Friday, June 11, 2010
It's official, the nation's most storied (and most mathematically challenged) conference has a new member.
The Nebraska Cornhuskers officially applied and received permission to join the Big Ten. Big Red now brings the number of teams in the conference to 12. It also brings with it a prestigious football pedigree (and in a few other sports) and a spirited fan base that travels. The Big Ten can also now join the ACC and SEC in holding a Conference Championship Game (something the Big 12 previously enjoyed before it was dismembered by the long knives of both the Big Ten and the more aggressive Pac-10).
I personally would have preferred that the Big Ten added just one team as part of its expansion. That team wasn't Nebraska, but if the expansion stops there, it works. That being said, every Big Ten fan is hoping that Notre Dame can finally be lured from its Independent Status to join the conference for which it truly belongs. To do that, the Big Ten must expand to 14 teams. Assuming Notre Dame can be lured as they witness Armageddon in the Football Championship SubDivision, who should the 14th team be?
My vote would be for Rutgers or Pittsburgh.
And, how does the Big Ten redesign its logo?
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Memorial Day has a special meaning to those who served and to American Patriots. It is a meaning that needs to be shared, since for too many, Memorial Day is about BBQs, Indy, NASCAR, and the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championship.
Memorial Day is about honoring those men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. It is about those men and women who, in future wars, will make that same sacrifice. The third verse of America the Beautiful captures this powerful sentiment:
O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
Memorial Day is about those men and women who lie in unmarked graves at places near Monmouth and Guilford Courthouse. It is about those men and women who lie at the Mexico City National Cemetery and on the hallowed grounds of Arlington. It is about those men and women who find rest far from our shores in the Philippines, Panama and Tunisia. Who find rest in the Old Country at places like Normandy, Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial, and Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial. It is about those men and women, our honored dead, who rest across America in cemeteries and veterans' parks. The American Battle Monuments Commission oversees these resting places, these hallowed pieces of America throughout the world, places worthy of our time and attention.
Abraham Lincoln understood and eloquently expressed this honor given to our fallen:
The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart. . .should swell into a mighty chorus of remembrance, gratitude and rededication on this solemn occasion.
Please take a little time this Memorial Day to honor them. And then, enjoy the BBQ and other activities. But, please, honor them and give them pause.
Please also participate in The National Moment of Remembrance:
The National Moment of Remembrance, established by Congress, asks Americans wherever they are at 3 p.m., local time, on Memorial Day to pause in an act of national unity (duration: one minute).The time 3 p.m. was chosen because it is the time when most Americans are enjoying their freedoms on the national holiday. The Moment does not replace traditional Memorial Day events; rather it is an act of national unity in which all Americans, alone or with family and friends, honor those who died for our freedom. It will help to reclaim Memorial Day as the sacred and noble holiday it was meant to be. In this shared remembrance, we connect as Americans.
HOW TO PARTICIPATE
Wherever you are, observe the Moment at 3 p.m., local time, on Memorial Day. Ask others to remember—relatives, friends, church, neighborhood, or co-workers to observe the Moment at places such as your neighborhood, local pool, picnic grounds, etc., for one minute of Remembrance. Participation can be informal as ringing a bell three times to signify the Moment.
To provide a time of Remembrance for America’s fallen and to make a commitment to give something back to our country in their memory.To have Americans participate in an act of national unity and demonstrate gratitude and respect for those who died for freedom since the founding of our Nation.To provide a sense of history to our citizens and ensure that younger generations understand the sacrifices made to preserve our liberties.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
A common statement by theological liberals is that the Church is losing steam, membership, and vibrancy because of its continued embrace of Orthodoxy. The other claim is that the Church itself is morally bankrupt because of the sex abuse scandal and has forever lost trust with the average Catholic.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinal today had a story which puts the lie to those statements and underlines the vibrancy not only of the Church of Southeastern Wisconsin, but also of the Orthodox direction of the archdiocese since the disgraced former Archbishop Rembert Weakland stepped aside.
Annysa Johnson writes in Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee raises $46 Million:
The Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee and its parishes have raised $46 million, nearly half of the $105 million goal set for the local church's largest capital campaign ever, and another $48.3 million in pledges to be fulfilled over the next three years, the archdiocese is expected to announce Sunday.
In all, the church is projecting to raise $94.3 million, or 90% of its goal, a feat archdiocese officials described as extraordinary in the economic downturn and with the sex-abuse scandal and other issues facing the church.
That is an astounding figure and one that highlights not only the vibrant faith of the Archdiocese where in the midst of an economic recession (though the recession is actually over by economic indicators), the faithful have come together to support the local church. The faithful have Faith in our Future, the future of the Church.
Yes, the Church suffered a crisis when the clergy sex abuse story broke. The Church leadership was implicit in many cases, yet, the faithful did not abandon the Church. Catholic religious orders are booming (those orders that are faithful to the Church). Orthodox Bishops have been able to inspire vocations to the Priesthood. Orthodox Catholicism is triumphing. The rumors of the death of the Church were greatly exaggerated. Sadly, in many cases, it was more wishful thinking. That thinking failed to recognize the power and vibrancy of the Church.
It is Pentecost. The Spirit is with the Church. See you at Mass.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
This is a great day for the United States and for Wisconsin. The Liberal Lion, Representative Dave Obey of Wisconsin has announced his retirement. Congressman Obey was the poster-child for congressional term-limits. He also held that honor for pork spending (though one could argue he shares that with most Congressmen). He was a tireless advocate of government, the Social Welfare State, and a close ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But, he was principled in his belief and faith in those things and there was no triangulation in him.
Both Obey and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel will deny it, but Sean Duffy was a huge reason behind this retirement. For the first time in decades, Dave Obey faced a vigorous challenge in November. That, coupled with the current climate, did not make it conducive to be a big-spending, big-government, liberal incumbent.
In that respect, Rep Dave Obey is a lot like Rep Bart Stupak, though, Dave Obey was, despite all the disagreements, a principled man who passionately believed in bigger government, government spending, and the social welfare state. Representative Stupak sensed a strong challenger and pulled out, but he also sold out his principles for the thirty pieces of silver of an executive order.
Representative Dave Obey served in Congress for over forty years. He has earned his retirement; for the taxpayer however, one only wishes this retirement had come a decade earlier.
It is likely that Sean Duffy will be the next Congressman from Northern Wisconsin. With the exception of his favorite founding father (Who has Alexander Hamilton as their favorite founder?), he sounds like an excellent man and one who will serve Wisconsin AND THE TAXPAYERS well.
He'll also be the first Real Worlder in Congress.
(The next Wisconsin retirements need to be Jim Sensenbrenner and Tom Petri, 30 years in Congress is probably enough)
Sunday, May 2, 2010
The drama involving the formation of a new ruling coalition in Iraq continues. Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya list finished first beating Prime Minister Maliki's State of Law list by two seats. The resulting jockeying has seen accusations of Iranian involvement by the former and calls for a recount by the latter. The Sadrists, the largest member of the Iraqi National Alliance, the list that finished a distant third, has in a private members only election stated it will not form a coalition with either Allawi or Maliki as Prime Minister. They prefer former Prime Minister Jaffari, a member of their INA list and a former lead of the Da'wa Party. The Kurds want desperately to be involved in whatever coalition ultimately is formed.
On top of the usual politics regarding the formation of a ruling coalition, a far more troubling spectrum is forming on the horizon. Frederick W. Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute and Kimberly Kagan of the Institute for the Study of War have written a piece for the Washington Post. They focus on the new development that has the Accountability and Justice Commission invalidating certain results by declaring certain candidates ineligible after the fact. The AJC is tasked with ensuring that active Ba'ath Party members cannot re-enter the government. Maliki is encouraging the AJC to declare certain candidates invalid. The goal is for Maliki to sap enough strength away from Allawi that his party becomes the leader. This action would be disastrous for Iraq as it would lead to a likely United Shi'a government that excludes both the Sunnis and the Kurds. Furthermore, the manner in which the Sunnis were deprived of their representation, would risk fulling the insurgency and beginning the cycle toward Civil War.
The AJC's actions are nothing less than to deny the Iraqi people their voice. They spoke loudly in the National elections for a democratic Iraqi state. If Maliki's desire to remain in power and the INA's visions of a Shi'a state are allowed to win out, it will be a dark day for Iraq as it begins to drift back toward authoritarianism.
There is little the United States can do but watch and pray that the better natures prevail, the elections are allowed to stand, and the growing pains of Iraqi democracy allowed to continue as it enters its own.
I am going to change my prediction on the eventual coalition however. I think it is now probable that the ruling coalition will consist of the State of Law list led by Maliki and the INA. In the end the desire for Shi'a dominance will win out and the INA will fall in line behind the Prime Minister.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
The Vatican has approved the new English translation of the Roman Missal.
This means that perhaps as early as Advent 2011 (this December), the words of the Mass will be undergoing a significant change. This is a positive development as it will re-instill a sense of sacred language within the Roman Rite that has not existed since the Novus Ordo was instituted and the Tridetine Rite deemed extraordinary.
Rocco Palmo, the preeminent Catholic Blogger carries the announcement on his blog, Whispers in the Loggia.
For more information on the new translation you can go to:
The USCCB's special Revised Roman Missal Page and The Revised Roman Missal
This is an excellent development as it attempts to instill a higher and more divine language into the English celebration of the Sacrifice of the Mass. The new language not only contains a more sacred tone, but also offers a deeper and more theological understanding of what we profess and believe. Jesus Christ is no longer "One in being with the Father", but now He is "Con-substantial with the Father". This is a powerful theological truth that conveys a deeper and richer understanding of the relationship between Christ and the Father.
It is my belief that the new translation will be an enormous benefit because it will present an opportunity for the Church to re-catechize herself to the truths that we profess at Mass.
Echoing the words of the Vox Clara commission, we pray, "For the Church":
O God, who in your wonderful providence
decreed that Christ’s Kingdom
should be extended throughout the earth
and that all should become partakers
of his saving redemption;
grant, we pray, that your Church
may be the universal sacrament of salvation,
and that Christ may be revealed to all
as the hope of the nations and their Savior.
Who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Monday, April 19, 2010
5 years ago today we heard the words "Habemus Papam" announced from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica. Shortly thereafter we were introduced to Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, the new Pope.
Pope Benedict XVI took on the heavy mantle left by his predecessor, John Paul the Great. Yet in that time, he has continued to demonstrate his incredible theological acumen and a desire for Christian unity with our brethren in the Eastern Orthodox Church. He has also welcomed faithful Anglicans into the Catholic fold. Pope Benedict XVI is overseeing a renewal in the Catholic liturgy both with the Extraordinary Rite with the Tridetine Mass, but also with the Ordinary Novus Ordo Mass. He has made a series of excellent episcopal appointments and has sought to deal with the sordid past of clerical sex abuse.
Yet, much work remains to be done. The renewal of the liturgy is not yet complete and resistance remains. The false interpretation of Vatican II is still prevalent in many Catholic circles and universities and must continue to be confronted. The reform of the byzantine Roman Curia must also be enacted. Benedict XVI has been a blessing for the Catholic Church and one hopes and prays that God gives us many more years of his leadership at the barque of Peter.
V. Let us pray for Benedict, our Pope.
R. May the Lord preserve him, and give him life, and make
him blessed upon the earth, and deliver him not up to the
will of his enemies. [Ps 40:3]
Our Father, Hail Mary.
O God, Shepherd and Ruler of all Thy faithful people, look
mercifully upon Thy servant Benedict, whom Thou hast chosen
as shepherd to preside over Thy Church. Grant him, we
beseech Thee, that by his word and example, he may edify
those over whom he hath charge, so that together with the
flock committed to him, may he attain everlasting life.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen. (Thanks to Fr. Z for this prayer)
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
I've always found the allegations against Pope Pius XII to be motivated by either an animosity against the Catholic Church or by a significant misunderstanding on the historical record. Could Pope Pius XII have done more, certainly, but he nonetheless accomplished a great deal.
Ultimately the historical record will justify his actions. The Church in considering Pius XII for sainthood has declared his life to be one of heroic virtue. In the end, the real judgement lies with that Ultimate Arbiter, Jesus Christ. Yet, I would think (though I cannot know the will of God), that it will be a judgment found in his favor.
Golda Meir, the Prime Minister of Israel said upon Pope Pius XII's death: "We share in the grief of humanity at the passing away of His Holiness, Pope Pius XII. In a generation afflicted by wars and discords he upheld the highest ideals of peace and compassion. When fearful martyrdom came to our people in the decade of Nazi terror, the voice of the Pope was raised for its victims. The life of our times was enriched by a voice speaking out about great moral truths above the tumult of daily conflict. We mourn a great servant of peace."
Albert Einstein said of the Church: "Being a lover of freedom, when the Nazi revolution came in Germany, I looked to the universities to defend it, but the universities were immediately silenced. Then I looked to the great editors of the newspapers, but they, like the universities were silenced in a few short weeks. Then I looked to individual writers . . . . they too were mute. Only the Church . . . stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing the truth. . . I never had any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel great affection and admiration . . . . and am forced thus to confess that what I once despised, I now praise unreservedly."
Even the New York Times, today that bastion of enmity toward the Catholic Church, spoke glowing words about Pope Pius XII's heroic witness. They identified him as a "lonely voice crying out of the silence of a continent"
Under the Roman Sky is a small movie that is attempting to defend the Pope and provide a glimpse at his heroic virtue.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
St. John Chrysostom or the Golden-tongued was a Doctor of the Church, one of the most important Eastern Fathers, and the Patriarch of Constantinople in the 4th Century. He is famous both for his work on the Divine Liturgy, but also the large collection of his preaching that has survived.
I have personally found the Easter Homily of St. John Chrysostom to be especially powerful and one that captures the meaning of Easter. I post it in its entirety below (Thanks to the EWTN website where I pulled it from).
Let all pious men and all lovers of God rejoice in the splendor of this feast; let the wise servants blissfully enter into the joy of their Lord; let those who have borne the burden of Lent now receive their pay, and those who have toiled since the first hour, let them now receive their due reward; let any who came after the third hour be grateful to join in the feast, and those who may have come after the sixth, let them not be afraid of being too late; for the Lord is gracious and He receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to him who comes on the eleventh hour as well as to him who has toiled since the first: yes, He has pity on the last and He serves the first; He rewards the one and praises the effort.
Come you all: enter into the joy of your Lord. You the first and you the last, receive alike your reward; you rich and you poor, dance together; you sober and you weaklings, celebrate the day; you who have kept the fast and you who have not, rejoice today. The table is richly loaded: enjoy its royal banquet. The calf is a fatted one: let no one go away hungry. All of you enjoy the banquet of faith; all of you receive the riches of his goodness. Let no one grieve over his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed; let no one weep over his sins, for pardon has shone from the grave; let no one fear death, for the death of our Saviour has set us free: He has destroyed it by enduring it, He has despoiled Hades by going down into its kingdom, He has angered it by allowing it to taste of his flesh.
When Isaiah foresaw all this, he cried out: "O Hades, you have been angered by encountering Him in the nether world." Hades is angered because frustrated, it is angered because it has been mocked, it is angered because it has been destroyed, it is angered because it has been reduced to naught, it is angered because it is now captive. It seized a body, and, lo! it encountered heaven; it seized the visible, and was overcome by the invisible.
O death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? Christ is risen and you are abolished. Christ is risen and the demons are cast down. Christ is risen and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen and life is freed. Christ is risen and the tomb is emptied of the dead: for Christ, being risen from the dead, has become the Leader and Reviver of those who had fallen asleep. To Him be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.
Friday, April 2, 2010
It is indeed Good, despite all the pain and suffering He endured. What He accomplished by it for us made it Good.
The Passion of the Christ is an excellent movie but my favorite part is how Mel Gibson ties together the Last Supper with the Crucifixion. Just as every Sacrament of the Mass is the re-presentation of Christ's supreme sacrifice, so the Last Supper is a pre-presentation of that gift. The movie more than any other, through the eyes of the Apostle St. John, makes that unmistakable link between the Eucharist and the Cross of Calvary. It is indeed Good.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
The final IHEC results for the 2010 Iraqi Parliamentary Elections are in and Ayad Allawi has pulled off a surprising win. His Iraqiya List has according to reports earned a total of 91 seats. But now comes the difficult task for the former Iraqi Prime Minister. He has to prove that he is able to organize a government ruling-coalition.
This will be made difficult by the efforts of the current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Maliki’s State of Law List finished a close second with 89 seats. This is certainly a victory for Iraqi Nationalism, as both candidates campaigned and ran as tough-on terrorism Nationalists who are able to rise above sectarian ties. The two Prime Ministers do not like each other and the close second of the Shi’a Maliki will enable him to provide stiff competition when it comes to forming a ruling coalition.
The surprise winner of the election was the unexpectedly strong showing (albeit a distant third) by the Iraqi National Alliance with 70 seats. They performed strongly throughout the Shi’a south, including wins in three provinces, but were trounced in Baghdad and elsewhere. This list combined the Iranian-backed Islamic Supreme Council in Iraq (ISCI) and BADR with the religious Shi’a clerical nationalism of Muqtada al-Sadr. They ultimately become the king-maker and will likely demand a sultan’s ransom for their support.
The logical coalition would be between Maliki and Allawi, but their personal animosity precludes this possibility. The Kurds would bring with them 43 members, but this pales to the 70 within the INA. Ultimately the Iraqi Nationalism of Maliki and Allawi unnerve the Kurds and their desire for an autonomous Kurdistan. There are 32 miscellaneous members, but as Bill Roggio notes at the Long War Journal, their disparate views make it impossible to form them as a group.
This leaves the Iraqi National Alliance in a powerful position, but even their alliance can be splintered. The Sadrists hate Maliki for his operations against the Mahdi Militia in Basra. ISCI is angry at Maliki’s for his movement away from the Shi’a bloc, but is also leery of the secularism of Allawi. Allawi’s Iraqi nationalism might appeal to the Sadrists, but no-one wants a government that ultimately rests on the irrational impulses of Muqtada al-Sadr. Allawi has reached out to Syria and Iran and might be seen as an appealing alternative to Maliki, but his largely Sunni coalition will inspire distrust in Iran and among Shi’a partisans.
The INA has seemed to indicate that any coalition with the State of Law List would come with the precondition that Maliki would NOT be the Prime Minister. While Maliki is an Iraqi Nationalist, he is first and foremost, a Maliki partisan and would be loathe to accept such a precondition.
Conventional wisdom seems to be that Maliki will find a way to form another grand Shi’a alliance with the INA to reach the required majorities in the Parliament. I find that outcome plausible, but I think an Iraqiya-INA coalition is just as likely if not more so. Wishful thinking would be for Allawi and Maliki to rise above personal animosity for the good of Iraq, but Iraq’s democracy has yet to reach that point where that is a probable outcome. There will still be a lot of drama as the situation in Iraq develops. Stay tuned.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
With all apologies to Representative Dan Lipinski (D-IL), the Pro-Life Democrat is dead. Certainly there will still be some pro-lifers who try to remain in the Democrat Party, but ultimately the party has no place for their politics and many of them will surrender for a seat at the table (both Al Gore and Dan Kucinich used to be Pro Life for example).
William McGurn has written a powerful editorial in the Wall Street Journal that is both scathing in its condemnation of so-called Pro-Life Democrats like Rep. Bart Stupak, but also incredibly sad in the fact that the Democrat Party no longer has a discernible place for pro-lifers. This means that rather than being a bipartisan issue, pro-life concerns ultimately become completely partisan.
When Bart Stupak announced Sunday he was now a "yes" on the health-care bill, six Democrats stood with him. Even that handful would have been enough to defeat the bill. Instead, they accepted the fig leaf of an executive order—and threw away all the hard-won gains they had made.
Amid the recriminations it's easy to overlook what Mr. Stupak had cobbled together. His amendment restricting federal funding for abortions, passed in November, marked the only bipartisan vote in this whole health-care mess. For the first time since Roe v. Wade, pro-life Democrats had seized the legislative initiative in the teeth of their leadership's opposition—and brought the party of abortion to heel.
Now Mr. Stupak has thrown it away. By caving at the last hour, he discredited all who stood with him. (What does it say about Ohio's Marcy Kaptur and Pennsylvania's Chris Carney that they had already agreed to vote yes even before the fig leaf of the executive order had come through?) In addition to undermining an encouraging partnership with pro-lifers across the congressional aisle, Mr. Stupak signaled that, in the end, you can't count on pro-life Democrats. (For the Rest please read at the Wall Street Journal).
The truth is, Representative Stupak and the other Pro-Life Democrats threw away their ability to make the Health Care Reform Pro-Life. The promise of an Executive Order has an expiration date and doesn't carry the power of a legislative act. Bart Stupak and the Stupak Dozen had an incredible amount of power because their votes were required for passage in the House. Yet, one by one (with the exception of Rep. Dan Lipinski) they bought into the "segregated funding" of the Senate Bill.
It also turns out that Rep. Bart Stupak has recently obtained $750K for airports in his district. One cannot help but wonder if that was his price. One also cannot help but compare Rep. Stupak to Sir Richard Rich.
It is sad to see even the Pro-Life Democrats cave at a time when they had real power to positively impact an otherwise horrible bill by making it uncompromisingly pro-life.
Representative Stupak meet Sir Richard Rich, Sir Richard Rich meet Bart Stupak.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
The Iraqi Elections were on March 7th. Today it is March 16th and the results are still too close to call. I am sure the Iraqis have more regularly updated results, but IHEC (Independent High Electoral Commission) indicated that the 85% returns would be forthcoming by March 18th.
In Iraq many people are accusing the government of corruption and electoral fraud in the elections. However, I think the still tight vote count indicate that Iraq will not see a repeat of the massive voter fraud of its Iranian neighbor. Both the Wall Street Journal and Bill Roggio at the Long War Journal have been doing yeoman's work in ensuring that junkies like myself can follow the election.
Prime Minister Maliki' State of Law List is the early vote leader, however, his list is confined to Baghdad and the Shi'a South. Initial results (60%) indicate that Maliki will win a majority in Baghdad and all but three of the Shi'a provinces in the South.
Former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi appears to be the strong candidate across all of Iraq. This is like Wisconsin State elections where the Republican candidate can win across most of the state, but ultimately lose due to the Democratic strength in Dane County (also known as the People's Republic of Dane County). Allawi has won in the Sunni north by overwhelming margins and has even reached double digits in four of the Shi'a provinces to the South (by comparison Maliki is in single digits in every Sunni province except Diyala).
The Iraqi National Alliance (the Iranian list) is a distant third overall and they have reached 50% in only one province. This underlines the overall decline of religious parties (the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party has been destroyed by Allawi in the Sunni provinces of Ninewa, Salahadin, Diyala, and Anbar), but also a stigma attached to things seen as too Persian (Iranian). One report also indicated that the strongest party in the INA was actually Sadr's bloc, which while perhaps friendly to Iran, is uncompromisingly nationalist.
The unpredictable and close events will likely result in quite a bit of jockeying extending over a few months. Maliki will have to reach out to the INA and the Kurds for an alliance, though he has angered the Kurds as of late and the Sadrists would be loathe to join a Maliki coalition. Allawi would have to reach out to the Kurds (who don't trust his Arab Nationalism) and the INA (though Sadr despises his secularism). If the Sadrists are truly the dominant party in the INA it will make it difficult for the INA to join a coalition involving either Maliki or Allawi due to Sadr's ability to exert control over the alliance.
This is all an indication that Iraq has developed an actual representative democracy, that while imperfect, is a beacon for the entire Arab World and their Persian neighbor.
For an excellent province by province breakdown with percentages follow this link. Though recent reports indicate Allawi has moved into second in Baghdad. The Wall Street Journal also has an updated electoral breakdown here.
Monday, March 8, 2010
Though it hasn't received the attention it deserved, Iraqis took to the streets to vote in their first national election since 2005.
A few words about how it operates. There are 325 seats in the Iraqi Council of Representatives. The COR is the unicameral legislative body of the Republic of Iraq. 310 seats were at stake in this election with the other 15 being given to minorities (like Christians) and the dominant political parties based off of results.
I owe the following seat breakdown to the Institute for the Study of War, this site is the academic gold standard for higher level breakdowns of the Long War. They produced a pre-election write-up that is worth reading as well.
Al Anbar -- 14 Seats (Sunni)
Babil -- 16 Seats (Shi'a)
Baghdad -- 68 Seats (Mixed)
Basra -- 24 Seats (Shi'a)
Dahuk -- 10 Seats (Kurd)
Dhi Qar -- 18 Seats (Shi'a)
Diyala -- 13 Seats (Mixed)
Irbil -- 14 Seats (Kurd)
Karbala -- 10 Seats (Shi'a)
Kirkuk -- 12 Seats (Mixed)
Maysan -- 10 Seats (Shi'a)
Muthanna -- 7 Seats (Shi'a)
Ninewah -- 31 Seats (Sunni/Kurd)
Qadisiyah -- 11 Seats (Shi'a)
Salah ah Din -- 12 Seats (Sunni)
Sulaymaniyah -- 17 Seats (Kurd)
Wasit -- 11 Seats (Shi'a)
Compensatory and Minority Seats -- 15 Seats
I plan to make some comments later in the week when the initial results are published, but for now, I want to provide some analysis of the provincial turnout.
I owe these numbers to Michael Rubin over at National Review Online who pulled them from this Arabic website.
Erbil - 76%
Sulaymania - 73%
Kirkuk - 73%
Salah Al Deen - 73%
Ninewa (Mosul)- 66%
Babil - 63%
IRAQ - 62.4%
Diyala - 62%
Karbala - 62%
Diwaniya - 62%
Al Anbar - 61%
Najaf - 61%
Al Muthanna - 61%
Dhi Qar - 60%
Wasit - 60%
Basra - 57%
Baghdad - 53%
Maysan - 50%
I agree that the Duhok results are suspicious and there is a chance that the KDP (Kurdish Democratic Party) and PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan) engaged in some ballot stuffing.
What stands out is the low turnout in Maysan, Basra, Wasit and Dhi Qar Provinces. These four provinces all have turnout of 60% or below. These are predominately Shi'a provinces that in the past were dominated by the Islamic Supreme Council in Iraq (ISCI, formerly SCIRI). ISCI and its Badr and Sadrist allies united under the Iraqi National Alliance. This is the most Iranian friendly and the most sectarian of the political lists. Low turnouts in the Shi'a south likely indicate that like the 2009 provincial election, the extreme Shi'a religious parties fared poorly.
I really don't know what to make about the low turnout in Baghdad. I read anecdotal evidence of good turnout in Adamiyah, a Sunni stronghold in East Baghdad. Low turnout in Baghdad likely will hurt Maliki's State of Law list, but could also impact Ayad Allawi's Iraqi List. I think despite the turnout, Maliki will win Baghdad and Allawi will finish a very close second.
The Sunni provinces (with the exception of Al Anbar - though Al Anbar is so monolithic, the Sunni representation from the province will not be negatively impacted), Diyala, Salah ah Din, Ninewa and Kirkuk had high turnouts. This bodes well principally for Ayad Allawi's list as the Sunnis have more willingly embraced his secular list.
I think Maliki's list will finish first in the election, but Ayad Allawi's list will finish a close second. This will make for some entertaining jockeying as the two lists attempt to be the first to form a governing coalition. This will require doing business with either the INA, the Kurds, or the Sunni List. Stay Tuned.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
There were two major victories today in the Long War on Islamic Jihadism.
The lesser of the two, though perhaps, more satisfying, was the capture of Adam Ghaddan, aka Azzam the American, the media emir of Al Qaeda and an American Traitor. He's an American born convert to Islam who subsequently embraced a Jihadi Salafist ideology. While he may not have been privy to operations, it is likely that he knows the C2 of Al Qaeda in Pakistan and the ISI will likely be quite adept at interrogating the terrorist. Hopefully then, he can be returned to the United States to face the punishment for his treason.
The more important victory is Iraq. The Iraqis held their first national election since the Sunni-boycotted election of 2005. Initial reports indicate an electoral turnout higher than expected for the election. This is vital to ensure that the Sunni minority feels enfranchised and part of the New Iraq. The 2005 election left the Sunnis severely underrepresented and proved a boon for Al Qaeda and other Sunni Insurgent Groups.
Al Qaeda and Sunni Insurgent groups have to disrupt the elections in order to de-legitimize the current government by suppressing turnout. These groups will even target their co-religious. Yet, as Michael Yon documented during his time in Iraq, the Iraqi people, Sunni and Shi'a, have rejected the nihilistic ideology of Al Qaeda and its ilk.
Yet voters still came. In Azamiyah, Walid Abid, a 40-year-old father of two, was speaking as mortars landed several hundreds yards away. "I am not scared and I am not going to stay put at home. Until when? We need to change things. If I stay home and not come to vote, Azamiyah will get worse," he said.
Adamiyah is a Sunni neighborhood in Eastern Baghdad. It was once the heart of Al Qaeda in Baghdad but gave birth to the Sunni Awakening in the city and helped to drive out Al Qaeda.
No longer are we talking about where the violence will take Iraq. Now the conversation turns to the electoral consequences. Will Prime Miniter Maliki's Dawa Party follow up its success in the Provincial Elections of 2009 and continue to be Iraq's dominant political party? He's being challenged by a coalition of Shi'a parties with extensive ties to Iran. This coalition of religious Shi'a parties was repudiated in the Provincial election, will that carry over into the National Election? The more hopeful challenge is by the former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, a secular Shi'a who is leading a coalition of secular parties, both Sunni and Shi'a. Allawi's vision is the most hopeful for Iraq, but all three groups are seeking their vision of a new Iraq at the ballot box. That is a fundamental change that highlights how far Iraq has come.
President Obama praised the Iraqis for their courage. While President Obama would have left an Iraq awash in violence and without hope, he has as President, continued the work of his predecessor President Bush. Vice President Biden had the gall to argue that a peaceful Iraq will be one of the Obama Administration's greatest achievement. While Bush should get most of the credit, the Obama Administration saw the wisdom, despite what they campaigned on, to continue the course and for that, they deserve our thanks.
Monday, March 1, 2010
The translation has been under attack, particularly from Catholics who believe that Vatican II did not go far enough in modernizing the Church and the Liturgy. Fr. Michael Ryan has led this charge in America magazine and has done his best to foment a popular movement against the new translation. His article alleges rather dramatically that "Not in my wildest dreams would it have occurred to me then that I would live to witness what seems more and more like the systematic dismantling of the great vision of the council’s decree. But I have. We Catholics have." The National Catholic Reporter, that paragon of Orthodox Catholicism in America (sarcasm) has of course, come to Fr. Ryan's defense and urged its readers to support this priest.
Fr. Zuhlsdorf of "What Does the Prayer Really Say" provides an excellent parsing of Fr. Ryan's letter.
It is a saying in the Eastern Church that how we pray, informs our beliefs. Archbishop Serratelli, the chair of the USCCB's Committee on Divine Worship, has penned a response in America Magazine. Archbishop Serratelli notes that "The well-known axiom Lex orandi, lex credendi, reminds us that what we pray is not only the expression of our sentiment and our reverence directed toward God, but what we pray also speaks to us and articulates for us the faith of the church. Our words in the liturgy are not simply expressions of one individual in one particular place at one time in history. Rather, they pass on the faith of the church from one generation to the next."
The new translation is more faithful to Scripture and contains a rich and flowing language not always found in the current translation. Below are some examples of the new translation, one that I feel is an improvement because it does exactly what it intends to do, express deep theological truths about the Catholic faith in our prayers.
Glory to God in the highest,
Lord Jesus Christ,
Glory to God in the highest,
Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son,
We believe in one God,
I believe in one God,
Ecce Agnus Dei
Priest: This is the Lamb of God
All: Lord, I am not worthy
Priest: Behold the Lamb of God,
All: Lord, I am not worthy
And if you want an opportunity to study up on the new translation: Understanding the Revised Mass Text from the Liturgical Training Publications.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Wow! A Republican won in the bluer than blue state of Massachusetts. I never thought I would see that happen; it may have truly been the people's seat, but for the last 40+ years, it was the Kennedy seat.
Brown's improbable victory highlights the discontent across America (though in this case as highlighted by the voters of the Bay State) on the economy, on our ever expansive government and on the government's attempt to nationalize 1/6 of the US Economy, the Health Care Industry.
Scott Brown is now the 41st Vote against Pelosi-Reid Care. Unless the House passes the Senate Bill (unlikely) or Reid goes nuclear in the Senate (Budget Reconciliation), the unmitigated disaster that is either the House or Senate Bills can be stopped. That means no more Louisiana Purchase ($300 million medicare carve-out for Mary Landrieu), no more Cornhusker Kickback (a special exemption for Nebraska on any increase in Medicaid), and the Union Bribe (Union "Cadillac" plans are exempt from a new 40% excise tax, but non-union plans aren't). He ran on that platform and was elected by the people of Massachusetts to stop this legislative travesty.
He ran on across-the-board tax cuts in the spirit of President John F. Kennedy. John F. Kennedy knew that an economy was stimulated by giving money back to its citizens, not by government spending.
He ran on a platform that called for an end to the ever burgeoning federal budget deficits and to belt-tightening in Washington (both parties should pay particular attention, since the GOP of the 2000s was nearly as spendthrift as Pelosi and Reid).
Like Bob McDonnell in Virginia, Scott Brown demonstrated to a Republican Party that is lost in the Wilderness, a road back to national prominence and success. The focus needs to be on jobs, economic freedom, and National Security. I'm not sure what the Republican party actually ran on in 2006 and 2008, but when you can't really tell the difference between the parties, one might as well go "all in".
Many commentators have asked if the Democrats and President Obama will listen to the result. I think a better question is will the Republicans.
1. The Democrats will not attempt a course-correction but will try to "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead" with their far-left agenda.
2. The GOP will retake the House in the 2010 Midterms (that's going out on a ledge a bit because it calls for a significant capture of 40+ seats, but I think it can happen).
3. The GOP will capture a minimum of four Senate seats (I'm conservative here). I think Nevada, North Dakota (for sure), Arkansas, and Colorado will move Red. I think Delaware and Pennsylvania are strong possibilities as well and Indiana could be if Rep Mike Pence is serious about running. Connecticut, Illinois and California are really pipe dreams, but then, a week ago, so was Massachusetts. The Republicans most likely loss would be in New Hampshire (it's New England).
Monday, January 4, 2010
Bishop Jerome Edward Listecki was installed as Milwaukee's 11th Archbishop today. Archbishop Listecki will face a number of challenges in the coming years as he shepherds the Archdiocese and continues the task begun by Archbishop Dolan in repairing the damage done to the Church of SE Wisconsin by the former Archbishop Weakland. In that heavy task he faces a number of important challenges.
1. VOCATIONS -- While Ordinary of LaCrosse he greatly increased vocations to the priesthood and religious life. In fact the Diocese of LaCrosse had the same number of ordinations (five) as the much larger Archdiocese of Milwaukee. His task will be to continue the work of Archbishop Dolan in revitalizing the priesthood in Milwaukee. Archbishop Dolan made enormous progress in improving vocations within the area and Archbishop Listecki's will have to continue that work.
2. PRACTICAL THINGS -- Archbishop Dolan began an important capital campaign, Faith in our Future, that seeks to raise $105 million for the Archdiocese and its parishes. He will have to continue this campaign that will strengthen the finances of the Archdiocese. This campaign will also strengthen parochial schools and other Archdiocesan programs that serve the poor, the hungry, the sick, and the community of southeastern Wisconsin.
3. CLERICAL ABUSE -- The tenure of Archbishop Weakland was an unmitigated disaster when it comes to the shuffling of abusers and the hierarchy turning a blind eye to this sin. Archbishop Dolan began to heal those wounds and Archbishop Listecki will have to work to continue that healing. At the same time he must protect the Church and defend it from trial lawyers who smell blood in the water. The Wisconsin Legislature is even considering a law that will eliminate the statute of limitations for one year on clerical sexual abuse. This law would specifically target the Catholic Church with the goal of bankrupting the Church and silencing its voice. Archbishop Listecki will have to vociferously fight this challenge.
4. TEACHING -- Archbishop Listecki must be a Catholic Voice for southeastern Wisconsin. He has already begun to do this, by confronting the heterodox Catholics for Choice. He has had the courage in the past to speak about the Truth of the Catholic Faith and he must be that voice. He must be pastoral like Archbishop Dolan, but at other times he must be the shepherd like Bishop Tobin or Archbishop Chaput.
Rocco Palmo has excellent coverage on the Installation including his analysis that Archbishop Listecki was likely picked by Pope Benedict XVI personally for this position. If that is true, Milwaukee has truly been blessed.
The Catholic Herald of Milwaukee also has excellent coverage on Milwaukee's new Archbishop. He also has the text and some analysis on the homily of Milwaukee's new Archbishop which I include below:
Eleventh Archbishop of Milwaukee
Mass of Installation
Cathedral of St John the Evangelist
Feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, 4 January 2010
The gospel of John places Jesus in a dramatic confrontation with St. Peter. In what is often referred to as the post resurrection narratives, Jesus confronts Peter with a question “Do you Love Me?” The question must have ripped deep into the spirit of Peter, for this was the Peter who vowed never to leave the Lord’s side, yet it was Peter who did in fact abandon Jesus in His darkest moments on the cross.
Peter was asked the question three times, reminding him through this questioning of his need to confront his personal failure in denying Christ, and to seek reconciliation from our Lord.
As a Church we have experienced the devastation of sin and its effect on us personally and as a community. We acknowledge that, at times, we too have failed to be witnesses of Christ. However, it is only in our true commitment to love that healing can occur and the Lord Jesus may be exalted.
The direction to Peter is to demonstrate His love for Jesus by feeding his lambs, tending his sheep, feeding his sheep. Jesus is asking Peter to care for His Church. The love for Jesus will be in the very sacrificial acts offered in service for the faithful. The service of Peter himself was destined to identify with the sacrificial cross of Christ’s love, “Amen, Amen I say to you when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted: but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”
The inspired word of God, although centered on the figures in the event depicted in Sacred Scripture, actually speaks through Peter to all of us. It is as if we are standing with Peter and Jesus is asking us, do you love me more than these?
Today the three repetitions of the Lord’s question might easily address the three responsibilities of Episcopal office -- governing, teaching and sanctifying.
Do you love me enough to stand with me in unity and feed Christ’s lambs? No one governs alone, but rather in collaboration with those he serves. Our strength as a Church comes from our union with our Universal Shepherd Benedict the XVI. In professing our union with the Holy Father we make it clear that this unity is a reflection of our desire to follow Christ in His Church. After His ascension into heaven and the sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost the Lord Jesus Christ remains present as the invisible Shepherd of His Church (1Peter 2:25) until appearing once more at the end of ages (CCCB 1974).
The office of the bishop is the link between the particular church which is entrusted to him in hierarchical communion with the Universal Church. In our own American society we must present a clear alternative to the established secular religion which permeates our daily lives. We need to acknowledge mystery and our dependence upon God. It is in our faithfulness in reflecting the mind and the heart of our Church that represents the singular voice of Christ to our community and the world.
Do you love me more than these? Then tend my sheep. The teaching office of the bishop helps to form and inform the faithful in their relationship to Christ and His Church. The goal for most teachers is that their students come to know and appreciate the subject matter they are presenting. In the teaching role of the bishop, the task is literally to come and to know the subject Jesus Himself, so that He the Christ may be taken into their lives.
As St Paul said so well, it is no longer I that lives but Christ who lives in me. The truth of the Church’s teaching is to draw us into a relationship with the Lord.
The Church presents the Truth in Charity. It is the truth of the teaching that maintains our right relationship with Jesus. Our teaching on the dignity of the human person embraces life from the moment of conception to natural death. It reflects the love of life entrusted to us. This sacredness, which reflects the “imago dei.” The image of God. It is this very life for which Christ came into the world, to suffer, die and rise. In our social principles our care for the poor and neglected is mandated out of a love of neighbor grounded in the love of God.
As Benedict the XVI teaches: It is first and foremost a responsibility for each individual member of the faithful, but it is also a responsibility for the entire ecclesial community at every level: from the local community to the particular Church and to the Church universal in its entirety. As a community the Church must practice love. In our protection of marriage and family life an environment is created for the responsible transmission of the faith.
Adherence to the Church’s teaching is not always easy. However, one must sacrifice for the truth. In this sacrifice we demonstrate our love. It is interesting to note that John Paul the II was applauded by the Western societies when he critiqued the godless communism of the east for their lack of individual rights and freedoms, yet those very same western societies turned a deaf ear to his warnings of the destructiveness of radical individualism, consumerism, materialism and relativism.
Given our situation today perhaps we should have paid more attention. The truth is at times difficult but the Church does not follow the Lord’s request to tend his sheep if it fails to teach the truth with love.
Do you love me? Then feed my sheep. The role of the sanctifying office is one joined uniquely to our common vocation to holiness. The sacraments are signs of grace in our lives. The Lord gives to us the gift of himself in the Eucharist. The centrality of Eucharistic celebration unites us to a sacrificial act of Jesus’ love. In the very beginnings of the Church in the Acts of the Apostles we read of the disciples devoting themselves to the teachings of the apostles and to the communal life, the breaking of the bread and to the prayers. The symbol of the cross is no longer a sign of death but has been transformed to represent hope. The cross now declares just how great our God’s love is for us that he did not even spare His only Son for our sake. This sacrificial act continues through the exercise of the priestly office, the priest who in persona Christi offers the bread and wine which becomes the body and blood of our Lord. We, the poor and hungry, come to be fed again and again so that we might take this real presence into the world. John Paul II in his work “Duc in Altum,” his reflections on the Third Millennium of Christianity offered that the great renewal in the Church would come from the two sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist -- Mercy and Sacrificial Love. Our participation in the sacraments and our personal devotional life will demonstrate the transformative power of prayer and will begin the great renewal of our faith life.
Do you love me? In Governing, Teaching and Sanctifying together we will answer that question with lives placed at the service of His Church.
We are fortunate to celebrate today the feast day of Elizabeth Ann Seton the first American-born saint. There was nothing easy about her life. The sickness and death of her spouse, her conversion and rejection by her family, a single mother educating her children and raising them in the faith.The world would easily have justified her cursing her lot in life. Yet this woman, armed with her faith, begins the Catholic School system, establishes a religious order and shapes the Catholic Church in the United States for the next century. What generates this kind of dedicated commitment? It is a confidence in God. In Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton’s own words: “What was the first rule of our dear Savior’s life? You know it was to do his Father’s will. Well, then, the first purpose of our daily work is to do the will of God; secondly, to do it in the manner he wills. And thirdly, to do it because it is his will. We know certainly that our God calls us to a holy life. We know that he gives us every grace, every abundant grace; and though we are so weak of ourselves, this grace is able to carry us through every obstacle and difficulty.” (From the writings of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton)
I am now installed as the eleventh bishop of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. There are many bishops and priests more intelligent, more talented, and more deserving of this position than me. I say this not with a false sense of humility, but merely as fact. However, His Holiness, Benedict the XVI has made his selection and I accept his decision as God’s will. Please know that I will use every ounce of my being to serve this great Archdiocese of Milwaukee. I have already been formed by some of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s former leaders.
Archbishop Michael Heiss was the first bishop of La Crosse and established the Catholic Identity for the region of central Wisconsin.
Samuel Cardinal Stritch was the first bishop in my experience as a Catholic grammar school student, his gentleness and charity was held as a model for all.
And of course Albert Cardinal Meyer whose American leadership at the Second Vatican Council was legendary.
What is it that makes this Archdiocese great? The bishops, priests, religious, deacons, parish directors, lay ecclesial ministers and all the faithful who allow the Lord to use them as instruments of His presence. I now proudly add my name to your list as we go forward building on the traditions of the past, witnessing to the present and placing our confidence in Him, who is the hope for our future. Let us together by feeding and tending to His Church answerthe question that the Lord poses: Do you love me more than these? Yes, Lord you know that we do.