Wednesday, December 30, 2009
The idea that we would treat the Christmas Day terrorist as a common criminal and allow him to lawyer up with the full rights of an American citizen is nuts. Our goal should be to wring every valuable piece of information out of him that we can in order to maximize our chances of preventing similar attacks. His crime was not a common, petty crime, but a vicious, inhumane act of war.
Then again, President Obama will not even acknowledge that we are at war, having replaced the term "war on terror" with ridiculous phrases like "man-caused disaster" and "overseas contingency operations." Perhaps more troubling is the fact that he refuses to acknowledge the religious dimension of the threat that we face. How do you fight an enemy that you won't even acknowledge exists? And, don't even get me started about his plan to transfer dangerous terrorists onto American soil, by imprisoning them in my home state of Illinois.
The President's rhetoric, while fitting for the types of debates found on liberal college campuses where people who have never lived in the real world make all kinds of naive and idealistic pronouncements, is unbecoming for a President whose first and foremost task is to defend the United States against its enemies.
I cannot help but fear that the policy changes he has implemented regarding the War on Terror will eventually result in a large number of Americans getting killed.
Do you feel safer under President Obama than under President Bush? I certainly do not.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Monday, December 28, 2009
Here are the key points from Iran over the last 3-4 days: First, in line with my basic sermon these many years, if you study the videos you will see many many women in the front ranks. They have every reason to be there, as the Islamic Republic (like so many Islamic regimes) is built on the sludge of misogyny.
Second, many of the evil Basij goons wore masks. This is new, and it indicates fear that they will be identified and hunted down. The conflict is ever more violent: On several occasions, crowds attacked security forces, even dragging them out of cars — and then, cursing them, letting them run away.
Third, in another ominous development for the regime, people from the southern (lower-class) neighborhoods of Tehran joined in. The revolt is now very broad based. But it is not yet powerful enough for the Bazaaris to join: Today the Tehran Bazaar was open for business.
Fourth, the regime has been stripped of religious legitimacy by its own panic-driven brutality. By invading mosques and hosseiniyas, by assaulting family members of leading clerics (Grand Ayatollah Sanei is under house arrest), and by ordering murder on Ashura, the supreme leader has violated a whole series of previously sacrosanct rules. I will be surprised if we do not soon hear from Iraq's Grand Ayatollah Sistani.
Finally, there is still no national strike of the sort that paralyzed the shah's regime 31 years ago. But this may come: There were Twitter reports yesterday saying that Mousavi was calling for a strike on January 7.
There is now a state of emergency throughout the country (although some cities are still in open revolt), and many angry calls for the arrest of Mousavi and Karroubi, which would surely provoke more massive demonstrations and perhaps even the use of weapons by the people (even today, Molotov cocktails were thrown at security forces in central Tehran). If this were a normal regime, I'd expect a cooling-down period; but it isn't a normal regime, so it's unpredictable.Meanwhile, the Western world clicks its collective tongue and criticizes "the violence" and the lack of respect for rights of free speech and assembly, as if that were the point. Not a single Western "leader" has found the nerve and the common sense to denounce the regime and call for regime change. Indeed, President Obama couldn't drag himself away from the beach and the basketball court on Oahu to say anything at all. Nor could our secretary of state. Or Robert Gates, for that matter, whose men and women are being blown up in Iraq and Afghanistan, courtesy of the mullahs.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
"You know, if you really want to object to something in this bill, number one, I have asked congressperson after congressperson. Not one can explain to me what's in the bill, even in the House version. Certainly not in the other version," Bloomberg said during an appearance on "Meet the Press." "And so for them to vote on a bill that they don't understand whatsoever, really, you got to question how-- what kind of government we have." Source
A terrorist's attempt to blow up an American airliner in-flight on Christmas Day is foiled only by a detonator that malfunctions.
He is in custody, and under the new policies of the Obama administration, he now has a right to remain silent. So who exactly is wearing the hand cuffs here?
Really, makes one feel safe, doesn't it?
Below is some pertinent commentary on the terror attack from the Corner.
Though I share their outrage, I think outraged readers are missing the point. The people now in charge of our government believe Clinton-era counterterrorism was a successful model. They start from the premise that terrorism is a crime problem to be managed, not a war to be won. Overdone "war on drugs" rhetoric aside, we don't try to "win" against (as in "defeat") law-enforcement challenges. We expect them to happen from time to time and to contain, but never completely prevent, the damage.
Here, no thanks to the government, the plane was not destoyed, and we won't get to the bottom of the larger conspiracy (enabling the likes of Napolitano to say there's no indication of a larger plot — much less one launched by an international jihadist enterprise) because the guy got to lawyer up rather than be treated like a combatant and subjected to lengthy interrogation. But the terrorist will be convicted at trial (this "case" tees up like a slam-dunk), so the administration will put it in the books as a success ... just like the Clinton folks did after the '93 WTC bombers and the embassy bombers were convicted. In their minds, litigation success equals national security success.
It is a dangerously absurd viewpoint, but it was clear during the campaign that it was Obama's viewpoint. The American people — only seven years after 9/11 — elected him anyway. As we learn more painfully everyday, elections matter.
Understandbly, the White House is trying very hard to get out in front of the would-be Christmas bomber story. The head of the Department of Homeland Security isn't helping. I watched her on three shows and each time she was more annoying, maddening and absurd than the pevious appearance. It is her basic position that the "system worked" because the bureaucrats responded properly after the attack. That the attack was "foiled" by a bad detonator and some civilian passengers is proof, she claims, that her agency is doing everything right. That is just about the dumbest thing she could say, on the merits and politically. I would wager that not one percent of Americans think the system is "working" when terrorists successfully get bombs onto planes (and succeed in activating them). Probably even fewer think it's fair that they have to take off their shoes, endure delays and madness while a known Islamic radical — turned in by his own father — can waltz onto a plane (and into the country). DHS had no role whatsoever in assuring that this bomb didn't go off. By her logic if the bomb had gone off, the system would have "worked" since it has done everything right.
Napolitano has a habit of arguing that DHS is a first responder outfit. Its mission is to deal with "man-caused-disasters" afer they occur. It appears she really believes it. If the White House wants to assure people that it takes the war on terror seriously (a term Robert Gibbs used this morning by the way), they could start by firing this patenly unqualified hack...
Ms. Lopez writes:
Mary Dodd is alive today because her mother said “yes” when Mary entered her life. Now Mary’s mom is part of an effort to make sure that there is always room at an inn for mothers who want to say “yes” to unplanned babies, but need the support to carry through with the choice.
Lacy Dodd was a senior at the University of Notre Dame when she realized she was pregnant. Her boyfriend wanted no part of the child they had made together, but abortion was not an option as far as Lacy was concerned.
She was blessed: She had faith and she had family. Last spring, she wrote movingly about the day her daughter was born: “On All Saints Day 1999, I gave birth to baby Mary. Her name is no accident. This Mary was living inside me while I walked the campus of a university dedicated to a woman who is mother of us all, and it was Mary Our Mother who gave me courage when I was afraid of what would lie ahead. Mary teaches us always to be open to seeking the will of God in our lives, no matter what it is, and never to be afraid of God’s will. God’s will may contain suffering, but God’s will also brings peace and joy. When we place ourselves at God’s disposal, he will do great things for us.”
On that day, she says, Lacy’s father “took one look at Mary in my arms and said to me, ‘This is your gift for making the right decision.’”
Needless to say, not every college student who finds herself pregnant gets that kind of support.
Last spring, moved to tell her story by the controversy involving Notre Dame’s bestowing an honorary degree on President Obama, an advocate of legal abortion (and then some), Lacy Dodd wrote of the consolation she found in her faith as a scared college student: “No amount of shame or embarrassment would ever lead me to get rid of my baby. Of all women, Our Lady could surely feel pity for an unplanned pregnancy. I recalled her surrendered love to God’s invitation to become the home of the Incarnate Word. ‘Let it be done to me according to thy word,’ she had said. In my hour of need, on my knees, I asked Mary for courage and strength. And she did not disappoint.”
And that strength guides her as a mother, an activist, and a role model. Today Lacy lives in Charlotte, N.C., and is involved with Room at the Inn, a Catholic organization there that provides support to pregnant women and young mothers. They’re currently raising money to build an inn at Belmont Abbey, a Catholic college.
The Benedictine monks there have already donated the land for the inn, believing that “we should put into action our faith commitment in the sanctity of human life,” Abbot Placid Solari explains. The plan is for a facility that will house 15 moms and their children, infants and toddlers, adjacent to campus.
“College women now account for a little more than half the abortions that occur nationwide,” Jeannie Wray, executive director of Room at the Inn, explains. “They are the most abortion-vulnerable population that we have.” And while “there are many maternity homes that focus on other populations of women,” she worries that there is a real lack of support for college women, specifically. “We receive several calls each month from college students who need help, need a place to go, who are fearful that they will have to forfeit their education if they don’t have an abortion. The need is very real and it is here now. The need is as real here in North Carolina as anywhere else in the country. Our current residential facility is full, and all our residents have had their babies and are going to continue their post–high school education”...Continued
Thursday, December 24, 2009
To me, one of the most striking parts of the Nativity story is the moment of realization that there would be "no room at the inn."
Anyone who has traveled late into the evening and faced uncertain prospects regarding lodging has most likely had a brief moment or two of uneasiness at the thought that one may not have anywhere to stay.
Imagine then, being in a foreign land, nine months pregnant, evening approaching, and facing just that dilemma. And, in the end, only a manger in the offing.
We have, of course, romanticized the manger in the inumerable and beautiful nativity scenes that are displayed each Christmas. But the reality is that Mary and Joseph, alone and pregnant, were relegated to a stable full of animals, with all the unpleasantries that such lodging would entail.
There they would spend the night and there Mary would ultimately give birth to their Son. Our Savior.
I cannot help, on this Christmas Eve, but to think of all the women through the centuries who have faced pregnancy and impending childbirth with uncertain prospects. Perhaps mired in poverty. Or, pregnant in a time of war or disease. Or, lacking material means. How many women, in contrast to Mary, lacked the support of a loving husband like Joseph. Abandoned, perhaps, even by the father of their unborn child.
And yet so many of these women through the centuries persevered to give birth to their baby and then showered him or her with love as only a mother can. A mother's love, a gift greater than all the material wealth in the world.
This Christmas Eve, I also cannot help but to think of how many women today still face pregnancy in the midst of such difficulties. Unmarried. Meager finances. A college education or professional career in jeopardy. Lacking family support. Abandoned by the father of the child. The list goes on.
With Christmas upon us once again, let us pray for these women.
Let us pray that they find acceptance and support from those around them.
Let us pray that they will choose life. And, let us work tirelessy to find ways to encourage them and support them in that choice.
Let us support pro-life organizations and programs.
Let us support pro-life pregnancy centers and homes for unwed mothers.
Let us pray for a renewed respect for the dignity of women.
Let us pray for a renewed appreciation for chastity and sexual restraint.
Let us foster a renewed understanding of the importance and wisdom of reserving sexual activity to marriage.
Indeed, let us each strive to do our part so that a day will come when no woman will feel alone in the face of an impending pregnancy. So that no woman is lacking in the love, support, and resources she needs to choose life.
Above all, let us pray.
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
"A child is born for us, a son is given to us" (Is 9:5). What Isaiah prophesied as he gazed into the future from afar, consoling Israel amid its trials and its darkness, is now proclaimed to the shepherds as a present reality by the Angel, from whom a cloud of light streams forth: "To you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord" (Lk 2:11). The Lord is here. From this moment, God is truly "God with us". No longer is he the distant God who can in some way be perceived from afar, in creation and in our own consciousness. He has entered the world. He is close to us. The words of the risen Christ to his followers are addressed also to us: "Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Mt 28:20). For you the Saviour is born: through the Gospel and those who proclaim it, God now reminds us of the message that the Angel announced to the shepherds. It is a message that cannot leave us indifferent. If it is true, it changes everything. If it is true, it also affects me. Like the shepherds, then, I too must say: Come on, I want to go to Bethlehem to see the Word that has occurred there. The story of the shepherds is included in the Gospel for a reason. They show us the right way to respond to the message that we too have received. What is it that these first witnesses of God’s incarnation have to tell us?
The first thing we are told about the shepherds is that they were on the watch – they could hear the message precisely because they were awake. We must be awake, so that we can hear the message. We must become truly vigilant people. What does this mean? The principal difference between someone dreaming and someone awake is that the dreamer is in a world of his own. His "self" is locked into this dreamworld that is his alone and does not connect him with others. To wake up means to leave that private world of one’s own and to enter the common reality, the truth that alone can unite all people. Conflict and lack of reconciliation in the world stem from the fact that we are locked into our own interests and opinions, into our own little private world. Selfishness, both individual and collective, makes us prisoners of our interests and our desires that stand against the truth and separate us from one another. Awake, the Gospel tells us. Step outside, so as to enter the great communal truth, the communion of the one God. To awake, then, means to develop a receptivity for God: for the silent promptings with which he chooses to guide us; for the many indications of his presence. There are people who describe themselves as "religiously tone deaf". The gift of a capacity to perceive God seems as if it is withheld from some. And indeed – our way of thinking and acting, the mentality of today’s world, the whole range of our experience is inclined to deaden our receptivity for God, to make us "tone deaf" towards him. And yet in every soul, the desire for God, the capacity to encounter him, is present, whether in a hidden way or overtly. In order to arrive at this vigilance, this awakening to what is essential, we should pray for ourselves and for others, for those who appear "tone deaf" and yet in whom there is a keen desire for God to manifest himself. The great theologian Origen said this: if I had the grace to see as Paul saw, I could even now (during the Liturgy) contemplate a great host of angels (cf. in Lk 23:9). And indeed, in the sacred liturgy, we are surrounded by the angels of God and the saints. The Lord himself is present in our midst. Lord, open the eyes of our hearts, so that we may become vigilant and clear-sighted, in this way bringing you close to others as well!
Let us return to the Christmas Gospel. It tells us that after listening to the Angel’s message, the shepherds said one to another: "‘Let us go over to Bethlehem’ … they went at once" (Lk 2:15f.). "They made haste" is literally what the Greek text says. What had been announced to them was so important that they had to go immediately. In fact, what had been said to them was utterly out of the ordinary. It changed the world. The Saviour is born. The long-awaited Son of David has come into the world in his own city. What could be more important? No doubt they were partly driven by curiosity, but first and foremost it was their excitement at the wonderful news that had been conveyed to them, of all people, to the little ones, to the seemingly unimportant. They made haste – they went at once. In our daily life, it is not like that. For most people, the things of God are not given priority, they do not impose themselves on us directly And so the great majority of us tend to postpone them. First we do what seems urgent here and now. In the list of priorities God is often more or less at the end. We can always deal with that later, we tend to think. The Gospel tells us: God is the highest priority. If anything in our life deserves haste without delay, then, it is God’s work alone. The Rule of Saint Benedict contains this teaching: "Place nothing at all before the work of God (i.e. the divine office)". For monks, the Liturgy is the first priority. Everything else comes later. In its essence, though, this saying applies to everyone. God is important, by far the most important thing in our lives. The shepherds teach us this priority. From them we should learn not to be crushed by all the pressing matters in our daily lives. From them we should learn the inner freedom to put other tasks in second place – however important they may be – so as to make our way towards God, to allow him into our lives and into our time. Time given to God and, in his name, to our neighbour is never time lost. It is the time when we are most truly alive, when we live our humanity to the full... Continued
Friday, December 11, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Notre Dame's Golden Tate wins the Biletnikoff Award - Best wide receiver in the land!! The full story is here.
Congratulations and good luck in the NFL!!
By the way, new ND coach Brian Kelly won the National Coach of the Year Award tonight as well.
For a list of all the award winners, click here.
Christmas has definitely come early for Fighting Irish fans this year.
The ESPN story.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
Gary Sutton of Forbes writes:
Many of you are too young to remember, but in 1975 our government pushed "the coming ice age."
Random House dutifully printed "THE WEATHER CONSPIRACY … coming of the New Ice Age." This may be the only book ever written by 18 authors. All 18 lived just a short sled ride from Washington, D.C. Newsweek fell in line and did a cover issue warning us of global cooling on April 28, 1975. And The New York Times, Aug. 14, 1976, reported "many signs that Earth may be headed for another ice age."
OK, you say, that's media. But what did our rational scientists say?
In 1974, the National Science Board announced: "During the last 20 to 30 years, world temperature has fallen, irregularly at first but more sharply over the last decade. Judging from the record of the past interglacial ages, the present time of high temperatures should be drawing to an end…leading into the next ice age"...BREAK
...The fall of Saigon in the '70s may have distracted the shrill pronouncements about the imminent ice age. Science's prediction of "A full-blown, 10,000 year ice age," came from its March 1, 1975 issue. The Christian Science Monitor observed that armadillos were retreating south from Nebraska to escape the "global cooling" in its Aug. 27, 1974 issue.
That armadillo caveat seems reminiscent of today's tales of polar bears drowning due to glaciers disappearing.
While scientists march to the drumbeat of grant money, at least trees don't lie. Their growth rings show what's happened no matter which philosophy is in power. Tree rings show a mini ice age in Europe about the time Stradivarius crafted his violins. Chilled Alpine Spruce gave him tighter wood so the instruments sang with a new purity. But England had to give up the wines that the Romans cultivated while our globe cooled, switching from grapes to colder weather grains and learning to take comfort with beer, whisky and ales.
Yet many centuries earlier, during a global warming, Greenland was green. And so it stayed and was settled by Vikings for generations until global cooling came along. Leif Ericsson even made it to Newfoundland. His shallow draft boats, perfect for sailing and rowing up rivers to conquer villages, wouldn't have stood a chance against a baby iceberg.
Those sustained temperature swings, all before the evil economic benefits of oil consumption, suggest there are factors at work besides humans.
Today, as I peck out these words, the weather channel is broadcasting views of a freakish and early snow falling on Dallas. The Iowa state extension service reports that the record corn crop expected this year will have unusually large kernels, thanks to "relatively cool August and September temperatures." And on Jan. 16, 2007, NPR went politically incorrect, briefly, by reporting that "An unusually harsh winter frost, the worst in 20 years, killed much of the California citrus, avocados and flower crops."
To be fair, those reports are short-term swings. But the longer term changes are no more compelling, unless you include the ice ages, and then, perhaps, the panic attempts of the 1970s were right. Is it possible that if we put more CO2 in the air, we'd forestall the next ice age?... Full Story
If climate predictions were totally off-base in 1975, why should we believe them now?
And, lest anyone mention computer modeling, remember that computer models cannot accurately predict temperature 7 days out in a localized area, never mind world-wide temperatures 50 years from now .
Sunday, December 6, 2009
With Thanksgiving now behind us, the signs of the Christmas season are everywhere. The tree in Rockefeller Center dazzles, the windows of Saks Fifth Avenue delight and the crèche in St. Patrick's Cathedral brings the story of Christ's birth to life (although the crib of the baby Jesus remains empty until midnight Mass). Just as predictably as the appearance of poinsettias and sidewalk Santas, the so-called "Christmas War" will break out once again.
We all know the sides by now. In one corner are those who want to remove any mention or even hint of religion, of the birth of Christ, from this holiday ("holy day") season, ready to rush into court to battle those who would dare even mention the birth of the Savior in a public setting. In the other corner are those who seem ready to call for jihad against any commercial outlet or business with a "holiday sale," ever prepared to organize boycotts, letter-writing and e-mail campaigns to counter these supposed pagan, secularist forces.
As I prepare to celebrate my first Christmas as archbishop of New York, I realize it might seem presumptuous to interject myself into this annual battle. But if any time of year calls for us to follow our better natures, this is that time. Thus, I call for a truce!
Obviously, I am enthusiastic about "keeping Christ in Christmas." For those of us who believe that Jesus, the Son of God and our Savior, was born to Mary in a stable in Bethlehem 2009 years ago, we never forget what it is and why it is that we are celebrating. Christ must remain our focus. We must never let the commercial aspects of Christmas overwhelm us or cause us to think that the gift-giving and the parties are all that matters. I know that for me, as much as I look forward to spending time with family and friends, exchanging gifts, sharing Christmas dinner and cheer, it all really begins deep down inside, with faith, hope and love, as we thank God for the gift of Christ, and share this sacred present with others.
However, many others don't believe as we do but still wish to celebrate this wonderful time of the year. Parties, decorations, holiday specials, gifts - I'm all for it!
Still we see the public relations battle, the calls to spurn this retailer in favor of that, the angry denunciations of those who wish to sing "Silent Night" or "The First Noel" at a town event. Even more troublesome is that this season, when we should be celebrating peace, we find instead so many ways to be at odds with one another. It really doesn't have to be this way.
Think about it. Here in New York, the Catholic League places a giant crèche near Central Park, and our city manages to survive, our nation's democracy remains intact, and the Constitution still guarantees the freedom of religion. I'm pleased to know that a menorah will also be displayed at the same location to celebrate Chanukah. At the same time, numerous retailers have "holiday sales" instead of "Christmas sales," stationery stores sell "Season's Greetings" cards, businesses have holiday parties - and still our faith endures. If the celebration of the birth of Jesus inspires enjoyable parties, acts of charity, an exchange of good wishes, a smile to those we pass on the street, a card or a call to an old friend, a gift of appreciation to someone who helps, well, alleluia!
So, as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, our Savior, I invite my brother and sister Christians to renew their faith in love and joy, and I thank my neighbors of other beliefs - or of none at all - for sharing in our celebration in the spirit of happiness, peace, and good will that flourishes these splendid weeks through the New Year.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Senators debating health care legislation are headed for a clash over abortion, the issue that threatened to derail the bill in the House.
Anticipating the showdown, hundreds of abortion rights supporters gathered on Capitol Hill Wednesday to call on senators to keep new abortion restrictions out of the health care bill. Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., plans to unveil an anti-abortion amendment as early as Thursday that abortions rights supporters inside the Senate and out say they can't support.
Nelson says he won't vote for the underlying bill without his strong abortion language. But opponents say his amendment doesn't have the votes to pass. The outcome could be critical in determining the fate of President Barack Obama's signature health overhaul agenda.
At issue is how abortions would be handled in the health care bills. In the House, a bloc of anti-abortion Democrats forced Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to accept restrictions that outraged liberals as the price for passing the Democratic health care bill last month.
The language passed by the House would forbid any health plan that receives federal subsidies from paying for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or danger to the mother's life. A new government insurance plan couldn't offer abortions, and women would have to purchase separate coverage for abortion services.
Behind the scenes, Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., who opposes abortions but wants to vote for the overall health care bill, has been working to find language that could satisfy both sides.
"Our goal is to maintain essentially Hyde-like protections that prevent federal funds from being used to pay for and subsidize abortion," Casey's communications director Larry Smar said Wednesday, referring to the existing law on abortion, though nothing had been finalized.
Efforts to find such a common ground failed in the House.
Women's rights groups were caught off-guard by the provision that passed the House and are now vowing to keep similar language out of the Senate bill. Hundreds of activists organized by Planned Parenthood and other groups rallied Wednesday, holding signs reading "Listen up senators: Women's health is not negotiable."
Several House Democrats spoke, vowing to oppose final passage of any health bill with the tough abortion restrictions already approved by the House. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., called it "a devil's bargain" that she couldn't accept.
But the House language is just what Nelson wants to include in the Senate bill. He is not satisfied with the language filed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., which would forbid including abortion coverage as a required medical benefit, but would allow a new government insurance plan to cover abortions and let private insurers that receive federal subsidies offer plans that include abortion coverage...Continued
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Tonight, he goes after the US military, referring to West Point as "the enemy camp."
What a horrible thing to say, in light of all the blood that West Point graduates have shed in defense of this country over the last 200 years.
Chris Matthews is a disgrace.
H/T The Corner