Friday, September 30, 2011

It Really Is That Simple

Once you've flown first-class, you don't want to go back to coach.

Once you've had a cable internet connection, you don't want to go back to dial-up.

Once you've dined on prime rib, you don't want to go back to spam.

Once you've tasted dark chocolate, you don't want to go back to circus peanuts.

Once you've drunk champagne, you don't want to go back to Steel Reserve.



Once you've experienced Gregorian chant, you don't want to go back to Marty Haugen.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sound Matters

My dear friend, The Redoubtable Marcus Magnus, turns up the darndest things.  He is a fount of all kinds of stuff I would never even think to look for on my own.  Such as the following line that ought to be silkscreened on T-shirts and distributed to bishops, priests and seminarians all over the country:

QUIDQUID LATINE DICTUM SIT ALTUM SONATUR

Whatever is said in Latin sounds profound.

Another reason why -- although I am a chauvinist for English in most matters -- some things really are better in Latin.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Random Thoughts

-- Today is the anniversary of my admission to the bar.  I swore my attorney oath before the state supreme court and federal district bench thirteen years ago today.  And I've been swearing ever since.

-- Would that Catholics were as zealous for their Faith as the Communists are for their anti-faith.  Yes, that use of the present tense is deliberate. Are we really to believe that Communist zealots ceased to believe and abandoned their mission to go out and conquer the world just because the Soviet Union collapsed?

-- I don't have television at home, so I haven't seen the latest shows until recently when I went to stay for a few days with some relatives who never miss Big Brother.  In the particular episode I saw, the contestants had to crawl on their bellies through a huge pool of highly viscous doughnut glaze, sprinkles and marshmallows; grab a doughnut; crawl back through the glaze; slide the doughnut onto a vertical pole; and then keep repeating the process until time was up.  The one with the most doughnuts on the stick won.  By the time it was all over, the pool of glaze was gray and filthy, and the contestants were covered in slime.  All this was so that they could be in a position to decide who stays in the house.  Everyone lived in dread of being voted out of the house.  I think I would have lived in dread of having to stay in.

 -- One of the best features of the Traditional Latin Mass is its silence.  The entire canon of the Mass, except the words Nobis quoque peccatoribus, is recited in silence.  Silence marks a boundary between our noisy, overcrowded, high-velocity earthly life and the supernatural plane on which the Mass takes place.  In the Novus Ordo, we are not allowed to have silence.  We are not allowed to rise above the din of everyday existence.

-- Earlier this week, a few hours before the state of Georgia put Troy Davis to death for murdering a police officer, the state of Texas executed Lawrence Russell Brewer, a white supremacist who murdered a black man by dragging him to death behind his pickup truck. Why was there no noisy public outcry over Brewer's execution like there was of Davis'?  Surely, if the death penalty is wrong for a black man who protested his innocence up until the moment of his death, it is equally wrong for a murdering white supremacist.

-- Would that there were some way of driving tattoos out of style.  Would that there were some way of causing multiple piercings and ear tunnels to cease to be cool.  Would that people would quit showing up to court with pink and green hair.  Would that the overweight would ditch the revealing clothing.  Perhaps, for the sake of the common good, Newt Gingrich could be persuaded to tattoo Mount Rushmore across his chest, get a couple of great big ear tunnels and a couple of upper lip piercings, like a vampire's fangs, dye his hair with Jello, and don a mesh shirt. 

-- There is nothing like watching news coverage of a story relating to one's professional line to find out just how lazy the media can be.  Before the local newspeople report on a high-profile criminal case, what would it take for them to pick up the phone, call any lawyer, and find out the correct legal terminology for describing what is going on in court?  When a person is charged by complaint with a felony in the state of Idaho, he does not get a "preliminary trial," but a preliminary hearing.  And when he is charged with an enhancement under what is popularly known as the "three strikes" law, he is accused of being a persistent violator, not a "perpetual offender."  Why do we repose so much trust and reliance on people who regularly commit these totally avoidable and inexcusable gaffes?

-- The flaming space junk of death that was expected to crash-land on earth yesterday has apparently landed in the Pacific Ocean, though it's impossible to say for sure where.  NASA calculated the odds of anyone being hurt by the debris at 3,200 to one.  Meanwhile, the odds of winning even $100.00 in the Powerball lottery are 13,644.24 to one.

-- Apparently, this is an enormous weekend for college football.  Sadly, I can't bring myself to care, except to the extent of avoiding the area around Boise State University.  I once had a colleague seat himself in my office and solemnly lecture me on why I should care about Bronco football.  This tactic did not succeed in convincing me.

-- Call me crazy, call me infantile, call me retrograde: I do like a Shirley Temple, even at my age.  In the early years of my legal career, when the colleagues would gather at a favorite local tavern after a hard day in court, my drink of choice was a Shirley Temple with extra cherries.

-- Cats do snore.   

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

So Much for "Choice"

What was the comment attributed to Henry Ford about the Model-T: you can have it in any color you like, as long as it's black.  Under the current leftist regime, health care is to be the new Model-T: we can have it in any color we like, as long as it clashes with natural law and Church doctrine.  Archbishop John C. Nienstedt of the Archdiocese of Minneapolis & St. Paul is drawing our attention to how the new Model-T threatens to run over our freedom to practice our Catholic faith.  An excerpt:
Under HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (a[n alleged] Catholic), the department is imposing a "preventative services" mandate requiring all private health plans — including ones administered by the church and its agents — to provide coverage for surgical sterilizations, prescription contraceptives approved by the FDA, and "education and counseling" for "all women of reproductive capacity."

...

Unfortunately, this is the logical result of a seismic change in this administration's approach to religious groups involved in providing social services to, among others, the poor, the homeless, the sick, the immigrant.

It began when President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton started using the term "freedom of worship" as distinct from what we have always known as "freedom of religion."

Under the concept of "freedom of worship," church agencies are restricted to hiring employees only from their own denomination and providing services for clients only from their own denomination.

Such a concept restricts Christian believers in their charitable outreach to society and, in effect, encloses them within their own sanctuaries.

This is radical secularism at its epitome. It is an affront to the centuries of Christian service offered by churches to clients of all backgrounds, color or creed. And, it is the slippery slope to a completely secularized state wherein people of religious conviction will be required to privatize their beliefs and in doing so, at least for Catholics, render their faith meaningless.
The archbishop urges Catholics to make their voices heard on this issue and write letters of opposition to Kathleen Sibelius and our elected representatives, and also to write to our representatives in Congress to support the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (H.R. 1179, S. 1467).  

Catholics have been lying down on the job for decades, ever since we stopped listening to the Magisterium and started listening to the world.  The acceptance of contraceptives led to the acceptance of abortion on demand, as surely as night follows sundown; and more and greater evils continue to flow from this capitulation.  Time for us to clean up our own acts, and take back the lost ground.

H/T Fr. Z.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Meatless Fridays Are Here! (At Least in England and Wales)

No more of this on Fridays in England and Wales!
For the first time in decades, Catholics in England and Wales are required to abstain from meat.  This past Friday, the 16th, was the first day for the newly restored mandatory discipline.  I have not heard that the earth opened up, or that the streets were choked with corpses, or that the sky caved in.  On Friday, September 16th, nobody died of mandatory abstinence.  If they failed to die in England and Wales, the odds are pretty good they won't die anywhere else.

Don't forget to vote in the Victory sidebar poll on meatless Fridays!
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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten September 11ths Ago


Funny how we always remember exactly where we were and what we were doing the moment some earth-shattering event takes place.

On September 11, 2001, I was working in the public defender's office in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.  I was pretty self-absorbed that morning.  I did not turn the TV on while getting ready for work (I had TV then) and in the car I listened to a station that played '80s music.  At one point, as I was getting close to the office, the DJ said he would do his best to continue with the 8 straight hits (or whatever it was), but he was pretty shaken by what had just happened, as he was sure we all were.  I wondered what he was talking about, but it didn't occur to me to switch to talk radio to find out.  I pulled into the parking lot, got out of the car, and let myself in through the back door.  Just outside the door to my office, a bunch of the support staff were huddled around the desk of my secretary, Lori, listening to the radio. 

"What's happened?" I said.

"The World Trade Center is gone," Lori said.

My mind went immediately to the first attack on the Towers in 1993.  I'm pretty sure the first thing I thought actually came out of my mouth: "So they've finished the job" -- "they" being the bunch responsible for the 1993 attack, or their compatriots.  Despite the rumors that began immediately about domestic terrorists (the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing was still fresh in our memories), the first instinct was to prove correct, as it usually does.  A thing like this could only be an act of war.

By the time I learned what was happening, about two and a quarter hours had passed since the first plane crashed into the Towers.  It was almost an hour and a half since the third plane crashed into the Pentagon.  The plane crash in Shanksville, Pennsylvania had just taken place an hour before.  It seemed likely at that moment that as many as 50,000 people might have perished in just the Towers alone -- more than 20 times the number of people who died in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that had taken place almost exactly 60 years earlier, and to which parallels were being instantly drawn.  Although -- thankfully -- the number of slain on 9/11 proved to be only a fraction of that 50,000, it was still a grievous total that greatly surpassed Pearl Harbor.

Of course our first instinct was to glue ourselves to the news and try to take in these stupefying events.  But we had court that day, and clients to see, and business to transact, and hearings to prepare for, and life had to carry on.  But every minute we weren't in hearings or attending to our work, we were talking about the attacks, and what they meant, and what would happen next.  It is a thing that cannot be understood except by those who lived through it: the outrage -- not only over the attacks themselves, but over the footage of Arabs dancing in the streets in celebration at the murders of thousands of innocent people -- the uncertainty; the realization that we ourselves might die in this new war -- for it was clearly war -- our impotence as individuals and littleness in the face of malign forces beyond our imagining; our attitude of defiance in the face of that impotence and our clinging to God and to each other in our littleness.  

The world utterly changed on that bright September morning.  Though it would be more accurate to say that the change in the world was manifest only on that morning: the change really came the day an extra-national, fanatical movement conceived the idea of using passenger jets as missiles to attack our military and commercial and government centers.  On that day, a new fruit from hell, long in the growing, became ripe for the picking.  That was the real day the world changed; only we who stood outside the tiny circle of conspirators could not know it.  Perhaps the world has changed yet again without our knowing it.  Are we ready to face it?

9/11 was a shot across our bow.  Thankfully, nothing like it has happened again to us in the intervening 10 years, thanks to the brave men and women who defend this country.  It galvanized us and woke us up; but sadly, we have gone back to sleep.  Even the triple catastrophe of New York, Washington and Shanksville has failed to make us straighten up and fly right.  We have proven ourselves more willing than ever to surrender our liberty to the government.  Our moral confusion and cultural degeneracy have increased.  Who, on September 11, 2001, could have imagined that by the tenth anniversary of that dreadful day, we would have submitted ourselves to the government of the enemies of all that this country has ever stood for?

On this 10th anniversary of 9/11, we should pray for the dead and their families; for the safety of our armed forces; and for our repentance and conversion as a nation.

Friday, September 09, 2011

A Better Way to Commemorate 9/11

Against all odds: the Battle of Lepanto, 1571
A few weeks ago, I commented in this space about how America's quest for law, order and security has ceased to reflect a civilized order.  Now, ten years after the Islamist outrage that has provided Big Government with a convenient excuse to balloon out to ever vaster proportions, one woman is fighting back.

On March 31, 2011, a blogger named Amy Alkon refused to go through the naked scanner at the airport.  She decided not to submit quietly to the obligatory body grope that was her only alternative to the scanner, but instead to protest by sobbing loudly at being searched and bereft of her dignity without probable cause or even reasonable, articulable suspicion.  When the searching fingers of the TSA goon-ette got rather too searching and too rough -- repeatedly -- Amy took her name down and consulted a lawyer.  And also blogged about it.  Enter attorney Vicki Roberts, who sent Amy a letter on behalf of the goon-ette demanding half a million dollars for slander, libel and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Amy's own lawyer, Marc Randazza, fired off a response that ought to be required reading for anyone about to board a plane in the post-9/11 era.  A choice excerpt:

After the 9/11 attacks, America wallowed in fear, and ignoble politicians took advantage of that national temporary psychosis. In doing so, they foisted an intrusive security apparatus upon us, but one that was never effective at making us safer. It was, however, effective at rolling back our rights under the Fourth Amendment. We may have killed Osama Bin Laden this year, but he actually defeated the American way of life ten years ago.  On September. 11, 2001, America went from "the land of the free and the home of the brave" to a nation of mewling cowards, eager to give up their liberties for perceived "safety." One of the worst symptoms of this transformation is the TSA and its minions of blue-shirted "officers." As numerous investigations of these checkpoints' efficacy reveal, anyone with a marginal IQ and the desire to evade them can and will do so. 

While the TSA fails miserably in providing security, it excels in undermining our protections under the Bill of Rights. This petty army has done its best not only to grind the Fourth Amendment into dust, but to strip us of our dignity as human beings. The Internet is replete with videos of travelers being groped by the TSA in a way that would result in sexual assault prosecutions for people other than TSA agents, all while the victims cry, protest, and express their horror. Your client may feel that she is in no way culpable for these wrongs, but her continued employment by the TSA and her actions against Ms. Alkon are an integral and inseparable part of the TSA’s abuse of all Americans. Fortunately for all of us, people like my client take the position that TSA agents cannot simply do whatever they want – not without dissent.

Kudos to Amy Alkon for not just bending over for the enemies of liberty.  While Mayor Bloomberg purges the official 9/11 commemorations of clergy and first responders, others have found a more appropriate way to cherish the memories of those who died on that bright September morning ten years ago because our enemies hate freedom.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

No Time for Prayer

We are advised that the absence of clergy at the official tenth anniversary commemoration of 9/11 at Ground Zero -- where the first certified casualty was FDNY chaplain Fr. Mychal Judge, O.F.M. -- is necessary to streamline the schedule.  Said Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a radio interview: "There's an awful lot of people who would like to participate and you just can't do that...so the argument here is elected officials and those who were there at the time."

Well.  After all, the clergy might use up the time...praying.  Or -- which The Divine Spark In All Of Us forbid -- inviting others to pray.

I am reminded of some remarks Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P., made at the Dominican Lay Provincial Council meeting in Oakland, California last year.  He recalled looking over the agenda of some Dominican event or other and discovering a glaring omission.  "When do we have Mass?" he asked one of the organizers.

"We don't have time for Mass," said the organizer.

Fr. Serpa's reply: "If you don't have time for Mass...you don't have time for anything."

If we don't have time for public prayer at the commemoration of an act of war on our soil that left 2,977 Americans dead...we don't have time for anything.

Monday, September 05, 2011