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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Feasibility studies and you.

Admiral Miklos Horthy was the dictator of Hungary from 1920 until was deposed in a pro-Nazi coup in 1944. He had served as a reasonably competent officer in the Hapsburg Empire's navy, and declared himself "Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary," despite not wanting to let the Hapsburg claimants back in. The Hungarian joke was that Hungary "was a kingdom without a king, ruled by an admiral without a fleet, in a country without a coastline."

For a moment, Wyoming was threatening to resurrect that joke in an American setting. The context was the study of a doomsday continuity-of-government bill--not a crazy idea in a world of fast-moving disease, weapons of mass destruction and EMP. However, an early draft of the bill provided for a feasibility study for Wyoming's acquisition of strike aircraft and...an aircraft carrier.

An aircraft carrier.

For...Wyoming.

Wyoming.

WYOMING.

I hate to bring this up, Utah, and I'm not trying to get all rumory, but I think the folks in Cheyenne might have some long-term designs on the Great Salt Lake. You might want to consider some way to maintain naval superiority starting right...now.

Fortunately, the attempt to float a Nimitz class carrier in the nation's Mountain West has been axed from the current reading.

Or...has it?

Watch your back, Utah.

A choice, not an echo.

Today's the day Michigan votes in the Presidential primary, and for once, it matters a lot.

I'm not under any illusions about the field--it's not the A team, it's the B- team. But each of the candidates has one great virtue: at least they decided to show up. That counts for something, even for the ones I don't like all that much.

I won't pretend that Senator Santorum was my first choice. I've always liked him, especially up close and personal. But I was looking for a candidate with solid executive experience, and he didn't have it. Never the less, the Pawlenty "Brave Sir Robin" act and Rick Perry's inexplicable flameout took those options off the table.

I still think Santorum needs to develop the discipline to steer away from hot-button trap questions he really wants to answer, but at least you know what's on his mind.

As an aside, for those wetting themselves over fears of "theocracy": (1) not going to happen. (2) If you're worried about how a President is going to behave in office, then perhaps the problem is with the over-assumption of executive power--the office itself--and not the particular occupant. "It's OK when my guy wields it" is not how it is envisioned to operate.

Back to the Senator: yes, he's got pork and massive entitlement (Medicare Part D) issues, but he also is someone who can take the credit for ending a lifetime entitlement with welfare reform. He also has a vision supportive of more limited government, with support for a civil society with its "mediating institutions." He has also shown the ability to win over voters in a purple-blue state, which says something for his campaigning skills. He's aware that America is faced with people in the world who wish her ill, and he feels the HHS assault in his guts. There will be no backdown on that. No, he's not a perfect candidate (I'd like him softer on certain issues like immigration, for a start), but I'm surprised by how well he laps the field.

Speaking of which.

Newt Gingrich. I actually like big vision-thing ideas, inspiring, reach for the sky plans. But he invariably couples them with not-so-good ideas suggestive of spitballing (local boards handling immigration?). He's actually better than the rest of the field on immigration in general, but oddball ideas combined with an inability to parry negative attacks make him unelectable. And, yes, Santorum has a deficit with women voters generally, but a thrice-married politico is toxic with that rather important segment. He blew it after South Carolina, and hasn't been a threat since.

Ron Paul. I'm not going to call him nuts or anything like that. My problem is less with the candidate (though he is a greatly flawed politician), but rather with his fan base. There are serious Paul supporters who admit to the problems with his ideas or practices. I have no beef with them. But the ones who treat his every word and deed like secular ahadith do him and his movement no favors. These are the ones who proliferate on the 'net. Look, he's a patriot, a genuinely good community servant with his medical practice and an unimpeachable family man. In a general sense, he is absolutely right about the constitutional imbalance of our current system and the monstrosity of federal spending and deficits.

But his more fanatical supporters refuse to admit he's a politician. Earmarking? "Why, its the Constitutional way to protect the taxpayer!" Alliance with Romney, the figure who should, on principles alone, receive his greatest ire? "What alliance?" Paul rolled over and played dead in Maine, despite profound irregularities and the consistent knock that he can't win--because Romney would lose. "What alliance?" "Santorum's the fake!" Despite the fact he actually succeeded with entitlement reform? Sigh.

He's helped his constituents in his sixteen years in office and has been able to use the office as a platform for a newsletter writ large. Which brings me to my final problem--he has no executive skills in a crunch.
I believe him when he says he didn't write the race-baiting nonsense in the newsletters. But if I credit his claim that he did not know who wrote that bilge, then he is to executive leadership what Stephen Hawking is to mixed-martial arts: out of his depth.

Finally, Mitt. What can be said about Governor Romney? My friend Jay Anderson has plenty of thoughts, none of them good. Here's the positive: he, too, is a good family man, a solid supporter of his church, and to his friends an absolute rock. I think his business experience is a plus, but not the plus it is claimed, otherwise why not nominate Warren Buffett? Finally, I think he's basically of center-to-slightly-rightish instincts, but they have been ruined by his sail-trimming to fit Massachusetts politics.

No, the main problem with Romney is that he neutralizes three essential issues in this race: (1) the health care legislation, (2) energy production (he signed cap and trade as governor), and (3) the HHS mandate (he ordered Catholic hospitals to provide abortifacients). Yet, there's every chance he's going to be the nominee? So, it will be a summer and autumn filled with special pleading, hand-waving, and fielding the "he was for it before he was against it, eh?" counterattacks. Yeah, that's a recipe for victory.

I'm looking for a choice, not an echo. Santorum for President.



Monday, February 20, 2012

Here's a sign that Santorum is a threat to Romney.

Jen Rubin, Mitt's ever-reliable blogging mouthpiece, has turned on him.

She actually was very complimentary to Santorum early on, but no more. He's now a genuine nemesis to Mr. Electable, so out comes the shiv. No longer an appealing populist, but a fire-breathing extremist.

Intellectual integrity is overrated in politics, and political blogging, it seems. Or maybe it's just another example of the dangers of prolonged exposure to Romnium.

I think the EPA needs to look into this, stat.



Last Man Standing?

Rick Santorum continues to amaze me with his resiliency. The primary hat trick was astonishing, given the relative paucity of resources and organization, and has shot him at least temporarily into the lead.


Jay, Paul, and Don have a lot of useful commentary worth reading.

One caveat, though--a commenter on a political blog pointed out that Santorum a couple of weeks ago that Sanrotum was something of a proxy for "generic Republican" in the polls. He hadn't had a crapstorm hurled at him by either the media or his opponents. But it's hitting him now, and I'm worried.

The President's Loyalist Media Auxiliary is already starting to soundbite him to death. The oily crapweasel Charlie Rose's interview was a case in point. Even though Santorum kept trying to shift it to economic issues, Rose was able to frame the narrative.

That can't keep happening. Even if it's just one question in an interview, five minutes out of an hour, that's what going to be highlighted in the reporting. He has to fight the culture war--the President certainly is--but he can't be painted into a corner on it. He can't abandon it, either--it is a winner, as Jay notes. But it's a winner as part of an overall package, one that frames the other guy as an out of touch extremist. The populist angle can work, if he can keep hammering it. Leave the culture war stuff to the proxies for now.

He has to frame the narrative and not let others do it for him. Otherwise, the rise is just another not-Romney  boomlet that will pass.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Fox News: "We don't report if the Saudi royals decide otherwise."

A Saudi journalist ran for his life after mild criticism of Islam's founder. Interpol collaborated in the arrest, which is even more disturbing. Not that you'll read this on Fox News, though.

As I mentioned a few weeks back, the number two shareholder at Fox (after NewsCorp) is Alwaleed bin Talal, a member of the Saudi royal family whose bottomless pockets back various American projects designed to cast sharia law in a favorable light — such as Islamic studies programs at Georgetown and Harvard. In 2006, Accuracy in Media reported that Prince bin Talal had pressured Fox into downplaying the Muslim role in rioting in France. And it just so happens that, late last year, bin Talal plunked down $300 million for a stake in Twitter, the social media service that published the tweets that have Mr. Kashgari in such dire straits.

Probably just a coincidence.

Oh, almost certainly.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

In Iceland, the blind banjo player strums Bjork tunes.

Iceland: Let's Try Not to be Shelbyville, People.

 [W]hen you live in an isolated nation with a population roughly the size of Pittsburgh, accidentally lusting after a cousin is an all-too-real possibility. But a search engine called Íslendingabók (the Book of Icelanders) allows users to plug in their own name alongside that of a prospective mate, determining any familial overlap.


The moment the Archdiocese has been dreading.

The announcement of parish closures happens this month. The City and the inner ring suburbs are getting the worst of it.


Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron is reviewing recommendations to close up to 20 churches in Detroit, Highland Park and Hamtramck, and about 30 more in the suburbs. The pending closures -- which are expected to be finalized this month -- could shrivel the church's urban footprint to nearly one-third of the 112 parishes that existed in Detroit and its enclaves in 1988.

Since 2000, about 25 parishes have closed in Detroit and the surrounding suburbs. Recently, at least seven parishes in the suburbs have decided to close or merge in the next year or two. But unlike the pending suburban closures, many of the urban parishes didn't ask to be closed.

Many of the threatened urban parishes provide services to poor and homeless people. They are beacons of stability. And they are fighting to stay open.

"If it is providing food services, helping the homeless, closing (a church) is really a symbolic death knell of a neighborhood," said demographer Kurt Metzger, who directs Data Driven Detroit and shared population trends and statistics with the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, which made the closure recommendations.


Friday, February 10, 2012

The American Catholic Patriotic Association.

We need a new term for the Pelosis, Ridges and Sr. Keehans of our country, their never-failing accommodation to the State, zeitgeist and advancement of newly-discovered "American" rights.

What better designation than the above? First, it acknowledges the work and inspiration of its sister organization across the Pacific (multiculturalism!), the uniquely American nature of the enterprise, and even allows them to declare their patriotism to the world. As an added bonus, they can ditch that annoying word "church."

Win, win, win, and bonus win!

I even have a motto for them: "Render Unto Caesar. Full stop."

The proposed "compromise" deserves the Cleveland Browns Reply.

A compromise has been offered in the Kulturkampf. It convinces only those who want to be convinced, and has the delighted imprimatur of Planned Parenthood, demonstrating how much of a "compromise" it is.

I have a recommendation for the bishops. In 1974, the General Counsel of the Cleveland Browns was sent a litigation threat by a local attorney regarding the danger of paper airplanes being thrown during football games. The Browns' attorney sent the following response:

Attached is a letter we received on November 19, 1974. I feel that you should be aware that some asshole is signing your name to stupid letters.

Very truly yours,

CLEVELAND STADIUM CORP.

James N. Bailey
General Counsel

I confess it will need some tweaking, but it's a thought.

For those of you looking for something more highbrow, Michael Sean Winters has a perfectly excellent  response. Fair warning--you will encounter the herdmind of Thinking [sic] Catholicism in the comments, so you might want to avoid that.

Krauthammer goes yard.

Read the whole thing, but note especially how the President dons and doffs the religiousity cloak with the effortlessness of a Gantry.

To flatter his faith-breakfast guests and justify his tax policies, Obama declares good works to be the essence of religiosity. Yet he turns around and, through Sebelius, tells the faithful who engage in good works that what they’re doing is not religion at all. You want to do religion? Get thee to a nunnery. You want shelter from the power of the state? Get out of your soup kitchen and back to your pews. Outside, Leviathan rules.

There is a profound difference between the freedom of religion enshrined in the First Amendment and the "freedom of worship" envisioned by this administration. The Kulturkampf makes that plain. By all means, enjoy your quaint ceremonial holdovers from a more brutish time. But don't think of carrying it into the work week.

Which is becoming increasingly troubling to me.


George Lucas attempts a Jedi mind trick.

Han did not shoot first, you sad, sad fanbois.

"The controversy over who shot first, Greedo or Han Solo, in Episode IV, what I did was try to clean up the confusion, but obviously it upset people because they wanted Solo [who seemed to be the one who shot first in the original] to be a cold-blooded killer, but he actually isn't. It had been done in all close-ups and it was confusing about who did what to whom. I put a little wider shot in there that made it clear that Greedo is the one who shot first, but everyone wanted to think that Han shot first, because they wanted to think that he actually just gunned him down."
Not he thought twice about it and wanted a digital mulligan. Nope, instead it was in the original scene all along.

He doesn't like his fans very much.

More to the point, I never saw how it made Han a cold-blooded killer anyway--he's being threatened with a gun, and the thug's about to pull the trigger.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Women wearing pants. Marty Haugen's music. Latin in the liturgy. Breastfeeding in public. Social justice. Birth control.

Need to jack up the hits a bit.

That should do it.

Thanks to Sarah in MI for the suggestion. :)

Did none of you read "At The Mountains Of Madness"?!

Russians successfully drill to the surface of Lake Vostok, entombed in ice.

A weird, atonal ululating ended the last broadcast made by the base.

No, seriously--it is really fascinating. And it will be helpful for probes to Europa.

Instead of battery, how about just letting me assault you instead?

"OK, beadsqueezers--instead of violating your First Amendment free exercise rights, we'll violate your First Amendment free speech rights instead, mm-kay? We're all about the compromise here. Half a loaf is better than none, right?"

I realized I was about to say this incorrectly.

I was going to say "You're a sack of shit, Egan."

But that would be improper.

The correct statement is "You're a sack of shit, Your Eminence."

I genuinely hope for the sake of his soul that he's going senile, because Mr. Dougherty is right--this is monstrous.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Little Brother Is Watching You.


Teaching the children how to use the camera is a...mixed blessing. I hope they learn to keep the flash off when snapping from point blank range.

But they do love their baby brother. And I like how his eyes in this shot track you no matter where you are.

Pretty decent Super Bowl.

The game was better than the commercials, which is the highest praise I can muster.
You're welcome, Giants fans, for Mr. Manningham (another Michigan Man). Keep the catch in mind when he invariably drops a ball that Stephen Hawking could have snagged. Mario's just that way.

The most disappointing thing about the game--I was bummed that the Lions weren't there. After last season, that's not as insane an emotion as it would have been following last year's Bowl.

And I was pleasantly surprised by the halftime show. Granted, my expectations were nil, but that was a very solid performance. Having Cee Lo as your wingman never hurts.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

The Kulturkampf expands to the pulpit.

The Army did not approve of the Archbishop for the Military Services' letter, so it could not be read from the pulpit last Sunday.

Angry? Yes. But so long as Sebelius operates without ecclesiastical censure, strutting up to take the Host every Sunday, I'm going to discount the clerical outrage a bit.

It's war, and you're firing confetti. I'm going to start taking my cues accordingly.

Look at these adorable kitten pictures.




OK, am I going to do absolutely nothing? Well, no. These actions have finally pushed me to the point where I can actually see myself voting for Mitt Romney (though watch me carefully, as it is clear that prolonged exposure to Romnium causes people to change long-held positions and destroy their credibility for trivial reasons).

And when the generals get serious, I'll happily march to the sound of the guns.
But I'm not marching to the sound of silly string and mission statements.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

I could use some new commenting software.

At least if I'm serious about restarting this endeavor. Or anyone's serious about reading it.

Any recommendations would be welcome.

Congratulations to the Culbreath family!

Who welcomed their newest arrival, Mr. Theodore Andrew Culbreath, on January 23. After a slight rough patch (he was born at thirty five weeks), Mom and son are both home and doing well.

I think it was Hilary who said that by 2050, one-third of all English-speaking Catholics would be named Culbreath, Price or Skojec. She might have a point.

Congrats, Jeff and family!

Is this thing on?

Doesn't seem to be anyone round these parts any more.

Yeah, mirror, I know. But still, if anyone's still reading this, drop me a line in the comments.

When we want your opinion, we'll hand you some talking points.

Or, from the "That's Awfully White of You" Files, the Administration explains that it's not interested in dialogue on the Sebelius Mandate:

 After a bruising week for health officials on the issue, the White House arranged a conference call with reporters to address what it called “confusion” over the policy. It also put up a blog post by Cecilia Munoz, director of the House Domestic Policy Council, pointing out that “no individual health care provider will be forced to prescribe contraception” and “no individual will be forced to buy or use contraception.”

And White House press secretary Jay Carney said at Thursday’s afternoon briefing that there was “not a debate” over reversing the decision. “The decision has been made, and it was made after careful consideration,” he said.

"Message: We don't care."

Thanks, ObamaCaths. They couldn't have done it without you.





The Arab Spring continues to waft rose petals into the air.

The Salafis are on the march in Libya, to the sorrow of the Sufis.


The desecration of graves belonging to Sufi saints and sages in recent months have put the peaceful Sufis on the defensive, prompting some to post armed guards at their mosques and lodges to ward off hardline thugs.

But the birthday of Islam's Prophet Mohammad, one of the highpoints in the Sufi calendar, is on Saturday and Libyan Sufis are determined to take their traditional processions through the streets to show they will not be cowed.

At a meeting of Sufi scholars to plan the celebrations, Sheikh Adl Al-Aref Al-Hadad said even being driven out of his zawiyah (Islamic school) late last year by Islamists known as Salafis would not deter him from marching.

"I'm worried but I'm not afraid," said Al-Hadad, whose Tripoli school was stormed by armed men who burned its library, destroyed office equipment and dug up graves of sages buried there. They turned the school into a Salafi mosque.

Just because people want to be freed from a particular dictator does not mean they want freedom.

Get this straight.

It's only a theocracy when a politician to the right of center invokes Christ in support of his actions. The left's candidate? Okey-fine.

When Rick Santorum says it--activate the klaxons.

Fairness compels me to say that it just might be because nobody believes a word of it, coming from the President. Whereas they're afraid that the Senator actually means it...



Phoney War redux?



On September 3, 1939, two days after the German invasion of Poland, France and Great Britain declared war on Germany.

And they promptly launched a ferocious, unrelenting offensive in support of their beleaguered Polish ally

No, there was a half-hearted French invasion of the lightly-defended Saarland, quickly ended, some bombing by the British (much of it involving leaflets) and a few minor sea battles, but essentially the Western Allies chose to stand on the defensive while Poland was wiped off the map.

Eight months later, the Germans, fully ready for war, began it in earnest. It was France's turn to be invaded, swiftly defeated and dismembered.
Now that the Administration has indicated that it is in earnest in imposing its morality on Catholics, via a mandate for abortifacients, sterilization and contraceptives, what has been the response? So far, a pretty impressive list of episcopal protests, some of which are even surprising, given the men in question. But that is not enough. Not even close. As Paul Zummo and Patrick Archbold have correctly noted, this is a full-fledged declaration of war by the administration. And it is being led by a nominal Catholic, Kathleen Sebelius. One whose bona fides were loudly extolled by the usual suspects.

The next step is clear--Sebelius has to be excommunicated. Let me repeat: she must be excommunicated. Counseled beforehand, of course. But if she persists, excommunicated. There is no dancing around the fact any more. It apparently wasn't enough for her to celebrate the gory work and unfailing support of the late George Tiller (I find OR obnoxious, but hey--they had the proof). No, now she is the willing edge of the sword hacking the Catholic conscience to ribbons. Enough. No more.

There is precedent as well. In 1962, Joseph Rummel, Archbishop of New Orleans, excommunicated three segregationists who protested the integration of Catholic schools. In 2012, Kathleen Sebelius launched a nationwide assault countless Catholic schools, hospitals and other institutions. If she will not repent of it, she has to face the dreadful but necessary sanction of excommunication. Will there be shrieking and howls (oh, and with malicious irony, too) regarding the separation of church and state? Will there be soft-focus profiles of Sebelius' saintly qualities? Will there be the usual comments from speed-dial Catholic commentators, ever-ready to offer a critical soundbite when a bishop has to offend the leftist moral code? Count on it. But it still has to be done. The line has to finally be drawn. Otherwise, the nice-sounding episcopal protests will be another useless exercise in leaflet bombing.

Oh, and someone needs to smack Republican Gov. Sam Brownback upside the head for his recommendation of her for the HHS post. Heckuva job, Brownie.