Friday, January 30, 2009

Can We Hold Off on Building the Temple?

Don't they usually wait until a president has actually accomplished something before they start naming things after him?

There's a report out today that several schools and cities have already started this secular worship process.

Barack Obama took office barely 10 days ago, but already schools and streets are being renamed. In the Hempstead case they didn't even wait until Inauguration Day, re-christening the school back in November -- the first in the nation to do so.

For the students, it's music to their ears, gushed school principal Jean Bligen.


Experts say this baptizing phenomenon is unique to an incoming American leader riding a wave of optimism at the beginning of his presidency.

"This is highly unusual," said Robert Thompson, a Syracuse University professor of popular culture.

"Usually this thing doesn't take place until the president is out of office and often until the president has actually died."

But the "hope for some kind of utopia" during the Democratic Obama administration after eight years of Republican president George W. Bush has proven too powerful for some to wait, Thompson and others said.

Hope of freakin' utopia? You have to wonder how quickly the old names are going to return once the madness has subsided. No one could live up to this hype!

Speaking of which, Peggy Noonan offers similar cautions as she says the One has already reached saturation point with most Americans.

In the time since his inauguration, Mr. Obama has been on every screen in the country, TV and computer, every day. He is never not on the screen. I know what his people are thinking: Put his image on the age. Imprint the era with his face. But it's already reaching saturation point. When the office is omnipresent, it is demystified. Constant exposure deflates the presidency, subtly robbing it of power and making it more common. I keep the television on a lot, and somewhere in the 1990s I realized that Bill Clinton was never not in my living room. He was always strolling onto the stage, pointing at things, laughing, talking.

Good reminder.


Pro-Life, my aching HIND!

If it is not shocking enough that only SIX OUT OF 25 "CATHOLIC" SENATORS voted to stop the funding of abortions in other countries with American taxpayers dollars, one of these votes should shock us even more.

Remember when Bob Casey was elected to the Senate in '06, and he claimed he was "Pro-gun, Pro-life, Pro-Democrat?"

You had a chance to prove it, Casey. You cannot call yourself pro-life anymore. Your father would be upset.

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It Could Get Colder

Add a potential new threat to global temperatures: Residents of southern and central Alaska are preparing for the potential eruption of Mount Redoubt volcano. Located about 100 miles southwest of Anchorage, the state's largest city, it's last eruption cycle began in 1990 and lasted for a couple of years.

What also happens when a major volcano blows is that the ash, the abrasive particulate matter, gets shot into the various jet streams up to 40,000 feet up and dispersed.

If the sun is active, some of the cooling effect is offset. But right now the sun is very quiet and the combination of new ash and a quiet sun could push down temps dramatically. Doubtful, however, that you'll hear much about this from the MSM as they are busy pushing the radical "the earth is on fire" religion of Algore.


What Does Your State Say About God?

As written and established in 1907:

Invoking the guidance of Almighty God, in order to secure and perpetuate the blessings of liberty, establish this ...

These are the first words of the Preamble of the State of Oklahoma. Does your state enshrine our dependence on God and recognize that He is responsible for your "blessings of liberty," i.e., your rights?

Find out here.

But you'll find that, yes, indeed, each of the 50 states, in its preamble, gives tribute to the Almighty Creator.

"Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord." - Psalms 33:12


The Wayward Genius of Nancy Pelosi?

An excellent article at Catholic Exchange examines the Catholicity, or the lack of it, of the Speaker of the House and makes some great points. The emphasis, by the way, is on "wayward," not "genius."

Worth reading even if you're a pagan wood nymph worshipper.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bishop: U.S. Catholics 'Bailed on their Faith'

There must be something that inspires courage in the water cooler over at the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

Bishop Robert J. Hermann, the archdiocesan administrator, in one of the strongest pro-life articles I've ever seen, chastised the 50% of the Catholic faithful in the U.S. for "bailing out on their faith" and voting for Barack Obama as president. As reprinted by LifeSite News online:
In our Supreme Court and in our Congress, we have a plethora of so-called Catholics who are failing to live their Catholic identity. Over 50 percent of our electorate voted for a president who is one of the most pro-culture-of-death candidates from a major party to run for the highest office of the land.

Yes, we can thank one-half of our Catholics for bailing out on their faith!

After almost 50 years of having 50 percent of Catholics abandoning their Catholic identity, we cannot expect to turn this culture around by short-term political efforts.

In order to bring about a transformation from a culture of death to a culture of life, we have to restore our Catholic identity.

This means that all of us, as Catholics, have to undergo a profound transformation. It means that we have to take a good look at every facet of our Catholic life, including the serious study of life issues, the regular and devout use of our Sacramental system, especially the devout and weekly attendance at Mass, the regular reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the devout praying of the daily Rosary, and then the faithful, loving and firm witness to lax Catholics about our Catholic beliefs and practices.

We have to live our lives in such a way that we will be unafraid to witness to what we believe and live.

I may courageously say that I am willing to die to end abortion, but am I equally willing to say that I am ready to let my ego get ruffled daily for the same cause? Yet … that is where I need to arrive if I am to be a credible witness.

What a glorious opportunity we all have to make a difference in the pro-life cause. Until we are willing to be politically incorrect in order to be biblically correct, we will never convince anyone that our religion is worth living.

It does not take 100 percent of our Catholics to transform this country. If 75 percent of our Catholics were steeped in Catholic identity, the abortion issue would be over for our entire country.
All it takes is courage and the willingness to actually live what you believe.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Contraception as Stimulus? In What Parallel Dimension?

One of the many troubling aspects of the pending "stimulus" package being assembled in the House by Nancy Pelosi and her lieutenants was the inclusion of "hundreds of millions of dollars" for contraception. I have yet to see an exact number on how much money is involved, but sources on both sides are in agreement that it's a big number.

"Since when does contraception stimulate the economy?" asked Rep. John Boehner of Ohio. Similarly non-plussed was ABC's George Stephanopoulos, who asked Pelosi on Sunday's This Week program: "Hundreds of millions of dollars to expand family planning services. How is that stimulus?”

Pelosi answered, "“Well, the family planning services reduce cost. They reduce cost. The states are in terrible fiscal budget crises now and part of what we do for children’s health, education and some of those elements are to help the states meet their financial needs. One of those--one of the initiatives you mentioned, the contraception, will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government.”

“So no apologies for that?” Stephanopoulos asked.

“No apologies. No,” the speaker responded. “We have to deal with the consequences of the downturn in our economy."

Now there is word that President Obama is backing away from Pelosi on this one item, which would be a good thing if it happens.

I do not think that the advancement of abortion and contraception is a goal that showcases an enlightened, just society, and I question why taxpayer dollars should be spent on it. This is an argument, however, that we will hear more and more as the nation moves toward socialized health care.

But an even bigger question we should be asking is this: Why for so many "progressives" is the answer to any crisis the prevention and/or elimination of new human beings?

The answer may well suggest that there is an opposing spirit operating behind the scenes to help create and perpetuate the culture of death, one that sees human life as a rebuke to itself, as something to be stifled, perverted and crushed.


An Unsustainable Growth Curve

I've been meaning to post this image for several days now and keep forgetting to do so. It's a graph that shows the amount of United States money in circulation, the so-called monetary base.

The image comes from the website of the Saint Louis Federal Reserve Bank. It's not photo-shopped; it's the real McCoy.

Notice the timeline. It goes from 1910 (99 years ago) through today. Incidentally, the Federal Reserve came into being in 1913.

The gray areas of the graph represent recessions (or in at least one famous case, a depression).

The monetary base stays fairly flat until roughly the 1960s (the Vietnam War) when the curve begins to rise. It accelerates in each of the following decades in a more or less mathematical model. There's a little blip rise immediately before the Y2K event - there was some concern that a computer shutdown might restrict access to cash - and another blip right after 9/11.

But then we get to the shocker. What happens to the monetary base in the last few months, as represented by the gray portion that reflects the current recession? A near vertical rise. A moon shot.

Has any nation, modern or otherwise, ever done such a thing to itself and survived?

Better question: Will we?

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Monday, January 26, 2009

New Strategy: Let's Push for Global Warming

From the Drudge Report:
Al Gore is scheduled before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday morning to once again testify on the 'urgent need' to combat global warming.

But Mother Nature seems ready to freeze the proceedings.

A 'Winter Storm Watch' has been posted for the nation's capitol and there is a potential for significant snow... sleet... or ice accumulations. ...

Global warming advocates have suggested this year's wild winter spells are proof of climate change.
Yeah, and this global warming is about to get me down as a major winter storm pounds through the Sooner state. We survived nearly six days without electricity last winter, and I am not anxious to repeat the experience.

Forget the fact that temperatures since 1998 have cooled to such an extent that they have erased all the "warming" of the previous 90 years. Forget the exposes that have shown how certain "scientists" have manipulated weather data, even to the extent of relocating temperature gauges to "hotter" areas of some cities in order to "cook" the readings.

I suggest a new strategy: Let's all become cheerleaders for global warming. The Vikings once encountered grape production on Vinland (now a cold place called Greenland). Apparently it was hotter then than it is now, and it was a good thing. I say we push for a warmer climate and relocate where we must. It'll be a hell of a lot cheaper for society and my heating bill won't be so onerous in the winter.

It's a win-win for everyone except Algore.

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In Praise of Losing the Game...

I went to a small, private Catholic school until the seventh grade, though we were unaffiliated with the diocesan religious education office due to the fact that we were unaffiliated with any particular parish. The diocese I was living in at the time had a rule that Catholic schools had to have a chaplain of some sort, and the school, to be honest, could not really afford one. Students attending were in grades 1-12, and in its second year, the students had the opportunity to participate in sports in a parochial league of other non-Catholic Christian schools.

With only 100 students in the whole school and nearly everyone wanting to play sports, the varsity teams were made up of students as low as 4th grade (I was in the sixth). Needless to say, when the soccer team won our very first game 2-1 (the last game of the second season), we were ecstatic. We lost every other game. No loss was more memorable, though, than the game against Sunrise Christian Academy. 13-0. In a soccer game, that is quite the killing. Worse yet? It was the Jr. Varsity Team. We lost. Badly. And we lost to the better team. Some may have wondered why we even played them in the first place ... but that was really as far as the wonder took us. We never once thought they should have lightened up on us for the game (we had lost to a Jr. High School Team 7-2 the week before, and we didn't ask them to lighten up either). We were used to the humiliation; believe you me.

I am pretty shocked and appalled, then, that a small parochial league and one of the schools in said league has reacted pretty extremely to a 100-0 win. The coach said he was not sorry for the way his girls played. I don't think he should be sorry, yet that attitude got him FIRED. Fired?! What did they want him to do? "Girls, stop playing. In fact, walk off the court and let them try to catch up to us."

Of course he should not do that. That would
patronize and humiliate the losing team to an even greater degree. He would be a pretty bad coach if he told his girls to play one way with one team and a different way with another. Whatever happened to giving 100% all the time? It appears that both teams did so. There's no need for the school to be embarrassed or to call it un-Christ-like.

This is what has happened to the sports culture. We teach our kids that winning the game does not matter, and we hand out trophies to every player on the team, no matter whether or not they won or lost. Hard work? Dedication? A thing of the past. We just cannot accept that some teams are just MUCH, MUCH better than other teams. In the process, the children learn nothing about competition, and the real world lessons that sports are supposed to teach us are lost. No wonder we're called the lazy generation. Forget running so as to win; just run, and we'll make you feel as though you won, even though you're talent has been buried and yielded no fruit.

AN AMEN FROM DAVE -- It's not just sports culture. It's all culture. And it's difficult to believe that it's all just one big coincidence that winners are being punished for winning and losers are being "bailed out" or, er, rescued. We're teaching all of our children, of every age, that it's not okay to fail. Yet failure is one of the crucial learning moments in every worthwhile life.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Like Father, Like Son

There's nothing like an old mystery solved. For over a century historians have thought that a letter sent in 1835 threatening the life of President Andrew Jackson was either a joke or using someone else's name.

New research concludes that the author of the letter was indeed London-born Shakespearian actor Junius Brutus Booth

And Junius, at the time residing in a hotel in Philadelphia, was the father of another actor: John Wilkes Booth, who would carry out his threat to another president 30 years later.

London-born Junius Brutus Booth was a famous Shakespearean actor and a manic public figure. He had three sons in the theater, including John Wilkes Booth, who later would murder President Lincoln in April 1865 at Ford's Theatre in Washington.

"(Junius) Booth was well-known for acting up, acting out, as well as acting," Feller said.

Most historians believed that someone else wrote the letter and forged Booth's name. Jackson's own clerks filed the letter as "anonymous."

America's seventh president had become accustomed to threats, according to Robert V. Remini, author of the biography "Andrew Jackson" and history professor emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

"It wasn't a crime to threaten the life of the president back in Jackson's time," Remini said.

There's more to this and well worth reading.


The Real War & The Training for War

The battle against the evil bug continues, and having reluctantly deployed antibiotics against the enemy, I am hopeful that the end of this particular nasty war is in sight. Last night wasn't especially fun (again) as I spent the time from 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. playing solitaire on computer, clicking between coughing jags.

But today has been better. I led singing at Mass today without too many flubs and no coughing.

Just as I was typing this, our little piece of the universe was "strafed" by a couple of practicing A-10 "Warthogs", probably flying out of Fort Smith, Ark. I managed to get up in time to see them. In Tulsa County the training flights of National Guard jets were so common that we rarely bothered to look, and the typical airline jet noise was such a routine part of the background that it was merely a raising of the decibel levels.

How different it is here.

Jet noise. Just one of the things I don't miss about the big city.


What Bipartisan Spirit?

Drudge echoes the London Telegraph with the headline "Bipartisan Spirit Crumbles?" while the British newspaper reports on President Obama's choice to pick a battle with Rush Limbaugh.

More on that in a moment.

Who declared that there was a bipartisan spirit abroad in the land? That's the real question. The evidence is to the contrary - notwithstanding the white flag of legislative surrender from all the RINOs in Congress. That surrender came months ago during the collapse of any pretense of the Bush Administration to a conservative governance.

The political conflict in the United States is rooted in philosophical and moral differences that represent entirely different world views. It is an ongoing battle by two opposing factions to the hearts and minds of a larger, third group. One group cherishes the freedoms enshrined in the Constitution and recognizes them for the God-given rights and responsibilities that they are. They believe that freedom comes from God and cannot be abrogated by any government or group. The other group believes that rights are relative, that freedoms must change to fit the times, and that reliance on a supernatural power for guidance is clunky, inefficient and often at odds with humanity's vision of the future. The first group sees government as a necessary evil and potential threat; the second sees government as the main, vital instrument of all human progress.

The third group, a vast multitude of people who don't pay that much attention to politics because they are busy living their lives. Its members cannot be conveniently categorized as they range from people who would prefer near anarchy to others who long to be wrapped in the arms of the nanny state. Some will be religious but not political; others will be more political than religious. Most will share a general libertine view of cultural issues because they are steeped in the culture of today. It is in general a materialist, consumerist, hedonistic people who have good hearts, and when they look at themselves in the mirror, which they do a lot, they see individuals who care about others and the environment.

It's the thought, you see, that counts. In general many prefer that the government take care of the business of welfare, protecting Mother Earth, and keeping us safe from terrorists and toxic chemicals in our food supplies. They want it all. The problem is that a government big enough to give you everything and protect you from all harm is also big enough to take away your precious liberty. And given enough time, it will.

This third group is not easily convinced by the first group that they should inconvenience themselves with additional personal responsibility. Thus they become the big "moderate" swing vote that progressives can woo with feel-good promises. One of those promises is that the "people" deserve bipartisan consensus on the issues. It is an empty choice built on a false premise.

If bipartisan consensus means that the progressives always move their agenda forward, then that is a loss for conservatives trying to defend the erosion of personal freedom and responsibility. Thus a true conservative should never embrace bipartisan consensus for the sake of bipartisanship itself. The only bipartisan consensus acceptable is one in which liberty and personal responsibility is advanced in some way.

We have seen precious little of that in recent years. The 1990s welfare reform was probably the last real example, and ironically that was with a Democrat as president, so there you go!

The moral of this story: Beware calls for bipartisan consensus. It's the sound right now of progressives enlisting the help of the vast muddled middle to roll the conservatives.

Finally, rather than defend Rush Limbaugh from the president, it seems Rush can defend himself quite ably and did so in this post by National Review's Rich Lowry.
There are two things going on here. One prong of the Great Unifier's plan is to isolate elected Republicans from their voters and supporters by making the argument about me and not about his plan. He is hoping that these Republicans will also publicly denounce me and thus marginalize me. And who knows? Are ideological and philosophical ties enough to keep the GOP loyal to their voters?
Rush also makes this interesting observative:

One more thing, Byron. Your publication and website have documented Obama's ties to the teachings of Saul Alinksy while he was community organizing in Chicago. Here is Rule 13 of Alinksy's Rules for Radicals:

"Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it."

Read the whole thing.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Maverick McCain Reminds Us Why We Need New Political Labels

With the new Congress in session but a few days, Sen. John McCain is demonstrating why he lost the election and making some of us think that it's just as well. The "maverick" is running interference for his friends on the other side of the aisle and is creating problems for Republicans.

This week, McCain appeared to be loosening up. He was hailed as a hero by Obama at a bipartisan dinner on Monday night and had a prime seat at the post-inaugural congressional luncheon, wedged between White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Obama offered a warm greeting to McCain and his wife, Cindy, as he made his way to the dais. ...

The surest sign of McCain's return to his "maverick" ways came when he caught wind of an effort by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) to delay Clinton's confirmation vote by a day, pushing it from Tuesday to Wednesday because he was seeking greater disclosure about foreign donors to former president Bill Clinton's charitable foundation. McCain found the objection gratuitous -- despite policy disagreements with Clinton, he and most Republicans consider her well qualified -- and said so publicly.

"I think that's indicative of the role that John McCain is going to play," said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who hatched the push-back against Cornyn's gambit over dinner with McCain on Tuesday night, and who followed him to the floor to support Clinton's confirmation. "He's going to play a very active role. He's going to try to forge bipartisan coalitions. And he won't shy away from controversy."

Memo to Sens. Collins and McCain: With 58 solid Democratic votes, Olympia Snowe, and you two, no one needs any "bipartisan coalitions." You are pretty much on the same side.

Jim Geraghty at National Review's Campaign Spot, agrees:

John McCain has prompted me to say the unthinkable.

The right man won in 2008. ...

Mac is back—back to his moral preening about how bipartisan he is, back to his reflexive demonization of his own party, back to his refusal to recognize any legitimate concerns raised by those who disagree with him. If we're going to have Democratic agenda enacted, better it be by a Democrat than a Republican obsessed with avoiding the "partisan" label in the White House.

Geraghty explains why McCain should have joined in the extra questioning of Mrs. Clinton.

I say this because the circumstances of Hillary Clinton being Secretary of State, while foreign governments have donated $41 million to her husband's foundation, and may continue to donate additional funds, is problematic. She may be the best possible Secretary of State in the eyes of some on the right, but that doesn't change the fact that the agreement between her husband's foundation and the Obama administration—in which donations will be disclosed once a year, and with no specification as to the format of the disclosure—is insufficient. (They're still not disclosing some donors.) ...

This isn't a partisan issue; Americans of all political stripes ought to be a little uncomfortable with foreign governments being able to donate millions to the household of the person who is in charge of negotiating with them.

Absolutely correct. Not that anyone seems to care.

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Goodbye, Mexico City

And on the fourth day, the One reverted to form.

President Obama has rescinded the "Mexico City policy" which bans the spending of your tax dollars to fund or promote abortions and contraceptive counseling in the rest of the world. Of course, he's not the first president to do this. Bill Clinton rescinded the same policy - which began with the pro-life Ronald Reagan - from 1993 to 2001, when George W. Bush put it back into place.

What a statement this makes about America: We want you to have fewer children and we're willing to pay for that to happen.

Most political observers believe this will be the most pro-abortion presidency yet, as Obama's political record is one of near total agreement with the abortion lobby. So today's action should come as no surprise.

There's another report that back in November, on election night, after the outcome was clear, Obama received a phone call from Pope Benedict XVI, who offered his congratulations and then discussed a few policy items.

When the Pope brought up the subject of abortion, Obama said simply: “We agree to disagree.”
If this is correct, there is an air of presumption to his reply that doesn't sit well to my ears. A coldness. I fear it may be a harbinger of things to come.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Feeling A Smidgin Better

Liberal use of a heating pad, strong over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, and prayer have restored a measure of my usual good nature today. (Yes, I know that it is shocking that the heating pad was used in a liberal, not conservative, fashion, but these are extreme times that call for extreme and pragmatic measures. I plan to apply for "rescue" funds soon to cover the associated unanticipated expenses.) The forecast is for 70 degrees outside today, and I plan on taking advantage of it as there are a few chores undone.


Abortion: Un-American, Un-Godly & the Undoing of Our Future

On this 36th anniversary of U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision in which abortion was legalized:

The Oklapologist is in Dee Cee with the annual March for Life Day contingent, hoping to impress the new administration that there are still a goodly number of people who believe that the right to life, to liberty and to the pursuit of happiness are still self-evident and still granted to us by our Creator. Without the right to life, the rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness don't amount to much. Abortion deprives the most vulnerable among us -- future citizens who have yet to acquire their voice -- of that most precious of all rights.

To deprive a people of their right to life, and I think it is safe to say that 50 million or so abortions constitutes a considerable "people", is the most un-American of any action the citizens of this land could undertake. It would shock and shame our Founding Fathers and the American people of their time.

Abortion is un-Godly, in that the Creator would not approve of the wanton destruction of His creation, this genocide hidden behind the facade of science and medicine. Whether it is the G-d of the Jews; the God of the followers of Jesus (Christians); or Allah of Muslims (radical or otherwise), the Creator would not approve.

It is a crime against humanity made especially heinous in that there are no lofty ideals at stake here. Those who believe in and practice abortion do so because of their own convenience or because there is tremendous money to be made, especially if you can convince regular people that there is nothing evil about it. To end life for the sake of monetary gain is the worst sort of evil.

The Prophet Isaiah declared, "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, who change darkness into light, and light into darkness, who change bitter into sweet, and sweet into bitter!" (Is. 5:20)

Woe? What woe? If you read on a bit farther, he said this:
"Therefore, as the tongue of fire licks up stubble, as dry grass shrivels in the flame, Even so their root shall become rotten and their blossom scatter like dust; For they have spurned the law of the LORD of hosts, and scorned the word of the Holy One of Israel.

"Therefore the wrath of the LORD blazes against his people, he raises his hand to strike them; When the mountains quake, their corpses shall be like refuse in the streets. For all this, his wrath is not turned back, and his hand is still outstretched.
"He will give a signal to a far-off nation, and whistle to them from the ends of the earth; speedily and promptly will they come. None of them will stumble with weariness, none will slumber and none will sleep. None will have his waist belt loose, nor the thong of his sandal broken. Their arrows are sharp, and all their bows are bent. The hoofs of their horses seem like flint, and their chariot wheels like the hurricane."
"Their roar is that of the lion, like the lion's whelps they roar; They growl and seize the prey, they carry it off and none will rescue it."
-- Isaiah 5: 24-30 (North American Bible)

In Biblical terms, 40 years was considered a "generation." The Israelites were not permitted to leave the wilderness for the Promised Land until the generation that had wickedly abandoned God had been suitably punished through death and aging, so that a new generation would inherit the blessing.

Do the math: 36 years is very nearly 40. How long will this "generation" of Americans be allowed to thumb its collective noses, whether through avarice or apathy, at the Almighty.

Dear friends, the time is short. God is patient, and merciful, slow to anger and quick to forgive the truly repentant. But He does keep His promises, and Isaiah lays them out for us to ponder.

Pray for an end to abortion.


There's Got to be More to This Story

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) - A Providence man is in trouble after he abandoned nearly 300 rats on the side of the road.

The man, Toby Duffany, pleaded no contest to animal abandonment and was ordered to pay $1,000 restitution and perform 50 hours of community service.

Police say Duffany crammed 280 rats into aquariums and cages, and left them on the side of the road in Foster last month. The rats were discovered several days after they were abandoned. 72 rats had died and the rest had resorted to cannibalism.

What I want to know is were these rats pets, or were they merely fellow residents of his apartment dwelling? The story does not say.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals euthanized the living rats.

In court, Duffany said he got rid of the rats because they could not live in his apartment with his new baby.
The Rhode Island SPCA was disappointed with the punishment.
No doubt the SPCA was disappointed. I suppose the only humanitarian thing the man could have done was to try to co-exist in peace with his fellow mammals, never mind the baby. Can't we all just get along?

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Barely Managing to Reach the Keyboard ...

Feeling worse. Not sure it's the flu.

Watched President Obama issue a couple of executive orders that weren't at all horrible. I know that the Law of Unintended Consequences will probably bite him somewhere down the road but capping pay raises for staff is a good show in tough times, and reining in lobbyists is long overdue. I only hope that the regs on lobbyists are enforced equally.

Then again, maybe I didn't hear any of this right (I am under the weather, after all).

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Chilly Swearing In

My contribution today is meager, partly because I find myself of two minds over today's inaugural events, and partly because the flu, which I suspect has been stalking me for a few days, has come out into the open. I slept in 30- and 45-minute increments last night, getting up in between to drink water, trash Puffs, and watch a bit of TV in the wee hours (updating my knowledge of the mighty American tornado in the process).

The thermostat says it's 67 degrees in here, but I feel like all those folks who were on the Mall and along the parade route. Thoroughly chilled. So I'm granting the new administration at least a one day honeymoon. I'm glad that there have been no major hiccups in the quadrennial extravaganza that is our presidential swearing in.

Pray for our new president.

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Two Presidents, Two Protests, Two Days after Inauguration.

The Inauguration is upon us, and the annual peaceful protest of legalized abortion in Washington D.C. is fast approaching - January 20th and 22nd, respectfully. This brings to my mind a plethora of mixed feelings.
I was at a Catholic conference not long ago, and one of the keynotes at the conference was lauding the efforts of the March for Life. He praised the fact that 100,000 folks converge on the U.S. Capitol to walk in peaceful protest for the unborn. He thought how great it would be if we could get double that number January 22, 2009. What a great message it would send (In an aside, he was incorrect on his numbers ... 225,000 showed up at last year's March for Life ... I would love it if 450,000 showed up this year)!


He told us not to forget about the march that will be happening two days before the election, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream is finally recognized (his niece would disagree), at the inauguration of the nation's first black president.

Wow. The mention of those two things in the same minute blew my mind. Our nation (and incidentally, 52% of Catholics) voted for a man who said that the first thing he would do as president is sign the abortion-on-demand Freedom of Choice Act; vowed immediately after the election to rescind the Mexico City policy; called the identification of a baby's human rights above his pay grade, said he doesn't want his daughters punished with a baby; lied to the nation about voting against protecting infants that were born alive; voted to cease funding for non-controversial amniotic and adult stem cell research (which has contributed to date to over 70 cures) in favor of a blank check for the rather controversial embryonic stem cell research (which has contributed to date to zero cures ... and which kills a human being); and countless other things that should have given a great many of us Catholics, including this keynote speaker, a little bit of pause before voting for him. And now, he praises the election along with the efforts of the March for Life?

The last time I went to Washington D.C. for the March for Life was January 22, 2001. We had just inaugurated Bush two days beforehand. Those at the March had higher hopes for the Pro-Life cause with Bush than with Clinton, but there was still uncertainty as to what that would mean on paper and in practice from the White House. It was announced that the newly inaugurated President was invited to take part in the March, but doubtful that he would show up. The speeches came and went, from Robert Dornan to Rabbi Leven to Sam Brownback to Randall Terry to Fr. Frank Pavone ... the whole Pro-Life movement was there. Suddenly, in the middle of one of the speakers’ talks, Sam Brownback literally interrupted and said, “We’ve just received good news from the White House.” Over 200,000 people were on pins and needles to hear the good news. Then, Senator Brownback announced that President George W. Bush’s first executive order in office was to re-instate the Mexico City policy … a policy that, in a nutshell, ends the funding of abortions as “aide” in other countries with America’s taxpayer dollars. The entire crowd started cheering for the newly elected president, chanting "Bush! Bush! Bush!"

I never voted for George W. Bush, in either election. I think the man has made some serious mistakes in his presidency. It cannot be denied, though, that he has done MORE for the cause to end abortion in this country than any President since Roe v. Wade.

Fast forward to today. Today, we inaugurate a man who has promised to expand Roe more than any President. Folks have said we can thank Bush for Obama’s election. Maybe. The supposedly Pro-Life Catholics who voted for him, though, need to pay close attention these next couple of days.

In two days, I will once again be practically on the White House lawn for the 36th annual March for Life, my first time since 2001. How interesting will it be, if Obama’s first executive order would be to rescind the Mexico City policy, with 300,000 (projected) pro-lifers at his doorstep? Will that speaker from the Catholic conference be disappointed (He did say he would be attending both "marches"), or has he, like many others in the country, already canonized the man?

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Obama Avoiding Catholic Prayer at Inauguration?

Apparently I was misled when I earlier reported that the Archbishop of Washington, D.C., would be giving an invocation at some point in Tuesday's activities. According to the National Catholic Register, there are no scheduled prayers from Catholics, just as there were none at Obama's convention in Denver.

Some believe it is only an oversight. The Register quotes Steven Waldman of as saying that it is the result of Obama's organization trying hard to balance so many competing interests (gays, environmentalists, etc.) that they forget about balancing Christian factions. The Register believes it is more sinister than this:

We suspect Obama’s omission of a Catholic participant was a whole lot more intentional than that. This year’s Democratic National Convention in Denver also notably excluded an invitation to Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, unlike invitations extended at previous conventions to bishops such as Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles at the DNC in 2000 held in that city.

Why the contemporary reluctance among Democrats to grant Catholic bishops a voice at functions they have organized? Perhaps it’s because they fear that virtually any Catholic bishop they invite will call the nation’s attention to the Democratic Party’s failure to respect the sanctity of life of the unborn, because of the party’s formal commitment to the promotion of abortion rights....

... it’s only reasonable to speculate that Barack Obama — who by general consensus is the most extreme pro-abortion candidate ever elected to the White House — is not eager to afford one of the Church’s American shepherds another high-profile opportunity to remind him that this obligation to respect the sanctity of the lives of unborn Americans applies very specifically to all of Obama’s actions during his upcoming presidency.

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Ramos & Compean Sentences Commuted by Bush

It's about damn time.
WASHINGTON (AP) - In his final acts of clemency, President George W. Bush on Monday commuted the prison sentences of two former U.S. Border Patrol agents whose convictions for shooting a Mexican drug dealer ignited fierce debate about illegal immigration.

Bush's decision to commute the sentences of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, who tried to cover up the shooting, was welcomed by both Republican and Democratic members of Congress. They had long argued that the agents were merely doing their jobs, defending the American border against criminals. They also maintained that the more than 10-year prison sentences the pair was given were too harsh.

Rancor over their convictions, sentencing and firings has simmered ever since the shooting occurred in 2005. ...

Compean and Ramos, who have served about two years of their sentences, are expected to be released from prison within the next two months.

Why will it take two months?

Many of us will have a hard time forgetting that President Bush waited until nearly the last possible moment to do the right thing, or the least thing that would satisfy justice.

Sadly, the entire affair exemplified everything that was wrong about Dubya: his internationalism, especially with Mexico, and his blind loyalty to his friends, some of whom were self-aggrandizing zealots like Johnny Sutton, the prosecutor in the case.

I'm sure there will be other, better commentary to link to shortly. As usual, the full AP report is full of quasi-truths and misperceptions.
UPDATE -- The wives of Ramos and Compean were on Glenn Beck's new Fox News Channel show this afternoon. The amazing thing is how their gratitude to President Bush was conveyed despite the fact that he waited so long and apparently gave a little speech about how the former Border Patrol agents would have to live with the shame of their convictions. "I just want to thank him (Bush) for giving us a chance to be a family again," Mrs. Ramos said, a sentiment immediately echoed by Mrs. Compean. Theirs was a class act, a display of graciousness that I hope gets noticed.

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Global Warming Update: Debates Heats Up as Climate Cools

Some marvelous news items to ponder this week, starting with a funny piece from the Flint (MI) Journal where, baby, it's cold outside.
If you're wondering why North America is starting to resemble nuclear winter, then you missed the news.

At December's U.N. Global Warming conference in Poznan, Poland, 650 of the world's top climatologists stood up and said man-made global warming is a media generated myth without basis. Said climatologist Dr. David Gee, Chairman of the International Geological Congress, "For how many years must the planet cool before we begin to understand that the planet is not warming?"

I asked myself, why would such obviously smart guy say such a ridiculous thing? But it turns out he's right.

The earth's temperature peaked in 1998. It's been falling ever since; it dropped dramatically in 2007 and got worse in 2008, when temperatures touched 1980 levels.

Meanwhile, the University of Illinois' Arctic Climate Research Center released conclusive satellite photos showing that Arctic ice is back to 1979 levels. What's more, measurements of Antarctic ice now show that its accumulation is up 5 percent since 1980.

In other words, during what was supposed to be massive global warming, the biggest chunks of ice on earth grew larger. Just as an aside, do you remember when the hole in the ozone layer was going to melt Antarctica? But don't worry, we're safe now, that was the nineties.

Dr. Kunihiko, Chancellor of Japan's Institute of Science and Technology said this: "CO2 emissions make absolutely no difference one way or the other ... every scientist knows this, but it doesn't pay to say so." Now why would a learned man say such a crazy thing?

There's more, and he's got a great punch line.
But global warming (er, climate change) enthusiasts, never fear. Dr. Jim Hansen - not to be confused with the late, great Muppets guy, Jim Henson -- of NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies, self-proclaimed climate guru, is telling us that there is little time left.
President Obama Has Four Years to Save Earth!
That is the stark assessment of Nasa scientist and leading climate expert Jim Hansen who last week warned only urgent action by the new president could halt the devastating climate change that now threatens Earth. Crucially, that action will have to be taken within Obama's first administration, he added. Soaring carbon emissions are already causing ice-cap melting and threaten to trigger global flooding, widespread species loss and major disruptions of weather patterns in the near future. "We cannot afford to put off change any longer," said Hansen.
Hansen said feedbacks in the climate system are already accelerating ice melt and are threatening to lead to the collapse of ice sheets. Sea-level rises will therefore be far greater - a claim backed last week by a group of British, Danish and Finnish scientists who said studies of past variations in climate indicate that a far more likely figure for sea-level rise will be about 1.4 metres, enough to cause devastating flooding of many of the world's major cities and of low-lying areas of Holland, Bangladesh and other nations. As a result of his fears about sea-level rise, Hansen said he had pressed both Britain's Royal Society and the US National Academy of Sciences to carry out an urgent investigation of the state of the planet's ice-caps. However, nothing had come of his proposals.
The weird thing is that NASA itself, along with NOAA, is monitoring ice levels and is reporting the increased ice coverage. Apparently Hansen isn't in the loop. Or maybe he doesn't want to be.

Naturally, Hansen's solution is massive carbon taxation and a halt to any new development of coal-fired generating plants. My prognostication is that his solution will leave Americans impoverished and cold.
Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby has a few questions for President-elect Obama's pick for "Science Guy."
In nominating John Holdren to be director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy - the position known informally as White House science adviser - President-elect Barack Obama has enlisted an undisputed Big Name among academic environmentalists. Holdren is a physicist, a professor of environmental policy at Harvard, a former president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, director of the Woods Hole Research Center, and author or coauthor of many papers and books.

He is also a doom-and-gloomer with a trail of erroneous apocalyptic forecasts dating back nearly 40 years - and a decided lack of tolerance for environmental opinions that conflict with his.
Jacoby goes on to list eight questions - actually only seven, since No.3 seems to be missing - that dwell on Holdren's incorrect forecasts of the past, or his flip-flops on predictions. Question No.1 is amusing:
1. You were long associated with population alarmist Paul Ehrlich, and joined him in predicting disasters that never came to pass. For example, you and Ehrlich wrote in 1969: "If . . . population control measures are not initiated immediately and effectively, all the technology man can bring to bear will not fend off the misery to come." In 1971, the two of you were adamant that "some form of ecocatastrophe, if not thermonuclear war, seems almost certain to overtake us before the end of the century." In the 1980s, Ehrlich quoted your expectation that "carbon dioxide-induced famines could kill as many as a billion people before the year 2020." What have you learned from the failure of these prophecies to come true?
And there's No.5!
6. In 2006, according to the London Times, you suggested that global sea levels could rise 13 feet by the end of this century. But the latest assessment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is that sea levels are likely to have risen only 13 inches by 2100. Can you explain the discrepancy?
The others are as illuminating, especially as Holdren apparently has little regard for open debate on anything that he has pronounced as settled science.

You think maybe there's a chance that White House will be pushing for cap-and-trade or, worse, carbon taxes?

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Crash of Civilization in Calgary

Forget never again. How about "It can't happen here"?

When you think of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, you think of the annual rodeo, cowboys, beautiful scenery, winter sports, and rugged citizens who love their land. You do not think of Islamic extremists unfurling the flags of Hamas and Hezbollah on private property just a few blocks away from the city's Jewish Center. But it's happening, and no one is doing much about it, except wishing it would go away.

Political correctness and an insanely strange immigration code is quickly turning Canadian cities into copycats of France, according to blogger Ezra Levant.
... Calgary's new anti-Semites are much more clever.

They come with names like "Soharwardy" and "Hage", not Long. They speak with Arabic and Urdu accents, not American accents. They wear kaffiyeh scarves, not white Klan hoods. But they are the same damned thing: Jew haters who support violence.

Oh, this isn't a call for a Terry Long-style human rights commission inquiry, or even a criminal "hate speech" charge. They're useless in every way, except as job-creation for second-rate lawyers and bureaucrats, and the new breed of police officer: the multicultural "outreach officer" whose job is no longer to enforce Canadian norms, but to bend them to accommodate Gazan norms. No, any "hate speech" charges would surely fail, as Ahenakew's failed. And they miss the point.

These hate marches call for political and economic marginalization; for a reassertion of ordinary Canadians' civic responsibilities; for a restatement of Canadian values, like Jason Kenney did the other day; and, frankly, for a re-calibration of Canada's immigration policies: more law-abiding peaceful Canadians, less terrorist sympathizers. And I can't think of a value or interest that would be offended by the deportation of non-citizens who fly terrorist flags in Canada (other than the liberal value of civilizational suicide).

This is not a foreign policy issue. This isn't about our views on the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza. It's not about what we think, in the abstract, about the Middle East. It's a concrete question about the kind of cities we want and the kind of conduct we will tolerate right here in Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. It's not even about Jews. It's about whether our civic leaders can remain silent as our streets are filled with hate and thinly-veiled threats of violence and terrorism.
There's a bit more, including pictures of the event. If this keeps up we will need a northern border fence too.

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Weird Pre-Inaugural Jitters

Mixing his metaphors and obviously full of himself, Barack Obama's train ride to Washington included a chilling phrase uttered in Philadelphia, the cradle of American, according to the Associated Press and Fox News:
He promised to bring the country "a new Declaration of Independence" -- free from small thinking, prejudice and bigotry.
Which naturally evokes this question: What's wrong with the old Declaration of Independence? Was it an example of "small thinking, prejudice and bigotry"?

I know that I'm a hard sell. Obama's going to have to work hard to win me over. Statements like this one, whether he was sincere or not (and I think the jury's still out on that), do not help.

Nor does the efforts of some Democrats to repeal the two-term limits of presidents embedded in the U.S. Constitution:

The U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary is considering a bill that would repeal the Constitution's 22nd Amendment prohibiting a president from being elected to more than two terms in office.

Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., earlier this month introduced the bill, H. J. Res. 5, which, according to the bill's language, proposes "an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the twenty-second article of amendment, thereby removing the limitation on the number of terms an individual may serve as President."

Methinks we are climbing aboard the crazy train. Obama has yet to take the oath of office yet more and more people are extolling his accomplishments and prepping for an extended tour of duty for the 44th president. Is this not a bit premature - not to mention bizarre?

A cursory review of some of the Oklahoma blogs in the last couple of days indicates a degree of enthusiasm that goes well beyond mere politeness. The Sunday paper this morning was downright appalling in its syncophancy. The TV networks, including Fox News, are not preparing for an inauguration; it's a coronation!

It's weird. Like some old "Twilight Zone" episode where all the neighbors have changed personalities, and the sun is coming up in the west.

I mentioned the "new" Declaration of Independence quote to my wife this morning, and she paled. "That's scary," she said. (So I know that Obamania has not yet infected my household). But I'm telling you right now that people need to pinch themselves back to reality. I do hope Barack Obama has a successful presidential term and that things work out on all fronts. There is no way, however, that he can be all things to all people and accomplish all goals. It is not humanly possible, and he is human.

When things go wrong, and something always does, I don't particularly want to see the mood of the country go from euphoric to angry. You'll be doing Mr. Obama a favor by cutting him some slack right now, even if he himself isn't.

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Not so Splenda After All?

From the Oklahomily Dept. of Better Safe Than Sorry:

warning is out for those who ingest Splenda, the artificial sweetener.

I'm not a scientist, so I don't have a clue as to the seriousness of the Duke University study, but I am a thinker. And I'm thinking that, just to be on the safe side, I'll use a little real sugar and a lot more treadmill.


Can You Love God Yet Back Abortion?

Taking his cue from the gospel readings, Bishop Robert Vasa of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oregon, writing in The Catholic Sentinel:

Those who profess to love God, but back abortion, are liars
The Mass readings for the week between Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord are taken from the First Letter of St. John. These readings are not always used for it often happens, depending upon the day on which Christmas falls, that the season of ordinary time begins immediately after the celebration of Epiphany. This year, however, the occurrence of Christmas allowed for a full week between these two post-Christmas celebrations and thus the readings from St. John’s first letter. As often happens, the daily Mass readings are both appealing and challenging. The reading of Thursday from I John 4:19ff is particularly appropriate in this year when the life issues are very much on the minds of pro-life persons.
The bishop then discusses the misnamed Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) pending before Congress. It would eliminate choice by federalizing abortion law so that virtually unrestricted abortion would be the law of the land in all 50 states. It would force religious hospitals and medical professionals to choose between obedience to the new abortion regime or end their careers.
... as I understand it, [FOCA] preclude(s) state limitation or regulation of abortion. Further, since abortion would be a federally protected right, it is very possible that even Catholic health care institutions and Catholic Physicians would be mandated to provide this heinous service. Thus I strongly urge all who have a glimmer of concern for the lives of pre-born children to engage themselves in this postcard campaign. This is not an action which would limit or alter present permissive abortion laws, which some so-called Catholic pro-choice persons might object to, it would simply preclude a dramatic expansion of that permissiveness. Thus it would be very difficult for any Catholic, no matter how much in favor of abortion itself, to find a reason to refuse to participate in this campaign.

At the same time, I do not see how any Catholic senator or representative could vote for the passage of FOCA without recognizing that such a vote would constitute a direct and intentional declaration of their disdain for Catholic teaching. Such a vote would be tantamount to a public declaration of their intention to abandon the Catholic faith. It would be imperative that the faith consequences of such a declaration be allowed to fall fully on the heads of those who would make it. [Emphasis OTB]

The writing from St. John applies: “Beloved, we love God because He first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from Him: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

We of the Catholic faith certainly know that love of God is central to our tenets, this is the appealing part. It is hard to imagine a Catholic saying, “I am a Catholic in good standing but I do not love God.” But the inspired scriptures tell us that whoever does not love his brother or neighbor does not and, indeed, cannot love God. This is the challenging part. The people of Jesus’ day understood this and it was this understanding that prompted them to ask, “And who is my neighbor?” For all of us, and especially for Catholic legislators in every strata of government, it is necessary to declare, in conformity with the Natural Law and the teaching of the Catholic Church that, the pre-born child is our brother, our sister, our neighbor!

This is strong stuff, and sorely needed.

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And Then It's Back to Business as Usual ...

The headline at in Washington, D.C.:

"Prostitution Free Zone During Inauguration"

Once it's over, Congress can go back to work.


Friday, January 16, 2009

In Defense of Michael Bates

Michael Bates, author of Batesline and one of the finer gentlemen who blog Oklahoma, is being sued for libel by the Tulsa World (World Publishing Co.)

At 3:46 pm yesterday I received a phone call from Tulsa World reporter Randy Krehbiel, asking for my reaction to the lawsuit filed against me by the World Publishing Co. I told him I was unaware that a suit had been filed and that he was the first Tulsa World representative to contact me about a suit.

According to the OSCN database, at 3:01 pm on Thursday, Jan. 15, just 45 minutes before Krehbiel's phone call, attorney J. Schaad Titus filed a civil lawsuit on behalf of World Publishing Co. against Renegade Publishing Inc. DBA Urban Tulsa, Keith Skrzypczak, and Michael D. Bates alleging libel.

I have not seen a copy of the complaint. Based on the offense named and the defendants named in the suit, it appears to have something to do with a column I wrote, likely the most recent column dealing with layoffs at the daily paper. ...

If WPC believes I've written something in error, I'm disappointed that the company would file a suit against me without first contacting me with evidence to contradict what I wrote and giving me the opportunity to issue a clarification or correction.

I'm certain that I am not guilty of libel, but that doesn't mean this won't be a difficult time. Your prayers would be appreciated.

According to the McCarville Report the World is upset by the Jan. 15 Urban Tulsa Weekly story which stated

that the World concealed circulation declines from 1997 to 2007. Bates specifically alleges that a 2006 report by the Audit Bureau of Circulation "suggests the World was inflating its circulation by as much as 20 percent." ...

The World said the ABC audit showed drops of 6 percent in daily circulation and 5 percent in Sunday circulation for the period in question. ...

The lawsuit does not dispute that the newspaper's print editions have lost circulation over the past decade, but it does dispute Bates' claim that the losses were concealed or might have been greater than reported. ...

But the real laugher is this sentence:

Lorton said he does not object to criticism of himself or the World but will not stand for the organization's honesty being impugned.

It's been a long time since anyone I've read has publicly accused the Tulsa World of honesty.

It's possible this is mostly about protecting its advertising revenues. After all, a paper which has just trimmed its staff by 28 people is obviously concerned about receivables. I have yet to read the Urban Tulsa story, but I find it difficult to believe that Mr. Bates said anything remotely actionable as he is a very careful writer who strives to get his facts straight. Furthermore, as modern libel laws are construed in Oklahoma, I do not think it possible that you can libel a newspaper, per se. A newspaper, or its publishing company, is about the ultimate in what one would consider "a public figure."

So what we probably have here is the owners of the Tulsa World using their considerable power of the purse to intimidate and attempt to silence someone who has embarrassed them. How noble they must see themselves!

And it's not the first time that the World has turned its legal guns on Michael Bates. In 2005 they claimed that he violated their copyright by posting excerpts from their news columns on his blog. This was absurd on its face in that every news organization worthy of the name knows about fair use.

But that's really the point, isn't it. The Tulsa World has for a long time been a poor role model for responsible reporting. (It was a very sad day when the vastly superior Tulsa Tribune was forced to close.) The World has chosen to pursue editorial policies that run contrary to the philosophies and beliefs of much of its readership, slanted articles to reflect the biases of its editors, and has chosen to ignore some inconvenient stories and/or facts altogether. Of course, it is the World's First Amendment right to do all of these things, but they should not be shocked when subscriptions and readership drop.

Even if Michael Bates is being attacked for something he wrote outside of Batesline, he deserves the support of Oklahoma's blogging community. Whether or not you like his views or personality, you should realize that if the World succeeds in silencing him, they can silence anyone. We need to speak up - accurately and with truth - against the injustice of a big multi-million dollar corporation attempting to use the court system to silence an alternative voice.

I do not know if we can shame the World out of this action, but indeed its ownership should be ashamed.

Obviously, there will be more to say on this topic.


Pelosi Runs Roughshod Over the Legislative Process

You have to wonder how long Congressional Democrats are going to be able to hold themselves together peacefully when Nancy Pelosi keeps writing legislation herself and excluding other committee chairmen.

Under the guise of "emergency rules" Mrs. Pelosi is subverting the normal rules of legislating, and this is beginning to rankle a lot of people, as well it should.

Senior House Democrats have a message for their Speaker: We’re mad as hell, and we’re only taking it this one last time.

As congressional Democrats take the lead in responding to the sinking economy, subcommittee and even some full-committee chairmen — who normally wield significant influence in writing legislation — have been forced to wait on the sidelines as monumental bills are written in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) office.
“This is really set to come to a head soon,” said Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), who chairs the Energy and Commerce Oversight subcommittee. “The question is: Are we actually going to get a chance to legislate? There’s an opportunity to turn this corner, but we have not done that yet.”
The Founding Fathers are spinning in their graves. No doubt we will see more and more of this as the last vestiges of the old Republic keep being swept away by the new progressive (socialist) tide.

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The Dutch are on Thick Ice

This is nice to see.

The International Herald Tribune reports that for the first time in 12 years the Dutch canals have frozen over - and they are rediscovering their national identity! And this identity involves personal injury?
For the first time in 12 years, the Netherlands' canals froze this month, bringing the Dutch, who like their tulips in neat rows, a heady mix of pandemonium and euphoria.

Hundreds of thousands of skaters, their cheeks as red as apples in the freezing temperatures, took to the ice, and hospital wards were filled with dozens of people with fractured arms, sprained ankles and broken legs. ...

In the 19th century, when Hans Brinker, the hero of the novel in which he tries to win a pair of silver skates, coasted along Holland's ice, the canals froze almost every year. But water pollution and climate change have made this so rare that today a boy of 15, Brinker's age, may never have seen a frozen canal, or at least remember one. Until, that is, this year.

But this is my favorite part:

With an influx of immigrants, the country has been struggling to maintain what it considers its Dutch soul, and Gustafsson was one of many here who thought the skating experience enabled the Dutch to reconnect with their identity. "There were only Dutch people on the ice," he said. "I saw no people of Arab descent."

But Andre Bonthuis, who has been mayor in this town of 23,000 people for the past 20 years, said he had seen Indonesians and Moroccans, among other newcomers to the Netherlands, on the ice. "It's rather new for people from Morocco," he said.
Just let 'em ice skate for awhile and they'll drop all this Islamic nonsense.

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What Message in the Miracle of Flight 1549?

Posting today will undoubtedly be on the light side as I awakened with a terrible backache that has done nothing but increase in intensity as the day has lengthened. It's something of a mystery as I recall doing nothing sufficient to bring this about.

I cannot sign off, however, without a comment or two about yesterday's US Air crash landing in the Hudson.

1. I know that people toss the "miracle" label about lavishly these days without actually putting a lot of thought or assigning meaning to it, but this event seems different. I saw news reporters visibly moved at what they were seeing. Considering all the factors that had to be exactly right for this aircraft to be landed without loss of life, it genuinely qualifies as a miracle.

2. It seems to me that more important than the "how" of this event was the "why." If it is indeed a true miracle, why did it occur? This takes us to the area of "signs" or, more specifically, what message was God sending to us?

Consider that the jet was brought down, not by terrorists, not through human action of any sort, but by the seemingly random flight of two flocks of geese. Natural causes. First possible message: As high flying as we think we are, we can be brought low fairly easily and rapidly. Is there a broader message here of things to come?

Consider that the craft flew roughly the same path as one of the two planes that hit the World Trade Center seven plus years ago, down the Hudson toward the Battery area of lower Manhattan. In fact, as it drifted in the river overnight, that's where yesterday's plane wound up. Message? I'm not sure. Maybe that just as the 9/11 event could have been more catastrophic but wasn't, a miracle too, God is signaling that He is with us at all times, in all kinds of emergencies.

At the same time as the crash landing there were headlines blaring that Bank of America stock was taking a hit because of the turmoil in all financials, and that the federal government is about to pass along another 15 to 20 billion dollars to prop up this biggest of banks. Is it not odd that many of the passengers on Flight 1549 were Bank of America employees flying back to North Carolina for the evening? Is not the name itself, Bank of America, symbolic of our nation's economic system?

The message? Again, I'm not sure, but I would hazard a guess that perhaps it is a reminder that no matter how "technical" our rescue efforts become, the natural course of our economic is on a downward trajectory. But we will survive, providing we trust in God and believe in one another, and love one another as brothers and sisters of the family of man.

I'd like to think so. I'm not a prophet but I do try to stay aware of the signs of the times and pray for discernment. You are free to see in yesterday's event what you wish to see.

For an interesting report on the prayers of the passengers, check out this:
Horrified passengers said their prayers and braced for impact as the US Airways flight they were on plummeted from the sky into the icy Hudson River Thursday afternoon.

"About three or four minutes into the flight the left engine just blew, fire and flames came out of it and it just started smelling a lot like gasoline. A couple minutes after that the pilots said we had to brace for a hard impact, and that's when everyone started saying prayers," a passenger who was sitting in seat 22A told WCBS-TV.

Authorities say more than 150 people were rescued, including Jeff Kolodjay of Norwalk, Conn.

"They told us to brace for impact and I said about five Our Fathers and five Hail Marys, then we hit the water," Kolodjay said. "The flight attendants herded passengers onto inflatable rafts at the exit doors. Other passengers stood on a wing, as boats all around picked them up."
UPDATE -- Greg Pollowitz speculates on whether an environmentally-friendly "earmark" to avoid killing Canadian geese in NYC helped bring down the US Airways plane. Given that no one died, I suppose the report is somewhat humorous. But it won't be the next time a plane is killed by flying geese.
There's nothing in the New York Times archives between the 2004 slaughter and the crash yesterday, but I think an investigation into what was or wasn't done over the years to control the geese is in order. If environmental concerns overrode passenger safety then that's something that needs to be debated in light of yesterday's miracle.
You have to read the whole thing.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Post No. 1,001 - Cold Day, Random Thoughts

Random thoughts:

This will probably be the coldest night of the year. That's a comforting thought after receiving the heaviest natural gas bill of the season so far. In response, I'm enjoying a great crackling fire in the fireplace. I love the smell of real wood, and how it permeates everything in the house (when I was young I envied friends who had a real fireplace in their home. All we had was a frumpy wood stove for heat, or at least I thought so then.) This is so much better than last year's ice storm in Tulsa County when the electric went out and all we had was a gas log.
It snowed this morning, a real treat since it had not been forecast. No significant accumulation, and it was very dry snow, requiring no extra tools or effort to dislodge it from the windshield. Two or three inches would've been nice ...
Jettisoned the normal menu for a hearty pot of chili. It'll be a perfect night for it.
Today Glenn Beck called the prospect of a collapse of the Mexican government a potential "Archduke Ferdinand moment" for North America. He said the resulting chaos inside Mexico at the hands of the drug cartels will result in violence that inevitably will spill over the border into the U.S. If this happens, he said, watch out, because many people along the border, particular Texans "have had enough." That sounds on target to me.
I've been taking an interest in farm topics recently. In fact, we are thinking of acquiring land and growing some food because I suspect that it's going to come in very handy one day soon. In the course of my research today I saw some numbers on Oklahoma from the Oklahoma Farmland Trust. I'm assuming they are current.

There are 83,300 farms in Oklahoma. We've got 3.5 million total population, but only 83,300 farms? Of these, 48 percent receive one kind of federal farming subsidy or another. Nearly half! The report says there are 110,000 farm "operators" (whatever that means) and Oklahoma farms hire 50,134 people for work. Oklahoma provides about 2% of the agricultural production of the nation, ranking No.17 among all the states.

The numbers seem like a poor showing. And yet when I drive through the state and see so much empty, unfarmed land, why should I be surprised.


This is Post No. 1,000

This is Post No. 1,000 of Oklahomily, The Blog.

I began this project - I could easily call it a bad habit, or a time-waster - on October 5, 2004, with ambitiously high hopes, yet no clear sense of direction. Today I can truthfully say that I still have high hopes and perhaps just a touch more sense of direction than on that day.

Recently we added Anthony (the Oklapologist) to the roster of contributors. I've enjoyed his posts because they've expanded our outlook on things religious and it's been a catalyst for me to get "back in the game" as a contributor. I find that as I write and reflect more, I enjoy life outside of blogging more as well. It's a great focus mechanism for life in general. I expect great things from Anthony during the next 1,000 posts. And if Bryan can shake loose from his day job long enough, we will welcome him aboard.

As I look at that first post, I see that there was a statement of intent that included a focus on Oklahoma issues. I've done a little of that, but most of the posts are general in nature, rather than Oklahoma-centric. However, I believe that much of what has been written reflects an Oklahoma sensibility, a heartland attitude, and for that I am pleased.

I said that we'd write about things from a moral point of view. Check! And even more so these days.

I said we'd cast aspersions on public officials, left, right and center, but especially left. I'd like to amend that. They cast aspersions on themselves. Seriously, I believe that the time in which party labels are useful has passed. Our country is in the fix it is in because no longer can you trust that someone with a -D or an -R after their name represents a political philosophy, just a political (and too often personal) expediency. Democrats and Republicans have betrayed us. We badly need to revisit what it is that we believe and who we are as Americans. If we do not do this soon, we will not recognize the country we are re-creating. More on this in upcoming posts.

Finally, I said I'd waste an additional hour a day. Check! That was the easy part.

If I were so inclined, I'd put up a site meter and find out how many people actually visit our little piece of the blogosphere, and I may yet. I hope that our longtime viewers have discovered that we are back in the business. We'll try to refrain from future unplanned sabbaticals. My thanks to each of you for stopping by. I know there are places more entertaining, more insightful, with more cheesecake, more humor, and better written. Yet you drop by anyway!

God bless you.

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