Monday, December 20, 2010

What are the odds?

Which is more likely?

----->We're being visited by ET's.

----->The reality of ghosts, the post-dead.

Friday, December 17, 2010


When the history of these times is written, we may become aware of how close our republic has come to tyranny--the usurpation of private rights and dignities in favor of state manipulation.  The obsessive adherence of the current majority--may their hegemony be brief!--to the tools of bureaucracy, propaganda and economic disruption creates a pseudo-justification for an ultimately thuggish totalitarianism that cannot be sated.  I'm sure there are some in places of influence who work as the engineers of this process in the name of progressive, scientific humanitarianism.  What we see is the work of their amateurish, clumsy, uncentered, uncritical and often unwitting minions.  And seeing that is a good thing, for this insidious will to power must betray itself by its own contradictions.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Now this is another piece of the puzzle

Remnants of a pre-Islamic monastery have been discovered in U.A.E.  It appears that for at least a time it existed contemporaneously with the nascent Islamic communities in the region.  This is very valuable for those who are concerned with periods of religious co-existence, when they occur.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Is Illegal Immigration Moral? - Victor Davis Hanson - National Review Online

Is Illegal Immigration Moral? - Victor Davis Hanson - National Review Online

Dr. Hanson raises uncomfortable questions. The conventional answers fly to extreme and false caricatures of the issue, and so avoid harsh truths. We should be able to do better than the go-nowhere dichotomy of justice vs compassion.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


Courtesy, NR online:

His thank-you message:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

OK, so, is Oddness a theme?

Or is there some other name for the quality of a person, place, thing or piece of art (including literature) that has that very special stamp of the divine recognizable universally to believers.  I say "person" because there are people who have this imprint--the saints, for example.  Many of the saints were encountered as "different" during their earthly lives--sometimes bearing a stamp of "be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect," and at other times bearing a mark or seal of genuine strangeness or eccentricity.  One would need to pursue testimonies along this line.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Parting of the Sea

I ran across a link to this story about the possible scientific plausibility of the incident of the parting of the sea in the Exodus narrative and passed it on to some colleagues.  One wrote back asking how I felt about the "literal level" of the Scriptures.

Here's what I answered:
I think the wonder of these writings is that they contain lots of truth that does not depend on the literal meaning—so, “holistic truth.” That part is basically what Tradition teaches, going back to the Fathers. However, the older I get and the more I read, I am more convinced that there is in many stories that don’t pass the historical-critical standard, something like a vestigial and sometimes collective memory at work. There is a “fact-level” that may be open to us if we truly are open to the Scriptures, but it’s buried very, very deeply in the most ancient connections we have to our human past. The stories are “true” in that they are rooted in the theological truth of our nature as God’s children, but they are also likely to be true in having connections to unique experiences at some really old level.

I think, for example, not only of the Moses cycle of stories, but also of the flood narrative—some ancestral part of the faith community underwent a rescue, not just metaphorically, which is nice, but from a vast inundation, and they just knew it was Yahweh who did it. I think parts of the Abraham cycle have this character, also. I see it in the sacrifice of Isaac story. There’s an oddness here that it would be difficult to “make up.” So, while I don’t NEED to tie scriptural stories to science, I think it’s nice when these pregnant connections cause us to wonder.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Morality, Motive and Situation--from Peg and Al

[Peg and Al are teachers at the same school. Al teaches Math. Peg is in the Social Studies department. It’s a fall Friday afternoon. Al’s in the work room, putting some papers in order. Peg enters.]

Peg: Gee, this building sure got quiet fast. I’m surprised you’re not gone already, too.

Al: I would be gone but I said yes once too often this week.

Peg: What do you mean? Oh, let me guess--you’re staying to sell tickets at the game. Aren’t you tired? It’s been a long week. We’ve had meetings and a late night with the parent conferences.

Al: That’s true, but I promised.

Peg: So, I’m sure someone as bright as you are could come up with SOME reason to get out of it.

Al: You sound like a college friend of mine. She used to call that a “retroactive conflict.”

Peg: So, why not?

Al: Well, I promised.

Peg: Don’t get irritable. I’m just trying to help.

Al: Hmm... I need to get clear on this. Are you trying to help me be unfaithful to my promise or to lie to someone who trusts me?

Peg: Oh, come now. It’s not that big a deal.

Al: Well, it’s enough to bother me.

Peg: But you have a good motive. Even I can see that you’re tired. Go home and rest. In fact, just leave and I’ll go to the AD and give him some sort of alibi.

Al: Don’t even think of doing that.

Peg: Aw, c’mon. I think you’re being picky about it. And, as I say, you have good reason. Go on home.

Al: You’re right. I am being picky about it. In the first place, there’s an effect. Coach has to go impose on someone else. The effect is the same whether I have a good motive or not. It’s still a deception--the nature of the deed doesn’t change one bit. Not one bit. And I know you: as a good teacher, you wouldn’t be very happy if a student misled you about an absence or an assignment, or cheated on their Friday quiz. You wouldn’t let them say they were really tired or had some sort of other urgency to take care of if you knew it wasn’t true.

Peg: I know. That isn’t what I expect from the students in my classes, and I’m pretty clear about that with them. I was just trying to get you out of here to get some rest.

Al: I appreciate the concern. I just don’t think it’s worth lying about. And my being tired is really not the point. I like to keep my word, and I don’t like to tell fibs. It just seems wrong to me, no matter what my motive is.

Peg: But look: It’s not like it’s a matter of life and death. In this situation, you’d really be excused. There‘s a pretty good chance of rain and it isn’t a district game, so the crowd will be minimal. They probably can handle the gate without you.

Al: You might be right about the situation. On the other hand, suppose the crowd is a good one. And there are always things that it just seems to take one more hand and one more pair of eyes to make life easier. I’d hate to just say that “the situation,” whatever it is, will let me off.

Peg: But it’s not a matter of life and death, Al. A lot of what we do, we do based on the situation that we’re in at the moment. I think that’s what makes most of us decide what the “right and wrong” really are.

Al: I know this particular situation is basically trivial, and not the end of the world. BUT if it were the end of the world, I’d hope I could act the same way. I think it’s wrong for a lot of reasons for us to let the situation dictate our actions or how we judge them.

Peg: Why?

Al: Well, let me think. For one thing, there’s habit. Being a good person is about habits. If I can’t figure out and do the right thing in a small, everyday matter of convenience, what’s to guarantee that I’ll have the backbone to do it when there’s a lot on the line, like a business deal or my truthfulness in court? Doing a more difficult thing takes practice. I think the inner math teacher in you would admit that much.

Peg: I think Coach would appreciate that argument, too. It’s not P.M.P, Practice Makes Perfect, but P.P.M.P., Perfect Practice Makes Perfect.

Al: I’m known by what I do, also. I think that’s what we call character. It comes from habits. If I need to hear the truth about something, I go to someone whom I can count on to tell the truth all of the time. It would be a pretty sad world--maybe it already is--if we couldn’t count on enough people to act with integrity no matter what the situation.

Peg: So you’re saying that morality isn’t like “situation ethics,” but more like the nature of each act that we choose.

Al: I wish I had thought of putting it that way!

Peg: Very funny... Now who’s that running down the hall?

[In comes Coach]

Coach: Oh, Al! Great--I knew I could count on you to be here. Listen, the forecast just took a turn for the worse. I just spoke to Coach Lamont from across town. We both have that same bye week later on, so we’re postponing tonight’s game until then. Would you call the rest of the crew and tell them to go home or stay home? Then get yourself home--you really look tired, man.

Al: Sure, Coach, I’ll handle it.

Coach: I know you can. Thanks, Al.

[Exit Coach]

Peg: Don’t say it, Al, don’t even say it. Do you want some help calling the others?

Al: I’ll take the help. Then we can both be out of here with clear consciences.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A question.

I had occasion to revisit the story of Abraham's near-sacrifice of his son Isaac the other day, and I didn't mind because the story is so haunting and so provocative.

Why did Abraham agree to this act?

Why was he so uncommunicative about it to his son and servant?

Did Isaac resist the final binding on the place of sacrifice?

Did Abraham ever have a doubt?

Why does God stay his hand only at the last second?

Did God have a doubt?

What is the lesson?  Does the lesson belong to the realm of faith as the absoluteness of abandonment to the will of the Other?  Or does the lesson belong to the realm of morals and the awakening of conscience to the true voice of God, who ultimately forbids barbarism and demands a prudent, orderly, civil and humane faith?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Worth saving

"In wise love each divines the high secret self of the other, and, refusing to believe in the mere daily self, creates a mirror where the lover or the beloved sees an image to copy in daily life." --Yeats

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A picture emerges, but...

... it may not be the one the administration wants to hear.

Bernanke:  "But given the significant costs and risks associated with a rapidly rising federal debt, our nation should soon put in place a credible plan for reducing deficits to sustainable levels over time," using cuts and tax simplification.  The Fed chief said the economy is stronger when taxes aren't too high and are collected in an efficient, equitable and transparent way.  "At present, a broad consensus exists that the U.S. tax code does not satisfy these criteria and is in need of reform."


UPDATE 4/28:  Another version of the story:  "Bernanke said the U.S. economy could not grow its way out of the problem."

Saturday, April 24, 2010

"Report says health care will cover more, cost more"

From this AP summary of the actuarial report:  "It's a worrisome assessment for Democrats.  In particular, concerns about Medicare could become a major political liability in the midterm elections. The report projected that Medicare cuts could drive about 15 percent of hospitals and other institutional providers into the red, "possibly jeopardizing access" to care for seniors."

I'll guess that we have not heard the end of the reality checking on this plan.

And here's the video report from Fox News.

An essential document

A Long Post: The Complete List of Obama Statement Expiration Dates - The Campaign Spot - National Review Online

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Democracy and learning

Submitted without further comment, from the Preface to "The Great Conversation"--

We believe that the reduction of the citizen to an object of
propaganda, private and public, is one of the greatest dangers
to democracy. A prevalent notion is that the great mass of
the people cannot understand and cannot form an indepen-
dent judgment upon any matter; they cannot be educated, in
the sense of developing their intellectual powers, but they
can be bamboozled. The reiteration of slogans, the distortion
of the news, the great storm of propaganda that beats upon
the citizen twenty-four hours a day all his life long mean
either that democracy must fall a prey to the loudest and
most persistent propagandists or that the people must save
themselves by strengthening their minds so that they can ap-
praise the issues for themselves.

Saving this video to show later

Friday, April 09, 2010

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Krauthammer’s Take on the Mid-terms

Krauthammer’s Take

More good advice for the loyal opposition.  Find a program, express it clearly, don't let up.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A unifying program for Republicans, and citizens of good will.

Dick Morris has proposed a pretty detailed set of priorities that if followed could provide a unifying focus for the Obamacare resistance.  It's worth noting in full:

1. Restore the Medicare cuts mandated in this bill. Block the reduction of physicians' fees by 21 percent scheduled to take effect this fall. Override the cuts in Medicare that require annual approval by Congress. Challenge the Democrats over each and every cut. Try to peel away enough votes to stop the cuts from driving doctors and hospitals to adopt the course already taken by the Mayo Clinic in refusing to take Medicare patients.

2. Defeat the Democrats in the 2010 election! Start with the traitors who voted no in November and then switched to a shameful yes when it counted in March: Baird (Washington), Kosmas, and Boyd (Florida). Then go on to win the open seats in the House and Senate. And then fight to replace as many Democrats as possible. Remember:   Any Democrat who voted no would have voted yes if they had needed his or her vote. The only way to repeal Obamacare is to vote Republican.

3. Defund:  once we get the majority in both chambers, defund appropriations for the Obamacare program. The bill Congress passed and the president signed is simply an authorization measure. Congress must appropriate funds for it each year. Through zero funding these changes, we can cripple them before they take full effect.

4. Repeal, once we defeat Barack Obama, this disastrous plan before it can ruin our healthcare system. Then, we must replace it with a Republican alternative which relies on the marketplace, tax incentives, and individual responsibility to provide healthcare to all Americans

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

New vocabulary word

I'd say the health care debate has given us a new word for our daily vocabulary--"stupack."  It may be used in contexts such as
"I got stupacked--I was expecting scallops in white wine, but they served fish sticks."

"The crowd was angry with the show's producer who promised The Rolling Stones, but could only deliver the Herman's Hermits tribute band.  Accusations of stupacking abounded."

"My bout with intestinal flu threatened to stupack our planned cruise; fortunately, I recovered in time."
A blend of dashed expectations and unanticipated venality....if that makes sense.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Whipping It: Obamacare Is No Done Deal

Whipping It: Obamacare Is No Done Deal

See especially the point about Justice Ginsburg--abortion rights and eugenics.  She's not the only one.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

"Izquierdista estupido"

What Ozzie Guillen, noted manager and no fool (apparently) as a political analyst, says about Sean Penn's support of the president of Guillen's native Venezuela.  Not only that, but "payaso."

Thursday, March 11, 2010

From a very clear-eyed observer...

...named Jacques Maritain (d. 1973), come these two comments: 

"I don't see America as a mainland, but as a sea, a big ocean. Sometimes a storm arises, a formidable current develops, and it seems it will engulf everything. Wait a moment, another current will appear and bring the first one to naught."

"The great and admirable strength of America consists in this, that America is truly the American people."
Maritain, a Frenchman, wrote a short testimonial to this country as he found it in the 1940's, called Reflections on America.  To some in the current moment, these words are a warning; to others, they are strength and consolation.  Be patient.  "Stay thirsty, my friends."

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Houston, we have a problem....

Of course, the disinformation officers state solemnly that the electorate who voted in the primary could not possibly know what they were doing. Certainly this is the line of thought offered by those who favor the dictatorship over--er, of--the proletariat. Who among the enlightened would NOT see the wisdom and benevolence of Maximum Headroom--er, Leader?

But, what if they knew what they were doing???


Now, here's more--good research and some comment.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Saving this link for future comment....

... assuming it's not comic enough on its own. An actual PLAN by the Democrats (!?) to flood talk radio with callers who will "refute"--translated "disinform"--on the subject of government-funded comprehensive health care.

This is very good. It will give the opponents of this silliness a wonderful forum to make the case against government health care.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A foolish consistency . . .

. . . is not necessarily the only sign of insanity. What about a foolish inconsistency, such as the President's conversion to viewing nuclear power as clean energy? Is this just blatant political opportunism, given his campaign comments about the danger of nuclear waste and the uncertainty about storing such material when it expires?

Lately, he's made such flip-flops on a number of issues, with stunning disingenuousness. Does no one in his circle recognize that this isn't a good sign. A general sign of sanity is not necessarily lockstep consistency, but simply lacking recognition that a thing and its opposite cannot be casually swapped like the blue tie or the striped tie is surely not healthy, either. Swapping ties is not a statement of political and intellectual character; reversing positions on issues that matter is such a statement. Either this gentleman and his clique are significantly lacking in principles, or they are suffering from some kind of delusion that reality is simply what is subject to the convenience of their definitions.

It's a little frightening, considering the power they wield.

"Possible upward price pressures in the pipeline"

Now there are hints that the (inevitable) inflation which must result from the vast increase in government spending may be in evidence. We should hope this is not the case, for two reasons: One, it's just more hardship and pressure on the economy which is struggling to breathe on its own. Two, high inflation will provide another opportunity for the statists to interfere again in the marketplace by imposing controls. Here's another version of the same facts. You'd think that someone may have planned this....

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Snow discord

There were news reports last week about snow in all 50 states and in 49 states. Did anyone ever clarify? I think it far more likely to have been 49, given Hawaii's location in the mid-Pacific. But, someone could look this up--just sayin'.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Ideology is all.

You see, there are these very persistent leitmotifs that surface whenever the President speaks his real mind on things. "The evil bankers and business barons playing on the company dollar" is one of these, and he cannot resist it no matter how or whom it offends. Epistemologically, he appears to be prisoner of his own head.

Of course even a cursory study of the proposals in his new budget reveals the same thing. No matter how his party gets scolded by the electorate, he returns to the same priorities: spend, tax, the anti-family ideology and the unionized special interests.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Must-read: on the "catechism" of the leftist claque

Mr. Lowry's current piece on the seemingly intractable ideology of the true supporters of the President is right on target. Unlike them, he has a good ear for what others are saying. The "religion" of what I called "warmed-over Marxism" during the the campaign is beginning to be seen for what it is by pickup-truck driving average American voters. The President can own up to this, or he can continue to believe and recite the mantras (to mix the religious metaphors) that he artfully wove into his very deceptive campaign for office. I'm convinced "the programme" was there to be seen, but the electorate was encouraged by his demeanor and double-meanings, and was hungry for a cool-down of the frenetic political situation (abetted by both parties) that dogged the second GWB administration.

Never overlook ideology.

Friday, January 15, 2010

On to Haiti...

Amid reports today of US troops now offshore to begin a mission in Haiti--and it is right that they do so--another step in shaping the Obama legacy is taken. Together with the now-renewed commitment in Afghanistan, this president's most lasting bequests to the nation may well be these potentially long-term commitments of American soldiers. They are two long-failed states whose stability will for a generation only be guaranteed by outsiders. I hope the folks in D.C. understand that.