Archive for December, 2009

SAWDUST TRAIL

Thursday, December 31st, 2009 | Uncategorized | 33 Comments

Although there might be a street preacher out there somewhere trying to convince you to attend an RCIA class, Roman Catholics, for the most part, don’t do evangelism as most people undertand that word.  Why not?  Lots of reasons, one of which is that they don’t need to since the Episcopal Organization does such a bang-up job of doing it for them.

FREUDIAN SLIP

Thursday, December 31st, 2009 | Uncategorized | 47 Comments

New Zealand’s Anglican atheist Glynn Cardy, he of the blasphemous billboard, has made it into the pages of the Washington Post:
 
Archdeacon Glynn Cardy said the poster was intended to challenge stereotypes about the virgin birth. His church believes that Jesus had two human parents and was conceived naturally.

“We wanted to say to people who are on the margins: If you want to find out about God and Jesus, you don’t have to hang up your brain, you don’t have to believe in supernatural things. There are Christians who don’t believe God is a being in the sky who directs traffic on Earth,” Cardy said in an interview.

Terry Mattingly thinks that the Post reporter blew the story.

The editors at the Post really needed to ask if Cardy was saying that his church (as in his parish) does not believe in the Virgin Birth or if his Church (as in the Anglican Church in New Zealand) no longer teaches this ancient doctrine.

Either way, the story is that a congregation or a national church in the Anglican Communion put up a rather shocking billboard — at Christmas — attacking ancient doctrines about the Virgin Birth. The heart of the story should consist of Cardy and other members of his parish explaining why they believe what they believe and why they did what they did.

I’m not so sure.  I think this reporter may have unintentionally backed into something vitally important.  Namely, that Glynn Cardy is not out of the mainstream at all; this is precisely what liberal Anglicans the world over believe.

Remember this?  It’s taken from Missouri Episcopal Bishop George Wayne Smith’s address to the 2008 Missouri Diocesan Convention but it’s an idea that I’ve seen articulated again and again.

Then there was the time in Mark’s gospel, when Jesus journeyed into the land of Tyre and Sidon, a creepy, foreign place just next door to his home country, but the kind of place to make a pious Galilean hyper-ventilate.

In truth, pious Galileans would not go into Tyre and Sidon at all, there being Gentile people and all their nauseating Gentile stuff.

But look at Jesus, crossing over into another place, a place where he is not at home, a land of risk and adventure and of “the other.” There he meets a local woman, that Syrophoenician woman. The encounter was transforming for the woman, and not coincidentally, it was transforming for Jesus, who learned some things about himself and his mission that he had not known before.

It happened precisely through that movement which took Jesus beyond his comfort zone, and into a place to encounter “the other.”

Anyone who has read the Gospel of Luke with his or her eyes open knows that the Lord began to understand “My Father’s business” when he was twelve years old.  So the claim that Jesus “learned some things about himself and his mission that he had not known before” only makes sense if George Wayne Smith believes that Jesus of Nazareth was just a regular guy who had a way with words.

The idea that God Incarnate had anything at all to learn from anybody is preposterous.  Unless, of course, you think that that wasn’t actually God Incarnate on that Tyre and Sidon road trip.

Then there’s the Resurrection.  It always seemed to me that liberal Anglicans always seemed to get vague and metaphorical around Easter, as if they were trying to avoid something.  I never seemed to be able to get a straight answer to two questions.

What happened that day?  And why?

What do I mean?  Here are some liberal Anglican attempts to deal with those questions that I’ve picked up here and there.  Kevin Genpo Thew Forrester, unsuccessful candidate for Episcopal Bishop of Northern Michigan:  

As we continue to uphold the BCP, we need to develop prayers and liturgies which tell anew the ancient wisdom of why Jesus is the Christ – because as God’s love incarnate, death can neither contain nor destroy him. Even in the face of Roman crucifixion, Jesus remains constant to the loving God who is eternally faithful to him. For the first Christians, who do not even speak of original sin, Jesus is killed not because God demands it; not because God needs it; not because God delights in it. Jesus is killed because Rome cannot tolerate the uncompromising love of the Incarnate One, manifested in healing and in table fellowship that is radically open to all. The Resurrection reveals that we are one in life with God. The Resurrection reveals that death, even one as horrific as crucifixion, cannot defeat God. Early Eucharistic prayers never mention the crucifixion, because of its inhuman brutality.

Let’s see.  The Roman Empire was so threatened by this really nice guy in probably the most obscure part of their Empire that they put him to death.  And “God” didn’t want it to happen.  That makes even less sense than what George Wayne Smith said above so let’s see what major-league theologian Marcus Borg has to say.

Borg offered the alternative term “participatory sacrificial atonement,” explaining that Christ willingly gave his life as a gift to God, and died because of his love for others (but not in place of them.)

Honey?  I love you so much that I’m going to blow my brains out and leave you all alone in the world.  Maybe Giles Fraser knows what this is all about.

Thinking about the celebration of Holy Week in my new adopted cathedral brings home to me quite how important it is for Christians to insist upon a non-sacrificial reading of the death of Christ. For too long, Christians have put up with a theory of salvation that has at its core the idea that God requires the sacrifice of his own son so that human sin can be cancelled. “There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin,” we will all sing. The fact this is a disgusting idea, and morally degenerate, is obvious to all but those indoctrinated into a very narrow reading of the cross.

No, Jesus is not a blood sacrifice to appease a vicious God. The story is not an endorsement of the idea that sacrifice brings peace with God but an attack on it. “I desire mercy, not sacrifice,” Jesus insists, going on to side with the scapegoats themselves. The Gospel is clear. I am with the hunchback. I am with the one cast out. He became one with the rejected and the cast out. And thus he suffered the same fate. This is not to endorse sacrificial theology but to condemn it.

What’s your take, Peter Elliott, Dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver?

Instead of teaching that the Easter Sunday story is about the literal “resurrection of a corpse,” Elliott said it is a mystical account of “a new experience of God,” something beyond the confines of language.

What about you, Anne Brower?

It happened: we nailed Jesus to the cross. Why? Because order needed to be re-established. Jesus was an unwelcome guest. He was a great social revolutionary. He did unexpected things. He spent his time with the marginal, the prostitutes,the tax collectors; he healed and forgave sins as if he were God; he didn’t fit the role of a king; and he raised people from the dead. He created too much chaos, too much change.

Growing up in the Episcopal Church, I was always told–and still am today–that Christ died for our sins. What does that mean? I can’t get my mind, my heart or my soul around these words. I don’t know what they mean. If he took all our sins upon his shoulder, as the Church tells us, how come we keep sinning? Why didn’t sin die with Christ on the cross?

One thing I know is that sin is committed by oppressors. An oppressor always causes someone to be oppressed. A sinner hurts another in some way. A sinner creates a victim. What is the Church doing about the spiritual well-being of the victim?

The crucified Jesus is a victim–a victim of immense oppression. Total innocence pierced with nails. Suffering so much as to cry out “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” But if Jesus and God are one, God is also on that cross, suffering and crying out for justice and healing.
 
Whatever.
 
Remember Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ?  It was in all the papers.  The Christians who were most upset about that movie were the liberals.  Know why that was?
 
Because Mel Gibson did something immensely threatening to them.  Apart from an artistic embellishment or two, he related what happened during the last few hours of the earthly life of Our Lord.
 
Gibson made you watch the scourging, made you walk the Via Dolorosa, made you watch those nails go into Jesus’ wrists and made you listen to Him scream.  There was no room for metaphor, no room for interpretation, no room for intellectual explanation.
 
Just the facts, ma’am.  The Christians, in whatever denomination they happened to find themselves, who believed that that’s What Actually Happened were fine.  The people who didn’t and still don’t were horrified.
 
Becasue Gibson took you back there and made you watch.  But he also let you see how it all turned out.
 
And that’s what’s intolerable to men like Glynn Cardy and all rest of the the high-church atheists of the Anglican tradition who have come before him or who will follow him.  When men die, they stay dead.  When the Incarnate Son of the Living God dies, He walks out of the tomb.

DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 22 Comments

The Rev. Bryan Owen, Canon for Parish Ministry at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Cathedral, Jackson, Mississippi, has run across another case of an Episcopal church going Genpo:

I probably shouldn’t be surprised, but illegal revision of the Baptismal Rite has happened again, this time at Church of the Holy Trinity in New York City. Beginning with an explanation for the revisions followed by highlights of the revised liturgy, here’s what I learned about what happened from Facebook (I’ve omitted the child’s name):

On the Second Sunday of Advent, Holy Trinity, Manhattan, baptized an infant girl named N., whose parents are from Sri Llanka and whose godparents represented the different world religions of Sri Llanka. One of the godparents, moreover, described himself as an atheist. All of the godparents expressed a commitment to support N. as she followed the Way of the Christ. Working with the parents and godparents, Holy Trinity revised the Presentation and Examination of the Candidate in the Baptismal liturgy of The Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer so that the godparents could answer with authenticity.

Presentation & Examination of the Candidate
N. is blessed by the love and care of godparents whose faith traditions are Buddhism, Christianity and Hinduism. Out of respect for their faith commitments, and with gratitude for their spiritual commitment to N. who will follow the Way of the Christ, the questions posed to the parents and godparents during the examination will be interfaith.

Say it with me.  WELL, OF COURSE IT WILL!!  If you’re squeamish, you might want to bail right now.

Will you support N. and her parents in seeing that the child you present is brought up in the Christian faith and life, and that she will gain a wider understanding of our companions in faith?

Why do you people even bother?

Will you by your thoughts and witness help this child to grow into appreciating this diverse world and a blessed creation?

You can always sleep late.  You can watch football all day.  Yet week after week, you deliberately choose to participate in this meaningless crap.

Do you renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God?

Do you renounce the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God?

Do you renounce all sinful desire that draw you from the love of God?

Do you turn to a spirituality on earth?

I have no idea what that even means.

Do you put your trust in humanity’s grace and love?

The atheist probably wrote that line because I can’t conceive of a more titanically stupid idea.

Do you promise to honor the faith that is in you, serving as a vessel of love

Whatever, sunshine.  I guess the following is the “baptismal formula” they used.

The Father’s splendor clothes the Son with life.
The Spirit’s power shakes the Church of God.
Baptized we live with God the Three in One.
Alleluia!

A new creation comes to life and grows
as Christ’s new body takes on flesh and blood.
The universe restored and whole will sing:
Alleluia! Amen.

I’ve been staring at all this for fifteen minutes now and I’ve got nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  Except all the pity in the world for that poor kid.

Props to Greg Griffith.

JUST PUBLISHED!!

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 17 Comments

How to Run Your Episcopal Diocese into the Ground by Bishop J. Michael Garrison.

CLOSE TO THE EDGE

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 18 Comments

Certain pejoratives sometimes tend to get used far too frequently.  “Racist” probably leads this category although “homophobe,” whatever that might be, is coming hard.  These days “sexist,” once a leftist standard, seems to have become “misogynist.”

So I’m reluctant to toss around terms like that.  But I couldn’t read this sermon by Katharine Jefferts Schori, apparently delivered in both Bethlehem and Washington, DC, without feeling more than a little queasy:

I met an Englishwoman this week, and when I mentioned this service, she told me of her visit to Bethlehem several years ago, and her horror when she saw the wall surrounding that city. She said she can no longer see a manger scene without thinking of that wall, complete with bullet holes and graffiti.

Feeling “horror” at the sight of that wall is pretty much a standard reaction among the left.  Understanding why that wall was erected in the first place never ever seems to enter the mind of the Presiding Bishop or anyone else on her side.  QED, according to Mrs. Schori, murdering Jews is less of a crime than inconveniencing “Palestinians.”

Then Kate actually manages to impress me.

Could Mary and Joseph even get into Bethlehem today? Their donkey would undoubtedly be stopped, examined for explosives, and probably turned away because of its subversive cargo. Today Mary would likely give birth in another cave beyond the city and outside the wall, once again forbidden home and the shelter of family. Yet that very wall is an enduring reminder of human fear and the frantic quest for safety, not unlike Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter.

For pure, unadulterated stupidity coupled with mind-blowing offensiveness, I can’t remember ever reading anything better.  Frank Griswold needed entire sermons to be as idiotic and insulting as that one, single paragraph.

Kate?  If Mary and Joseph, who were both Jews last time I checked, approached Bethlehem today, who would be the ones stopping them?  Who would examine their donkey for explosives?  Who would end up turning them away and forbidding them “home and the shelter of family?”

You guessed it.

I hate having to keep going over this but Mary and Joseph weren’t “forbidden home and the shelter of family” at Bethlehem because they didn’t live in Bethlehem, you dolt.  All the hotels were booked up. 

And they were only there in the first place because a big, centralized government, the kind you seem enthusiastic about, ordered them to make the trip so that they could be enrolled for tax purposes.

Ironic, isn’t it?

You say “the wall is an enduring reminder of human fear and the frantic quest for safety” like that’s a bad thing, Presiding Bishop.  What is wrong with wanting to keep your family or your friends from harm?  Don’t you do that yourself?  Except that in this case, the people wanting to protect themselves and their families and friends are…

Yup.

Once again, that wall was a last resort.  An understandable last resort given the 60 plus years of your neighbors periodically trying to wipe you off the map or kill as many of your citizens as they possibly can as savagely as they possibly can.

Dead Jews don’t matter to you at all, do they, Kate?

DEDICATION

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 44 Comments

This one goes out to anyone who thinks conservative Christians still have a role to play in the Episcopal Organization.  An occasional American Thinker contributer who refers to herself as Robin of Berkeley recently suffered a devastating personal loss.  Both her parents died within three weeks of each other.

As tragedies like this often do, this particular one got Robin thinking about and longing for God.  But where to go?  Robin, a self-described secular Jew, considered returning to a synagogue.  But there was a problem:

Being a secular Jew, my first step should have been a temple. However, the synagogues around [Berkeley, California] are practically recruitment stations for Obama (aside from the Orthodox ones, but I don’t speak a word of Hebrew).

Then Robin considered the Episcopalians.

Checking out churches online, I found almost none that offered political neutrality. Most heralded their progressive credentials, welcoming the transgendered, but not conservatives.
 
I was pleased to find an Episcopal church whose website focused on religion, not ObamaCare. I left a message for the priest that I was looking for a church that didn’t press a political agenda because I wasn’t a liberal.
 
I received an icy reply from the priest, the Reverend Lucy, who said with barely-contained disgust, “I don’t think you should check us out.”
 
Her response left me shaken and angry. I understand that leftists despise conservatives. I have seen that creepy look of pure hatred when I naïvely told a leftist friend about my political conversion.
 
But an Episcopal priest rejecting me during the holiest time of year? Isn’t anything or anyone sacred?
 
Berkeley’s Marc Andrus’ territory.  REALLY great pastoral care ya got goin’ there, M.
 
In a way, you almost have to admire this Reverend Lucy person.  None of this “full spectrum of opinion, despite our differences, we unite around Holy Communion” crap for her.  She knows that her side has won or will very shortly.
 
Nevertheless, it astonishes me that Reverend Lucy didn’t even feel the need to make the attempt.  Back at my old joint, I think it was widely known that I disagreed with the parish leadership on just about everything.
 
We’d have arguments now and then but these never got particularly heated.  And they didn’t happen very often because most of the people who attended my church didn’t think particularly hard about this stuff.
 
Sometimes I’d get invited to off-the-record stuff, most of the time I wouldn’t.  But nobody ever tried to keep me out of parish activities; I played Thomas McKean in the parish production of 1776 a year or two before I decided that I couldn’t do this Episcopal thing anymore.
 
Point being that nobody ever suggested that I take my fundie ass and hit the road.  Webster Groves, Missouri is not Berkeley, California; that’s not how we roll. 
 
And I’ll give the very liberal rector of my parish at the time this much: the best sermon I ever heard him give was the one he gave when my mom died.
 
In fact, it was one of the best sermons I’ve ever heard in my life.  The one and only time during my 48 years at my parish that I felt truly part of a Christian church as Jesus wanted it to be was the day of my mom’s memorial service.
 
And now people like the Reverend Lucy can’t even make themselves pretend anymore.
 
I decided to confront the Reverend Lucy about her un-Christian behavior and challenge her to do better. I e-mailed her the following:  
 
Dear Reverend:
 
I inquired about whether I would feel comfortable at your church because I am not politically liberal.  You left me a message with barely contained hostility.  You stated, ”I don’t think you should check us out.”
 
The fact that you responded to me in such an uncharitable manner makes me terribly sad.  Has politics divided people so much that even a minister will treat someone unkindly for having a different political ideology?
 
In this holiest of seasons, I wish for you a change of heart, an opening of the heart, to those who come to your door.   Because when someone makes a phone call to you — which isn’t easy — they are in need of God.   Don’t you, as a minister, have a sacred duty to respond with God’s infinite love and mercy?  
 
With the blessings of the season, 
 
Robin
 
No, she didn’t write back.

BLOWED UP REAL GOOD

Monday, December 28th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 19 Comments

The Rev. Leo Joseph of St. John’s Episcopal Church of Lakeport, California really gets hacked off when people say Episcopalians aren’t Christian.  So much so that he recently wrote an op-ed about it for the local paper:

It used to be fashionable at cocktail parties, if you wanted to get a chuckle, to quip “to be a good Episcopalian only a slight belief in God is required.”

Since you mentioned cocktail parties, the line actually was, “Wherever you find four Episcopalians, you’ll always find a fifth.”  Carry on.

Others liked to characterize the Episcopal Church as “the country club at prayer” and even assert that we are “not really a Christian church.”

Because you’re…not?

All kidding aside, those of us who are active and devout members of the Episcopal Church know just how untrue those popular perceptions are yet, as an organization and as individuals, we have frankly done little to counter these misconceptions.

But one hell of a lot to encourage them.  If it walks like a duck, Leo. 

For the past quarter century or so it seems that the only time our church get any press is when the word “sex” can be coupled in the headline with the word “church”: “women priests” then “women bishops” and now a woman presiding bishop, along with talk of blessing “same sex marriages,” priests and even a bishop in a “same sex relationships.” (The word “gender” would be more correct, but let’s face it, “sex” sells papers, “gender” doesn’t.)

Well, lah dee dah, Mr. hoity-toity grammar cop.  Is the Episcopal Organization going to have to call a special GenCon in order to make its resolutions state that “genderal orientation/genderal identity” is no bar to ordination?

Will parents now have to sit down with their kids and urge them not to have gender outside of wedlock?  If I marry some really hot woman, will my friend elbow me some time and quietly but leeringly ask me how good the gender is?

But I digress.  Leo goes on to quote Pete Whalon:

The Rt. Rev. Pierre Welte Whalon D.D., the bishop of the Convocation of American Episcopal Churches in Europe (who I had the privilege of meeting at a theological conference in Germany three years ago), noted this in a reflection on the wrap up of General Convention. I’d like to share his words with you all:

“Finally, a very significant theological statement on interreligious dialogue passed the bishops unanimously, and by a large majority in the House of Deputies (with 888 voting deputies, unanimity is extremely rare). For those who wonder about the orthodoxy of our church, here are some excerpts:

Pete then includes a few orthodox-sounding phrases.  Both Pete and Leo believe that this next part clinches their case.

And these paragraphs from Section V are worth quoting in full:

“24. The Christian scriptures proclaim that Jesus is ‘the Word made flesh’ (John 1:14) and as such he is ‘the Way and the Truth and the Life’ (John 14:6). As stated in our creeds (Apostles’, and Nicene) and liturgy, Jesus Christ is the full revelation of God. Since God has chosen to share our life, we affirm that God is intensely concerned about every human life.

You’re getting that vibe, aren’t you?  Wait for it.

Among Christians, Episcopalians have a particular appreciation of this teaching, in that we believe that the coming of God in Christ has already begun to transform all of creation.

Wait for it.

“25. The human response to God’s incarnate love was ‘to crucify the Lord of Glory’ (1 Corinthians 2:8). The cross is the Christian symbol and act of self-emptying, humility, redemptive suffering, sacrificial self-giving and unvanquished love. We believe that we have been reconciled to God through the cross.

Wait for it.

“26. In the resurrection we believe ‘Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and giving life to those in the tomb’ (BCP, p. 483). By our baptism into Christ’s death and resurrection we enjoy new life as members of the Body of Christ, called therefore to become ourselves ambassadors of reconciliation (Romans 6:4; 2 Corinthians 5:14-20).

Now.

“27. Professing salvation in Christ is not a matter of competing with other religious traditions with the imperative of converting one another. Each tradition brings its own understanding of the goal of human life to the interreligious conversation. Christians bring their particular profession of confidence in God’s intentions as they are seen in and through the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

In other words, we claim to profess all that dying-on-the Cross and Resurrection stuff but if you’re not down with all that, believe whatever feels right to you.  One, because it doesn’t really matter either way(many roads to God and all that) and two, because we Christians have a lot to learn from people who flatly deny what we say we believe. 

That, Leo, my man, is what is known as dynamiting your own argument.

MEET THE NEW BOSS

Sunday, December 27th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 10 Comments

Given the white-hot hatred displayed by the radical left and their media enablers toward the previous occupant of the White House and toward conservatives in general [coughPALINcough] as well as the left’s general arrogance and self-righteousness, a little right-wing schadenfreude would be in order right about now.

But I ain’t going there.  Because it’s fascinating to watch the gradual realization among the progressive left that Barack Obama is a Chicago machine hack as well as the most radical president in United States history who has the opportunity to lead this country into a progressive golden age.  But mostly a Chicago machine hack:

When he confronted a world-wide economic collapse not of his making last winter, BHO and his team facilitated the deployment of bailout packages to industries and financial institutions judged “too big to fail.” These bailouts supplemented the TARP monies being disbursed to big banks that had been initiated by his predecessor. Though some market economists decreed that these “too big to fail” enterprises should have been allowed to do just that, the President wisely decided to immediately stop the bleeding in order to avoid catastrophic consequences down the economic “food chain” rather than hew to doctrinaire free market theories.

As banks and markets stabilized, attention turned to getting the consumer economy back on track, with arguments more or less boiling down to laissez faire versus massive government intervention. BHO’s decision to embrace modest stimulus enraged libertarians and conservatives who wanted to let the Free Market reign and disappointed progressive liberals who identified the need for a momentous government employment initiative that would restart and sustain the nation’s economic engine while preparing our infrastructure for the next generation in a changing energy environment.

BHO’s demonstrated personal need to achieve consensus during crisis and his failure to assert bold leadership on economic recovery and employment set the stage for the health care debate. In order to avoid alienating big campaign donors he allowed the playing field to shift to a focus on major health insurers and pharmaceutical companies (with their incestuous big bank brothers and sisters cheering from the sidelines). They were able, with the complicity of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, to exploit BHO’s self-imposed Christmas 2009 deadline and his apparently congenital aversion to conflict (expressed as the goal of a “bipartisan” bill, which he did not achieve anyway!).

Emmanuel believes that no crisis should be wasted (as do I!). One can forgive liberals for thinking that the crises of the last two years presented opportunities for a major overhaul of the economy and regulation (including health care), a new New Deal, an opportunity to serve the public interest. Instead, though, Emmanuel used the moment of opportunity to reward wealthy benefactors in order to ensure the continued employment of the political class. That’s his prerogative of course, but the direct result of his cynicism has been a redefinition downward of any aspirations for a renewed vibrant American middle class.

The Rammer is FireDogLake’s bête noire right about now, so much so that Jane Hamsher, FireDogLake’s founder, and conservative Grover Norquist recently co-signed a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder demanding an investigation into the Rammer’s activities.

We write to demand an immediate investigation into the activities of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. We believe there is an abundant public record which establishes that the actions of the White House have blocked any investigation into his activities while on the board of Freddie Mac from 2000-2001, and facilitated the cover up of potential malfeasance until the 10-year statute of limitations has run out.

The New York Times reports that the administration is negotiating to double the commitments to Fannie and Freddie for a total of $800 billion by December 31, in order to avoid the congressional approval that would be needed after that date. But there currently is no Inspector General exercising independent oversight of these entities. Acting Inspector General Ed Kelly was stripped of his authority earlier this year by the Justice Department, relying on a loophole in a bill Mr. Emanuel cosponsored and pushed through Congress shortly before he left for the White House. This effectively ended Mr. Kelly’s investigation into what happened at Fannie and Freddie.

We recognize that these are extremely serious accusations, but the stonewalling by Mr. Emanuel and the White House has left us with no other redress. A 2003 report by Freddie Mac’s regulator indicated that Freddie Mac executives had informed the board of their intention to misstate the earnings to insure their own bonuses during the time Mr. Emanuel was a director. But the White House refused to comply with a Freedom of Information Act request from the Chicago Tribune for those board minutes on the grounds that Freddie Mac was a “commercial” entity, even though it was wholly owned by the government at the time the request was made.

If the Treasury approves the $800 billion commitment to Fannie and Freddie by the end of the year, it will mean that under the influence of Rahm Emanuel, the White House is moving a trillion-dollar slush fund into corruption-riddled companies with no oversight in place. This will allow Fannie and Freddie to continue to purchase more toxic assets from banks, acting as a back-door increase of the TARP without congressional approval.

Before the White House commits any more money to Fannie and Freddie, we call on the Public Integrity Section in the Justice Department to begin an investigation into the cause of Fannie and Freddie’s conservatorship, into Rahm Emanuel’s activities on the board of Freddie Mac (including any violations of his fiduciary duties to shareholders), into the decision-making behind the continued vacancy of Fannie and Freddie’s Inspector General post, and into potential public corruption by Rahm Emanuel in connection with his time in Congress, in the White House, and on the board of Freddie Mac.

Ms. Hamsher appears to be alluding to this.

The Obama administration pledged Thursday to provide unlimited financial assistance to mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, an eleventh-hour move that allows the government to exceed the current $400 billion cap on emergency aid without seeking permission from a bailout-weary Congress.

The Christmas Eve announcement by the Treasury Department means that it can continue to run the companies, which were seized last year, as arms of the government for the rest of President Obama’s current term.

But even as the administration was making this open-ended financial commitment, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac disclosed that they had received approval from their federal regulator to pay $42 million in Wall Street-style compensation packages to 12 top executives for 2009.

The compensation packages, including up to $6 million each to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s chief executives, come amid an ongoing public debate about lavish payments to executives at banks and other financial firms that have received taxpayer aid. But while many firms on Wall Street have repaid the assistance, there is no prospect that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will do so.

Does any of this actually mean anything?  Does the fact that the Editor of the Midwest Conservative Journal is not using an über-leftist like Jane Hamsher as a punching bag presage some sort of massive political realignment?

No or at least not yet.  For one thing, the differences between us are too vast.  Ms. Hamsher’s side wants single-payer; mine recoils at the idea.  And if we manage to negotiate our way through that minefield, there are the social issues to consider.

There’s at least one way around those but I don’t think anyone’s ready to embrace it yet.  So right now, Ms.  Hamsher’s side and my side are limited as to what we can accomplish.  And once we accomplish it, we will probably split back apart again.

But we can strangle this health-care monstosity in its crib.

WORLD’S GREATEST DELIBERATIVE BODY

Sunday, December 27th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 18 Comments

United States Senator Max Baucus, Democrat, Montana(the state where I was born):

UPDATE: Slapsie Maxie claims that he was not as think as you drunk he was.

EMERGENCY!! EMERGENCY!!

Saturday, December 26th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 16 Comments

James Cameron’s Ego has escaped.  Stay indoors and keep your children indoors.  Move to the lowest and most secure part of your home possible. 

Stay away from windows.  If you are out of doors, seek protection in the lowest space you can.  If you see James Cameron’s Ego approaching, do not panic but turn and slowly walk in the opposite direction. 

Keep tuned to the Emergency Alert System for further information as it becomes available.  Repeating.  James Cameron’s Ego has escaped.

L’ETAT C’EST MOI

Saturday, December 26th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 13 Comments

Barack Obama lets the cat out of the bag:

President Barack Obama on Wednesday expressed frustration with the way the Senate does business, saying the use of delaying tactics there harms the nation’s ability to “deal with big problems in a very competitive world.”

Yeah, sucks having to waste time plowing through all that discussion and debate and having to convince people of things and voting and democracy and crap.  Puts me the country at a real disadvantage.

“Other countries are going to start running circles around us,” Obama said in a White House interview with PBS. “We’re going to have to return to some sense that governance is more important than politics inside the Senate.”

That’s why China’s come so far, you know.  Over there, they can just order laws to go into effect and order people to do stuff which saves a lot of time when you think about it.  Since I’m incredibly awesome and way smarter than just about everybody, I should be able to do that.  It’s the only way to restore my the country’s competitive advantage.

BUYER’S REMORSE?

Friday, December 25th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 11 Comments

Ace sends along word that the Congressional Budget Office believes that one pillar of the Obama Administration’s health care plan is based around a lie an accounting trick:

CBO has been asked for additional information about the projected effects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), the pending health care reform legislation, on the federal budget and on the balance in the Hospital Insurance (HI) trust fund, from which Medicare Part A benefits are paid. Specifically, CBO has been asked whether the reductions in projected Part A outlays and increases in projected HI revenues under the legislation can provide additional resources to pay future Medicare benefits while simultaneously providing resources to pay for new programs outside of Medicare. Our answer is basically no.

The key point is that the savings to the HI trust fund under the PPACA would be received by the government only once, so they cannot be set aside to pay for future Medicare spending and, at the same time, pay for current spending on other parts of the legislation or on other programs. Trust fund accounting shows the magnitude of the savings within the trust fund, and those savings indeed improve the solvency of that fund; however, that accounting ignores the burden that would be faced by the rest of the government later in redeeming the bonds held by the trust fund. Unified budget accounting shows that the majority of the HI trust fund savings would be used to pay for other spending under the PPACA and would not enhance the ability of the government to redeem the bonds credited to the trust fund to pay for future Medicare benefits. To describe the full amount of HI trust fund savings as both improving the government’s ability to pay future Medicare benefits and financing new spending outside of Medicare would essentially double-count a large share of those savings and thus overstate the improvement in the government’s fiscal position.

What’s fascinating here is that many on the left are starting to pick up on this “Obama lied, Grandma died” theme.  Jon Walker at FireDogLake:

The public option was clearly part of [Obama's] campaign plan. His campaign plan also promised a national exchange, drug re-importation, an employer mandate, direct Medicare drug price negotiations, to let you keep your current plan if you like it, and to bring down health care costs by $2,500 per year for a family. The Senate bill will do none of these things.

Obama did promise to not do two very important things with health care reform. He promised to not include an individual mandate and not tax employer-provided health insurance benefits. This Senate bill breaks both of those promises.

At the Huffington Post, Miles Mogulescu is even more scathing.  Barack Obama, allegedly the most far-left president this country has ever had, may have made the left’s goal of nationalized health care impossible to ever achieve.

Democrats and liberals once stood for providing a social safety net through government programs like Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance, which were administered by government employees for the benefit of the American people and not by private companies for the benefit of their shareholders and executives who receive multi-million dollar salaries and bonuses. For over 60 years, they stood for the principal that health care should be a right and not a privilege and that Medicare should be extended to all Americans.

Democrats in Congress, under the leadership of Barack Obama, have now turned that principal on its head and made health care neither a right, nor a privilege, but an obligation for individual citizens and a government-mandated profit center for private corporations. For the first time in American history, Democrats are about to pass a bill that uses the coercive power of the federal government to force every American — simply by virtue of being an American — to purchase the products of a private company. At heart, the Democrats’ solution to 48 million uninsured is to force the them to buy inadequate private insurance — with potentially high deductibles and co-pays and no price controls — or be fined by the federal government.

When it came to health care “reform”, Obama’s strategy was to cut deals with for-profit health care corporations. He cut a deal with big Pharma to continue banning Medicare from negotiating for lower drug prices and to continue banning consumers from buying cheaper drugs from Canada. He cut a deal with the for-profit hospital industry that there would be no effective national public option that might pay them lower rates that the for-profit insurance oligopoly. While he gave mild rhetorical support to the public option, he did nothing to actually fight for it , and, as Russ Feingold has pointed out, Joe Lieberman was really doing Obama’s work in killing it.

As it increasingly appears that Obama is the President of Wall Street, and not the President of Main Street, he is losing not only the left but the center. It’s a myth that the path to winning the popular center in American politics is moving to the corporate center. If the only political choice given to American voters is using their taxes to help big government subsidize wealthy corporations, or the Republican message of shrinking the size of government and cutting their taxes, many who voted for Obama will return to the fold of the seemingly brain-dead Republican Party. Obama will likely face an even more conservative Congress after the 2010 election and even, like Jimmy Carter, could end up as a one-term President.

Mogulescu’s got a good point.  If the Senate bill basically forces Americans to buy health insurance from private corporations with the US government serving as a glorified collection agency, single-payer may never happen.  How can it when senators and congressmen start receiving campaign contribution checks from health insurance companies with lots and lots of zeroes on them?

Rob Sirota reminds some House liberals of a letter they signed a few months back.

“Unacceptable” is a pretty concrete word. When applied to legislation as it is in this letter, it means, um, “not acceptable,” which means not supportable, which means a “no” vote. Sure, lawmakers often vote “yes” on things they deem “not perfect,” “only mediocre” or even “somewhat unacceptable” – but they don’t vote for things they unequivocally call “unacceptable.” To do that is to “flip-flop, “contradict oneself” and/or “lie” – take your pick.

Were we all just expected to somehow know that these 60+ House Democrats were lying when they made this declaration to only deem “acceptable” a bill with a public option? As I noted in a recent newspaper column, I know the Church of the Savvy has been gaining new members among some rank-and-file progressives who simply absolve all lying – as long as the lying comes from Democrats. But it seems to me this would be one helluva whopper to simply swallow. And the fact that the press hasn’t even bothered to ask these House members about this is sickening. Talk about the media doing its part via omission to help create ideological outcomes.

What happens if the progressive Doomsday Scenario comes to pass and Nanner McBotox somehow manages to ram through the Senate bill?  In all likelihood, I think we’d probably see a 2008 in reverse.

That is, the right’s base is fired up, the left’s base, disgusted with the Democratic Party, stays home and Democrats are massacred in 2010.  And for the next two years, every Republican running for office relentlessly ties his or her opponent to the President while every Democrat runs away from Obama as fast as he or she can.

Might Jane Hamsher’s suggestion of the possibility of a left-right coalition to defeat this bill actually come to pass?  Possibly.  But it will do that and nothing else since the goals of left and right regarding health care are not only contradictory but mutually exclusive.

If putting a bullet into the back of the head of this monstrosity provokes a genuine, open, honest, national debate on health care, then all this turmoil will be worth it.  What do we really need?  What are the benefits and drawbacks of this or that idea?  How can we extend coverage to the currently-uninsured?

Had the Obama Administration and congressional Democrats gone this route after the President’s election, they might not yet have a plan in place but they would own the issue.  The fact that they didn’t, the fact that they cobbled something together to ensure themselves plenty of campaign jack for the foreseeable future suggests that they’ve learned nothing.

THE HOUND OF THE INGHAMVILLES

Friday, December 25th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 20 Comments

Editor’s note – One of the things I always dreaded about this time of year was the sermons.  It always seemed to me that Christians, no matter where in the Body of Christ they happened to be, fell all over themselves to be profound, to try to say something Vitally ImportantTM which is always a dreadful thing for any writer to do.  It’s been 2,000 years, there is, as the writer of Ecclesiastes put it, “no new thing under the sun,” and everything worthwhile about Christmas has already been said by people way more interesting than me so instead of trying to say something Vitally ImportantTM about this day myself, I thought I’d just bring out the second part of this nonsense a couple days early and hope that your commemoration of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world is incredible.
 
Merry Christmas!
 
A “Chris Johnson, Anglican Investigator” blast from the past
 
Chapter One
 
Chapter Two – A Dog’s Life

The color drained out of Nicky’s face. “A hound,” I said in a very low voice.

“A giant hound,” Binky replied. “A small horse, according to the witnesses.”

“They all saw this?”

“Yes.”

“And they said nothing to anybody? They didn’t report it?”

“If you saw a giant, snarling, damn-near rabid hound the size of a horse, what would you tell the police?”

I stood up, walked over to the bar, made myself a Manhattan and began pacing around the office. Nicole sat frozen in her chair. “What happened after this…thing left? Did anyone hear a car or a truck pulling away?”

“No. Nothing at all. None of the neighbors noticed anything either.”

“Did anybody see any tracks?”

“They tell me they made a thorough search of the whole area. None were found.” Binky took a huge gulp of Cognac. “Those folks need you, Chris. They can’t pay you anything but they did spring for a couple of plane tickets.”

I caught Nicky’s eye as she slowly nodded. So much for my vacation. “Use ‘em, Binks. Both of you.”

“Why me?” Binky asked.

“Nicky’s going to need contacts. The two of you find out what you can. Get us a room at the Sheraton, Nick. Get one for Binky too and put it on the company tab.

“And take separate cabs from the airport or rent two cars. I don’t want to take any chances. I’ll join you in a couple of days.”

“Where are you going?” Nicole asked.

“Toronto. I have to see a woman about a dog.”

Next morning, I caught a flight to Toronto. Early that afternoon, I was sitting in Damian Penny’s, the seediest dive on Yonge Street, knocking back high-end Crown Royals as fast as the bartender could pour them.

A woman wearing sunglasses and dressed entirely in black came in, stared at me briefly and continued to a corner table. The crowd in the bar was stunned; all around me, I could hear people murmuring, “It’s her. My God, it’s her. Got a camera?”

I turned to the bartender and held up two fingers.  “Two more.”

“You…you…know her?” he asked in a whisper.

“For years and years.” Then I paid up with my usual excessively generous tip, took the drinks over to the woman’s table, handed her one and sat down. “Shaidle,” I said quietly.

“Johnson. You sure know how to show a girl a good time.” She sipped her drink and frowned. “Crown Royal? You couldn’t spring for a 18-year-old Glenmorangie? At least a Maker’s Mark, for crying out loud.”

I nodded toward a clock on the wall. “Canadian content, kid.”

“Damn Liberals.” She took another sip. “So what brings you to town?”

“New Westminster.” Shaidle didn’t say anything but I could tell she was suddenly very nervous. She stared intently into her whiskey, slowly rotating her glass, as I quickly laid out the case for her.

“A trained dog? Doesn’t sound like Ingham’s MO,” Kathy pensively said. “Doesn’t sound like him at all. Unless…”

“Unless what?

It took her a long time to get this out. “Ever heard the legend?”

“What legend?”

“The part of the Anglican Prayer Book that they don’t let the laity see.”

“Yeah, I’ve heard it. But I’m a private investigator. I deal in facts.”

“I know that. But the world’s a whole lot more complicated than you realize.” Shaidle drained her glass. “Be careful, will you? Ingham’s influence is everywhere these days. He practically owns the CBC.”

“You know me, kid. I’m always careful.” I downed the last of my Crown Royal. “Tell you what. I’ll let you give me a ride to the airport.”

“Love to but I can’t risk it. That’s how things are here.”

“I hear you. Tell Arnie hello for me.”

I took a cab to the airport and stood at the Air Canada counter. “Got any flights to Vancouver?” I asked the excited attendant.

“Yes sir, Mr. Johnson. We have a first-class seat on a direct flight that leaves in a few minutes. But we’ll waive security and hold the flight for you.”

“Got anything with a connection? I’ve got all kinds of time and I’d love to see some of your lovely country.”

Baffled, the woman consulted her computer. “Well, we’ve got one that stops in Regina but it’s coach, it doesn’t leave for another hour and the layover means you won’t get into Vancouver until this evening.”

“I’ll take it.”

After the plane landed at Regina, I bought myself a couple of Saskatchewan Roughriders T-shirts and a substantial bottle of Crown Royal, had some of Saskatchewan’s world-famous cuisine for dinner and got back on the plane, arriving at Vancouver about 6:30. As I walked through the spacious terminal toward baggage claim, a man approached.

It was Neale Adams, Mike Ingham’s publicity flack. “Mr. Johnson!” he exclaimed in a voice that couldn’t have been more fake if he was reading a script. “What a pleasant surprise!”

“What can I do for you, Neale?” I asked as the baggage arrived.

He seemed momentarily surprised that I recognized him. “What in the world are you doing in Vancouver?”

“A little vacation. I’ve never seen your lovely city before. You?”

“I live here. And I’m, uh, just back from an…Anglican communication directors conference. The one that was in Charleston.”

“South Carolina is beautiful, isn’t it?”

“It sure is. Where are you staying?”

“The downtown Sheraton.” I picked up my bag.

“Nice digs. I’ll be happy to give you a lift. It’s right on my way.”

“I appreciate it, Neale. But I’ve made other arrangements.”

“The car rental places are all that way.”

“Thanks a lot.”

I walked off in the direction Neale indicated. Then as soon as I was out of his sight(which wasn’t hard; Anglicans are easy to lose even if you’re not as good at this as I am), I headed down a side aisle, doubled back and left by an entrance at the other end of the airport. Did Neale really think I was that stupid?

Near the airport, I could see a row of hotels. I found a Quality Inn that had a vacancy, checked in and took a shower. Then I picked up the phone and dialed Nicky’s room at the Sheraton Wall Centre in downtown Vancouver. “Where are you?” she demanded.

“At a Motel 6 by the airport.”

“Damn it, Chris, you told me to get rooms here and I already got us…you’re at a Motel 6?”

Nicole was getting really good at this stuff, I proudly thought. “Yeah. You and Binky get over here as fast as you can. Room 123 and step on it.”

“Why?”

“The two of you were spotted. Ingham knows we’re here.”

Next week – Kibbles and Bits

WITH EVERYTHING

Thursday, December 24th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 33 Comments

Most people know that as far as the Episcopal Organization is concerned, you can boink anyone or anything you care to.  But mark my words; the Episcopalians will, sooner rather than later, determine that eating meat is as vile a sin as “homophobia” or racism

Livestock are already well-known to contribute to GHG[Greenhouse gas -Ed] emissions. Livestock’s Long Shadow, the widely-cited 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), estimates that 7,516 million metric tons per year of CO2 equivalents (CO2 e), or 18 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions, re attributable to cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, camels, horses, pigs, and poultry. That amount would easily qualify livestock for a hard look indeed in the search for ways to address climate change. But our analysis shows that livestock and their byproducts actually account for at least 32,564 million tons of CO2e per year, or 51 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions.

If that’s true, then the only environmentally-responsible thing for all of you to do is to have a Hardee’s Monster Thickburger for lunch.  If you can’t get one of those, get two or three of any other bacon/burger combination that appeals to you.

Not only will two animals instead of just one(a pig and a cow) have died to provide you with lunch, you will have shortened your own life span, you despicable, repulsive, carbon dioxide-exhaling bastard, you.

There’s just one small problem.  If enough of you have Monster Thickburgers for lunch tomorrow, farmers will keep raising more cows and pigs to make more Monster Thickburgers out of.  Money tends to do that to people.

So what do we do?  Kill them all?  The animal rights people would scream.  Letting all those cows and sheep and pigs and chickens and whatnot fend for themselves would seem to be the best option.

There’ll be complications of course.  The odd wild boar attack now and then.  Your commute to work being delayed by herds of wild cows or sheep.  Having to clean the chicken droppings off your deck before your hoity-toity party.

But if you want to make an omelette and all that.

BARRY?

Thursday, December 24th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

People call you a socialist all the time so I thought you might find this interesting:

China will unveil a package of business-tax reductions next year to help the economy, according to news reports Thursday.

The tax authority also plans to lower taxes on the service industry and high-tech companies, the reports said.

China, Barry.  The last really badass commies left.  Just sayin’, Barry.

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