Wednesday, September 30, 2020

When Europeans Were Slaves

An old article, but worth reading. Lately, I have been researching about the Viking slave trade, which involved kidnapping blond Saxon girls and selling them in Southern Europe and sometimes as far as Asia. But that was centuries before the time referred to in the article. From OSU:

A new study suggests that a million or more European Christians were enslaved by Muslims in North Africa between 1530 and 1780 – a far greater number than had ever been estimated before.

In a new book, Robert Davis, professor of history at Ohio State University, developed a unique methodology to calculate the number of white Christians who were enslaved along Africa’s Barbary Coast, arriving at much higher slave population estimates than any previous studies had found.

Most other accounts of slavery along the Barbary coast didn’t try to estimate the number of slaves, or only looked at the number of slaves in particular cities, Davis said. Most previously estimated slave counts have thus tended to be in the thousands, or at most in the tens of thousands. Davis, by contrast, has calculated that between 1 million and 1.25 million European Christians were captured and forced to work in North Africa from the 16th to 18th centuries.

Davis’s new estimates appear in the book Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast, and Italy, 1500-1800 (Palgrave Macmillan). (Read more.)

More HERE. And HERE.


Giving Catholic Cover to Abortion

 From Tom Piatak at American Remnant:

Democrats can live with Catholics of the Joe Biden variety. Biden, after all, has followed his party’s long march toward abortion absolutism, moving from being an opponent of abortion to being an opponent of federal funding for abortion to being a candidate unwilling to support any restriction at all on a practice that the Catholic Church condemns unequivocally. But Democrats worry about Catholics like Amy Coney Barrett. After all, one look at Barrett’s five natural children, one of whom has Down Syndrome, and her two adopted children leaves no doubt Barrett takes the Church’s teaching on abortion as seriously as did the Associate Justice for whom she clerked, father of nine Antonin Scalia.

Democratic opposition to Barrett is understandable, flowing as it does from the party’s belief that abortion is at the very least a fundamental right that may not be restricted in any substantive way. But what are we to make of Catholics like the ubiquitous James Martin, S. J. and Villanova theologian Massimo Faggioli, both of whom have argued that it is legitimate for Democrats to raise questions about Barrett’s faith and its impact on her views concerning abortion?

It is hard for me to see this as anything other than an attempt to provide Catholic cover to Roe v. Wade. If Martin and Faggioli and their allies had any real interest in providing legal protection to the unborn, they would not use their talents to justify opposition to Barrett’s nomination, when that nomination offers a real chance to replace a justice unwilling to limit even partial birth abortion with a faithful Catholic judge who has impressed even ideological foes with the sincerity of her faith and the decency of her life. (Read more.)

The Devil and Joe Biden. From Bill O'Reilly:

A front page article in the Wall Street Journal reminded me that a Roman Catholic priest in South Carolina denied Joe Biden communion just about one year ago. Reverend Robert Morey blessed Mr. Biden but refused him the host, later saying the former Vice-President’s liberal position on abortion defies church teaching.

As with many Catholic politicians, Mr. Biden fell back on the rationalization that he could not impose his “private” beliefs on other Americans. But in Biden’s case, that rings very hollow.

For decades then Senator Joe Biden supported the Hyde Amendment, which disallows federal money for the abortion procedure because that violates the religious rights of Catholics and other religious people. There are exceptions for rape, incest, and serious medical danger to the mother.

The Hyde Amendment was fair because pro-choice Americans can easily donate money to fund Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers thereby assuring legal abortions can be made available to all.

There is no need for the federal government to force religious Americans to fund a life-ending procedure they reject on moral grounds.

But the new, progressive Joe Biden now repudiates the Hyde Amendment in a stunning reversal of conscience. He also selected Kamala Harris, an aggressive pro-choice advocate, as his running mate. Some describe the Biden-Harris ticket as the most pro-abortion political duo in history.

The Democratic platform is very clear: there should be no restrictions on abortion whatsoever. A number of states have rebelled against that using “science” to justify regulations. It is a medical fact that a baby is viable in the womb long before birth. Many legislators believe destroying a fetus after viability is a violation of human rights.

Joe Biden has not responded to that point-of-view and that’s his problem with the Catholic Church. His political posture enables abortion at any time, for any reason. Just this week, the former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Vigano, warned Catholic voters that killing babies is “demonic.” (Read more.)

Occupy Harvard

 From Fr. Perricone at Crisis:

Only against the backdrop of burning cities, the desecration of cherished American monuments, and gratuitous violence has the country slightly awakened to its source in the rotted educational empire. Instances of this debasement could fill pages of old Manhattan telephone books. Just recently, California announced its mandate for K-12 students in a “model curriculum.” It aims to build “possibilities for post-imperial life that promotes collective narratives of transformative resistance.” Course outlines require “student political activities with approved topics on racism, LGBTQ rights, immigration rights, access to quality health care and income inequality.” There’s more. Students are assigned papers on U.S. events that “led to Jewish and Irish Americans gaining racial privilege.” Are you incredulous? Simply read the state of California’s Education Department web site. Even more shocking is the recent piece of news from, of all places, the terribly “woke” The Atlantic. John McWhorter reports “receiving missives since May almost daily from professors living in constant fear for their careers, because their opinions are incompatible with the current woke playbook.” He chillingly continues, “I found it alarming how many of the letters sound as if they were written from Stalinist Russia or Maoist China.” McWhorter then relates a typical episode in stomach-turning detail, “A professor who committed the sin of privileging the white male perspective in giving a lecture on the philosophy of the Founding Fathers, praised by Frederick Douglass, had to sit in a ‘listening circle’ in which his job was to remain silent while students explained how he hurt them.” The journalist concludes, “This is a 21st-century-American version of a struggle session straight out of Mao’s Cultural Revolution.” Such hair-raising accounts should be enough to rouse armed rebellion. Where is the outrage? Instead we have silence—a silence that should be deeply concerning.

In the middle of the fourth century, Saint Jerome famously remarked, “The world awoke and found itself Arian.” Similarly, America is slowly awakening and finding itself in the teeth of a Marxist/Maoist revolution. For decades its progress was furtive but now it crackles with boastful hubris. To America’s shock, our very primary and secondary schools, universities, colleges, and graduate schools have become the incubus for a New Bolshevism. Under this regime, children have become strangers to their parents and the nation’s true history. Salutes to the flag are replaced by raised fists of defiant insurrection. Yes, home schooling has become a desperate stop-gap measure, but it only educates 3.4 percent of the student population, which is hardly enough to stave off this national apocalypse. Yes, a handful of private colleges and universities have escaped the revolution’s long arm, but out of 5,300, a paltry 27 boast a traditional curriculum. Not much consolation. (Read more.)

Apocalypse When?

 From Emmett O'Regan:

During the first three centuries of Christianity, some of the Early Church Fathers did hold to the theory of Chiliasm, stemming from a chronologically linear reading of the events described in chapters 19 and 20 of the Book of Revelation. According to this interpretation, Jesus would physically return to reign on earth for a thousand years, along with the saints who would be raised from the dead during the “first resurrection” of Revelation 20:4. As St. Justin Martyr points out in chapter 80 of his Dialogue with Trypho, the Chiliast interpretation of the Apocalypse was by no means universally accepted during the first centuries of the Church. In fact, this teaching was actively opposed from the very earliest days of the Church, by influential figures such as Origen. At the Council of Constantinople (381), the Nicene Creed of 325 was revised to emphasise the fact that Christ’s kingdom would have no end, thus rejecting the idea of a temporal millennial kingdom which would be interrupted by the rise of “Gog and Magog” at the end of the thousand years of Revelation 20:

“He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.”

After St. Victorinus of Pettau had established that the structure of the Apocalypse was recapitulatory rather than linear, the amillennialist interpretation of the Book of Revelation was further developed by Tyconius and St. Augustine of Hippo. In City of God 20:7, St. Augustine argued that the binding of Satan had already taken place during the sacrificial death of Christ, and that the “first resurrection” of the just represented the immediate resurrection of the souls of individual believers during the Sacrament of Baptism. According to St. Augustine, Christ’s reign had already been established in the Church, and would last until Jesus returns in Glory at end of the world. Chiliasm was thus rejected and condemned by the Early Church as a dangerous heresy, which places regard for the material world over the quest for a spiritual perfection which will only be rewarded in the afterlife. In his Commentary on Daniel, St. Jerome famously railed against the idea of the future establishment of a terrestrial paradise, stating that “the saints shall never possess an earthly kingdom, but only a heavenly. Away, then, with the fable about a millennium!” (St. Jerome, Commentary on Daniel, Chap 7 v 17).

Following the errant version of eschatology presented in Fr. Joseph Iannuzzi’s book The Splendor of Creation: The Triumph of the Divine Will on Earth and the Era of Peace in the Writings of the Church Fathers, Doctors and Mystics, the authors of Countdown to the Kingdom falsely claim that the Early Church Fathers who taught the doctrine of Chiliasm actually believed in a “spiritual” Middle Coming of Christ to establish a millennial reign. They erroneously assert that before St. Augustine devised his amillennial interpretation of the Apocalypse, he held to this mooted “spiritual” Middle Coming, which he apparently regarded as an acceptable version of Chiliasm:

“And this opinion would not be objectionable, if it were believed that the joys of the saints in that Sabbath shall be spiritual, and consequent on the presence of God; for I myself, too, once held this opinion.” (St. Augustine, City of God, Book 20, Chap.7)

The idea that St. Augustine taught that a “spiritual” version of the Chiliast heresy was an acceptable teaching passed down from the Church Fathers is patently false, however. St. Augustine clearly suggests that Chiliasm would not be objectionable if the joys of the saints were spiritual rather than carnal in nature and consequent on the presence of God—i.e. the physical return of Christ in the Flesh. As such, St. Augustine most certainly does not suggest that it is acceptable to espouse the Chiliast doctrine if the coming of Christ to establish a millennial reign was said to be spiritual in nature, rather than a physical return to rule in the Flesh. (Read more.)


Tuesday, September 29, 2020

A New World Begins

A book review from Chronicles:

Readers familiar and unfamiliar with the history of the Revolution can read this brisk narrative with profit. Those who do make the effort should be alert to the many incidents and quotations that betray not only Popkin’s earnest small-r republicanism but also his eye for historical irony. For the most important lesson drawn from any history of the Revolution is the power of unintended consequences, and the dangers that arise when those who unleash forces prove unable to control them.

 This insight was certainly best expressed by those who built the First Republic, such as the Girondist Pierre Victurnien Vergniaud. Dragged to the guillotine by his Jacobin enemies in 1793, he left us with the bon mot: “The revolution, like Saturn, devours its children.” More self-consciously dramatic, another republican stalwart, Madame Roland, made sure that a friend was standing close to the guillotine to hear her last words: “Oh, Liberty, what crimes are committed in your name!”

Conservatives with a well-developed sense for the tragic often nod sagely at such scenes, which highlight the fecklessness or evil of those who overthrew a king only to produce a tyrant emperor from the resulting chaos—one who turned Europe into a charnel house.

Yet there are lessons in this history for conservatives as well. As Popkin lays out quite convincingly, the overwhelming majority of aristocrats and clergy, even when presented with clear material evidence that the king needed concessions on taxes to avoid fiscal and political calamity, refused to sacrifice. Some denied there was a crisis at all; others thought they could simply ride it out, or perhaps turn it to their advantage against a weakened monarch. 

Even the decision to call the Estates General was less a radical plot than a delaying tactic from aristocrats who refused concrete reforms. They stymied the king, thinking he would bend to their will, only to find within a few short years their privileges destroyed, their châteaux in flames, and the king in prison. Soon they found themselves mounting creaking wooden steps to visit Madame La Guillotine, accompanied by the rattle of tumbrels and jeers from the angry crowds in the Place de la Révolution. How many of them, if given the chance, would have gladly sent warnings to their earlier selves that it might have been wise to surrender a few extra livre to help balance the budget? (Read more.)


Making Liberal Heads Explode

 From PJ Media:

Last week I mentioned to my colleagues in a private chat that I’ve been waiting for President Trump to nominate Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court like a kid waits for Christmas.

In a year like this, one has to really savor the enjoyable moments. There was much savoring to be done this past Saturday and — even though I know the Democrats are going to be extremely awful going forward — I know that there is going to be a lot to enjoy in the next couple of weeks.

I watched every leftist on Twitter melt down for an hour or so during and after the nomination the other day. It was another “hold my beer” moment. Every time I think that they can’t possibly get any worse, they go out of their way to prove me wrong.

One of the first lines of attack on Barrett was to say that she is a bad mother for being an accomplished professional.

My, how far feminism has come.

It got worse from there. The next bit of bottom-feeding was to go after the judge’s kids, because the liberals are nothing but class:
I noticed that a particularly nasty line of attack was developing against ACB Friday night on Twitter. A Democrat staffer and activist posted a thread pondering if the adoption process for her two Haitian-born children was legit. The person even implied that maybe the children were snatched up and taken out of Haiti by “ultra-religious Americans”.
As I have had to say all too many times in the last year: these people are filth. (Read more.)


From The National Review:

Will it help Trump win in 2020? I’m no prognosticator, but politics has to be about more than always situating the party for the next win. Occasionally you’re going to have to fulfill promises. These justices fulfill the wishes of the vast majority of the Right, sans a handful of Trump-obsessed former conservatives.

Nor should it be forgotten that, if Barrett is confirmed, Mitch McConnell will have become one the most effective and consequential conservative politicians — nay, politicians, period — in American history. Call him a hypocrite if you like, but the risk of denying Obama another Constitution-corroding justice in 2016, widely seen as politically self-destructive by Washington commentators, was worth it. His constitutionally kosher position turned into three justices, who, one hopes, will abide by their stated originalist and Scalia-like disposition. Their rulings will long outlast any fleeting partisan squabble.

Can Democrats stop her?

Three years ago, Barrett was confirmed by the Senate to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals 55 to 43 vote. The path of least resistance for those Democrats would be to argue that Coney is a jurist with some bad opinions, but competent and decent. The justification they can offer for voting against her is that Trump is a modern-day Nero and the process has been irreparably broken. Of course, why a modern-day Nero would nominate a decent and competent jurist who will likely inhibit the power of the executive branch is a big mystery. (Read more.) 

From The City-Journal:

Judge Amy Coney Barrett, whom President Donald Trump has nominated to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is a distinguished scholar whose judicial philosophy balances a commitment to originalism with a respect for precedent. Dire predictions circulate about the consequences of adding another conservative-leaning justice to the Court, but Barrett’s record suggests that she will do credit to the institution.

In many ways, Barrett’s resume is a testament to the trail blazed by Ginsburg. Like the late justice, Barrett graduated at the top of her law school class and served as a judicial clerk, first for federal appellate judge Laurence Silberman and then for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. After a stint in private practice, Barrett joined the faculty at Notre Dame Law School, where she was named “distinguished professor of the year” three times.

Barrett has earned lavish praise from colleagues across the ideological spectrum. In 2017, when Trump nominated Barrett to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, her Notre Dame colleagues unanimously supported her in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The law professors wrote that they had a “wide range of political views” but were “united however in our judgment about Amy.” She was also endorsed in a letter signed by every former Supreme Court law clerk who clerked while Barrett worked for Justice Scalia. The former clerks’ letter described Barrett as a “woman of remarkable intellect and character,” as someone who “conducted herself with professionalism, grace, and integrity” and “was able to work collaboratively with her colleagues (even those with whom she disagreed) on challenging legal questions.” Barrett was ultimately confirmed to the Seventh Circuit with bipartisan support.

Now, however, with a Supreme Court seat in the balance, Barrett has become the subject of scathing—and misguided—criticism from the left. The Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus, for example, asserts that Barrett “would not hesitate to jettison decisions with which she disagrees,” a glaring mischaracterization of the nominee’s record on adherence to precedent, the principle known as stare decisis. Barrett has in fact defended the Supreme Court’s existing presumption in favor of stare decisis—a presumption that promotes stability while affording the justices’ flexibility to depart from precedent. (Read more.)

Also from The National Review:

Justice Antonin Scalia, for whom Barrett clerked, has observed that the law federal judges use to decide their cases is written law – the Constitution, statutes, regulations. In his book Reading Law, Scalia explains that the textualist “look[s] for meaning in the governing text, ascribe[s] to that text the meaning it has borne from its inception, and reject[s] judicial speculation about both the drafters’ extratextually derived purposes and the desirability of the fair reading’s anticipated consequences.”

Barrett has similarly written that the “bedrock principle of textualism, and the basis on which it has distinguished itself from other interpretative approaches, is its insistence that federal courts cannot contradict the plain language of a statute, whether in the service of legislative intention or in the exercise of a judicial power to render the law more just.” (Read more.)

The Trump-Hitler Comparison Is Categorically False

 From The Stream:

This is as outrageous as it is ignorant, and Deutsch needs to be called on the carpet for his ugly and inflammatory comments. As stated by the National Council of Young Israel, “To in any way liken President Trump to Adolf Hitler, who is arguably the most heinous anti-Semite in world history, is unequivocally repugnant, and trivializing the Holocaust to make a cheap political point on television is a tremendous insult to the victims and their progeny.”

Joe Scarborough, who hosted the interview with Deutsch, is also to be faulted for going along with Deutsch rather than stopping him in his tracks. It is also inexcusable that Deutsch, himself Jewish, called out Jews who support Trump. (Read more.)


A Rare Medieval Seal Matrix

 Women had more rights in the Middle Ages than most people realize. From Ancient Origins:

Sometimes a small archaeological find can provide really important insights into our past. A metal detectorist found a tiny artifact that belonged to women who lived in the 14th century in Britain. A medieval seal matrix was found and it is helping researchers to understand the life of a woman from a noble family who lived 700 years ago.

The medieval silver seal matrix was found by a metal detectorist in Hambleden, Buckinghamshire, in the south of England in April 2019. Detectorists have uncovered many artifacts in Britain in recent years. The finder brought the discovery to the attention of the local coroner’s office, which is required by law. ‘Buckinghamshire assistant coroner Alison McCormick declared it treasure,’ according to the BBC.

The oval object is made out of solid silver. According to archaeologist Anni Byard, a small finds expert with Oxford Archaeology South, the condition of the artifact is “not far-off-perfect.” The item is a seal matrix and it measures 1.2 x 0.8 inches (30.48 x 20.32 millimeters).

A seal matrix is also known simply as a seal and is a device that makes impressions on material such as wax and clay. In the medieval period, they were very common and used to seal letters and official documents. They were specially made so that individuals could authenticate a document or letter. (Read more.)


Monday, September 28, 2020

Slanderous Propaganda

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was a fictional 19th-century book, purporting to be factual, which described an international Jewish conspiracy to take over the world. Unfortunately, many influential people, including the Empress Alexandra, believed it to be true. In many ways, it helped pave the way for the Holocaust. From The Stream:

It would be easy to laugh off the 1985 novel’s new political propaganda role. Certainly, this Halloween’s “Sexy Handmaid” costumes add an element of farce. There’s a darker side, though. Just like Protocols, Handmaid imputes malicious motives to a religious group. And like Protocols, its promoters give it all the force of a journalistic exposé.

The greatest poison in both of these works is the suggestion that your neighbor (if Jewish or Christian) serves a movement that wants to oppress you. They hold beliefs that lead directly to tyranny, should they ever get the power. They may not know it themselves, but that doesn’t matter. They’re Jews or Christians, and you know what those people really want.

The effect is insidious. Once you think your neighbor’s religion commits him to oppress you, you can’t be friends with him. You must fight his faith however you can. He might be a good guy, but he’s one of them, and you know what they want. He may say he’s not interested in enslaving you. Isn’t that just what one of “them” would say?

Worse, your country has tens of millions of serious Christians. And they have political power. They elected Trump! They’re rolling back abortion freedoms! They’re oppressing trans people! They even put a sex abuser on the Supreme Court! These Christians are building Gilead right in front of your eyes. (Read more.)


From National Review:

Nor should it be forgotten that, if Barrett is confirmed, Mitch McConnell will have become one the most effective and consequential conservative politicians — nay, politicians, period — in American history. Call him a hypocrite if you like, but the risk of denying Obama another Constitution-corroding justice in 2016, widely seen as politically self-destructive by Washington commentators, was worth it. His constitutionally kosher position turned into three justices, who, one hopes, will abide by their stated originalist and Scalia-like disposition. Their rulings will long outlast any fleeting partisan squabble.

Can Democrats stop her?

Three years ago, Barrett was confirmed by the Senate to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals 55 to 43 vote. The path of least resistance for those Democrats would be to argue that Coney is a jurist with some bad opinions, but competent and decent. The justification they can offer for voting against her is that Trump is a modern-day Nero and the process has been irreparably broken. Of course, why a modern-day Nero would nominate a decent and competent jurist who will likely inhibit the power of the executive branch is a big mystery. (Read more.)


From Live Action:

The women of Louisiana were dealt a blow Monday when the Supreme Court of the United States decided once again that their safety is not important as long as they have abortion access. By a vote of 5-4 in the case of June Medical Services v. Russo, the Court struck down a Louisiana law requiring physicians at abortion facilities in the state to be held to the same standard as other ambulatory surgical center physicians. The majority decided that abortionists are not required to hold admitting privileges to area hospitals as all other outpatient surgical center physicians do. In his dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas pointed out major flaws in the decision, including the disregard for the reason SCOTUS accepted the case, the lack of support for abortion in the Constitution, and the fact that SCOTUS does not have jurisdiction to claim Louisiana’s law is unconstitutional.

“Our abortion precedents are grievously wrong and should be overruled,” Justice Thomas wrote. “Because we have neither jurisdiction nor constitutional authority to declare Louisiana’s duly enacted law unconstitutional, I respectfully dissent.”

Thomas argued in his dissent that the reason SCOTUS accepted the June Medical case was “specifically to address whether ‘abortion providers [can] be presumed to have third-party standing to challenge health and safety regulations on behalf of their patients….'” But, he said, the Court ignored this question completely.

Thomas argued that the Court has long maintained that private parties can not bring about a suit in regards to the constitutional rights of individuals who are not plaintiffs in the case. Therefore, the plaintiffs (abortionists) in June Medical Services v. Russo do not have the right to challenge the Louisiana law regarding admitting privileges.

“Because this right [to abortion] belongs to the woman making that choice, not to those who provide abortions, plaintiffs cannot establish a personal legal injury by asserting that this right has been violated,” wrote Thomas. “The only injury asserted by plaintiffs in this suit is the possibility of facing criminal sanctions if the abortionists conduct abortions without admitting privileges in violation of the law,” he added.

This distinction is important. With admitting privileges, abortionists would be held to a higher standard than they currently are because hospitals would check their credentials. Currently, abortion businesses in Louisiana do not run background checks or verify a doctor’s credentials before hiring. With an admitting privileges requirement, doctors like these would be much less likely to be granted admitting privileges. According to the Amici Curiae brief in this case, the medical director at June Medical Services (the plaintiff) admitted that “he neither performed background checks nor inquired into their previous training before bringing in new doctors.”

This is truly shocking and unquestionably puts women at significant risk. (Read more.)


‘Trump Was Right’

 From The Federalist:

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents tasked by fired former Director James Comey to take down Donald Trump during and after the 2016 election were so concerned about the agency’s potentially illegal behavior that they purchased liability insurance to protect themselves less than two weeks before Trump was inaugurated president, previously hidden FBI text messages show. The explosive new communications and internal FBI notes were disclosed in federal court filings today from Sidney Powell, the attorney who heads Michael Flynn’s legal defense team.

“[W]e all went and purchased professional liability insurance,” one agent texted on Jan. 10, 2017, the same day CNN leaked details that then-President-elect Trump had been briefed by Comey about the bogus Christopher Steele dossier. That briefing of Trump was used as a pretext to legitimize the debunked dossier, which was funded by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign and compiled by a foreign intelligence officer who was working for a sanctioned Russian oligarch. (Read more.)

From the ACLJ:

An FBI agent on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team said that the entire investigation was to “get Trump” and that it was a “dead end.” On today’s Jay Sekulow Live, we discussed the latest bombshells about the Russia probe. There were several. The biggest one was that a former member of Mueller’s team, an FBI agent, said that the entire investigation was to “get Trump.” There were also more developments in the General Flynn matter.

There are so many developments that happend last night. The first as we’ve noted, is the former member of the Mueller team’s testimony that included him saying that the entire investigation was to “get Trump.” He told the DOJ that the investigation into General Flynn was part of an attitude to “get Trump” and that he didn’t wish to pursue a Russia Collusion investigation as it was “not there” and he also considered it to be a “dead end.”

Also, it is now known that the FBI and Special Counsel’s team knew all along that the main source for the Steele Dossier had been a suspected Russian agent committing potential illegal activity. So this agent was dangerous. I’m going to say this again because it bears repeating. They knew this the entire time at the FBI and the Special Counsel’s office and yet they tried to take the Steele Dossier in and use it as a predicate for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants on American citizens and to spy on the Trump campaign.

We’ve also got new filings in the Flynn case. These new filings shed light on what was happening during the FBI investigation into General Flynn, even before the Special Counsel’s office started their work. One of the most interesting pieces of information that came out was that FBI agents took out professional liability insurance for fear of being sued. (Read more.)


Climate Change and the Mastodons

 Not man-made. From SciTechDaily:

In the first large-scale genetic study of American mastodons, published today in the journal, Nature Communications, researchers reconstructed complete mitochondrial genomes from the fossilized remains of 33 individual animals. The species went extinct approximately 11,000 years ago during the megafaunal extinctions that took out many of the large mammals such as mammoths, sabre-toothed cats, and giant ground sloths.

The mastodon was among the largest living land animals on Earth at the time, roaming from Beringia (present-day Alaska and the Yukon) east to Nova Scotia and south to Central Mexico. They were primarily browsers, living in swampy settings, eating shrubs, and low-hanging tree branches. (Read more.)


Sunday, September 27, 2020

The Nominee: Judge Amy Coney Barrett

It seems that there are some among the devout who think it is ungodly for a Catholic wife and a mother to be involved in politics and public life. There are many examples in the past of devout Catholic women, some saints, being directly involved in public and political matters. Over the ages, God has called certain women to step out of their traditional role to fulfill a mission. The examples of Aethelflaed of Wessex, St. Joan of Arc, the Servant of God Isabel the Catholic, and Empress Maria Theresa, are before us. They were called to take a stand for the People of God in crisis situations to manifest the Divine intervention, like Deborah and Judith in the Scriptures.

Isabel of Castile did everything that a king would do but lead soldiers into battle. She had her husband do that. So did Empress Maria Theresa, who completely ran the administrative side of the Holy Roman Empire. And ran it well. And in France, Marie de Medici, mother of seven, ruled France until her son was old enough. Mary Queen of Scots did lead soldiers into battle, and not always successfully. The Calvinist ex-priest John Knox admonished her and lamented "The Monstrous Regiment of Women" in that he did not believe women should rule at all. The Pope at the time is not recorded lamenting that Queen Regnants like Mary Stuart had the authority over men, but rather His Holiness made sure she could receive the Eucharist when imprisoned. 

There are lots of other examples of such women. And no pope ever rebuked them for being rulers. Perhaps for other things, but not for their political involvement. Some say that a call to be a woman ruler or a woman leader was not a free choice but history is more complicated than that. Mary Stuart could have stayed in France and let her Protestant half-brother rule for her. Isabel could have been a nun but fought for the crown. Maria Theresa took the Habsburg empire in what is known as the Pragmatic Sanction, which cut out several male heirs. And why did God call St. Joan when France was full of experienced knights who could have led the troops to victory? 

 From The Federalist:

President Trump formally nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on Saturday in the White House Rose Garden to fill the seat left vacant by Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death.

“I stand before you today to fulfill one of my highest and most important duties under the United States Constitution, the nomination of a Supreme Court justice,” Trump stated.  Trump praised Barrett’s track record as a federal judge as well as her history working with deceased Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. He also urged Democrat lawmakers and the media to provide a “respectful and dignified hearing that she deserves and, frankly, that our country deserves.” (Read more.)


From First Things:

 Over the past week, scores of articles have been published on various aspects of Amy Coney Barrett’s character—her fitness as a judicial nominee, her acumen as a scholar, and her unapologetic commitment to the Catholic faith. But long before I had reason to consider any of these qualities, I thought of Judge Barrett simply as an answer to my prayers.

I arrived at Notre Dame in 2013. Like any new law student, my head swirled with hopes, thoughts, dreams, and fears. But unlike many other students, I also needed to singlehandedly ensure that I had access to the tools and technologies necessary for me to succeed as a completely blind person.

Unfortunately, things got off to a bumpy start. The assistive technology purchased by the university, which would have allowed me to compete on equal footing with my sighted peers, did not arrive on time. And, in keeping with Murphy’s law, my personal laptop immediately broke, leaving me overnight with no reliable way to access my texts, take notes, or otherwise keep pace in class. I needed help, and I needed it fast.

For that help, I turned to then-professor Barrett. Although I had known her for only two weeks, I felt confident that this poised, articulate woman would not dismiss my concerns and would counsel me on how to get the university to procure the needed assistive technology as quickly as possible. (Read more.)


From USA Today:

Yes, she is brilliant. And, yes, she is a principled, careful judge, admired legal scholar and amazing teacher. Her respect among her colleagues and students is reflected in the fact that she has been elected professor of the year three times by the law school’s graduating class and in letters of support for her nomination to the 7th Circuit, including ones signed by all of her full-time faculty colleagues at Notre Dame, all of her fellow Supreme Court clerks, hundreds of former students and dozens of prominent law professors from around the country. (Read more.)


More HERE. And HERE.


How French “Intellectuals” Ruined the West

 From Areo:

Postmodernism presents a threat not only to liberal democracy but to modernity itself. That may sound like a bold or even hyperbolic claim, but the reality is that the cluster of ideas and values at the root of postmodernism have broken the bounds of academia and gained great cultural power in western society. The irrational and identitarian “symptoms” of postmodernism are easily recognizable and much criticized, but the ethos underlying them is not well understood. This is partly because postmodernists rarely explain themselves clearly and partly because of the inherent contradictions and inconsistencies of a way of thought which denies a stable reality or reliable knowledge to exist. However, there are consistent ideas at the root of postmodernism and understanding them is essential if we intend to counter them. They underlie the problems we see today in Social Justice Activism, undermine the credibility of the Left and threaten to return us to an irrational and tribal “pre-modern” culture.

Postmodernism, most simply, is an artistic and philosophical movement which began in France in the 1960s and produced bewildering art and even more bewildering “theory.” It drew on avant-garde and surrealist art and earlier philosophical ideas, particularly those of Nietzsche and Heidegger, for its anti-realism and rejection of the concept of the unified and coherent individual. It reacted against the liberal humanism of the modernist artistic and intellectual movements, which its proponents saw as naïvely universalizing a western, middle-class and male experience.

It rejected philosophy which valued ethics, reason and clarity with the same accusation. Structuralism, a movement which (often over-confidently) attempted to analyze human culture and psychology according to consistent structures of relationships, came under attack. Marxism, with its understanding of society through class and economic structures was regarded as equally rigid and simplistic. Above all, postmodernists attacked science and its goal of attaining objective knowledge about a reality which exists independently of human perceptions which they saw as merely another form of constructed ideology dominated by bourgeois, western assumptions. Decidedly left-wing, postmodernism had both a nihilistic and a revolutionary ethos which resonated with a post-war, post-empire zeitgeist in the West. As postmodernism continued to develop and diversify, its initially stronger nihilistic deconstructive phase became secondary (but still fundamental) to its revolutionary “identity politics” phase. (Read more.)

Saturday, September 26, 2020

A True Work of Art

 From The Imaginative Conservative:

Like so many of the great epics before her, Mitchell uses the backdrop of a real war—as Tolstoy used the Napoleonic Wars—to heighten the sense of striving to win love. The war upends everyone’s life. Ashley is away. Charles dies ignominiously from measles. Scarlett gives birth to the affectionately adorable but awkward Wade. And Rhett Butler becomes a heroic blockader and begins his pursuit of Scarlett, bringing a complex love triangle into the story. Though Rhett wants and even loves Scarlett, she just treats him as an empty dummy whom she tolerates simply because he brings her gifts and asks her to dance.

Scarlett’s intensity for Ashley grows as the war lingers on. When Ashley returns to Twelve Oaks on furlough, Scarlett wants to upstage Melanie, who has sewn him a grey officer’s coat. Scarlett sews him a golden sash to complete the uniform. She concocts plans to wrest Ashley away from Melanie, and even begins wishing Melanie would just die, as divorce was unthinkable at the time. As the psychological tumult continues, it is clear that Scarlett will “sacrifice anything for Ashley.” This is, as mentioned above, one of the hallmarks of a classic. (Read more.)


How to Vote According to our Catholic Faith

 The abortion issue must take precedence when choosing a candidate. From The Catholic World Report:

As of this writing, some 62,237,640 human lives have been snuffed out in the United States since the Supreme Court made abortion the law of the land in 1973. That each of these human lives was violently ended before they could even be born should be incomprehensible and deeply painful to us.

I am grateful for not only the unwavering witness of the Catholic Church to the sanctity of life from the moment of conception to natural death, but also for the many heroic and generous ways that the Church supports women — both in crisis pregnancy and after their children are born — provides health care, education and social services to those in poverty, and offers hope and healing to women and men grieving in the aftermath of abortion.

The canard that the Church only cares about the unborn child, but not those who are born, is a lie. In recent years, we have seen a radicalization of pro-abortion agendas and policies, some calling for unrestricted abortion, right up to birth. Others have pushed the notion that abortion is such a “right” that we all should be compelled to pay for it. Somehow, this violence is hailed as “progress” or “liberation” for women and the poor. It is neither. The Church will always stand up for the protection of human life and the dignity of every single person, beginning with life in the womb.

Even the drafters of the Declaration of Independence, some of them agnostic deists, asserted that all people enjoy the “right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” I believe that this increasingly institutionalized disregard for human life in its most nascent and vulnerable stage has led to the increased violence against human beings that we sadly see all around us today.

We want to build a culture of life enshrined in the laws of our society in which every human being is welcomed, cherished, nourished, and received; where parents will choose life for their children, knowing that support, resources and care are available, so that all people will be able to live the dignity of a child of God, with rights and responsibilities, able to realize their potential and make their contribution to the common good. (Read more.)

New Yorkers Flee for Florida

 From The Dan Bongino Show:

The number of citizens leaving New York is at its highest rate since NYC’s pre-Giuliani crime wave.  From 2010 to 2017, New York lost 1,022,071 residents, a negative 5.27% change in internal migration. Total population grew only 0.4% from 2010-2019, a time when the national population grew 16%.

NYC’s population is beginning to drop for the first time in a decade. From 2017-2018 it fell 0.47%, which may appear minor, but was the largest drop in any metro area during that period. While the population was projected to grow by 7,000, it actually declined by 38,000. The exodus accelerated from 2018-2019, with the city losing over 53,000 people.

During the early months of the pandemic nearly half a million people left the city, though we won’t know for some time how many left for good for some time. Even immigrants are avoiding the city – international immigration fall nearly in half since its peak in 2016 (far out of proportion with the decline in legal immigration under President Trump). By 2019 NYC’s population was only 2% larger than it was in 2010, again, a time period where the population grew 16% nationally.

Florida is the #1 destination for those leaving New York, a state that couldn’t possibly contrast with more in terms of government’s size and scope. Taxes in Florida are drastically lower than in New York, as is the cost of living. This is vindication that Florida’s system of government is preferable to New York’s, but also could lead to political consequences if New Yorkers are bringing their politics with them.

A comparison between the administration of both states leaves no doubt why one would leave one for the other. (Read more.)


The Humaneness of the Historical Mind

 From the Kirk Center:

Imperialism is the logical result of the idyllic imagination, the self-understanding that one has the true vision of proper political order and a call to impose that idyllic order upon the world. Justin Litke applies Babbitt’s and Ryn’s ideas of ethical constraint in foreign policy to distinguish between imperialism and republicanism in the American political tradition. The idyllic imagination yields an imperialist foreign policy and the moral imagination, with its emphasis upon restraint, yields a restrained foreign policy consistent with a republican political order. Republicanism requires Babbitt’s “inner check,” the humility and self-restraint of a people to remain home, to insist that they do not have answers to the world’s problems. The idea of America as a propositional nation, rather than an historical nation, lent itself to an idyllic vision. Such an abstractionist understanding could become imperialist. If we have the right ideas instantiated in our national institutions, don’t we owe it to the world to make sure they have those ideas instantiated as well? Gamble and Litke, following Babbitt and Ryn, answer “no” and argue that most Americans through American history would have said “no” as well. (Read more.)

Friday, September 25, 2020

Mary and Bioethics: An Exploration

From Francis Etheredge at Enroute Books and Media:

Whether it is the problem of pain, the messiness of our relationships or the confusion circulating about human identity, it is possible to think that we do not have anything to learn from the Virgin Mary, spouse of St. Joseph and Mother of the Lord, regarding our understanding of the human race; indeed, that Mary is somehow superficial to who we are as human beings and is a kind of devotional addition to her son Jesus Christ. However, considering the nature of woman opens upon a vision of the gift of human being as fundamentally ordered to relationship. The reality of men and women, neither exalted nor diminished, is discovered to be a gift-to-be-gratefully received; and, on reflection, this turns out to be a necessary redress of the many imbalances in the self-understanding of our times. In other words, reflecting on Mary, the Mother of the Lord, yields a foundational insight into the very moment of human conception, a clearer perception of human participation in the mystery of redemption and, at the same time, a fountain of insights concerning many of the bio-ethical problems of our time. (Read more.)

Francis Etheredge is interviewed on his book The Family on Pilgrimage, HERE. More HERE. All his books are available internationally from Amazon, HERE.


SCOTUS Confirmation Fight

 From The Federalist:

The media has wasted no time casting aspersions on Barrett for her Catholic faith. On Monday, the Washington Post ran a kind of explainer on Barrett, which included an out-of-context quote from a talk she apparently gave years ago, that a “legal career is but a means to an end… and that end is building the Kingdom of God.”

The statement itself, even without context, is an altogether ordinary expression of sincere religious belief that any devout person, whether Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, or Muslim, would readily affirm. Yet the Post’s Ron Charles highlighted it in a tweet Monday, as if to warn us that Barrett might try to usher in a Catholic theocracy if she gets onto the Supreme Court.

Also Monday, Newsweek published a somewhat hysterical piece about how Barrett is affiliated with a Christian religious group, People of Praise, that served as the inspiration for “The Handmaid’s Tale”—as if Barrett, a woman on the president’s short list for the Supreme Court, somehow exemplifies the oppression of women by a religious patriarchy. (Update: Newsweek posted a correction to this piece Tuesday, saying Margaret Atwood never mentioned People of Praise as an inspiration for “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which calls into question the entire point of the article. The social media headline, however, remains unchanged.)

Elected Democrats have been even more frank about their antipathy towards Catholics, even to the point of appearing to support an anti-Catholic religious test for nominees to the federal bench. It was during Barrett’s 2017 confirmation to the federal appellate court that Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein admitted openly that the judge’s Catholic faith was a problem for her, infamously telling Barrett, “the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern.” (Read more.)


Why 2020 is Different from 2016

 From Mama Needs Coffee:

While we’re being browbeaten by an amoral, scratch that, immoral media, powered largely by Hollywood and celebrity outrage culture for voting for a man who is just a hairsbreadth above satan himself when it comes to moral character, according to Lady Gaga and Nancy Pelosi and even my very kind neighbor lady, he’s over there in DC like, signing bills that lower taxes, facilitate prison reform, and protect unborn human life.

I don’t know about you, but I am sick to death of being moralized and preached to by a corrupt, spineless, and utterly compromised media who literally say the opposite of what is true.

I’ve seen Catholics in recent weeks make the case that Joe Biden – Joe Biden! Who has been in his basement for the past 4 months and can’t form a cogent sentence! – is the only morally sound choice this year.

Joe Biden, a lapsed Catholic who shows no sign of having repented from serving in the most corrupt and anti life political administration in history. Joe Biden whose credible (look this word up, it will become increasingly important especially as the impending SCOTUS nominee starts having their lives nuked in the coming days) accusations of sexual assault were ignored, downplayed, or outright accepted by the media and his political allies because even though he may have actually raped that one woman, he is still a better overall choice for all women (?????) than is the sitting President.

Joe Biden, who has aligned himself with a vice presidential candidate who is literally a socialist and a virulent anti Catholic, to boot.

But at least he’s not Trump, right?

I know lots of people are disgusted by Trump’s past, by the sleaze, the divorces, the degrading comments towards women. But is he still there? And most importantly, does it inform the way he governs? (Read more.)


Virtue Over Victimhood

 From Crisis:

The urban aspirants who come to Victory Home, a Woodson-sponsored center in San Antonio, Texas, are like the Old Testament Jacob who struggled with an angel in the dark night. They might be limping, but they’re not paralyzed. They sign on to its program because they want to be like the center’s leader, Freddie Garcia, and its resident councilor, Juan Rivera. They want to kick their debilitating addictive habits for good. To move the needle in that direction, immediately after their detox process, these enrollees begin the discipline of acquiring the virtue of temperance. How? By acting temperately—abstaining from drugs and alcohol—time and time again until, in time, it becomes a settled disposition, a second nature, as it is for Freddie and Juan. Both are able to readily activate the good habit of temperance every time it’s needed.

Those who come to them are “boot campers.” They want the same freedom Freddie and Juan have, the freedom to control their desire for drugs and alcohol rather than let their intemperate desire control them.

As the virtue of temperance helps them integrate their basic bodily desires for food, drink, drugs, and sex into the realm of reason, these aspiring young adults don’t just acquire the virtue of temperance. They simultaneously acquire its virtue correlates: the courage to be temperate, the prudence to choose rightly in respect to addictive substances, and the justice to render what they owe their families, their neighbors, and God. Armed with the powers of these natural virtues, these young men and women begin to enjoy the goods of life, health, truth, and community, the basic human goods that shape their overall character and enhance their freedom for moral excellence. (Read more.)

Thursday, September 24, 2020

The Knights of Heliopolis

A graphic novel about Louis XVII. I have not read it so am not recommending it. But it may be of interest to some. From Comic-Watch:

The 18th century. In a monastery in the North of Spain hides the sacred temple of the Knights of Heliopolis: an assembly of immortal alchemists cut off from the world. As disciple Seventeen prepares to complete his training and integrate order, his master Fulcanelli reveals to the other knights the terrible secret of his origins – Seventeen is actually the hidden son of King Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette! Will the young heir claim the throne or remain in the shadows, faithful to the millennial precepts of Alchemy? (Read more.)

More HERE.


Canceling Beethoven

 And Beethoven was a revolutionary. From The New York Post:

Think some things are so beloved and essential to Western civilization they can’t be canceled? Think again.

If there’s anything we should have learned from months of “mostly peaceful” Black Lives Matter street protests, statue toppling and online mobs seeking to silence anyone who dissents against leftist narratives about “racism,” it’s that no one, living or dead, is safe from the attentions of woke fascists. Even Ludwig van Beethoven.

Beethoven’s work is not only at the core of the standard repertory of classical music; some of his most popular works have also become part of popular culture, their melodies recognizable even to those who’ve never heard an orchestral concert.

For the last 200 years, Beethoven’s compositions have also been symbols of the struggle for freedom against tyranny. The “Ode to Joy” from the conclusion to his Ninth Symphony remains the definitive anthem of universal brotherhood. It is no coincidence that the opening notes of his Fifth Symphony — whose rhythmic pattern duplicates the Morse Code notation for the letter “V” as in “V for Victory” — were used by the BBC for broadcasts to occupied Europe during the Second World War. (Read more.)


The Evolution of Modern Intelligence


Assuming the brain was as modern as the box that held it, our African ancestors theoretically could have discovered relativity, built space telescopes, written novels and love songs. Their bones say they were just as human as we are.

Because the is so patchy, fossils provide only minimum dates. Human DNA suggests even earlier origins for modernity. Comparing between DNA in modern people and ancient Africans, it's estimated that our ancestors lived 260,000 to 350,000 years ago. All living humans descend from those people, suggesting that we inherited the fundamental commonalities of our species, our humanity, from them.

All their descendants—Bantu, Berber, Aztec, Aboriginal, Tamil, San, Han, Maori, Inuit, Irish—share certain peculiar behaviors absent in other great apes. All human cultures form long-term pair bonds between men and women to care for children. We sing and dance. We make art. We preen our hair, adorn our bodies with ornaments, tattoos and makeup.

We craft shelters. We wield fire and complex tools. We form large, multigenerational social groups with dozens to thousands of people. We cooperate to wage war and help each other. We teach, tell stories, trade. We have morals, laws. We contemplate the stars, our place in the cosmos, life's meaning, what follows death.

The details of our tools, fashions, families, morals and mythologies vary from tribe to tribe and culture to culture, but all living humans show these behaviors. That suggests these behaviors—or at least, the capacity for them—are innate. These shared behaviors unite all people. They're the human condition, what it means to be human, and they result from shared ancestry.

We inherited our humanity from peoples in southern Africa 300,000 years ago. The alternative—that everyone, everywhere coincidentally became fully human in the same way at the same time, starting 65,000 years ago—isn't impossible, but a single origin is more likely. (Read more.)


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Hats of London

 From Upscale Living Magazine:

The oldest hat shop in the world has unveiled its latest women’s capsule collection by its Couture Collection head designer, the award-winning Awon Golding. Lock & Co was first established in 1676. But its women’s department only opened in 1993. The once male enclave now sells haute couture turbans and perching berets as well as chic cloches, skipper caps, raindrop cap, Dick Tracy fedoras, and other ladies’ headwear.

 The Hong Kong-born designer is a former fashion writer and magazine editor. She studied millinery at London’s Kensington and Chelsea College and worked for TopShop and River Island. Her 2020 collection for the historic hat shop celebrates “iconic women for the modern women.” (Read more.)


'Targeted Genocide' in Ethiopia

 From CBN:

An Ethiopian Christian leader says it's time to launch an international inquiry, claiming hundreds of Christians have been murdered this summer by Muslim extremists in the Oromia region. 

The Barnabus Fund, an international persecution watchdog, reports hundreds of people have been killed in coordinated door-to-door attacks—many of them targeting Christian households. The extremists, armed with guns, machetes, swords, and spears, have reportedly sought out Christian families to kill them. 

Open Doors reports that Christians in Ethiopia have long been targeted for their faith: "In Ethiopia, all Christian communities are targeted by radical Islamists—particularly where the Christian community is in the minority—but some denominations are more heavily targeted. In 2019, the country saw a rise in communal violence, which displaced millions of people." And Voice of the Martyrs reported one incident in 2019 in which 13 churches were burned.

Reports in Ethiopian media confirm what Barnabus is reporting about a spate of killings earlier this summer. The violence involves religious as well as ethnic cleansing, but the situation is complicated and appears to also involve political motivations. (Read more.)