Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Nativity of Our Lord

Every year the Wall Street Journal re-publishes a 1949 editorial written by Vermont Royster that speaks to the essence of the Christian message. The Christian message is embodied by the Incarnation that we find in the Manger at Bethlehem and fulfilled on Calvary and in the Empty Tomb.

"When Saul of Tarsus set out on his journey to Damascus the whole of the known world lay in bondage. There was one state, and it was Rome. There was one master for it all, and he was Tiberius Caesar.

Everywhere there was civil order, for the arm of the Roman law was long. Everywhere there was stability, in government and in society, for the centurions saw that it was so.

But everywhere there was something else, too. There was oppression -- for those who were not the friends of Tiberius Caesar. There was the tax gatherer to take the grain from the fields and the flax from the spindle to feed the legions or to fill the hungry treasury from which divine Caesar gave largess to the people. There was the impressor to find recruits for the circuses. There were executioners to quiet those whom the Emperor proscribed. What was a man for but to serve Caesar?

There was the persecution of men who dared think differently, who heard strange voices or read strange manuscripts. There was enslavement of men whose tribes came not from Rome, disdain for those who did not have the familiar visage. And most of all, there was everywhere a contempt for human life. What, to the strong, was one man more or less in a crowded world?

Then, of a sudden, there was a light in the world, and a man from Galilee saying, Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's.

And the voice from Galilee, which would defy Caesar, offered a new Kingdom in which each man could walk upright and bow to none but his God. Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. And he sent this gospel of the Kingdom of Man into the uttermost ends of the earth.

So the light came into the world and the men who lived in darkness were afraid, and they tried to lower a curtain so that man would still believe salvation lay with the leaders.

But it came to pass for a while in divers places that the truth did set man free, although the men of darkness were offended and they tried to put out the light. The voice said, Haste ye. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness come upon you, for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.

Along the road to Damascus the light shone brightly. But afterward Paul of Tarsus, too, was sore afraid. He feared that other Caesars, other prophets, might one day persuade men that man was nothing save a servant unto them, that men might yield up their birthright from God for pottage and walk no more in freedom.

Then might it come to pass that darkness would settle again over the lands and there would be a burning of books and men would think only of what they should eat and what they should wear, and would give heed only to new Caesars and to false prophets. Then might it come to pass that men would not look upward to see even a winter's star in the East, and once more, there would be no light at all in the darkness.

And so Paul, the apostle of the Son of Man, spoke to his brethren, the Galatians, the words he would have us remember afterward in each of the years of his Lord:

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."

We commemorate Christ's birth on Christmas. It is truly the Mass of the Incarnation when Heaven came to Earth, when God Himself appeared physically in the World, when the divide caused by Adam's fall began to be healed.

The great Catholic Evangelist Bishop Fulton Sheen eloquently wrote in his "Life of Christ" about the birth of the Savior of the World:

"There, in a place of peace in the lonely abandonment of a cold windswept cave; there, under the floor of the world, He Who is born without a mother in heaven, is born without a father on earth.

"Of every other child that is born into the world, friends can say that it resembles his mother. This was the first instance in time that anyone could say that the mother resembled the Child. This is the beautiful paradox of the Child Who made His mother; the mother, too, was only a child. It was also the first time in the history of this world that anyone could ever think of heaven as being anywhere else than 'somewhere up there'; when the Child was in her arms, Mary now looked down to Heaven. . .

"The Son of God made man was invited to enter His own world through a back door. Exiled from the earth, He was born under the earth, in a sense, the first Cave Man in recorded history. There He shook the earth to its very foundations. Because He was born in a cave, all who wish to see Him must stoop. To stoop is the mark of humility. The proud refuse to stoop and therefore, they miss Divinity. Those, however, who bend their egos and enter, find that they are not in a cave at all, but in a new universe where sits a Babe on His mother's lap, with the world poised on His fingers.

"The manger and the Cross thus stand at the two extremities of the Savior's life! He accepted the manger because there was no room in the inn; He accepted the Cross because men said, 'We will not have this Man for our King.' Disowned upon entering, rejected upon leaving, He was laid in a stranger's stable at the beginning, and a stranger's grave at the end. An ox and an ass surrounded His crib at Bethlehem; two thieves were to flank His Cross on Calvary. He was wrapped in swaddling bands in His birthplace, He was again laid in swaddling clothes in His tomb -- clothes symbolic of the limitations imposed on His Divinity when He took a human form."
(Pages 16, 17, 18)

It is impossible to understand Christmas without understanding Good Friday. Good Friday is the reason for Christmas just as the Resurrection on Easter Morn is the reason for Good Friday. After our Advent of Patient Waiting, we welcome Our Lord into the World. Behold the Lamb of God.

On a more personal note, we also give thanks for God's blessings in our lives. I give thanks for the blessings of family, for my safe return from two deployments and the completion of my Active Duty Military Service Obligation.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mission Complete

Yesterday, 14 December 2009, I completed my Active Duty Service. Today I am a Veteran and a Civilian (except for that whole part-time Army Reserve thing).

I thoroughly enjoyed my time on Active Duty, through both the highs and the lows. Looking back I imagine it will be the experience and the job that I will remember the most and the time that I will treasure. Military Service has declined in recent decades, though there has been a spike in response to the Global War on Terror. My generation has recognized that there is an existential threat to Freedom and the United States, which requires a forceful response. While only a small percentage of my generation has answered that specific call, my generation I believe looks on military service in a far more positive light compared to previous generations.

Why did I serve? There were both noble reasons and selfish ones. From a selfish perspective the US Army enabled me to attend the Private University of my choice. Were it not for the Army ROTC scholarship, the school would have likely been beyond my reach. Yet the more important reason was Patriotism. It was fundamentally, the right thing to do. Millions of Americans have served in War and Peace as the Sentinels of this country to ensure that I would enjoy the Freedoms that God gave this country; it was my turn to do the same for future generations.

9/11 occurred less than a week before I began attending undergrad. America was no longer enjoying its Holiday from History. Prior to that a deployment to the Balkans as a peace-keeper was the most likely overseas tour of duty. Now the United States began to actively prosecute the Global War on Terror and we would be taken to the mountains of Afghanistan, the deserts and river valleys of Iraq, the islands of the Philippines, the Horn of Africa and in many other places. America was a nation at war, not a war of our choosing, but one that was brought to us, but we will finish it. I wasn't at the Tip of the Spear so I won't or cannot compare my service to those brave men and women who were kicking in doors and bringing justice personally to the enemies of the United States. I did my part and supported them and served my country.

What is a Veteran? There is a common phrase found on the internet: "A Veteran is someone who at some point in his/her life wrote a blank check to the US Government for an amount up to and including one's own life". I'll admit I never really thought of it in that light, but it is ultimately true. No one goes into the military planning to die for their country, but ultimately, that is part of the contract we make with Uncle Sam. I served my country through two tours of duty in Iraq and I can call myself a Veteran, though, I know there are others, many others, who did far more. I am also not a member of that Greatest of Generations, but perhaps, I possess just a little more insight to understand them.

With my time in the military I will certainly take a longer pause to remember and thank all those who served, are serving or will serve. I will also always remember the incredible positive experience that was my Military service and relay it to others. I will also remember those with whom I served, my own brotherhood, men and women who I was incredibly privileged to know and work with. I wish them nothing but the best and I pray for their success, families, and dreams.

Freedom is not Free.

God Bless

Friday, December 11, 2009

Truth Behind Planned Parenthood

Appleton, WI -- Conservative Bloggers and Journalists continue to conduct the kind of investigative journalism that built the mainstream media. Today the Mainstream Media is more concerned about protecting its ideological allies, as opposed to revealing corruption and/or outright dishonesty by various organization. The perfect example was the undercover videos about ACORN that the mainstream media, with the exception of FOX News, ignored. Wisconsin now finds itself at the center of this conflict.

Just as young conservatives were responsible for revealing the tremendous level of unethical practices and corruption at ACORN, a young Pro-Life advocate has now exposed the medical malpractice occuring at Planned Parenthood, the nation's preeminent abortion and family planning provider. The group is known as Live Action and is a Youth-led, pro-life movement. The Rosa Acuna Project is an undercover investigation on Planned Parenthood's Abortion Counseling activities. The first video is from Wisconsin. It is quite galling in terms of the outright lies that the young woman has relayed to her.

Now, it is likely that not every Planned Parenthood conducts themselves in this way. But even if it is just one, it should raises serious Red Flags at Planned Parenthood's HQs. If Planned Parenthood really was concerned about what it says it is concerned about, they should be taking decisive action to fix this problem. I am not optimistic we will see that.

One cannot help but wonder (as many have long suspected) that Planned Parenthood is not concerned about responsible family planning, but is perhaps first and foremost an abortion proponent, propagandist and provider. Where is the Media on this issue?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Mary Immaculate

Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. It is also a Holy Day of Obligation throughout the Church for Catholics.

The Immaculate Conception was promulgated as a dogma of the Catholic Church on December 8th, 1854 by Pope Pius IX in Ineffabilis Deus. The Immaculate Conception holds that Mary was conceived without the stain of Original Sin. This is not to conclude that Mary did not need a savior. Jesus was His Mother’s Savior. Indeed, one could call Mary the “daughter of her Son”. Through the grace and power of God, Mary was saved from sin by the future sacrifice of her Son on the Cross. This preservative grace was a singular grace and blessing from the Father. As St. Peter writes in his second letter, God’s concept of time is not our concept and he is not limited by it: “But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day” (2 Peter 3:8).

Mary was also the Mother of God (she did not give birth to His divine nature, but she gave birth to Jesus who had two natures). She bore divinity in her womb; she is the New Ark of the Covenant. Mary Theotokos (God-Bearer) was definitively established by the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus in A.D. 431. The Ark of the Covenant was the Holy of Holies. It contained the most important relics of the Old Testament. It was so holy that no hand, no matter how pure or clean, could touch it. The Priest Uzzah reached to steady the Ark as they carried and was struck down (2 Samuel 6:6-7). The Ark was Holy yet made by human hands. Mary bore the Son of God, the God-Man Jesus Christ, how much more important of an Ark was she?

The Fourth Century Church Father St. Ephraim was a Deacon of the Church in Syria. Writing in the late fourth century he wrote about the doctrine that would become the Immaculate Conception in the Nisibene Hymns (Faiths of the Early Fathers, volume 1):

You alone and your Mother
Are more beautiful than any others;
For there is no blemish in you,
Nor any stains upon your Mother.
Who of my children
Can compare in beauty to these?

On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception we focus not on Mary, but on what God did for Mary in order to “Prepare the Way of the Lord”. Mary always will point us toward the Son, toward Jesus Christ. The Feast of the Immaculate Conception points us toward Christmas when Heaven met Earth and the Word became Flesh and dwelt among us.

For more information and Apologetics on Catholic Marian Dogmas let me suggest Catholic Answers here and here.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Day Which Will Live In Infamy

Today is December 7th, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's words provide all the emphasis that is required.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

St. Nicholas of Myra

The Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches celebrate December 6th as the Feast of St. Nicholas. St. Nicholas was a Bishop who overtime morphed or became the inspiration for Santa Claus in the West. Yet, in the midst of the Christmas season, it is important to remember the real person behind the legendary figure.

St. Nicholas or Myra (Smyrna) was a Church Father in the 3rd and 4th Centuries. He was from modern-day Turkey and suffered persecution on behalf of Christ during the reign of the Emperor Diocletian and the Tetrarch Galerius. Following the persecutions Nicholas rose to become the Bishop of Myra. He was famous for charitable giving, in one story, providing enough money for the dowries for a poor man’s three daughters, enabling them to wed. He also confronted the local governor and stopped the execution of three innocent men.

Bishop Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325) where the Church Fathers debated with Arius on the divinity of Jesus Christ. A possibly apocryphal story of the council has St. Nicholas slapping Arius (subsequently dubbed by the Church Fathers as the “Arch-Heretic”) after he presented his arguments against the divinity of Jesus Christ. He was kicked out of the council but returned the next day due to the reported intercession of the Virgin Mary who told the Church Fathers that St. Nicholas acted out of love for her Son. Though the Council endorsed the Orthodox position that Jesus was fully human and fully divine, St. Nicholas would spend the rest of his life fighting the Arian heresy.

He was regarded as a Saint by the Christian communities in the East by the 6th and 7th centuries. Nearly 600 years later his relics were removed to Bari following the Seljuk conquests of Byzantium’s possessions in Asia Minor. The Basilica of St. Nicholas in Bari where his relics remain today is holy to both the Western and Eastern Churches.

While much of his history is perhaps legendary, it is clear that not only was St. Nicholas a loving man who lived Christ’s call to charity, but he was also an uncompromising defender of Christ’s divinity and the Christian Faith. He lived “Love in Truth.” Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his encyclical by the same name Caritas in Veritate that Love in Truth becomes the driving force behind proper expression of our humanity:

"Charity in truth, to which Jesus Christ bore witness by his earthly life and especially by his death and resurrection, is the principal driving force behind the authentic development of every person and of all humanity. Love — caritas — is an extraordinary force which leads people to opt for courageous and generous engagement in the field of justice and peace. It is a force that has its origin in God, Eternal Love and Absolute Truth. Each person finds his good by adherence to God's plan for him, in order to realize it fully: in this plan, he finds his truth, and through adherence to this truth he becomes free (cf. Jn 8:32). To defend the truth, to articulate it with humility and conviction, and to bear witness to it in life are therefore exacting and indispensable forms of charity. Charity, in fact, “rejoices in the truth” (1 Cor 13:6). All people feel the interior impulse to love authentically: love and truth never abandon them completely, because these are the vocation planted by God in the heart and mind of every human person. The search for love and truth is purified and liberated by Jesus Christ from the impoverishment that our humanity brings to it, and he reveals to us in all its fullness the initiative of love and the plan for true life that God has prepared for us. In Christ, charity in truth becomes the Face of his Person, a vocation for us to love our brothers and sisters in the truth of his plan. Indeed, he himself is the Truth (cf. Jn 14:6).

Charity is at the heart of the Church's social doctrine. Every responsibility and every commitment spelt out by that doctrine is derived from charity which, according to the teaching of Jesus, is the synthesis of the entire Law (cf. Mt 22:36- 40). It gives real substance to the personal relationship with God and with neighbour; it is the principle not only of micro-relationships (with friends, with family members or within small groups) but also of macro-relationships (social, economic and political ones). For the Church, instructed by the Gospel, charity is everything because, as Saint John teaches (cf. 1 Jn 4:8, 16) and as I recalled in my first Encyclical Letter, “God is love” (Deus Caritas Est): everything has its origin in God's love, everything is shaped by it, everything is directed towards it. Love is God's greatest gift to humanity, it is his promise and our hope.

I am aware of the ways in which charity has been and continues to be misconstrued and emptied of meaning, with the consequent risk of being misinterpreted, detached from ethical living and, in any event, undervalued. In the social, juridical, cultural, political and economic fields — the contexts, in other words, that are most exposed to this danger — it is easily dismissed as irrelevant for interpreting and giving direction to moral responsibility. Hence the need to link charity with truth not only in the sequence, pointed out by Saint Paul, of veritas in caritate (Eph 4:15), but also in the inverse and complementary sequence of caritas in veritate. Truth needs to be sought, found and expressed within the “economy” of charity, but charity in its turn needs to be understood, confirmed and practised in the light of truth. In this way, not only do we do a service to charity enlightened by truth, but we also help give credibility to truth, demonstrating its persuasive and authenticating power in the practical setting of social living. This is a matter of no small account today, in a social and cultural context which relativizes truth, often paying little heed to it and showing increasing reluctance to acknowledge its existence."

St. Nicholas of Myra is the Patron Saint of Sailors, Bakers, and Children. He is a Patron Saint of Russia, Greece, and of various areas in Italy.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Remembering the Servant of God, Bishop Fulton Sheen

On December 9th the Church will remember the 30th Anniversary of the death of the great Bishop Fulton Sheen. The Church for twenty years was blessed with his personality, wit and wisdom on Radio during The Catholic Hour. He moved to television and for seven years was the host of Life is Worth Living. While alive he was recognized for an Emmy for Most Outstanding Television Personality. While his style may be unique for today's audience, there is something nonetheless electric to it, that captures the imagination, even if at times it seems theatric.

He was an American C.S. Lewis and his impact carries on to this day. As a testament to his solid Orthodoxy and Christianity, not only is he still seen on EWTN (a Catholic Network), but also the Trinity Broadcasting Network (an Evangelical Protestant Network).

He spoke to his age with timeless Christian truths. He did not water-down the message, but spoke it courageously and with conviction. He was the first real televangelist and most of those who came after him, pale in comparison.

There is an ongoing Cause for the Canonization of this great American Catholic Evangelist. John Paul the Great said of the late Bishop Sheen: "You have written and spoken well of the Lord Jesus! You have been a loyal son of the Church".

Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York will be offering a special commemorative mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in honor of the 30th Anniversary of his death. Archbishop Dolan said of Sheen: "My professor, John Tracy Ellis, used to say there’s never been anybody who’s been able to communicate the timeless truths of the Catholic religion to a very timely culture, namely the United States, like Fulton Sheen – without diluting any of the essentials of our Catholic Faith. He was able to present it in an eminently attractive way and that has always inspired me..."

As one contemplates the current state of Roman Catholicism in the United States, one cannot help but yearn for a new Bishop Fulton Sheen. Someone who will have the courage and personality to present the timeless Catholic Faith to a population that is increasingly opposed to it. While the Catholic Church in America has some strong Bishops like Bishop Tobin in Rhode Island and Archbishop Chaput in Denver, one misses the wit and brilliance of Bishop Sheen's presentation.

The Teachings of the Church do not change, but we can adapt to the technology and the age to present it in an even more relevant way.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

Today marks the beginning of the Church's Liturgical Year with the Season of Advent. Advent is not only about joyfully commemorating the birth of the Savior of the World, Jesus Christ. Advent is also about awaiting his return with prayer and joy.

The Church Liturgical Year is a beautiful way to grow and watch the passing of the year. It is fitting that our Church Year begins with the waiting and then birth of the Christ. Our lives don't culminate at Bethlehem and the Nativity. Rather, that is where our lives truly begin with the Incarnation of the God-Man, Jesus Christ. At the beginning of every year we joyfully and prayerfully await the commemoration of his Birth, the moment when Heaven touched Earth. This season is not an end, it is THE Beginning. It points us from the Manager to Calvary and Jerusalem. It points us to Galilee. It points us to His return.

Merry Christmas, but first, a joyful and prayerful Advent as we wait for His Coming.

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai's height,
In ancient times did'st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

I would strongly recommend as spiritual reading this Advent Season, Bishop Fulton Sheen's Life of Christ. It is a masterpiece and is an example of Bishop Sheen's brilliant and clear insight that made him so loved.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Thursday is Thanksgiving; a day filled with family, football, and food. It is a good time to give thanks for the many blessings our country has been given. We are a Shining City on a Hill for the entire world. We are the beacon of Freedom and Liberty and have shed countless drops of blood to ensure that gift is enjoyed by as many people as possible. We possess the best (albeit very imperfect) government (Republic) and economic system (Free Market Capitalism) in the world. We are indeed a Nation blessed by God, for we are a Nation Under God.

Below I am posting President George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation:

WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLIC THANKSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;-- for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;-- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;-- and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions;-- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wife, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.

(signed) G. Washington

Rich Lowry has an excellent piece on National Review Online on Thanksgiving as well.

I also ask that everyone take a few moments to think and pray for the Men and Women of the US Armed Forces who will not be celebrating with family tomorrow as they seek to ensure the security of this country and to give liberty to captives.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Milwaukee Meets Her New Bishop

The Vatican announced that Bishop Jerome E. Listecki would serve as the next Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

He was initially appointed an auxiliary bishop of Chicago by Pope John Paul the Great and in 2005 took charge of the Diocese of LaCrosse. Now, in 2009 he will come to Milwaukee to take over the task of rejuvenation of the Catholic identity of SE Wisconsin begun by Archbishop Dolan.

What is most hopeful about Bishop Listecki is his past success with vocations to the Priesthood. Just as Dolan helped reinvigorate Vocations after the disastrous Weakland years, Bishop Listecki has a proven track record. He ordained six men in 2009 to the LaCrosse Priesthood. He also helped oversee the ordination of nine other men for the Archdiocese in his short tenure. Twenty-Six Women from the Diocese also entered consecrated religious life. His concern for Vocations speaks well for the continuing growth of that area in Milwaukee.

The Journal Sentinel's highlights that Bishop Listecki is not likely a choice to make Progressive "Catholics" happy. That is a good thing. He spoke out against Speaker Nancy Pelosi's heretical argument that her support for Abortion is consistent with Faithful Catholicism. He also joined in the criticism of the University of Notre Dame over their choice of a commencement speaker.

The Bishops of Wisconsin greeted Bishop Listecki as he moves across the state and issued statements welcoming him to the task.

And here is Bishop Listecki's statement on his appointment.

Of particular note is that Bishop Listecki is a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army Reserves. For the rest of his biography click here.

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee is blessed to have Archbishop Dolan followed by Bishop Listecki. He will be a strong Orthodox voice, a Bishop focused on Vocations, and a friendly pastoral bishop for the Archdiocese.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Victory of the Free World

Today marks the Twentieth Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. The Fall of the Wall symbolized the Victory of the Free West over the Totalitarian Oppression of the Soviet dominated Eastern Bloc. This is an anniversary of Freedom and something that needs to be celebrated throughout the Free World as Our Victory.

The Wall fell because of the tireless efforts of three leaders of the Free World. Pope John Paul the Great, President Ronald Reagan, and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Pope John Paul the Great reached across wall to his native Poland to inspire the rising of Solidarity which cracked the seemingly invincible Soviet control of the Warsaw Pact.

President Reagan had the courage to speak Truth to Power by confronting evil directly. He dubbed the Soviet Empire the "Evil Empire" and it was true. He did not seek dialogue to find common ground, but dialogue from a position of truth and strength. One of his greatest moments came in Berlin on 12 June 1987:

"We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

President Reagan envisioned a world without the Soviet Empire. Without the Berlin Wall. History proved him prescient. On 9 November 1989, the Wall was broken. Freedom had triumphed over oppression and totalitarian communism.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Jihad at Ft. Hood

A horrific tragedy occurred at Ft. Hood, TX on Thursday. It is an event that we will likely be thinking about and trying to understand for a long time. MAJ Nidal Malik Hassan murdered at least a dozen of his fellow soldiers and wounded dozens more. It was an Act of Terrorism.

The FBI investigation will likely reveal further information about his motives and any ties to possible Jihadist Organization. My personal view is that MAJ Hassan acted alone. He was his own terrorist group and likely not associated with Al Qaeda, the Islamic Brotherhood, Hizbollah, or a host of other groups. Reports indicate that he shouted "Allah Akbar" the battle-cry of Islamic Militants (but also millions of faithful Muslims stating a fact, God is indeed, Great). That does not mean he is an Islamic Terrorist or tied to any group, but information on his political past, indicate at least an affinity for the cause of Islamic Jihadists. He was vehemently opposed to the War in Iraq and Afghanistan. He supported suicide bombers and believed that Muslims had an obligation to fight Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also reportedly had a troubled military career. MAJ Hassan was a troubled man who had expressed sympathy with Islamic Jihadists and on Thursday became one himself.

Victor David Hanson, the outstanding historian and author of military history at Stanford University placed the actions of MAJ Hassan in its wider context on The Corner at National Review Online:

Yet I think it is fair to say that the Fort Hood mass murder could be seen in two larger contexts:

1) a disturbing pattern of attacking American soldiers on bases or offices inside the United States (e.g., the 2005 plot to shoot down military aircraft leaving the National Guard base in Newburgh, N.Y.; the 2007 mass-murder plot at Fort Dix; the shooting at the Little Rock, Ark., recruiting station, etc.), and

2) what I once in two NRO essays called al Qaedism, or the spontaneous rage of disaffected Muslims, who connect their own failures in some sense to generic radical Islamist sentiments, and act out that anger by running over the innocent (San Francisco or North Carolina), shooting Jews (the LAX or Seattle attacks), or shooting up malls or sniping. These are of course different from but in addition to the 24 organized plots that have been broken up since 9/11, four of them this year alone.

In reaction officials and news people often opt for therapeutic exegeses — stress, often of the post-traumatic sort, ill-feeling and bias shown Muslims, family problems, or brainwashing by nefarious outside actors — to explain the cold-blooded nature of the murdering. (I am watching on the news a family member eagerly explain past prejudice shown the killer and, despite his adept handling of firearms to shoot over 40 people, the murderer's being ill-at-ease with firearms.)

Far more rarely do they ever suggest that the Islamist notion abroad that America is to blame for mostly self-induced pathologies in the Islamic world mostly goes unquestioned here at home — and as a result filters down to the lone angry and violent here as the belief that there is some sort of cosmic justification that can amplify their own outrage at a sense of personal failure or setback.

If it is shown that the present killer openly in the past expressed sympathies for or tolerance of Islamist violence abroad, one would have expected, in the current climate of fear of being seen as illiberal or judgmental, little repercussions or formal preemptory action to preclude the possibility of future violence.

In other words, the narrative after 9/11 largely remains that Americans have given in to illegitimate "fear and mistrust" of Muslims in general. A saner approach would be to acknowledge that there is a small minority of Muslims who channel generic Islamist fantasies, so that we can assume that either formal terrorist plots or individual acts of murder will more or less occur here every three to six months.
At some point, if both these organized plots (see the most recent in Boston) and isolated acts of lone gunmen and homicidal drivers continue, and if the prevailing theme continues to be fears of American intolerance and unfairness to Muslims after 9/11, I think the public will resent the disconnect between what they are told to think and what they believe, on the basis of some evidence.

What is important ultimately is that the ideology of Jihadism does not require a sophistitcated cellular network to conduct operations against the West. One man with a weapon and the ideology can inflict great pain and suffering on the population. That is true here with MAJ Hassan. One troubled Army Psychiatrist who was sympathetic to the Jihadist Ideology killed and wounded his fellow Soldiers. Whatever his motives or background, he became, a one-man Terror Cell. In the War on Terror there is no front line and there is no rear area.

We can thank the quick reaction of Emergency Personnel, Civilians and Military within the Processing Center, and the bravery of SGT Kimberly Munley who despite her own wounds disabled MAJ Hassan saving more lives. These are the heroes of Ft. Hood, TX.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Archbishop Zings the Gray Lady

Archbishop Dolan is the former Archbishop of Milwaukee who was promoted to the See of New York. He is youthful, exuberant, orthodox, but also possess that keen pastoral sense that helps make the fullness of the Catholic faith accessible. He also now maintains a blog, The Gospel in the Digital Age.

In response to the recent Anti-Catholic reporting of the New York Times, the Archbishop penned an OP-ED response that the Gray Lady refused to print. Apparently "All the News that is Fit to Print" does not include "Fair and Balanced" reporting on religious issues. Instead the Liberal Modernist sensibilities of the Times are paramount, objectivity and fairness be d-mned. Below is the Archbishop's brilliant response:


October 29, 2009

The following article was submitted in a slightly shorter form to the New York Times as an op-ed article. The Times declined to publish it. I thought you might be interested in reading it.

By Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan
Archbishop of New York

October is the month we relish the highpoint of our national pastime, especially when one of our own New York teams is in the World Series!

Sadly, America has another national pastime, this one not pleasant at all: anti-catholicism.

It is not hyperbole to call prejudice against the Catholic Church a national pastime. Scholars such as Arthur Schlesinger Sr. referred to it as “the deepest bias in the history of the American people,” while John Higham described it as “the most luxuriant, tenacious tradition of paranoiac agitation in American history.” “The anti-semitism of the left,” is how Paul Viereck reads it, and Professor Philip Jenkins sub-titles his book on the topic “the last acceptable prejudice.”

If you want recent evidence of this unfairness against the Catholic Church, look no further than a few of these following examples of occurrences over the last couple weeks:

* On October 14, in the pages of the New York Times, reporter Paul Vitello exposed the sad extent of child sexual abuse in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community. According to the article, there were forty cases of such abuse in this tiny community last year alone. Yet the Times did not demand what it has called for incessantly when addressing the same kind of abuse by a tiny minority of priests: release of names of abusers, rollback of statute of limitations, external investigations, release of all records, and total transparency. Instead, an attorney is quoted urging law enforcement officials to recognize “religious sensitivities,” and no criticism was offered of the DA’s office for allowing Orthodox rabbis to settle these cases “internally.” Given the Catholic Church’s own recent horrible experience, I am hardly in any position to criticize our Orthodox Jewish neighbors, and have no wish to do so . . . but I can criticize this kind of “selective outrage.”

Of course, this selective outrage probably should not surprise us at all, as we have seen many other examples of the phenomenon in recent years when it comes to the issue of sexual abuse. To cite but two: In 2004, Professor Carol Shakeshaft documented the wide-spread problem of sexual abuse of minors in our nation’s public schools (the study can be found here). In 2007, the Associated Press issued a series of investigative reports that also showed the numerous examples of sexual abuse by educators against public school students. Both the Shakeshaft study and the AP reports were essentially ignored, as papers such as the New York Times only seem to have priests in their crosshairs.

* On October 16, Laurie Goodstein of the Times offered a front page, above-the-fold story on the sad episode of a Franciscan priest who had fathered a child. Even taking into account that the relationship with the mother was consensual and between two adults, and that the Franciscans have attempted to deal justly with the errant priest’s responsibilities to his son, this action is still sinful, scandalous, and indefensible. However, one still has to wonder why a quarter-century old story of a sin by a priest is now suddenly more pressing and newsworthy than the war in Afghanistan, health care, and starvation–genocide in Sudan. No other cleric from religions other than Catholic ever seems to merit such attention.

* Five days later, October 21, the Times gave its major headline to the decision by the Vatican to welcome Anglicans who had requested union with Rome. Fair enough. Unfair, though, was the article’s observation that the Holy See lured and bid for the Anglicans. Of course, the reality is simply that for years thousands of Anglicans have been asking Rome to be accepted into the Catholic Church with a special sensitivity for their own tradition. As Cardinal Walter Kasper, the Vatican’s chief ecumenist, observed, “We are not fishing in the Anglican pond.” Not enough for the Times; for them, this was another case of the conniving Vatican luring and bidding unsuspecting, good people, greedily capitalizing on the current internal tensions in Anglicanism.

* Finally, the most combustible example of all came Sunday with an intemperate and scurrilous piece by Maureen Dowd on the opinion pages of the Times. In a diatribe that rightly never would have passed muster with the editors had it so criticized an Islamic, Jewish, or African-American religious issue, she digs deep into the nativist handbook to use every anti-Catholic caricature possible, from the Inquisition to the Holocaust, condoms, obsession with sex, pedophile priests, and oppression of women, all the while slashing Pope Benedict XVI for his shoes, his forced conscription -- along with every other German teenage boy -- into the German army, his outreach to former Catholics, and his recent welcome to Anglicans.

True enough, the matter that triggered her spasm -- the current visitation of women religious by Vatican representatives -- is well-worth discussing, and hardly exempt from legitimate questioning. But her prejudice, while maybe appropriate for the Know-Nothing newspaper of the 1850’s, the Menace, has no place in a major publication today.

I do not mean to suggest that anti-catholicism is confined to the pages New York Times. Unfortunately, abundant examples can be found in many different venues. I will not even begin to try and list the many cases of anti-catholicism in the so-called entertainment media, as they are so prevalent they sometimes seem almost routine and obligatory. Elsewhere, last week, Representative Patrick Kennedy made some incredibly inaccurate and uncalled-for remarks concerning the Catholic bishops, as mentioned in this blog on Monday. Also, the New York State Legislature has levied a special payroll tax to help the Metropolitan Transportation Authority fund its deficit. This legislation calls for the public schools to be reimbursed the cost of the tax; Catholic schools, and other private schools, will not receive the reimbursement, costing each of the schools thousands – in some cases tens of thousands – of dollars, money that the parents and schools can hardly afford. (Nor can the archdiocese, which already underwrites the schools by $30 million annually.) Is it not an issue of basic fairness for ALL school-children and their parents to be treated equally?

The Catholic Church is not above criticism. We Catholics do a fair amount of it ourselves. We welcome and expect it. All we ask is that such critique be fair, rational, and accurate, what we would expect for anybody. The suspicion and bias against the Church is a national pastime that should be “rained out” for good.

I guess my own background in American history should caution me not to hold my breath.

Then again, yesterday was the Feast of Saint Jude, the patron saint of impossible causes.

Fr. Z also has an excellent commentary on the Archbishop's OP-ED.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Failing the Armed Forces

Virginia has once again failed its citizens. 16 Virginia Localities have failed to mail absentee ballots to the men and women of the Armed Forces for the 2009 Gubernatorial Elections.

The Below follows from the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

"Despite court prodding and changes in state election laws, 16 Virginia localities have failed to meet a deadline to allow absentee ballots of military personnel serving overseas to be counted on time.

"Nancy Rodriques, secretary of the State Board of Elections, said she did not know how many ballots will not be counted.

"The local election districts include the cities of Richmond, Colonial Heights and Williamsburg as well as Caroline County.

"Words cannot express my disappointment in our commonwealth," said Rusty McGuire of Hanover County, chairman of the Iraqi Freedom Veterans Plate Project and deputy commonwealth's attorney in Louisa County.

"The Richmond Liberty Alliance, an offshoot of the Tea Party movement, plans to protest the failure outside the State Board of Elections' headquarters at 1100 Bank St. today from 4 to 7 p.m.

"The alliance has been gathering signatures to protest a process that it says leaves military votes uncounted while allowing some felons to vote. State police are investigating several instances of alleged voting by felons, which is voter fraud.

"In last year's presidential race, about 2,100 military ballots went uncounted. The presidential campaign of Republicans John McCain and Sarah Palin sued the State Board of Elections in U.S. District Court here. After losing the election, the McCain-Palin team withdrew and the U.S. Department of Justice's civil-rights division intervened.

"Local registrars did the mishandling of the ballots, but the State Board of Elections was brought into the suit because it oversees the registrars."

This is an outrageous betrayal. One has to wonder if this was deliberate based off of earlier reporting on the Board of Electors stating that they did not have to mail off absentee ballots until the day prior to the election.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

London Crosses the Tiber?

"Crossing the Tiber" is a phrase used by Catholics to refer to Protestants and Orthodox Christians who have converted to Roman Catholicism. After the Great Schism of 1054 tore Christianity in half and the further split caused by Luther and Calvin's Protestant Reformation, Christian Unity was broken. Yet, in the last century progress has been made in bringing individuals and communities back to Rome. Reunion with the Orthodox Churches is a complex theological discussion on the proper role of the Bishop of Rome and of the filioque clause of the Nicean-Constantipolitan Creed. This is a discussion between Churches who are One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic.

Reunion with the Protestant communities is far more fragmented. The group that Rome has had the most fruitful dialogue with is the Anglican Church. Anglicans view themselves as the "Via Media" between Rome and the Protesant Reformers. But in recent years, Anglicanism has splintered. There are three groups within the Anglican Communion. The Traditionalists or Anglo-Catholics are often described as more Catholic than the Romans in their liturgy and spirituality. Their theology is undeniably Christian and very Catholic. The Evangelicals are probably the largest and most significant group and while morally they have much in common with Rome, theologically they are closer to the reformers than they are to Rome. The third group are the Modernists who have rebelled against Traditional Christianity and who are a dying breed.

Today there was breaking news out of Rome and London that indicates a possible reunion with the Traditionalists of the Anglican Communion is upon us. It will likely be many more years, but thousands of Anglicans will likely find a home across the Tiber in Rome. That the Archbishop of Cantebury would himself make this annoucement indicates to the degree the Modernist drive within the Anglican Communion's western branches has alarmed him. It has alarmed even the Queen of England, the head of the Church of England.

Pope Benedict XVI has announced a Personal Ordinariates for the Anglicans. Father Z covers the issue from a theological perspective far better than I, and I defer to his discussion on the issue here and here. When the Episcopal Church in the US began to ordain women, Anglican parishes and Anglican Clergy began to cross over to Rome and with special dispensation, were ordained as Catholic priests.

Below one can read the JOINT STATEMENT issued by the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster and the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury.


Today’s announcement of the Apostolic Constitution is a response by Pope Benedict XVI to a number of requests over the past few years to the Holy See from groups of Anglicans who wish to enter into full visible communion with the Roman Catholic Church, and are willing to declare that they share a common Catholic faith and accept the Petrine ministry as willed by Christ for his Church.

Pope Benedict XVI has approved, within the Apostolic Constitution, a canonical structure that provides for Personal Ordinariates, which will allow former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of distinctive Anglican spiritual patrimony.

The announcement of this Apostolic Constitution brings to an end a period of uncertainty for such groups who have nurtured hopes of new ways of embracing unity with the Catholic Church. It will now be up to those who have made requests to the Holy See to respond to the Apostolic Constitution.

The Apostolic Constitution is further recognition of the substantial overlap in faith, doctrine and spirituality between the Catholic Church and the Anglican tradition. Without the dialogues of the past forty years, this recognition would not have been possible, nor would hopes for full visible unity have been nurtured. In this sense, this Apostolic Constitution is one consequence of ecumenical dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.

The on-going official dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion provides the basis for our continuing cooperation. The Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) and International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) agreements make clear the path we will follow together.

With God’s grace and prayer we are determined that our on-going mutual commitment and consultation on these and other matters should continue to be strengthened. Locally, in the spirit of IARCCUM, we look forward to building on the pattern of shared meetings between the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales and the Church of England’s House of Bishops with a focus on our common mission. Joint days of reflection and prayer were begun in Leeds in 2006 and continued in Lambeth in 2008, and further meetings are in preparation. This close cooperation will continue as we grow together in unity and mission, in witness to the Gospel in our country, and in the Church at large.

London, 20 October 2009

+ Vincent Gerard Nichols

+ Rowan Williams

Cardinal Newman would be very pleased to see this. I would argue that this has something to do with his prayers.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Patron Saint for Catholic Army Chaplains

Army agrees Kansas priest worthy of Medal of Honor

The Associated Press

TOPEKA, Kan. — As his fellow prisoners of war returned home from the Korean War, they shared stories of self-sacrifice about Rev. Emil Kapaun, the humble priest from Kansas.

The prisoners of the 8th Cavalry Regiment spoke of how Kapaun, an Army chaplain, continued to look after his men even though he was wounded and sick himself. Risking his own life, Kapaun would sneak out after dark to scrounge food for those too weak to eat, fashion makeshift containers to collect water and wash their soiled clothes.

Kapaun died at the camp hospital seven months after he was first taken captive by the Chinese in 1950. More than a half-century later, the Army's top civilian leader has recommended that Kapaun, who is also a candidate for sainthood, receive the Medal of Honor.

For the Rest of the Article please visit the Atlanta Journal Constitution Website.

There also is a "cause" currently before the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints for Fr. Kapaun. For Fr. Kapaun to be declared a Saint the Congregation must investigate his background and deem it worthy of emulation while also validating a minimum of Two miracles that can be attributed to the individuals intercession with Jesus Christ. Earning the Medal of Honor as a Catholic Army Chaplain would certainly indicate a life worthy of emulation in the service of others.

If two miracles can be validated, Fr. Kapaun would make an excellent candidate for the Patron Saint of Catholic Army Chaplains. Not only did he live a holy and exemplary live, but also set an example for Army Chaplains by his heroic actions while a Prisoner of War to the North Koreans.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Mission Complete

1/25 SBCT has returned from its deployment to Iraq and held its official Redeployment Ceremony yesterday 8 October 2009. The Fairbanks Daily News Miner has special coverage in today's Paper. The BDE Celebrated its return from Iraq, but also remembered those who did not return but gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Requiem Aeternam Dona Eis, Domine, Et Lux Perpetua Luceat Eis. Te Decet Hymnus Deus, In Sion, Et Tibi Reddetur Votum In Ierusalem. Exaudi Orationem Meam; Ad Te Omnis Caro Veniet. Requiem Aeternam Dona Eis, Domine, Et Lux Perpetua Luceat Eis.

“Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. A hymn becometh thee, O God, in Zion, and unto thee a vow shall be repaid in Jerusalem. Hear my prayer; unto thee all flesh shall come.

SPC Heath K. Pickard
PFC Cody J. Eggleston
SPC Cody L. Lamb
SPC Christopher P. Sweet
CPL Michael B. Allenman
CPL Zachary R. Nordmeyer
CPL Michael L. Mayne,
SPC Israel Candelaria-Majias
SSG Christian E. Bueno-Galdos
SPC Michael E. Yates
SPC Charles D. Parrish

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Some Excellent Reads on Health Care

The Current Health Care debate elicits passionate feelings and responses from all those involved. The two sides have vastly different ideas on what Health Care Reform should look like. The Left leans toward a Public Government Run Option or Increased Governmental Regulation in Health Care while the Right argues for a incentive-based system and market reforms to create a freer exchange of Health Care. Both sides want to expand Health Care, a moral good in the eyes of the Church, yet, have radically different solutions.

What is of note is that the U.S. Catholic Bishops oppose the current Health Care Reform Bills. Despite assurances from the writers of the Bills, neither Health Care Bill protects the Freedom of Conscience of Medical Professionals nor do the bills gaurantee that abortion will not become a fundamental health care right. The Bishops wrote: "So far, the health-reform bills considered in committee … have not met President Obama’s challenge of barring use of federal dollars for abortion and maintaining current conscience laws,” the USCCB wrote in its Sept. 30 letter to members of the Senate. “These deficiencies must be corrected.” However, many on the Left are beholden to Planned Parenthood and the Abortion lobby and are loathe to do anything that might be perceived as not fully supportive of Abortion.

The Current Bills also to various degrees attempt to utilize price controls to control Health Care Costs. Price Controls HAVE NEVER worked and ultimately have inflationary impacts on the economy. Peter Suderman in the Wall Street Journal analyzes past attempts at Reform utilizing price (premium) controls and increased regulation. His verdict: "Like participants in a national science fair, state governments have tested variants on most of the major components of the health-care reform plans currently being considered in Congress. The results have been dramatically increased premiums in the individual market, spiraling public health-care costs, and reduced access to care. In other words: The reforms have failed."

Albert Einstein defined insanity as attempting to do the same thing again and again expecting a different result.

Another point on the reform is "Cutting" Costs in Medicare. This actually will consist of reimbursing doctors less for their work than they already are under Medicare. By slashing this even more, they have created "Savings" which can be used to increase coverage for more people. However, they are now compensating hospitals and doctors less for the procedures they conduct. Drs Palmisano, Plested, and Johnson write in the Wall Street Journal: "Today, Medicare already reimburses doctors less than what many of their treatments cost to provide. Now the government is saying that additional Medicare cuts are coming—thus forcing doctors to try and make up the difference in volume, by seeing more patients. If you ask patients about this, they understand that more volume means less time with the doctor. That's something that all patients and doctors should oppose. In time, it will be difficult to find a physician." More lines akin to the Canadian system is not what Americans desire.

Part of what makes the American Health Care system superior is our access to Specialists and Specialized procedures. However, these treatments and experts are expensive. In another attempt to control costs, the Health Care Bills will punish these experts and their specialized treatments because they are too expensive. It will result in savings, but will it result in better care? The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board writes: "Take a provision in the Baucus bill that would punish any physician whose "resource use" is considered too high. Beginning in 2015, Medicare would rank doctors against their peers based on how much they cost the program—and then automatically cut all payments by 5% to anyone who falls into the 90th percentile or above. In practice, this rule will only apply to specialists." Does that make any sense?

The Current Health Care Bills aren't reform. They are revolution. They are not designed to give better care, but to essentially nationalize 17% of the US Economy. Shouldn't Health Care Reform be about BETTER Care, not less care?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Anti-Military Election Board in Virginia

The Right to Vote is cherished by all Americans, albeit practiced by less than 50%. The Right to Vote is guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution and protected by the men and women of the United States Armed Forces.

The US Military places a lot of importance on voting amongst its members and appoints Voting Assistance Officers to ensure that every soldier/sailor/airmen who wishes to exercise their Constitutional Right is able to do so.

There have been obstacles in the past, as Congress has repeatedly stopped military bases from hosting polling stations. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it remains an obstacle. The biggest obstacle is that the vast majority of soldiers on Active Duty and Deployed are not serving in their Legal State of Residence where they may cast their ballots. The Voting Assistance Officer and Program is designed to assist that with the support of the States.

The State of Virginia's Election Board (run by the current Party in Power) has argued before a Federal Court that they can mail absentee ballots the day before the election and are not obligated to do so earlier to support Active Duty and Deployed Virginians. An absentee ballot mailed the day before the election will not be returned by election day nor postmarked by election day. The State of Virginia and the Party in Power is actively seeking to disenfranchise members of the US Military. They are perhaps following the letter of the law, but not the spirit.

The lawsuit filed against the State of Virginia is built around the the DOD Voting Assistance Program: "There is no federal statute that requires States to mail absentee ballots to UOCAVA voters a minimum number of days before an election. The Complaint in Intervention is based entirely on a “determination” by the Federal Voting Assistance Program of the Department of Defense that such ballots be mailed at least 30 days before an election, and a “recommendation” that States allow 45 days for round-trip mailing of absentee ballots."

Virginia does allow its service members to utilize the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot which does minimize the requirements for the 30/45 days stated by the DOD and denied by the State Board of Electors. However, the State of Virginia only honors the Federal Write-In Ballot for Federal Office, not State Office. I guess that means it won't work in the 2009 Election for Governor between McDonnell and Deeds.

Apparently the State of Virginia does not value the Right to Vote for military servicemen and women. If you are interested in doing something, please feel free to contact the Virginia State Board of Elections.

I've voted in nearly every election in my home state since I have been on Active Duty. My village election supervisor has worked diligently to ensure I have the required absentee ballot, even for off elections in the Spring that feature only Referendums and the occasional Supreme Court Election. I have paid to mail back every ballot to ensure it arrives by election day. To ensure I can do that, I have to have the ballot at least a week before the election.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Chicago 2016 -- Failed

I will admit I am quite conflicted about the epic failure of Chicago's Olympic Bid for the 2016 Summer Games.

I love my country and as a Nationalist, there is a lot of National pride that comes with the Olympics. One only need to remember the powerful "U-S-A, U-S-A" chants during Olympic events to recognize the outpouring of National Spirit. The Olympics are an International Spectacle that puts the host city on a Pedestal.

That pedestal at the same time, is the reason why one would not want to host the Olympics. Chicago in 2016 would be a basket case. The inevitable cost overruns would hurt the financial viability of Chicago. Only the 2002 games in Salt Lake City made a profit, the rest of black holes; Athens is still paying off its debt.

I think the biggest slap in the face is that Chicago finished 4th. Chicago is the 2nd City and a close second is where I wanted Chicago to end up. Losing to Tokyo and Madrid was unexpected and hurts a little bit.

Rio De Janeiro will make an excellent Olympic Host and a first for South America. It will be a great Olympics to watch and I am sure they will put on a great show. I also like the idea of Christ the Redeemer overlooking the competition.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Bold Speech at the United Nations

Today the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, climbed the Podium of the United Nations to address the General Assembly. His address was a stinging indictment of the ideology of Hate preached by the likes of Iran, Libya, and elsewhere in the World. It was an address that proclaimed a love of Freedom and the Truth.

It was also an address that highlighted the moral bankruptcy of the United Nations. An organization founded on hallowed principles of Freedom and Human Rights is today, a mockery of those principles. The very nations that are indicted for the worst abuses of Human Rights are the celebrated and the virtuous and strong are mocked. The United Nations is a disgrace that has failed to live up to its lofty ideals.

Prime Minister Netanyahu, like President George W. Bush before him, displayed incredible courage in speaking the Truth to a den of vipers.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Archbishop Dolan in New York

Milwaukee lost a powerful voice for Traditional Orthodox Roman Catholicism a few months ago with Archbishop Dolan's appointment to the See of New York. However, the Archdiocese of New York and the larger American Catholic Community gained a Faithful Shepherd who will present the authentic Catholic Faith to a larger.

Archbishop Dolan understands that Faithful Catholicism is not about "No" as the Media and heterodox Catholics so often paint it, but about an affirming "Yes".

The Church is not without challenges, yet Archbishop Dolan will offer a powerful voice from the Pulpit of New York with solutions to those Challenges.

The Catholic News Agency had a recent piece in August where he took stock of the challenegs facing his archdiocese and what the Church can do to provide answers. He recognizes that vocations are key to the Life of the Church and just as he worked tirelessly in Milwaukee to improve vocations after the disaster of Archbishop Weakland, he will have the same impact in New York.

New York Magazine offered a more critical view on Archbishop Dolan, but it recognizes his charm and his pastoral attitudes which will assist him in presenting the Affirming "Yes" of Traditional Catholicism to a City and to a Country that so often runs counter to that.

Milwaukee lost a valuable Catholic Leader, but American Catholicism gained an Authentic Voice.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Tim Pawlenty and the Values Voter Summit

Governor Tim Pawlenty delivered an excellent speech at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. The Media may hammer conservatives as being without direction or ideas, the reality is quite the opposite. This speech by Governor Pawlenty verbally illustrates that Conservatives are in fact the movement of ideas.

The only thing I cannot support Governor Pawlenty for in this speech is his horrible choice of NFL loyalties. He underlines his opposition to President Obama while at the same time being respectful and part of the loyal opposition. (a counterpoint to Representative Joe Wilson - there is a time and a place for his comments, it wasn't the place).

Well, thank you very much. And no, Brett Favre is not part of the cash for clunkers program so – (laughter) – it’s going to be a Super Bowl quarterback this year.

I’m delighted to be with you tonight, and I’m honored to be the governor of the great state of Minnesota. And of course, one of the privileges and perks of being governor of a state is you get to travel around your state and hear these great stories. And I heard one the other day about these two gentlemen were sitting out on a bench outside of the pearly gates waiting for their opportunity to talk to St. Peter, and one gentleman turned to the other and said, “So how did you get here?” The guy said, “Well, you wouldn’t believe it, but I came across a situation where this motorcycle gang, you know, big a brutish-looking people, they were threatening and intimidating this young woman, and so I pulled out a tire iron out of my car and I wielded it and I yelled, ‘Hey, knock it off’ and I went over to their row of motorcycles and I kicked over the whole row and knocked them all down. And then I went up to the leader, the biggest one, the most muscular one of the whole group, and I went right in his face and I grabbed his nose ring and I yanked it out.” And the other guy on the bench said, “Well, my goodness, when did that all happen?” The guy said, “Just about a minute ago.” (Laughter.)

Now, I share that story with you because we’re here to talk about our values. We’re going to talk tonight a little bit about our values, but it is important that we not just talk about our values, we also need to be able to translate those into action and results, so it’s important that we know what we believe, why we believe it, that we’re able to communicate it to others in effective and powerful and inviting ways, but we also have to make a difference by making sure that our values get implemented, and that’s why I’m so glad that you’re part of this gathering here, the Values Voters, an organization that is committed not just to values but to action, to voting, to mobilizing, and frankly, holding public officials accountable because I know you’re tired and I’m tired of sending people to places like Washington, D.C. under the banner of, you know, the conservative or values jersey and then they don’t behave or vote like we expect them to behave and vote. So let’s hold them accountable and each other accountable as well.


Now, I know some in the audience or in the press, they always say, “Oh, isn’t this hard? I mean, my goodness, you’re facing a lot of challenges as conservatives and people who embrace traditional values.” I can tell you about hard. I grew up in a town of South St. Paul, Minnesota. I was the only Republican in my family. Back then it was the world’s largest meat packing plants and the world’s largest stockyards in South St. Paul, Minnesota. For a good chunk of their lives my one brother worked for a grocery store for 40 years as part of the United Food and Commercial Workers. My other brother worked at an oil refinery as part of the Chemical and Atomic Workers Union, and for times they were union stewards. My other sister is a one-on-one special ed aide in public schools and my other sisters worked for 40-some years for a company as a secretary or administrative assistant. And they’re all Democrats.

And my mom died when I was young, age 16, and not too long after that my dad lost his job for a while, and so we had a lot of discussions in our family about hardship and values and oftentimes politics, and they’d get pretty heated. And so I – you know, do you really want your taxes raised in a place like Minnesota? Oh, no, they’re high enough, I’m with you on that. Well, what about education, do you think we should plow more money into the schools or do you think we should them hold them accountable for results? No, darn right, let’s hold them accountable for results. Well, what about health care? Do you want the federal government taking the thing over or do you think you and your doctor should make those decisions? No, we’re with you on that. What about even some of the more controversial issues like second amendment rights? No, we love to hunt and fish, don’t mess with our guns. And on down the list. And so they’d agree with us on, you know, seven, eight, nine, ten of the top issues. You know, how come you’re not with us then as a conservative or my party, a Republican? Well, because you guys aren’t always for the working person. You’ve heard that before? So that’s a stereotype we need to overcome.

But in Minnesota, I’m here to tell you as the governor of, to put it charitably a left-leaning state (laughter), if we can do it there – now, this is the land of Eugene McCarthy. It’s the land of Hubert Humphrey. It’s the land of Walter Mondale. It’s the lane of Paul Wellstone. And it’s the land of United States Senator Al Franken. If we – if I and the Republicans in Minnesota and the conservatives can govern Minnesota and make a difference and make progress with conservative goals and values and principles in mind, as Frank Sinatra said, “If you can do it there, you can do it anywhere.” And we can do it across this great land.


Now, as you know, you’re gathered here because you share a belief in those values. Those values are under attack. These are not just conservative values. Our values our American values. (Applause.) They are not rooted in pop psychology, they’re not rooted in feelings, they’re not rooted in emotion. They are rooted in the wisdom and experience of our founding fathers and the faith and the wisdom that they brought forward in the defining moments of this nation. And so we need to remind each other – (audio break).


Our Judeo-Christian values are important, they are traditional, and they are the basis for so much of our country. Now, we have some folks who are skeptics about that. I’m reminded of the story – the true story of Tony Blair, the former prime minister, who came to our prayer breakfast here in Washington, D.C., about a year or so ago. He recalled a story that as a young schoolboy his father had suffered a terrible stroke. It was life-threatening and quite severe. And he remembers being in school and having a teacher pull alongside him and bend down on his knee and whisper to him, “Tony, I’m going to pray for your dad.” And Tony reminded the teacher and remembered the teacher and said, “But teacher, my dad doesn’t believe in God.” And the teacher said, “That’s okay, Tony. God believes in your dad. God believes in your Dad.”


So as value voters, as conservatives, as Americans, I gather with folks like us in meetings and rooms and there’s a lot of concern. People are worried and they’re afraid and they see an uncertain future. They see an un-secure future with a lot of the things that are swirling about in our great nation. They know that this government centric viewpoint of this administration and the Congress and the federal takeover of so much, and more by the hour, more by the week, more by the day, is corrosive to our culture. It’s corrosive to our individual spirit and our spirit of freedom. But do not get discouraged. Keep the faith, and have heart, because remember, God is the God of all. He’s the God of the White House, of the Congress, of state capitols, of school board meetings, city council meetings, all of it. So our job as value voters and concerned citizens is to get up each day, to be faithful, to work hard, and our job is to put in our best effort, and God owns the result, so do not lose heart.


In addition to thanking and acknowledging – (unintelligible) – got another important value that we need to articulate strongly and boldly and effectively is the value of respecting and protecting life at all stages of life. (Applause.) I am proud to stand for life as a governor. I am proud to stand for life each year on the anniversary of Roe versus Wade on the steps of our Capitol to defend life as a value and as a principle. But I’m also proud that we’ve made progress on this issue, even in a state like Minnesota. And we shouldn’t be afraid of this issue. This issue is a cornerstone issue for our culture, for our society. If we can’t stand for protecting and defending life and respecting life, then all else is lost because it is foundational. Life is a blessing. It is a precious gift that’s been given to us, and it needs to be respected and protected.


In Minnesota we’ve done a number of things – I won’t go through them all – but one that I’m most particularly proud of and it’s been very impactful is I’ve proposed and signed into law the so-called women’s right to know bill, which provides women important information who are considering abortion, and it also provides a waiting period for them to consider their decision. That combined with many other measures and efforts of good-hearted people all across Minnesota has significantly decreased the number of abortions performed in my state, and it’s a very effective piece of legislation.


But as we discuss this issue, we should always remember that this is about changing hearts and about changing minds. As we change hearts and change minds, changes in laws will follow. Changes in members of Congress will follow. Changes in the courts will follow. But it starts with changing hearts and minds, so we need to be loving and effective in the way that we communicate our views because we have convinced each other, now we need to convince more to join our cause.

Another value I want to just speak to you briefly about is very important and that is the value of respecting and defending the Constitution of the United States of America. (Applause.) We stand for the principle of a limited and effective government, and a measure of the fidelity to that principle is making sure that the Constitution is remembered in its original intent and that the Constitution is the measure of the limited and effective government. There’s lots of ways to do it, but a really important way is to make sure that the people that get appointed judges are strict constructionists and don’t make up the law on the back of a napkin.


A really important example of this is defending and protecting traditional marriage. All domestic relationships are not the same, and traditional marriage needs to remain elevated in our society and in our culture. Marriage should be defined as between a man and a woman, and I sponsored that legislation when I was in the Minnesota Legislature, and we should make sure that the people are heard on this, that the Constitution is heard on this, not courts who are making up the law in the backroom.


Now, this is not some radical notion or some extreme notion. My goodness, when it’s been put to the vote of the people even in left-of center places like Oregon and – California voted twice for traditional marriage. If they can support traditional marriage in California we should do it all over this country.


I’m very concerned that the direction that President Obama’s administration is headed is in the direction of activist judges, and we need to do all that we can to slow that down and stop it and bring strict constructionists to the bench.

Another important value is the value of living within our means and being responsible with our finances as a nation. (Applause.) It is a measure of again a limited and effective in the proper scope of government. I read an article today – I read an article today that said within ten years it is likely that the debt of the United States official of America will be 70 to 80 percent of the entire gross domestic product of our nation. Not long ago our United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Communist China on rhetorical bended knee pleading with the Chinese to continue to buy our debt because if they don’t our ability to pay our bills would be jeopardized. We go around the world asking foreign sovereign wealth funds to support our debt so we can pay our bills. Is that the United States of America that you want to live in?

There are many just unbelievable examples of the reckless and irresponsible spending that’s taking place in Washington, D.C., but one that really gets my goat is the cash for clunkers program. Now, think about this. We are borrowing money we don’t have in many cases from the Chinese to pay ourselves cash to buy cars from ourselves from companies that we own so some day we might be able to pay ourselves back. Does that make economic sense to anybody in this room? I mean it’s ridiculous.

So Minnesota, we’ve taken a very different view of how we should be fiscally responsible. We celebrated or sesquicentennial last year in Minnesota, 150 years of history in my state, and guess what? In no two-year budget cycle in the history of state ever has spending gone down in real terms until I became governor. (Applause.) If we’re asking our citizens in these challenging times to live on flat or declining revenues, if their paycheck is shrinking or staying flat, or worse yet, if they’re laid off and they don’t have growing resources and they’re having to tightened their belts, government should do the same thing.


So in Minnesota in this budget, by way of example, we’re reducing spending in real terms 7.6 percent. I’ve got the most vetoes of any governor I think in Minnesota history. And we’ve reduced spending by the largest margin in the modern history of the state, and we’re turning that left-of-center state into a fiscally responsible state.


I also want to just visit about the value – the value of understanding and remembering that it is weakness, not strengths, that temps our enemies around the world. We have a circumstance of an anniversary this week. It was 70 years ago this week that Russia invaded Poland. Now, I’m half Polish so I don’t bring that up just for that reason. But everyone remembers or should remember what that means in terms of the threat to the national security of our Eastern European friends then and now. In today’s terms we have North Korea and Iran threatening not only to develop nuclear weapons but to operationalize it on missiles, in medium or long-range missiles down the road. President Obama announced today that he is abandoning plans for the radar missile defense system in the Czech Republic and the missile defense capabilities that were to go into Poland. He also is cutting the defense budget in this important area. And by the way, an overwhelming share of the discretionary budget reductions that he’s proposed or talked about are in defense. Now, this does a number of things.

One of the things it does is if you’re in Poland or you’re in the Czech Republic and you’re an ally of the United States and you stick your neck way out of the United States of America because we asked you to, and you get in big trouble for that within your country, the last thing you want to see is the United States of America pulling the rug out from underneath you. So if we’re going to stand with our friends, we need to stand with our friends, and we need to stand strong.


History is clear. Appeasement doesn’t work. Appeasement didn’t stop the Nazis. Appeasement didn’t stop the Soviets. Appeasement didn’t stop and hasn’t stopped the terrorists. And we need to stand with our allies like Israel. We need to stand like our allies with Eastern Europe (applause). And we need to be strong and confront the challenges that face our nation’s security.

We also need to remember the value of individuals and families deciding their health care decisions for themselves. (Applause). This issue is a case study for all that’s taking place in Washington, D.C. You heard it all. But I want to just highlight for you the Democrats’ plan is an absolute financial monstrosity. This is a plan that if you count it from full – full implementation ten years out, it’s not a $1 trillion plan, it’s approaching a $2 trillion or more plan. The president of the United States has said, you know, “We don’t have any more money.” He said that in a recent interview. “We’re out of money.”

Well, with all due respect, Mr. President, if we’re out of money, stop spending it.


It’s also a plan that features taxes on employers, taxes on individuals, taxes on manufacturers of life-saving medical devices and technology and down the list. It’s a bucket load of tax increases. Even with that, it doesn’t even begin to pay for itself, and the question we should be asking amongst others is, “What happens when the money runs out? What happens when the money runs out?” And it will. Two states or so have tried essentially this same thing. It doesn’t work. It is nowhere close to containing costs. It has gone the other direction. And when the money runs out they’ve got two basic choices after we’ve already given up our rights to the federal government. And by the way, they’ve run into the ground or put on the pathway to bankruptcy every entitlement program that they have. Social Security is on a pathway to bankruptcy. Medicare is on a pathway to bankruptcy. Medicaid is on a pathway to bankruptcy. They can’t run the programs they have. Why would we give them another one to run into the ground?


But what happens when the money runs out? They’re going to have two basic choices. They can raise taxes some more or they can begin to ration care. I don’t like either option and I know you don’t either. This proposal needs to get killed. It is a bad idea.


President Obama addressed a joint session of Congress not long ago regarding this topic, and he said he’s going to start calling people out on this debate by name. I guess I was the first one up this morning. The DNC put up a video or some sort of thing attacking me on this debate for various things I’ve said in recent weeks and months, and I accept the challenge. And I’ll just respond by calling out the president back tonight. And I would say – (applause) – and what I’d like to say to him is, DNC and he calls me out, I’ll call you out, call you back, and here’s my message: Stop spending the country into bankruptcy. Stop taxing us into oblivion. And the next time you address a group of young people maybe you should apologize for the crushing debt you’re putting on their shoulders.


And one additional challenge. If, as he and the Democratic Congress, or some of the Democratic Congress say, “Oh, no, we’re not for public funding for abortions,” then don’t duck, don’t bob, don’t weave, put the language of the Hyde amendment in the health care bill.


I want to close with one last story. It’s a true story. In January of 1981, it was a cloudy, cold day in Washington, D.C. It’s a time when the country was discouraged and worried, hostages were being held, the economy was in deep trouble. And shortly after noon on a January day, 1981, Ronald Reagan walked out of the United States Capitol and he strode to the podium to be sworn in as the president of the United States of America. As if on a director’s cue, the clouds parted and a ray of sunshine hit the podium and him, and Ronald Reagan said later it’s as if a burst of warmth or an explosion of warmth hit his face at that very moment.

As he prepared to take the oath, they opened up the Bible that he was going to be sworn in on and they opened it up to a passage where his mom, Nell, had written. It was II Chronicles 7, and the passage reads as follows: “If my people, who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin and heal their land.”


Now, in the margin was Nell’s handwriting. She had made a note decades before, not knowing what her son was going to do in the future. And in her handwriting she wrote: “A great verse for healing the nations” – “A great verse for healing the nations.”

So there’re many lessons to be drawn from that, but just a few as we confront difficult times as we do now and surely we will again in the future. We need to do so with humility. We need to make sure that we are focused on wise values, not just wisecracks. We also need to what are values are. We need to know why they are important. We need to work hard and we need to humbly ask God to continue to bless the United States of America.

Thanks for being here. Thanks for listening. I appreciate it very much. Have a great conference.