Friday, January 29, 2010

Blackfive Covers General Pace

Blackfive recently posted a link to this clip of General Peter Pace giving an intensely emotional speech upon accepting the Keeper of the Flame award from the Center for Security Policy. The speech is from 2004, and I'm not sure why it's circulating now (or again), but I found it interesting enough to post and see if perhaps a lone reader out there would want to offer up an opinion or two.

Back in March of 2007, Pace, as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, created some fuss when he expressed his views on the immorality of adultery and homosexuality in general and in the military. (Hopefully, he'll speak up again on that point.) I was surprised to learn that Pace is a Roman Catholic of Italian-American heritage who originally hails from, of all places, Brooklyn, New York.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

March for Life 2010

Why are people still converging on Washington, D.C. every January 22nd to demonstrate their opposition to the 1973 Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade? Because legalized abortion is one of the hallmarks of a culture that has become morally corrupt. Unlike the anti-war demonstrations of the 60s, the March for Life is not an angry protest to demand the repeal of Roe v. Wade. If it were only that, I doubt if the Mainstream Media would so assiduously resist covering it!

Rather, the March for Life is a demonstration to affirm and promote a culture of life in American society, and, if it's a protest at all, it is a protest against the secularism and utilitarianism of a culture of death. The March has an upbeat and celebratory feel to it. The optimism and excitement in the air seem to come from marchers affirming to one another as much as to the rest of the country that, ultimately, a culture of life and moral virtue will prevail in our society.

A phrase that was probably heard in many homilies and speeches on Friday is that the first right we have as human beings is the right to life. As the late Father Neuhaus said in this speech of 2008 , the pro-life movement
represents the great human rights cause of our time and all times—the cause of life. We contend, and we contend relentlessly, for the dignity of the human person, of every human person, created in the image and likeness of God, destined from eternity for eternity—every human person, no matter how weak or how strong, no matter how young or how old, no matter how productive or how burdensome, no matter how welcome or how inconvenient. Nobody is a nobody; nobody is unwanted. All are wanted by God, and therefore to be respected, protected, and cherished by us.
In contrast, what does a culture of death look like? It is a culture where a self-appointed group assumes for itself the task of deciding who in society has value and who doesn't. It is a culture that believes that certain individuals--such as the elderly, the infirm, the unborn, the handicapped-- have 'lives unworthy of life.' Robert George explains it as
the temptation to regard some human lives, or the lives of human beings in certain conditions, as lebensunwerten Lebens, lives unworthy of life. Since the life of every human being has inherent worth and dignity, there is no valid category of lebensunwerten Lebens. Any society that supposes that there is such a category has deeply morally compromised itself. As Leon Kass recently reminded us in a powerful address at the Holocaust Museum, it was supposedly enlightened and progressive German academics and medical people who put their nation on the road to shame more than a decade before the Nazis rose to power by promoting a doctrine of eugenics based precisely on the proposition that the lives of some human beings — such as the severely retarded — are unworthy of life.
On this past Friday, we were apparently more than 300,000 strong and said to be the largest group of marchers to date. Again this year, the number of young people, high school and college-age, was impressive. The number of priests, religious and lay people who attended the Thursday night Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine, which can hold more than 5,000, created this overflow crowd. Our own Archdiocese of New York packed a church in Bethesda, Maryland early on Friday morning, only slightly disappointed that Archbishop Dolan, who was to have celebrated the Mass, had been called away the night before to Haiti.

To navigate the D.C. subway system on the day of the March, to wait among hundreds of thousands of people for the March to begin, to march along major avenues in the heart of the nation's capital that have been shut down to regular traffic and then to look for coverage of the March in the Mainstream Media and find virtually nothing is to experience the weirdest sort of altered reality. Those in the liberal Media are a reprehensible and calculating, cowardly bunch.

They will, I suppose, continue to insist that Americans who oppose abortion are a fringe minority, but I would think the deception they engage in is going to become increasingly difficult to perpetuate as views on abortion change. Particularly among those ages 18-29 (the Millennials) and those ages 30-44 (Gen X-ers), abortion is considered to be morally wrong with a figure of 58% in the former category and 60% in the latter category. No surprise that only 51% of my generation, the Baby-Boomers, would agree.

To conclude with words from Father Neuhaus's speech,

Whether, in this great contest between the culture of life and the culture of death, we were recruited many years ago or whether we were recruited only yesterday, we have been recruited for the duration.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Last year's March for Life occurred just two days after Barack Obama's inauguration, and the effects of Obamamania were still evident in the nation's capital as marchers assembled for the walk to the Supreme Court building. In anticipation of tomorrow's 37th anniversary of the passage of Roe v. Wade and this year's march, here's a video that made the rounds last year, but is always timely, I think.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Blackfive Covers Haiti Disaster

Blackfive is covering Team Rubicon's privately-funded and privately-organized relief effort in Haiti. You can read about it here in what is a constantly growing multi-installment series. Team Rubicon's beginning goes back to one person , Jake Wood, a former Marine, who had an idea about how to help in Haiti and decided that he could do more without the encumbrance of bureaucratic and government-run relief efforts. Read more about Jake Wood and his effort here.

In part 13 of the Blackfive series, there is an account of an ABC reporter doing a story on Team Rubicon and founder Jake Wood. Wood, instead of gloating for the media, put the ABC reporter to work. Part 10 begins with a photo of foreign aid sitting at the Port-Au-Prince airport and follows that with an account of lost limbs, infection, potential amputations and scarcity of medicine. Part 6 is about the 'kindness of strangers.' These are all first-hand accounts written by doctors, former Marines and others who are directly engaged.

A Team Rubicon can exist at all because the United States is privileged to be a wealthy and charitable nation built on democracy, capitalism and the Judeo-Christian ethic that underlies our belief in the equality and dignity of human beings. Our country's ability to provide rescue and relief to a third-world country like Haiti should be more than enough reason for Americans to celebrate, defend and preserve those institutions and beliefs. Why would we ever want to give all this up for a weakened military, a government-run economy, nationalized health care and an arrogant political class ruling us from Washington, D.C.? Hopefully, we don't and as a nation, we won't.

Liberals in Academia

Why are there so many liberals in academia? A new study has an answer. Researchers (probably liberals!) Neil Gross and Ethan Fosse say that,
43 percent of the political gap can be explained because professors are more likely than others:

•To have high levels of educational attainment.
•To experience a disparity between their levels of educational attainment and income.
•To be either Jewish, non-religious, or a member of a faith that is not theologically conservative Protestant.
•To have a high tolerance for controversial ideas.
Going from the outrageous to the ridiculous, consider the last point. Liberals in academia have a high toleance for controversial ideas? This must be Clinton-speak where it depends what the meaning of 'controversial' is. Liberals in academe might tolerate way-out ideas or far left ideas or wacky ideas, but controversial ideas? Take for example the controversial notion that theories of global warming are junk science. Take the controversial notion that capitalism is the optimal economic system for the growth and social mobility in a nation. Or, take the controversial idea that 2,000 years ago a man was born who was God incarnate, that he was crucified and buried and then, after three days, he rose from the dead. Now there's a controversial idea that's also way-out and wacky! How many liberal professors have high tolerance for that one?

On the third point, I don't know about the Jewish part, but certainly, academia is filled with secularists, unless this study might have included seminaries or colleges like Grove City, Christendom and all those with religious mission statements. As for a disparity between levels of educational attainment and income, all occupations must suffer to some degree from a disparity between credentials and income. Take a look at me. I'm a homemaker with no income to speak of, and I have a Master's degree! But, seriously, yes, there are many of us who might be of the opinion that college professors enjoy an income entirely too extravagant for the amount of work they do. Finally, the last point, that most professors are more likely than others to have high levels of educational attainment is like saying that doctors are more likely than others to have medical degrees!

There is, admittedly, a modicum of reason to the study when its authors say that academia has become generally recognized as a home for liberals. "We argue that the professoriate, along with a number of other knowledge work fields, has been 'politically typed' as appropriate and welcoming of people with broadly liberal sensibilities, and as inappropriate for conservatives."

But they spiral downwards again as they imply that it never occurs to a "committed conservative" to become a professor. This is just idiocy.

There are so many liberals in academia because society would cease to function if we actually had to depend on these people for anything. If anthropologists, sociologists, political scientists and English professors ran the world, who would invent new products, create works of art, figure out how to build bridges and roads, explore outer space, run our businesses, clean our streets, grow our food, defend and protect us from outside enemies and teach our children reading, writing and arithmetic? Liberals have created their own ghetto of stagnant, circular, self-important and biased thinking which the rest of society generously tolerates. In fact, I think my own time might have been better used had I skipped over this article.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

One picture that will most likely not be making the rounds in the Mainstream Media as our country again observes Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday is this one of King kneeling and publicly praying as he and others march in Selma, Alabama in 1965 (from what I've researched, this seems to be the right place and date). You can hear King speak a few words as he prepares the crowd for their peaceful, public demonstration in the first clip, located here, which, like the photo at left, shows King and the group kneeling on the sidewalk as the Rev. Ralph Abernathy leads the group in prayer.

Of all that MLK Jr. has come to stand for in the collective mind of the American public, we are conveniently allowed to overlook again and again that before King was the hero of the Civil Rights Movement and before he won a Nobel Peace Prize, he was a Christian--an African-American Christian from a middle-class, intact Black family headed up by a strong, if not over-bearing, and present father figure. MLK Jr.'s Baptist Christianity is an inconvenient truth about which many in our secular and sentimental culture are either ignorant or which they conveniently overlook .

This year, in particular, the American public will probably be subjected to comparisons between King and Barack Obama despite the fact that the two men have, of course, absolutely nothing in common except skin color. We may as well liken Rush Limbaugh to Bill Clinton. (Oh, I can hear the left screaming!)

King was a Southerner with two Black parents. He didn't have any doubts about his father or his Blackness. King graduated from Morehouse College, an historically Black and Southern institution and his education through college, seminary and graduate school is well-documented. He did not come up through a culture of affirmative action to mysteriously acquire the pedigree of traditionally White, Ivy League undergraduate and law degrees. MLK Jr. was a scholar, a theologian and a preacher. He was not a lawyer turned politician. King's faith in Christianity and belief in God are, by his own testimony, what enabled him to emerge as spokesperson and leader in first, the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955, and later as the leader of a national movement. His wife Coretta writes about that here, but the incident is also documented fully in Taylor Branch's book Parting the Waters. Coretta King writes:
He began to worry about his family, and all of the burdens that came with our movement weighed heavily on his soul. With his head in his hands, Martin bowed over the kitchen table and prayed aloud to God: "Lord, I am taking a stand for what I believe is right. The people are looking to me for leadership, and if I stand before them without strength and courage, they will falter. I am at the end of my powers. I have nothing left. I have nothing left. I have come to the point where I can't face it alone.
Later he told me, "At that moment, I experienced the presence of the Divine as I had never experienced Him before. It seemed as though I could hear a voice saying: 'Stand up for righteousness; stand up for truth; and God will be at our side forever.'" When Martin stood up from the table, he was imbued with a new sense of confidence, and he was ready to face anything.
That is, King led through faith in the Christian God. He professed his faith publicly and often and his soaring and much-quoted March on Washington speech contained, as did all his orations, Biblical and Christian references. Putting aside only for a moment his foolhardy, adulterous philanderings, which are unfortunately part of his legacy and not to be brushed under the rug, MLK Jr. was a man of substance who understood that his commitment to the cause of equality between the races might bring serious danger and harm to himself and his family. By piteous contrast, the meretricious and self-consumed Obama leads, but barely, through a combination of de-natured belief in nothing more than the empty gongs of secularism and relativism. It is hard to imagine our boyish president, who professes no Christian faith whatsoever, having the strength of character to put his life on the line for any principle at all.

Today's national holiday in observance of King's birthday has become more a token nod to American Blacks and a vehicle for furthering the cause of political correctness than it is a memorial to a Christian, political leader. The national consciousness has whitewashed Martin Luther King Jr. ---who is neither light-skinned nor needing to switch his beautiful Southern, Negro dialect at will--and reduced him to little more than a standard bearer for those PC gods of tolerance, diversity and peace. Listening to him speak and watching him here as he humbly kneels to pray, one realizes that he is quite a bit more than that.

U.S. Bishops

It's encouraging to see the U.S. bishops put their faith into action and give some life to one of those Top Ten Reasons for Hope as they make headway with their bulletin insert on abortion funding in health care. Even our local liberal parish included the information requested by the bishops and discussed here.

Perhaps the information will be a gentle reminder to those 54% of American Catholic Obama supporters that they voted not only for the most "pro-abortion president in U.S. history," but for a president who stands in contradiction to one of the most fundamental teachings of the Catholic faith.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Transgenders in the News

Transgenders have been a topic not only here but in the national news as well. President Obama has appointed a transgender woman, Amanda Simpson, to be the Senior Technical Adviser to the Commerce Department. A transgender appointee, another reason for hope!

What is a transgender exactly? According to the American Psychological Association, transgender is
an umbrella term used to describe people whose gender identity (sense of themselves as male or female) or gender expression differs from that usually associated with their birth sex. Many transgender people live part-time or full-time as members of the other gender. Broadly speaking, anyone whose identity, appearance, or behavior falls outside of conventional gender norms can be described as transgender. However, not everyone whose appearance or behavior is gender-atypical will identify as a transgender person.
Good old Wikipedia says that
transgender people may identify as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, polysexual, or asexual; some may consider conventional sexual orientation labels inadequate or inapplicable to them.
And just to mix it all up a little more, I learned from gay panelists at various UN conferences last year that there is also such a thing as "gender non-conforming behavior." This refers to men or women who don't have "a gay or lesbian identity but who have characteristics which don't conform to gender stereotypes." As one panelist explained, a gender non-conforming man, for example, might enjoy wearing lipstick (but, I guess, he still considers himself a man?). The head spins. At least the rational one does.

Trying to ply the waters of LGBTI terminology is to become lost in an upside-down world where, if women can be men and men can be women, the sun must surely rise in the west and set in the east on occasion. It is the world of rebellious angels who refuse to accept life as God created it just as they refuse to accept God himself. This world where biology is re-defined and human sexuality is distorted is a world of miserable chaos.

Regardless of what the LGBTI and the various 'trans' communities may say, our gender is determined by our biology however problematic that may be to some souls, and, certainly there are such troubled souls who suffer with questions about their sexuality. They are people endlessly deserving of understanding and counsel. But neither they nor society as a whole is served when we have among us those who insist on re-defining the abnormal as normal.

USCCB Continues to Oppose Abortion Funding in Health Care Reform

Speaking of bishops with backbone (referring to my 'Top Ten Reasons for Hope' on December 31st), the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) continues to urge Catholic parishioners nationwide to oppose all health care reform that funds abortion as the House and Senate attempt to merge their two versions of the health care bill. In addition, the U.S. bishops continue to call for a bulletin insert, which you can read here, to be distributed nationwide in all parishes. They are also asking that announcements be made from the pulpit to draw attention to the bulletin insert.

All of that is pretty significant, though it's too bad that the USCCB doesn't oppose Obama's push for nationalized health care overall.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Don Jenkins and Patrick Brady--Medal of Honor Winners and the Virtue of Courage

Blackfive offers today a very readable, if perhaps even eloquent, account of two Medal of Honor winners, Patrick Brady and Don Jenkins, on the anniversary of their actions. Tenacity and grit mark the deeds of both men, but, with no disrespect meant to Brady who flew repeated missions to evacuate wounded soldiers, there's something particularly poignant about the tale of Private First Class Jenkins.

After his unit lands in Kien Phong province, Jenkins is described as running to an 'exposed area' and then shooting his way across the terrain, picking up and discarding weapon after weapon in what reads a bit like a TV Western shoot-'em-up.

Jenkins ran to an exposed area and opened fire on enemy soldiers gathering near log bunkers with his M-60. When his machine gun jammed, Jenkins grabbed another rifle and fired upon the enemy while a teammate attempted to repair the M-60. He repeatedly charged through open terrain to grab ammunition from fallen soldiers until he could no longer find any ammunition. Then Jenkins picked up two anti-tank weapons from another fallen soldier. Despite incoming enemy fire, he closed within 20 yards of the enemy bunkers and destroyed two of them.Then the resourceful soldier picked up an M-79 grenade launcher and resumed his destruction until that weapon was exhausted as well. Meanwhile, a group of soldiers was pinned down just meters away from the enemy.
Medal of Honor winners most certainly exemplify the cardinal virtue of courage or bravery, but according to Aristotle, men are not brave because "they rush on danger without foreseeing any of the perils." That would simply be rash and foolish behavior. For Aristotle, bravery is action in the face of fear, but action tempered by reason, and action for a 'noble end.' One might ask whether Jenkins, who just the day before had required resuscitation after drinking 'poisoned wine,' was brave or whether he was just crazy and reckless.

If the embattled soldier has time for reasoned and prudent thought as he is dropped onto a battlefield under enemy fire, more power to him. In Jenkins's case, regardless of the state of his reasoning faculties, the virtue of courage that most certainly lurked within him was called out as he proceeded next to rescue not one but three wounded soldiers although he himself had been hit with shrapnel.
Previous rescue attempts had resulted in one death and many injuries, but that news must not have phased Jenkins. Ignoring serious shrapnel wounds in his stomach and legs, Jenkins crawled forward 100 meters to the embattled position three times over the course of the night, each time bringing back a wounded comrade. Following the battle, Jenkins was promoted to Staff Sergeant. Oddly enough however, Jenkins' commanding officer had threatened to bust him down to Private the day prior to his heroic actions: Jenkins needed to be resuscitated due to drinking a poisoned bottle of wine. Following his discharge, Jenkins returned to the coal mines of Kentucky, and received notification that he was to be awarded the Medal in 1971.
Regardless of whatever Jenkins may or may not have had in mind when he took off for that exposed area after landing, he finished the day with a fittingly Aristotelian 'noble end,' and such action is the reason we rightly revere and reward the virtue of bravery in our soldiers.