Soft sheets call my name,
Her impatient voice reaches
right into my heart!
"One might well become a holy fool oneself here! It's catching!"--Raskolnikov, from Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment. Witness the musings of another Holy Fool, another follower of "God's own Fool."
The President delivers his first to a Congress controlled by the opposition. He's "politically wounded" on Iraq, but rhetorically unbowed.
President Bush implored lawmakers and the nation last night to give him one more chance to win the war in Iraq and avoid the "nightmare scenario" of defeat while presenting a domestic agenda intended to find common cause with the new Democratic Congress on issues such as energy and immigration.
Politically wounded but rhetorically unbowed, Bush gave no ground on his decision to dispatch 21,500 more troops to Iraq despite a bipartisan cascade of criticism. Addressing for the first time a Congress controlled by the other party, Bush challenged Democrats "to show our enemies abroad that we are united in the goal of victory" and warned that the consequences of failure in Iraq "would be grievous and far-reaching.""I respect you and the arguments you have made," Bush told skeptical lawmakers from both parties in his sixth State of the Union address and the fourth since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. "We went into this largely united -- in our assumptions and in our convictions. And whatever you voted for, you did not vote for failure. Our country is pursuing a new strategy in Iraq and I ask you to give it a chance to work."
With new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) sitting behind him in a sign of the power shift on Capitol Hill, Bush congratulated Democrats on their victory in the November midterm elections and reached out to them with ideas to expand health-care coverage, overhaul immigration laws and improve education performance. In his most ambitious new proposal, he laid out a plan to reduce projected gasoline consumption in the United States by 20 percent over the next 10 years.
"Congress has changed, but our responsibilities have not," Bush said. "We are not the first to come here with government divided and uncertainty in the air. Like many before us, we can work through our differences and achieve big things for the American people."
Yet his approach contrasted with the last two presidents to address an opposition Congress after their parties lost midterm elections. Ronald Reagan conceded mistakes in 1987, as did Bill Clinton in 1995. Clinton moved to the middle so conspicuously that the opposition leader who gave the official response noted that he "sounded pretty Republican." Although Bush acknowledged two weeks ago that "mistakes have been made" in Iraq, he appeared unchastened last night and took no responsibility for his party's defeat or errors in office.
Democrats seemed unimpressed by his governing blueprint and signaled that they are in no mood to meet him in the middle. Long before Bush arrived in the House chamber to deliver his remarks, Democratic leaders and allied interest groups rushed out statements blasting his domestic proposals as rehashed ideas, empty rhetoric or flawed concepts that would create other problems. But the divide between president and Congress was most inflamed by his leadership of a war approaching the four-year mark.
"The president took us into this war recklessly," said freshman Sen. James Webb (D-Va.), a former Marine who was tapped to give the formal response. Accusing Bush of disregarding warnings by national security experts before invading Iraq, Webb added: "We are now, as a nation, held hostage to the predictable -- and predicted -- disarray that has followed."
Does anyone have any leadership to offer? The President offers no tangible sense of how his latest strategy will work. In fact, his extortions to support it sound unsurprisingly familiar. Hasn't he said this all before? How is his new approach different?
Meanwhile, all the Democratically-controlled Congress does is whine. A party in power can no longer stomp its feet and point fingers at the opposition in the oval office. Congressional leaders can and must step forward with productive proposals on how to solve the current crisis our country faces. But no. That might involve taking responsibility. That might put Congress' position at risk. Can't risk 2008 just for the sake of the nation!
I tire of new and old bosses. I long for leaders. Who's willing to step up?Who?
What do I think? It was an effective speech, probably more so than last year. He gave the Democrats plenty of openings for opportunities for bipartisanship. He stayed within himself, and offered his relaxed and engaging style that he often displays in front of live crowds.
The meat of the speech impresses me less. I'm a little troubled that he only gave Iran and Syria a passing mention. Iran would be one of the issues on which he could demand bipartisanship, since the Democrats spent the last two electoral cycles complaining that he hadn't done enough about Teheran.
We'll see. Color me 'illin until then.
Truth doesn't matter. It's manufactured. Reasonable people can decide for themselves what it is.
The House of Representatives delivered a strong challenge to President Bush on Thursday, overwhelmingly passing the same embryonic stem cell bill that he vetoed last summer.Ignore ASCR. Whistle past Amniotic SCR. Don't even mention the name. Just call Embryonic Stem-Cell Research stem cell research.
Although the 253 to 174 vote fell 37 votes shy of being veto-proof, the wide, bipartisan margin increased pressure on the White House to compromise on more funding for embryonic stem cell research.
Thirty-seven Republicans, including Reps. C.W. Bill Young of Indian Shores and Ginny Brown-Waite of Brooksville, joined most Democrats in passing the bill.
The Senate is expected to pass the bill this month.
"This is a very potent issue, not only in the elections, but as we go forward," said Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., the bill's sponsor. "The vote today shows that productive discussion might be a very, very good idea for all concerned."
Her co-sponsor, Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del., said he was hopeful, though not optimistic, that Bush eventually will compromise.
The president has declined offers to meet with stem cell supporters. The White House said Bush would veto the bill if it reached his desk because it "would compel all American taxpayers to pay for research that relies on the intentional destruction of human embryos."
The Stomp-beats of the Boot-jacks continue. Reasonable Devotees of the One Thing that Matters 2.0 won't stop until all surrender their Foolish notions.
The Catholic Church utterly condemns all forms of unjust discrimination, violence, harassment or abuse directed against people who are homosexual. Indeed the Church teaches that they must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. We, therefore, recognize many elements of recent legislation -- including much in the Northern Ireland regulations -- that takes steps to ensure that no such discrimination takes place.Never mind the benevolent work Catholic agencies conduct for society. Forget the service to needy children those agencies render every day. A pox on all talk about subsidiarity and freedom of conscience. The only thing that matters is the One Thing that Matters 2.0. The sooner those Fools understand, the better off everyone will be. Especially the Reasonable people of the world!
What, then, is the problem? It is that to oblige our agencies in law to consider adoption applications from homosexual couples as potential adoptive parents would require them to act against the principles of Catholic teaching. We require our agencies to recruit and approve appropriate married and single people to meet the needs of children in local authority care for whom adoption has been identified as being in their best interest. We place significant emphasis on marriage, as it is from the personal union of a man and a woman that new life is born and it is within the loving context of such a relationship that a child can be welcomed and nurtured. Marital love involves an essential complementarity of male and female. We recognize that some children, particularly those who have suffered abuse and neglect, may well benefit from placement with a single adoptive parent.
However, Catholic teaching about the foundations of family life, a teaching shared not only by other Christian Churches but also other faiths, means that Catholic adoption agencies would not be able to recruit and consider homosexual couples as potential adoptive parents.
We believe it would be unreasonable, unnecessary and unjust discrimination against Catholics for the government to insist that if they wish to continue to work with local authorities, Catholic adoption agencies must act against the teaching of the Church and their own consciences by being obliged in law to provide such a service.
Catholic adoption agencies have readily accepted their responsibility to provide an informative, sympathetic and helpful service to all those who enquire about adoption, whether or not they meet the agency's criteria for acceptance for assessment. Catholic adoption agencies welcome adoptive applicants from any or no religious background. Homosexual couples are referred to other agencies where their adoption application may be considered. This "sign-posting" responsibility is taken very seriously by all Catholic adoption agencies.
This is an appeal for "fair play," particularly for those many children, Catholic or not, who continue to benefit from the widely recognized, professional and committed adoption services provided through our Catholic adoption agencies. Giving protection to the rights of Catholic adoption agencies to act with integrity will preserve an excellent and highly valued adoption service, representing 32% of the voluntary adoption sector, with an outstanding record of finding stable and loving homes for some of the most disadvantaged children in society -- including children who have been abused, physically, sexually and emotionally; children with disability and limited life expectancy; and large sibling groups who need a family where they can grow up together. Catholic adoption agencies continue to excel in their commitment and acknowledged success in securing and sustaining adoptive families for such children while maintaining the lowest rates of adoption disruption in the United Kingdom.
Imagine doing every day what you love to do and do damn well.
"The fruit of silence is prayer"
David Quinn of the Irish Catholic discusses the meaning of sex. He illuminates the precious illusions that drove the sexual revolutionaries. He compassionately demonstrates the consequences of their folly. Most important of all, he bears witness to what sex is all about.
Sex is an act of communion between a man and a woman that have literally bet their lives on each other. They committed the very best of themselves to each other. Sex celebrates that commitment and reinforces it. It also expresses their love for each other in truly existential terms.
What has not been discussed in any of this is the all-important, decisive topic of what sex is about. What is it directed towards? Why does it exist at all? If we don’t answer these questions correctly then we cannot hope to come up with a theory of what true sexual fulfilment is. If we don’t even ask these questions, then we can’t even hope to begin the debate.
To put it another way, what is missing from practically all talk about sex in Ireland is whether or not sex has a purpose. So, does it?
Before proceeding, however, let’s remind ourselves of the promises made by the sexual revolution. The theorists of the sex revolution began with an extremely reductive and naïve view of human nature, namely that sex is our fundamental and most basic impulse, and that this impulse is directed chiefly towards pleasure.
They imagined our sex drive as a kind of raging river that had to be let run its course or else the consequences would be dire. They imagined that anything which thwarted our sex drive acted as a kind of dam. The water would build up behind this dam and sooner or later something would have to give. Either we would start to act out in all kinds of sexually inappropriate ways, for example, paedophilia, or else we would be condemned to radically unhappy, neurotic and repressed lives which would often express themselves in terrible, burning rage.
The sex revolutionists said the only answer to this was to allow the sex drive run its natural course by not seeking to thwart it in any way.
Theories of ‘free love’ grew out of this. Love was conflated with sex, and the supposed freedom of ‘free love’ lay in the belief that sex could be consequence-free. The Pill added tremendous impetus to this belief. For the first time in history you could have sex and be almost 100pc sure that no pregnancy would result. And if it did, there would always be the fall-back option of abortion. Furthermore, there would be no need to commit to your sexual partner. You would only stay with him or her until such time as your sex drive took you somewhere else.
In fact, ‘free-love’ wasn’t free at all. So-called free love can only come by suppressing other parts of human nature, parts that are in fact intimately and inextricably linked with sex itself. Free love is only ‘free’ if we suppress our desire for children and, in the ultimate irony, if we suppress our desire for love.The brute fact of life that the sex revolutionaries completely lost sight of is that sex creates in us an instinct to bond emotionally as well as physically with the person we have sex with and if we suppress this instinct it can only be at huge cost to ourselves. Just ask Robert Hughes.
Move over, Bill Gates.
Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs on Tuesday made the company's long-awaited jump into the mobile phone business and renamed the company to just "Apple Inc.," reflecting its increasing focus on consumer electronics.
The iPhone, which starts at $499, is controlled by touch, plays music, surfs the Internet and runs the Macintosh computer operating system. Jobs said it will "reinvent" the telecommunications sector and "leapfrog" past the current generation of hard-to-use smart phones.
"Every once in a while a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything," he said during his keynote address at the annual Macworld Conference and Expo. "It's very fortunate if you can work on just one of these in your career. ... Apple's been very fortunate in that it's introduced a few of these."
He said the name change is meant to reflect the fact that Apple has matured from a computer manufacturer to a full-fledged consumer electronics company.
"I didn't sleep a wink last night," he said. "I was so excited."
During his speech, Jobs also unveiled a TV set-top box that allows people to send video from their computers and announced the number of songs sold on its iTunes Music Store has topped 2 billion.
Apple shares jumped more than 6 percent on the announcements, while the stock of rival smart-phone makers plunged.
Jobs demonstrated the iPhone's music capabilities by playing "Lovely Rita, Meter Maid," from the Beatles'"Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band," as the album's psychedelic album art graced a wide-screen monitor.
IPhone uses a patented touch-screen technology Apple is calling "multi-touch."
"We're going to use a pointing device that we're all born with," Jobs said. "It works like magic. ... It's far more accurate than any touch display ever shipped. It ignores unintended touches. It's super smart."
The phone automatically synchs your media — movies, music, photos — through Apple's iTunes Music Store. The device also synchs e-mail content, Web bookmarks and nearly any type of digital content stored on your computer.
"It's just like an iPod," Jobs said, "charge and synch."
Too bad I use Verizon--and don't have $499 US to throw down on a glorified mobile phone. The i-line looks like Apple's ticket to ride.
...What can be explained by stupidity.
Conservatives who supported President Bush's reelection have joined liberal groups in expressing outrage over his administration's broad use of anti-terrorism laws to reject asylum for thousands of people seeking refuge from religious, ethnic and political persecution.
The critics say the administration's interpretation of provisions mandating denial of asylum to individuals who give "material support" to terrorist groups is so broad that foreigners who fought alongside U.S. forces in wars such as Vietnam can be denied asylum on the grounds that they provided aid to terrorists.Advocates for refugees add that people who were forced to aid terrorist fighters at gunpoint could be labeled as supporters and turned away; such cases include a nurse who was abducted and told to treat a guerrilla fighter in Colombia and a woman in Liberia who said her father was killed and she was raped and forced to stand by as rebels occupied her home for several days.
"This is so indefensible," said Michael Horowitz, a fellow at the conservative Hudson Institute and a former lawyer in the Reagan administration. "It is causing heroes who fought for the United States to be afraid of being deported."
"It's outrageous," said Barrett Duke, vice president of public policy for the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. "I think it's essentially a reaction of fear to the current terrorist danger." The language in the laws, he added, is "a knee-jerk reaction."
Gary L. Bauer, president of American Values, a conservative public policy group, said the anti-terrorism thrust of laws such as the USA Patriot Act and the Real ID Act is supported by most conservatives, "but the enforcement of it has lapsed into ludicrousy. The concept of material support is being distorted, and even the definition of the term 'terrorism' is being turned on its ear."
The number of individuals granted asylum since 2001 has fallen steadily, from 39,641 then to 25,257 last year, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The number of refugee arrivals has fluctuated since 2001, from a high of 68,925 that year to 28,304 in 2003 to 53,738 last year. But it has not risen as high as the 72,000 who were allowed into the country the year before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
When bureaucracies won't trust their people, the higher-ups create ridiculous rules that are meant to be "people-proof." Meet the results.
A little common sense, please? Thank you!
What we hide in the shadows others will shout from the rooftops.
"When Msgr. Wielgus was nominated, we knew nothing about his collaboration with the secret police," Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, head of the Vatican's Congregation for Clergy, bluntly told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.The Poles deserve better. The Catholic Church in Poland deserves better. Nevertheless, my heart also breaks for Archbishop Wielgus. He's lived each and every day knowing he betrayed his commission as a successor to the Apostles. He became a shepherd that pastured himself on the Master's sheep. Now, his sin and episcopal crime has attracted the world's attention.
This failure was all the more surprising because the nuncio to Poland, the man who coordinated the search process, is a Pole himself -- Archbishop Jozef Kowalczyk -- who has been on the job since 1989 and presumably would have spotted a problem before it became a disaster.
And "disaster" is how it's viewed inside the Vatican, for several reasons:-- Archbishop Wielgus became the highest-ranking church leader to admit that he agreed to spy for an East European communist regime, raising suspicions about the rest of the hierarchy in the eyes of the simple faithful. To many, the archbishop's qualifier that he "never inflicted any harm on anyone" seemed disingenuous.
-- The debacle was played out in public, crowned by the painfully embarrassing "installation" Mass Jan. 7 that turned into a resignation Mass. It was the first time anyone could remember that an archbishop was sent home on the day of his scheduled installation, an "emeritus" after only two days in office.
-- Pope Benedict was drawn directly into the controversy. A Vatican statement Dec. 21 expressed the pope's "full trust" in Archbishop Wielgus and "full awareness" of his past. But sources now say it appears the archbishop had not told the pope everything -- that he had admitted contacts with the secret police, but not that he had agreed to collaborate in a spying effort.
By Vatican standards, the statement by its spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, was unusually direct: "The behavior of (Archbishop) Wielgus during the years of the communist regime in Poland seriously compromised his authority, even with the faithful."
That's what the pope and his aides ultimately weighed, said one source. The discussion about accepting the resignation focused on the archbishop's authority and was not regarded as "punishment" for not telling the truth, he said.
Father Lombardi also signaled the Vatican's serious fears that this scandal may be followed by other accusations against priests and bishops in Poland, based on spurious information and motivated more by antagonism toward the church than by a search for historical truth.
The Vatican believes the documentation about "collaborationist" priests and bishops is highly suspect, because it was put together by a communist regime that specialized in blackmail, but church experts presume there's more to come.
"I think there's probably a lot more out there, and for this reason it's important to have all the facts," said one Vatican source. He said it was hoped that the Polish Catholic Church Historical Commission, launched late last year by the Polish bishops' conference, can examine the information and present it in a balanced way.
It was the same historical commission that helped seal Archbishop Wielgus' fate when it disclosed Jan. 5 that substantial documents confirmed his willingness to secretly cooperate with communist security forces.
One of the characteristics of our age is the consistent tendency to confuse good news with bad. That may come from a light-starved people that celebrate shades of shadow turning gray.
A type of cell that floats freely in the amniotic fluid of pregnant women has been found to have many of the same traits as embryonic stem cells, including an ability to grow into brain, muscle and other tissues that could be used to treat a variety of diseases, scientists reported yesterday.
The cells, shed by the developing fetus and easily retrieved during routine prenatal testing, are easier to maintain in laboratory dishes than embryonic stem cells -- the highly versatile cells that come from destroyed human embryos and are at the center of a heated congressional debate that will resume this week.Moreover, because the cells are a genetic match to the developing fetus, tissues grown from them in the laboratory will not be rejected if they are used to treat birth defects in that newborn, researchers said. Alternatively, the cells could be frozen, providing a personalized tissue bank for use later in life.
The new cells are adding credence to an emerging consensus among experts that the popular distinction between embryonic and "adult" stem cells -- those isolated from adult bone marrow and other organs -- is artificial.
This should be good news.
But in the past, even hints that non-embryonic cells might have medical potential similar to embryonic ones have complicated the political push to expand federal funding for the controversial field. And accordingly, opponents quickly pounced on the new results.
"This is wonderful news," said Richard Doerflinger, deputy director of pro-life activities at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which opposes research that depends on embryo destruction. "It doesn't require harming anyone or destroying life at any stage."
The production of stem cells that can develop viable treatments without costing lives--everyone should celebrate such a breakthrough. The fact that Mr. Weiss sees it only as a pretext for the Prolife movement to posture speaks volumes. The Reasonable MSM will no longer recognize the good in a story.
The institutionalization of pursuing illusion slowly strangles the collective conscience of our society. When we're cut off from the truth by our own denial, we lose the fundamental source of wisdom upon which our conscience depends. Thus, our institutions--like MSM--can celebrate a "freedom" whose fruit is murder while it condemns an ethical breakthrough in cutting-edge science. One that may save lives and improve the quality of life for countless others.
Only when we experience the truth and commit ourselves to it will we stop worshiping the dark. If we want to have any hope of authentic freedom, we must endure the pain of living in the truth. Otherwise, the light in our eyes will remain dark, and then how much darker will our own hearts become?
The incoming Democrat-controlled Congress continues to live the mantra "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss."
Weren't Democrats themselves flustered by Republican House leaders efforts to exclude them from the Agenda? More importantly, didn't they promise a new way to do business?
As they prepare to take control of Congress this week and face up to campaign pledges to restore bipartisanship and openness, Democrats are planning to largely sideline Republicans from the first burst of lawmaking.
House Democrats intend to pass a raft of popular measures as part of their well-publicized plan for the first 100 hours. They include tightening ethics rules for lawmakers, raising the minimum wage, allowing more research on stem cells and cutting interest rates on student loans.But instead of allowing Republicans to fully participate in deliberations, as promised after the Democratic victory in the Nov. 7 midterm elections, Democrats now say they will use House rules to prevent the opposition from offering alternative measures, assuring speedy passage of the bills and allowing their party to trumpet early victories.
Nancy Pelosi, the Californian who will become House speaker, and Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, who will become majority leader, finalized the strategy over the holiday recess in a flurry of conference calls and meetings with other party leaders. A few Democrats, worried that the party would be criticized for reneging on an important pledge, argued unsuccessfully that they should grant the Republicans greater latitude when the Congress convenes on Thursday.
The episode illustrates the dilemma facing the new party in power. The Democrats must demonstrate that they can break legislative gridlock and govern after 12 years in the minority, while honoring their pledge to make the 110th Congress a civil era in which Democrats and Republicans work together to solve the nation's problems. Yet in attempting to pass laws key to their prospects for winning reelection and expanding their majority, the Democrats may have to resort to some of the same tough tactics Republicans used the past several years.
Democratic leaders say they are torn between giving Republicans a say in legislation and shutting them out to prevent them from derailing Democratic bills.
May your new year bring you all the best!