Welcome to the Reading Room

Here are some news stories and articles which might be of interest to you. I've posted the opening section, and if you want to read more, you can click on "Read the whole article" to go to the original item. You'll find a variety of things here -- current news, political analysis, opinion pieces, articles about religion -- things I've happened to read and want to share with you. It's your Reading Room, so take your time. Browse. You're certain to find something you'll want to read.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Unbelievable

by Jeff Miller

I was looking through Florida statutes and I discovered that those who impersonate police officers, sheriffs, government officials, etc have committed a felony and the circumstances determines if it is first, second, or third degree. Sentencing for this can be 30, 15, or 5 years with longer sentencing for a life felony. These crimes are covered under statues 775.082, s. 775.083, here in Florida.

Looking over some other offenses I was shocked to find that unlawful sexual activity with minors while also a felony came under the exact same statues in regard to punishment! Or the fact that aggravated assault or battery is also a felony along with child sexual abuse and rape.

I tell you I am totally shocked that Florida law equates child sexual abuse with impersonation of a government official. Unbelievable. How dare they equate these two crimes as both felonies. I urge everybody who is a resident of the state of Florida to write their state senate and state congress to have this changed. Even more disturbing is that it seems that this is not just a fluke for the State of Florida, but seems to have infected all states in that they see this impersonation a felony just like child sexual abuse.

The conclusion to think that each state considers impersonation of a government official to be equated with child sexual abuse is a reasonable conclusion if you have the same mindset of those who freaked out over the revised norms (Normae de Gravioribus Delictis) issued by the Holy See that codify seven modifications originally made by Pope John Paul II and confirmed by Pope Benedict in 2005. The conclusion of so many bigoted and uninformed pundits is that the Holy See is deliberating equating child sexual abuse with the attempted ordination of women. No other conclusion is possible for them... Read the whole article.

Friday, July 16, 2010

What's an Anti-Catholic Catholic?

by Tim Drake

There’s an intriguing phenomena going on in the culture these days. Over the past several weeks, I’ve read a variety of articles by “Catholics” who to want to define, for themselves, what the word “Catholic” means.

Most recently, writer Charles Pierce, takes this topic up in his lengthy Boston Globe article, “What I Believe.”

“The institutional Catholic Church, for me, has no concrete form, no physical structure, no hierarchy except that of ideas,” Pierce states in the article. He continues, “Even my attendance at Mass is largely contemplative, the priest presiding in a supervisory capacity, his authority dependent wholly on the primacy of my individual conscience.”

In other words, for Pierce, the Church has no authority other than that which he himself deems to give it.

In the article, Pierce goes on to quote Catholics such as Garry Willis and Father Richard McBrien in support of his idea that the hierarchical Church is dead and “irrelevant.”

He quotes McBrien as saying that, ‘the hierarchy is largely irrelevant to any intelligent, educated Catholic.’ That’s curious, given that as a priest of Christ’s Church, Father McBrien himself is part of the hierarchy. Using logic, one could conclude that if Father McBrien were correct, then he himself is irrelevant.

Pierce says that the most fundamental rule of his “Catholicism” is that, “nobody gets to tell me that I’m not a Catholic” - no priest, no bishop, not even the Pope.

He even goes on to say that while he’s still a practicing Catholic, that he’s grown up to become “an anti-Catholic Catholic.”

Perhaps because the Catholic Church is something Pierce was born into, he feels he has the freedom to define for himself what it means to be “Catholic.” As a Catholic convert, I know differently. It wasn’t until I was able to say that I believed everything that the Church taught and believed, and was thinking with the Church, that I was permitted to join her. I’d like to think that anyone claiming to be an “anti-Catholic Catholic” is actually Protestant.

Coming into the Church meant believing that which Christ and His Church proposes to teach and believe. It meant being humble enough to admit that I do not have all the answers, but being willing to submit to a higher authority. It meant being part of a community, a vast communion made up of that great cloud of witnesses who have gone on before, the Saints and angels, the Holy Father and the magisterial Church, the College of Cardinals, bishops, priests and deacons that surround him.

Reading Pierce’s definition it’s difficult to imagine anyone - an apostle or saint - laying down their life for the kind of Church he describes.

Pierce wants a Church without a hierarchy. He doesn’t believe that there’s an authority, outside of himself, that can tell him what he can or cannot do. He wants Christ without His Church, which really isn’t possible... Read the whole article.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Real Education

The speech every American high-school principal should give.

by Dennis Prager

To the students and faculty of our high school:

I am your new principal, and honored to be so. There is no greater calling than to teach young people.

I would like to apprise you of some important changes coming to our school. I am making these changes because I am convinced that most of the ideas that have dominated public education in America have worked against you, against your teachers, and against our country.

First, this school will no longer honor race or ethnicity. I could not care less if your racial makeup is black, brown, red, yellow, or white. I could not care less if your origins are African, Latin American, Asian, or European, or if your ancestors arrived here on the Mayflower or on slave ships.

The only identity I care about, the only one this school will recognize, is your individual identity — your character, your scholarship, your humanity. And the only national identity this school will care about is American. This is an American public school, and American public schools were created to make better Americans.

If you wish to affirm an ethnic, racial, or religious identity through school, you will have to go elsewhere. We will end all ethnicity-, race-, and non-American-nationality-based celebrations. They undermine the motto of America, one of its three central values — e pluribus unum, “from many, one.” And this school will be guided by America’s values...  Read the whole article.

Targeting Free Speech

By Mark Hyman

Any doubts about the administration's designs on reducing First Amendment opportunities may no longer exist due to officials' remarks and government actions including a recent decision by President Barack Obama. The administration's resolve to tamp down dissent was signaled in a June 28th presidential memorandum that would lead to the end of all free, over-the-air television.

Fortunately for Obama he has various federal agencies, the Democrat-controlled Congress, a judiciary hostile to the Constitution, and a compliant liberal media at his disposal to help him usher in speech controls.

Obama's disdain of political dissent is well documented. He has differentiated himself from all other modern presidents by publicly calling out by name the handful of journalists that have criticized his presidency. Senior White House staff have served as his Praetorian Guard against media critics.

While presidential name-calling is indeed troublesome, it does not rise to the level of the concern created by the administration's plans to control the nation's telecommunications platforms.

Obama's Harvard Law School classmate and current Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski has been directing a multi-pronged effort aimed at increasing government control of news, information and entertainment.

First, is the FCC's ill-conceived National Broadband Plan, which is designed to end local television broadcasters' use of the electromagnetic spectrum (i.e. the radio spectrum) to deliver free, over-the-air television and eventually move the nation's 1,600 TV stations to subscription-only platforms such as cable. Cable is a much easier to control than 1,600 geographically dispersed television transmitters.

The goal, claims Genachowski, is to make the spectrum available to other wireless platforms such as cellular telephones. The single largest beneficiary of the FCC scheme would likely be Verizon. Unfortunately for Genachowski, Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg panned the NBP and found the FCC's "looming spectrum shortage" claims to not be credible.

"I don't think the FCC should tinker with this," Seidenberg told the Council on Foreign Relations in April. "I don't think we'll have a spectrum shortage the way [the National Broadband Plan] suggests we will."

To bolster support for its National Broadband Plan, the FCC announced a broadcast engineering panel to examine the technical aspects of its proposal. The June panel convened by the FCC was notable for who the Commission excluded -- broadcast engineers. The FCC relented at the last moment after the Society of Broadcast Engineers waged a fierce PR campaign to be added. To exclude broadcast engineers from the panel would have been the functional equivalent of bureaucrats rewriting detailed medical procedures without consulting a single doctor... Read the whole article.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Cowardice of His Convictions

By James C. Capretta

The reason the health-care debate has been so polarizing is that there is a deep and fundamental divide over what should be done to fix the problems in American health care, especially with regard to rapidly rising costs.

On one side of the debate are those who advocate a decentralized, market-based reform program. Rep. Paul Ryan is among the leaders pushing for such a consumer-driven solution.

On the other side are what you might call the “governmentalists.” The governmentalists believe the way to “bend the cost-curve” is with a centralized, government-led effort to micromanage the entire $2.6 trillion health sector from Washington, D.C.

President Obama, his top aides, and his allies in Congress are all quite clearly health-care governmentalists. The evidence for this is on full display in the bill they jammed through the legislative process. It is filled to the brim with provisions that shift power and authority away from states, individuals, employers, and the private sector to the federal government.

The federal government is now the nationwide regulator of all private health insurance. Federal bureaucrats can pick and choose which insurers are allowed to sell to customers in government-managed “markets.” The federal government will determine what health benefits every citizen and legal resident must secure to avoid paying a punitive tax. The federal government will also decide the appropriate level of cost-sharing for government-certified insurance products.

The new law is also filled with provisions which the sponsors contend will slow cost growth with “delivery-system reform.” The federal government has been put in the driver’s seat of a sprawling effort to force doctors and hospitals to quite literally change how they care for patients and conform to the federal government’s view of what constitutes cost-effective medical practice. Medicare’s administrators will be using new authority to reward those who toe the government’s line and hit budget targets, and punish those who don’t. Government reimbursement will be used to prevent the introduction of medical technologies considered excessively costly.

Although President Obama is quite clearly a committed and enthusiastic health-care governmentalist, he has never admitted as much in public, nor is he ever likely to. He avoids engaging in direct debate over the merits of his position with the market-based reformers. Instead, he argues, as he did at the so-called “bipartisan summit” back in February, that there is no great disagreement over substance; it’s just that those dastardly Republicans are against progress on his watch... Read the whole article.

Obama's Milky Way

by George Neumayr

Barack Obama is not a Muslim, said Hillary Clinton during the 2008 campaign, adding slyly, "as far as I know." Reeling from losses that followed this whispering campaign, Obama denied its implication and faked up an eager interest in Christianity. "I was sworn in with my hand on the family bible," he pouted.

But once safely ensconced in the presidency, he renewed his Islamophilia. Last year in Cairo, he tried to wow his audience by saying that he hails from "generations of Muslims" and that he had marinated for "several years" in Islamic Indonesia, where he "heard the call of the azaan at the break of dawn and at the fall of dusk."

By secularist standards, Obama's Islamophilia constitutes a blatant violation of Church and state. His presidency largely exists for the benefit of one religion, the only religion he appears to consider blameless and holy -- Islam, and not even its moderate variant... Read the whole article.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Christian Adams Blows Whistle on Progressives and Race

by Jeffrey Lord


Christian Adams and Bill Clinton.

Who would have thought a heretofore unknown career Justice Department lawyer and the famously garrulous former President could combine to turn the spotlight on the centuries old -- if never formally acknowledged -- alliance between progressives and racism?

President Clinton first.

In winging along in his eulogy for the late West Virginia U.S. Senator Robert Byrd, former President Bill Clinton decided (impulsively?) to address the much commented upon knowledge that Senator Byrd spent part of his early career as an "Exalted Cyclops" of the Ku Klux Klan....Read the whole article.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Declaration of Independence


IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

— John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts:
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland:
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia:
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Friday, July 2, 2010

Byrd Tributes Go Overboard

Why do liberals worship the late West Virginia senator?

by Jonah Goldberg

It is a good rule of thumb not to speak ill of the dead. But what to do when a man is celebrated beyond the limits of decorum or common sense? Must we stay silent as others celebrate the beauty and splendor of the emperor’s invisible clothes?

You probably know why I ask the question. Robert Byrd, the longest-serving member of the Senate in American history, died Monday. It was truly a remarkable career. But what’s more remarkable is how he has been lionized by the champions of liberalism.

On Thursday, Byrd’s colleagues took the unusual step of honoring him with a special service on the Senate floor, where he would lay in repose — with some irony — on the Lincoln Catafalque, the bier used to hold the slain body of the president who freed the slaves. The irony stems from the fact that for much of Byrd’s life, his allegiances were with Lincoln’s opponents in that effort. More on that in a moment.

Not long ago, the assembled forces of liberalism were convinced that the Senate was “broken,” that the anachronistic filibuster impeded progress. The Senate itself, with its arcane rules and procedures, had become undemocratic and was in need of vital reform, according to all of the usual voices. John Podesta, president of the Center for American Progress and a sort of archbishop of liberalism these days, drew on his deep command of political theory and social science to explain that the American political system “sucks,” in significant part due to the unwieldiness of the Senate.

Well, who better represented those alleged structural problems than Byrd? Nearly every obituary celebrates his “mastery” of the rules. This is from the first paragraph of the Washington Post’s obituary: Byrd “used his masterful knowledge of the institution to shape the federal budget, protect the procedural rules of the Senate and, above all else, tend to the interests of his state.”

Yes, what about his tending to his state’s interests? For several years there’s been a lot of bipartisan indignation over the perfidy of pork and “earmarks.”

Who, pray tell, better represented that practice than Byrd? The man emptied Washington of money and resources with an alacrity and determination not seen since the evacuation of Dunkirk. There are too many of these Byrd droppings in West Virginia to count, but we do know there are at least 30 buildings and other structures in that state named for him. So much for Democrats’ getting the message that Americans are sick of self-aggrandizing politicians.

And so much for the idea that Washington has become calcified by a permanent political class. Better to celebrate the fact that he cast his 18,000th vote in 2007.

And then, of course, there is the issue of race. The common interpretation is that Byrd’s is a story of redemption. A one-time Exalted Cyclops of the KKK, Byrd recruited some 150 members to the chapter he led — that’s led, not “joined,” by the way. (If you doubt his commitment to the cause, try to recruit 150 people to do anything, never mind have them pay a hefty fee up front.)

Byrd filibustered the 1964 Civil Rights Act. As Bruce Bartlett notes in his book Wrong on Race, Byrd knew he would fail, but he stood on bedrock principle that integration was evil. His individual filibuster, the second longest in American history, fills 86 pages of fine print in the Congressional Record. “Only a true believer,” writes Bartlett, “would ever undertake such a futile effort.”

Unlike some segregationists’, Byrd’s arguments rested less on the principle of states’ rights than on his conviction that black people were simply biologically inferior.

Sure, he lied for years about his repudiation of the Klan. Sure, he was still referring to “white niggers” as recently as 2001. But everyone agrees his change of heart is sincere. And for all I know, it was.

What’s odd is what passes for proof of his sincerity. Yes, he voted to make Martin Luther King Day a holiday. But to listen to some eulogizers, the real proof came in the fact that he supported ever more lavish government programs — and opposed the Iraq War. Am I alone in taking offense at the idea that supporting big government and opposing the Iraq War somehow count as proof of racial enlightenment?

Robert Byrd was a complicated man, but the explanation for the outsized celebration of his career strikes me as far more simple. He was a powerful man who abandoned his bigoted principles in order to keep power. And his party loved him for it.  Read the original article here.

AtonementOnline

About Me

My photo
Fr. Phillips is the founding pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church, the first Anglican Use parish, established on August 15, 1983. Not that there is any confusion, but he is on the left, shown in his younger, less gray-headed days.