Archive for April, 2009

Arlen Specter Wants to be Re-elected

April 28, 2009

Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania senior senator, announced today that he is switching his political affiliation from Republican to Democrat and will seek re-election by running in the Democratic primary in 2010.

He announced this switch on his website–click here for the link.

Clearly, Specter saw that he was going to have trouble winning the Republican primary because of his many positions that haven’t been in line with the Republican party’s principles.

I’m not sure if this is a case of abandoning personal principles to seek personal gain.  However, it is clearly an attempt of maintain political power.  Specter mentions in his announcement that his move to the Democratic party isn’t like Jim Jeffords switch that changed the control of the Senate.  It might be worse.  Jeffords’ change gave the Democrats the leadership of the Senate.  Pending what happens in Minnesota, Specter switch may give the Democrats their 60th seat.  That will effectively remove any power the minority party has to stop legislation.  With 60 seats, the majority party can overcome any parliamentary procedures to block Senate action.

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Mary Ann Glendon–A Woman of Principle

April 28, 2009

Mary Ann Glendon is a law professor at the Harvard Law School who is pro-life.  She served as the U. S. ambassador to the Vatican from 2007 to 2009.  She was selected by the University of Notre Dame to receive the prestigious Laetare Medal, which was to be presented to her at this year’s graduation ceremonies.   When she learned that she would share the program with President Obama, the most pro-abortion president in our nation’s history, she decided to decline the award and the opportunity to speak.

I commend her for taking a personal stand for her principles, especially at the cost of receiving a special honor.  She has kept the focus on her principles, while Notre Dame seems to have lost theirs.

Here is the letter that she wrote:

April 27, 2009
The Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
President
University of Notre Dame
Dear Father Jenkins,

When you informed me in December 2008 that I had been selected to receive Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal, I was profoundly moved. I treasure the memory of receiving an honorary degree from Notre Dame in 1996, and I have always felt honored that the commencement speech I gave that year was included in the anthology of Notre Dame’s most memorable commencement speeches. So I immediately began working on an acceptance speech that I hoped would be worthy of the occasion, of the honor of the medal, and of your students and faculty.

Last month, when you called to tell me that the commencement speech was to be given by President Obama, I mentioned to you that I would have to rewrite my speech. Over the ensuing weeks, the task that once seemed so delightful has been complicated by a number of factors.

First, as a longtime consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, I could not help but be dismayed by the news that Notre Dame also planned to award the president an honorary degree. This, as you must know, was in disregard of the U.S. bishops’ express request of 2004 that Catholic institutions “should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles” and that such persons “should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” That request, which in no way seeks to control or interfere with an institution’s freedom to invite and engage in serious debate with whomever it wishes, seems to me so reasonable that I am at a loss to understand why a Catholic university should disrespect it.

Then I learned that “talking points” issued by Notre Dame in response to widespread criticism of its decision included two statements implying that my acceptance speech would somehow balance the event:

“President Obama won’t be doing all the talking. Mary Ann Glendon, the former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, will be speaking as the recipient of the Laetare Medal.”

“We think having the president come to Notre Dame, see our graduates, meet our leaders, and hear a talk from Mary Ann Glendon is a good thing for the president and for the causes we care about.”

A commencement, however, is supposed to be a joyous day for the graduates and their families. It is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame’s decision—in disregard of the settled position of the U.S. bishops—to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church’s position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice.

Finally, with recent news reports that other Catholic schools are similarly choosing to disregard the bishops’ guidelines, I am concerned that Notre Dame’s example could have an unfortunate ripple effect.

It is with great sadness, therefore, that I have concluded that I cannot accept the Laetare Medal or participate in the May 17 graduation ceremony.

In order to avoid the inevitable speculation about the reasons for my decision, I will release this letter to the press, but I do not plan to make any further comment on the matter at this time.

Yours Very Truly

Mary Ann Glendon

Coming Up on the First Hundred Days of the Obama Administration

April 23, 2009
 Barack Obama exchanges a friendly handshake with Venezuelas President Hugo Chavez  Photo: AP

Barack Obama exchanges a friendly handshake with Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez Photo: AP

President Obama took the oath of office on January 20, 2009.  His first 100 days will soon be here.  What do I think about his early performance?  I’m not surprised with it.  He has done pretty much what he told us what he was going to do–transform America.  My problem with it is that I don’t want my America transformed.  Improved–yes.  But not transformed.

The federal government was spending too much and dangerously increasing the national debt.  Obama’s response was to make massive, unprecedented spending.  We can’t get out of debt by spending more and more.

I think America is a special country.  It appears that President Obama thinks of America, as someone once said, “just another country in the UN General Assembly between Afghanistan and Zimbabwe.  He has traveled the globe apologizing for America, bowing to kings, and smiling with and shaking hands with dictators.

About 100 days ago, Obama took an oath to ” preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”  It seems to me that he has done his best to undermine the safety of our country.  The military budget is the only place where there have been significant cuts.  Sensitive, confidential memos from the Bush Administration regarding our “war of terrorism” have been released, informing our nation’s enemies of our thoughts and actions.  One of his first announced decisions was to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, without any plan on what to do with the evil men held there.  He has announced to our enemies that we will no longer use “extreme” interogation techniques and has announced to the people trying to keep us safe that they may be prosecuted for the work they have done to keep us safe.

I think that President Obama is naive and unprepared.  During his formative years, he surrounded himself with radicals who hated America.  His vision of America has been influenced by them and now the president is using his office to “transform” our nation in a way that will diminish us from what Abraham Lincoln called “the last best hope on earth.”

Lucky

April 19, 2009

I hope you are lucky, too.

Handel’s Messiah

April 13, 2009

George Frideric Handel’s Messiah was first performed on April 13, 1742 in Dublin, Ireland.

Please enjoy one of my favorite choruses.

Happy Easter

April 12, 2009

1 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.

2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.

3 And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.

4 And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:

5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?

6 He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee,

7 Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.

8 And they remembered his words,

9 And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.

10 It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.

11 And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.

12 Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.

13 ¶ And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.

14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened.

15 And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.

16 But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.

17 And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?

18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?

19 And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:

20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.

21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.

22 Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre;

23 And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive.

24 And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.

25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:

26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?

27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

28 And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further.

29 But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.

30 And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.

31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.

32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?

33 And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them,

34 Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.

35 And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.

36 ¶ And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

37 But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.

38 And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?

39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.

40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.

41 And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?

42 And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.

43 And he took it, and did eat before them.

44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.

45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,

46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:

47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

48 And ye are witnesses of these things.

49 ¶ And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.

50 ¶ And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.

51 And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.

52 And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:

53 And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.
Luke 24

So Why Didn’t Our Navy Blow the Lifeboat Out of the Water?

April 10, 2009

US captain tries to swim away from Somali pirates


Apr 10, 9:07 AM (ET)

By ANNE GEARAN p {margin:12px 0px 0px 0px;}

WASHINGTON (AP) – An American sea captain held hostage by pirates jumped into the ocean and tried to swim away, but he was retaken by the Somali bandits, military officials said.

Capt. Richard Phillips, taken hostage when pirates tried to seize his ship on Wednesday, appeared to be unharmed after his escape attempt around midnight local time in the open ocean off the Somali coast, Defense Department officials said Friday.

The pirates are holding Phillips aboard a drifting lifeboat, with U.S. officials trying to negotiate his release.

After his recapture, Phillips could be seen aboard moving around and talking aboard the lifeboat, from the vantage point of a U.S. Navy ship patrolling nearby, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about the sensitive, unfolding operation.

Phillips, 53, was taken hostage aboard the enclosed lifeboat with four pirates who fled when his crew overpowered pirates trying to take their U.S.-flagged ship, the Maersk Alabama.

Negotiations are taking place between the pirates and the captain of the USS Bainbridge, who is taking direction from the FBI, the defense officials said. The destroyer arrived on the scene Thursday and is within sight of the lifeboat.

The bandits are communicating with other pirate vessels by satellite phone, officials said. Pirate vessels apparently were also heading to the scene to provide them backup.


Are we just in the Age of “Let’s Talk it Out?”  For me, the situation is very simple.  We should be concerned for the safety of the US captain.  The second he was out of the lifeboat, the lifeboat should have been turned into matchsticks.  End of pirates, end of problem.

US military power will mean nothing unless we are willing to turn that  power into force.  We had the chance and we blew it.  Has President Obama been consulting with Jimmy Carter on how to handle hostage situations?

First the Bow, then the Lie

April 9, 2009

I’ve viewed the video of President Obama bowing to the king of Saudi Arabia.  It’s quite clear.  It is a bow.  You check it out for yourself.

The bow was bad enough.  Presidents of the United States don’t bow to foreign leaders.  But then to lie about it?

One commentator said that at least he didn’t kiss the king’s feet.  I guess it could have been worse.

And now it’s the pirates.  Pirates took over a cargo ship flying the American flag and the White House says it is watching the situation.  The whole world is watching.  But not just watching the pirates.  They are also watching a very indecisive president.

The President’s birthday isn’t until August 4th.  Perhaps we should all pitch in and buy him an early birthday present.  Let’s get him a clue because he is acting like he is completely clueless.

Don’t bow to kings.  Don’t watch pirates take over ships flying the American flag.  Take action.  Protect America, Mr. President.  Don’t just apologize for it.

Being Liked or Being Respected

April 8, 2009

Would you rather be liked (or even loved) or would you rather be respected?  It would nice to be both, but sometimes the decisions that we need to make require these things to be mutually exclusive.

It’s a basic way of looking at life.  When push comes to shove, what is most important to you?

My wife is an elementary school teacher.  She can see that the teachers that want to be liked by their students–to be their friends–are universally the weaker teachers.  It’s not the teachers’ job to be liked.  The job is to teach, not to be a friend.

When parents try to be their children’s friends, they can’t be effective parents.

Similarly, I think we now have a president that wants to be liked–especially on the international stage.  He wants the United States to be liked.  On his recent trip abroad, he went out of his way to apologize for America and to “make nice” with the other nations’ leaders.  He even passed up the opportunity to go to Normandy to honor our fallen military so he wouldn’t offend the Germans.

I don’t think America needs to be liked.  America needs to be right and to do right.  We have a special role in the world and the world is a better place because of America.  That role isn’t enhanced by others liking us.  It is enhanced when individuals and nations know who we are and what we stay for.

Hopefully we will remember America’s core principles and not sacrifice them for the sake of trying to be liked.

Vermont

April 7, 2009

Vermont has become the first state to legalize same-sex marriage by legislative action.  Today, the legislature overrode the governor’s Monday veto of the bill.  Several legislators who had originally voted against the bill changed their minds and vote to override the veto.  All other states with same-sex marriage have had it imposed on them by judicial action.

Vermont has taken this action because the legislature determined it was the “fair” thing to do.  The focus was on fairness to individuals instead of focusing what policy would be best for society.

I believe that the ideal of marriage between one man and one woman is the best public policy position.  It was been the concept of marriage for millennia.  The idea that marriage can be redefined to include any 2 partners, regardless of their sex, will have many unintended consequences.  The political movement to abandon the traditional concept of marriage is short sighted.