Nature Girl took me for a walk through the swamp on Sunday afternoon. It was the first warm day of the year; after a really cold week the temperature zoomed up into the 60s Fahrenheit. It was a nice day for a walk. We started in midafternoon, and it was nearing sunset as we returned. She stopped to look at something to the side of the trail.
She stepped off the trail to get a closer look.
I zoomed in on the cottonmouth.
The sun had just dropped down and put that little warm spot into the evening shade. Around the bend, the sun was still shining on the trail. She spotted something on the trail.
It was a pretty little yellow rat snake. A much more welcome denizen of the swamp.
A few moments before we encountered those critters, I took a couple of pictures from the access road that traverses the swamp.
We have only lived here for less than a year. We enjoy living next to the Conservancy woods. There are many trails that we were unwilling to walk on until after we had a hard freeze just before Thanksgiving. After the sedges grow up so that you cannot see where you are putting your foot, we will stop walking those trails again.
I bought snakeboots and snake gaiters for her birthday last year. I try to get her to wear her thornproof gloves when gardening. After she saw a copperhead in a flower bed, she started to wear those gloves. But Nature Girl is irrepressible. It makes me nervous when she walks through the woods by herself, but she is having fun exploring our new surrounds.
Remember when President O said that his very weak economic recovery was “the new normal.” He said that the sort of economic recovery we had historically experienced after a recession was no longer possible.
He was full of stuff. He was reading Leftist economics and drinking his team’s Kool-aid.
Hillary campaigned on a continuation of Obama policy.
D.J. Trump campaigned on an “America first” platform, unconcerned about the unfortunate history of that phrase. His key slogan was “Make America Great Again,” which he pledged to do by rolling back regulations, ending anti-business policies, promoting jobs and deals, and cutting taxes. He ran a pro-America, pro-business campaign, a breath of fresh air after eight years of our first Anti-American President.
Business confidence began to rise on the morning after the election of 2016, and is still rising. Consumer confidence is catching up, despite an amazing level of fearmongering by Leftist mass media.
And the numbers are continuing to support President Trump. I saw the jobs report for January, and happened to click on an article at CNN Business, titled “Hiring Boomed in January.” Here is a line that caught my attention:
The continued hot pace of job growth is evidence that people who may have been sidelined by the Great Recession more than a decade ago are still coming off the sidelines. Labor force participation grew slightly, to its highest level since 2013.
We are still digging out of the hole we fell into in 2008. Team Obama had simply been digging it deeper. We are only now recovering.
This is the last of a series. Yes; I know it is 2019; this is late because government shutdown. I will provide an index to the other entries in a comment. I have been posting periodically on the hostile coverage of Evangelicals on the part of Big News Media. It is clear that a large driving force in the hostile media accounts was Donald Trump. Big Media has sought to divide Evangelicals from President Trump. They sought to divide Evangelicals from each other, they trashed Evangelicals at every opportunity, and primarily they sought to convince Evangelicals not to vote for President Trump or for any politician who expressed support for President Trump. They wanted Evangelicals to believe it was hypocritical for Christians to support President Trump. They wanted Evangelicals to believe that Republicans were all going to lose badly so it was a waste of time to vote. I don’t know how much success they actually achieved, but they were hard at work to accomplish real voter suppression, while spouting accusations of voter suppression at Republicans.
The cascade of articles seemed to abate, oddly, during the runup to the midterm elections. That was primarily because all of Big Media was in full hair-on-fire excitement over the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. They got themselves worked up real good, anticipating a major defeat for President Trump, and they focused all their energy on that. Other issues were pushed aside. Then, with about two weeks before election day, they resumed running attacks on Evangelical voters.
There was nothing really notable. It was just the usual stuff that I have been observing in nine previous posts in 2018.
I did observe some interesting postmortems about the awfulness of mass media news in the runup to the midterm elections. My favorite media critics at GetReligion put up the best ones. They are putting a happy face on the field of journalism. Mostly they are explaining to Evangelicals just why they have been trashed so badly for years, and attributing the problem to ignorance rather than malice.
In part, I see their point. Journalists as a group are very ignorant when it comes to matters of religion. While 80 percent of Americans generally say they “believe in God,” this is only true for 20 percent of journalists. In comparison to average Americans, journalists are three times as likely to say they are Atheist, and five times as likely to say they are Agnostic. Journalists either grew up without religion at home, or in homes with mixed religions, or else they are openly hostile to the faith of their parents.
Journalists do not recognize religious jargon and do not understand the differences between religious groups. Ignorance on their part can go a long way to explaining a lot of bad reporting on religious people and religious issues.
But there is a lingering matter of open hostility on the part of journalists expressed towards people of faith. This explains some anti-Catholic bias and general anti-Christian bias.
As Leftists, journalists also share a hostility to all conservatives. This shows up as the “pew gap.” The pew gap is a phenomenon that first got talked about in the 1980s. People who attend regular worship services are more likely to vote Republican. People who rarely attend worship are more likely to vote Democrat. This divide has been increasing for forty years.
In terms of journalism, the upshot is that religious people are usually on the opposite political side from Atheists and agnostics. Which is, I think, the root of so much hostile coverage of Evangelicals. For most journalists, politics is their religion.
Journalists howled when President Trump labeled them the “Enemy of the People.” I think that label is accurate. They are certainly the Enemy of traditionally religious People. They are the Enemy of conservative People.
Native American Drummer Nathan Phillips was very busy on Saturday. After a full day of protesting and drumming at the “Indiginous Peoples March,” which had been scheduled for right after the March for Life on Friday in hopes of garnering some attention, he was the toast of media on Saturday. Leftist “journalists” clamored all day for interviews. He said some things to some media outlets, and he said some other things to other media outlets. It would be really interesting to put together a montage of his contradictory statements, but that is not my purpose for this post.
I just searched Google News for “Nathan Phillips.” There were lots and lots of hits. Buried way down at the 42nd place in the search results was an item that reported on his activities on Saturday evening. No, it was not in a mass media outlet, it was a story from a small conservative niche media outlet. Catholic News Agency (yes, the little guys, not the National Catholic Register) broke a story about a protest event that was led by the intrepid “elder” of the Omaha Nation.
Phillips led a group of about 20 who started to enter the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (400 Michigan Ave NE, Washington, DC). Since the evening mass was in progress they were stopped by security guards who ran to close and lock the doors. They pounded on the doors for a few minutes, and drummed on their drums. Then Phillips made a statement.
Just a typical Saturday evening in Washington, DC, I suppose, which is a magnet for all sorts of crazies. But you would think that since the entire country is still arguing over the events of Friday in which Phillips marched into a group of high school kids and beat his drum in the face of one of them, you might think some mass media outlet would pick up the story.
Nope. Crickets. It doesn’t help their narratives.
The Enemy of the People were very aptly dubbed “the drive-by media” by Rush Limbaugh over 20 years ago. They mangled the story, fueled social media hysteria that got the kids and their parents doxxed, threatened, with enough threats to the Diocese to get their school as well as Diocesan offices closed for security reasons.
Then when it turned out that there was video evidence of how badly wrong their reporting was, they dropped the story. None of them ran the item about Phillips’s Saturday evening attempt to disrupt worship at the Basilica. As near as I can tell, the only legacy media outlet to cover this story is the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and I only found them because the media critics at GetReligion linked to them.
If any other legacy media carried this story, Google is making sure we don’t know about that.
Big Media is a thoroughly Leftist project, and, as such, an anti-American project. They are to be scoffed and mocked at every opportunity. They pretend to do journalism. What they actually do is serve as the propaganda operation of the Progressive movement.
We are about to face a new flood of economic refugees. We need border security as soon as we can get it. President Trump needs to mobilize Army and National Guard resources to aid Border Patrol and ICE to stem the anticipated flow.
Remember what a disaster it was for Europe when four million Syrians fled their homes? Perhaps our situation is not nearly so dire, but the United Nations is predicting two million people will flee Venezuela this year. That is a lot of refugees. Many will go to Brazil or other parts of South America. Columbia is the obvious first choice for many Venezuelans, but Columbia is already flooded with one and a quarter million Venezuelan refugees. Three million people have left Venezuela in the past two years. Venezuelans are going to be headed for America.
We have observed before about the disaster unfolding in Venezuela. An oil-rich country that is strapped for cash, and, in the face of declining world oil prices, their production is down by nearly a third from levels of production of just a few years ago. That is because Nicolas Maduro has put the military in charge of Petroleos de Venezuela, or PDVSA, the state-run oil company that stole oil patch assets from oil companies two decades ago under Hugo Chavez. By not paying adequate salaries to oil industry technicians, they lost trained people, who were some of the first to flee. Now they are trying to run a vertically-integrated monopoly without enough trained workers to keep the equipment operating.
And, despite this marvelous lesson playing out in our own hemisphere, half of America now prefers socialism to capitalism.
What does it take to get video of food riots in Venezuela onto American news shows? Media silence is keeping this story from providing the object lesson we desperately need.
The rising numbers of Venezuelan refugees is the talk of all of Latin America. It is time to push it into the national conversation in the U.S.A.
Since the Church of Rome is America’s largest faith group, everyone ought to have a little understanding about the important parts of the scandals that are rocking the Catholic Church. This is a big deal that will affect most of the culture wars and will spill over into politics. Of course, Big Media won’t cover any part of this except the parts that affect politics, and they can be relied on to bury the parts that embarrass the Left. So, here is a long post by a schismatic Lutheran to explain some of the distress in the Catholic Church.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops scheduled a conference last November, intended to get serious about setting up a monitoring and checks and balances system to address the sexual scandals in their own ranks. The lay Catholics, with the whole world watching, had been catching on that there were priests who had committed sexual sins and who had disappeared with some vague words about penance. Then it started coming out that bad priests had simply been moved around, in most cases with their new diocese unaware of their sexually sinful past. It turned out that this had happened in an astonishingly large number of cases, which became clear when the Pennsylvania Attorney General released a long and damning report on an investigation into sexual sins by priests. What really frosted the lay Catholics was that bishops who had preached about the need for openness and clarity and penance and oversight and confession and such, turned out to be the men who had deliberately hid the bad cases, covered for them, and in some cases put sexual predator priests into positions where they could repeat their bad behaviors.
If you are a Catholic who has been paying attention to this stuff, then scroll down to the heading called GetReligion. Most of the next couple of pages is background info.
American bishops put on hold
The USCCB assembly met two months ago with the expectation that they were going to vote on two action items. These were standards of accountability for bishops and a special commission for receiving complaints against bishops. This was part of several initiatives intended to work out a process for improved monitoring/oversight on matters of ecclesial discipline, to make sure that penances were concomitant with the infraction, that real crimes were promptly reported to police, and that violators who were likely to repeat their offense did not get placed into circumstances with future temptations, and that priests so placed would be subject to follow-up counseling and monitoring.
But an odd thing happened when the conference opened. The first thing was that a surprise letter from Pope Francis was read that told them to take no action on the topic. Pope Francis, you see, is planning a super conference in February that will be a global conference to take up such issues for all the world’s Catholic bishops. It would not do for the Americans to get out in front.
A letter that had gone from the Vatican to the USCCB President, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, was recently leaked to the Associated Press. It reveals that DiNardo had been slow to provide information to the Vatican, and this made the Vatican position easier to justify. It makes sense that the Vatican would want more time to consider what the Americans were up to, since it could have ripple effects for ecclesial canon law throughout the Catholic world.
Scandal of 2002 – 2005
In the late 1980s there were a couple of scandals involving sexual sins by predator priests. A couple more were made public in the early 1990s, generating some media buzz. It was a great excuse for some Catholic bashing and some Christian bashing. This scandal got mashed up with other scandals, such as revelations about poor treatment of indigenous peoples by Catholic missions, and a general apology for past bad behaviors was made for several scandals by Pope John Paul II in 2001.
Then a blockbuster scandal became a media sensation following an exposé by the Boston Globe in 2002. They produced a long special report on over a hundred victims of one bad priest, plus other victims of sexual misconduct by other Boston area priests. They followed that up with a survey of sexual scandals involving Catholic priests from all over the world. It sparked a media feeding frenzy that kept the Catholic Church in the spotlight for three years.
After three years of solid media attention, the issue went away. It just vanished. It was only a few of us highly-engaged culture warriors who figured out why. Stay tuned.
Pope Francis, friend of homosexuals
Pope Benedict XVI abdicated his position in early 2013. Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentina was elevated to the “Throne of St. Peter” that year. He has given conservatives indigestion ever since. Of particular interest to this story is his friendly and accommodating posture towards homosexuality. You just knew we were going to get around to homosexual priests, didn’t you?
Pope Francis is famously squishy when it comes to traditional doctrines on all sorts of social matters. This has won him favorable treatment by mass media (cover of Rolling Stone, Time “Person of the Year 2013,” etc.). One of the first big instances of his papacy involved a throw-away line he said to a clutch of reporters on his plane as he returned to the Vatican from World Catholic Youth Day 2013. Pope Francis said (speaking about priests) “If someone is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge that person?” The media exploded with awful distortions.
There were some really unfortunate media accounts predicting that Pope Francis would reverse thousands of years of doctrinal positions on homosexuality and other sexual sins. Pope Francis coyly rebuked some of the excess. Subsequently he has done some things that made some observers call him a “homophile.” For example, in 2017 he appointed Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia as President of the Pontifical Pope John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family. That is not so much a scandal as an opportunity for more whispering.
Scandals of 2018
In April and October last year, Pope Francis made a trip to Chile for some damage control involving sex scandals. He de-frocked (“laicized”) four priests. He spoke with a homosexual man who had been a victim of a predator priest. Pope Francis said some happy-talk things to soothe the man, and this got reported and caused a little dust-up within the ranks of conservative Catholic bloggers. Since that is not America, you probably never heard about it. I only bring it up to note that the Catholic Church has problems with homosexual priests all over the world.
In America, two separate sex scandals rocked the Catholic summer.
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, age 87, was removed from priestly office last June by Pope Francis because of charges of sexual misconduct. A priest was being tried for sexual misconduct. He was defending himself by saying that he had been introduced to sex and sexual predatory ways by McCarrick back in the early 1970s when McCarrick was serving as secretary to Cardinal Cooke and the victim was a boy of 17. Then a couple of priests said that other people had accused McCarrick of sexual misconduct, and that they had been kept silent with settlement awards.
Then it turned out that it had long been known that McCarrick had been a sexual predator for a very long time. He had been pressing seminarians for sexual favors for decades. Then it came out that Pope Benedict XVI had found out about McCarrick and had instructed him to remove himself from priestly duties, from involvement with seminaries, and from public appearances. But McCarrick had ignored his instructions and then was “rehabilitated” by Pope Francis.
This really blew up in mid-July when the New York Times dug into McCarrick:
In 2000, Pope John Paul II promoted Archbishop McCarrick to lead the Archdiocese of Washington D.C., one of the most prestigious posts in the Catholic Church in America. He was elevated to cardinal three months later.
At least one priest warned the Vatican against the appointment. The Rev. Boniface Ramsey said that when he was on the faculty at the Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University in New Jersey from 1986 to 1996, he was told by seminarians about Archbishop McCarrick’s sexual abuse at the beach house. When Archbishop McCarrick was appointed to Washington, Father Ramsey spoke by phone with the pope’s representative in the nation’s capital, Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, the papal nuncio, and at his encouragement sent a letter to the Vatican about Archbishop McCarrick’s history.
By August most Catholic watching was diverted to a different scandal that had erupted in late July.
The Attorney General of Pennsylvania released a report on an investigation into sexual crimes by Catholic priests. The numbers were staggering. Initially it sounded like sexual mayhem by a majority of priests. Then things quieted down when it turned out that it was a report that summarized prosecutions, settlements and “credible allegations,” over a period of decades. The press release from the Attorney General gave this summary of findings from the grand jury:
301 Catholic priests identified as predator priests who sexually abused children while serving in active ministry in the church.
Detailed accounts of over 1,000 children victimized sexually by predator priests, with the grand jury noting it believed the real number of victims was in the “thousands.”
Senior church officials, including bishops, monsignors and others, knew about the abuse committed by priests, but routinely covered it up to avoid scandal, criminal charges against priests, and monetary damages to the dioceses.
Priests committed acts of sexual abuse upon children, and were routinely shuttled to other parishes – while parishioners were left unaware of sexual predators in their midst.
This truly ignited a media feeding frenzy. It also prompted other states to launch investigations of their own. People came out from all over with their own stories of abuse. Then, just as quickly as it had erupted and claimed all the media air, this scandal dropped out of the public conversation, almost as abruptly as the previous “pedophile priests” scandal of 2002-2005.
Enemy of the People
First, it turned out that there are only about 64 of the three hundred priests who are still alive. Most of these cases are really old. Then it came out that the overwhelming majority, all but a few dozen, of the victims, were males ages 13 to 18 at the time of the abuse.
Yes, this is similar to the previous scandal. When they learned it was not “pedophilia,” but homosexuals preying on minor teen boys, Leftist mass media lost interest.
Leftist mass media cried “pedophile priests! Pedophile priests!” until traditionalist Catholics started to get some traction with their push-back, and then media dropped the story before they had to run any corrections.
Just like Cardinal McCarrick. Since the predatory misconduct was all homosexual, then it did not help Leftist narratives to report on the scandal. After some hystrionical Catholic bashing, the story quickly dropped out of sight.
Of course, by late August, the allegations against Brett Kavanaugh started taking all the oxygen out of the journalistic world. Between Kavanaugh and the mid-term election campaigns, it was easy for news media to drop the Catholic scandals.
Bad Boy Bishops
The really big scandal in all of this was the way Catholic bishops had kept it all under wraps. They knew about homosexual predator priests and covered up for them, hid them, hired lawyers to quickly bring aggrieved victims into settlements that featured non-disclosure agreements, moved bad priests around, and hid the records. They were afraid such matters would damage the church, but in the end what they did was far more damaging.
Pope Francis apologizes
On 20 August 2018, Pope Francis apologized in a 2,000 word letter [addressing the Pennsylvania] grand jury report confirming that over 1,000 children were sexually abused by “predator priests” in Pennsylvania for decades, often covered up by the Church.
“With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives … We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them … The heart-wrenching pain of these victims, which cries out to heaven, was long ignored, kept quiet or silenced.”
The Pope said the church was developing a “zero tolerance” policy on abuse (which he called “crimes”) and cover-ups. Vatican spokesman Greg Burke emphasized that the letter was not about incidents in a specific geographic area but relevant worldwide.
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò
Archbishop Viganò had served for ten years as the head of personnel for the Vatican when he was elevated to Secretary General of Vatican City. He made a name for himself by cleaning up finances and installing better procedures for checking and auditing. In a really mysterious episode, a letter he had written about apparent corruption was leaked to the press, prompting a public shaming in which he was said to be embarrassingly wrong by three higher-ups in the Curia. Vatican watchers took different sides, and some said it was all over personality clashes. Then the higher-ups prevailed and Pope Benedict XVI assigned Archbishop Viganò as the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States in 2011.
Viganò retired in 2016 at the age of 75 and returned to Italy.
On August 25, a damning letter from Archbishop Viganò appeared. It broke in Italy. It also hit the English-speaking Catholic blogosphere, because Archbishop Viganò had copied his letter to a little pro-life blog and aggregator in Toronto. I posted about LifeSiteNews back in the fall, mostly about how they were being harmed by Facebook and other Silicon Valley tech giants. Here is a part of Viganòs letter:
To dispel suspicions insinuated in several recent articles, I will immediately say that the Apostolic Nuncios in the United States, Gabriel Montalvo and Pietro Sambi, both prematurely deceased, did not fail to inform the Holy See immediately, as soon as they learned of Archbishop McCarrick’s gravely immoral behavior with seminarians and priests. Indeed, according to what Nuncio Pietro Sambi wrote, Father Boniface Ramsey, O.P.’s letter, dated November 22, 2000, was written at the request of the late Nuncio Montalvo. In the letter, Father Ramsey, who had been a professor at the diocesan seminary in Newark from the end of the ’80s until 1996, affirms that there was a recurring rumor in the seminary that the Archbishop “shared his bed with seminarians,” inviting five at a time to spend the weekend with him at his beach house. And he added that he knew a certain number of seminarians, some of whom were later ordained priests for the Archdiocese of Newark, who had been invited to this beach house and had shared a bed with the Archbishop.
The office that I held at the time was not informed of any measure taken by the Holy See after those charges were brought by Nuncio Montalvo at the end of 2000, when Cardinal Angelo Sodano was Secretary of State.
Likewise, Nuncio Sambi transmitted to the Cardinal Secretary of State, Tarcisio Bertone, an Indictment Memorandum against McCarrick by the priest Gregory Littleton of the diocese of Charlotte, who was reduced to the lay state for a violation of minors, together with two documents from the same Littleton, in which he recounted his tragic story of sexual abuse by the then-Archbishop of Newark and several other priests and seminarians. The Nuncio added that Littleton had already forwarded his Memorandum to about twenty people, including civil and ecclesiastical judicial authorities, police and lawyers, in June 2006, and that it was therefore very likely that the news would soon be made public. He therefore called for a prompt intervention by the Holy See.
In writing up a memo on these documents that were entrusted to me, as Delegate for Pontifical Representations, on December 6, 2006, I wrote to my superiors, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and the Substitute Leonardo Sandri, that the facts attributed to McCarrick by Littleton were of such gravity and vileness as to provoke bewilderment, a sense of disgust, deep sorrow and bitterness in the reader, and that they constituted the crimes of seducing, requesting depraved acts of seminarians and priests, repeatedly and simultaneously with several people, derision of a young seminarian who tried to resist the Archbishop’s seductions in the presence of two other priests, absolution of the accomplices in these depraved acts, sacrilegious celebration of the Eucharist with the same priests after committing such acts.
Leftist Catholic defenders of Pope Francis and the Lavender Mafia went into full character assassination mode. Archbishop Viganò went into hiding.
Viganò has since released two additional letters, from his hiding place, defending himself and describing correspondence that he says vindicates him. The letters he references have not been produced.
In the case of the current Catholic disgrace, Leftist mass media is all on one side. They want to trash the Catholic Church as home to “pedophile priests” while hiding the fact that the scandal is actually a homosexual scandal. Mass media love Pope Francis and act to trash anyone who says anything that makes Pope Francis look bad.
On the other side are intrepid traditionalist Catholic bloggers. They are outgunned, overmanned, overwhelmed, and demoted, deplatformed, censored, slandered and libeled. It takes real determination to cut through the noise with their message.
I have found that the best way to follow any major story that centers on religion is to monitor the media critics at GetReligion.org. These are mostly “pro-life Democrats,” and they are Christian journalists who have focused on religion stories for many years. Their focus has been to observe on the journalistic failures in mass media news reporting that can be attributed to journalists simply not having the background, or not understanding the jargon, or not caring about whether they get the details right, when it comes to religious issues. At GetReligion.org I frequently see not only where and how the journalists failed, but then I also get correct information and links to the best-quality reporting on any religious issue.
Back in the spring when the Cardinal McCarrick story first came out, there was a really interesting post at GetReligion by Julia Duin. She had wanted to write about McCarrick the sexual abuser for many years, but could not get any sources willing to go on record:
I ran into similar blockages everywhere. There were priests and laity alike for whom McCarrick’s predilections were an open secret, but no one wanted to go after him. I heard about various settlements but couldn’t confirm the details. No newspaper can publish such explosive accusations with only anonymous sources and no court documents to back it up.
Various Catholic friends advised me to let it go. “What difference does it make now?” they’d say. “McCarrick is retired.” The archdiocese was represented by a powerful law firm. Did I want to take that on?
After I was laid off in 2010, I sent copies of my files to another reporter on the East Coast so he could have a go at cracking this story. He too ran into the same barriers: People who refused to go on the record and there was always the threat of a lawsuit should he get one detail wrong.
One thing I learned from GetReligion.org was that Theodore McCarrick had a golden rolodex, and had been a very large fundraiser for all sorts of Catholic projects in a variety of locations involving lots of wealthy Catholic movers and shakers and touching on over a dozen major Catholic missions/charities.
The lead guy at GetReligion is Terry Mattingly, who writes a weekly newspaper column for the Universal Uclick Syndicate. He also does a podcast called “Crossroads.” He had a really interesting discussion about Pope Francis’s upcoming big international assembly of bishops. Mattingly makes a lot of sense most of the time.
What to expect
In the podcast Mattingly discusses the recent resignation of top Vatican spokesman Greg Burke with Todd Wilkins, the “Crossroads” M.C.. (They decided that Burke has a news background rather than marketing, and he doesn’t want to be unable to return to journalism, which he probably would be if he continued in his current position through the upcoming assembly.)
Mattingly said to expect that the assembly is very likely to focus on the grave sin of sexual abuse of children. There are a few dozen actual cases of children under age 12 who were abused, and there are a few cases in which girls were abused. Expect the whole assembly to focus on those cases. As much as possible, the entire proceedings will be engineered to avoid the word “homosexual.” The sex of victims will seldom be mentioned. There will be lots of room for journalists to cover the event without ever noting that the core of these scandals is homosexuality in the priesthood. Unchaste acts between consenting adults will not be mentioned. And you won’t find them saying out loud that the age of majority in Catholic canon law is sixteen, not eighteen.
In short, expect a whitewashing. Surprised? Probably not; we have all grown quite cynical, haven’t we?
The world takes offense at God. The Pagans hated the idea that their gods have no real power. The Muslims and the Mormons are counterfeits of God. Buddhists say that “God” is not a real person, but a spiritual amalgam. Atheists are angry at the God they don’t believe in.
Communists, being Atheists, are angry at God. So the latest outrage from China comes as no surprise. The First Commandment is outlawed. It started recently in just one church that we know of, but the Party statements indicate that this is a nationwide China policy:
One of the officials explained, however, that Chinese President Xi Jinping “opposes the statement,” referring to the first commandment.
“Who dares not to cooperate? If anyone doesn’t agree, they are fighting against the country,” the official warned. “This is a national policy. You should have a clear understanding of the situation. Don’t go against the government.”
The church was forced to take down the Ten Commandments sign that day.
“I think the need for a rational, non-Trumpist forum was more urgent than ever,” Sykes added. “And I do think that contrary to some of the conventional wisdom, there is a market for center-right commentary that pushes back against Trumpism.”
Charlie Sykes will serve as editor-in-chief, and Kristol will be an editor-at-large. A new internet opinion journal and news aggregator, or should we say aggravator? Of course, favorable coverage for this “center-right” dreck is found at CNN:
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYONE, INCLUDING THE HATERS AND THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA! 2019 WILL BE A FANTASTIC YEAR FOR THOSE NOT SUFFERING FROM TRUMP DERANGEMENT SYNDROME. JUST CALM DOWN AND ENJOY THE RIDE, GREAT THINGS ARE HAPPENING FOR OUR COUNTRY!
The name of Reality Leaker crossed my computer screen today. The Intercept ran a long column by Reality Leaker’s mother, in which she was whining about how short the sentences handed to Team Trump are, in comparison to Reality Leaker’s 63-month sentence.
I thought it was laughable, but I saw that Salon also had an article about mother Billie Winner-Davis’s whining, and the New York Times has an article about a stage play to tell Ms. Reality Leaker’s story. Treason should make a great subject for a drama, but we all know that the convicted heroine of the story will be portrayed as a brave whistleblower rather than the treasonous felon she is.
Just to bring this back, so we can dismiss it again. Reality Winner served in the U.S. Air Force, then took a job with a company that was working for NSA. She leaked a document about Russian election systems hacking in 2016 to her friends at The Intercept. They ran with the leak, portraying it as proof that the 2016 election was stolen from Hillary through Russian interference in collusion with Team Trump.
Leaking the document damaged the ability of NSA to investigate several leads that they had unearthed in their Russian hacking investigation. The extent of the damage she did is not known; prosecutors allowed her to plead guilty in return for a sentence of only five years because they did not want to have to produce additional sensitive information in court.
They have got nuthin’. This is a long feature, prominently highlighted at the default Google News aggregator, purporting to list a bill of particulars. None of this is concerning; it is all old news, with the case for corruption resting on a house of cards of innuendo, guilt by association, and denigrating land development business as somehow inherently evil.
Six years ago I was thinking of USA Today as one of the least unreliable of the major mass media news organizations. But in the Age of Trump they have energetically leapfrogged their competition in a rush to Leftist advocacy exclusively. They are Fake News. The Enemy of the People.
I don’t think I need to refute all this mess for the Ratburghers. Every charge in this article has been discussed, and we generally agreed that there was no evidence of collusion between Team Trump and Russian government hackers. We observed that the members of Team Trump who have been indicted, and who have spent time in jail, and slapped with large fines, and threatened with ruin, were being squeezed in order to get them to flip on President Trump. One of the prominent bits cited in this long feature is Michael Cohen. We have previously observed that he pled guilty to an act that is not a crime. It is clear that the prosecutors were more interested in tainting President Trump than in any issues of justice or ethics. Which, I think, indicates that the prosecutors themselves ought to be brought up on ethics charges.
Other crimes by members of Team Trump predated their involvement with Trump by several years. They also were clearly prosecuted in order to squeeze them for testimony damaging to President Trump.
Michael Flynn lying to the FBI is a real curiosity to me. Why did he lie? He had done nothing wrong, nor had Trump. Nevertheless, Flynn’s lie is a much lesser crime than many crimes that this same team of prosecutors chose not to pursue.
I expect that all y’all will see similar instances this week of Leftist mass media cheerleading for impeachment. This is going to be a very popular theme from Big Media for the next little while. This feature from USA Today is attributed to three staff reporters, even though it is entirely a rehash of stuff from weeks or months ago.
The GOP lost the House of Representatives. Chairmanships will flip from Republican to Democrat. The House Committee on the Judiciary will go from control by Bob Goodlatte to control by Jerrold Nadler. Nadler has said that the current investigations will end and new investigations will begin.
Here is Goodlatte’s summary letter:
Dear Attorney General Whitaker and Director Wray,
With the 115th Congress coming to a close, the investigation into decisions made by DOJ and FBI and related interviews conducted by the House Committee on the Judiciary and Committee on Oversight and Government Reform have, at least for the time being, been concluded. …
The letter goes on to beg for a public release of transcripts that Goodlatte sent over. I hope that Whitaker starts a new special counsel into obstruction of justice and ethics complaints about senior FBI and DOJ Deep Staters.
You should read the letter; it is very short. Also, here are links to reporting by Leftist media:
This has become a familiar problem in politics. At the moment that any news item comes along, media hacks want to be able to report on what reactions and consequences will result from the item. Politicians become immediately anxious to influence any outcomes in a direction favorable to them. Pundits have to have something clever or ponderous to say about everything. And, if it is international, all eyes are on the President to see how he will respond.
No; I am not about to talk about President Trump. I am thinking about President George Herbert Walker Bush. The memorial chatter in observance of his death has got me irked. He is rightfully being remembered as the great statesman who presided over the collapse of the Soviet Union. But he was called “gracious” and “statesman” and “reserved” in ways to deliberately contrast with President Trump, in hopes of making President Trump look bad by comparison. That was a very different time with very different circumstances. Current motives for lauding President G.H.W. Bush are transparent.
Now there is a spate of “he was actually horrible” reaction pieces. Here is an example of the c**p I mean:
Especially compared with current occupant of the Oval Office, George H. W. Bush was a dignified figure who served his country steadfastly in war and peace. He represented a center-right, internationalist strain of Republicanism that barely exists today. But it doesn’t make sense to canonize him.
I remember the G.H.W. Bush Administration days. I recall all the histrionics over the open discontent coming from behind the Iron Curtain, which was building because Mikhail Gorbachev was holding steady on his course of “Glasnost,” which was translated as “Openness.” I also recall mass media giving voice to lots of chatterers who were urging President Bush to “do something!” These were counterposed with chatterers expressing high anxiety about things going badly wrong if he did the wrong something. There was a huge debate raging over just what America should do to take advantage of the situation.
President G.H.W.B. was the right man for this circumstance. He was a cold warrior, well-acquainted with all the players, including China. He was well known by most world leaders. Nobody thought he would act rashly, and he was circumspect. In this case, by “circumspect” I do not mean to say that he was risk-averse, but, rather that he exhibited a pattern of careful and well-informed decisionmaking: “a careful consideration of all circumstances and a desire to avoid mistakes and bad consequences.”
There was a great storm of confusion and loud voices urging all sorts of action, and all sorts of fearmongering about what America might do to exploit the situation. President G.H.W.B. started calling heads of state, beginning with Gorbachev and proceeding all the way down the roster. This was something he had been doing all through 1989, since the unrest in the Eastern Bloc presaged the unrest in Russia. I recall some Important People predicting that, just as Luis XIV’s reforms let the pressure off just enough for the French cauldron to boil over in 1789, so Russia would explode in a massive bloodletting, and that the unrest would be a great opportunity for America to exploit.
Bush was calling to reassure everyone that America would not act rashly nor aggressively, and, if assistance was wanted, would help the Russian people to back away from generations of Communist rule, and that he looked forward to embracing his Russian friends as free partners on the world stage. The central message was that President G.H.W. Bush intended to donothing, and allow the Russians and their client Soviet partners readjust their internal affairs without American meddling. This had been his consistent message to Gorbachev all through 1989.
You are probably familiar with several aphorisms to the effect of, ‘when things are going in a good direction, don’t get in the way.’ But that is really hard do; to refrain from acting when there is a daily clamor for you to act.
President Bush was faulted for inaction, called a “dumb lucky bystander,” trashed daily in the press. He was even called “a wimp;” which is a stunning description of a man who earned the Distinguished Flying Cross while piloting 58 torpedo bomber missions from the deck of an aircraft carrier.
You have to remember that this was back in the days of Leftist mass media hegemony. There were only the three alphabet networks, Public Broadcasting, and a brand-new little-known phenomenon, a cable channel dedicated to full time news broadcasting. CNN was new and was just one of 100 cable channels competing for attention in the relatively new world of cable. The only conservative publications were Commentary and National Review, both with miniscule circulation then as now. The editorial page of the Wall Street Journal was the only widespread source of conservative thought in America. The New York Times and the Washington Post dominated the national conversation, much more back then than now.
There was little in the way of talk radio. Rush Limbaugh had started in 1988 with 56 stations, the year after the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, and was barely on over 100 stations at the time. (Otherwise, talk radio was mostly local, interviewing local commissioners and municipal department heads, or discussing health issues with a local doctor, or national shows that talked about music and Hollywood celebrities.) The repeal of the Fairness Doctrine allowed the major media organizations to quit maintaining a balance of “liberal” (Leftist) commentary and conservative commentary.
So media was a Leftist project, but most Americans did not recognize just how far left it had become. This allowed President Bush to be slandered daily with little in the way of countervailing defense. There were still a hundred or so conservative daily papers in those days, but they were overwhelmed by the flood of Leftist ink and Leftist broadcasting.
President G.H.W. Bush had his defenders, including the most stalwart Bob Dole. But on the national scene, he was holding steady, reassuring the world most evenings by telephone to encourage everyone to simply let the Soviet system collapse without meddling, and not to worry about all the fearmongering from the press. When the Berlin Wall fell, there was a new round of fearmongering about American meddling, which kept G.H.W.B busy soothing political anxieties around the globe in early-early morning or very late-night phone calls.
By the time of the 1992 campaign, the Soviet Union had collapsed, with total casualties less than a hundred, not millions. Boris Yeltsin had been leading the new Russian Federation for a year, and the whole subject was considered “old news” as far as American mass media was concerned.
Saddam Hussein miscalculated badly. He mistook American inaction during a clear moment of opportunity to be an indication of American weakness and of President Bush’s personal weakness. He invaded Kuwait, which he had wanted for a very very long time. His minions treated Kuwaitis badly. News of atrocities, and refugees, slipped out of Kuwait.
The ruling family of Kuwait had an important personal friend in George H.W. Bush; they had had warm acquaintances for many years. He told Saddam Hussein to leave Kuwait or else. Then, to back up his threat, he requested that the Pentagon get to work in earnest on war plans.
But the situation was complicated by the fact that there was no Soviet counterbalance to American power, and the Europeans were going nuts about American cowboys swaggering around the world and breaking things. There was all sorts of Congressional carping about how G.H.W. Bush would lead us into a disaster. So, President Bush decided to act as the leader of a group, and then patiently pulled together a coalition. Several (seemingly) important international members decided to play coy, and so President Bush agreed not to invade Iraq, but instead to go only so far as was needed to liberate Kuwait.
He kept his promise. Even though it was clear to everyone that what would be best would be to move on in to Baghdad, President Bush kept his promise.
There were some really interesting economic changes in the 1980s. The one we best remember is the Reagan tax cut. But there was a stock market crash in 1987, and a slo-mo disaster among savings&loans that began with a high profile bankruptcy in 1985, then progressed through a number of bankruptcies until Charles Keating’s Lincoln Savings went bankrupt in 1989. The deregulation of savings&loans under Carter ended with new regulations in 1990. That was accompanied in a budget deal in which the Democrats had forced President Bush to accept a deal that modestly raised taxes, famously breaking his “no new taxes” pledge from the 1988 campaign. The American economy stalled into a mild recession in 1990.
President G.H.W. Bush huddled with his economic team, and decided that the fundamentals of the American economy were sound and that things were sorting out smoothly. He decided that the best approach was to donothing and let the power of American enterprise work things out.
Of course, mass media was full of chattering about how awful the Bush economy was and how out of touch Bush was because he was spending all his time palling around with his international friends.
The campaign began in earnest in the fall of 1991, with America still technically in recession, but with signs of recovery all around. Democratic candidates all agreed that America needed a huge jobs bill to “put America back to work.” The most robust counterpoint to that was from Ross Perot, who was spending his own millions to put the budget deficit and the national debt into the national conversation.
The campaign of 1992 was really ugly if you were paying attention. Pat Buchanan ran a strong primary challenge in which he decried the national debt, trying to leverage some of Ross Perot’s work.
Bill Clinton emerged soon as the favorite Democrat. He had southern charm, a boyish grin, and spoke about being a “New Democrat.” His wife was a career lawyer lady popular among the Planned Parenthood wing. He could carry all those Southern conservative Democrats along with all the Leftist coastal Democrats and the rust belt union states. The pundit class agreed that he had what it would take to unseat an incumbent.
What nobody except Rush Limbaugh was talking about was that mass media was working as an extension of the Democrat campaign.
Media talking heads started saying that Bush was so focused on international events that he did not care about domestic affairs. Their spin was that his energetic and careful restraint on the international front caused him to neglect domestic issues. The recession was blamed on Bush, and the actual causes were ignored. Democrats raised the hue and cry, and mass media amplified it.
They also reinforced it through dishonest reporting on the economy. They reported every bit of economic news, maintaining a careful accounting. But that is not how Americans learn news. Bad economic news was reported, and good economic news was reported. Then the bad news was repeated, while the good news was shelved. Bad news got talked about, and good news did not get talked about. Reporters asked questions at news conferences about bad news, but not about good news. Chattering shows dwelt on bad news and ignored good news. Editorials focused on bad news and not good news. If much of the American economy is dependent on “consumer confidence,” then the whole economy resisted recovery because consumer confidence was killed by constant media focus on bad economic news.
James Carville famously observed that Clinton’s main message was “it’s the economy, stupid.” This sound bite leveraged the mass media narrative in a way that was condescending and arrogant, which was what made Carville such a good hatchet man.
At every opportunity, at the Convention and all through the fall campaigning, G.H.W. Bush kept saying that all the indicators were that the economy had bottomed out in the early spring of 1992, and that the American economy was robust, things were building up, and that the best thing to do about the economy was to donothing.
He was ridiculed. He was mocked and and scoffed. He was called “out of touch.” He was called an out-of-touch elitist who never did his own grocery shopping. In an effort to address that, he went grocery shopping, which turned out disastrous when it became clear that he had never seen a checkout scanner in use. He was widely mocked for that, although grocery scanners had only come into widespread use in the past five years. The optics were bad.
And he was too genteel to call out the reporters who rode Air Force One for their poor and unfair journalism. They continued to carry bad economic news to boost Bill Clinton.
And in the third ring of this circus H. Ross Perot stole enough votes away to throw the election.
Clinton Economy ?
George H. W. Bush lost in 1992 and Bill Clinton became president. He had his massive jobs program introduced and passed in the House. It was spiked by Bob Dole in the Senate. Dole killed it so dead that it never was mentioned after that.
Mostly it was forgotten because it was not needed. Other economy-boosting measures introduced by Democrats also died. What happened was that the Fed kept interest rates low, and that was all that was needed for the American economy to recover. It was more than a recovery. It was a booming economy.
So, what Bill Clinton actually did for the economy was to donothing, because Bob Dole prevented him from doing the stupid stuff he had promised while campaigning. He even won reelection in 1996 on the basis of his wonderful economic performance.
Bill Clinton and the Democrat-Media Complex are still taking bows for the wonderful economy of the 1990s. Nobody ever observes that it was G.H.W. Bush’s (and Bob Dole’s and Ronald Reagan’s) economy and economic policy that initiated it and provided room for American ingenuity to flourish.
In the July reports on the first half of 1993 a report came out that said that the economy was great, all indicators were up, and things looked really rosy.
What went unreported was a little paragraph in which it was noted that the bottom of the recession had been reached in March of the previous year.
What G.H.W.B. had been saying about the economy was exactly true. But Americans were never told that.
Hey, gang, we are going to celebrate the Festival of the Birth of Jesus on December 25th this year. We are going to join with all Western Christians and all the saints who have gone before us for the past 1900 years and more. Now, probably on a facebook page near you, sometime this Advent season you will see someone telling you how the Christians selected the date of December 25th by appropriating the date of a Pagan festival. That is a crock, and an anti-Christian slander, and this article is to explain why.
Most of you plain don’t care whether Christians appropriated a Pagan date. This is the typical reaction from Christians. We don’t really think that there is anything special about the date, it is just the traditional time for an annual celebration of the Nativity miracle. And, since we believe that mankind is corrupted by sin, and because we are all aware that church leaders have let us down on many occasions, we do not find this tale to be particularly troubling, and it sounds believable. So, Christians are generally not disconcerted by this tale, and we generally accept it without question.
Unfortunately, this is the sort of deference on the part of Christians that allows anti-Christian falsehoods to proliferate. Many Christians, such as G.K. Chesterton, accepted this tale as true. Even the Catholic Encyclopedia entry for Christmas (which was written in 1908) mentions this theory with the remark that it is “plausible.” Lots and lots of Christians have simply accepted this anti-Christian falsehood, mostly because it is considered an unimportant detail.
There is much to say regarding this anti-Christian slander, so I will provide some long-winded information and some links for anyone who is interested, or who is cornered by someone who finds this particular assault on the traditional Christmas story to be troubling.
Anti-Christians have said that the date of December 25th was deliberately picked to coincide with a Roman Pagan celebration. There are several versions, but here are the two most popular ones: one says that it co-opted a solstice celebration, just getting the date off by a couple of days, and the other says it was to co-opt a festival for Sol Invictus (the Unconquered Sun god). Both versions are falsehoods that keep going around on the internet.
First, neither the Greeks nor the Romans had a solstice festival before Sol Invictus. Sometimes I have seen anti-Christians on the internet raise the fact that other Pagans definitely did, but that does not hold up. There is no evidence that early Christians were in the business of co-opting dates or practices from the surrounding Greek Pagan culture (they opposed it in many ways), and, even if they were, they certainly would not have gone about picking dates from some far-away Pagan culture.
The second version also fails, on the basis that the Sol Invictus festival was initiated long after the Christians had agreed that December 25th is the most likely date for the Nativity. The Christians arrived at the December 25th date by completely independent reasoning that had nothing to do with any December events.
The Sol Invictus theory was a speculation by a 12th-century writer, and it was accepted by Christians and non-Christians alike as possible and plausible; in those days it was extremely difficult to access the sort of historical records that would have shed light on this theory. This theory was reported later as fact by a Protestant who was using it as a smear against the Roman Catholic Church. It was spread by anti-Catholic Protestants. It has been picked up and used since the Enlightenment by anti-Christians of all sorts, and it gets spread today on the worldwide web by many who seek to undermine the teachings and traditions of orthodox Christians, both Catholic and Protestant.
Early Christian thinking
The Christians of the second century discussed the likely dates for several events in the life of Jesus, in the absence of precise dating in the Gospels. The matter that got the most discussion was the time of the Crucifixion, which was important for dating the Easter festival that commemorates the Resurrection. They were looking to establish the most appropriate date for this important feast, and were employing a Jewish tradition that held that prophets died on the same date that they were either born or conceived.
The short version of the reasoning is: that before John the Baptist was born, when his father Zechariah received his vision, he was serving in the Temple. From Luke chapter 1:
8 Now while [Zechariah] was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great before the Lord. …
18 And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” 19 And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” 21 And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. 22 And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. 23 And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.
The early Christians reasoned that if Zechariah could not be looked in on, then he must have been in the Most Holy Place, behind the veil, and so the event must have occurred during the annual festival of the Day of Atonement, which takes place in September. This was corroborated by a separate line of reasoning that was based on the rotation of the priests, and informed by a comment found in Josephus to backtrack and learn that Zechariah’s division of priests was serving in September.
If Elizabeth conceived John in September, then it would have been March when Mary conceived Jesus:
26 In the sixth month [of Elizabeth’s pregnancy] the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”
They set the Feast of the Annunciation as March 25. Nine months later is December 25. This was established long before the first Feast of Sol Invictus. Clement of Alexandria wrote about it near the year 200 AD, as did Hippolytus of Rome. It appears from their writings that the date had been established prior to their day. Sol Invictus was first decreed by Emperor Aurelian in 274 AD.
Here is an excerpt from an article by William Tighe:
Thus, December 25th as the date of the Christ’s birth appears to owe nothing whatsoever to pagan influences upon the practice of the Church during or after Constantine’s time. It is wholly unlikely to have been the actual date of Christ’s birth, but it arose entirely from the efforts of early Latin Christians to determine the historical date of Christ’s death.
And the pagan feast which the Emperor Aurelian instituted on that date in the year 274 was not only an effort to use the winter solstice to make a political statement, but also almost certainly an attempt to give a pagan significance to a date already of importance to Roman Christians.