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Friday, January 20, 2006

Mary as Our Lady of Hope
Mary's role in saving the French town of Pontmain during the Franco-Prussian War and how it led to her title of "Our Lady of Hope." (I guess because you can't put your hope in the French Army...)

Still Morning in America
Twenty-five years ago today, Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as the 40th President of the United States promising less intrusive government, lower tax rates and victory over communism. On that same day, the American hostages in Iran were freed after 444 days of captivity. If the story of history is one long and arduous march toward freedom, this was a momentous day well worth commemorating.

All the more so because over this 25-year period prosperity has been the rule, not the exception, for America--in stark contrast to the stagflationary 1970s. Perhaps the greatest tribute to the success of Reaganomics is that, over the course of the past 276 months, the U.S. economy has been in recession for only 15. That is to say, 94% of the time the U.S. economy has been creating jobs (43 million in all) and wealth ($30 trillion). More wealth has been created in the U.S. in the last quarter-century than in the previous 200 years. The policy lessons of this supply-side prosperity need to be constantly relearned, lest we return to the errors that produced the 1970s.
Twenty-five years ago today, Ronald Reagan took the Presidential Oath of Office. Today, despite the best efforts of Presidents of both parties, his vision still carries America, giving us economic prosperity unrivaled around the world. We need another Reagan today.

What were three of the dumbest things you have done in your life?
1. Not listening to my friends and letting myself get emotionally attached a certain female. Which led to the origin of the Roy Orbison tradition mentioned below. As well as a very good rule: "Always listen to Liwei." (A friend of mine who's always right.)
2. Not being more social in high school, letting my shyness get the better of me
3. Not truly accepting the Faith earlier in my life. Although living the externals, I had a lot of failure in private.

At the current moment, who has the most influence in your life?
My spiritual director

If you were given a time machine that functioned, and you were allowed to only pick up to five people to dine with, who would you pick?
1. My paternal grandfather who died well before I was born
2. George Washington
3. Ronald Reagan
4. St Francis de Sales
5. Christ

If you had three wishes that were not supernatural, what would they be?
1. A return to the Constitutionally based powers of the federal government
2. An end to abortion
3. That all children would play baseball and learn how teamwork and individual accomplishment can work together and aren't necessarily at odds

Name two things you regret your city not having, and two things people should avoid:
1. Year-round baseball
2. Enough Republicans to keep the Democrats honest (I'm not talking about corruption; I just think the Democrats, given their monopoly in the City, get kind of lazy and don't put in the effort needed sometimes)

1. Denying the existence of the Devil
2. Sin

I'm 31!
I was at McGlynn's in Glasgow last night with some friends. (Yes, not only did I leave the City, but it was a work night too!) After ordering a Yuengling (my beer of choice), the waitress for my ID. I just stared at her dumbfounded. I'm been carded twice in my life. (I've always looked for my age.) And once was because everyone I was with looked underage, and I was only 23 or so. She apologized and said she's carded older people to which the next friend to show her his ID said, "Yeah, like me."

I guess it's because McGlynn's is close to the University of Delaware, but it still stuns me.

CNN.com - Wilson Pickett dies of heart attack at 64 - Jan 20, 2006
I was sad to see this. Best known for "Mustang Sally" and "Land of 1000 Dances", for my money his best song was "I'm in Love." Back in 1999 or so, I drove one of my coworkers crazy by putting his greatest hits album on perpetual repeat in my cube. She eventually learned the words to "Don't Fight It" completely against her will. He had a number of other good songs as well. In my goofier moments, I pretend that "A Man and a Half" was written about me.
When I walk, the birds & the bees stop lovin' & look at me now, look here
When I talk, the whole wide world listen to my words, huh
Only once in a lifetime a man like me comes along
Shakespeare wrote poems about me even before I was born
"I'm in Love" and "I Found a True Love" seemed to capture the joy of being in love so well. (I tend to overplay Pickett when I'm starting a relationship. Roy Orbison gets overplayed when it ends.)

A sad day for music fans.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Levin Reform Plan
1. Lobbyists should be required to spend lots and lots of money sending members of Congress on all kinds of trips outside the country. That way they won't be in Washington increasing our taxes, redistributing wealth, and undermining the war on terrorism.

2. Congress should not be permitted to meet more than six months a year. That way the state governments might have something to do.

3. Congress should pass a constitutional amendment, along the lines first proposed by Milton Friedman, limiting federal spending to a percentage of the gross domestic product. With less money to spend, there will be less opportunity for waste, fraud, and abuse of billions in taxpayer dollars, less earmarks, and less of a lot of things we don't need.

4. Congress should pass a constitutional amendment limiting their own terms. We might lose some real statesmen (although I have more fingers than there are statesmen), but if it sends Ted Kennedy back to Hyannis Port after more than 40 years in the Senate, it's worth it.

5. And when we're done reforming Congress, let's turn our attention to reforming the courts.
Sounds good to me. Reducing the government's power and spending. Right on!

From Mark Levin's new blog on NationalReview.com

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales
Today in 1897 the Oblates of Saint Francis de Sales came to Wilmington, where they founded the best damn high school around.

Quote of the Day
"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

-- John Adams (Address to the Military, 11 October 1798)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

"I pronounce it as certain that there was never yet a truly great man that was not at the same time truly virtuous." —Benjamin Franklin

"True patriotism sometimes requires of men to act exactly contrary, at one period, to that which it does at another, and the motive which impels them—the desire to do right—is precisely the same." —Robert E. Lee

"Our God was my shield. His protecting care is an additional cause for gratitude." —Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson

"Justice is a certain rectitude of mind whereby a man does what he ought to do in circumstances confronting him." —St. Thomas Aquinas

"The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty-first, the love of soft living, and the get-rich-quick theory of life." —Theodore Roosevelt

"The party of Reagan exists not to expand government, but to protect the American people from government's excesses." —Rep. John Shadegg

"Conservatives today need to revive Goldwater's argument in the '60s, and Reagan's in the '80s, that liberty not only is compatible with morality, it depends on it. Limited government cannot long coexist with a collapse of moral order; and an unlimited government is usually the consequence of an amoral society." —Andrew Busch

"A judge can't have any agenda, a judge can't have any preferred outcome in any particular case, and a judge certainly doesn't have a client." —Judge Samuel Alito

"Even smear tactics require a certain plausibility. When you damn someone as a big scary mega-troubling racist misogynist homophobe and he seems to any rational observer perfectly non-scary and non-troubling, eventually you make yourself ridiculous. The boy who cried 'Wolf!' at least took the precaution of doing so when there was no alleged predator in view. If he'd stood there crying 'Wolf!' while pointing at a hamster, he'd have been led away for counseling. That's the stage the Senate Democrats are at." —Mark Steyn

"So many of the talking heads seem to miss the point: the current scandal is less about lobbyists than it is about members of Congress and other people in high government positions. If members all refused to take bribes, there would be no bribery." —Lynn Woolley

"Amid the Jack Abramoff scandal, everyone in Congress wants to restrict the freedom of other Americans, especially lobbyists. But how hard is that, and what difference would it make anyway? The real test of 'reform' will be if the Members are willing to discipline themselves. That's a good standard for measuring the race for House GOP Majority Leader, too. When Republicans took control of the purse strings in 1995, the federal budget was $1.5 trillion. It is now $2.55 trillion a year—or $5 million a minute—and the latest Treasury data reveal that in Fiscal 2005 federal outlays grew by another $179 billion, an 8% increase and more than twice the rate of inflation. It's naïve to believe that influence peddlers in Washington won't flourish in an environment where such fountains of money never run dry. If Republicans really want to end the era of K Street Conservatism, they'll attack the system of spending that lies at its roots." —The Wall Street Journal

"When Mr. Biden says things like, 'Try to follow me, Judge Alito,' as he goes on one of his long, sterile journeys, I wonder if Judge Alito has to control himself with an act of will. I wonder if he has an inner Regis Philbin, and wants to throw out his arms and say, 'Follow you? If I follow you, we'll both wind up lost!' When Mr. Biden says, 'Now this is a somewhat subtle point,' I wonder if Judge Alito wants to say, 'Joe, if it were a subtle point you wouldn't be making it!"' —Peggy Noonan

Jay Leno: Senator Ted Kennedy announced that he and his dog Splash are writing a children's book. Is Splash the best name for Ted Kennedy's dog? Isn't that a bit like Jack Abramoff naming his dog Bribe? ... Have you watched any of these confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sam Alito? Senators are given thirty minutes to question the guy: thirty minutes exactly. Senator Joe Biden's question took 23 1/2 minutes. And Alito is smart. He's brilliant. Do you know what he said? "I'm sorry, could you repeat the question?" ... Ted Kennedy got pretty contentious, after he pointed out that Alito once belonged to a club that didn't allow women, it was discovered that Senator Kennedy also once belonged to a club that wouldn't allow women. Of course, with Kennedy those were club rules in place purely for the safety of women. ... Ted Kennedy questioned Judge Alito's integrity when Alito was at Princeton. As you may know, Kennedy was kicked out of Harvard for cheating. So when it comes to questionable integrity in college he knows what he is talking about.

The confluence of Martin Luther King's holiday and Benjamin Franklin's 300th birthday got me thinking about "untouchable" national icons, people about whom nothing bad can be said. You might call it the anti-Political Correctness, where PC seems to be either frivolous or designed to tear apart society, this is is designed to teach us who in our national history is to be revered and respected in order to unite and enlighten us.

This has a valuable purpose, which is pointed out in a great episode of the Simpsons "Lisa the Iconoclast." Lisa discovers through some research that Jebediah Springfield (founder of the town the Simpsons live in and a hero to the populace) was originally a pirate named Hans Sprungfeld, who among other dsatardly deeds, tried to kill George Washington. She tries to prove it through the episode, finally gaining control of the microphone at the annual parade in his honor, but decides to keep the truth to herself, because the (false) image of Jebediah Springfield brings out the best in everyone in the town.

This, I think, is an important lesson. People need heroes. They need someone they can measure themselves against to try to aspire to. When people constantly criticize our national heroes, pointing out or claiming that Washington was a slaveowner, or Lincoln didn't really care about ending slavery until it became useful to the War effort, or that MLK knowingly consorted with Communists, I don't think they're doing a service to our nation.

Were any of these men perfect? Of course not. (Although it seems Washington comes darn close.) But we need them to be icons to us, to help us keep in mind the heritage we as Americans share. It's that shared history that unites us, especially as we're not a nation based on race or ethnicity. More than any other nation we need to understand our history and how we got here if we're to maintain our unity. Tearing down our shared icons can only lead to disunity in the future.

UPDATE: Before anyone gets the wrong idea (and I meant to write this before but forgot about it): I'm not saying the flaws of our national icons should be forbidden topics of discussion among historians or philosophers, just that sometimes there needs to be a disconnect between what the "experts" talk about and what the rest of us talk about. An recent example, which have been due to faulty reporting, is a theologian who recently argued that Judas may have been saved despite his role in the Passion and Crucifixion of Christ. That's a legitimate topic for theological experts, but until that's resolved one way or another, the rest of us probably shouldn't worry about it.

And before the "Scourge of the Delaware Blogosphere" shows up (love that term, Hube), I'm not calling for consorhsip in anyway, merely self-restraint.


And as long as I'm on the subject of The Simpsons, here's some of my favorite quotes from "Lisa the Iconoclast":
I hope they show the time where they traded guns to the Indians for corn, and then the Indians shot them and took the corn.
-- Bart watches "Young Jebediah Springfield", "Lisa the Iconoclast"

Jebediah: [on film] A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man.
Edna: Embiggens? I never heard that word before I moved to Springfield
Ms.Hoover: I don't know why. It's a perfectly cromulent word.

Skinner: Now, as you all know, Springfield's 200th birthday is only a week away. Every class will do its part to make our local bicentennial just as memorable as our national bicentennial. Of course, you children are too young to remember that, with the possible exception of Kearney.
Kearney: [shaving] Those tall ships really lifted the nation's spirits after Watergate.

Lisa: How about town crier? You'd be great at that.
Homer: You think so?
Bart: Well, yeah, Dad, you're a big fat loudmouth and you can walk when you have to.

Hoover: Ralph, A. Janey, A. And Lisa, for your, ahem, essay "Jebediah Springfield: Super Fraud", F.
Lisa: But it's all true.
Hoover: [scoffs] This is nothing but dead, white male-bashing from a PC thug. It's women like you that keep the rest of us from landing a husband.

Can't we have one meeting that doesn't end with us digging up a corpse?
-- Mayor "Diamond" Joe Quimby

We had quitters in the Revolution, too. We called them Kentuckians!
-- George Washington (in Lisa's dream)

Catholic World News : Pope's 1st encyclical due January 25
Pope Benedict said that his encyclical is an effort to explain the true nature of love, by discussing the "different dimensions" of human love. In today's world, he observed, love is often discussed in language that " often appears as something far removed from Church teaching." But even romantic love points toward a higher form of charity, he said: "Eros becomes agape if one seeks the good of others, it becomes caritas if it opens to one's own family and to the entire human family."

The encyclical goes on to say that "the very personal act of love must be expressed within the Church also as an organizational act," the Pope told his audience. He added: "If it is true that the Church is an expression of God, it must be true that love becomes an ecclesial act." Thus the encyclical takes a detailed look at the charitable activities of the Catholic Church.
I can't wait to read it.

Uncle Sam-I-Am: Dr. Seuss celebrates the American virtues of salesmanship and open-mindedness
"Green Eggs and Ham" is a book written to be read aloud to preliterate children. And new research--by economists such as James Heckman, and others--now reveals that a child's intellectual and civic development is often made (or marred) by the stimuli he receives well before he learns to read. So a book that electrifies a child when read aloud is not merely a source of pleasure, but a building block for his future.
"Green Eggs and Ham" is a very American book, of course, but good children's literature has certain universal characteristics. Plainly, a book must be fun. It cannot be a snooze (although sleep by the end of it is a parent's delight). So the language is paramount: If it is alluring, a child's imagination is captured; if it is all flat, the audience is lost. The pictures can be as important as the language, although great art can never rescue a flaccid text.

A good children's book, moreover, must provoke a desire to return, to be read to from the same pages again and again. For this, it must have an "aftertaste." This may either be a lesson that is left in the young mind, or a deposit of fuel for the imagination, in the form of a character, or a twist in the tale, or a rhyme that, like a good tune, insinuates itself into a child's brain. "Green Eggs and Ham" has all of these.

It is also fine, and often part of the fun, that the child be disconcerted by what has just been read to him. So darkness in a tale is no bad thing. Here, however--and especially where being disconcerted shades into being disturbed--it is important that the book end well, and on a comforting note, with a restoration of the natural order.
"Green Eggs and Ham" is usually my gift to my friens upon the birth of their first child. Reading it is an important part of growing up.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

JIMMY AKIN.ORG: Bremer Article Highlights Progress, Mistakes
Tim Jones writes a good commentary on the Iraq war that kind of sums up my feelings on it in response to a New York Times interview with L. Paul Bremer.

The money quote in Jones' comment is:
I think the present world situation is far more like a game of chess than it is like a wrestling match. The reality of Islamo-fascism makes the old pattern of clashes between nation-states too simplistic a model. I don't know (perhaps can't know) whether this is ultimately a just war, but it can legitimately be argued either way.
We're dealing with a new situation in our current struggle and too many people on either side are ignoring that simple fact. The old rules no longer apply, so assessing the current situation in that light will lead to an incorrect result.

I finally got me one of those fancy-schmancy blogroll things, so it will be easier for me to update my list of blogs.

Happy 300th birthday, Benjamin Franklin!

(Just for the record, this is also the birthday of another great American, who's only slightly younger than Ben Franklin: my father.)

OpinionJournal - The Western Front
It's telling that now, five years into the second Bush presidency, conservatives are still looking for the next Ronald Reagan to champion their ideas in Washington. Even as Reagan and the current President Bush have similar presidential records--fighting wars of ideas around the globe and running federal deficits at home--Reaganism is the party's philosophy, with its belief in small government, low taxes, forceful conservatism, a strong military and the view that this country is a shining example for all the world.

'Better Than Well Said'
Pete duPont on spying:
Benjamin Franklin (whose 300th birthday is today) would not have thought so. In 1776 he and his four colleagues on the Continental Congress's foreign affairs committee (called the Committee of Secret Correspondence) unanimously agreed that they could not tell the Congress about the covert assistance France was giving the American Revolution, because it would be harmful to America if the information leaked, and "we find by fatal experience that Congress consists of too many members to keep secrets."

While the Constitution was being ratified in 1787 John Jay (later the first chief justice) in Federalist No. 64 praised the Constitution for giving the president power "to manage the business of intelligence in such manner as prudence may suggest." And of course Article II of the ratified Constitution gave the president the nation's "Executive power" and states that "the President shall be the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States."

When in the early 1800s President Jefferson hired foreign mercenaries to invade Tripoli and free American hostages, he did not inform Congress in advance. In 1818, when a controversy arose over a diplomatic mission abroad, House Speaker Henry Clay told his colleagues that since the president had paid for the mission with his contingent fund it would not be "a proper subject for inquiry."

So it is clear that the Constitution's original intent was that the president had the authority to take undisclosed foreign actions to protect America.
He goes on to cover legislative and judicial history upholdiong the President's right as Commander in Chief to take action to defend America without warrants or Congressional knowledge.

Catholic World News : Venezuela nearing Marxist dictatorship, cardinal says
"A government democratically elected seven years ago has lost its democratic way and shows signs of dictatorship, where all powers are in the hands of one person who exercises them in an arbitrary and despotic way," Cardinal Castillo added, “not for the purposes of bringing about the greater common good of the nation, but rather for a twisted and archaic political project: that of implanting in Venezuela a disastrous regime like the one Fidel Castro has imposed on Cuba, at the cost of so many human lives and the progress of his nation.”

“The seven years of this government,” he warned, “provide abundant proof of what the future of Venezuela will be like if this regime continues in power.”

Monday, January 16, 2006

"One single object...[will merit] the endless gratitude of the society: that of restraining the judges from usurping legislation." —Thomas Jefferson

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'... I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character... And if America is to be a great nation this must become true." —Martin Luther King, Jr

"[M]y religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me. That is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave." —Thomas Stonewall Jackson

"The progressive agenda—lavish social welfare, abortion, secularism, multiculturalism—is collectively the real suicide bomb. Take multiculturalism. The great thing about multiculturalism is that it doesn't involve knowing anything about other cultures—the capital of Bhutan, the principal exports of Malawi, who cares? All it requires is feeling good about other cultures. It's fundamentally a fraud, and I would argue was subliminally accepted on that basis. Most adherents to the idea that all cultures are equal don't want to live in anything but an advanced Western society. Multiculturalism means your kid has to learn some wretched native dirge for the school holiday concert instead of getting to sing 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer' or that your holistic masseuse uses techniques developed from Native American spirituality, but not that you or anyone you care about should have to live in an African or Native American society. It's a quintessential piece of progressive humbug." —Mark Steyn

"The framers of our Constitution believed that the judicial branch should be removed from politics and that its only goal should be the fair and impartial administration of justice. But in the last few months, the confirmation of a judicial nominee has become a spectacle of misrepresentation and single-issue politics. To allow this unprecedented practice to become the rule would jeopardize the integrity and independence of the American system of justice." —Ronald Reagan

"Republicans shrink government? Not in the past 75 years. At one of his State of the Union speeches, President Bush was applauded after talking about 'spending discipline,' but since he became president, the government has hired a million more people and increased spending more than on President Clinton's watch. It's not just because of terrorism. During Bush's first five years, spending at the Department of Labor was up 31 percent, Agriculture: 38 percent, Education: 81 percent. And the new prescription drug benefit is yet to be counted. Put a politician in power, and he'll take your money and spend it. That's what politicians do. Even Republicans." —John Stossel

"[T]he fact remains that the big debate regarding judges today concerns how much deference they should give to the intent of elected legislatures when interpreting laws. One side, judicial activism, essentially believes that judges should have enormous power to declare what a law should have been, and which laws must not be—based on a careful consideration of their personal beliefs and the beliefs of the other well-connected overeducated urban intellectuals that make up their circle of influence. Also, they may consider foreign law, law trends, stuff that should have been in the Constitution, celebrity opinions, and what they would like to have in their obituary in The New York Times. The other side of the debate, judicial restraint, believes that laws should be written by the democratically elected legislature, and that the job of judges is to interpret these laws faithfully and apply them on a case-by-case basis... In other words, judicial restraint is the belief that voters should choose who makes the law, and judges—no matter how smart or progressive or beneficent or caring or well-intentioned they are—should simply apply law as it is written, unless there is a very compelling conflict with another law." —Mac Johnson

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