Category Archives: Headlines

Why I rarely watch TV News

When I was in ICU, one of the [male] nurses enjoyed talking about politics. During April, when I was suffering ICU psychosis, and various side effects of the aortic surgery with multiple follow-up procedures, his talks filtered through my dreams and hallucinations. Ironically, I had him as an avid Obama supporter, when, after I “woke up,” I found out the opposite was true. My parents, when discussing my “profession,” focused on my blogging and freelance writing, while, when I was more able to communicate (by typing), I would explain that I *was* a blogger and freelance writer, but that I was also a retired-on-disability college English instructor, which impressed them just as much without giving them the impression that I was some famous journalist. ūüôā
Anyway, before I was able to use a laptop and type messages to the nurses, but unable to speak due to a combination of a paralyzed vocal cord and a trachyostomy, they would often have conversations “with me” that basically amounted to using me as a sounding board or presuming my answers based upon what they knew of me from my parents and my wife (such as that I have a pro-life blog).
So one day, this particular nurse was talking about politics with another nurse, and he said, in a friendly manner, “What channel do you like to watch, John? Fox News?” I shook my head “no.” I forget if it was a day or two before I got the laptop, or I just wasn’t able to type at that particular juncture, but later that day, or a day or two after, I referred to that question and typed that I have a policy against watching TV news, even on EWTN, because it just raises my blood pressure: I prefer to read my news online where I can get multiple sources and respond to them. I’ll *read* _The Huffington Post_ or _The Guardian_ or whatever (except the NYT, which still charges for articles), but at least I can write responses in comboxes, on FB or on my blog, He said something like, “Fair enough.”
I would always teach my students that there’s no such thing as a completely “credible” source: credibility is a continuum, and no source is truly “unbiased.” Without naming names or denominations or issues, I would give the example of the time a prominent religious leader (Cardinal Mahony) was given an award for a particular political position (pro-life), and an activist crashed the banquet, passing out flyers listing the politicians on the other side (Democrats) he supported. The activist came to the mic and demanded an explanation of how he could support that position and support its opponents [having exemplified how I avoided “naming names,” I will now do so for clarity]. Mahony came up and took the microphone from the activist. All sources agree that the microphone made contact with the activist’s chin. The liberal Catholic publications like _Commonweal_ said he “accidentally bumped” the activist, while the conservative publications said that Mahony “hit” the activist with the microphone.
I made the decision not to watch TV news during the 2 weeks in the hospital after my aortic dissection in January 2011. The cable at Emory didn’t have EWTN (not surprisingly), and I laid there doing a lot of channel flipping. Everything was pretty much news or sports (which I don’t like, partly because of how angry people get over them) or “police procedurals.” Everything was upsetting. I would put on the news for a few minutes and see my blood pressure rise. Then I would put on some show like _Law & Order_ and see my blood pressure rising. I decided it wasn’t worth it. Television should be relaxing, not upsetting.

6 months before that, I read _Fahrenheit 451_. In the edition I had, there was an afterword in which Bradbury reflects on the text some decades later, explaining how he wrote it, discussing the accuracy of his predictions (which today have proven even more accurate), etc. He wrote the book originally in the 1940s, when television was still a new and relatively rare technology (equivalent to PC’s 40 years ago or smart phones 10 years ago). He said the danger of television, versus books (and, i would say, today’s Internet), is that it makes you sit there and take in what they’re saying, regardless of what they’re saying. He said you can “argue with” a book/magazine/newspaper–“throw it across the room,” take notes, write in the margins, write a letter to the editor/author, etc.–but television is a passive medium that just makes you sit there and either accept it or get angry.
6 months later, I realized how true that is. On another hospital visit related to my thoracic descending aneurysm, I was in an ER transition room with a TV and no remote, waiting for admission to the hospital for overnight observation. Someone had put the TV on A&E, and I was stuck watching _Criminal Minds_ or some such show. In one episode, a poor lady kidnap victim was depicted tied up, half-naked, crying and struggling for her life. That’s *just* what I wanted to watch while in the hospital for cardiovascular observation. So I turned away from the TV and did my best to pray a rosary, and I think I fell asleep. Next thing I knew, a different episode was on, so I thought I’d give it a chance. This time, a little boy was chasing another child through the woods with a baseball bat, and then beat him or her to death, right there on screen: again, just what I wanted to watch at that juncture, or *ever*. Why do people enjoy being so disturbed? I understand the appeal of a mystery show–it’s one of my favorite genres–and the thrill of seeing the criminals get their comeuppance, but why do we need to see the gory details?
Same is true of TV news. It’s all about getting people unnecessarily upset.

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Finn, Cain, Paterno, OWS, and the War on the Catholic Church: Liberals and “Accountability”

An absolute moral code is great.¬† It makes sense.¬† It doesn’t require sophistries to explain why this is OK and that isn’t, when you have principles and apply them consistently.

That’s why I’ve said for the past 9 years that what outrages me most about the media’s attacks on the Church, besides how unfair they are, is that I don’t believe anyone who supports abortion, or “gay rights” or the so-called “sexual revolution” gives a rodent’s excrement about protecting children.

I was just watching a video someone linked on Facebook of Jon Stewart talking about the Joe Paterno business, and he made the comparison all media liberals are making of the Penn State situation to the Catholic Church.¬† “It’s about having some accountability,” he says, and that struck me.¬†

The “latest” permutation of “the Scandal” is the case of highly regarded “Benedict Bishop” Robert Finn of Kansas City, who became the first bishop indicted in a sexual misconduct case, in which the Diocese of Kansas City itself was indicted, both for a misdemeanor charge of “failure to report child pornography.”¬† The pro-death and anti-Catholic _Kansas City Star_ has been making a great deal of this case for months,¬† apparently, as it’s had a long standing beef with the unabashedly pro-life Finn.¬† The Catholic League has in turn been going up against the _Star_, and the radical abortion activist DA is trying to push the case to raise her own political star.¬† The case concerns a priest who had some photos which were admittedly disturbing but did not, according to the diocese’s Lay Review Board, meet the legal definition of pornography.¬† So the Bishop tried to handle the matter internally before going to the police.¬† He committed the priest–who attempted suicide–to an institution till the priest was declared “fit” by the psychiatrists, transferred the priest to a non-parish ministry, and banned him from having computer access or from being around children.¬† As soon as the priest violated both those restrictions, and began to use diocesan computers to access pornography, the bishop called the police and made a public announcement/apology.¬† He then hired an independent auditor to review their handling of the case to see how they could have improved it.¬† After the auditor concluded that he did mishandle the situation, Bishop Finn issued another apology.¬† Nevertheless, the DA indicted him.

Tying into another recent news story, at least two women with liberal political agendas (though I keep seeing reports that refer to “multiple” alleged victims) have claimed that Republican presidential hopeful and Tea Party favorite Herman Cain sexually harrassed them,¬†suggesting that the crude term¬†the Left has used¬†for Tea Party supporters the past few years is true in Cain’s case.¬†¬† Now, if true, of course, the allegations should rightly derail Cain’s campaign.¬†¬†Even if false, many are¬†saying he’s not handling this crisis well, and that that alone calls his suitability for office into question.¬†¬†However, it’s definitely a planned political hit, like the Anita Hill thing, and some people are arguing that aspects of the alleged victim’s stories challenge their credibility.

In any case, one alleged victim claims she told Cain, “I have a boyfriend,” as if it’s OK to sexually harrass someone who’s single.¬† When “sexual harrassment” first became a big deal in the early 90’s, I wondered what the big deal was about behavior that was sinful to begin with.¬† Liberals like to suggest, thanks in part to Christians who have abused their religion, that things like sexual harrassment are part-and-parcel with “Christian hegemony”.¬†¬† Any true Christian would reject sexual harrasment as obviously sinful, but question how liberals who support the “sexual revolution” can support it.

Then that brings up the other recent issue, “Occupy Wall Street,” and a document by the Pontifical office for Justice and Peace which seemed to suggest support for the “Occupy” movement and seemed to call for a world governing economic authority.¬† Now, there are also indications that Justice and Peace may have been¬†metaphorically slapped on the wrist for issuing that doc. without the Pope’s approval, but that’s irrelevant because Benedict XVI has made similar statements.¬† However, what people miss is that, whenever the Vatican says that there needs to be some world authority on some moral issue, the Vatican is not calling for greater UN power: it’s saying, “hint, hint” and pointing at itself.¬†

For centuries, the Pope was the final authority in world affairs.¬† For centuries, the Catholic Church said that, for example, if slavery needed to be an institution, slaves needed to be given basic human rights and permitted access to the sacraments and family life.¬† Families should not be broken up, slaves should be allowed to marry, etc., and slave “owners” should not abuse their slaves.¬† These rights were guaranteed in areas that listened to the Church.¬†

After the Protestant revolt and the so-called Enlightenment, however, things began to change.¬† In the Protestant British Empire, slaves were treated much more cruelly, on the average, than in the Spanish Empire, and the British in general were more likely to brutalize native populations than the Spanish.¬† The Portuguese were officially Catholic, but the Portuguese kings were generally more defiant of the Church’s authority in secular affairs than the Spanish kings.¬†

For centuries, the Church was the arbiter of peace between nations, and the idea of permanent peace treaties was a Catholic notion.¬† Let’s not get into all the things like health care and education that the Church provided, or even law.

Sure, the Church is a hospital for sinners, and there have always been bad Catholics, and corrupt members of the hierarchy, and people who abused their offices or twisted the teachings of the Church to suit their personal agendas.  Today we call them Kennedy Catholics and Nancy Pelosi.  Back then it was the Borgias and Medici.  But imagine what things would have been like *without* the Church standing up as a voice of morality!

Wait: you don’t have to.¬† It’s what happened in the past 200 years since the so-called “Enlightenment,” and especially in the last 4 decades.

Sexual predator priests like John Geoghan said time and again that they were inspired by the Sexual Revolution and by the “Spirit of Vatican II” talk of doing away with priestly celibacy or even with chastity in general.¬†¬† Yet somehow this is overlooked in the fervor to blame the Bishops or even the Pope for the evils these men committed.¬† It’s overlooked that the bishops were listening to psychotherapists who said the predators were “cured,” or to lawyers who gave them bad legal advice.¬† No one talks about going after the APA or the ABA for facilitating child molestation not only in the Catholic Church but in the public schools and numerous other institutions.

Yet it is the rebellion against objective morality that gives people the “freedom” to think they can engage in pederasty or sexual harrassment.¬† If random fornication is accepted, why shouldn’t bosses fornicate with their employees?¬† If sodomy is accepted, why shouldn’t grown men sodomize little boys?

Those who would otherwise tell us there’s no such thing as an objective moral law suddenly get all high-and-mighty on these matters, and their standard, echoed by the “I told him I had a boyfriend” lady, is this notion of “consent.”¬† You see, in the view of secular liberals, it’s OK to sin if you *consent* to it.¬† Indeed, they see no hypocrisy in attacking the Church and supporting Roman Polanski because Polanksi claims his drugged adolescent victim was consenting.¬† They see no hypocrisy in supporting abortion and opposing the Holocaust because, if pressed, they will say that what was wrong with the Holocaust was that Hitler took away the Jews’ freedom to choose.¬† According to secular liberals, it would have been OK for Hitler to kill Jews if they’d consented to being killed–no word on how the unborn baby is supposed to consent to being killed; they just care about the mother’s ability to consent to the killing.¬† It’s an absurd standard.¬†

If consent is the standard, then why should some arbitrary legal definition of age alter consent?¬† We know that liberals think it’s perfectly fine for underage kids to have sex with each other.¬† We know that the Clinton and Obama administrations have both promoted explicit sex education for kindergartners.¬† We know that the Planned Parenthood-designed “touching safety” program Good Touch/Bad Touch implies that there are good ways for children to experience sexual pleasure and, again, suggests that the main difference is the child’s consent.¬† We know that it is extremely common for sexually active underage girls to be sexually active with older males, and that Planned Parenthood covers up statutory rape.¬† We know that every so many years the APA redefines something (i.e., homosexuality is no longer a mental disorder).¬† We know that when the Demonocrats pushed through their changes to the federal protected classes for “hate crimes” to include “sexual orientation,” Republicans pushed the issue to get Democrats to acknowledge “pedophilia” as a legally protected “sexual orientation.”¬† So what’s to stop legislators from changing the age for legal consent to sex?¬† What’s to stop the APA from redefining pedophilia as being as acceptable as homosexuality?¬† Nothing.¬† Once they finish using pedophilia to attack the Catholic Church, that’s what these monsters will do.¬† This is not about protecting children, or else they’d be going after public schools, where sexual molestation by teachers and others abounds and goes unreported to this day.¬†

And that gets back to the other arbitrary standard these people use: so-called “accountability.”¬† They say they want the Church to be “accountable.” To whom?¬† To whom should the Catholic Church, founded by Jesus Christ and governed by the Holy Spirit, be accountable?¬† To godless secular authorities?¬† The State is accountable to the Church, as the Vatican is always trying to subtly remind everyone, not the other way around.

Yet that’s been the agenda since the Enlightenment: to overthrow the Church and create a supreme secular state with no accountability of its own.

I hate it when I lose thoughts

There was some big story earlier this week that I wanted to comment on, and didn’t, and of course forgot which story and what I was going to say. Hate it when that happens.

And there have been a lot of big stories, so I thought I’d just give a run down of opinions:

1. The Arizona shooting:
a. the whole thing is a huge win for Obama.
b. If Giffords was so concerned about safety, why didn’t she use better security? She didn’t use basic security protocols at these events, and she put people’s lives in danger.
c. Everyone keeps trying to claim the shooter for the other side, but he really just exemplifies what I’ve been warning about since 2006: a generation of people who’ve been raised on MTV and Comedy Central, Michael Moore and Glenn Beck, who don’t necessarily have a coherent political philosophy other than anger at “the establishment.”
d. Sarah Palin is evil because she used a “targeting” metaphor (and I agree the way she did it was in bad taste, especially for a pro-lifer, and especially someone who has been a victim of some equally vicious rhetoric). But let’s not forget 8 years of “kill Bush”, Alec Baldwin’s tirade about Henry Hyde, and all the hateful things that the liberals have said and are saying about Palin. They are such hypocrites.

2. The arrest of Abortionist Kermit Gosnell in Pennsylvania. Yet another example of the kind of depraved monsters who engage in this “medical practice.”

3. Rick Santorum says it’s hypocritical for Barack Obama, an African American, to suggest we can define who is and isn’t human, and the liberals say that Santorum should apologize for making such an “offensive” comment. HUH?

4. EWTN is acquiring the National Catholic Register. Good to get the Register out of the hands of the Legion of Christ, but is it a wise move for EWTN, which is in perpetual financial trouble, to buy a newspaper, when print news is a rapidly dying medium? And, as one of my Facebook friends pointed out, they should have bought the National Catholic Reporter and then fired everyone who works for it.

5. John Paul II’s speedy canonization will proceed with a beatification on May 1. So much for the photos showing JPII standing with Maciel and Maciel’s illegitimate family. So much for concerns that too many of JPII’s “friends” were speaking out of turn. They won’t beatify Pius XII because of calumnies that are spread against him which have no basis in fact and scandalize non-believers, yet John Paul II, who did so much to scandalize faithful Catholics, is getting fast-tracked. I don’t even necessarily question his sainthood, but I get tired of the attitude that we are supposed to just ignore the Koran Kissing, the pagan sacrifices at the Assisi Conference, his association with Maciel, and other damaging facts. These need to be *explained*. The explanations are there. I often use some them myself. Some things I’m still waiting for better clarity on. But if they’re going to beatify him, and they’re *not* going to beatify Pius XII, then they need to do some explaining.

6. Monday our country honored the life and death of Martin Luther King, Jr., a man who said we should judge people by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. King was himself an adulterer, and one of his closest associates, Bayard Rustin, was a Communist and a homosexual. Forty years after his death, Americans elected Barack Obama, a man of no discernible character, due to the color of his skin.

7. A secular news story has tried to make a stink about the disappearance of Fr. Thomas Euteneuer from public eye. Most notably, Euteneuer’s book on exorcism which came out last summer is out of print and is selling for hundreds of dollars online. HLI says that the book merely sold out, and they opted not to reprint it, since Fr. Euteneuer left HLI.

When Fr. Euteneuer announced his resignation from HLI, I said at the time I didn’t think this was any conspiracy or “smack down.” There are ways things are phrased. When the Jesuits tried to use obedience to silence Fr. Fessio a while back, his public statements honored obedience while making it clear he didn’t agree with their decision. When Cardinal Egan recalled Fr. Pavone from Priests for Life, Fr. Pavone said he was complying but looking for options (and did).

Fr. Euteneuer’s statement expressed full compliance. I think he requested to be recalled by his bishop. Exorcists are supposed to be generally out of the spotlight, for a variety of reasons (avoiding sensationalism, maintaining personal humility, etc.) I think that he has chosen this change in direction of his life, and we should honor that.

8. As if Ellen Degenerate wasn’t bad enough, that strange looking creature they hired to replace Simon on American Idol is just too disturbing to look at, even on advertisements.
That brings up the point that one of the effects of my dissection is that I’ve narrowed down a lot of my viewing even more. I’m trying to avoid anything that will unnecessarily raise my blood pressure, and trying to avoid anything that might possibly be an occasion of sin.

Still feel like there’s another big news story of the week I wanted to comment on, but that covers most of ’em.

Slow news days on Yahoo

Besides being unabashedly liberal, Yahoo News is always interesting for indicators of “slow news days.” Usually, the headlines on such days will be “relationship” articles, and usually relationship articles that boil down to saying, a) guys are jerks, b) you can’t trust your significant other or c) reasons to break up (very positive, that).

It got really bad this weekend, when for a few days one of the top headlines on yahoo was a Yahoo Answers article, “What are those little things on the ‘f’ and ‘j’ keys for?” Are you kidding me? Has our society gotten that stupid????

So, today’s “We can’t find anything better to post” headline on Yahoo is:
“Scandal Claims Illinois Politician.”

Oh, and the sun came up this morning. News at 11.

Gonzo Fiddles While George Burns, A Year Later

A year ago, I expressed astonishment that movies were doing so well in the middle of a recession. 

Now, Iran is practically in a civil war. Increasing threats of nuclear war by North Korea have reached Catholicity.com.

What are the top news stories today? 

The death of Farrah Fawcett (who, to her credit, apparently received the Last Rites from a Catholic priest before her death).

The death of Michael Jackson, a clown whose biggest credit is having made very insidious, if not outright demonic, music.

The crash of “Twitter” over the Hollywood deaths yesterday (and a couple rumors).

Governor Mark Sanford’s adultery.

Speaking of Sanford, one of the “I don’t want to be right, but I bet this is how it will happen” purposes of this blog is to¬†predict and chronicle¬†the Republican Party going the way of the Whigs in the 1850s.¬†

Part of me is extremely disappointed that a politician who was being pointed to as a potential bright light in a dying movement has added another nail in the coffin of the Christian Right. 

Part of me is happy to see another nail in the coffin of the GOP.  It will take a complete shift in the party structure to see the tide turn in the Culture Wars.

1.¬† As long as Christians keep giving our vote to people who talk right and don’t live up to their words, our¬† causes will only be given lip service and minimal action.

2.¬† As long as conservative Christians show themselve willing to sell out to the wrong aspects of American conservatism, and neoconservatism in particular, we lose credibility.¬† When our pundits and politicians preach pro-life and then support torture and unjust wars, and oppose programs that provide financial assistance to struggling families, their claim of being “Christian” rings hollow, and they give fodder to the liberal Christians who compromise on abortion and marriage.

Pray for our country.

Pray for North Korea.

Pray for the media.

Interesting Headlines of the Day

Unauthorized copy of proposed English Translation of the Mass circulates blogosphere

¬†Liberals who thought they’d won the Culture Wars with Obama’s election realize they were wrong.¬† Bias exposure: article is phrased in the voice of an “ordinary person” troubled by those “pesky” “Culture Warrior” types keep raising a stink about stuff.

C. S. Lewis said the greatest danger to our souls is greed: working so much we don’t take time for prayer.¬† His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI reminded his Wednesday audience that, whether we’re having a busy workday or vacation, we should always make time for prayer.

You’ve probably already heard that Our Sunday Visitor has acquired Harcourt Religion.¬† Apparently, Harcourt Religion only publishes Catholic catechetical materials.¬† They are the producers of Big Al, the puppet series on EWTN.¬† A year or two ago, Houghton Mifflin bought HBJ, changing the name of the conglomerate to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.¬† OSV will corner the market on Catholic catechetic materials and vacation bible school.¬† What I want to know is: if OSV has been offering VBS services all along, why do so many Catholic parishes use the “Catholic editions” of “non-denominational” VBS’s?

You can’t stop a dictator with diplomacy.

James Francis Cardinal Stafford is retiring, and thus leaving his position as Prefect of the Apostolic Penitentiary.¬† 73 year old Archbishop Fortunato Baldelli will replace him.¬† Meanwhile, Archbishop Mauro Piacenza of the Congregation for Clergy laments the low attendance at the Sacrament of Reconciliation, blaming¬† it (rightly) on a lack of a “sense of sin.”¬† Maybe because so many priests and theologians are teaching that “conscience” means deciding for oneself what is right and wrong??

And . . . here’s one for the record books. . . . It’s¬†a regular “man bites dog”–though it shouldn’t be:

Priest Defends Church’s Teaching on Artificial Contraception.” (In a newspaper, even!)