Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Tuesday Tuesday Tuesday!

Hello again, everyone, I hope your past week has been a good one.

Mine? Oh, not bad. Work is work, checked out the new parishoners' meeting last night at my local parish (now that I got to Mass on a regular basis again) and tried to figure out what to write about this week. I lucked out, didn't I?

First, we have a little problem with a Palestinian terrorist group winning the latest elections in Palestine. Both Hamas and the outgoing Fatah party seemed to like having groups of masked gunmen at polling places. Combine this with Ariel Sharon's stroke and upcoming Knesset (Israeli Parliament) elections, and we could see a potential war break out again. Well, if Hamas starts shooting, they'd best realize that their actions will have consequences.

Second, and this just happened today, Samuel Alito got confirmed as a new Supreme Court Associate Justice. I know I should be above all this, but I'm just happy to have another Catholic on the bench. After all of that verbal excoriation, dealing with insinuations about qualifications by "Catholic" politicians who refuse to support Church positions (I'm referring to you, Dick Durbin) and having to endure looking at Ted Kennedy, I'd say he's earned his seat.

I'm not going to watch the State of the Union address, instead I'll read the text of the speech once I look it up online. I prefer to read speeches instead of hearing them. I think it helps me to focus on what's being said without all of the distractions and frippery.

Coretta Scott King has died. She did as much for keeping the civil rights movement together after her husband's death as she could. Too bad America wound up with fewer Martin Luther Kings and more Al Sharptons and Jesse Jacksons. Neither of those men can hold a candle to Dr. King, and they can't even compare to his wife, either. Rest in peace, ma'am.

In Washington State, civil rights legislation protecting gays could be the spark to create same-sex marriage rights throughout numerous states. Which leads me to a linguistic weirdness. The all-inclusive term for which sex you chase after for romantic intentions is "sexual preference." I have a problem with the "preference" part. Preferences can change, and I'm pretty sure that you're wired from birth to pursue one sex or another (or both, don't want to forget the bisexuals out there). Is there a better word out there? I think I've said before how I think being straight, gay or otherwise is part of God's plan to make sure we play nice. The Catholic Church teaches that homosexuals are called to celibacy, but heterosexuals are also called to love their fellow man. No, not like that. Sheesh. The kind of love I'm talking about was expressed as "agape" (ah-gah-pay) in original Greek of the New Testament. And who best to tell us how to determine what kind of love is best for the world?

Pope Benedict XVI, that's who! Seriously, I've read through his encyclical a few times, and I was bowled over. He didn't get into too much detail on the physical aspect of love we're all familiar with, AKA eros, other than to uphold the stance that physical feelings of love and desire within a married couple should be cultivated and celebrated (within the bounds of propriety, please!). He also went into the concept of agape and how this self-sacrificng love is truly needed for everyone in the world to experience love. It can't be all physical, but it also can't be all self-sacrifice, either. Using the greetings of Gassendi to Descartes in order to explain this was brilliant! His best argument comes in the second part of the encyclical about Caritas, or love expressed through the Church. Other folks who have commented on the encyclical say it's a great theological founding of the concept of love, and I'm inclined to agree. Pope Benedict is my kind of pope, I think. He writes like an academic, but still manages to put his emotion about the subject into each and every word. Putting in references and footnotes always satisfies the historian in me, and there were plenty of them to spare. I can always enjoy the writing of someone who is kind enough to cite sources. Deus Caritas Est. Beautiful from beginning to end.

Well, that's all for this week, folks. See you in seven, maybe sooner.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Tuesday Post: Interesting Bits of News, Inane Bits of Commentary

What's this? A Tuesday Post on Tuesday? Go figure. I remembered my notes this time.

I'll start out with a few things from around the world that caught my eye or ear today.

First, Canada's Conservative Party wins national elections. Prime Minister-elect Stephen Harper wants to do a lot of the same things that US Republicans like: Lower taxes, strengthen the military, and make sure nothing unwanted gets through its southern border. Honestly, I don't blame them. Mr. Harper also wants to repair relations with the US that were strained since the 2000 election. Well, when Canadian chattering class members decided to pitch a hissy fit over the elction of George W. Bush it didn't endear a lot of Americans to them. When the 2004 election occurred, it got really annoying to hear someone tell you that you voted incorrectly. At least Paul Martin went out with grace, unlike Al Gore or John Kerry. I hope the US and Canadian governments can work to solve a lot of common problems and find solutions that benefit both our nations.

Next, The Irish Government maintains its current definition of marriage after a multi-party discussion on whether or not to expand it to include unmarried and same-sex couples. If Ireland did allow marriage rights for same-sex couples I can see the Irish government doing so less as an attack on the Catholic Church and more as a way to show that they're just as progressive as other non-religious nations. The only way I can really see allowing same-sex marriage in a nation is if it's done in a way to not require recognition by religious groups. What I found odd was a militant party like Sinn Fein, long known in the US media as "the political arm of the Irish Republican Army" wanting to expand the definition of family. It strikes me as a little odd.

Wrapping up our look at the world, Pope Benedict XVI talks about love in his first Encyclical "Deus Caritas Est" ("God is Love"). Europe is full of surprises today as the Holy Father talks about the place of Eros, or physical love, in a relationship that follows Catholic moral requirements. There will also be discussion about compairing Eros with the "physical degradation" that he says passes for love these days. I will have to admit, this seems kind of weird to me, but this may be the most objective treatise on love and sex in the Catholic home ever published. This is Pope Benedict's first encyclical of his reign. Our German priest has a huge act to follow in John Paul II. I hope he's up to the task.

Nationally, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved sending Samuel Alito's nomination to the main chamber for a vote by the full Senate. Illinois Senator Dick Durbin says he's voting no. So, Dick, is this because of your non-Catholic stance on abortion? Smart money says that's Durbin's hang-up on a "yes" vote. And to think this guy used to go to my old parish in Springfield. If my old pastor of the Church of the Blessed Sacrament, Father Cassidy, were alive today he'd grab Durbin by the ear and take him to his office for a good verbal thrashing. I can also see Father Chester Fabisiak, God rest his soul, debating Durbin on the issue of abortion as well. Father Chester was another priest in our church, a Polish Jesuit who survived the horrors of the Dachau concentration camp. I think he'd know a thing or two about issues of life and choice.

And in the state, Governor Rod "Ol' Blaggie" Blagojevich wanted to add keno to gambling establishments supposedly to provide school funding. Let's see: Keno is a game where you pick numbers 1 to 64 on a ticket, and the more numbers you get, the better your chances of winning some part of the prize. The Illinois Lottery has games where you pick from multiple numbers on a ticket and the more numbers you get, the better chance of your winning some part of the prize. In other news, the director of the Illinois Department of Redundancy Department of Illinois said he felt useful, as if he had a use in the state government. We already have enough gambling in Illinois, Governor, let's now try shrinking the state government and bringing in more non-government jobs to build revenue. You know, with all of these soon-to-be-unemployed skilled auto workers in Illinois, maybe you could try getting another car manufacturer to build or take over plants in the state? Where Ford goes, Hyundai or Toyota or Honda might have an opportunity.

An interesting business thing I heard on the radio today: SuperValu stores bought Albertson's, the parent company of Chicago grocery institution Jewel-Osco. The numerous freestanding Osco Drug stores are going to be switching names to SuperValu's CVS Pharmacy. I'm sure the Walgreen's board of directors in Deerfield is going bonkers over this decision. SuperValu is selling off its Cub Foods stores so as not to create any kind of monopoly situation. Hey Walgreens bosses: buy the Cub Foods Stores and play SuperValu's game. It couldn't hurt to diversify a little more.

Well, that's it from here. Have a good week, all.

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Friday, January 20, 2006

The... Tuesday-ish Post, maybe?

Hey all. I thought I'd have this in on Wednesday, but that's how work goes. So, I'm sending it to you this early early Friday morning.

A little international news to start us up:

Osama bin Laden says he wants to offer us a "truce" if we leave Iraq; previous treaties when there was something close to a Caliphate in the Middle East and North Africa were designed to be broken, thus giving Islamic armies time to re-arm and renew the troops. I don't think we want that. The precedent for this treaty system is the Hudibiyya that the Prophet Muhammad used in dealing with the Jews of Quraysh; he offered a 10-year truce and then broke it to go to war with them again two years after agreeing to it. Fortunately, the Bush Administration has flatly said no. We still don't negotiate with terrorists.

Pope Benedict XVI says that we should not show prejudice towards migrants and welcome them into our communities. We do, unless they decide to come in without making their presence known. Illegal immigration such as this is not a good way to prove you're willing to join a larger society. On Relevant Radio's "Drew Marianni Show" last Friday, Drew and his guest (a judge from Vermont whose name escapes me at the moment; the Relevant Radio website doesn't show it.) implied quite a bit that listeners who didn't sign on to letting immigrants walk in without some kind of identification or anouncing a reason to be in the US were racist. Yet even in the Bible does it say that people should follow earthly laws: Matthew 22: 16-22, Mark 12: 12-17, Luke 20: 20-26, and even 1 Peter 2: 13-17 show that earthly laws ought to be respected to maintain civil order. How does Mr. Marianni reconcile this with his belief that all should be welcomed without question? If it's just being good neighbors, then we've got to re-establish that good neighbors do not walk into each other's homes unannounced. What do we do to ensure that these laws are followed? Perhaps we should require immigrants on any guest worker or permanent resident status to attain US Citizenship to gain full economic and political benefits. This is a very extreme measure that I'm throwing out for discussion, but it's out there all the same. This is our land, and our laws must be obeyed to maintain order.

Now for a little national fun:

The Alito hearings continue and it sounds like the Democrats are gearing up for a filibuster. Hopefully the "Gang of 14" will remember their promise and use the "nuclear option" that could end the filibuster process in the Senate. All this posturing on C-Span looks like little more than a chance to excoriate a Senator's political opponent by belittling their nominees to various offices. Excessive use of invective towards a person's supposed character is also very troubling. This first part I can excuse to a point; politics is as much a dogfight as a fencing match. The second part is less excusable. Question their decisions, question their research and methods, but questioning their personality and personal lives is ludicrous. It becomes even more ludicrous when someone like Ted Kennedy is attacking someone for lack of moral fiber. The more I think about it, the more I wonder if the 22nd Amendment shouldn't be extended to apply to Senators and Representatives.

And shall I give you a little news on the academic front you might like? SIU is hosting a Conservative Diversity Week. Yes, you heard right. An email sent to me by Professor Jonathan Bean has a rundown of what's going on:
On the "Coming Out," here are the panelists. As moderator, I will ask them three questions and then we will have an open Q&A. Here are the questions:

1. Why are you a conservative?
2. What discrimination do you face as a conservative on campus?
3. Do we need more conservative "voices" contributing to "diversity" on campus? (This could open discussion of the silencing or neglect of conservative viewpoints).

PANELISTS (Note, I have removed their emails to protect their privacy)

Jason Arnold -- Ph.d. student, gay conservative.

Johnny Teresi -- USG Vice-President

Warren Bowles -- College Republican officer

Bryan Wise -- African American conservative, recent History graduate, SIU staff.

Bryan Lewis -- Engineering major.

Raul Ayala -- Cuban American businessman, emigre from Castro's Cuba. Formerly on City Council and critic of university's exchanges with Cuba. According to the diversity mantra, SIUC is to reflect the community, which it doesn't do well politically. For that reason, I chose Raul and we are inviting SI columnist, radio show host, and blogger Jim Muir to be the keynote speaker. The SIU College Republicans are also honoring this ex-coal miner-turned-commentator with an award.

Major points (Dr. Bean's):

1. Conservative are a large, unseen and marginalized minority on campus.

2. Conservative students face a "hostile environment" in the classroom, partly due to a complete lack of political diversity among the faculty. To use diversity-speak, conservative students "lack role models," and the few of us here work overtime to be responsive.

3. Conservative students come in every race, color or creed. Minority conservatives report special stigmatization (called "Uncle Toms," etc.). Conservative gays face a similar "double discrimination."

4. The phrase "Coming Out" originated with the gay rights movement. The goal was to make the invisible visible. Conservatives are a large bloc of "invisible men and women."

5. Also inspired by the coming out rhetoric, the slogan of the event might be "we're here, we're Right, get used to it!"
Me, I wish I could make it to SIU for the fun. If anyone's going, send me a report and pictures!

Oh, did I also mention that Ward Connerly is going to be there, the guy who wants race-based preferences to disappear? The guy who just happens to want equal footing when it comes to opportunities? Equality of opportunity, not equality of result and all that? Yes, he's going to be there. That should be quite wild.

As far as sports go, I shall not speak of the loss this Sunday by Indianapolis Colts, nor of how bad things happened the last time they played the Steelers in a playoff game in 1995. Nor shall I speak of how fate once again gave the victory to Pittsburgh. I shall say this, though. In the immortal words of every Chicago Cubs fan out there: WAIT UNTIL NEXT YEAR. NEXT YEAR FOR SURE. Still, though, 14-3 ain't bad.

So, there you go, folks. Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

New posts at Free DePaul

This isn't the Tuesday post proper (as I left the notes I usually write at lunchtime for the Tuesday Post at work, they'll be up tomorrow) but I thought you might like to see what's going on at the Free DePaul blog, online home of Professor Thomas Klocek's history with DePaul's administrators.

The regular Tuesday Post will be a Wednesday Post instead.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Tuesday Post for Jan 10

Some week this past week, hmm? Between Jack Abramoff's difficulties in playing ethically when it comes to lobbying and Tom DeLay's further legal troubles, it's not a great time to be a Republican. We do, however, have some potential items that might help keep a GOP majority this year.

With Rep. DeLay gone as House Majority Leader, a race for the Number 2 spot in the House of Representatives is shaping up between John Boehner of Ohio and Roy Blunt of Missouri. Blunt has experience as the Republican party's Whip (the guy who keeps party members in line during votes, and generally helps to enforce the party leader and/or Speaker's line during votes) but he has the problem of also being a protege if you will, of Rep. DeLay. I think this would be a great time for a more moderate Representative like Ray LaHood to step in, but Ray 's got other ideas, unfortunately. If Ray thinks he can do better out of the spotlight, that's fine. Also, having a Speaker of the House and Majority Leader from the same state just doesn't seem right. It probably doesn't make much difference in reality, but you never know when people will start accusing Illinois Republicans of collusion. Myself, I think we'd do pretty well at maintaining the GOP's core values.

While the House is having a shake-up, the Senate is playing "like what we like or else" with Samuel Alito. Supreme Court justices shouldn't side with any one group to be sure, but their job is to interpret law and determine constitutionality of a subject. That's their job, not to cause trouble with things like the Kelo decision, much less to find new rights like was done in Roe.

Worldwide, I haven't been following much outside of the coverage of Ariel Sharon's medical troubles. Poor guy, that's all I can really say.

That's it for this week. Take care!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

12 miners die, 1 survives - Chicago Sun-Times

This was heartbreaking news to wake up to this morning. After going to bed hoping that all was well, we find that the initial report from CNN was wrong. My sympathy and prayers go out to the families of the miners who have died. The Sago mine staff and owners must work together to investigate the cause of the collapse and take whatever steps are needed to prevent this from happening again. Mining is a dangerous occupation as it is, so any safety improvements that can be made through the coal comapnies must be done. Improving mine safety serves the bottom line by preserving efficient production, and I'd think that would make both workers and management happy. Hopefully the mine owners and United Mine Workers' Association will work together on this.

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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Tuesday Post 2006 edition

Hey hey, all.

This will be a short post, as I really don't have much to write about.

The New Years' festivities were low-key and not altogether bad. Great food.

On the news fronts, I haven't even had a chance to check the papers today for anything good. The major news at the moment seems to be reports on the mine collapse in West Virginia. And what's better, the miners have been rescued. Looking at the ages of the miners as they were flashed across the screens on CNN and Fox today, I think that a lot of the reason for the miners' ability to survive depended on the accumulated knowledge of the mine. Most of those miners were close to retirement age. Here's hoping they all live to see it.

A little red meat for Washington junkies: Lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleads guilty to corruption charges including fraud, tax evasion, and conspiracy to bribe public officials. (registration is required for this article) The Washington Post is playing up his connection to Texas Congressman Tom DeLay (Abramoff's partner in this mess is a former aide to Rep. DeLay), but Abramoff has been plying both parties with money, as I found in November with the issue of Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) using Abramoff's influence to get campaign money from a Central Plains tribe of Indians. Max Baucus, Democrat Senator of Montana (and a long-serving one at that) is also implicated. Jack Abramoff liked having politicians of all stripes in his pocketfrom the looks of this. I hope this will open up more Americans' eyes to the problems with Washington's insulated political culture. We want honest government, but a lot of other people don't. How do we get past this short of running brand new slates of candidates, no incumbents allowed? I have no quick solution for that one, folks.

Oh, wait. Here's some more amusing news of an American and international bent: A boneheaded American teenager of Iraqi descent decided to skip school for a Christmas break vacation to sunny Iraq. The student apparently did this so he could "experience Iraq" for his journalism class. Boneheaded is about the nicest thing I can say at the moment.

In the sports world, the Indianapolis Colts have found themselves with a 14-2 season and a nice view of their playoff opponents. Sure, it wasn't the perfect season I'd hoped for, but it's still very nice. Tony Dungy proves once again he can take a contender and make it nigh-unstoppable. He did the same thing a few years back with Tampa Bay, if you'll recall.

Well, all, I think that's going to be it for me. have a great week, and I'll post again soon.

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