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Korea & START


If the outbreak of hostilities in Korea demonstrates anything, it is the necessity of passing the START treaty. The Russians want to see that treaty ratified and we need their help in pressuring Iran which, like Korea, has been pursuing a nuclear weapons capability. If the North Koreans did not have nuclear weapons, their recent attack on a South Korean island would be problematic but it would not be potentially catastrophic. The last thing we need is a nuclear-armed Iran to worry about too.

On Gratitude


We now know that the first Thanksgiving in 1621 did not look much like the image we received of it as children. The Indians crashed, they were not invited. The principal meat was venison, not turkey. Etc. But, there was thanksgiving for difficulties endured and for the promise the Pilgrims felt as they pondered their colony’s future. This American founding, as opposed to the late eighteenth century founding, was a distinctly religious event.

Yahoo Watch: Jennifer Hartline at Catholic Online


I have never noticed Ms. Hartline's byline until today. She has joined the hysteria against the full body screening being employed by the TSA to protect Americans on planes.

How bad is that hysteria? Mr. Hartline prefers profiling - she does not say racial profiling, but that is what she means evidently.

Otherwise, why pen this:

3 year-old girls are not the enemy. 7 year-old boys are not the enemy. Elderly nuns in full habit are not the enemy. The overwhelming majority of people in the United States are not the enemy. The enemy, by and large, is Muslim men. But since the current administration won't even name the enemy, let alone employ security measures that actually target the enemy, now every American citizen is treated as the enemy.

The enemy is Muslim men. Oh, that simplifies everything. Except of course that Timothy McVeigh was not a Muslim man, was he.

The Difference Between a Canonist and a Theologian


The National Catholic Register has posted an interview with Cardinal Raymond Burke, focusing on the Pope’s remarks about condoms in the new book Light of the World.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Register’s interviewer did not inquire about the Pope’s remarks concerning Fr. Maciel. But, be that as it may, this exchange caught my eye:

Q: In that discussion about unity with the Orthodox that you reference, Seewald asks, “Will Pope Benedict restructure the papacy in order to foster the unity of Christianity?” The Holy Father corrects Seewald in his interpretation of the phrase “First among equals” applying to the successor of St. Peter. He says it is not the formula we believe as Catholics and add, “the pope has specific functions and tasks. … The question (for the Orthodox) is precisely whether the pope has specific tasks or not.” What tasks is he speaking of?

Barbara Bush Explains Baby in a Bottle


Last night, Larry King asked former First Lady Barbara Bush about a story recounted by her son, George W. Bush, in his new memoir. According to the former president, his mother had a miscarriage and his mother showed him the fetus in a jar, and this made a large impression on him, an early indicator of his subsequent pro-life views. Mrs. Bush confirmed that she had a miscarraige but said she had not the fetus in the jar, someone named "Paula" did. The Bushes had a daughter named Pauline, who was nicknamed "Robin," and perhaps that is who Mrs. Bush was referring to. Larry King did not follow up.

I suppose it doesn't matter who put the baby in the jar, but the whole story grosses me out. It put me in mind of Randall Terry bringing out an aborted fetus on a little cushion in one of his videos. Please people - bury the dead with dignity. I do not see how the episode made the future president pro-life unless he, too, was struck with horror.

Hire Rendell, Not Plouffe


The White House is beinning its post-midterm shake-up. Evidently presidential counselor David Axelrod is headed to Chicago even earlier than expected, and former campaign manager David Plouffe is coming on board the White House staff at the beginning of the new year. This sends the same signal as the decision by the Democratic caucus in the House to select the same leadership team for the upcoming Congress: Obama doesn't "get it" even though he says he does.

What does he not get? That more than messaging is the problem. That he has personally failed to find a way to explain the public purposes he has asked the American people to pay for. That simplicity and clarity are political values every bit as important as thoughtful decision-making and a "no drama" atmosphere. That he can talk about re-training and smart jobs till he is blue in the face, but the average manufacturing worker who plant has closed knows there is not much that is going to improve his economic prospects.

Of course, I am not sitting in on conversations in the White House and the President does not call me up and seek my advice. Maybe Obama does "get it."

TSA Hysteria


Am I missing something? In the "war on terror" conservatives prefer a no-holds barred approach, right? If we have to torture someone to get information, pull out the rack. If we have to invade countries that have not attacked us, send in the Marines.

But heaven forfend if you have a to wait a bit longer in the security line at the airport, or go through a more extensive search just because last year, during the holidays, someone actually did try and blow up an airplane. Remember?

George Will's column yesterday was only the latest in a series of screeds, most of them inspired by the Drudge Report.

The whole franzy though is illustrative of the double standard conservatives use. Can you imagine if George W. Bush had approved the new, more invasive searches and Democrats had opposed them? You can imagine the outcry. But, now that President Obama approves the changes and all hell breaks lose.

NYTimes is Wrong Again


The editors of the New York Times this morning editorialized on what they deem President Obama's failure to revamp the Office of Faith-Based and Community Neighborhoods in a manner to their liking. Specifically, the editors at the Times think the Obama administration should require that any faith-based groups receiving federal funds not discriminate in hiring based on religious principles or affiliation.

To be clear, I do think it would be wrong to provide federal funds to organizations that disciminate regarding whom they help. Catholic Charities, for example, cannot only help Catholics. But, failing to see the need for a religiously based organization to hire from within its own flock in order to maintain its religious identity, is a big failure of imagination on the Times' part. You can't have a Methodist organization without Methodists, at least not for very long. Over time, the institution's religious inspiration will fade if it is not replenished by the religious commitment of its workers.

Dept. of Unintended Consequences


Ben Smith, at, reports on some push back from some Tea Party activists against the pro-gay rights Republican group GOProud. Already, the American Principles Project refused to participate in a conservative forum is GOProud was allowed to participate as well.

The immediate, and foreseeable, consequence of such protests is that it makes it that much easier for Democrats in Congress and for President Obama not to push for a repeal of "Don't Ask; Don't Tell." In that sense, the push against GOProud makes sense. But, in the long run, one of the difficulties facing the Democrats is how to appear more moderate, and to how to make sure that such moderation does not alienate key parts of their base. With Tea Party activists leading the anti-gay push, the pressure is off on Obama to deliver on his promise to deliver a DADT repeal.


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