31 March 2016

Why Can't We Draw Logical Conclusions from Premises Relating to Abortion?

I have violated some of my personal rules so many times in the last two days that I am driving myself crazy.  Specifically, the rule about arguing with someone about a substantive issue on Facebook, and the rule about arguing with cult-of-personality bloggers.

The visceral hatred for Donald Trump among the neo- (Cons and Caths) is so strong that they cannot argue the substance of issues. Trump said it, so it must be wrong. Or embarrassing. Or not conservative. Or something.  Drives me nuts.  

As an aside, it seems to me to be a variant of the thisPope phenomenon: "thisPope said X, and so, like an Oracle of Delphi, it must be true."  The Rex Mottram approach to the papacy. 

As you know by now, Donald Trump in a logically consistent but admittedly clumsy response to hectoring by Chris Matthews, said that women who were to knowingly procure an illegal abortion (Trump had just advocated criminalizing abortion-- did anyone catch that in the self-described pro-life community?) should face some form of punishment for doing so.

You would have thought that he had just advocated mandatory abortions for all by the reaction of the neo-Cs.  Embarrassing! Trump should stop talking about abortion! This is why I could never vote for Trump!

No, he did not have the presence of mind, nor the opportunity in that venue, to discuss the finer points about how a person's culpability in any given homicide is affected by circumstances, relative guilt, mental state, etc.  That is why it was politically clumsy.  But this is what you get when someone is willing to actually speak their mind, and to draw logical conclusions from premises.

Abortion is murder. I hear pro-lifers say this. It is true. The abortionist should face murder charges. But why would the woman get off with not even a traffic ticket's-worth of penalty?  Are we so afraid to offend-- have we so far ceded the field of truth-- that we are unmanned to make abortion illegal and to hold those who would commit it accountable?

Let me go further.  Let's assume arguendo that in order to have the best chance to criminalize abortion, we are willing to make a law that exempts the woman from punishment and focuses only on punishing the abortionists. This is a prudential decision. But why on earth would we savage any presidential candidate who takes a public position to outlaw abortion, and who happens to advocate a logical position with which we have prudential disagreements?

I am beginning to think that there are many "pro-life" versions of Al Sharpton among us. To these people the continuation of the game is more important that winning it. There has to be a pro-abortion society so that this kind of quisling pro-lifer can still do his thing.  Al Sharpton doesn't want to ever see racial equality because it puts him out of business.  Have many of us have sunk to this level? Do we want to end abortion or not?  Why do the mothers who seek to kill their babies necessarily get a free pass?

Simple question, assuming abortion were illegal, as we all say we want:  Would more abortions be prevented by a law that only punished the abortionist, or by a law that punished both the abortionist and those who hire him?

Careful.  This question requires the use of logic. And that can get you into trouble. 

Since I Wish I Had Written It, I'll Go Ahead and Link It

John Horvat has written a great post about keeping the proper perspective and remaining faithful to prayer. Well said:

So many times, people become discouraged by all the trials and obstacles they face. The struggle to lead a life of Catholic virtue seems huge and disproportional. This is especially true of our neo-pagan world where all sorts of vice and temptations constantly appear before us.

In times of discouragement, it is good to remember that God does not put us into situations that are beyond our ability to overcome. In fact, with God on our side, the fight to remain faithful is not at all disproportional since we have all the conditions for victory.

However, it would be good to list five considerations we can make that will give us the upper hand when temptation comes. These considerations help show why this fight is not disproportional. In this way, we can act with energy and conviction in times of trials and temptations.

Read more

Look Out Your Window

The sky is cloudy, yellowed by the smoke.
For view there are the houses opposite
Cutting the sky with one long line of wall
Like solid fog: far as the eye can stretch
Monotony of surface & of form
Without a break to hang a guess upon.
No bird can make a shadow as it flies,
For all is shadow, as in ways o'erhung
By thickest canvass, where the golden rays
Are clothed in hemp. No figure lingering
Pauses to feed the hunger of the eye
Or rest a little on the lap of life.
All hurry on & look upon the ground,
Or glance unmarking at the passers by
The wheels are hurrying too, cabs, carriages
All closed, in multiplied identity.
The world seems one huge prison-house & court
Where men are punished at the slightest cost,
With lowest rate of colour, warmth & joy.

--George Eliot, In a London Drawingroom

I think she absolutely nails the state of the world, particularly as it intersects with the Church, as we await the dropping of the other shoe of this pontificate. She was just 157 years ahead of her time.

29 March 2016

"We all know for sure that it's real"

Just Bob speaking more truthiness:

Political World

We live in a political world
Love don't have any place
We're living in times where men commit crimes
And crime don't have a face

We live in a political world
Icicles hanging down
Wedding bells ring and angels sing
And clouds cover up the ground

We live in a political world
Wisdom is thrown into jail
It rots in a cell, misguided as hell
Leaving no one to pick up a trail

We live in a political world
Where mercy walks the plank
Life is in mirrors, death disappears
Up the steps into the nearest bank

We live in a political world
Where courage is a thing of the past
Houses are haunted, children are unwanted
The next day could be your last

We live in a political world
The one we can see and can feel
But there's no one to check, it's all a stacked deck
We all know for sure that it's real

We live in a political world
The cities of a lonesome fear
Little by little you turn in the middle
But you're never sure why you're here

We live in a political world
Under the microscope
You can travel anywhere and hang yourself there
You always got more than enough rope

We live in a political world
Turning and a'thrashing about
As soon as you're awake, you're trained to take
What looks like the easy way out

We live in a political world
Where peace is not welcome at all
It's turned away from the door to wander some more
Or put up against the wall

We live in a political world
Everything is hers or his
Climb into the frame and shout God's name
But you're never sure what it is

23 March 2016

Triduum Schedule at St. Francis de Sales Oratory

Maundy Thursday, March 24
5:30pm Confessions; 6:30pm Solemn High Mass
Procession to the Repository, Adoration until Midnight

Good Friday, March 25
8:00am Confessions, Stations of the Cross;
3:00pm Liturgy of the Passion & Death of Our Lord
(Confessions 2:00pm - 6:30pm)

Holy Saturday, March 26
8:00pm Confessions
9:00pm Easter Vigil & Solemn High Mass,
followed by Blessing of Easter food.
(Bread, Eggs ...)

Easter Sunday, March 27
8am Low Mass; 10am High Mass

21 March 2016

More Frailer Than the Flowers, These Precious Hours

...And here again, but led by other powers,
A morning and a golden afternoon,
These happy stars, and yonder setting moon,
Have seen me speed, unreckoned and untasked,
A round of precious hours.
Oh! here, where in that summer noon I basked,
And strove, with logic frailer than the flowers,
To justify a life of sensuous rest,
A question dear as home or heaven was asked,
And without language answered. I was blest!
Blest with those nameless boons too sweet to trust
Unto the telltale confidence of song.
Love to his own glad self is sometimes coy,
And even thus much doth seem to do him wrong;
While in the fears which chasten mortal joy,
Is one that shuts the lips, lest speech too free,
With the cold touch of hard reality,
Should turn its priceless jewels into dust.
Since that long kiss which closed the morning’s talk,
I have not strayed beyond this garden walk.
As yet a vague delight is all I know,
A sense of joy so wild ’t is almost pain,
And like a trouble drives me to and fro,
And will not pause to count its own sweet gain.
I am so happy! that is all my thought!
To-morrow I will turn it round and round,
And seek to know its limits and its ground.
To-morrow I will task my heart to learn
The duties which shall spring from such a seed,
And where it must be sown, and how be wrought.
But oh! this reckless bliss is bliss indeed!
And for one day I choose to seal the urn
Wherein is shrined Love’s missal and his creed.
Meantime I give my fancy all it craves;
Like him who found the West when first he caught
The light that glittered from the world he sought,
And furled his sails till Dawn should show the land;
While in glad dreams he saw the ambient waves
Go rippling brightly up a golden strand....

-- from A Rhapsody of a Southern Winter Night, by Henry Timrod

Rule of St. Benedict on Lent

Because the Feast of St. Benedict gives way this year to Holy Week, I wanted to post the great Saint's Rule as it applies to Lent.  Though Lent is almost over, this excerpt is still helpful for marking the remaining week. 

Of the observance of Lent

Although the life of a monk ought at all times have the aspect of Lenten observance, yet, since few have strength enough for this, we exhort all during these days of Lent to lead lives of the greatest purity, and to atone during this holy season for all the negligences of other times. This we shall do in a worthy manner if we refrain ourselves from all sin and give ourselves to prayer with tears, to reading, to compunction of heart, and to abstinence. Therefore during these days let us add something to our ordinary burden of service, such as private prayers or abstinence from food and drink, so that each one may offer up to God in the joy of the Holy Ghost something over and above the measure appointed to him: that is, let him deny his body in food, in drink, in sleep, in superfluous talking, in mirth, and withal long for the holy feast of Easter with the joy of spiritual desire.

Let each one, however, make known to his Abbot what he offers up, and let it be done with the assistance of his prayers and with his permission; because that which is done without the permission of the spiritual father will be imputed to presumption and vainglory, and will merit no reward. All things, therefore, are to be done with the permission of the Abbot.

18 March 2016

La Generalisima

On this Friday of Our Lady of Sorrows, may we pray that she indeed triumph soon.

17 March 2016

Today. Tomorrow.

Stand there. Breathe the air. Take in your surroundings. Realize. Say to yourself: this is still the Catholic Church. No pope has officially tried to change unchangeable doctrine. No pope has ever issued an official teaching document, like an exhortation, for example, that practically repudiates the teachings on marriage spoken by Christ Himself. No way!

We can talk again Monday.

Just one of those "I wonder if the Romans knew that the empire was going to fall that day" things I sometimes ask myself.

Supreme Court on Chicago Thug Tactics and Free Speech

Full case hereEmphases mine.

U.S. Supreme Court
Terminiello v. Chicago, 337 U.S. 1 (1949)

MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS delivered the opinion of the Court.

Petitioner after jury trial was found guilty of disorderly conduct in violation of a city ordinance of Chicago, and fined. The case grew out of an address he delivered in an auditorium in Chicago under the auspices of the Christian Veterans of America. The meeting commanded considerable public attention. The auditorium was filled to capacity, with over eight hundred persons present. Others were turned away. Outside of the auditorium, a crowd of about one thousand persons gathered to protest against the meeting. A cordon of policemen was assigned to the meeting to maintain order, but they were not able to prevent several disturbances. The crowd outside was angry and turbulent.

Petitioner, in his speech, condemned the conduct of the crowd outside and vigorously, if not viciously, criticized various political and racial groups whose activities he denounced as inimical to the nation's welfare.

The trial court charged that "breach of the peace" consists of any "misbehavior which violates the public peace and decorum", and that the "misbehavior may constitute a breach of the peace if it stirs the public to anger, invites dispute, brings about a condition of unrest, or creates a disturbance, or if it molests the inhabitants in the enjoyment of peace and quiet by arousing alarm."

Petitioner did not take exception to that instruction. But he maintained at all times that the ordinance, as applied to his conduct, violated his right of free speech under the Federal Constitution. The Judgment of conviction was affirmed by the Illinois Appellate Court (332 Ill.App. 17, 74 N.E.2d 45) and by the Illinois Supreme Court. 396 Ill. 41, 71 N.E.2d 2; 400 Ill. 23, 79 N.E.2d 39. The case is here on a petition for certiorari, which we granted because of the importance of the question presented.


The vitality of civil and political institutions in our society depends on free discussion. As Chief Justice Hughes wrote in De Jonge v. Oregon, 299 U. S. 353, 299 U. S. 365, it is only through free debate and free exchange of ideas that government remains responsive to the will of the people and peaceful change is effected. The right to speak freely and to promote diversity of ideas and programs is therefore one of the chief distinctions that sets us apart from totalitarian regimes.

Accordingly, a function of free speech under our system of government is to invite dispute. It may indeed best serve its high purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger. Speech is often provocative and challenging. It may strike at prejudices and preconceptions and have profound unsettling effects as it presses for acceptance of an idea. That is why freedom of speech, though not absolute, Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, supra, pp. 315 U. S. 571-572, is nevertheless protected against censorship or punishment, unless shown likely to produce a clear and present danger of a serious substantive evil that rises far above public inconvenience, annoyance, or unrest. See Bridges v. California, 314 U. S. 252, 314 U. S. 262; Craig v. Harney, 331 U. S. 367, 331 U. S. 373. There is no room under our Constitution for a more restrictive view. For the alternative would lead to standardization of ideas either by legislatures, courts, or dominant political or community groups.

The ordinance as construed by the trial court seriously invaded this province. It permitted conviction of petitioner if his speech stirred people to anger, invited public dispute, or brought about a condition of unrest. A conviction resting on any of those grounds may not stand.



Of course, this decision was issued when the rule of law was still alive. It's author has obviously not tried to discuss anything of substance with anyone on Facebook.

In the wake of the Chicago mob, the reaction of Cruz, Rubio and Kasich was to blame the victim, and called for censorship of unpopular ideas. But these are all honorable men...

16 March 2016

Things I Enjoy about American Politics

Well, nothing really.  Maybe I should title the post: Things I, a Known Crackpot, Notice about American Politics. Sorry for the photo.  I just wanted to startle you awake this morning.

1.  All the Trump enthusiasts might want to consider with me how it is, though at every "rally" her audience fits in a three-stall ladies room and has all the enthusiasm of a patient waiting for a root canal, Hillary keeps winning primaries.  Look at Larry David's Bernie Sanders' crowds. Yes, they are primarily comprised of hopeless, bottom-feeding, propagandized hipsters.  And who knows? Maybe they are unable to find their way to polling places without a ride from their mothers, but still. There is genuine energy coming from that campaign anyway.  Yet Hillary rolls. I'm telling you-- Hillary may have already won the general election four months ago as her computer programmers finished pre-loading the results of our oh-so-fraud-proof electronic voting machines.

Remember the disclaimer I put before the Trump post: This assumes arguendo that any of this matters.

2. Hence, the real race on the Democratic side is between Hillary and the Obama Justice Department. Seems like Ol' Billary has a slight and growing lead, but at the risk of sounding somewhat cynical, I think that the race is too close to call, at least until the Democratic convention, when all those mediocre super delegates get to cast their unfettered votes. I suspect that if the Obama or whoever runs things over there becomes convinced that Hillary would lose to Trump (but c.f., item 1, supra) then all of a sudden an indictment comes down. With the indictment comes pressure to bow out, and then who knows who comes out of the convention. Update: Gary North weighs in here.

3. I have foolishly watched many political victory speeches over the years. Many.  They are usually of a type.  But, no matter what, as local news seeks to fill its 21-hour newsfotainment programming, they always cut away to a victory or concession speech.  Yet I noticed that at least two of the local TV stations didn't cover Trump's speech, or cut away immediately.  He really either annoys or scares people.  All the right people, imho.

4. Again, keeping in mind the central caveat, it was a near perfect night for Trump. However Missouri's final tally turns out, he and Cruz will each get 11 delegates.  Florida was not only the biggest delegate prize, but to smoke Rubio so badly in his home state creates an aura of inevitability.  And Ohio going to Kasich isn't a real negative, as keeping that hopeless statist in the race can only hurt the anybody-but-Trump movement.

5. Make America Great Again.  Nice enough slogan, but I wonder if it was great to begin with.  A topic to address over bourbon, methinks. Personally, I would be happy with: We Won't Kill All the Catholics After All. At least not yet.

14 March 2016

Who's Behind It? And Where Does It End?

A very well-informed take from a European journalist on the coordinated acts of violence against Trump rallies, and the even more coordinated effort to blame the victim.  It could lead to serious things. An extended excerpt:

I’ve been saying it for a while now, the mainstream media, alongside the politicians running against Donald Trump on both sides, are creating the conditions in which it would be totally “understandable” if there were an attempt on Trump’s life. Seriously.

Think about it. First, they made Donald Trump the enemy of this race, albeit the butt of the jokes. Then the joke got unfunny. Mr. Trump started attracting serious support. And the primary victories came. And the other candidates dropped out. …

Now Donald Trump is Adolf Hitler. Because people raise their hands at his rallies. THEY RAISED THEIR HANDS WHEN ASKED TO. That must make them Nazis. Forget that Mrs. Clinton’s supporters have done the same thing. Forget it. He’s Hitler.


So Mr. Trump... has been portrayed as the progenitor of violence, despite the fact that Sen. Bernie Sanders’ supporters shut down his rally in Chicago last night. And despite the fact that someone tried to jump Mr. Trump on stage in Ohio today. The problem, to these people, is Mr. Trump. Not their own, barbaric, inbuilt (and often inbred) violent tendencies.

And it’s quite clear who is to blame for all of this. Who will be to blame if Mr. Trump experiences anything close to what Democrat George Wallace – an actual segregationist and racist – did. Being shot four times. And never being the same.

It’ll be the fault of the Hitlerizing media. It’ll be the fault of the groups who shut down his events, and made him an easy target. And it’ll be the fault of those who would rather defend President Barack Obama’s record as the “first black president” instead of conceding that he has divided your country more than he has united it.

That he has used skin colour as means to rule.

And that he has given succour to the hard leftist groups within which he played out his own formative years.

As a journalist – sadly – we relish news stories like we’ve seen over the past 24 hours. As a human being, and as a former politico, I dread what I’ve seen. Something very bad could be about to happen.

12 March 2016

A Thought For Cruzites in Light of Physical Attack on Trump

How would the power brokers treat someone they perceived as no threat? So how many candidates are being threatened with bodily harm? Don't worry. Just a coincidence. #neverhatebigbrother

11 March 2016

Alabama Supreme Court: Proving Scalia Right in a Judicial Shot on Fort Sumter

It might be important to note that the most ancient and venerable of Supreme Court precedent decisions, Marbury v. Madison, is not compelled by the Constitution.  Competing theories of just how to ensure that laws do not violate the Constitution, until now the stuff of law school debates, may get another airing: 

Let's begin with this observation from the late, great Justice Antonin Scalia in his dissent in Obergefell, trenchant and insightful as usual:

Hubris is sometimes defined as o’erweening pride; and pride, we know, goeth before a fall. The Judiciary is the “least dangerous” of the federal branches because it has “neither Force nor Will, but merely judgment; and must ultimately depend upon the aid of the executive arm” and the States, “even for the efficacy of its judgments.”[26] With each decision of ours that takes from the People a question properly left to them—with each decision that is unabashedly based not on law, but on the “reasoned judgment” of a bare majority of this Court—we move one step closer to being reminded of our impotence.

The Alabama Supreme Court, God bless them, has taken up the task to remind the Five Justices who legislated Obergefell of their impotence, if the people have but the will to stand for the law. 

Chief Justice Roy Moore, concurring:

    I agree with the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, John Roberts, and with Associate Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito, that the majority opinion in Obergefell has no basis in the law, history, or tradition of this country. Obergefell is an unconstitutional exercise of judicial authority that usurps the legislative prerogative of the states to regulate their own domestic policy. Additionally, Obergefell seriously jeopardizes the religious liberty guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. 

    Based upon arguments of “love,” “commitment,” and “equal dignity” for same-sex couples, five lawyers, as Chief Justice Roberts so aptly describes the Obergefell majority, have declared a new social policy for the entire country. As the Chief Justice and Associate Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito eloquently and accurately demonstrate in their dissents, the majority opinion in Obergefell is an act of raw power with no ascertainable foundation in the Constitution itself. The majority presumed to legislate for the entire country under the guise of interpreting the Constitution. 

    The Obergefell majority presumes to amend the United States Constitution to create a right stated nowhere therein. That is a lawless act.  


    The Supremacy Clause, quite obviously, by this chain of reasoning, does not give the United States Supreme Court or any other agency of the federal government the authority to make its every declaration by that very fact the supreme law of the land. If the Court's edicts do not arise from powers delegated to the federal government in the Constitution, they are to be treated not as the supreme law of the land but as mere usurpation. 

    Thus, if precedents are “manifestly absurd or unjust,” “contrary to reason,” or “contrary to the divine law,” they are not to be followed. 

Justice Parker, concurring:

Obergefell conclusively demonstrates that the rule of law is dead.”


Obergefell is ‘no judicial act at all’ because it is ‘without principled justification.’”

Very, very strong words, but very, very true.

I don't expect this to stand, considering the overwhelming might of federal tyranny and the utter lack of moral spine of the country.  But, perhaps like the rise of Trump in the political sphere, it might be seen as a warning shot across the bow, if not the shot into Sumter just yet. Tyranny at some point forces a choice.

Keep an eye on this one.