Monday, January 30, 2012

Gaining a Catholic Vision

My local parish was blessed with the presence of Fr. Michael Keating of the Department of Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN.  He addressed remarks concerning "The Intellectual Wounds of our Times" to hundreds of Christ the King (Ann Arbor, MI) parishioners between Sunday morning's masses.

After introductory comments on Christ the healer--a theme consonant with Pope John Paul II's encyclical letter Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason, 1998)--and on the underlying source of the contemporary problem--due in a word to the "Enlightenment" (Endarkenment) when men set about to understand the world without reference to God--he delivered a discourse on six intellectual wounds afflicting the contemporary mind.

  1. The belief that religion and faith are not matters of truth -- This has to do with the notion that only empirically verifiable data--what we exclusively consider to be scientific--is certain. This intellectual wound is related to scientific positivism and scientism.
  2. The relegation of moral questions to the realm of opinion and lifestyle choices -- It follows that since the good is not directly verifiable, and hence not true according to the scientific method (it is not a facticity), then it is relative and depends on one's personal preferences.  This intellectual wound is related to moral pragmatism and emotivism.
  3. A loss of the sacramental understanding -- If knowledge is limited to that which we can sense, we are deprived of much of what Christ came to reveal.  The meaning of things far transcend their matter.  This intellectual wound and deprivation is related to philosophical materialism and theological eclecticism.
  4. A lack of understanding of liturgy as the ordering principle of the world -- The celebration of the mass, especially at the moment of the consecration, is where and when the eternal sears temporality open and interpenetrates with it.  This intellectual wound and deprivation is related to theological  modernism. 
  5. The assumption that subjective experience is the sole validation of truth -- Truncated from being, the mind grabs onto what it experiences (or thinks it experiences).  Ironically, it is a given in science that experience is molded and preceded by theory, a model, that enables us to order otherwise random phenomenon.  This intellectual wound is related to practical subjectivism
  6. The loss of an integrated vision of life and the world -- C.S. Lewis once remarked on the irony that religious believers open to transcendence are accused of being closed-minded, and that non-believers who relegate the world to the domain of the merely perceptional are considered broad-minded.  This intellectual wound is related to all of those mentioned above.
A quick look at his list reveals a common root to the various forms of subjectivism and relativism identified: the turn away from real transcendence, towards immanence; from God, to ourselves.  

Our wounds derive from closing our minds to being, with the consequent loss of its transcendental properties: unity, truth, goodness and beauty.  The resulting mono-dimensionality of mind without external referents has led in our age to nihilism, a negation that overtakes even the person in his human dignity.

In Fides et Ratio, Pope John Paul II outlined an urgent task for philosophy to recover three primary aspects in order to once again point the way to the truth and meaning that all men seek.  They are to (1) recover its sapiential (wisdom) dimension, or search for ultimate and overarching meaning rather than to dwell on mere technology; (2) seek the total and definitive truth about reality, the very being of objects, as opposed to particular and subordinates aspects of reality; and (3) to probe a genuinely metaphysical range that transcends the merely empirical to reach absolute, ultimate and foundations grounds for truth.

Catholics know that the salve to heal our wounded intellects is Christ.  "The mystery of the incarnation will always remain the central point of reference for an understanding of the enigma of human existence, the created world and God himself" (FR, 80)

The talk was sponsored by the parish's office of religious education directed by Barbara Morgan.  Barbara convoked a series of meetings over the holiday's to begin discussing the Catholic worldview.  Fr. Mike's visit was the opening event in an anticipated series of lectures addressing this topic.

Christ the King posts weekend homilies, talks, RCIA presenta- tions, retreat talks, and more at, or link to it from the parish website,

Friday, January 27, 2012

Uriah the Fetus

Today's mass reading (2 Sm 1:1-4a, 5-10a, 13-17) was the gripping story of King David's adultery and murder of Uriah the Hittite.  No matter how many times I read it, the passage is always new with meaning and applicable lessons.

You know the story.  David was up late one night and while surveying the city from the roof of his palace saw a beautiful woman bathing.  He failed to guard his eyes.  She was immodest enough to be nude within eye shot of others.  He was smitten, as men are by feminine beauty.

He pursued; she succumbed.  A baby was conceived.  That's when the story gets really interesting.

Her name was Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite, the armor bearer of David's general Joab who was out on campaign.  If she delivered the baby, Uriah would know that it wasn't his and all hell would break loose upon his return from the front.

David had a plan.  He called for Uriah and bade him to go home and relax.  Uriah spent the night sleeping at the palace gate with the officers, however.  The next night, David got him drunk.  But, Uriah passed out among the servants.

David had Uriah sent back to the front lines carrying secret instructions to abandon him in the thick of the fight.  David had him killed in battle in order to avoid the inconvenience that his own lust had occasioned.

Ironically, society today considers it barbarous that lust might be so inconvenienced.  Its civilized solution is to accommodate lust, immodesty, imprudence of the eyes, and all the rest by legalizing, legitimizing baby killing in the womb.

It might seem quaint by today's standards that someone would deceive a man as to his wife's condition by fooling him into thinking that the baby was his.  Today's secularized David would merely pay for Bathsheba's abortion thereby disposing of the evidence, and be done with it.

Despite the heinousness of the solution that David eventually contrived, the thought of killing their child in her womb didn't enter his mind; not likely hers either as she told him she was pregnant rather than visited the local problem solver.  Abortion wasn't an option, even for a murderer.

Articulating today's "civilized" perspective, President Obama expressed the following sentiments to commemorate a Supreme Court decision--one of many--that wrapped lust in the mantle of Constitutional protection.
“As we mark the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we must remember that this Supreme Court decision not only protects a woman’s health and reproductive freedom, but also affirms a broader principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters,” Obama said. “I remain committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose and this fundamental constitutional right.“
And as we remember this historic anniversary, we must also continue our efforts to ensure that our daughters have the same rights, freedoms, and opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams.”

In the civilized world, government should not intrude on private family matters?  Tell it to those people horrified at being coerced by government to pay for others barbarous family matters.

President Obama believes that it needs to be so for the sake of Bathsheba's liberty to indulge in lust on equal terms with David, physiological differences notwithstanding.

He doesn't believe that bringing another life into existence should oblige a daughter to alter her dreams in light of changed circumstances--circumstances changed by her choices--or even inform her understanding of responsible behavior.  To the President's mind, any other conclusion would be unfair, discriminatory, playing politics, misogyny.

It doesn't bother the President that a million-and-a-half Uriah-sons and Uriah-daughters lose their lives at their Davidian mothers' hands.  They are merely collateral damage in the battle to protect lust that we need not consider except as to the most efficient way to mine the remains for experimental DNA.

Rights are rights and principles are principles after all.  Innocent victims are an inconsequential transaction with the grim reaper.

Rather than reacting like George Bailey to a handshake from Mr. Potter, the President seems untroubled by this ghastly accommodation with death.   He perceives no need to reevaluate his principles or reconsider his understanding of Constitutional rights.

Nathan the prophet didn't quite see it the President's way.  He confronted King David with his crime, and the king repented.  Though his baby with Bathsheba died shortly after birth, she bore him Solomon in his old age, the great king who succeeded David.

Father Pat's homily stressed the hopeful aspects of the story.  Despite great sin, God forgave and loved the repentant David.  The only thing capable of preventing a happy ending would have been David's willful blindness, stubborn pride and evasion of responsibility.

No matter what we've done, e.g., killed a child in the womb or impregnated someone who did, we can be forgiven if we repent.  We can move on to live in God's grace.

Even the United States can be forgiven and move on to fulfill its destiny as a beacon of liberty.  Like David who suffered from the revolt of his son Absolom, we too might suffer for the grave sin we have nurtured in our laws and culture and exported to the rest of the world.

But we need to repent and reverse course to make things right.  This November, if not sooner, provides another opportunity to begin anew.

Obama's War On Christ

Once was not enough.  Secularists are a stubborn breed, and they won't stop trying to rid the nation of Christ until every last one of his followers is padlocked in a closet and his Truth is crucified once and for all.  

All of this is for the sake of liberty, you understand.

These observations are occasioned by a pair of recent actions undertaken by the Obama Administration, and a pair of articles about them in today's press.

The first article is by Penn Law Professor David Skeel.  He comments upon the Supreme Court's decision in Hosanna-Tabor v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Department of Health and Human Services recent diktat that forces religious employers to cover all of the costs of contraception in their health plans.

In Hosanna-Tabor, President Obama's Solicitor General argued that despite explicit language in the First Amendment protecting religious liberty, religious organizations nevertheless needed to yield to federal employment law in ministerial employment matters.  Specifically, President Obama's government argued for the power to contradict a church's determination of who could act as its ministers.

Shame!  Think about the implications of that power grab, and of the unscrupulousness of any man who would attempt it.  

Such a person might be many things, but American and Christian are not among them.  Even a Supreme Court stacked with Lefties, two of his own choosing, rebuffed the President, 9-0.

In the HHS matter, the President's Secretary Kathleen Sibelius has determined that Catholic hospitals and religious ministries that object to contraception on moral grounds nevertheless have no option other than to pay for it notwithstanding their objections, or pay a steep fine under ObamaCare for not offering employees an insurance plan.  

Individual consciences must yield to government fiat, religious liberty to sexual liberty, Church to State, traditional morals to the zeitgeist.  So much for the Constitution, which becomes collateral damage along the strident march of toleration.
Consider the ironies: An administration that swept into office in 2008 promising to bring together people of all kinds seems to have less interest in accommodating diverse views than either the Supreme Court or many state legislatures, several of which have carved out robust religious exemptions for recent gay-marriage legislation.  
The Obama administration's reluctance to accommodate is also at odds with many years of progressive efforts to enhance protection for those whose religious views are out of the mainstream.
The Obama Administration is undoubtedly intent on bringing people together, but only on its terms.  As Richard John Neuhaus used to paraphrase the Left: "Let's compromise.  We'll do it my way."

C.S Lewis distinguishes in the Introduction to "Screwtape Proposes a Toast" between God's manner of achieving unity, and satan's.  God invites believers freely to join their wills to his in an act of communal love.

The devil thrives on the suffusion of violated individual wills, absorbing them into, and subordinating them to, his own.  Thus, Lewis wrote of a banquet in which the devils would drink wine distilled from the conquered wills of the dammed.

The present Administration resembles Screwtape.  Despite pearly words of cooperation and unity, its actions betray its devotion to the cult of coercive power.

With respect to protecting religious views outside of the cultural mainstream, progressives were only interested in that when the culture was Christian.  Now that culture has been shaped to their liking through media indoctrination, it's time to take off the mask.

Like many leftists, President Obama has deep contempt for Christianity and democracy. This is why his administration has declared war on theCatholic Church and religious liberty. 
The church teaches that the primary purpose of sexual activity within the sacred bonds of marriage is procreation - to perpetuate humanity from one generation to the next. For nearly 1,500 years, such thinking underpinned the Christian West. That was then; this is now. Since the 1960s, modern society is obsessed with contraception, abortion and sexual hedonism. The results have been declining birth rates and shrinking native populations. Literally, the West is dying.
As the late Pope John Paul II put it, we are in the grips of “a culture of death.” Birth control is a key pillar. It is a seminal aspect of the socialist drive to establish a secular utopia - smash the traditional family by relentlessly advancing the sexual revolution. The pill and the condom are the hammer and sickle of cultural Marxism. Decades ago, the Vatican warned that birth control eventually would lead to the West’s demise. A civilization unable - and unwilling - to reproduce itself is doomed.
The pill and condom as hammer and sickle: that's a very succinct way of linking the social and the fiscal issues.  Sexual anomie is akin to Statist political economy, and the Obama Administration is the living, fire-breathing, menacing proof.

Many people disagree with the Church on sexual matters.  The shocking aspect of people's disagreement is that in a country whose first amendment protects religious liberty, free speech, the right to assemble and the like, they would use government to harass and cripple, if possible, an institution merely for upholding traditions that antedate the chemical formulation of the pill.

That this is done in the name of others' liberty only makes citizens cynical, and breeds a disrespect for words.
James Madison, the primary author of the Constitution, said, “Conscience is the most sacred of all property.” The Obama administration is telling Catholics that their conscience rights can be trampled with impunity. The state has the power to coerce people to support and pay for practices they find morally repugnant and contravene their fundamental religious beliefs. This is tyranny.
Leftists are quite explicit in their tyrannical intentions.  Either the Church will acquiesce and conform--like Aldous Huxley's Arch-Songster of Canterbury--or the crucifixions will continue.

Meanwhile, the body of Christ stumbles through this vale of tears, suffering the taunts and lashes of those who recognize no truth but their own.  Hopefully, for the sake of true liberty, the Supreme Court will rebuff the President's HHS hubris.

Enough is enough!  Perhaps the people, Christians and non-Chrisitans alike, will get around to rebuffing the President and his infernal Party altogether in November for reasons including that they are sick and tired of seeing Christ crucified.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Words of Doom

Noman watched the State of the Union address last night expecting to be infuriated at the President's cocksure impudence. Thankfully, President Obama left his bellicosity on the cutting room floor and adopted a high and lofty, aspirational tone instead.

He would have made a great black preacher had he decided to save souls rather than America.  Regardless, his charms and gifts were on full display along with his rhetorical flourishes worthy of a Jesse Jackson, or Jeremiah Wright.
No bailouts, no handouts and no copouts... [Put-out! Gimme some VAT.] 
What he said and didn't say last night, however, was not the issue.  By most accounts, at least those by people not carrying water for him, the speech was mendacious and vacuous on its merits.

For instance, the President failed to eliminate oil company subsidies when his party controlled both houses of Congress (rather aggressively).  Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid rebuffed him; why should he expect different treatment form John Boehner and the Republican controlled House?

He was on stage to look like a serious man with a serious plan, and to play "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy" that Americans so want to embrace in a post-racial political milieu.  His challenges were to convince the middle class that they can continue to like him though he holds them in contempt, and to trust him on the basis of pearly words artfully delivered.

He was advised going into the speech to play down his first-term deeds by the very thug he employed to muscle them through Congress.  Former Chief of Staff, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel suggested that the President look to the future:
"What you do with the first term is say, 'I inherited a mess, I did what I could to stabilize it, and here's what we're gonna do.' "
That's pretty much what the President has said all along, when he isn't claiming that the sun shines on America due to his brilliance.  The trust deficit between the President and the American people stems, however, precisely from his first term, especially its first two years.  

While Americans were still bleeding from the financial meltdown, the President viewed his inheritance as an opportunity to be exploited rather than a crisis to be stabilized.  And exploit it (and us) he did, as attested to by the expansion of the federal government, a run up in the nation's debt by half during his first three years alone, and an economy frozen in apprehension at what's likely to come, e.g., the kick-in of ObamaCare, higher interest rates and stagflation.

The President and Chief of Staff Emanuel were opportunistic when the nation could least afford to be governed by opportunists, and when it most needed a practical Administration.  The escalating debt now stands at an unsustainable $16 trillion dollars--more than 100% of GDP--which affirms what he denied: that this really is about big government v. small government. 

More precisely, it's about civil society and personal initiative, which diminish as government expands to assume their province and responsibilities.  Government must recede in order to allow citizens and private institutions to assume protagonism for their own lives as befits a free people.

Of course our leaders can always sound appealing by promising more and more goodies, as the President did last night.  But, the costs are not so attractive, least of all those associated with habits of dependency.

Aside from the size and scope of government, the issue with President Obama is about not being able to trust a man for whom words detached from reality come so effortlessly.  Hearing him implore unity and fairness, one would never guess that just the prior week he violated consciences by forcing religious institutions' health plans to cover treatment that they find morally objectionable, and killed a no-brainer pipeline project that was crucial to the economic well-being of the nation and of blue collar workers throughout the midwest.

Unity, fairness?  Noman doesn't trust the President to determine their meaning and set their terms.

Unfortunately for America and the world that depends on its financial strength, the opportunity that the President pursued with maniacal fervor was one to recreate a European social welfare state in the USA.  For historical reasons, America is infertile ground for that degenerative species of political economy

The President's vision was quasi-socialized medicine, captive industries, a dependent populace and a larger share of wealth and power in government hands.  Even more unfortunate is that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid wielded unstoppable and unprincipled majorities in both chambers of Congress, which enabled him to achieve all of the above.

Words matter.  And, as the President understands only too well, so does delivery.

Contrary to what the President thinks, however, neither matter in lieu of deeds.  Thus far, his actions have Americans contemplating one credit downgrade already, the possible loss of the dollar's reserve currency status--after all, we only won that distinction by virtue of being unlike all the world's big-government states--seething unrest throughout a moslem world coming under the sway of hegemonic fanatics, and a dispirited and divided people at home.

Noman doesn't know if the President's stage performance cast the spell on the electorate that his Party hoped for.  He does know, however, that whenever the President displays his silver-tongued, voice-modulating, head-swiveling Thespianism, it reminds him ever the more of Conan the Barbarian's nemesis, Thulsa Doom. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Roe v. Wade

Today marks the 39th anniversary of the US Supreme Court's decision to constitutionalize abortion over the opposition of all but three state legislatures, which had criminalized it.  The author of that bloody decision--nearly 60 million US babies sacrificed on the altar of their mothers' convenience--was Justice Harry Blackmun, a Nixon appointee to the Court.

How might have the course of history been changed had the Court rebuffed the secular Left's stratagem to establish its contempt for classical metaphysics in the nation's laws?  Besides less strife, social decay and personal bitterness occasioned by the choice of death for one's baby, there would be 60 million more consumers, taxpayers and family members to enrich society.

Justice Blackmun and the majority reasoned that the US Constitution didn't protect the life of a pre-born infant, which wasn't a person entitled to constitutional protection.  Moreover, the Court's inability to authoritatively speculate as to when human life begins absolved it of a responsibility to protect the pre-born entity that it couldn't identify.

This exercise in legal sophistry has bent the mind and stained the soul of the nation since 1973.  The result has been a bitter culture war, the retreat of religious liberty and advance of sexual liberty, and the march of federal Statism behind cover of an individual right.

Parts of Justice Blackmun's opinion are appended for the reader to evaluate.
We forthwith acknowledge our awareness of the sensitive and emotional nature of the abortion controversy, of the vigorous opposing views, even among physicians, and of the deep and seemingly absolute convictions that the subject inspires. One's philosophy, one's experiences, one's exposure to the raw edges of human existence, one's religious training, one's attitudes toward life and family and their values, and the moral standards one establishes and seeks to observe, are all likely to influence and to color one's thinking and conclusions about abortion. 
In addition, population growth, pollution, poverty, and racial overtones tend to complicate and not to simplify the problem.

Our task, of course, is to resolve the issue by constitutional measurement, free of emotion and of predilection. We seek earnestly to do this, and, because we do, we [p117] have inquired into, and in this opinion place some emphasis upon, medical and medical-legal history and what that history reveals about man's attitudes toward the abortion procedure over the centuries. We bear in mind, too, Mr. Justice Holmes' admonition in his now-vindicated dissent in Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45, 76 (1905):

[The Constitution] is made for people of fundamentally differing views, and the accident of our finding certain opinions natural and familiar or novel and even shocking ought not to conclude our judgment upon the question whether statutes embodying them conflict with the Constitution of the United States. 
The principal thrust of appellant's attack on the Texas statutes is that they improperly invade a right, said to be possessed by the pregnant woman, to choose to terminate her pregnancy. Appellant would discover this right in the concept of personal "liberty" embodied in the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause; or in personal, marital, familial, and sexual privacy said to be protected by the Bill of Rights or its penumbras, see Griswold v. Connecticut,381 U.S. 479 (1965); Eisenstadt v. Baird, 405 U.S. 438 (1972); id. at 460 (WHITE, J., concurring in result); or among those rights reserved to the people by theNinth Amendment, Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. at 486 (Goldberg, J., concurring). 
Three reasons have been advanced to explain historically the enactment of criminal abortion laws in the 19th century and to justify their continued existence. [p148] 
The third reason is the State's interest -- some phrase it in terms of duty -- in protecting prenatal life. Some of the argument for this justification rests on the theory that a new human life is present from the moment of conception.[n45] The State's interest and general obligation to protect life then extends, it is argued, to prenatal life. Only when the life of the pregnant mother herself is at stake, balanced against the life she carries within her, should the interest of the embryo or fetus not prevail. Logically, of course, a legitimate state interest in this area need not stand or fall on acceptance of the belief that life begins at conception or at some other point prior to live birth. In assessing the State's interest, recognition may be given to the less rigid claim that as long as at least potential life is involved, the State may assert interests beyond the protection of the pregnant woman alone. [p151] 
The Constitution does not define "person" in so many words. Section 1 of theFourteenth Amendment contains three references to "person." The first, in defining "citizens," speaks of "persons born or naturalized in the United States." The word also appears both in the Due Process Clause and in the Equal Protection Clause. "Person" is used in other places in the Constitution: in the listing of qualifications for Representatives and Senators, Art. I, § 2, cl. 2, and § 3, cl. 3; in the Apportionment Clause, Art. I, § 2, cl. 3; [n53] in the Migration and Importation provision, Art. I, § 9, cl. 1; in the Emolument Clause, Art. I, § 9, cl. 8; in the Electors provisions, Art. II, § 1, cl. 2, and the superseded cl. 3; in the provision outlining qualifications for the office of President, Art. II, § 1, cl. 5; in the Extradition provisions, Art. IV, § 2, cl. 2, and the superseded Fugitive Slave Clause 3; and in the Fifth, Twelfth, and Twenty-second Amendments, as well as in §§ 2 and 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment. But in nearly all these instances, the use of the word is such that it has application only post-natally. None indicates, with any assurance, that it has any possible pre-natal application. [n54] [p158] 
All this, together with our observation, supra, that, throughout the major portion of the 19th century, prevailing legal abortion practices were far freer than they are today, persuades us that the word "person," as used in theFourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn. [n55] 
Texas urges that, apart from the Fourteenth Amendment, life begins at conception and is present throughout pregnancy, and that, therefore, the State has a compelling interest in protecting that life from and after conception. We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man's knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer. [p160] 
In view of all this, we do not agree that, by adopting one theory of life, Texas may override the rights of the pregnant woman that are at stake. We repeat, however, that the State does have an important and legitimate interest in preserving and protecting the health of the pregnant woman, whether she be a resident of the State or a nonresident who seeks medical consultation and treatment there, and that it has still another important and legitimate interest in protecting the potentiality of human life. These interests are separate and distinct. Each grows in substantiality as the woman approaches [p163] term and, at a point during pregnancy, each becomes "compelling."

Roe's companion case, Doe v. Bolton, ruled that the health of the mother included psychological distress.  Henceforth, a bad hair day in the ninth month of pregnancy sufficed to kill one's baby in the womb, indeed, even when it was outside of the womb as in the case of partial birth abortion.

Despite the Court's fig-leaf rhetoric indicating the possibility of potentially compelling reasons as the pregnancy progressed for the protection of "potentially human life"--evidently the Court did make an identification--it struck down every attempt to regulate abortion until 1992.  It protected the practice of extracting the baby by the feet and crushing its cranium in the birthing canal until 2007.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans have assembled peacefully in the nation's Capitol to protest the decision, as they have on this day for 39 years in spite of bitter winter weather.  The fact that so few people know of this annual gathering's existence even though several millions of voters have rallied over the years tells the reader all he needs to know about media complicity in the abortion massacres.

Nature always presents a bill for cultural deviations from its norms, sooner or later.  Abortion is no exception to this rule, and neither is the United States, which compounds the evil by exporting it to the rest of the world under the guise of aid.

Noman's no-children know evil when they see it, though they cannot possibly comprehend the depth of it in this case as they haven't lived the history, and can't remember an America that would have blanched at one abortion, let alone 60 million of them.  Nevertheless, three no-children are in Washington DC to beg for God's forgiveness, mercy and strength to liberate America from the devil's clutches.

Noman is heavy-hearted at the memory occasioned by today's anniversary, but heartened to know that many of the voiceless protestors in the nation's Capitol are young, and that tens-of-millions of innocent victims are gathered spiritually with them in the communion of saints praying for their mothers, and our cause--all of their causes.  This must give those for whom abortion is an immanentist sacrament and the ultimate guarantor of the Statist program reason to be concerned.

South Carolina's Secession

In a break with the Republican establishment, South Carolina Republicans supported Newt Gingrich rather than Mitt Romney with their primary votes.  There is the scent of revaluation, if not revolution in the air.  

Gingrich regaled ebullient supporters with an articulation of the broad principles distinguishing the two Parties (i.e., the America of the founding fathers v. Saul Alinsky's America), and a sharp denunciation of the President's leadership including his recent decision to block the development of the Keystone pipeline (and blame it on Republicans), a Canadian-American project essential to the health of the US economy.

Newt commented upon the President's Keystone blunder in the days before the election.  His stress in those remarks was on the stupidity of President Obama's decision, whereas his victory speech underscored the danger that a President capable of such stupidity poses to the nation.

In other significant news, Occupy Wall Street graced Rick Santorum's election night gathering with its disruptions.  That a gaggle of compensated agitators would single out Santorum at that particular moment when he didn't even win speaks volumes about its phobias, and assessment of the primary season thus far.

First, it indicates where the Left's hatred is focused, and who it most wants to destroy.  Being a religious man, Santorum is likely to be honored by the abuse: "Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake."

Second, it underscores the connection between the big government Statism that OWS favors and the sexual deviancy at the heart of the Democratic Party.  Chants of "bigot" and screams about gays are the best way the Left can think of to discredit a campaign predicated on returning America to its traditional values, which include limited government, strong families, freedom, vibrant faith, the work ethic and an abiltiy to retain the fruits of one's labor rather than have them spread around DC.

Finally, Santorum has been locked in a struggle with Ron Paul for the ancillary attention of Republican voters.  OWS's attack on Santorum indicates that the Democratic party is rooting for Paul and his principled libertarianism, which is ironically more congenial to its Statist ambitions--via sexual degeneracy best exemplified by the mainstreaming of abortion and homosexuality.

The Republicans' VP choice will indicate which faction of the Party's soul prevails.  Santorum has positioned himself as a candidate who can deliver the fly-over States of blue collar persuasion, and would be a great asset on the ticket with a President Gingrich, or Romney.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

And Then There Where Four

The second South Carolina Republican presidential debate started off with a bang, or was it a thump?  Newt Gingrich demonstrated why he is dangerous enough to the media's agenda setters for ABC and the rest of the establishment to take out by flattening--and Noman means crepe thin--their mouthpiece, CNN moderator John King, over his opening question about Marianne Gingrich.

Both Gingrich and King handled it well--especially King, who had just had his posterior kicked up to his anterior--as did the other candidates, who were invited to opine.  They more-or-less rallied around Gingrich, and agreed to talk about issues that affect the country, and not just the candidates.

CNN after the debate featured the usual suspects, i.e., David Gergen, Donna Brazile, discussing the smack down.  Two points seem worth addressing.

The first is that the Marianne Gingrich story had gone viral, which supposedly justified, indeed obliged, King's opening question.  Everybody was talking about it, and wanted to know, so he needed to ask.

True as that might be, it had only gone viral due to the ministrations of the very media that then justified the questioning on the basis of its having gone viral.  Its own agency had created the necessity, not an external agency's as would be the case with an earthquake or a credit downgrade by S&P.

The story, and the question, are self serving.  They are the kinds of thing that media always does to Republicans--who they oppose--but never to Democrats--who they are.

The second was a point about Newt's woman problem: Gingrich has far higher support among men than he does among women.  Whether Marianne's story is true or not, women voters are likely to sympathize with the story of a rejected woman, and to reject the man that is alleged to have caused her pain.

Women's feeling are too predictably unpredictable, and far beyond Noman's competence to understand, for him to predict.  But, he recalls that President Clinton didn't have the type of woman problem alluded to, though he had that other, more predatory type in his soul.  

His de facto open marriage didn't seem to bother women, and still doesn't.  Perhaps Newt's alleged overtures towards such an arrangement with Marianne won't bother them either.

Moreover, women may be mollified by the knowledge that Marianne herself was the beneficiary of one of Newt's earlier rejections, that of his first wife Jackie who was suffering from cancer.  They might have read and taken to heart the biblical passage about reaping what one sows, or heard the saying that whatever goes around comes around.

That hardly exonerates Newt: pre-conversion, libidinous, queasy-about-illness, young and full of himself Newt.  It is to suggest that maybe women will forgive, without forgetting about, Newt's alleged transgressions and focus on themes that affect their own faithful husbands and dependent children who are suffocating in President Obama's spread-the-wealth, who-you-know economy.

Make no mistake about it, if the full reality is as Newt's vengeful ex-wife depicts, then he was a cad.  And, if he was, he still might be.

Were he to be elected President despite possessing an actually deficient moral character, the electorate can take solace in knowing that he is neither the first such person to occupy the Oval Office, nor likely to be the last, of either sex.  Democrats can take comfort in knowing that the standards of rectitude were debased at their behest, and in order to accommodate their candidates.

But, enough of this tawdry seriousness.  In the spirit of frivolous media coverage, can you identify these four remaining candidates?

Noman thought so.

Marianne Gingrich and Her Would-be-President Ex

No man is a hero to his valet--or ex-wife. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

These two aphorisms explain why Noman won't be watching the Newt Gingrich hit piece video that ABC has taped with Marianne Gingrich, his former wife of 18 years, in anticipation of the all-important South Carolina primary.

Since its inception in 1980, no Republican candidate has ever won the Party's presidential nomination without first winning the SC primary.  Newt is in the running, and closing fast on front-runner Mitt Romney.

Laughably, the headlines concern ABC's qualms about running the interview before the primary vote. Wasn't that the point?  If ABC had moral qualms about allowing itself to be used to exact vengeance on the eve of a make-or-break election, it wouldn't have taped the interview in the first place.

Newt is a Republican, and he'll be treated accordingly.  ABC will run the video before the vote, and at the moment calculated to inflict maximum damage on Gingrich and the Republican Party.  

Democrats get a different standard, which was applied to Bill Clinton during his impeachment trial.  NBC sat on an exclusive interview of Juanita Broaddrick, an ex-campaign worker who accused the President of raping her when he was the attorney general of Arkansas, until after the Senate had voted to acquit him.

Even if Marianne Gingrich could successfully run the media gauntlet that would form to protect any Democratic President or candidate--which she couldn't--can you imagine her getting through a President Clinton's, say, bimbo eruption unit?  Like Kathleen Willey, she would soon discover her cat missing, and be asked about it by an anonymous jogger who mentioned her children by name.

Were Marianne to offer dirt on a Democratic hopeful, she would be vilified like Linda Tripp, and hounded to get plastic surgery.  There is no stigma, however, attached to slinging mud on a Republican.

Quite the contrary, the emoluments are extraordinary.  Just ask Sharon Bialek.

Marianne Gingrich has aired her grievances before.  With Newt's ascent in the polls, she is back in the limelight.
"He believes that what he says in public and how he lives don't have to be connected," Marianne Gingrich, Newt's wife of 18 years, explained to ESQUIRE last year.

That doesn't sound good.  But, it does sound familiar.

Headline: "Newt is human."  Does that make it advisable to vote for someone else?

If this story is true, Newt has imbibed the Lefty zeitigeist.  Liberals' fiercely maintain that one might flagellate his goldfish in a leather teddy for kicks, but that it has absolutely nothing to do with the person he is once he steps outside of the naughty room.

Every Democrat stands for the platitude--practically, if not outspokenly--that what a man is bears no relation to what he does, let alone to the difference between that and what he says.  We are all bombarded by this siren's song, which is near and dear to the heart of President Obama, President Clinton, Secretary Clinton, et al. and their Party.

Granting the worst about Newt, ad arguendo, why then should it be the decisive factor in any race between him and any of them?  At least with President Gingrich, the nation wouldn't have to check every 60 seconds to see if a new czar had been appointed, a new law passed or regulation adopted to curtail American freedom.

Newt is not Noman's man; Rick Santorum is.  But, he deserves better than this shabby airing of his domestic disputes when he's trying to finish the serious political business he started in 1994.

Marianne's taking Newt out of the running--should the public be so manipulable as to let her--might be a blessing in disguise.  The disgust factor might drive people further away from the Democratic Party and its leering media.

On a different note, Jack Abramoff indicates a different reason in "Capitol Punishment" for why Newt might not be the most effective antidote to four years of Obama poisoning: he is a know-it-all.  Abramoff tells the story of his initial lobbying efforts on behalf of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

He was retained to prevent Congress from imposing a 30% tax on the Indians' gaming revenues, which would have cost the tribal government budgets tens-of-billiions of dollars over the ensuing decade.  Abramoff was able to cast their position as a tax issue and to win the support of Grover Norquist at Americans for Tax Reform, Majority Whip Tom Delay, and Majority Leader Dick Armey.

He describes Speaker Gingrich's reaction to his pitch:
"Yes, I know about the tax.  You know what" I was flying last week and sitting right there, in first class, was an Indian.  Where do you think they're getting that kind of money"  They need to be taxed like everyone else." 
I couldn't believe me ears.  "Newt, what? You're kidding, right?" 
He wasn't kidding.  He felt that the tribes had a sweetheart deal with their untaxed casinos.  It wasn't fair. 
I wanted to ask him whether he thought it was fair that the Indian nation made treaties with our country and had every one of them broken, often accompanied by mass slaughter of that tribe?  Was it fair that we made agreements with the Indian nations and later decided that the land we gave them was too valuable, so we moved them to swamps and bogs?  Was any of that fair?  But, I kept quiet. 
There's no sense arguing with Newt Gingrich.  He is always right (emphasis added).
We've already got a President like that.  And, unlike President Bush who preceded him, President Obama is never chided by the talking heads for not entertaining doubts about the course he is setting the nation on.

Noman's hope for a President Gingrich, should it come to pass, is that he would have the sense to surround himself with intelligent, passionate people who challenge his assumptions and conclusions.  Unlike the present occupant of the Oval Office, Newt doesn't need a phalanx of sycophants and adorers for validation.

He can repent of the sins visited upon his ex-wife before and after making a good confession to a priest, or in purgatory.  But, America is too far down the road of family destruction, sexual chaos and political defilement to deny anyone the nomination on the grounds that his ex-wife hates his guts.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Best and Worst of Newt

Newt Gingrich had a good night in Fox News's South Carolina debate.  All of the candidates besides Ron Paul did in Noman's estimation.  

Newt was especially strong when deflecting Juan Williams's race baiting (on Martin Luther King day), and generally by laying out intelligent ideas in compelling language.  His only faux pas was going after Mitt Romney's super-pac for running misleading ads, when his own has been less than circumspect.

It's hard not to like Newt when he's demonstrating how smart he is, and exposing how smart Lefty reporters aren't.  But, it's hard to like him when he gets strategic, political and worst of all, venal.

Newt's virtue is of the battle-tested, intellectual variety rather than moral.  Newt is reflective and wise from experience, not just intelligence.  

But, his Achilles heel--vain opportunism--periodically rears its ugly head to choke off his greatest virtue.  That makes him hard to trust.

This is not to say that Newt is a bad man.  But, it is to say that he wears his fallenness--a universal condition that he shares with humanity--rather heavily.

Neither should his untrustworthiness be likened to that of President Obama.  Newt merely gets lost in a miasma of ideas and incentives.

President Obama thinks he has to transform America for it to be good.  That takes vanity and opportunism to another level, that of Olympian deities.

Questions of stability notwithstanding, Newt had a good night.  Noman hopes that whatever the outcome of the nominating process, his formidable skills won't be lost to the country.  

The same goes for all of the other contestants that began this arduous process, even Sarah Palin who declined to engage in it.  If the debates have revealed anything, it is the breadth and depth of the Republican Party: in a word, diversity.

What the candidates share--their choice for life rather than its destruction; a sense of personal and governmental limits; respect for American traditions and history; a predilection for market solutions; a mistrust of concentrated power; a love of country and resentment towards its antagonists; a belief in what free people can achieve rather than an obsession with what they supposedly can't; a preference for opportunity rather than structured outcomes--leads Noman to believe that they can get along for the common good.  If only they can control their staffers.

Jack Abramoff shares a 1990's anecdote about Speaker Gingrich in his political confession "Capitol Punishment" that sheds light on why Newt can't mollify the disconcerted.

Abramoff had been retained by the Northern Marianas Commonwealth--a group of islands located in the North-western Pacific Ocean immediately to the east of the Philippine Sea. The largest island in the group is Saipan.

It wanted to preserve its dominion over applicable immigration and minimum wage laws for which it had negotiated when becoming a US territory.  Labor unions were on the attack through Congress, however, as goods from the Marianas bore the "Made in the USA" label even though it's workers were not paid mainland scale.  

Had the island price of labor been that high, goods from the Marianas would have lost their competitive advantage.  Consequently, the Marianas would have forfeited the benefit they had gained--favorable access to the US market--by ceding control of the islands.

Abramoff saw it as a free-market issue and began to sell it as such in Congress, which was receptive to such an appeal after the Republican Revolution of 1994.  He describes his meeting with Speaker Gingrich:
I had only a few minutes with Newt in the Speaker's office, but I figured that should suffice.  I was wrong.  His tendency to wander was a bit unnerving, as he never seemed to be able to sit still or focus for more than a few minutes.  Finally, when I told him about the Marianas, his response stunned me.  He suggested we make the Marianas and other American Pacific territories--Guam and American Samoa--part of Hawaii.  "That way," he said, "they can all have a congressman and be a real part of the United States."
Was he not listening at all, or did I somehow say something to lead him to such a conclusion? Later on, I'd come to realize this was classic Newt.  As soon as he heard an issue, he would quickly decide what to do--even without the benefit of all the information--and that was the end of the discussion.  I tried feebly to bring us back to the real issues at hand, but he was having none of it.
He continued, ignoring me, "Yes, part of Hawaii.  That would be great.  That would solve their problems.  Super... Jack, you take care."  The meeting was over. 
In the event the reader is interested, Abramoff was able to retain the Marianas' privileges, no thanks to the Speaker.

This vignette in the life of a public man about whom much has been recounted reveals something important.  Gingrich is a man who relies a touch too much on his own intellectual prowess.

Should Newt become President, he will need people around him that question his thinking and challenge him on it, rather than like-minded strategy wonks who merely seek to foist his legislative agenda onto the American public via Congress.  In other words, he'll need to run the White House in a completely different fashion than it's presently being run.

Unlike President Obama, Newt is a grown up.  Noman imagines that he will see the wisdom of surrounding himself with strong, experienced, and contrary minded people.

Pinnochio Discovers Natural Gas

President Obama has returned from yet another vacation determined to convince people that, despite all indications to the contrary, he really is pro-business, pro-middle class and pro-jobs.

You'll recall that last January brought us a missive from his desk vowing to slash unnecessary regulations.  He also hired a new, business friendly chief of staff to replace political animal Rahm Emmanuel who moved on to rule Chicago rather than Congress.

Daly resigned abruptly this month, ostensibly to spend more time with his family.  Uh-huh.

Now, in an election year conversion typical of his Party,  the President appears to have turned 180 degrees in order to embrace the natural gas industry, which his Administration had spurned in favor of renewable energy boondoggles.
A re-election campaign is a terrible thing to waste, and this year's race is already producing miraculous changes at the Obama White House: The latest example of a bear walking on its hind legs is the President's new embrace of . . . natural gas from shale. 
Last week the White House issued its latest report on jobs and it includes a section on "America's Natural Resource Boom." The report avers that a few years ago there were widespread "fears of a looming natural gas shortage," but that "the discovery of new natural gas reserves, such as the Marcellus Shale, and the development of hydraulic fracturing techniques to extract natural gas from these reserves has led to rapidly growing domestic production and relatively low domestic prices for households and downstream industrial users." 
Please pass the smelling salts to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Lisa Jackson at the Environmental Protection Agency. 
Ms. Jackson was in the news last November for revealing the Obama Administration's actual regulatory approach to energy, in that case, coal.

Psychoanalysis is usually the wrong way to understand politics, but the Obama Administration may be reviving the field with its Freudian slips. The latest to land on the couch is Environmental Protection Agency chief Lisa Jackson, who gave an unintentionally candid interview this weekend with Thalia Assuras of Energy Now News.
Ms. Jackson was asked about the EPA's regulatory boom and the resulting mass retirements of coal-fired power plants.
When pressed, Ms. Jackson went on to say that "What EPA's role is to do is to level the playing field so that pollution costs are not exported to the population but rather companies have to look at the pollution potential of any fuel or any process or any plant or any utility when they're making their investment decisions."
In fact, when Congress passed the Clean Air Act in 1970, its goal was clean air, not the industrial planning that Ms. Jackson's comments about "levelling the playing field" reveal... It certainly doesn't contain a roving mandate for Ms. Jackson to guide investment decisions (emphasis added). 
What Ms. Jackson really means is that she is trying to make coal—the workhorse of U.S. electric power—artificially more expensive. This is to serve her anticarbon goals, if not the consumers who will bear the costs and may suffer if the U.S. electric grid is compromised.

Back to natural gas, we can apparently ignore all the fang and claw that the Administration has flashed to gore industry with generally, and the traditional energy industry with specifically.  At least through the election, environmentalist ideology will have to yield to the nation's well being.

Maybe Democracy isn't such a bad system after all.

With respect to natural gas:
To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time the White House has favorably mentioned the Marcellus Shale, the natural gas reservoir below Pennsylvania, West Virginia and other Northeastern states. And now he's taking credit for this soaring production. 
We checked to see if someone slipped a press release from the Natural Gas Council into the White House report by mistake, but apparently not. 
The catch is that this endorsement runs against every energy policy pursued by the Obama Administration for three years. The Institute for Energy Research reports that royalties from oil and gas drilling have fallen more than 90% since 2008 because of Interior Department permitting delays and rejections.

The EPA recently issued a flawed report on groundwater contamination that could shut down the fracking process the President is now touting as a jobs producer. EPA's political goal is to grab power to supercede state drilling regulation. The industry regards new EPA authority as a real threat to its future.
 Naturally, the reader is free to trust the President's sincerity if  he wishes to.  If you do, Noman is selling a bridge that he'd like to discuss with you.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Stupidity of Broke

Mark Steyn has written an apocalyptic best-seller that every Conservative wishes didn't need to be written.  

Because scales covered the eyes of the American electorate in 2006 and 2008, it chose a government on the basis of hope and hot air rather than reality and reason.  Consequently, America is racing full throttle over the edge of a cliff.

Steyn makes a number of observations in the prologue that are worth sharing.  The first is about America's moral crisis, and its connection to the Armageddon awaiting us.
When government spends on the scale Washington's got used to, that's not a spending crisis, it's a moral one. The Irish have a useful word for the times--flaithitulacht--which translates to ruinous generosity, invariably with someone else's money. There's nothing virtuous about 'caring' 'compassionate' 'progressives' demonstrating how caring and compassionate and progressive they are by spending money yet to be earned by generations yet to be born. That's what 'fiscal conservatives' often miss: this isn't a green-eye-shade issue. Increasing dependency , disincentivizing self-reliance, absolving the citizenry from responsibility for their actions; the mutlitrillion-dollar debt catastrophe is not the problem but merely the symptom. It's not just about balancing the books, but about balancing the most basic impulses of society. These are structural and, ultimately, moral questions. Credit depends on trust, and trust pre-supposes responsibility. So, if you have a credit boom in an age that has all but abolished personal responsibility, it's not hard to figure how it's going to end (emphases added).
Noman says, amen.  As a nation, we have run up a debt relative to GNP not seen since WW II. As a culture, we have adopted a welfare mentality and embraced libertine impulses.  All of this will be at our progeny's expense.

America has slidden from a ruinous financial crisis caused by too much debt, to an apocalyptic debt burden fueled by too much government borrowing.

President Obama tried to spend America out of its debt crisis by borrowing trillions of dollars more.  That's stupid on its face.  It only adds insult to injury that he spent it on government, politically correct causes and Democratic Party constituencies.  In short, he larded troughs when his role was to unclog machinery.

Having allowed Liberals to live out their fantasies with the public purse, America will be in dire straights when bond market creditors come calling.  And, that won't change by assuming perpetually low interest rates.

The Left's paradigm changed from tax-and-spend to spend-borrow-and-then-tax, which enabled it to splurge while simultaneously provoking the crisis necessary to impose a VAT, and worse. Crippling taxes will come with austerity when America is on its knees again.

It isn't in the President's DNA, or any Liberal's, to spend less.  Imminent Armageddon is the consequence.

Later in the prologue Steyn observes about America's largest creditor:
China is dangerous not (as many argue) because of its strength but because of its weakness.  As I wrote in America Alone, the People's Republic has a crude structural flaw: thanks to its disastrous one-child policy, it will get old before it gets rich, and, unless it's planning on becoming the first gay superpower since Sparta, the millions of surplus young men whom the government's One-Child Policy has deprived of female companionship is a recipe either for wrenching social convulsions at home--or for war abroad, the traditional surplus inventory-clearance method of great powers.  That's actual worse news than if China was cruising to uncontested global hegemony--because it means that Beijing's calculations on how the Sino-American relationship evolves are even less likely to align with ours.  China has to maximize its power before demographic decay sets in.  In other words, it has strong incentives to be bold and to push, hard and fast.  And, when it happens, Washington will be taken by surprise by something that was entirely inevitable (emphases added).
Note the connection between the moral issues (in this case contraception and abortion), the fiscal issues (mutually beneficial creditor-debtor relations), and national defense (incentives to war).  Traditional morals, strong families, fiscal responsibility, limited government, and strong national defense all work together.

On the sunny side, Steyn believes that America is exceptional despite President Obama and his Party's insistence to the contrary.
The United States is still different.  In the wake of economic meltdown, the decadent youth of France rioted over the most modest of proposals to increase the retirement age.  Elderly 'students' in Britain attacked the heir to the throne's car over footling attempts to constrain bloated, wasteful, and pointless 'university' costs.  Everywhere from Iceland to Bulgaria angry mobs besieged their parliaments demanding the same thing: Why didn't you the government do more for me?  America was the only nation in the developed world where millions of people took to the streets to tell the state: I can do just fine if you control-freak statists would shove your non-stimulating stimulus, your jobless jobs bill, and your multitrillion-dollar porkathons, and just stay the hell out of my life and my pocket (emphasis added).
This last point is worth underscoring: Americans spontaneously took to the streets in unprecedented numbers to demand less government, not more.  The President had to subsidize union protestors and community organizers with borrowed billions in order to answer the tea parties by mimicking the petulant violent in Paris, London, Sophia and Athens.

In the long run, truth will win out.  Truth is a Person, Jesus Christ, and his victory is assured.

But, this is America, not heaven.  The title of Steyn's book, After America, indicates that at least one astute foreign observer doubts that Truth, reason or even sanity will be embraced in time.