Saturday, September 28, 2013

Book Review: 'Race with the Devil' by Joseph Pearce

By Austin Ruse
September 20, 2013

Not all roads lead to God. Many – maybe  most – lead to perdition. All genuine conversion stories, though, lead to the Church. All conversion stories fascinate but some, maybe for their drama and the tremendous arc of someone’s life, fascinate more than others.
Joseph Pearce came onto the Catholic radar screen sixteen years ago with a biography called Wisdom and Innocence: A Life of G.K. Chesterton. There’s hardly a faithful Catholic that has not been touched by Chesterton. William Buckley used to hand out Orthodoxy to anyone writing to him about the faith. He sent one to me.
Pearce followed up with Literary Converts: Spiritual Inspiration in an Age of Unbelief. What joy! Here was a guy working that special British vein of literary Catholicism and conversion that American Catholics love so well. From Campion to Newman to Chesterton, even Oscar Wilde. And here was a guy picking and scratching at that vein and still finding ore. And he kept it up. A biography of Tolkien followed, one on Belloc, one on Wilde. Pearce became a small family-owned industry of quite remarkable books.
But all along we heard the strangest things about him. We heard he spent time in prison. Yeah, well I heard he killed a guy. Like Gatsby, we looked forward to the day he would tell his story. That day has come.
Race with the Devil: My Journey from Racial Hatred to Rational Love recounts Pearce’s life from small town England to national racist leader to prison – and then to God through the Church. First, he did not kill anyone. He would say, but for the grace of God he didn’t, because he was certainly in a position to kill and even more to be killed.
Born in the shadow of the Second World War, into that bleak post-war not-yet-swinging England, Pearce nonetheless lived at least part of his youth in an Eden of fields and forests, in a village sixty-five miles north of London.
His father taught him to love literature and to hate the Catholic Church. His father also hated the Irish and the wave of brown-skinned immigrants that began flooding into Great Britain with the 1949 British Nationality Act, which allowed citizens of Commonwealth countries to move to the motherland.
Pearce learned early and well.
When he was twelve, the family moved from their idyllic village to a London suburb and were thrust into the beginnings of what has become multicultural England. He recalls torturing a Pakistani teacher. One of the things that led him into racist politics seems to have been a quite proper dislike of Communism, also learned at his father’s knee.
Pearce submitted an article to Spearhead, a magazine published by the chairman of the racist National Front. His article Buckley-like criticized “the Marxist orientation” of his high school education. He chaffed at the fact that his school did not teach about the great English victories in battle but concentrated instead on British “social history.”
His descent into racist politics began in earnest when he lied about his age and at fifteen joined the National Front. In that long, hot summer of 1976, “My photograph appeared in the local paper on my first [National Front] paper sale in Barking town centre and to this day I remember the look of fanatical anger on my face. I had metamorphosed into a political extremist.”
Pearce describes roving bands of white youths prowling the streets “looking for isolated Sikhs or Muslims to attack.” Some local gangs were “said to dress in SS uniform and would shoot any non-whites they came across with air pistols.” There were gangs of “Nazi-hippies who would listen to music by Hawkwind and Frank Zappa and get high on LSD, before setting out on nights of psychedelic and psychopathic violence against hapless immigrants.”
Pearce did not join the roving gangs of “Paki-bashers,” gangs that focused on hurting the innocent, preferring instead open warfare with the guilty, that is, Marxist youth gangs. The left and right seem to follow each other around and squared off in vicious public fights that were barely controlled or not controlled at all by the local constabulary. 
Pearce became fond of Nazism and learned Nazi marching songs. In one comical incident, he found himself in a German skinhead bar. Identified as a hated Brit, he saved himself by belting out the banned in Germany Horst Wessel song. Instead of beating him they bought him beers.
In 1977, Pearce founded a youth magazine called Bulldog: “Although I would deny the charges in court, it would be true to say that Bulldog’s ultimate purpose was to incite racial hatred.” He was eventually convicted of inciting racial hatred and sent to prison, not once but twice.
Ironically and providentially, Pearce was saved from that life by an aspect of his radicalism, his hatred of large government and his love of the small and the local. He discovered Chesterton and Belloc and Distributism, and through them came to know and to love the Church.
This is why all conversion stories are so interesting. Who would have thought that God would lead a man through racism and hatred and into the Church by reading economics?
There is much more in this book than a thousand words can convey. There is a long section about his time spent raising hell in Northern Ireland – where he came close to death many times. There are stories about his pals from those days who have risen to positions in the European Parliament. And there is much more to say about his conversion.
Today Pearce is writer-in-residence at the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in New Hampshire where he lives with his wife and children. He has written twenty books and at the tender age of fifty-two, with God’s grace, will write many more.

Austin Ruse is the President of the New York and Washington, D.C.-based Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), a research institute that focuses exclusively on international social policy. The opinions expressed here are Mr. Ruse’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of C-FAM.

© 2013 The Catholic Thing. All rights reserved. For reprint rights, write to:
The Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Worse Is the New Normal

Mid-20th-century assumptions of generational progress no longer obtain. 

Political Cartoons by Glenn Foden

A few years ago, after the publication of my book America Alone, an exasperated reader wrote to advise me to lighten up, on the grounds that “we’re rich enough to be stupid.” That’s to say, Western democracies and their citizens are the wealthiest societies ever known, and no matter how much of our energies are wasted on pointless hyper-regulation for the business class and multigenerational welfare for the dependency class and Transgender and Colonialism Studies for our glittering youth, we can afford it, and the central fact of our wealth will ensure that our fortunes do not change. Since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, we have been less rich, and our stupidity ought in theory to be less affordable. Instead, it’s been supersized. To take only the most obvious example, President Obama has added six-and-a-half trillion bucks to the national debt, and has nothing to show for it. As Churchill would say, had his bust not been bounced from the Oval Office, never in the field of human spending has so much been owed by so many for so little.

The West’s rivals do not think like this. China is now the second-biggest economy on the planet, but it has immense structural problems: As I’ve been saying for years, it will get old before it gets rich. Thanks to its grotesque “one-child” policy, it has the most male-heavy demographic cohort in history — no chicks and millions of guys who can’t get any action, which is not normally a recipe for social stability. Despite being extremely large, the country is resource-poor. But you can’t say it’s not thinking outside the box. The Daily Telegraph in London reported this week that the Chinese have just signed a deal to lease five percent of Ukraine (or an area about the size of Belgium) to grow crops and raise pigs on. And I’d doubt it will stop with post-Soviet republics on the Euro-fringe: It’s not impossible to imagine China buying, say, the Greek islands. Beijing thinks the half-millennium blip of Euro-American dominance is coming to an end and the world is returning to its natural state of Chinese preeminence. The West assumes it can endure as a kind of upscale boutique unaffected by the changes beyond. Like, say, the frozen-yogurt shop at the Westgate mall in Nairobi — until last weekend.

China’s Ukraine deal may sound kinda wacky, but the People’s Republic consumes about 20 percent of the world’s food yet has (thanks to rapid industrialization) only 9 percent of its farmland. As Big Government solutions go, renting 5 percent of a sovereign nation to use as your vegetable garden and pig farm is a comparatively straightforward answer to the problem at hand. By contrast, try explaining American “health” “care” “reform” to the Chinese: You could rent the entire Ukraine for about 3 percent of the cost of Obamacare, and what does it solve? My colleague Michelle Malkin revealed this week that her family has now joined the massed ranks of Obamacare victims: Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield sent her a “Dear John” letter explaining why they’d be seeing less of each other. “To meet the requirements of the new laws, your current plan can no longer be continued beyond your 2014 renewal date.”

Beyond the president’s characteristically breezy lie that “if you like your health-care plan, you will be able to keep your health-care plan” is the sheer nuttiness of what’s happening. For years, Europeans and “progressive” Americans have raged at the immorality of the U.S. medical system: All those millions with no health coverage! But Michelle Malkin had coverage and suddenly, under what Obama calls “universal health care,” she doesn’t. The CBO’s most recent calculations estimate that in 2023, a decade after the implementation of Obamacare, there will still be over 30 million people uninsured — or about the population of Canada. That doesn’t sound terribly “universal,” and I would bet it’s something of a low-ball figure: As many employers are discovering, one of the simplest ways “to meet the requirements of the new laws” and still stay just about solvent is to shift your workers from family plans to individual plans, and tell their spouses and children to go look elsewhere. Does it achieve its other goal of “containing costs,” already higher than anywhere else? No. Avik Roy reports in Forbes that Obamacare will increase individual-market premiums by 62 percent for women, 99 percent for men. In America, “insuring” against disaster now costs more than you’d pay in most countries for disaster.

No one has ever before attempted to devise a uniform health system for 300 million people — for the very good reason that it probably can’t be done. Britain’s National Health Service serves a population less than a fifth the size of America’s and is the third-largest employer on the planet after the Indian National Railways and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, the last of which is now largely funded by American taxpayers through interest payment on federal debt. A single-payer U.S. system would be bigger than Britain’s NHS, India’s railways, and China’s army combined, at least in its bureaucracy. So, as in banking and housing and college tuition and so many other areas of endeavor, Washington is engaging in a kind of under-the-counter nationalization, in which the husk of a nominally private industry is conscripted to enforce government rules — and ruthlessly so, as Michelle Malkin and many others have discovered.

Obama’s pointless, traceless super-spending is now (as they used to say after 9/11) “the new normal.” Nancy Pelosi assured the nation last weekend that everything that can be cut has been cut and there are no more cuts to be made. And the disturbing thing is that, as a matter of practical politics, she may well be right. Many people still take my correspondent’s view: If you have old money well managed, you can afford to be stupid — or afford the government’s stupidity on your behalf. If you’re a social-activist celebrity getting $20 million per movie, you can afford the government’s stupidity. If you’re a tenured professor or a unionized bureaucrat whose benefits were chiseled in stone two generations ago, you can afford it. If you’ve got a wind farm and you’re living large on government “green energy” investments, you can afford it. If you’ve got the contract for signing up Obamaphone recipients, you can afford it.

But out there beyond the islands of privilege most Americans don’t have the same comfortably padded margin for error, and they’re hunkering down. Obamacare is something new in American life: the creation of a massive bureaucracy charged with downsizing you — to a world of fewer doctors, higher premiums, lousier care, more debt, fewer jobs, smaller houses, smaller cars, smaller, fewer, less; a world where worse is the new normal. Would Americans, hitherto the most buoyant and expansive of people, really consent to live such shrunken lives? If so, mid-20th-century America and its assumptions of generational progress will be as lost to us as the Great Ziggurat of Ur was to 19th-century Mesopotamian date farmers.

George Orwell, after attending a meeting of impoverished but passive miners, remarked sadly that “there is no turbulence left in England.” The Democrats, and much of the Republican establishment, have made a bet that there is no turbulence left in America, and the citizenry will stand mute before Obamacare’s wrecking ball. Unless they’re willing to accept a worse life for their children and grandchildren, middle-class Americans need to prove them wrong.

 Mark Steyn, a National Review columnist, is the author of After America: Get Ready for Armageddon. © 2013 Mark Steyn

Mariano Rivera caps career with emotional Yankee Stadium moment

Rivera grabbed some dirt on his way out, wiped the tears with his No. 42 jersey. He’d managed one last perfect line score. There was no better way to leave the place, and it made everyone who was watching feel both very old and very grateful at the same time.

By Filip Bondy
September 27, 2013

If there was a dry eye in the house, it certainly didn’t belong to Mariano Rivera. For the first time ever in a baseball stadium, Rivera was having trouble locating his emotions, and maybe even his pitches. The ninth inning awaited, his final ninth inning in the Bronx, and there was no institutional memory for anything like this.

So Rivera retreated to the trainer’s room, to a place he often visits after games, but rarely during one.

“I was alone, trying to put some warm on my arm,” Rivera said. “Everything started hitting me, all the flashbacks.”

The Braves . . . the Red Sox . . . When Rivera went back on the mound for the ninth, the hormones and the tangled synapses wouldn’t leave him alone. “I was bombarded by emotions,” he said. Closing time wouldn’t be easy. 
Somehow, he got two outs, and then here came two invaders: by special permission of crew chief Mike Winters, Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte walked to the mound to pull their pal from the game.

“He broke down and gave me a bear hug. I bear-hugged him back,” Pettitte said. “He was really crying. He was weeping.”

Rivera grabbed some dirt on his way out, wiped the tears with his No. 42 jersey. He’d managed one last perfect line score. There was no better way to leave the place, and it made everyone who was watching feel both very old and very grateful at the same time.

More than 20 years ago, more than two decades before this occasion on Thursday night, things did not look all that promising for Rivera at spring training in Fort Lauderdale. His fastballs were topping out in the 80s back then, his arm hurt a lot and the general manager, Gene Michael, thought this might be the end of the kid’s career.

“He was just another prospect, a baby with us,” Michael was remembering in a corner of the clubhouse. “I put him in the car, drove him from Fort Lauderdale to Vero Beach to see Dr. Frank Jobe, and I was trying to tell him everything would be all right. He looked overwhelmed. I told him, ‘Let’s see what happens.’ He didn’t speak much English, so I put a Spanish station on the radio.”

The arm got better, the fastball climbed into the mid-90s, Rivera developed a slider and then that cutter of his. The Yanks sent him down to the minors two more times before it all came together. But through it all, Michael said, Rivera always had two things going for him: He had remarkable location on his pitches, and he had a personality to die for. Everyone wished him, sincerely, the very best.

The best is what followed, right to the end. “He made my job fun, he made my job easy,” Joe Girardi said, his voice cracking. “More important, he made our lives better. The humility he has. . . . He just says thank you.”

Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter walk to the mound to take the ball from Rivera for the final time at Yankee Stadium in his career.


Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter walk to the mound to take the ball from Rivera for the final time at Yankee Stadium in his career.

Nothing is quite perfect this season in the Bronx, so Rivera came into his second straight game Thursday with the Yanks losing big, this time on their way to a 4-0 defeat to Tampa Bay. An old Bob Sheppard recording and “Enter Sandman” heralded his arrival from the pen. The Stadium pulsated. He got Delmon Young to fly out, Sam Fuld to ground back to the mound, stranding two Rays runners.

That was the eighth. In the ninth, Jose Lobaton grounded back to Rivera, Yunel Escobar popped to second. The cutter was flying at 89 mph.

Two outs, nobody on. Pettitte and Jeter came to the mound to take him out of there, to hug him. The Rays gave him a standing ovation, like everyone else in the park. Job done.

Rivera always took this job of baseball seriously, played with an economy of emotion, an innate dignity. He kept playing that way, right through five championships and then again through a carefully choreographed farewell season. This last night, though, was special, more organic. Credit goes to Girardi for much of that.

There are no circuses with Rivera, not like there have been this season with Alex Rodriguez and now suddenly, in a different way, with Robinson Cano and his agent’s reported $305 million demand. It has always been important to Rivera that his career avoid getting bogged down in such loud nonsense. A closer is like an umpire in a way. If he’s doing his job, doing it well, nobody is supposed to notice him.

When Girardi suggested that he might put Rivera in center field for an inning this weekend in Houston, the closer suddenly didn’t sound very enthusiastic about an idea that had always been a fantasy for him.

“This is not a joke, it’s serious business,” Rivera said. “I put in a request a long time ago, and now my knees are not the same. If my body permits it, if I can do it, I do it.”

He doesn’t want to look silly out there, ever. This last game at the Stadium was difficult enough. Hard on him and on everybody. Twenty years after the car ride from Michael, Rivera speaks English better, his arm is healthier and his cutter is a refined weapon. He’s still the same man, though.

“Amazing I got those last two outs,” Mariano said of the evening. “I wouldn’t call it magical. I would call it blessed.”
Then he thanked the media. Who does that?

Read more:

Mariano gets sendoff befitting the best ever

September 26, 2013
Mariano gets sendoff befitting the best ever
Mariano Rivera takes a curtain call after pitching for the final time at Yankee Stadium. (Charles Wenzelberg)

The first stirrings arrived at 9:18 p.m., the observant sectors of the crowd of 48,675 noticing a tall figure in the distant bullpen loosening his arms, the same ritual Mariano Rivera had conducted before each of his previous 1,114 appearances, shaking them like a couple of fire hoses.
The chant began a few seconds later.
By 9:20 he was throwing in earnest, and the press box announcer dutifully reported, “Joining Matt Daley in the Yankees bullpen …” and a few more thousand spectators fixed their glances on the mound out beyond the 385-foot sign in right-center field, beyond the red sign for New York Presbyterian.
The season, as a baseball poet once said, was already exhausted. The ballgame, No. 159, was rapidly spinning out of control for the Yankees, already down 2-0, Tampa runners scattered on the basepaths. In the first-base dugout, Joe Girardi frowned: What to do? He wanted to reserve the ninth inning for Rivera.
But nobody wanted to see him walk into an 8-0 blowout.
“It’s not hard to pick up the phone,” Girardi would say later, “and wonder who you’d want to call.”
It was 4-0 when Girardi hopped out of the dugout at last, two more men on base, only one out, the crowd about to boo poor Dellin Betances. But Girardi changed the mood. He was getting Betances, and he was pointing to the bullpen, and the thunder landed at once.
So that would be Mariano Rivera’s final uncredited save in The Bronx, saving an overmatched kid from wrath, reminding everyone that they’d come for a celebration. Soon Bob Sheppard’s preserved voice came tumbling out of the P.A. speakers: “COMING IN TO PITCH FOR THE YANKEES, NUMBER FORTY-TWOOOO …”
It was 9:27 p.m. There wasn’t one occupied seat in the entire house, and that included the Tampa Bay dugout, where all 44 men with “RAYS” across their jerseys were themselves standing, saluting, applauding. This game, this outcome, still mattered for them, still mattered to their playoff hopes.
The Yankees? Officially this was the first meaningless game played in the Bronx since Oct. 3, 1993, Yankees 2, Tigers 1. And yet somehow, suddenly, these next few moments felt as meaningful as any yet housed in the new yard. Delmon Young flied to left on the first pitch Rivera threw. Sam Fuld bounced back to Rivera a few seconds later.
One more jam crushed. One more inning closed.
One more to go. Or so it seemed.
The Yankees threatened in the bottom of the eighth but in keeping with their year, it was an idle threat. Some booed the futility out of a sense of duty and so nobody much noticed Girardi consulting the umpiring crew, letting them in on one of the great bursts of baseball inspiration ever. Rivera jogged to the mound.
Jose Lobaton bounced another one back to Rivera. On his 13th pitch + every one of which, duly noted by the big scoreboard in center field, was labeled: CUTTER — he ran one in on Yunel Escobar, and he popped it meekly to Robinson Cano. Four up. Four down. Perfect. Pristine.
And one more surprise.
Now, out from the dugout, out from a thousand shared memories, hundreds of shared victories, five shared championships, came Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte, both cloaked in blue hooded sweatshirts on this frosty fall night. This was Girardi’s scheme: Let Rivera’s longest contemporaries, his dearest comrades, take him back to the dugout with them.
It was a genius plan. The umpires, to their credit, agreed. The Rays, again, stood in front of their dugout and applauded wildly.
“Thank God they came out,” Rivera would say. “I’m not sure I would have made it on my own.”
Rivera — who famously collapsed in a puddle of tears and emotion on the mound across the street seconds after the Aaron Boone Homer won the ’03 ALCS — now fell into Pettitte’s arms, sobbing. Pettitte squeezed him.
“It’s been an honor to play alongside you,” Pettitte said, needing to say something before he lost it, too. Together, the three iconic Yankees returned to the dugout. And by then, Girardi was gone, too, the tough-guy skipper weeping openly and not minding even a little bit.
“He made my job fun,” Girardi would say. “He made my job easy. And he made all of our lives better.”
Later, Rivera would return to the mound one last time, grab a handful of dirt, take one final look around, enjoy one last roar from an adoring crowd. One last time, Rivera was reminded how much he meant to this game.
And also, tellingly, how much the game meant to him.

Pope Francis Said What?! Actually, No, He didn't

September 27, 2013

That NBC had doctored a 911 call for the purposes of making George Zimmerman look like a bigot was a shocking revelation. Yet cut-and-paste propaganda is a common media tactic, and I'm not sure anyone is victimized by it more than Pope Francis.
You've probably read the headlines. "Pope Francis urges global leaders to end 'tyranny' of money," "Pope Francis's stunning blow to conservatives," "Pope Francis assures atheists: You don't have to believe in God to go to heaven," "Pope Says Church Is 'Obsessed' With Gays, Abortion and Birth Control"; rinse, wash and repeat. Yet these headlines range from delusion to, possibly, deception. By and large, he said, she said is not what the pope said.
Let's start with the recent big news, the Jesuit magazine interview with Pope Francis called that "stunning blow to conservatives." The stunned (and stunted) journalist who wrote that line, the Guardian's Andrew Brown, used a Francis "quotation" prevalent throughout the media. To wit: "It is not necessary to talk about... abortion, gay marriage and [contraception] all the time." Now, it's not surprising Brown didn't provide a link to the actual interview. Because not only is his cut-and-paste job missing an ellipsis (between "and" and "all the time"), it's an elliptical formulation that omits 58 words -- and 58 miles of meaning.
After saying he hadn't talked about abortion, marriage and contraception much, here's what the pope actually stated: "The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time [emphasis added]." The media didn't omit the italicized words merely for brevity's sake. When Francis said that the teaching is "clear" and he's a "son of the church," he is reaffirming doctrine and his fidelity to it. He's saying that the teachings in question are definitive, set in stone, and that he is loyal to mother Church as any good "son" is to his mother.
Ironically, the pope, whom Catholics believe is Christ's representative on Earth, is receiving the same treatment Jesus himself did. Many liberals make their case for homosexual behavior by saying that Christ was silent on it. Of course, Jesus didn't say anything about pedophilia, either; this doesn't mean He would have tolerated it. Likewise, it's as silly to think that dogma is null and void unless continually espoused as it is to assume that a law is no longer on the books just because legislators don't talk about it constantly.
Of course, one could still find fault with Francis's comments. While "all the time" was surely just a manner of speaking, in reality I hear far too little sermonizing at Mass about the moral teachings in question. Instead there's much nebulous talk about "love." And while love is wonderful, I'd point out that a good physician makes the correct diagnosis and treats what the patient has, not what he doesn't have. There is no powerful social movement whose placards state "Down with Love!" and "Give Hate a Chance!" As far as abortion and marriage go, however, the left has sought (and largely succeeded) in changing a tried-and-true status quo, and traditionalists' talk about these issues is simply responses commensurate with the left's cultural-attack talk. We don't hose people down indiscriminately; we simply try to douse as many fires as the cultural pyromaniacs light.
Having said all this, the main difference between Pope Francis and his two predecessors is one of style, emphasis and tactics, not dogma. Dogma cannot be changed.
One problem between the pope and secular world involves communication breakdown: terms and phrases have different connotations, and sometimes different meanings, to a devout Catholic than to a modernist. Consider, for example, Francis's July remark about homosexual priests, "[W]ho am I to judge?" This was widely viewed as deviation from Catholic doctrine, but the pope averred otherwise in the Jesuit interview, explaining, "I said what the catechism says." But what long-held Catholic doctrine did Francis's comment reflect?
The catechism states that while homosexual behavior is gravely sinful, homosexual tendencies are not (the catechism labels them "disordered"). This is simply common sense. A person generally doesn't ask for the feelings he has, and they often result from early childhood influences over which he has no control. His responsibility lies in whether or not he chooses to act upon those feelings.
This brings us to the rub: when the pope says "homosexual," he thinks of a person with the tendency, but takes for granted that a priest so burdened will strive to live a celibate life. When secularists hear the word, however, they generally think of a person engaging in homosexuality. Thus, while Francis was saying he wouldn't "judge" a person bearing the homosexual cross nobly, the secular world heard, "I won't judge the behavior."
This misunderstanding is easy to fathom. "Who am I to judge?" has become a code-phrase meaning, "There's nothing wrong with homosexual acts." But the pope is not of our culture; he's a South American, and I suspect he didn't understand the code-phrase and how it's interpreted by secular Western ears.
But some "interpretations" of the pope's words are, damnably, much farther afield. Consider the Independent's headline: Pope Francis assures atheists: You don't have to believe in God to go to heaven." Not surprisingly, this paper also suddenly forgot how to use the hyperlink feature in its reportage (what the pope actually wrote).
But Francis never said "You don't have to believe in God to go to heaven."
In fact, he never used the word "Heaven" in what was a 2688-word letter even once.
What the pope said that the media is spinning was, "God's mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart. The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience." The Independent also quotes the pope as saying, "Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience." Perhaps the paper has a (much) different translation from the Italian, but I find that line nowhere in the letter. Anyway, the letter is actually quite good on balance. As for insight into what Francis meant, space constraints here preclude deep theological expositions, but The Telegraph's Tim Stanley provides a decent explanation here.
Yet the Telegraph also had its Independent-of-truth moment when publishing, "Pope Francis urges global leaders to end 'tyranny' of money," which, as you could guess by now, also omits a link to the pope's actual words. The paper writes, "He [the pope] said free-market capitalism had created a 'tyranny'.... [That is,][u]nchecked capitalism had created 'a new, invisible, and at times virtual, tyranny', said the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio."
The reality?
Francis never used the phrase "tyranny of money" or the term "free-market capitalism."
In fact, he never mentioned "capitalism" or the "free market" even once.
The pope's actual theme in what in this case was a speech, was that financiers, politicians and economists should cultivate a God-centered ethics, and Francis used the word "ethics" or "ethical" eight times and "God" four times in a speech that took mere minutes to deliver. And author of the Telegraph article, Nick Squires? He used the word "ethical" just once... in passing.
He didn't mention "God" at all.
And while he didn't present his cut-and-paste, add-and-subtract, mix-and-match formulations as direct Francis quotations, many readers would either assume they were or, in the least, wouldn't figure that he had "Zimmermanned" the pope. But it's not surprising the media is reluctant to report on a God-centered ethics.
They, apparently, are sorely lacking in it themselves.
Yet there are many reasons why media distort the pope's words. First, they'll do anything for eyeball-grabbing headlines. Second, Catholic theology has been forged over 2000 years, is very deep, and thus doesn't lend itself to sound-bite presentation. More significantly, it cannot be understood by sound-bite commentators with 15-second attention spans who, sadly, interpret things knee-jerk style via the prism of their own prejudices. Third and in keeping with this, liberals exist in a realm of rationalization, anyway, and thus can truly convince themselves that their feelings-derived "sense" of someone's meaning is gospel. The fourth factor is simple.
Leftists are dishonest.
Yet even many well-meaning people don't understand the Church. For one thing, there's the aforementioned factor: the secular and devout Catholic worlds often speak different languages, with words and phrases holding different meanings. As for doctrine, the Church isn't some journalist with hormone-imbalance-induced mood swings. Defined doctrine (dogma) cannot change, and new doctrines won't be forged with reporters. What a pope says in an interview doesn't change doctrine any more than what a president says in an interview changes American law.
But then there is a more insidious reason for the media's papal spin. Not only do the militant secularists assume the Church will eventually "get with the times" and embrace its agenda (it feels so obviously correct, you see), but they know if they can break the Catholic Church -- if they can get its imprimatur -- cultural domination is theirs. And, hey, if you can't break it, fake it. With image being "reality," making the low-info masses believe the Church has "seen the light" may be sufficiently demoralizing.
The last significant factor is one I'd like my Christian brethren to consider very, very seriously. By creating the illusion that the Church is abandoning certain unchanging moral principles, the media can widen the rift between the Church and some traditionalist Protestants. Beware the divide-and-conquer devils among us.
Having said all this, Pope Francis certainly gives the media much grist for the mill. One issue is his gregariousness -- he said he loves being around people -- and he talks to anyone and everyone about anything and everything. This is dangerous for any public figure. Moreover, while the pope is orthodox, and in that sense neither liberal nor conservative, Catholic doctrine doesn't address every issue and all its nuance. And given that Francis's instincts are, it seems to me, somewhat modernistic, I'm not confident in his pronouncements on matters beyond doctrine (or in his sense of priority). I think his grasp of economics is especially suspect.
And while the pope's tactic of stressing Christ's love and salvation message to the exclusion of certain moral doctrines is well-intended, I don't believe it will work. The militant secularists aren't interested in conciliation or compromise, but in the complete and utter destruction of Christianity. They take no prisoners.
So say your prayers; they're needed now more than ever. And I will say that Pope Francis may inspire me to expand my prayer life. For the first time ever I may start praying for laryngitis.

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Opposing Obamacare Isn’t Anarchy

Critics of the Affordable Care Act know it’s the law; it’s the president who continues to disregard the fact. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013


By Ann Coulter
September 25, 2013

If I could briefly interrupt the Republican firing squad aiming at Ted Cruz, let's talk about something we all agree on. And by "we all," I mean a majority of the American people, the Teamsters, many Democrats and every single last Republican.

Obamacare is an unmitigated disaster.

It was passed illegally without the House ever voting on the Senate bill and became law absent a single Republican vote -- even "the girls from Maine" and "the girl from Arizona" -- the only major legislation ever enacted on a strict party-line vote. The Supreme Court had to violate the Constitution's separation of powers to uphold Obamacare as a "tax" -- despite the fact that no elected body could ever have enacted such a massive tax hike even with the sleazy parliamentary tricks used to pass this bill.

Proving that everyone hates it, Congress has now exempted itself from Obamacare's provisions, having asked for, and received, a waiver from President Obama.

Yes, these are the exact same politicians who lecture us that Obamacare is "the law of the land!" (So are our immigration laws.) The same ones who huffily announce that the Supreme Court upheld it! (The court also upheld the First Amendment in Citizens United, but that doesn't stop Obama from demanding Congress overturn the First Amendment.) They are the same sanctimonious frauds who tell us that Obamacare is "the right thing to do!"

Those guys waived Obamacare for themselves. If national health care is so great, why don't they want it?

In every single category of Crap Forced On the Country by the Left, liberals always have a work-around for themselves.

They love the public schools and denounce school choice -- but their kids go to St. Albans or Sidwell Friends. As Al Gore responded to a question from a black journalist for Time magazine who asked him why he opposed school vouchers while sending his own kids to private schools, "My children -- you can leave them out of this!"

Oh, now I see.

Liberals are always eager to release criminals and block crucial crime-fighting strategies such as stop-and-frisk -- which they announce from the safety of their antiseptic, crime-free neighborhoods. They love the homeless, but try putting a homeless shelter in their doorman buildings.

They tell us guns won't protect us -- and then we find out the loudest of them all have armed guards. Staunch gun-control advocate Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago had three armed guards with him at all times, as well as an armored car. Mayor Rahm Emanuel also has armed guards and an armored car. Chicago aldermen are allowed to carry any guns they like. But until very recently (we hope!) the people of Chicago were virtually prohibited from being armed.

Are you beginning to see the pattern?

Liberals love affirmative action -- provided their offspring still get into Harvard, Yale or Princeton. How about they give up their kids' seats to disadvantaged minorities?

Class warriors Warren Buffett and the Nation magazine's Katrina vanden Heuvel hired phalanxes of lawyers to fight the IRS when informed they weren't paying the government what they owed. George Soros and the Kennedy family stash their money in offshore accounts, safe from U.S. taxation.

Liberals also strongly support every manner of environmental regulation -- unless it blocks the view from the Kennedy compound. In deference to Teddy Kennedy's ferocious opposition to wind farms off the coast of Cape Cod, the federal government reduced the number of turbines, moved them farther off the coast and ordered them painted white to blend in with the view.

And now these government do-gooders shoving Obamacare down our throats have managed to exempt themselves from its wonderful provisions. Supreme Court justices won't have to suffer under Obamacare, but will continue to have their health care subsidized by us, the hapless taxpayers forced into this rotten system.

Unfortunately, most Republicans are too stupid to notice that Democrats are walking around with a gigantic glass jaw. Democrats must not be able to believe their dumb luck. Instead of hitting our glass jaw, Republicans have decided to attack Ted Cruz!

Cruz, and his Senate colleague Mike Lee (who, for some reason, is being held harmless by both Democrats and Republicans), have demanded that the Senate vote on the House bill fully funding the entire government -- except Obamacare. Most important, they want Democrats to allow more than one amendment to that bill.

The Democrats are refusing either of those options in the Senate.

Among the amendments Republicans might want to introduce is one requiring members of Congress and their staffs to live under Obamacare. Or an amendment delaying the law's implementation for the whole country -- and not just the big employers favored by Obama. And also an amendment taking the administration of Obamacare out of the hands of the utterly corrupt IRS.

Can we at least get Senate Democrats to vote on these urgent reforms? I'd especially like to see the votes of red state Democrats, such as Mary Landrieu, Mark Begich and Mark Pryor. I bet their Republican opponents in the midterm elections next year would, too.

Of course, for Cruz's threat to work, it has to be credible. Too bad Republicans have been blanketing the airwaves proclaiming that: (1) They don't have the votes to defund Obamacare; and (2) Republicans will get blamed in the event of any government shutdown.

Republicans: You never had to shut the government down! (And thanks for making it blindingly clear that you never intended to.) You could have waited to see how the public opinion was going and cried uncle at the last minute.

But instead of attacking Obamacare and the breathtaking hypocrisy of the Democrats over this massively unpopular law, far too many Republicans have been spending their time attacking Ted Cruz. (Why didn't we see one-tenth as much venom directed at Sen. Marco Rubio for trying to give the Democrats 30 million new voters with amnesty as we have toward Cruz for trying to defund Obamacare?)

For every minute you spend attacking Cruz on TV, Republicans, could you consider spending two minutes attacking Obamacare?

Barry Goldwater didn't "have the votes" when Ronald Reagan launched the conservative movement with his "A Time for Choosing" speech in 1964. But he galvanized conservatives and gave them the hope of future victories. Does Rep. Peter King think Reagan was a fraud who lost influence in the Republican Party with that speech? We don't have the votes, Ron!

Whether or not Cruz succeeds, we wouldn't be talking about Obamacare this week without his efforts to defund it -- at least those of us who are talking about this disastrous law, rather than attacking Cruz.