparte sold for $2.1 million at an auction of the French emperor’s belongings Sunday. 

"On a field of battle his hat is worth 50,000 men. But it doesn't matter. He is not a gentleman." 
-Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Another 261 churches leave the United Methodists

The exodus has been going on for a while. But here I must give a polite nod to the liberals who are running the UMC. Rather than adopt the scorched earth approach that the leadership of the Episcopal Organization chose in response to its own defections, the Methodists handled this in a fairly civilized way. The national congregation granted a generous period of time for reflection by individual churches during which they were given the opportunity to disaffiliate on terms that might be described as the ecclesial version of a "no-fault divorce." 

Story here.

Franklin Pierce (Strictly for history lovers)


You may be forgiven for asking the question. Pierce is one of those presidents that even students of history have a hard time remembering. That said, I have long had a morbid fascination with this obscure and mostly forgotten figure. Wideley regarded as one of our worst presidents by historians, and for once I agree with the general assessment, his personal life was a succession of private struggles and tragedies that would have broken most men. This is easily the best video summary that I have come across on the life and times of our 14th president.

Friday, November 17, 2023

A Conference on the 8th OEcumenical Council

Elon Musk and Henry Ford

The parallels are uncanny. Both men were/are geniuses, with a vision of the future that fundamentally changed the world and made them spectacularly wealthy. Both were pioneers in the transportation industry, specifically cars. Both had a reputation for treating their employees well, while being fiercely hostile to unions. And both were antisemitic bigots, and prone to bizarre conspiracy theories.

Liberals vs Progressives: The deepening divide in the American left

Remember when “liberal” was a dirty word? In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan, who often prefaced it with a damning “tax and spend,” may have been the most effective of bashers. But the most blatant attack was in the early ’90s, after Newt Gingrich’s political organization GOPAC sent out a memo, “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control,” urging fellow Republicans to use the word as a slur.

It worked. Even Democrats began avoiding the dread label. In a presidential primary debate in 2007, Hillary Clinton called herself instead a “modern progressive.” She avoided the term “liberal” again in 2016.

Now the word is back. The portion of Americans who told Gallup pollsters they were “liberal” has increased from 17 percent in 1992 to 25 percent in 2021 (still lower than the proportions of those who said they were “conservatives” or “moderates”).

But the way “liberal” is being used now is more confounding than ever. Never Trump conservatives tout their bona fides as liberals in the classical, 19th century sense of the word, in part to distinguish themselves from hard-right Trumpists. Others use “liberal” and “progressive” interchangeably, even as what progressivism means in practice today is often anything but liberal — or even progressive, for that matter.

For those of us who never abandoned the term — why let Republicans define us? — liberal values, many of them products of the Enlightenment, include individual liberty, freedom of speech, scientific inquiry, separation of church and state, due process, racial equality, women’s rights, human rights and democracy.

Unlike “classical liberals” (i.e., usually conservatives), liberals do not see government as the problem, but rather as a means to help the people it serves. Liberals fiercely defend Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, the Voting Rights Act and the National Labor Relations Act. They believe government has a duty to regulate commerce for the benefit of its citizens. They tend to be suspicious of large corporations and their tendency to thwart the interests of workers and consumers.

As recently as the 2000s, the difference between liberals and progressives was often a matter of degree — Obamacare versus Medicare for All, or increasing the top marginal tax rate versus imposing a wealth tax. But while liberalism’s most strenuous threat comes from the Trumpian right, a split over basic principles and the purpose of the left has been widening.

In an increasingly prominent version of the progressive vision, capitalism isn’t something to be regulated or balanced, but is itself the problem. White supremacy doesn’t describe an extremist fringe of racists and antisemites, but is instead the inherent character of the nation.

Some aspects of contemporary progressivism look less like actual progress and more like a step in reverse.

Read the rest here.

Ray Dalio is worried about the US debt

Soaring U.S. government debt is reaching a point where it will begin creating larger problems, Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio said Friday.

The hedge fund titan warned during a CNBC appearance that the need to borrow more and more to cover deficits will exacerbate the political and social problems the country is facing.

“Economically strong means financially strong,” Dalio said on “Squawk Box.” “Financially strong means: do you earn more than you spend? Do you have a good income statement as a country? And do we have a good balance sheet?”

The U.S. is $33.7 trillion in debt, a total that exploded by 45% since the Covid pandemic in early 2020, according to Treasury Department data. Of that total, $26.7 trillion is owed by the public. Last year, the government rang up a $1.7 trillion deficit as it sought to keep up the pace of spending.

As the debt built up and the Federal Reserve raised interest rates to try to tamp down inflation, the government spent $659 billion on net interest costs in fiscal 2023 to finance the debt.

Dalio said that is a recipe for trouble.

“The worse that gets, the more we are going to have that long-term problem,” he said. “You can see it in the numbers. It’s just a matter of numbers. We are near that inflection point.”

Along with the basic budget issues, Dalio also cautioned that foreign buyers, who make up about 40% of demand for U.S. Treasurys, have been backing off, creating a supply-demand problem.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Quote of the day...

"Before we work on artificial intelligence, maybe we should try reducing natural stupidity." 

‘Tons of Crazy’: The Inside Story of How Fox Fell for the ‘Big Lie’

Less than an hour after Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News projected that Joe Biden had defeated Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election, Murdoch decided to send Trump a message: You lost, get over it.

“Should we say something Donald might see?” the mogul wrote to Col Allan, his friend and handpicked editor of the New York Post, midday on Nov. 7.

The resulting editorial was titled “President Trump, your legacy is secure — stop the ‘stolen election’ rhetoric.” Murdoch and his son Lachlan reviewed the draft in advance. Lachlan said it looked great. Murdoch agreed but, ever the newspaperman, he flagged a few typos before it went to press.

The editorial gave Trump point-by-point directions on handling his loss with decency, starting with advice about his personal attorney: “Get Rudy Giuliani off TV. Ask for the recounts you are entitled to, wish Biden well, and look to the future.” As soon as it was posted online, Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott told Lachlan she would circulate it inside Fox, and then she wrote to PR chief Irena Briganti, “I’m sending this around to our staff.”

The Post editorial eliminated any doubt about the POV of Fox’s patriarch. Behave with “dignity,” the editorial said. Stop with the “baseless conspiracies.” Start planning for the transition.

The next day, Sunday, Nov. 8, the hosts of Fox & Friends Weekend were told to stay away from election fraud claims. But the show that followed, Maria Bartiromo’s Sunday Morning Futures, defied the guidance. Bartiromo, all gassed up on rage and righteousness, heaped shame onto the network and spurred a $787.5 million settlement payment. That’s because Bartiromo became the first Fox host to utter the name “Dominion.”

Bartiromo did it intentionally and repeatedly in front of millions of viewers. She mainstreamed a conspiracy theory which, by the end of the week, was being repeated in all caps by the president.

This episode — drawn from court records, television transcripts and interviews with people involved — is worth analyzing in detail because Bartiromo’s source was so unhinged; because the segment foreshadowed months of smears; and because it provided a predicate for the “Big Lie” that Trump continues to promote to this day. Six in 10 Republican voters say they believe the 2020 election was “stolen” from Trump. But “stolen” how? One day after Biden became president-elect, Bartiromo used her Fox megaphone to tell a story that Trump and the heartbroken MAGA base embraced, to the detriment of Trump’s party and the country writ large.

Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch let it happen. If father and son have regrets, they have not expressed any publicly. Rupert is slated to step aside at his media companies, News Corp and Fox Corp, later this week, taking the title of chairman emeritus while Lachlan fully inherits control of the companies. While the transition is supposed to be a forward-looking celebration, Fox is still tied into knots by Trump — who now calls himself a “proud election denier” — and the falsehoods that Fox beamed into homes all across the country.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Are billionaires turning charity into a tax dodge?

Americans sent half a trillion dollars to charity last year—a substantial chunk of money to pay for worthy causes left unaddressed by the government and corporations.

But a huge portion of that money isn’t going to food pantries or scientific research or even churches. Instead, the ultrawealthy, including many billionaires who have pledged to give away their technology or stock-market-fueled fortunes, are funneling their wealth through opaque financial instruments, where it can sit for years tax free without touching an actual charity, according to a new report from the progressive think tank Institute for Policy Studies.

“There's a fair amount of charitable dollars that are not being deployed, where the donors have already gotten a tax break,” Chuck Collins, director of the Program on Inequality at IPS, told Fortune.

More than one-quarter of charitable giving in the U.S. last year went to donor-advised funds, or DAFs, according to the National Philanthropic Trust. DAFs are vehicles that give the donor an immediate tax deduction, but allow money to sit potentially for decades without being used for actual charitable work.

DAFs are the fastest-growing type of charitable investment, according to Fidelity. Among the ultrawealthy, they are the most popular, and many of the headline-grabbing billionaire donations in recent years have gone to DAFs.

In 2021, Bill Gates donated $15 billion; Elon Musk gave $5.7 billion, Jack Dorsey gave $700 million, and Mark Zuckerberg $700 million—but rather than individual charities, those donations all went to the donors’ DAFs or family foundations, IPS notes. Last year, more than two-thirds of the billionaires who signed the Giving Pledge, a nonbinding promise to give away the bulk of their wealth to charity in their lifetimes, gave either to donor-advised funds or their family foundations.

Proponents of DAFs say that their structure encourages giving: The tax deduction encourages wealthy patrons to dedicate money for charity even before they’ve decided which cause to support. “Donors may have good reasons to postpone grants,” a Stanford Law School article says.. In one hypothetical, a tech founder who “sells a startup for millions of dollars” may want to donate her takings but is too busy to immediately decide how to direct the funds; a DAF is a good choice for this person, the law article notes.

However, while DAFs could in theory grow the charitable pie, in practice, they too often allow the donor the illusion of charity while letting them keep control of their funds, critics say.

Read the rest here.

For the record...

The CofE has been apostate for years. But FWIW, who didn't see this coming?

Saturday, November 11, 2023

The strange story and rumors surrounding St. Feodor Kuzmich

I have been intrigued for years by the rumors and conspiracy theories surrounding this famous Russian saint. Was he really Czar Aleksandr I? The idea that a Russian czar might have faked his own death to live his life as a quasi-hermit makes for a very pious (and entertaining) story. But as with most conspiracy theories, I am at least slightly skeptical. The first question I ask whenever a conspiracy theory comes my way is, how many people would have had to been in on the plot, and then kept their mouths shut for the rest of their lives? Ben Franklin once famously observed that three people can keep a secret if two of them are dead. 

In this case, the number would have had to have been pretty high. And while a lot of rumors did start to crop up, most did not do so until quite a while after the czar's death. To the best of my knowledge none of those who attended the czar in his final days, or his funeral arrangements, ever made any statement that might have implied that things were not as they had been made to appear. I have also been on the lookout for years for a reliable source confirming the story about the Communists opening his grave, only to find it empty. Empty is also a good word for the results of that search thus far. If anyone has a reliable source for that story, please share it in the comments.

None of this is to say that I firmly disbelieve the stories. Only that hard evidence is extremely lacking and that commonsense inclines me towards a certain degree of skepticism. Unlike with some other popular conspiracy theories, such as the Kennedy assassination, or the alleged faking of the moonshot, both of which don't pass the laugh test when you consider the mountains of confirmed evidence; here there is no hard evidence on either side of the debate. And yes, there is some interesting, mostly circumstantial evidence that lends itself to the rumors. As such, while I remain skeptical, I am also keeping an open mind pending a DNA test or some other really hard proof one way or the other.

News from Rome

The revolution continues...

Tuesday, November 07, 2023

Report: Pope Francis Planning Radical Changes to Papal Elections

Given what he is obviously trying to do; wouldn't it have been easier to just give voting rights to all the "bishops" of the American Episcopal Church?

Story here.

Friday, November 03, 2023

Catholic bishop asks pastors to bless same-sex couples

Bishop Karl-Heinz Wiesemann said in the Nov. 2 letter to priests, deacons, and lay pastoral workers that the blessings — which he also extended to remarried couples — could take place in churches in the Diocese of Speyer.

Read the rest here.
HT: Dr. Tighe

Every Catholic in the world is in communion with this heretic. Just saying.

Gall Effrontery Temerity

Call it what you will. Today I got a spam text on behalf of the former grifter N chief complaining about political persecution and begging for money. I'm not generally a fan of coarse language but I spent ten years in the navy, so I'm not exactly unfamiliar. The response I sent back would have peeled the paint off the wall in a Marine Corps barracks.

Thursday, November 02, 2023

Pope Francis calls for ‘paradigm shift’ in theology for world of today

Pope Francis has called for a “paradigm shift” in Catholic theology that takes widespread engagement with contemporary science, culture, and people’s lived experience as an essential starting point. 

Citing the need to deal with “profound cultural transformations,” the pope presented his dramatic vision for the future of Catholic theology in a new motu proprio issued earlier today.

Titled Ad Theologiam Promovendam, or “to promote theology,” the document revises the statutes of the Pontifical Academy of Theology (PATH) “to make them more suitable for the mission that our time imposes on theology.”

“Theology can only develop in a culture of dialogue and encounter between different traditions and different knowledge, between different Christian confessions and different religions, openly engaging with everyone, believers and nonbelievers,” the pope wrote in the apostolic letter. 

Read the rest here.

Past popes saw themselves as missionaries from God to a fallen world. This pope sees himself as a missionary from the world to a fallen God. 

Sunday, October 29, 2023

The Return of the Bond Vigilantes

The bond market is sending a message to Washington; get your act together. 

It looks like Wall Street is no longer willing to look the other way at the habitual dysfunction and fiscal profligacy in the nation's capital. With the national debt now exceeding $33 trillion (not including unfunded future obligations) and Congress paralyzed by partisan bickering, investors are no longer prepared to lend the US Government their money at dirt cheap interest rates. The yield on the benchmark 10-year US Treasury bond has been flirting with 5% for most of the last week. That's the highest it's been since 2007. As the route in the bond market continues, with its potential to spook stock investors, the threat may go beyond the much steeper costs of borrowing by the Federal government. It is starting to effect interest rates for mortgages, car loans, credit card debt and borrowing money by businesses and state/local governments. In other words, if DC doesn't take steps to calm the bond market, it could start to affect the broader economy. 

CNBC's take.

On the other side of the debate, Warren Buffet disagrees. He thinks US government debt remains relatively risk free and current yields are attractive, especially for longer term investors. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Casual state dinners?

The US hosted the Prime Minister of Australia at a state dinner last night and President Biden showed up dressed like an undertaker. You would think somebody in the White House would have a clue about protocol. 

The GOP: Is it time for a divorce?

End of an era: It’s time for the Republicans to break up

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Quote of the day

He is unquestionably mentally unstable, and he is racist, bigoted, misogynistic, xenophobic, vulgar and prone to violence. There is simply no rational argument that could lead me to vote for someone with those characteristics.”

-Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) in a 2016 email to Chris Christie following Christie's endorsement of Donald Trump

Friday, October 20, 2023

Bibi Netanyahu

According to a new poll roughly 80% of Israelis hold Benajamin Netanyahu responsible for the pogrom of October 7 and the deaths of more than 1400 of their countrymen and fellow Jews. That number includes 69% of people who voted for Netanyahu's Likud party in the last election. 

Politically, Netanyahu is a dead man walking. The question is not so much will he have to resign, but rather how long will the other members of the emergency government be willing to allow him to remain PM? My guess is that as soon as the immediate crisis is passed, he will be gone. It's likely that there are already discussions taking place behind closed doors over the shape of the post Bibi political world.

Whatever one may think of his politics, I think Netanyahu is a tragic figure. This calamity will be the defining legacy of a man who dominated Israeli politics for more than a quarter century. I was going to compare him to the captain of the Titanic, but I think a better analogy might be J Bruce Ismay, the director of the White Star Line. The Titanic's captain went down with his ship. But Ismay stepped into a lifeboat at the last minute and survived, for which he was vilified and probably spent the rest of his life wishing he had died that night. Bibi may be doomed to a similar fate.

Monday, October 16, 2023

On forgiveness and the state

In times past, kings wielded the power of life and death in God's name. But with that terrible power came the duty to exercise not only justice, but also mercy. I fear this is something we have largely forgotten in the modern world.

I found this to be quite powerful. 

Sunday, October 15, 2023


Whatever Israel's sins, and there are many, they cannot excuse this butchery. This was a modern-day pogrom and should be so labeled. Hamas and the Nazis are differentiated only in minor details. The former being motivated by religious fanaticism and hatred, the latter by bizarre ideals of racialism. But they both share the same objective, the extermination of all Jews within their reach. And they need to handled the same way. 

There can be no negotiation with Hamas. No matter the cost, they must be crushed. 

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Sunday, October 08, 2023

The House GOP Is a Failed State

...McCarthy’s ouster is dramatic evidence, if redundant, about the state of the modern GOP. A party that used to have an instinctual orientation toward authority and order — Democrats fall in love, went the old chestnut, while Republicans fall in line — is now animated by something akin to nihilism. The politics of contempt so skillfully exploited by Donald Trump is turned inward on hapless would-be leaders like McCarthy with no less ferocity than it is turned outward on liberals and the media.

The GOP dissenters who joined Democrats in evicting McCarthy professed to be concerned about controlling spending, and some surely are genuine about that. In the case of Gaetz, the ringleader, it is clear the dispute is primarily about personal animus, not ideology. He wanted McCarthy’s antlers on the wall of his rec room, and he got them. Needless to say, there are many Republicans who are now hunting for him.

And, yet, in the nihilistic spirit of the age, it is worth asking of these intraparty feuds: Who cares? Certainly, in McCarthy’s case, it is far from obvious that anyone should care that much. He simply never made the case for being consequential.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, October 04, 2023

Two on the Catholic's Big Synod

HT: Dr. Tighe

FTR I am not a fan of Monomakhos' fairly reliable cheerleading for the Putin regime. My views on that organized crime syndicate masquerading as a government are well known to regular readers. But I think they have pretty much hit the nail on the head with respect to the heretical tyrant now sitting on the throne of Old Rome. Some see him moving the Roman Church closer to Orthodoxy. He is not. He is moving it towards (il)liberal Protestantism. 

Tuesday, October 03, 2023

Video of ultra-Orthodox Jews Spitting at Christians Sparks Controversy

A video of ultra-Orthodox Jews spitting on the ground beside a procession of foreign Christian worshippers carrying a wooden cross in the holy city of Jerusalem has ignited intense outrage and a flurry of condemnation in the Holy Land.

The spitting incident, which the city’s minority Christian community lamented as the latest in an alarming surge of religiously motivated attacks, drew rare outrage on Tuesday from the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and other senior figures.

Read the rest here.

Pope Francis Hints at Homosexual "Blessings" and Openness to Female Ordination

The crisis in the Catholic Church is obviously accelerating at an alarming rate. The mainstream press/media are almost giddy at the revolution that appears to be in progress. In the meantime, the question must be asked; how long will "orthodox" Catholics remain in communion with open heretics? 

Details from what Fr. Z aptly refers to as "the fishwrap."

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Thousands of Armenian Christians flee Azerbaijan rule

Thousands of Armenian Christians have fled their ancestral homeland in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh over the weekend and more are expected, the government of Armenia confirmed Monday.

“The mass exodus has begun,” Siobhan Nash-Marshall, a U.S.-based human rights advocate who has been speaking to witnesses on the ground, told CNA.

Nash-Marshall founded the Christians in Need Foundation (CINF) in 2011 to help Armenian Christians in the region, and in 2020 she started a school for children and adults in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Now, Nash-Marshall has received word from her school in Nagorno-Karabakh that “all is over” and that “people from all regions, all villages, are homeless” and without shelter, food, and water. 

Hundreds of ethnic Armenians are sleeping in the streets and cannot even drink water because they claim it has been “poisoned by Azeris,” according to Nash-Marshall’s contacts. 

Nash-Marshall was told that there are lines of “2,000 in front of the only bakery” near her school and that “all are hungry, frightened, and hopeless.” 

According to the government of Armenia, 6,650 “forcibly displaced persons” entered Armenia from Nagorno-Karabakh since last week.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said Sunday that he expects most of the 120,000 ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh to flee the region due to “the danger of ethnic cleansing,” Middle Eastern news source Al Jazeera reported.

Read the rest here.
HT: Dr. Tighe

James II/VII

Sunday, September 24, 2023

ABC News/Washington Post Poll Gives Trump Big Lead Over Biden

Both ABC and the Post moved quickly to cast doubt on their own poll

In mass protest, some British police are refusing to carry firearms.

Most UK police do not carry lethal weapons. This is a longstanding national tradition that enjoys widespread support both from the public and within the police itself. Great Britain has some of the strictest gun laws in the world with private ownership of handguns more or less illegal and rifles and shotguns subject to stringent regulation. Firearms related violence is rare in Britain and the overall homicide rate (per capita) is a fraction of that in the US. 

That said, around one in ten police are selected following a rigorous vetting process for specialized training in weapons that is generally much more intensive than what American police receive. It includes not only training in the use of guns and other weapons, but also comes with a heavy emphasis on de-escalation of confrontations, and critically, when not to use lethal force. Upon completion of their training these officers are given special certificates allowing them to carry firearms on duty. Many are assigned to routine mobile patrol where they can be called in quickly if needed to handle potentially dangerous situations. Others are assigned to elite counter-terrorism units while some handle security at important locations such as the Houses of Parliament. Still others are assigned to plain clothes duty as close protection officers for members of the Royal Family or senior government officials and visiting VIPs where they perform duties similar to the US Secret Service but with a reputation for being a bit more discreet. 

As a result of all this, police involved shootings are incredibly rare in the UK. But even so, they do happen. A few years ago, an unarmed young man of African descent was fatally shot by a police officer under circumstances that provoked a great deal of controversy. Last week that officer was charged with murder and the police are up in arms. (Pun intended.)

Within the ranks of London's Metropolitan Police, that's Scotland Yard to us Americans, large numbers of firearms certified officers have handed in their permits and weapons and are refusing to carry out armed police duties. They are protesting not only what many perceive as unjustified charges against a fellow officer, but what they see as the extreme legal hazard this is signaling for armed police in general. In a very high-pressure job where officers may be required to make life and death decisions in a split second, they are not prepared to risk being criminally prosecuted for making the wrong decision in the minds of uninvolved parties second guessing their actions. So many have in fact walked off the job, or at least this aspect of the job, that the government is considering calling out the military for situations that would normally be handled by specialized police services.

Read the latest details here

China Continues Aggressive Militarization of South China Sea Alarming Neighbors

...The world’s most brazen maritime militarization is gaining muscle in waters through which one-third of global ocean trade passes. Here, on underwater reefs that are known as the Dangerous Ground, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, or P.L.A., has fortified an archipelago of forward operating bases that have branded these waters as China’s despite having no international legal grounding. China’s coast guard, navy and a fleet of fishing trawlers harnessed into a militia are confronting other vessels, civilian and military alike.

The mounting Chinese military presence in waters that were long dominated by the U.S. fleet is sharpening the possibility of a showdown between superpowers at a moment when relations between them have greatly worsened. And as Beijing challenges a Western-driven security order that stood for nearly eight decades, regional countries are increasingly questioning the strength of the American commitment to the Pacific.

While the United States makes no territorial claims to the South China Sea, it maintains defense pacts with Asian partners, including the Philippines, that could compel American soldiers to these waters. Just as anxiety over nearby Taiwan has focused attention on the deteriorating relations between Washington and Beijing, the South China Sea provides yet another stage for a contest in which neither side wants to betray weakness. Complicating matters, Chinese diplomats and military officers are engaging less at a time when open communication could help defuse tensions.

China’s arming of the South China Sea has also forced Southeast Asian fishermen — from nations like the Philippines that Chinese diplomats have referred to as “small countries” — to abandon the fishing grounds they have depended on for generations. It is putting tremendous pressure on those governments.

Read the rest here.

Saturday, September 23, 2023

A face of hope for a post Trump GOP?

Tommy Tuberville has received months of attention this year for his blockade of military promotions, but the more consequential GOP Alabama senator is his newly elected counterpart, Katie Britt.

In fact, there may be no better Republican barometer than Britt.

How far she goes will in turn go a long way toward clarifying how much politics has, or hasn’t, changed in her state, her party and the South. Does the future look like Tuberville — light on policy and heavy on performance — or is there a role, and perhaps a leading one, for somebody like Britt?

Read the rest here.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Catholic ecclesiology and a heretical Pope

There is no authority to declare or consider an elected and generally accepted Pope as an invalid Pope. The constant practice of the Church makes it evident that even in the case of an invalid election this invalid election will be de facto healed through the general acceptance of the new elected by the overwhelming majority of the cardinals and bishops.

Even in the case of a heretical pope he will not lose his office automatically and there is no body within the Church to declare him deposed because of heresy. Such actions would come close to a kind of a heresy of conciliarism or episcopalism. The heresy of conciliarism or episcopalism says basically that there is a body within the Church (Ecumenical Council, Synod, College of Cardinals, College of Bishops), which can issue a legally binding judgment over the Pope.

The theory of the automatic loss of the papacy due to heresy remains only an opinion, and even St. Robert Bellarmine noticed this and did not present it as a teaching of the Magisterium itself. The perennial papal Magisterium never taught such an opinion. In 1917, when the Code of Canon Law (Codex Iuris Canonici) came into force, the Magisterium of the Church eliminated from the new legislation the remark of the Decretum Gratiani in the old Corpus Iuris Canonici, which stated that a Pope, who deviates from right doctrine, can be deposed. Never in history did the Magisterium of the Church admit any canonical procedures of deposition of a heretical pope. The Church has no power over the pope formally or judicially. The surer Catholic tradition says, that in the case of a heretical pope, the members of the Church can avoid him, resist him, refuse to obey him, all of which can be done without requiring a theory or opinion that says that a heretical pope automatically loses his office or can be deposed consequently.

Therefore, we must follow the surer way (via tutior) and abstain from defending the mere opinion of theologians (even they be Saints like St. Robert Bellarmine), which says that a heretical pope automatically loses his office or can be deposed by the Church therefore.

Read the rest here.
HT: Dr. Tighe

See also this and this.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

2024: How old is too old?

Some statistical facts that may be worth a thought. Life expectancy for men in the US is currently around 74, down by a little over a year mostly due to Covid. Assuming Mr. Biden is in good health, and I have no reason to believe otherwise; statistics would suggest the likelihood of his completing another term of office are no better than 50/50. Of course, there are factors that can influence those odds. Quality of his health care, which I think we can assume is excellent. Some aspects of his lifestyle such as diet and exercise are probably good. On the other side, his stress level is probably poor as is his workload. But the simple and unhappy truth is that once a man or woman (women tend to live slightly longer than men) gets into their 80s you just can't make safe long-term predictions about their health. You can be in tip top health at 81 and either dead or in seriously poor health a couple of years down the road. Nor is this limited to Biden. Much the same could be said of Donald Trump (77), who has been famously secretive about his health.

Assuming both of these men are on the ballot next year, great care should be paid to their running mates. Coming back to statistics; you would have to go back to 1944 to find an election where the odds of the next president completing their elected term of office were worse.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

The UAW Strike: How wide is the pay gap between the boardroom and the assembly line?

The experts disagree on the bottom-line, but no matter how you do the math, boardroom compensation has exploded in recent decades to the point where the pay gap between top management and the average worker which used to average around 15:1 in the 1960s, is now closer to 300:1. That is not just troubling; it's immoral. And to add the icing to the cake, a lot of these compensation packages are deliberately structured in ways intended to shield their true value from scrutiny and taxes. 

In the history of the world, no economic system has delivered more dramatic improvements in quality of life, to more people, in such a short period of time as capitalism. And I am all for an honest profit in business. But the emphasis needs to be on "honest," not "profit." You can't build a moral system where the guy who turns out the product is being paid less than 1/2 of one cent for every dollar being shelled out to the suits in the boardroom. 

To be clear, I'm not endorsing all of the UAW's demands. But they have grievances, and a lot of them are legitimate.

These are picket lines that I would not cross. 

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Orthodoxy in America by the numbers

This is one of the better analysis of the current state of Orthodoxy in America that I have seen. I would also note that the channel is one of the best I have come across for discussions of religion in general, being consistently informative and neutral in its discussion of beliefs and practices for different denominations and groups.

Thursday, September 07, 2023

New York Says they have an immigration problem

Both New York City and the state have declared themselves "sanctuary" jurisdictions for illegal immigrants. Both have thumbed their nose at Federal efforts to enforce immigration law. Both basically shrugged and said "not our problem" while border states like Texas and Arizona got buried with migrants (both legal and not). 

Dear New Yorkers; embrace the suck.

Biden's Approval Ratings Plunge

Biden’s unpopularity could give Trump his shot at reclaiming power.

The Republican Party

Everything you need to know about the current state of the GOP in one number.

Saturday, September 02, 2023

Rod Dreher: Wokery verging on authoritarianism

Believe it or not, the Trial of the Century just happened in a courtroom in Helsinki. The Finnish parliamentarian and physician Päivi Räsänen this week returned to the dock to face hate crimes charges for having quoted the Bible in defense of Scripture’s teaching on homosexuality.

While it is not altogether surprising that yet another Christian has been brought up on charges of blaspheming against LGBTs—who have been elevated from ordinary people, as equal as anybody else, into liberalism’s divinities—a statement the Finnish prosecution made in the trial’s opening raised the proceedings from an ordinary example of post-Christian liberalism’s contempt for the faith and free speech, into something epochal. Attention must be paid.

In her opening statement on Thursday, the Finnish prosecutor said, of a 2004 pamphlet authored by Dr. Räsänen, “The point isn’t whether it is true or not, but that this is insulting.”

Think about that: The point is not whether these words true or not, but that someone’s feelings were hurt by them.

This is the essence of totalitarianism: the demand to control reality. The Finnish state attempts to outlaw not simply expression it does not like, but facts it finds offensive. This little statement by grim-faced prosecutor Anu Mantila is what makes this two-day legal proceeding the Trial of the Century.

It’s like this: If, in a liberal democracy, the state has the power to declare truth subordinate to ideology, then you live under totalitarianism. It might be a soft totalitarianism—fines for thought criminals like Päivi Räsänen, instead of the gulag—but it is totalitarianism nonetheless.

It is telling that Mantila initially asked the appeals court not to let Dr. Räsänen and her co-defendant, Lutheran bishop Juhana Pohjola, even testify. It was as if she only wanted her allegations heard, with no defense from the accused. The court denied the prosecution’s request, but that it was even made tells you the kind of tyrannical mindset we’re dealing with.

Read the rest here.
HT: Dr. Tighe

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Memory Eternal

Yevgeny Prigozhin dies in plane "crash"

I guess all the food tasters weren't enough. Putin is such a gangster. The man has left a trail of bodies all over the world and everybody knows who gave the orders. He has reached the point where he doesn't even care about plausible deniability. It's like a mafia don has taken over an entire country (and its de-facto state church). Not that I'm shedding any tears for Prigozhin. He was a stone cold killer in his own right. 

The Russian government is effectively an organized crime syndicate, and the Russian Orthodox Church is fronting for it. 


Thursday, August 17, 2023

Nicaraguan government seizes Catholic university

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Nicaragua’s government has confiscated a prestigious Jesuit-run university alleging it was a “center of terrorism,” the college said Wednesday in announcing the latest in a series of actions by authorities against the Catholic Church and opposition figures.

The University of Central America in Nicaragua, which was a hub for 2018 protests against the regime of President Daniel Ortega, called the terrorism accusation unfounded and the seizure a blow to academia in Nicaragua.

The government did not confirm the confiscation or comment on the Jesuits’ statement.

The Jesuit order, known as the Society of Jesus, said it received a judicial order Tuesday notifying it of the confiscation. It said the government seized all the university’s property, buildings and bank accounts.

Read the rest here.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Vigil for Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos

Is Donald Trump the world's greatest con-man? Probably

If he pulls this off, former President Donald Trump will have earned his place as the most successful con artist in political history.

Who but Trump has openly turned a presidential campaign political action committee into a money machine to pay his legal bills?

Trump’s PAC reportedly started last year with $105 million. It now has less than $4 million after legal bills.

And don’t forget, before Trump was a declared candidate, he used Republican National Committee donor dollars to pay his legal bills.

This is what we call a “crass act.”

Republican voters are being hustled so effectively that they are cheering Trump on, laughing as he rips them off.

Can you compare him to Jim and Tammy Faye Baker, televangelists who made an art of taking money from old ladies sitting alone in front of the television?

Can you compare him to Bernie Madoff, who pulled in wealthy, sophisticated celebrity clients with promises of wealth beyond belief?

Can you compare him to Elizabeth Holmes, who convinced famous investors to send her millions for a mysterious “Twilight Zone” medical device?

No, you can’t. Because Trump is making them all look like small-time grifters.

“MAGA grandmas were scammed in order to pay a billionaire’s legal bills,” said Christina Pushaw, an aide to one of Trump’s rivals, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). It’s hard to argue with her.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Conservative Jurists Argue Trump is Disqualified from Office

Two prominent conservative law professors have concluded that Donald J. Trump is ineligible to be president under a provision of the Constitution that bars people who have engaged in an insurrection from holding government office. The professors are active members of the Federalist Society, the conservative legal group, and proponents of originalism, the method of interpretation that seeks to determine the Constitution’s original meaning.

The professors — William Baude of the University of Chicago and Michael Stokes Paulsen of the University of St. Thomas — studied the question for more than a year and detailed their findings in a long article to be published next year in The University of Pennsylvania Law Review.

“When we started out, neither of us was sure what the answer was,” Professor Baude said. “People were talking about this provision of the Constitution. We thought: ‘We’re constitutional scholars, and this is an important constitutional question. We ought to figure out what’s really going on here.’ And the more we dug into it, the more we realized that we had something to add.”

He summarized the article’s conclusion: “Donald Trump cannot be president — cannot run for president, cannot become president, cannot hold office — unless two-thirds of Congress decides to grant him amnesty for his conduct on Jan. 6.”

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, August 09, 2023

Paris in the Twilight of the Second Empire

Excellent images of Paris from the 1860s. I found the choice of background music somewhat distracting, but the mute button proved an easy remedy.

Monday, August 07, 2023

Defund the Police

Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) threatened Sunday to defund the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) until certain changes are made.
Roy told host Shannon Bream on “Fox News Sunday” that Congress should withhold funding from the two agencies over what he characterized as the Biden administration’s “weaponization” of the Justice Department and for “leaving the border exposed.”

“And I can tell you right now for all my colleagues, I will not vote for a continuing resolution or any funding for DHS or DOJ if we don’t get changes to both,” Roy said. “I want the border secure. I want DOJ restored to following the rule of law, and we should use the power of the purse as James Madison wrote in Federalist 58: It’s the most powerful weapon against an over-tyrannical executive branch that we see unfold right now before us.”

When pressed further on how law enforcement agencies will be able to do their jobs if Congress defunds them, Roy explained that he does not want Congress to approve a “blank check” without President Biden laying out a plan to fix the Justice Department and secure the border.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, August 02, 2023

Two worth reading

(cf: This)

Full disclosure: I have not yet read the book, though it is now on my 'to do' list. So, this is not a personal endorsement of the book. But the review is worth the read on its own. 

Tuesday, August 01, 2023

US Credit Rating Downgraded

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fitch Ratings has downgraded the United States government’s credit rating, citing rising debt at the federal, state, and local levels and a “steady deterioration in standards of governance” over the past two decades.

The rating was cut Tuesday one notch to AA+ from AAA, the highest possible rating. The new rating is still well into investment grade.

The decision illustrates one way that growing political polarization and repeated Washington standoffs over spending and taxes could end up costing U.S. taxpayers. A lower credit rating, over time, could raise borrowing costs for the U.S. government.

It’s only the second time in the nation’s history that its credit rating has been cut. In 2011, the ratings agency Standard & Poor’s stripped the U.S. of its prize AAA rating after a prolonged fight over the government’s borrowing limit. The Government Accountability Office, in a 2012 report, estimated that the 2011 budget standoff raised Treasury’s borrowing costs by $1.3 billion that year.

Read the rest here.

Monday, July 31, 2023

The latest crypto-con

SEC sues entrepreneur, alleging $1 billion in unregistered crypto sales and multimillion-dollar fraud

The so-called crypto industry is a high-tech scam with a history that reads like a catalog of financial criminality. Stay away from it.

Friday, July 28, 2023

New bishop responds to charge of reciting the Creed with the filioque

Bishop Stephan of Philomelion published an explanatory declaration and clarification as a response to the official comment made by the Orthodox Churh of Albania, according to which he said to have “recited the Symbol of Faith (Credo) with the filioque”.

“Inasmuch as these accusations this time touch upon the integrity of my Orthodox phronema and do not merely concert my personal journey, I feel the need and obligation to respond both explicitly and categorically in order to prevent any potential scandal,” the Bishop said in his declaration.

Then, he expressed his wonder: “Does my oversight in reciting part of the English version of the text of the Hierarchal Confession, caused by my emotional intensity and great personal anxiety at that sacred moment, perhaps constitute proof of my ‘deficient’ Orthodoxy?”

Finally, he concluded: “In order to placate even the most sensitive conscience that might have been influenced by the aforementioned prejudicial comment, I declare to everyone everywhere that I believe absolutely and unwaveringly everything proper that I signed with my own hand in the attached text of my Hierarchal Confession.”

Read the rest here
HT: Dr. Tighe

A book recommendation

Easy Money: Cryptocurrency, Casino Capitalism, and the Golden Age of Fraud
If you own crypto, or are thinking of dabbling in it; I strongly reccomend reading this book.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

The Return of Paganism

Cracking down on eco-vandals

In recent years, museums have become easy targets for eco-extremists and vandals who think that disrupting exhibits and attacking priceless works of art are legitimate forms of protest for their cause. Now fed up, the museums and authorities are starting to push back. Suits are being filed for damages and serious criminal charges, long overdue, are finally being brought.

Story here.

Sunday, July 09, 2023

Francis names 21 new cardinals

July 9 (Reuters) - Pope Francis on Sunday announced that he would elevate 21 churchmen to the high rank of cardinal, again putting his mark on the group that will one day choose his successor after his death or resignation.

The ceremony to install them, known as a consistory, will be held on Sept. 30, the 86-year-old Francis announced during his noon prayer to pilgrims and tourists in St. Peter's Square.

It will be the ninth consistory called by the pope since his election 10 years ago as the first pontiff from Latin America.

The new cardinals come from countries including the United States, Italy, Argentina, Switzerland, South Africa, Spain, Colombia, South Sudan, Hong Kong, Poland, Malaysia, Tanzania, and Portugal.

Eighteen of the 21 are under 80 and will be able to enter an eventual secret conclave to choose the next pope. They are known as cardinal electors.

After the September consistory, there will be 137 cardinal electors, about 73 percent of them chosen by Francis. This increases the possibility that the next pope will share his vision of a more progressive, inclusive Church.

Read the rest here.

Friday, July 07, 2023

Archbishop of York: Our Father is problematic

The archbishop of York has suggested that opening words of the Lord’s Prayer, recited by Christians all over the world for 2,000 years, may be “problematic” because of their patriarchal association.

In his opening address to a meeting of the Church of England’s ruling body, the General Synod, Stephen Cottrell dwelt on the words “Our Father”, the start of the prayer based on Matthew 6:9–13 and Luke 11:2–4 in the New Testament.

“I know the word ‘father’ is problematic for those whose experience of earthly fathers has been destructive and abusive, and for all of us who have laboured rather too much from an oppressively patriarchal grip on life,” he said.

His comment – a brief aside in a speech that focused on the need for unity – will divide members of the C of E, a body whose differences on issues of sexuality, identity and equality have been highly visible for years.

Read the rest here.

Pope Francis (again)

Pope Francis picks notorious pro-LGBT clerics to participate in October Synod on Synodality
HT: Dr. Tighe

Thursday, July 06, 2023

One in five United Methodist congregations in the US have left the denomination

More than 6,000 United Methodist congregations — a fifth of the U.S. total — have now received permission to leave the denomination amid a schism over theology and the role of LGBTQ people in the nation’s second-largest Protestant denomination.

Those figures emerge following the close of regular meetings in June for the denomination’s regional bodies, known as annual conferences. The departures began with a trickle in 2019 — when the church created a four-year window of opportunity for U.S. congregations to depart over LGBTQ-related issues — and cascaded to its highest level this year.

Church law forbids the marriage or ordination of “self-avowed, practicing homosexuals,” but many conservatives have chosen to leave amid a growing defiance of those bans in many U.S. churches and conferences.

Many of the departing congregations are joining the Global Methodist Church, a denomination created last year by conservatives breaking from the UMC, while others are going independent or joining different denominations.

Read the rest here.

Monday, July 03, 2023

Pope Francis Appoints a Liberal Protestant as Guardian of Doctrine

The Catholic blogosphere is in an uproar over the appointment of Archbishop Victor Manuel “Tucho” Fernandez to be the new head of the Vatican office responsible for defending doctrinal orthodoxy. To say that the man represents a direct attack on anything resembling Catholicism would be a huge understatement. I can only assume that V Gene Robinson didn't get the job because he was deemed too conservative.

Saturday, July 01, 2023


On this date in 1921 William H. Taft became Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court. He was the first, and to date, only former president to hold the top job in both the executive and judicial branches of government. 

Saturday, June 17, 2023

What if...

The Central Powers had won the First World War?

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Russian Orthodox Church labels pacifism as "heresy"

While the Russian Orthodox Church already supported the invasion of Ukraine, it now also opposes pacifism. The defence of that is heresy, according to them.

Pacifism is a heretic tradition and goes directly against the teachings of the Russian Orthodox Church. This is contained in documents sent in by the Church in preparation for a church court case against a priest who condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russian medium RBC had access to this documentation.

In this case, the church court is considering statements by priest John Burdin, who is banned from presiding over services. Last year, Burdin had to appear before a civil court for allegedly discriminating against the Russian army. In that case, the priest was fined.

According to the Church’s documents, Burdin’s statements “clearly denigrate the activities of the highest church authorities” of the Russian Orthodox Church, “undermine the trust of believers”, and cause “harm to church unity.”

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Lock Him Up

For many years, but especially the past three, conservatives have warned of the dangers of a criminal justice system that is overly reluctant to put and keep dangerous people in prison. The law is the law. Violations of it should be prosecuted. We are, and must remain, the land of equal justice, not social justice dictated by the ideological fixations of angry Americans.

These same conservatives should try being consistent when it comes to the federal indictment of Donald Trump.

It is stunning to read the grand jury’s 37-count indictment, with its depictions of a former president treating the law with the contemptuous disdain of a mafia don — but with none of a don’s concern for covering his tracks. It is even more stunning to hear what some of those in the legal community who have been defenders of Trump have to say about it.

Alan Dershowitz: “It is the kind of evidence every defense lawyer dreads and every prosecutor dreams about,” the retired Harvard law professor wrote of Trump’s recorded admission of unlawfully possessing highly classified documents.

Jonathan Turley: “Some of the evidence is coming from his former counsel, and these are very damaging statements made against him,” the Fox News legal analyst said, referring to notes made by one of Trump’s lawyers, in which the former president plots to obstruct a government subpoena. “All the government has to do is stick the landing on one count, and he could have a terminal sentence.”

Bill Barr: “It’s a very detailed indictment, and it’s very, very damning,” Trump’s former attorney general told “Fox News Sunday.” As for the suggestion that Trump is the victim of a witch hunt, Barr noted that the Justice Department had “acted in a very patient way” in trying to obtain documents from Trump, only to be met with “very egregious obstruction.”

Barr added that the way in which Trump held on to and possibly shared vital national secrets — including, reportedly, the Pentagon’s planning documents for an attack on Iran — was done in a way that “anyone who really cares about national security, your stomach would churn at.”

Read the rest here.

Friday, June 09, 2023

This is it

After seven years, I finally feel confident that we are witnessing the beginning of the end of Donald Trump. Absent severe mental illness, no prosecutor would even think about bringing this kind of indictment against a former president of the United States unless they were 300% certain that they would win in court. And this had to be bottom lined by the AG. No AG, no matter their political prejudices, would ever allow the Federal prosecution of a former president, unless they were convinced the rule of law and or national security required it. This indictment is simply damning. It alleges misconduct more serious by several orders of magnitude, than anything Hillary Clinton was accused of. Conduct that back in 2016, Trump wanted prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. 

To be clear, Donald Trump is an American citizen and entitled to his day in court. I don't have any competence as a matter of law to pronounce him guilty. But as a matter of private opinion, I think he is going down hard and will be very lucky if doesn't die in prison.

Wednesday, June 07, 2023

Trump likely facing Federal indictment

The Feds don't typically say that you are a target unless they have the charge sheet already typed up. Unlike the nickel dime case in New York, which I expect Trump to either beat, or at worst go down for a misdemeanor, the Feds have a serious and very solid case. Trump had about a dozen opportunities to diffuse this bomb, but at every turn he has behaved with manifest bad faith. If he is in fact indicted for documentgate, he is going to be in really deep trouble. The evidence is pretty close to what prosecutors sometimes call a "slam dunk." I think his only hope is that the AG will decide for political reasons not to indict him. Pretty much anyone other than a former US president would probably have already been charged.

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

I am totally stealing this title because, well, I can't top it. Story here

Sunday, June 04, 2023

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

The Russian vision of a world order based on force, could backfire.

Ukraine’s resistance to Putin’s invasion has demolished the idea of Russian invincibility. Everyone knows Russia is not the unbeatable empire Moscow was at pains to portray itself as both outwardly and inwardly. And just as Russia is trying to claim Ukraine as its own, other countries are eyeing chunks of Russian land, spotting an opportunity as the war shows just how weak the Russian army is. Nations within Russia are waiting for the right time to oust the bully. The Kremlin should be wary of promoting a world where it is acceptable to seize territories through force; it only invites others to join in and claim parts of Russia for themselves.

Japan was the first country to break its silence after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year. Tokyo said of the Kuril Islands that it was “completely unacceptable that the Northern Territories have yet to be returned since the Soviet Union’s illegal occupation of them 77 years ago”. That annexation saw the expulsion of Japanese people from the southern islands, and since then, the countries have failed to reach a compromise. Talks broke down when Putin showed he was not willing to share lands but only to gain new ones. 

Then China started drawing maps marking part of Siberia and the Russian Far East region as originally Chinese. Great areas of Chinese land were annexed by Russia in the 19th century. Unable to claim this territory back in a peaceful way, Beijing has pursued economic expansion around Baikal and has been actively purchasing and leasing lands near the border. 

In Poland, there are narratives suggesting that Russia occupied the Kaliningrad region in 1945, and that Warsaw has the right to claim it. Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and even Ukraine could also stake interests in vying for Russian lands. Russian fighters infiltrating the Belgorod region under the Ukrainian flag served as a reminder to Putin that others could also reclaim their “primordial territories”. Kyiv aims to restore its 1991 borders and end the war. Yet the prospect of exiled Russians on tanks turning Russian border regions into “national republics” is seen as a welcomed payback for Moscow’s deeds in the Donbas.

As Moscow pursues the expansion of its European borders, national autonomies in Russia and their exiled leaders envision the decolonization of Russia, dreaming of dividing it into 34 independent states. For now, national liberation movements are absent due to oppression and persecution within Russia. When the Soviet Union fell apart, several regions of Russia declared their state sovereignty but were silenced. These regions have constitutions stating their sovereignty as separate states, with power-sharing treaties governing their relationship with Moscow. These norms are “dormant”, but they can be activated as soon as the regime demonstrates its inability to keep the empire under control. 

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