Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pope Benedict Comments on Condoms

As early as Saturday afternoon CBS News was reporting that the Pope, in a Vatican letter, had approved the use of condoms. Surprise.

American Papist usually has the best coverage of such matters and points out that the Pope's comment about condoms is, first of all, part of a book-length interview to be considered within a larger context, and, second, that the Italian news media leaked portions of the interview.

It seems that the Pope didn't approve the use of condoms either in general or as a way to combat AIDS and he didn't make his remarks as part of official Church teaching. Instead he was responding to the interviewer's comments about AIDS in Africa. The Pope was re-stating that the Catholic Church helps those who suffer from AIDS "up close and concretely." He pointed out that the Church " does not speak from the tribunal of the newspapers, but helps her brothers and sisters where they are actually suffering." Naturally, CBS News didn't report any of that. Nor did they report the Pope's remarks on how the use of condoms feeds into the root problems of sex divorced from love and the "banalization of sexuality."

Here is the relevant passage and what the Pope actually said in the interview:


On the occasion of your trip to Africa in March 2009, the Vatican’s policy on AIDs once again became the target of media criticism.Twenty-five percent of all AIDs victims around the world today are treated in Catholic facilities. In some countries, such as Lesotho, for example, the statistic is 40 percent. In Africa you stated that the Church’s traditional teaching has proven to be the only sure way to stop the spread of HIV. Critics, including critics from the Church’s own ranks, object that it is madness to forbid a high-risk population to use condoms.

The media coverage completely ignored the rest of the trip to Africa on account of a single statement. Someone had asked me whythe Catholic Church adopts an unrealistic and ineffective position on AIDs. At that point, I really felt that I was being provoked, because the Church does
more than anyone else. And I stand by that claim. Because she is the only institution that assists people up close and concretely, with prevention, education, help, counsel, and accompaniment. And because she is second to none in treating so many AIDs victims, especially children with AIDs.

I had the chance to visit one of these wards and to speak with the patients. That was the real answer: The Church does more than anyone else, because she does not speak from the tribunal of the newspapers, but helps her brothers and sisters where they are actually suffering. In my remarks I was not making a general statement about the condom issue, but merely said, and this is what caused such great offense, that we cannot solve the problem by distributing condoms. Much more needs to be done. We must stand close to the people, we must guide and help them; and we must do this both before and after they contract the disease.

As a matter of fact, you know, people can get condoms when they want them anyway. But this just goes to show that condoms alone do not resolve the question itself. More needs to happen. Meanwhile, the secular realm itself has developed the so-called ABC Theory: Abstinence-Be Faithful-Condom, where the condom is understood only as a last resort, when the other two points fail to work. This means that the sheer fixation on the condom implies a banalization
of sexuality, which, after all, is precisely the dangerous source of the attitude of no longer seeing sexuality as the expression of love, but only a sort of drug that people administer to themselves. This is why the fight against the banalization of sexuality is also a part of the struggle to ensure that sexuality is treated as a positive value and to enable it to have a positive effect on the whole of man’s being.

There may be a basis in the case ofsome individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of
responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality.

Are you saying, then, that the Catholic Church is actually not opposed in principle to the use of condoms?

She of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution, but, in this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality.

Still, as one clever reader points out, one wishes the Pope had just responded to that last question with a simple 'no.' But Pope Benedict isn't a simple person and these aren't simple times, so we're once again left to slug this out with the mainstream media and other Catholic bashers.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The International Baccalaureate--Infiltrating?

I certainly had no intention of rushing to the defense of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program when I read this article on the website of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-Fam), but it was a poor editorial choice for a worthy organization and the IB, though flawed and left-wing, deserves a better shot.

C-Fam is active at the United Nations with its mission of promoting a "proper understanding of international law, protecting national sovereignty and the dignity of the human person." I am familiar with their work just as I am familiar with the IB curriculum. Consequently when C-Fam linked the IB and the UN to the "biggest educational scam perpetrated on American schools today" I couldn't help but take notice.

The problem as C-Fam reports it seems to be that the IB is trying to work its way into American public schools in order to disseminate its UN, internationalist, socialist, left-wing ideas while masquerading as legit education. Leading the charge is a Long Island parent, Lisa McLoughlin, who has her own website, Truth About International Baccalaureate.

One has to wonder just how much the IB's admittedly secular, multi-cultural curriculum differs from what passes for education in many of today's American public schools. (I'm thinking of the young man in California who was told to remove the American flag from his bicycle. I doubt if either the UN or the IB was behind that.) Even if it were the case that the IB and the UN are in collusion to wreak (further) havoc on American public education, both C-Fam and Ms. McLoughlin have been sidetracked from the underlying problem by attacking the IB rather than the American public education bureaucracy.

Among the innumberable ills of our public education system is that it is essentially a government monopoly that dictates to America's parents what their children will be taught and penalizes those of us who choose to opt out of the system by denying us the opportunity to use our tax dollars toward the education of our choice. For those public schools out there that are choosing to adopt the IB curriculum, the decision lies at the feet of America's educators, themselves in many cases so steeped in the culture of relativism, secularism, and multi-culturalism that they no longer know enough or care enough to provide curriculums that teach American history, American exceptionalism, Judeo-Christian ideals and the nuts and bolts of the three Rs. Even if the IB and the UN were beating down the door, these educators have the choice to just say no.

Given that there are so many truly nefarious things that the United Nations promotes and that C-Fam reports on so well, this detour to the IB curriculum is a distraction. Parents like Lisa McLoughlin would do more good by devoting their efforts to exposing the public schools for the failures that they are and crusading for school vouchers, tax incentives for home schoolers and an end to teachers' unions.

(By the way, the IB curriculum is a bona fide school curriculum whose students fare quite well academically. When my own kids took math, chemistry and physics in college, their freshman year college material was largely review. The preparation they had from their IB math and science courses was not the exception. Their IB history and English courses emphasized reading, writing and research. By 10th grade most IB students are accustomed to writing 1200-word essays on a regular basis. In foreign language exams from French to Chinese, IB students are able to score competitively on internationally normed tests. Subjects like anthropology, philosophy, economics and psychology are all taught at a challenging level.)

Catholicity in Higher Education

Oy vey ist mir. It's another Catholic-bashing article from Inside Higher Ed!

The article begins with a false premise that sets up an opposition between Catholic teaching and academic freedom by asking "whether allegiance to church orthodoxy trumps the free spirit of inquiry celebrated in academe."

One has to wonder first of all at the bold claim that there exists a "free spirit of inquiry" on today's campuses. But, more to the point, Catholic orthodoxy by its nature never "trumps free inquiry." It promotes it.

Here are three things Pope Benedict XVI said in his 2008 address to Catholic educators at Catholic University of America:

"I wish to reaffirm the great value of academic freedom. In virtue of this freedom you are called to search for the truth wherever careful analysis of evidence leads you."

"God's desire to make himself known, and the innate desire of all human beings to know the truth, provide the context for human inquiry into the meaning of life."

And the Pope also said:

"[Catholic educators]have the duty and privilege to ensure that students receive instruction in Catholic doctrine and practice. This requires that public witness to the way of Christ, as found in the Gospel and upheld by the Church's Magisterium, shapes all aspects of an institution's life, both inside and outside the classroom."

What this article should have been about is first, the fact that many Catholic colleges and universities are not ensuring that their students receive Catholic-inspired instruction, and, lamentably, many so-called Catholic colleges actually prevent Catholic teaching from shaping their institutions.

Secondly, there is in fact a conflict over academic freedom that warrants discussion though it isn't the conflict that the author sets up. The conflict is between on the one hand, the secular, relativism of academia which denies that truth exists,and, on the other hand, the Catholic Church's teaching which avers that truth does exist, that we are each called to search for it using our intellect as inspired by our faith in God and guided by Catholic teaching. The secularism and relativism of today's culture is the road block, placed intentionally, that "trumps the free spirit of inquiry" and denies us the freedom to search for the truth.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Two Reasons To Elect A Republican Next Time



One can only ask what in the WORLD Secretary of State Clinton had in mind when she donned this outfit during her visit to Australia. Maybe the former First Lady was feeling like a pumpkin and wanted to dress like one? For insightful commentary on Hillary's look, go here.

Meanwhile, in Indonesia, the president makes a point as our current First Lady of fashion strikes a masculine pose and furrows her brow, probably in an effort to keep her headscarf aloft and out of her eyes so that she won't trip over her "soopah-size" green pants suit as it puddles around her ankles. Then again, it looks like maybe the problem is that this threesome is standing around shoeless! For more on Michelle's fashion savvy, go here.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Speaking of, Where Are The Men. . . . . . .

We can read more about men and manliness in two new books, Manthropology and Is There Anything Good About Men? humorously reviewed in this Wall Street Journal article.

Here we can see two men, the Bushes, pere et fils, at the World Series Game in Texas.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

HollaBack!

HollaBack! Another mailing from my alma mater Barnard College and its Barnard Center for Research on Women. I flipped the post card over to see phrases like "combat street harrassment" and "ending sexual harrassment." I flipped back to the front of the card to see an angry (or was she hurt) looking young gal holding up her hand as if to say stop . . . or hollaback?

When I actually read the text, the fog lifted at once. No, it's not an obscure word from some Spanish dialect. HollaBack! is about "feminist responses to street harassment." It's about creating safe transit and safe communities by ending sexual assault. It's about getting tough and street-wise. It's about women fighting! We're fighting back. We're HOLLERING back. I finally got it. Forty plus years into the feminist movement and according to the Barnard Center for Research on Women, we lady-folk are still victims. Society still doesn't treat us properly. The feminist movement may be gulping for air, but it hasn't breathed its last. And to prove it, we're going to finally make streets safe for women by using "technology, mapping and community organizing." Heaven help us.

Back in 1971, when the Center was founded, who would have thought that years down the road Barnard would be sending its alums mailings about hollering back, polyphonic feminism, erotohistoriography, economic and sexual justice and other such topics covered by 'sexuality scholars' and those whose area of expertise is 'gender/sexuality/queer studies.'

I'm often told that the current crop of Barnard undergrads is interested mostly in being good students and getting a sound education. Perhaps at this point the Women's Center is an afterthought, a 70s hold-over, a campus anomaly. I certainly hope so, and, in fairness, it should be added that not every mailing from Barnard is about reproductive justice (their term) and feminist art. The campus is also host to Bach concerts and back in February there was a lecture about raising happy and moral children.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Tax Eaters vs. Tax Payers

There is a new book by Steven Malanga called Shakedown: The Continuing Conspiracy Against the American Taxpayer. Read about it here and watch below.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The End of Men?

A few months ago, OrignalMetalChik asked where are the men, the real men, that is. Only slightly more dramatic, Brian Caulfield, in the Winter 2010 issue of The Human Life Review, asks if it's the end of men. Thank goodness, he does predict their return.

Caulfield gives some of the factors contributing to the demise of fatherhood and manhood in our society (the Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade which left men with "no enforceable rights in the continued life of the child in the womb that they helped to create " and in vitro fertilization and donor conceived babies, methods that allow women to "start their pregnancy in a Petri dish" without ever having to deal with a living, breathing man and creating children whose biological father is a mere cipher.)

Caulfield cites the damage the de-masculinization of society has already done. Children in homes without fathers are five times more likely to be poor and 54% more likely to be poorer than their fathers. Child abuse is more prevalent in single parent homes than those where a child is raised by both biological parents.
Infant-mortality rates are almost twice as high for infants of unmarried mothers, and being raised without a father increases the likelihood of teen pregnancy and dropping out of school.

The mainstream media has, naturally, willingly reinforced the image of men as weak and silly creatures further fueling the damage done by a culture that has been swept along by the damnable women's movement of the 70s and the sexual revolution of the 60s.

However, Caulfied gives some indicators of how manliness is hopefully on the upswing again, citing in particular Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body, the Pope's teaching and reflection on human sexuality. As Caulfied puts it, the Pope "draws energy from the very sexual revolution that it seeks to correct. Like a transformer station that takes raw energy and converts it into streams of electricity that are useful to a household, the pope takes the sexual energy unleashed in the 1960s, draws out the positive trends, and adds the tempering perspective . . . of the Christian tradition."

If you can't find this article on line, which I couldn't, you can certainly read more along these lines at Caulfield's website Fathers for Good of which he is the editor. Current wisdom has tried, lamentably with considerable success, to hammer into us that there is no difference between male and female despite appearances, experience and overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Thus, it's uplifting to be reminded that current wisdom is wrong, that "gender" is not a state of mind or an accident of environment, that the complementarity of the sexes is directed by God. As Caulfield writes,
"Men and women togther, equal in dignity and value, yet different in nature and capacities: This is the great model that John Paul sketched in his theology that placed the ensouled human body at the nexus of all history. "

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Saints and Heroes

Another beatification? Another saint? No sooner has one luminary of the Church been beatified--John Henry Newman--than another comes around. Having just returned from Our Saviour parish after the dedication of a new shrine (the first in the U.S.!) to the recently beatified Cardinal Newman, I chanced to read about the impending beatification of an Italian girl named Chiara Badano who liked to skate, dance and play tennis. What would there be about a seemingly normal teen that could possibly warrant her beatification?

At 17, Chiara was diagnosed with bone cancer and underwent chemotherapy, hospitalizations, unsuccessful surgery resulting in an inability to walk and, finally, months of pain before her untimely demise. On the one hand, there's the intellectual giant John Henry Newman and on the other a teen suffering from cancer, and both may be destined for sainthood. Hmm. There are, apparently, many ways to be "images of Christ." Chiara, with a devotion to and love of Christ, consciously decided, according to an incident related by her mother, to take up her cross and fully embrace her suffering as she prepared to "meet Jesus." Chiara died "happy" just a few weeks shy of her nineteenth birthday with the instruction to her mother that she repeat three times that Chiara is now "seeing Jesus." There is more about Chiara's beatification here.

At the same time, there was awarded the other day a Medal of Honor to Chief Master Sergeant Richard L. Etchberger for his heroism in Laos in March of 1968. With his crew lying dead and wounded around him, he "single-handedly held off the enemy with an M-16, while simultaneously directing air strikes into the area and calling for air rescue." As if that wasn't enough, he then proceeded, in the line of enemy fire, to lift not one, but three of his wounded crew into helicopter slings. Need it be said that as Etchberger was himself lifted into the helicopter, he was fatally wounded.

At first glance, Chiara and Chief Etchberger seem to have about as much in common as do Chiara and Blessed John Henry Newman. But reading the story of the Italian teen on one day called to mind reading the story of the soldier from just days before. Here are unusually courageous acts from otherwise usual people as they are confronted with danger, death and pain. They show a virtuous spirit that, once triggered, indomitably persists in being virtuous not only once or for a moment, but repeatedly and regardless of the last moment. Here are two who gave a somewhat unfathomable and conscious "yes" to personal sacrifice, the possibility of which, as a soldier, Etchberger was certainly quite aware and something Chiara certainly understood as her disease advanced.

Some time ago, I heard a talk by a rabbi who spoke, among other things, about the death of his parents in a concentration camp. The details of his story are a bit fuzzy now, but while his parents were carted off to a hideous end, his own boyhood was spared due to the heroic acts of some courageous individuals who looked after him. The rabbi gazed out at those of us in the audience and anticipated, as he probably had many times before, the questions that were on our minds, namely, Are you bitter, angry, vengeful? Are you guilt-ridden over your own survival? and Why are you so calm and reasonable?

To the unasked questions, the rabbi answered very matter of factly that he had learned quite early in life that human beings are--as he waved one hand to one side--capable of great evil and--as he gestured with his other hand to his other side--capable of great good. It's not pleasant to dwell on the suffering of a dying girl, the thoughts of a soldier under enemy fire, or the fears of those hiding a young Jewish boy orphaned by the Nazis. But it is pleasant after a fashion to dwell on their actions in the face of fear and danger as a reminder of the capability for great good that was placed within all of us.

College for Free Condoms

If college is indeed four years of partying as some recent books are saying, Drew University in Madison, NJ gives further proof that the college years provide for far more than just the refinement of the intellect.

At Drew, students are complaining because condoms are no longer distributed for free by the university's health office. Poor lambs. Resident assistants in the dormitories are now keepers of the condoms, and students who want condoms must go and ask for them. Such a hassle.

The fuss at Drew is not, oddly enough, over whether or not the college should dispense condoms. The issue is not even about the condoms being free. Rather, the brouhaha is over how the free condoms are being dispensed! At Drew, in the affluent suburb of Madison, parents who are spending just under $40,000 on tuition can certainly provide their young scholars with an allowance big enough to buy condoms. But money isn't the issue at all here. Values is the issue and therein lies at least some of the problem that plagues college life today.

The headline of the Star Ledger article would do all parents and students a greater service if it read, Why is a college promoting sexual activity among unmarried, still-financially dependent 18 to 22 year olds? And why do colleges provide contraceptives, abortion referrals, sex fairs, and, for that matter, co-ed dorms? If parents are suckers about anything, as some of the recent books suggest, we are suckers not to ask these questions when we make the rounds of college visits with our kids.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Alveda King and Restoring Honor Rally

Hopefully, Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King, Jr. will become more of a household name now that Glenn Beck included her in his Restoring Honor Rally back on August 28th. Alveda King travels wherever Priests for Life sends her to carry her message on the "evil twins" of abortion and racism. As a Pastoral Associate for African-American Outreach of Priests for Life, King spreads the under-reported news that while blacks comprise only 12% of the general population, they have 35% of the abortions. King is one of the few in the pro-life movement to point out that a disproportionate percentage of abortion clinics are found in minority neighborhoods, supposedly to "serve" the poor. But, as King points out, "you don't serve the poor by taking their money to terminate their children."

Alveda King offends liberal, establishment blacks, or the Black Mafia as writer Lloyd Marcus calls them, because she doesn't deliver the required blacks-as-victims rhetoric. In her open letter of 2008 to the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), King doesn't promote green jobs, free rides to community colleges or more government hand-outs. She talks about strengthening the black family, promoting marriage and family values. She reminds America's African-American leaders that the core mission of black civil rights groups is to ensure the equality of rights for all persons without recourse to violence or hatred. And, again, to the CBC, she addresses the issue of reparations saying,
the battle against oppression and segregation was not white versus black, but right versus wrong. There are no separate races divided by skin color. It was not whites who did this to blacks, it was Southern racists who even took us into a war where 300,000 whites gave their lives to end slavery. A political party based on abolition was formed by whites to free the slaves.

Hardly words that Maxine Waters, Al Sharpton, or, for that matter, Barack Obama, want to hear.

Alveda King offends white feminists when she says,

The abortion movement in this country was started by Margaret Sanger, the founder of an organization known today as Planned Parenthood. Ms. Sanger was quite open that she wanted "more children from the fit, less from the unfit." The unfit, she made clear, were blacks and poor whites. She had no qualms about speaking to as many as 12 Ku Klux Klan meetings. As I discuss in the new film, "Maafa 21: Black Genocide in 21st Century America" (produced byLifeDynamicsInc.), she targeted blacks in her eugenics-based campaigns.

And, Alveda King speaks out in a way that liberals find intolerable. When she invokes the dream of her Uncle Martin, and asks, How can the dream survive if we murder the children? she unsettles those who have whitewashed MLK, Jr. as little more than a "man of peace," a secular, kindly figure who wanted nothing more than a big group hug for the world. Columnist Johnathan Capehart scolds Ms. King for being a political opportunist at the Beck rally and "besmirching" her uncle's legacy. And columnist Bonnie Erbe is offended because Alveda King has dared to equate the pro-life movement with the civil rights movement and abortion with racism.

Erbe writes that she "supports abortion rights but I'm not sure I would go so far as to call it a human rights issue." Really? Highly doubtful considering that the operative mantra of the pro-abortion (reproductive rights) movement, the feminist (women's rights) movement, the homosexual (gay rights) movement has been to paint their respective causes as human rights violations and to create their movements in the image of the Civil Rights movement of the 60s.

Several years ago Alveda King spoke on the Barnard College campus at the request of the Columbia University pro-life student group. King arrived on a warm fall day in October wheeling her suitcase in front of her, having just come from another lecture tour. She has no entourage, no glamour, no flash and she gives her presentation by herself. Critics like Erbe and Capehart who desperately attempt to discredit King by saying she feeds on and distorts her uncle's legacy should attend one of her talks and note that there is humility in her presentation, not braggadoccio and that her message about the black experience in America, though not what the mainstream media wants to hear, is first-hand and true. Alveda King is tireless in her efforts to spread her message and Glen Beck deserves credit for supporting her.

College or No College?

There may be a new trend in the world of higher education. It's now becoming fashionable to say that college is a farce! Here is a review of several new books that points out how college is little more than four years of partying, that college is a rip-off and that we parents are all suckers for buying into the belief that our kids need four more years of classroom learning. The reviewer doesn't give these books very high marks, and they do sound a bit slap-dash, but most parents who've been through the college admissions process with their kids don't need these books to know that the path to college comes with a high price tag, both in terms of time and money not to mention everyone's emotional well-being. At the end of the day, college isn't always the best choice for every high school teen.

The number of kids who both genuinely aspire to the life of the mind after high school and who are qualified to do so must be a very small percentage of all graduating high school seniors, but we'd never know it because college has become de rigeur, the automatic next stop-over for all kids of 18, regardless of their strengths or interests. While I do know of a handful of teens who actively orchestrated their own college search, it is largely parents, college counselors and college admissions officers who fuel the college frenzy and perpetuate the myth that college is the only and best alternative after high school.

Popular belief says that college graduates have better earning power than those without a four-year degree, but Charles Murray gives a good explanation in this short article of why a college degree may not add up to higher earning power, depending on the individual.

And for those college students who ultimately may be good college material, he offers some pithy advice.

One of the best things we could do to improve the college experience for students and faculty alike is to persuade a new generation of high school graduates that they ought to get the hell out of the educational system for a few years and thereby learn something about themselves.


Friday, September 10, 2010

CatholicVote.Org

Here is CatholicVote.Org's new ad.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

More on DADT

The Obama administration's drive to repeal the law barring homosexuals from serving in the military (mis-named 'Don't Ask Don't Tell') has continued apace through the summer. As always, Family Research Council (FRC) and the Center for Military Readiness (CMR) continue to spell out the real picture. CMR reports that the CBS poll showing 75% of Americans support repeal of the law is erroneous. FRC president Tony Perkins points out that,

"The survey currently being conducted by the Department of Defense assumes the repeal of the current law and asks service personnel only their views of how to implement such a plan. The survey does not address the much more profound and pertinent question of whether or not repeal should go forward.

FRC reminds readers over and over again that the real agenda behind the repeal of the law is, ultimately, the redefinition of marriage in our culture and the normalization of same sex marriage. From its report called Mission Compromised they point out that,

radical “gay rights” advocates/activists want to use the military to advance an agenda for the full acceptance of homosexuality in society at large.

Most disappointing is when members of the military offer themselves up like so many of Lenin's useful idiots and pander to the political elites and activists who are portraying open homosexuality as yet one more right that we all have to recognize. Back in May, this statement was released by military bloggers, and the Atlantic Monthly published this interview with Blackfive's Jim Hanson in June.

Judging by what Hanson says about military bloggers as a voting bloc, their narrow focus and their supposed acceptance of homosexuality in general seems to prevent them from realizing just how they are being used to further the social goals of liberals in Congress and homosexual lobbying groups. In the interview, Hanson says,

But the dialogue is good, because most of us agree that it's a generational thing now. Because of the ubiquity of gay people in our society, the young troops don't care, its very much "don't ask, don't care." This will be a non-issue once the policy goes into place. The young troops say, "Who cares? If
you didn't notice, there are people shooting at us. We've got other concerns."
Because gays are "ubiquitous" (which they're not) in society, it follows that they should serve in the military? Don't ask, don't care? Equally illogical, Hanson has the law already repealed when it still has not been voted on. As for his labelling the Obama administration's demand for repeal of the 1993 law as good dialogue, it's difficult to see it as good let alone even dialogue when Obama is ignoring the advice of the generals and feeding soldiers a questionnaire that pre-supposes repeal of the law.

It remains to be seen what Hanson's open-minded, gay-friendly young troops will think when they wind up on the receiving end of harrassment charges because they've failed to be sensitive to gay needs, they've rebuffed the advances of a gay soldier or superior, or they've expressed discomfort or concern over the gay 'family' next door, or sharing showers and sleeping quarters with homosexuals.

How Hanson and other military bloggers don't see this is disturbing.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

OrignalMetalChik Asks "Where Are The Men?"

Sarah Palin says that Obama has no cojones, but OrignalMetalChik offers an explanation as to why even our nation's leader is an unmanly men. The reason is feminism. You are not watching the wrong video as you hear OriginalMetalChik talking about the problem of illegals in Arizona. She begins there and warms to her thesis. Who is OrignalMetalChik? I don't know, but here she is.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

America For Me


Only a few days late for the July 4th holiday, here is a poem not so often quoted, but one that I find appealing for celebrating what is unique to the United States. The poem was written by Henry Van Dyke,but I was introduced to it by the children's author, Jean Fritz, who writes books about Americans and American history. Fritz grew up in China as the daughter of missionaries, and her autobiography, the name of which escapes me at the moment, is a touching and poignant account of her life there. In the book, she tells how, as a young girl, she found herself reciting this poem to herself, out loud, as her ship pulled into port on one of her visits back home to the U.S. , the "blessed Land of Room Enough."



America For Me

'TIS fine to see the Old World and travel up and down
Among the famous palaces and cities of renown,
To admire the crumbly castles and the statues and kings
But now I think I've had enough of antiquated things.

So it's home again, and home again, America for me!
My heart is turning home again and there I long to be,
In the land of youth and freedom, beyond the ocean bars,
Where the air is full of sunlight and the flag is full of stars.

Oh, London is a man's town, there's power in the air;
And Paris is a woman's town, with flowers in her hair;
And it's sweet to dream in Venice, and it's great to study Rome;
But when it comes to living there is no place like home.

I like the German fir-woods in green battalions drilled;
I like the gardens of Versailles with flashing foutains filled;
But, oh, to take your hand, my dear, and ramble for a day
In the friendly western woodland where Nature has her sway!

I know that Europe's wonderful, yet something seems to lack!
The Past is too much with her, and the people looking back.
But the glory of the Present is to make the Future free--
We love our land for what she is and what she is to be.

Oh, it's home again, and home again, America for me!
I want a ship that's westward bound to plough the rolling sea,
To the blessed Land of Room Enough, beyond the ocean bars,
Where the air is full of sunlight and the flag is full of stars.

Henry Van Dyke

Friday, June 11, 2010

Year For Priests

The Year for Priests draws to a close today. Coincidentally, I came across an address that New York City’s own Archbishop Dolan gave in Ireland about two weeks ago in which he discussed the priesthood and mentioned a famous priest and saint, Father Maximilian Kolbe.

When the Nazi commandant of Auschwitz snickered, “Who is the Polish swine,” at the prisoner who had raised his hand asking to take the place of the married man and father who had been chosen at random to be executed, the “Polish swine” did not reply, “I am Maximilian Kolbe,” nor “I am prisoner number 1408,” nor “I am a friend and would like to take his place in execution.” No. He simply replied, “I am a Catholic priest.”
I read about Fr. Kolbe late one night about ten years ago. The more I read, the colder and darker the night became and the more incredulous I grew at what I was reading. I thought, rather arrogantly, that, certainly, if this story were true I would have heard of it before! Fr. Kolbe's story is, of course, completely true.

As Dolan says in the short passage above , Fr. Kolbe, a Roman Catholic, Polish priest and a prisoner at Auschwitz, was among those rounded up to be starved to death as punishment for a prisoner having attempted to escape from the camp. As lots were drawn, a man was chosen who had still enough hope and humanity left in him to exclaim that he had a wife and family to care for, that he couldn’t die, that he had responsibilities. Fr. Kolbe stepped forward to take the man’s place. One may go on to read the account of how Fr. Kolbe ministered to all those in the starvation cell, how they sang and prayed and how Kolbe was finally put to death with an injection. Another powerful punch to the account of Fr. Kolbe's sacrifice is that the man whose place he took, Franciszek Gajowniczek, did survive Auschwitz, was reunited with his wife and lived to be 94 years old.

My disbelief of ten years ago about Fr. Kolbe, resurfaced recently when, just after reading Archbishop Dolan's address, another Polish priest was in the news. Do Polish Catholic priests have a lock on sacrifice and suffering?Father Jerzy Popieluszko whose affiliation with the Solidarity movement in Poland earned him the hatred of the communists, was apparently inspired by Kolbe’s lesson of “spiritual freedom amidst physical enslavement.” I read these words about Fr. Popieluszko here from Fr. Rosica.
Father Popieluszko was neither a social nor a political activist, but a Catholic priest faithful to the Gospel. He wasn't a forceful speaker, but someone of deep conviction and integrity. His sanctity lay in fundamental righteousness that gave people hope even in horrendous situations. On Oct. 19, 1984, the young priest was kidnapped by security agents on his way back to Warsaw after a visit to a parish in the neighboring town of Bydgoszcz. He was savagely beaten until he lost consciousness, and his body was tied up in such a way that he would strangle himself by moving. His weighted body was then thrown into a deep reservoir. His killers carried out their task with unprecedented brutality, which shows their hatred of the faith that the priest embodied. Jerzy's driver, who managed to escape, told what had happened to the press. On Oct. 30, Popieluszko's bound and gagged body was found in the freezing waters of a reservoir near Wloclawek. Fr. Jerzy's brutal murder was widely believed to have hastened the collapse of communist rule in Poland.
How to comprehend such deep suffering and sacrifice. Speaking for all priests in this Year For Priests, Archbishop Dolan said:

In answer to a literal life-or-death question, Maximilian Kolbe identified himself as a priest. Priesthood is not, first and foremost, something we do,but someone we are.










Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Obama At The 2010 West Point Graduation

As a friend pointed out to me years ago, New York City is such a deeply blue place (and liberals are so parochial) that almost invariably, even the most casual acquaintances assume that you are as far left as they are! Thus, when friends or others heard that Barack Obama spoke at our son's graduation, they assumed that we, like they, felt whelmed with this good fortune.

Obama had plenty of support among the thousands at West Point's Michie Stadium on May 22nd, and the cadets would certainly render only respect to their Commander in Chief, but many among us discussed how we would stand for Obama out of respect for the office of the President, but we would be hard pressed to applaud, and, indeed, there was little call for applause.

For starters, Obama's speech went on too long, especially as we assume it was his late arrival that set the whole ceremony back by almost 20 minutes. While one can probably find the speech somewhere on the internet, it's hardly worth the time. After briefly recognizing the graduating class and pandering to the feminists by crowing about the fact that the two top-ranked cadets in the class were females, Obama launched into what was essentially a campaign speech and worse. In front of 1,000 soon-to-be newly-commissioned 2nd Lieutenants, Obama proceeded to talk about the importance of everything but soldiering. He waxed on about diplomacy, internationalism and the contribution that all Americans need to make to the world's future. If I'm not mistaken, he even covered the environment.

Obama, so out of touch and disdainful of all things military and manly, couldn't have provided a lower point to the day, but then again, the day offered so much more to celebrate than Obama's presence that his contribution or lack thereof faded quickly.

The speech that did leave an impression was given the night before graduation by Chief of Staff of the Army, General Casey. I know that Casey came under fire for his politically correct comment about diversity back during the Fort Hood shootings, but Casey's speech to the cadets at the graduation dinner seemed heartfelt and to the point. He spoke directly to them and he did know that they had been at West Point not to become Peace Corps volunteers or to further women's rights, but to practice the profession of arms. He did mention the words "warrior ethos." He did circulate among the cadets beforehand and his speech lasted all of about 15 minutes.

There were many such memorable moments to this wonderful graduation week.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Blackfive Sells Out To Political Correctness

Over at Blackfive, milbloggers are falling all over themselves in their rush to show how open-minded they are about sexuality, gender issues and how much they love the god of equality. Not only are they eager to hop on the political correctness bandwagon, but, in a notably uncourageous and unmanly way, they are calling a retreat before the battle is lost.

In the current debate over the repeal of the 1993 law erroneously called Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT), Congress is supposed to be waiting for a report from the military before taking a vote on the issue of gays openly serving in the military. Not content to wait for the democratic process to take its course, however, certain Congressmen feel it is their prerogative to make unilateral decisions before all the information is in.

The milbloggers remind me of a bunch of scared schoolboys who are terrified of getting beat up by the bullying left-wingers waiting for them in the schoolyard. Hence, they are ever so thoughtful in their request:

We ask Congress to withhold action until this [the military's research and report] is finished, but no longer. We urge Congress to listen to the service chiefs and act in accordance with the recommendations of that study.

The US Military is professional and ready to adapt to the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell without compromising its mission. Echoing Sec. Def. Gates and ADM Mullen, we welcome open and honorable service, regardless of sexual orientation.
Meanwhile, Congress in the person of Sen. Carl Levin (D-Michigan) shows no such restraint as he prepares to attach an amendment to the upcoming Defense Authorization Bill that will either place a moratorium on the 1993 law (mis-labeled Don't Ask Don't Tell) or repeal it entirely. The Center for Military Readiness (CMR) continues to provide insightful coverage of this issue. Or, read their policy paper which describes in detail some of the consequences of gays openly serving. As CMR points out,

Military men and women are about to be used in an involuntary social experiment, paying a high and possibly irrevocable price for the president’s political promises to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered activists of the LGBT Left.

Responsible congressmen and senators of both parties should step forward to clarify the situation and to reaffirm support for the 1993 law.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Dolan Announces National Prayer Campaign for Life

Our own Archbishop Timothy Dolan introduced a National Prayer Campaign For Life on May 3rd upon the 10th anniversary of the passing of John Cardinal O’Connor. Inspiration for this campaign comes from both Cardinal O'Connor, a passionate champion of the unborn and the founder of the Sisters of Life, as well as from Pope John Paul II. Sister Lucy of the Sisters of Life writes,
Please join us in praying this prayer every day and give it to others–we are hoping that it spreads throughout our nation so that a Culture of Life may be fully restored!
Eternal Father, Source of Life,
strengthen us with your Holy Spirit
to receive the abundance of life you have promised.
Open our hearts to see and desire
the beauty of your plan for life and love.
Make our love generous and self-giving so that we may be blessed with joy.
Grant us great trust in your mercy.
Forgive us for not receiving your gift of life
and heal us from the effects of the culture of death.
Instill in us and all people reverence for every human life.
Inspire and protect our efforts on behalf of those most vulnerable
especially the unborn, the sick and the elderly.
We ask this in the Name of Jesus,
who by His Cross makes all things new. Amen.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.

Read more about the campaign at http://www.nationalprayerforlife.org/

Thursday, May 6, 2010

National Day of Prayer

Today was the 2010 National Day of Prayer, a good time to reflect on St. Paul's admonition to "Pray without ceasing," and, of course, just a good time to pray. Despite the current administration's lip-service to the contrary, one thing we as a nation can be pretty sure of is that our current president isn't praying either today or any other day. It is certainly no surprise that Obama didn't make much of the National Day of Prayer, but Obama's disaffection for the ceremony is a telling reminder of his earth-bound secularism and his disregard for faithful obedience to God as the way to determine truth and right behavior.

Pope John Paul II writes in Evangelium Vitae that certain situations require prayer and fasting:
Jesus himself has shown us by his own example that prayer and fasting are the first and most effective weapons against the forces of evil (cf. Mt 4:1-11). As he taught his disciples, some demons cannot be driven out except in this way (cf. Mk 9:29). Let us therefore discover anew the humility and the courage to pray and fast so that power from on high will break down the walls of lies and deceit.
The present would seem to be one of those times when a highly effective weapon against the forces of evil is needed. Pray without ceasing.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Join The Margarita Challenge

Sign the petition at My Food My Choice to protest Mayor Bloomberg's attempt to regulate salt, yes salt, in New York City's restaurants.

I will admit that I voted for Bloomberg, but only once.

President Bush After 9/11

A friend sent this to me recently. I know that baseball fans have quite a way to go before kicking into World Series mode, but this video shows an American spirit that has been flaccid if not just plain absent in the last few years. Here, President Bush throws out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium a month or so after 9/11 as the crowd gives voice to the American spirit that we hopefully still have in us. As he reflects on the experience and walks out onto the mound, Bush shows how a real American president should act.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Does Obama Have A Jewish Problem?

I bumped into two articles today that raised the issue of Obama and his possible Jewish problem. In the first from Newsmax, there is the interesting datum that of the 78% of Jewish voters who helped catapult Obama into the White House, only 42% of those voters would today vote for him again.

Would that were really so. However, I tend to think those Jewish voters are much like the 54% of Catholic voters whose political identity trumps their faith when it comes down to making a choice between the sacred and the profane. The profane seems to win every time. .

Speaking of which, the second article I bumped into is from Commentary magazine where editor John Podhoretz scrutinizes Obama's testiness with Netanyahu and attributes it to real dislike of the Jewish state (and perhaps all things Jewish?).

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Gianna Beretta Molla

The story of Gianna Beretta Molla, canonized a saint by the Roman Catholic Church in 2004, was puzzling to me when I read it several years ago. I wasn't a Catholic at the time and the whole process of sainthood was mystifying to begin with, but even more so in the case of Gianna, a 20th Century female, a mother and a doctor. Gianna Molla died in 1962 after refusing an abortion knowing that carrying her fourth pregnancy to term would likely save her child’s life, but would result in her own death. And I had thought saints were men who all lived in the Middle Ages.

The reason I mention her now is because a Catholic women's health care center has recently opened here in New York City, and it is named after Gianna Molla. Gianna- The Health Care Center for Women, the first authentically Catholic women's health center in this area, is dedicated to following Catholic teachings in all aspects of providing health care to women of any faith. You can read more about the center here.

One does not become a saint overnight in the Catholic Church. The process by which sainthood is conferred is lengthy and many-layered, initiated by a bishop who seeks the beatification of some individual who first and foremost must have exhibited the Christian virtues of faith, hope and charity as well as the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance. At later steps of the process, the individual to be granted sainthood must have at least two miracles attributed to them. Gianna Molla, for all intents and purposes a regular person, met all these requirements. Surely an amazing story. Read more about her here.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Catholic Malta

Speaking of anniversaries and individuals named Paul, the occasion for the Pope's recent visit to Malta was to commemorate the 1,950th anniversary of St. Paul's shipwreck along the coast of the island. This became somewhat belatedly clear to me upon reading the text of an address Pope Benedict gave after his return from Malta.

Re-reading the account of St. Paul's Maltese shipwreck in the Acts of the Apostles (ch.27, 28), I was reminded that this was the occasion when a snake took hold of Paul's hand and the island natives assumed that the snake's attraction to Paul marked him as an evil demon who must be killed. A bit of turnabout occurred when Paul merely shook off the snake and showed no sign of suffering its venom. The island natives then decided that Paul must be a god. Fickle folk.

Malta is a tiny island nation that remains staunchly Roman Catholic and staunchly pro-life even in the face of bullying from the United Nations and the international community (which now, regrettably, includes us in the person of Barack Obama). The Pope noted this in his address.
From that shipwreck, or better, from Paul's subsequent sojourn in Malta, was born a fervent and solid Christian community, which after 2,000 years is still faithful to the Gospel and makes an effort to combine it with the complex questions of the contemporary age. This, naturally, is not always easy, nor is it taken for granted, but the Maltese know how to find in the Christian vision the answer to the new challenges. A sign of this, for example, is the fact of having kept firm their profound respect for unborn life and for the sacredness of marriage, choosing not to introduce abortion and divorce in the country's juridical system.
In light of the Pope's praise and support for Catholic Malta, one wonders what nefarious deeds our current ambassador to Malta, Doug Kmiec, must have to engage in as the Catholic and supposedly pro-life ambassador who must do Obama's bidding. Kmiec you will recall is the self-proclaimed Roman Catholic pro-life law professor who advocated that Catholics could in good conscience vote for pro-abortion Barack Obama. Like other Catholics in the public eye who have sold their souls in exchange for political power and the chance to obsequiously worship at Obama's anti-Catholic feet, Kmiec was rewarded with an ambassadorship to, of course, a deeply Catholic country.

There are likely few coincidences in the places that the Pope chooses to visit, and, with friends like Barack Obama and Ambassador Kmiec, I would imagine that the Maltese more than welcomed the presence of Pope Benedict.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

On the 18th of April in seventy-five . . . . .

Today is the 235th anniversary of Paul Revere's ride. It is worth re-reading Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's story poem which commemorates a fateful moment in American history, one that set in motion the upheaval of war leading to a unique experiment in government, the American constitutional republic. Longfellow paints that moment as a clatter of horses' hooves arising out of a gloomy silence, and he portrays the daring person in that moment as eagerly poised, to the point of impatience, to get on with the business of making history.

We certainly need the clatter and spark of those hurrying hoofbeats now to "kindle the land , into flame with its heat." Hopefully, we are and will continue to replicate the colonial patriots' "cry of defiance, but not of fear" in the face of those who prefer a secular, utilitarian state run by a heavy-handed and long-armed government as opposed to a country governed by the rule of law and grounded in moral, Christian law.

Paul Revere's Ride
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."

Then he said "Good-night!" and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend through alley and street
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade,--
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town
And the moonlight flowing over all.

Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel's tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, "All is well!"
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay,--
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse's side,
Now he gazed at the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry's height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns.

A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet;
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

It was twelve by the village clock
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer's dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.

It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, black and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.

It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadow brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket ball.

You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,---
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
>From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,---
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Inside Higher Ed's Obam-Education

I like to read Inside Higher Ed (IHE) though at this point I have no idea why. I suppose it's because I spent so much time in higher education, languishing in a doctoral program in linguistics, teaching as an adjunct at various colleges and then actually holding a full-time job in a real university. (The university was real, but the job, director of an academic skills center, was a dismal sort of joke.) Not surprisingly, IHE is left-leaning in nature, but their articles are very often informative and usually tolerable.

However, ever since Obama's presidential campaign, IHE has given readers an unrelenting slog of tedious pieces about Obama's support for community colleges and his plans for higher education. Today's article, one more in the onslaught, I found to be more readable, maybe because Obama's agenda is now out in the open. The writer tries hard to present Obama's heavy boot as pressing down on college leaders in an enlightened and lofty way, but it's pretty clear that Obama cares as much about quality and excellence in education as he does about quality and excellence in health care, that is, not at all.

Obama wants government-regulated education just as he wants government-regulated health care, a government-mandated-European-style military and government-regulated banks and business. He wants to run everything, and some in higher education are recognizing that. As the president of the American Council on Education said at this week's Higher Learning Commission meeting,
"To the extent that federal policy makers are now willing to bail out banks and other financial institutions, and to take major equity positions in our auto makers, because those companies are too big to fail, then I believe it’s wise for us to assume they will have little reservation about regulating higher education now that they know it is too important to fail."
Yes, too important to fail because, like health care, it's another part of the fiber of American life that Obama knows he must control in order to fully accomplish his version of transformative change in our culture. The writer goes ahead though and promotes the fiction that Obama merely longs for the elixir of education to unlock the doors to opportunity for all. As the writer tells us, Obama is going to be demanding accountability from institutions of higher learning. Is he ever! It's not hard to imagine what those demands will be--more diversity requirements, less religion, more departments of African-American studies, fewer courses on Western Civilization, more trumped-up and padded majors leading to jobs in Obama's new world of medical care, fewer entrance and exit requirements, and more and more and more four-year degrees that will reveal very little learning or intellectual development of any kind took place in Obama's education factories.

The article cites "pressure to measure student learning" as an idea being touted by Obama's advisers. In my experience "pressure to measure student learning" combined with an enjoinder to show progress and not lower quality means that standardized testing procedures are tossed out and students are evaluated according to different learning styles. Teachers are trained to use methods and projects that will appeal to a diverse learning community with careful attention given to the visual learner and the experiential learner. The old methods are eschewed as cumbersome and limiting and teachers are encouraged (well, Obama will just pass a law) to dispense with memorization, listening to lectures, reading entire books and writing in grammatical English. The quality and direction of government-regulated Obam-education looks murky indeed.

The worst part of the article is the author's thinly-disguised and peevish Bush-bashing. He interprets for us readers that college leaders see the Obama administration as valuing higher education more than Bush who didn't "like" higher education, and the writer notes that Obama is expecting "more" from higher education than did the Bush administration. What a crock.

Would that we could pass this all off lightly, but unfortunately, as with health care, the long arms of Obama and his comrades continue to boldly move their steamroller over us. Therefore, all hands on deck! Man your battlestations! And do so winsomely!

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Manhattan Declaration

I received an e-mail from the Manhattan Declaration a while ago--well, not just me of course, but me and all those who signed their petition-- in which they write about their new website and the fortuitousness of their formation precisely at a time when such an organization is sorely needed, referring to the unwelcome passage of Obama's punitive healthcare package. They write,
We are reminded by this legislation that we must redouble our efforts. We must equip ourselves to defend winsomely the truth in the public square.
Defend "winsomely"? I had to look that one up. To me 'winsome' always brought to mind a pretty, innocent lass or a longing, kind of lonely look. Lo and behold, the Manhattan Declaration founders are reminding us to defend the truth cheerfully,without rancor, to be happy soldiers while battling the lies and moral depravity of the progressives and liberals who have slipped into power with the help of society's useful idiots.

Oops. Now that hardly sounds cheerful, but I'm feeling a blow to the ego by discovering that I never knew what the word 'winsome' meant in the first place, and, I'm also a bit piqued at being reminded that I need to be cheery not only when discussing the spring weather but also when confronted with the worldview of liberal friends, family and neighbors. Alas. It may be too late for the latter in some cases.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Easter

From the Church of Our Saviour here in NYC, Father Rutler writes this week that "The joy of Easter is more than happiness, since happiness is a feeling while joy is a fact. Happiness comes from impressions, while joy comes from comprehension."

He also comments on the large numbers of people who attended Easter services this year at Our Saviour.
"This Holy Week our parish attracted the largest throngs I can remember, people often standing outside on Park Avenue unable to get in. In part, I think it was a response to the unprofessional and even hysterical calumnies of some journalists against St. Peter's successor, Benedict XVI. Mostly it was a response to Christ among us. The Pope said on Easter: "Joy cannot be commanded. It can only be given. The risen Lord gives us joy: true life. We are already held forever in the love of the One to whom all power in heaven and on earth has been given.” "

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010

Gays Openly Serving in the Military

The issue of gays openly serving in the military continues to percolate. Over at the Center for Military Readiness (CMR), they are asking whether we will now have a European-style military given the passage of our new, European-style health care. In a report that makes for very interesting reading, General John Sheehan offered testimony on March 18th at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing which kind of took the wind out of the sails of his interrogator's attempts to minimize and normalize an openly gay military.
Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) asked whether the general had discussed the issue [of gays in the military] with them. “Did they tell you that they had unit cohesion or morale problems?” Much to Levin’s surprise, Sheehan answered “Yes” and proceeded to provide details.
Just as Obamacare is less about health care reform and more about a socialist-type direction for the United States, gay activists and their enablers in our society seem to welcome a de-fanged and soft military after the fashion of those in Europe. The particular case discussed in this report is the Dutch army. The report goes on,
The hearing transcript reveals that Gen. Sheehan's most insightful points about military culture went right over the head of Senator Levin and others present at the hearing. When Dutch officials decided to embrace peacekeeping as the primary mission of their military, embracing unionism and social goals more suited to a civilian institution, combat effectiveness suffered. Then and now, this issue is all about priorities.
Gen. Sheehan warned against a similar transformation of America’s military. “Our enemies, especially the extremists, do not care how enlightened or progressive our culture may be. The only thing that matters is the effectiveness on the battlefield.”
The Dutch ambassador countered General Sheehan's remarks by "expressing pride" in his country's gays and lesbians who serve. I hear similar comments about the wonderful things gays have contributed to the U.S. military, comments which are similarly completely irrelevant. The military doesn't exist to promote the self-esteem or success of any one individual much less some group that has decided they are due for recognition.

CMR continues to keep the priorities straight by constantly reminding that the question is not whether we are proud that some specific-identity group is serving in the military but whether or not their service is an improvement or a setback for the success of a strong U.S. military. This report drives home the point that the United States should not prioritize social engineering in its military as many European countries have done.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Iraq Vets for Congress and Combat Veterans for Congress

Fighting back seems to be the order of the day after Obama bullied Americans and imposed on us his health care bill. (Or as Sen. Baucus called it, the bill that will address the "mal-distribution of income in America.") Among the various groups that are organizing, there is the Senate Conservatives Fund here with a petition pledge to vote only for those candidates who will repeal the health care bill. Hugh Hewitt continues to promote the National Republican Congressional Committee here , which appears to have a similar goal. Just today I got a call from the Republican National Committee asking for money to take back the Congress, but Michael Steele fails to impress and has not been that much of a friend to conservatives.

There are two other groups that are keeping tabs on up-and-coming contenders for congressional seats. They are Iraq Veterans for Congress and Combat Veterans for Congress. While I don't know their views on health care, it's certainly worth keeping an eye on these candidates for the same reasons that I wrote about concerning Allen Griffith and Lt. Col. Allen West (who is endorsed by both veterans groups). At American Thinker, Alan Fraser summarizes here a Harris Poll which reveals that Americans have the most confidence in leaders who come from the military. It's also noteworthy that all the veterans are Republicans, as will be anyone else in Congress who will work to repeal this wealth re-distribution, that is, health care bill.

As Hugh Hewitt and Erick Ericson constantly remind their audiences, even if these candidates aren't in our districts, we can support them by donating to their campaigns.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Prayer and Sacrifice to Defeat ObamaCare

Yesterday, the Sisters of Life sent out an e-mail to those of us on their list, inviting any and all of us to join them in prayer and fasting concerning Obama's health care bill. In the words of Mother Agnes Mary, the Sisters will be praying through the night "begging the Lord of Life to protect our nation from the onslaught of abortion and from the marginalizing of Christians in the public square by denying us the right to act on our conscience." She concludes her letter by writing, "May we support the weak, encourage the faint-hearted, and console the sorrowing by our prayers and sacrifices. May the Lord of all be glorified."

Friday, March 19, 2010

"Bishop Prays for Demise of Health Care Bill"

Zenit.org, the Vatican news agency, isn't usually the source of a good laugh, but I thought one of their recent headlines was uncharacteristically humorous: Bishop Prays for Demise of Health Care Bill .

The title of the article is suggesting that while Obama and Pelosi are praying for 216 votes to pass their health care bill, Bishop Loverde in the nearby Archdiocese of Arlington, VA, is praying for 215 votes to defeat it.

The mental image of Obama and Pelosi stopping off to pray to God for passage of their bill as they bully and bribe their way through the halls of Congress is kind of funny-- for a moment. It's also a bit tongue-in-cheek of the Zenit writer to suggest that Bishop Loverde is urging us to pray for 215 votes.

Rather, as the article adopts a more serious tone, Bishop Loverde urges us to pray for a conversion of hearts and minds and that means we are to pray for the Obamas and Pelosis, the renegade nuns who support Obama's bill, the Doug Kmiecs, the Joe Bidens and all those Obama Catholics who voted to put this callow, unprincipled man into the office of president. The bishop says, " Through our fasting and prayers, we ask the Lord to lead the hearts and minds of our nation's leaders as they make crucial decisions concerning the protection of life."

The bishop is reminding us to pray for our enemies! I confess to stumbling over Obama's name when I do attempt to include the likes of our president in my prayers, but the bishop's statement is also a reminder that God does hear us and he does answer prayer. Kind of ironic that, in yesterday's Bible reading, Moses reminds us of that. After the Israelites erected the Golden Calf, God told Moses that He had had enough of this "stiff-necked" people and that He intended to let His anger "burn hot against them" and "consume them." But Moses confronted God and interceded on behalf of his fellow wanderers, and God changed his mind.

In the present situation, I'm inclined to pray that God would consume most of Congress along with President Obama as quickly as possible, but that's not the idea here. Our own New York Archdiocese has all the information one needs to follow the true Catholic position on the health care issue including this prayer:

That Congress will act to ensure that needed health care reform will truly protect the life, dignity and health care of all and that we will raise our voices to protect the unborn and the most vulnerable and to preserve our freedom of conscience. We pray to the Lord.



Monday, March 15, 2010

Archbishop Chaput of Denver is again in the news, this time on the health care issue and the support that some supposedly Catholic groups are giving to the Senate version of the bill. The Archbishop makes three points about what he calls a "bad bill that will result in bad law."
First, the Catholic bishops of the United States have pressed for real national health-care reform in this country for more than half a century. They began long before either political party or the public media found it convenient. That commitment hasn’t changed. Nor will it.
Second, the bishops have tried earnestly for more than seven months to work with elected officials to craft reform that would serve all Americans in a manner respecting minimum moral standards. The failure of their effort has one source. It comes entirely from the stubbornness and evasions of certain key congressional leaders, and the unwillingness of the White House to honor promises made by the president last September.
Third, the health-care reform debate has never been merely a matter of party politics. Nor is it now. Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak and a number of his Democratic colleagues have shown extraordinary character in pushing for good health-care reform while resisting attempts to poison it with abortion-related entitlements and other bad ideas that have nothing to do with real “health care.” Many Republicans share the goal of decent health-care reform, even if their solutions would differ dramatically. To put it another way, few persons seriously oppose making adequate health services available for all Americans. But God, or the devil, is in the details -- and by that measure, the current Senate version of health-care reform is not merely defective, but also a dangerous mistake.
To those "Catholic" groups who support the bill, the Archbishop says:

Groups, trade associations and publications describing themselves as “Catholic” or “prolife” that endorse the Senate version – whatever their intentions – are doing a serious disservice to the nation and to the Church, undermining the witness of the Catholic community; and ensuring the failure of genuine, ethical health-care reform. By their public actions, they create confusion at exactly the moment Catholics need to think clearly about the remaining issues in the health-care debate. They also provide the illusion of moral cover for an unethical piece of legislation.

Archbishop Chaput concludes his column by advising us not to be "misled," and says, "In its current content, the Senate version of health-care legislation is not “reform.” Catholics and other persons of good will concerned about the foundations of human dignity should oppose it."

Stand With Stupak

At this point in the health care debate, I don't know if I correctly understand where Rep. Bart Stupak stands, but I do like the video that CatholicVoteAction.org helped put together.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Dr. Daines and Sugar and Salt

Who knew that Dr. Richard Daines is a New York state health commissioner. I certainly didn't until I received one of those 'government' e-mails from him on March 12th, via Governor Paterson's office. Dr. Daines agrees with First Lady Michelle about fat people, namely, he doesn't like 'em and he doesn't want 'em around!

Dr. Daines says that fat people are just too darn expensive (to the tune of $7.6 billion a year), and, therefore, he urges us New Yorkers to support Governor Paterson's proposed tax on soft drinks (not fruit juice, mind you, just soft drinks). Dr. Daines goes on to explain to us numbskulls that, "many New Yorkers don’t realize that sixty percent of us are obese or overweight."

Us? Speak for yourself, doc. I'm neither obese nor overweight. I am also not fat, pudgy, tubby or chubby.

However, even non-fatties like me are targets for our nation's diet police. Redstate.com reported last week that New York Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (a Democrat from Brooklyn) along with New York City's Mayor Bloomberg now want to ban salt. A good response can be found at My Food My Choice. As the website says, such a ban is "not based on sound science, but on political science and alarmism." They also have a petition to protect New York City's '"diverse cuisine."

Friday, March 12, 2010

Women and Girls at the United Nations

The 54th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the United Nations winds up this week. The theme of the conference this year is supposed to be an examination of the Millenium Development Goals as well as a review of the Beijing Conference on Women, but apparently the conference has concerned itself largely with matters of maternal mortality and the role of women at the UN.

The maternal mortality issue at the UN often becomes a way to promote abortion, with feminist groups advancing the (specious) argument that women, especially in Third World countries, die in childbirth because they don't have access to legal abortions. In actuality, women from these countries report that what they need is potable water, better sanitation, more medical facilities and the means to travel to those facilities, not more access to abortion. The CSW conference, like most of what goes on at the UN, appears innocent enough on the surface, but scratch around a bit and deception and spin abound.

I've been following some of the reports from the conference through the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, C-Fam. Their report about the Girl Scouts is particularly disheartening. C-Fam reports that the Girl Scouts hosted a side event at the conference where they distributed the International Planned Parenthood Foundation (IPPF) brochure called 'Healthy, Happy and Hot.' Take a look at it here.

The brochure is directed at youth and seems to be mostly about living with HIV/Aids (as if every young person is plagued by the disease?), but the IPPF also sees fit to include pretty explicit instructions on how young people can enjoy sex. In addition, they have a direct message to young people on how to keep parents out of the picture in areas having nothing to do with HIV/Aids.

Many communities have centres that offer youth-friendly health services. These are places where you can access information and health services to help you take care of your sexual health, like STI tests and advice on condoms and contraceptives. They often have hours that are convenient for young people, and staff who understand young people,will not judge you and will treat you with respect. You should find out whether there any centres near to you where you can go without needing the permission of your parents or guardians.
To those readers who support the work of Planned Parenthood, consider if you would whether the organization's stated goal of being "a leading advocate of sexual and reproductive health and rights for all" should include advising young people on how to have sex and how to keep their parents out of the picture. Planned Parenthood and its parent organization, IPPF, have ignominious roots anyway with eugenicist Margaret Sanger (and here and here) as their inspiration. But, even ignoring that, how do women and mothers rationalize Planned Parenthood's world-wide promotion of abortion (under the euphemism of 'reproductive rights') and their indoctrination of young people about sex and their supposed sexual 'rights.'

Last year I had the privilege of attending the CSW conference, which included going to a side event where I sat next to a group of Girl Scouts in attendance as part of the audience. One of the girls, clearly intent on being assertive and engaging as a professional female should be, introduced herself to me and shook my hand. As the workshop unfolded and we heard about every form of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and trans-gender problem around the world, I couldn't help but wonder if these obviously eager and well-mannered teen-age girls from the mid-West knew what they were getting into.

This year I had the pleasure of hearing about the CSW conference from a group of students from Christendom College who, with C-Fam, have been working at the conference this year to support family and the dignity of life, something sorely needed at the United Nations.