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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

"[T]he States can best govern our home concerns and the general government our foreign ones. I wish, therefore...never to see all offices transferred to Washington, where, further withdrawn from the eyes of the people, they may more secretly be bought and sold at market." --Thomas Jefferson

"One of the greatest delusions in the world is the hope that the evils in this world are to be cured by legislation." --Thomas Reed

"Live 8 concerts are nice, and the photographs of starving children will break the coldest heart, but unless Europe and the West accompany aid with the kind of supervision nobody has the courage to impose, the aid will wind up in the usual Swiss banks, and 20 years from now another generation of children will die while naive hearts bleed." --Wesley Pruden

"Mr. Bush's attempt at spending discipline has been especially limp. Back in 1987, when Mr. Reagan applied his veto to what was generally known at the time as the highway and mass transit bill, he was offended by the 152 earmarks for pet projects favored by members of Congress. But on Wednesday Mr. Bush signed a transportation bill containing no fewer than 6,371 earmarks. Each one of these, as Mr. Reagan understood but Mr. Bush apparently doesn't, amounts to a conscious decision to waste taxpayers' dollars. One point of an earmark is to direct money to a project that would not receive money as a result of rational judgments based on cost-benefit analyses." --The Washington Post

"Pakistan test-fired its first cruise missile Thursday in a blatant attempt to intimidate India. It flies beneath radar. If they attacked India with a nuclear cruise missile it could wipe out the entire United States customer service industry." --Argus Hamilton

Jay Leno.... Two jurors in the Michael Jackson case now say they've changed their minds; they now say Michael is guilty. I believe the legal term for this is "book deal." .... It's kind of sad, in California; it's always the jury who's the last to know. .... President Bush has indicated that the President of Iran will receive a visa to come to the United States. I'm as shocked as you. You still need a visa to come to the U.S.? I thought they did away with that stuff years ago.

Library Missing Roberts File
I just want to state up front: even though I was in the Reagan Library last week, I had nothing to do with this. (I even have a witness, and she's a Democrat!)

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Disunited Against a Threat
At this moment, the goal of radical Islam is to end the West’s presence in the Middle East — in Iraq, Israel and Saudi Arabia. The paleo-cons are right about that.

But they will use the same tactics in the future to further the demands of the rapidly growing Muslim populations in Western Europe and the United States on matters not tied directly to the Middle East. The neo-cons are right about that. Islamic radicals are attacking the West now because of Israel and Iraq. If those attacks bear fruit, they will resort to the same tactics to support the calls for Muslim triumphalism we hear from radical Muslim leaders such as Anjem Choudray, the spokesman for the Al-Muhajiroun, a radical Islamic movement in Britain. Choudray, you may recall, told British reporters that “one day the black flag of Islam will be flying over Downing Street. Lands will not be liberated by individuals, but by an army. Eventually there'll have to be a Muslim army. It's just a matter of time before it happens."

It can be argued that it was a mistake for the Western World to commit itself to the cause of Zionism in 1948. There is no reason to restate the case. The point just now is that, whatever your position on Israel, it does not change the situation that Carr describes — a world where militant Muslims are dedicated to bringing the Western world to its knees and are now convinced that terrorist strikes and suicide bombings are an effective way to achieve that goal.

Fighting Society's Evils
Ours is a great and prosperous nation, but its culture is all too corrupted by sin, especially as it increasingly rejects its foundational faith in Christ. So as we raise our children to both love our country and participate in her prosperity, we must also be aware of the temptations and the demons that thrive in this prosperity. And we must have faith in Jesus Christ and share that faith with our children, as the only protection against the confusion that corrupts prosperity into decadence.

Worthy Is the Lamb?
What was God thinking when He chose the lamb as His ideal model of sacrifice and victory over slavery and sin?
But this Lamb was different. While He visibly played the role of Suffering Servant, opening not His mouth “like a lamb that is led to the slaughter” (Is 53:7), Jesus simultaneously served as the triumphant Lamb of God, who won a decisive victory over sin and Satan (Heb 2:14-15; 1 Jn. 3:8). Just as His jeering opponents were counting Him out, just when His suffering and death seemed to signal a certain and bitter defeat, Jesus, ironically and mysteriously, became most triumphant:
[W]hen he makes himself an offering for sin,...he shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous; and he shall bear their
iniquities.... [He] was numbered among the transgressors; yet he bore the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.... (Is 53:10-12; cf. Catechism, no. 601)

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Words of Encouragement
Romans 7:15-19
I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. So then it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.

I think we’ve all felt what St. Paul describes in this passage. It’s that "what am I doing?" feeling. It is the strange feeling that we are letting something else determine our stupid sinful choices, coupled with the awareness that it is truly us who are letting that happen. We’re not acting with freedom exactly, but we can’t whine about the "devil making us do it" either. We are what Paul calls "slaves to sin." We can only acknowledge that we are somehow not really willing to leave off giving the devil his due and start giving God our obedience. One happy consequence of realizing we are spiritual wimps in the war on sin in our hearts is the concurrent realization (if we are paying attention) that we must therefore look somewhere other than in the mirror for our strength. Paul puts this with refreshing candor: "Nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh." He does not mean there is something evil about the body per se, but rather that, before baptism, our being suffers from the lack of communion with God ("Original sin" is the technical term) and that, after baptism, we go on struggling with the effects of sin that tend to incline us away from God. How do we triumph in this struggle? Not by worshipping our will power. That is simply to look in the mirror more closely. No, Paul tells us plainly, the power to overcome our imperfect humanity can only come from him who lived a perfect human life. "Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 7:25).
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Monday, August 15, 2005

My Current Reading
I took a trip to California last week, so between airport waiting and the flights themselves, I got a great deal of reading done.

First, I did finish Thomas Sowell's Black Rednecks and White Liberals before I left. Very good book. I learned a lot about the history of the black people in America: they did "better" before the Great Society and Civil Rights movement; it's really only blacks who adopt the culture of the Southern Whites who fall behind; Germans reacted extremely negatively to Nazi attempts to suppress the Jews. Much more in that vein. Highly recommended.

Before the plane out to California took off (stupid thunderstorm), I had read and finished The Ratzinger Report, a book-length interview with Benedict XVI back in the 80s, when he was still known as Cardinal Ratzinger. Very insightful and it gives a sense of what he'll focus on in his Papacy. This might seem nuts, but he could be even cooler than John Paul II.

I then read Amy Welborn's The Words we Pray. It was an interesting look at the history and development of common Catholic prayers and how they are prayed.

On the ride back, I read How To Get The Most Out Of The Eucharist by Michael Dubruiel (Amy Welborn's husband). It was a good guide on how to best allow the Eucharist to impact our lives and grow spiritually and how to get the most out of Mass. (Including by singing those awful hymns. Offer it to Christ as a sacrifice.)

Finally, just before our plane landed in Philly on the return flight, I started Senator Rick Santorum's It Takes a Family. (I thought it was longer before landing. The time just flew...) I've only read the first chapter, but it looks promising. I can't give a full review, but it should be good.

"Every child in America should be acquainted with his own country. He should read books that furnish him with ideas that will be useful to him in life and practice. As soon as he opens his lips, he should rehearse the history of his own country." --Noah Webster

"So we are we left with Judeo-Christian values and secular left values. The latter, as noted, hold sway among the world's elites. But they are personally so unfulfilling and morally so confused that they cannot work. Western Europe will hopefully awaken to this fact as its socialist economies fail and as it realizes that you cannot fight faith (radical Islam) with no faith (secularism). ... The Judeo-Christian value system is not only the best value system for humanity; it is the only viable one. If we do not promote it, moral chaos will ensue. And we can't promote it if we don't know what it is." --Dennis Prager

"The greatest gift we can give our children is to let them know that there is a God who loves them and knows them by name. We must teach our sons and daughters that the God of the Universe is intensely interested and familiar with every aspect of their lives and wants what is best for them. Today's culture teaches even the young child that he is here by accident, and that he is just another creature on a big, impersonal planet, no different from any other animal. It's no wonder that kids today are experiencing depression and loneliness in record numbers. ... A few years ago the mantra was, 'It's quality time, not quantity time, that counts.' WRONG! Kids need a good dose of both from their parents. If we think we can spend one great hour a day with our kids and counteract the negative garbage they're getting from the culture '24/7,' we're fooling ourselves." --Rebecca Hagelin

"Alabama...became the first state to enact new protections against local-government seizure of property allowed under a Supreme Court ruling that has triggered an explosive grass-roots counteroffensive across the country. Republican Gov. Bob Riley signed a bill that was passed unanimously by a special session of the Alabama Legislature, which would prohibit governments from using their eminent-domain authority to take privately owned properties for the purpose of turning them over to retail, industrial, office or residential developers. ... The backlash against the judicial ruling has not received much attention in the national press, although legislative leaders in more than two dozen states have proposed statutes and/or state constitutional amendments to restrict local governments' eminent-domain powers." --Donald Lambro

"I think the so-called conservative is today what was, in the classic sense, the liberal. The classical liberal, during the Revolutionary time, was a man who wanted less power for the king and more power for the people. He wanted people to have more say in the running of their lives and he wanted protection for the God-given rights of the people. He did not believe those rights were dispensations granted by the king to the people, he believed that he was born with them. Well, that today is the conservative." --Ronald Reagan

"Tolerating intolerance, goodhearted people are beginning to see, does not necessarily produce tolerance in turn. ... Multiculturalism is based on the lie that all cultures are morally equal. In practice, that soon degenerates to: All cultures are morally equal, except ours, which is worse. But all cultures are not equal in respecting representative government, guaranteed liberties and the rule of law. And those things arose not simultaneously and in all cultures, but in certain specific times and places -- mostly in Britain and America, but also in various parts of Europe. In America, as in Britain, multiculturalism has become the fashion in large swathes of our society. So the Founding Fathers are presented only as slaveholders, World War II is limited to the internment of Japanese-Americans and the bombing of Hiroshima. Slavery is identified with America, though it has existed in every society and the antislavery movement arose first among English-speaking evangelical Christians. But most Americans know there is something special about our cultural heritage. ... Mutilculturalist intellectuals do not think our kind of society is worth defending. But millions here and increasing numbers in Britain and other countries know better." --Michael Barone

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