Monday, September 22, 2014

Words of Relevance: Anthony Esolen on The Illusion of Neutrality

Anthony Esolen, professor of English at Providence College, and prolific writer and translator, wrote a timely essay recently which first appeared on Public Discourse, and today was reprinted, with permission, on Crisis Magazine.  You can read the entire essay HERE.

Esolen makes the case for the deconstruction of the Liberal dictum that "the State must remain neutral as regards religion or irreligion."  He provides "two more fundamental reasons for rejecting the dictum.  One is that it is not possible.  The other is that it is not conceivable, even if it were possible.  It is a contradiction in terms." He goes into depth explaining the contradictions inherent in remaining "neutral" on important matters, and leaves us with a memorable quote concerning the "neutral position" regarding abortion.

Here's the quote:
You cannot say, as liberals try to say, that you will allow abortion for people inclined to procure one, and then pretend that that too is to remain blissfully neutral and tolerant, no more than if you tried to say that you would allow infanticide for parents who decide, after all, that the diapers are too messy, or the baby too ugly or too sickly or handicapped. A society that allows some people to kill babies is a society that does not protect babies, period.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Words of Relevance: "Mad Dog" Mattis on Telegraphing Plans to the Enemy

James "Mad Dog" Mattis is a retired United States Marine Corps general, who last served as the 11th commander of United States Central Command.  He retired (or was retired) in August 2010.

He testified this past Thursday before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and in his usual fashion did not mince words.  His testimony, part of which was published in today's Wall Street Journal, could be judged a rebuke to the commander-in-chief's penchant for displaying a level of ignorance about waging war thankfully never before observed in someone of that rank.  He addressed the lack of clarity on the part of the current administration regarding the strategy needed to be employed against our latest existential threat.

Here's the quote:
Whichever strategy is chosen, we should be reticent in telling our adversaries in advance any timeline that governs us or which of our capabilities we will not employ.  Specifically, if this threat to our nation is determined to be as significant as I believe it is, we may not wish to reassure our enemies in advance that they will not see American "boots on the ground…"

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Words of Relevance: Jeane Kirkpatrick's Prescience and ISIS

Jeane Duane Kirkpatrick (1926-2006) served our country in many capacities before becoming the first woman to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

If we were ever fortunate to have the likes of a Margaret Thatcher serve in our government, it would have been Jeane Kirkpatrick.  To stay with the British meme, her prescience had to rival that of Winston Churchill who was the only man on the planet warning of the coming threat of Nazi Germany in 1934.

A quote from the Introduction to Kirkpatrick's book:   Making War To Keep Peace, published in 2007, a year after her death, provided an example of her prescience and served as a warning of the coming of a threat such as ISIS.

Here's the quote:
We have had ample opportunity in this century of wars and revolutions to observe what happens when violent elites, who espouse coercive ideologies, gain access to the resources of states.  They start with murder and denial of freedom in their own states, and move on to war, which may spill over to their neighbors and sometimes to genocide.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Words of Relevance: Bishop Emil Shimoun Nona on Muslim Immigration

Bishop Emil Shimoun Nona is the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Mosul in the northern part of Iraq.  He was mentioned this week in a piece at Crisis magazine by William Kilpatrick, entitled: Islam, Immigration and the Importance of Culture.

Kilpatrick opens his essay by referring to recent remarks by the Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane, Mark Coleridge, condemning the barbarism of the Islamic State.  Kilpatrick noted that Coleridge "for some reason felt compelled to add: It has nothing to do with real Islam….”  He then provides an insightful quote from someone much closer to the evil: Bishop Emil Shimoun Nona, the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Mosul.  

The Bishop of Mosul warned European and Western Christians that they “will also suffer in the near future” because…

Here's the quote:

"you are welcoming in your countries an ever-growing number of Muslims…. You think all men are created equal, but that is not true: Islam does not say that all men are created equal. Your values are not their values. If you do not understand this soon enough, you will become the victims of the enemy you have welcomed in your home."

Monday, September 8, 2014

Words of Relevance: President Coolidge on Budgeting

John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. served as the 30th president of the United States, from 1923 to 1939.  He was known as "Silent Cal" probably because in his own words he was "never sorry for something (he) never said."  He was thought by some to be overly concerned with the budget, and maybe he was, but wouldn't we be better off if that attitude would once again rear its head in our nation's capital?

He spoke often of the necessity of government to operate as frugally as possible, but one particular quote made to a group of Jewish philanthropists around 1925 summarizes his entire philosophy concerning his strong feelings about budgeting for the nation.

Here's the quote:
"The budget idea, I may admit, is a sort of obsession with me.  I believe in budgets. I want other people to believe in them.  I have had a small one to run my own home; and besides that, I am the head of the organization that makes the greatest of all budgets, that of the United States government.  Do you wonder, then, that at times I dream of balance sheets and sinking funds, and deficits, and tax rates, and all the rest?  I regard a good budget as among the noblest monuments of virtue."

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Words of Relevance: President Reagan on Foreign Policy Strategy

While the world struggles to learn something, anything, that will shed light on the foreign policy strategy of America's current administration, we should always remember there was no such ambiguity during the white house tenure of Ronald Reagan.  Characterized by intellectuals as overly simplistic, it nevertheless worked to perfection.  When asked to state his strategy on ending the cold war, President Reagan kept his reply short and, yes, simple.

Here's the quote:
“Here’s my strategy on the Cold War: We win; they lose.”

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Words of Relevance: Bret Stephens on Hillary and Political Opportunists

Bret Stephens, deputy editor of the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal wrote an interesting piece today questioning whether Hillary Clinton's self-reinvention  as a foreign-policy hawk is Kierkegaardian or Aristotelian, i.e., "Is the real 'you' the interior and subjective you; the you of your private whispers and good intentions?  Or are you only the sum of your public behavior, statements and actions?  Are you the you that you have been, and are?  Or are you what you are, perhaps, becoming?"  He then, perhaps, answers his own question by providing his definition of a political opportunist.

Here's the quote:
The political opportunist always lacks the courage of his, or her, convictions.  That's not necessarily because there aren't any convictions.  It's because the convictions are always subordinated to the needs of ambition and ingratiation."

Monday, August 11, 2014

Words of Relevance: Friedrich Hayek on "Social Justice"

There is a whole chapter in Roger Kimball's important book: The Fortunes of Permanence on the writings of Friedrich Hayek.  In it Kimball, before getting to Hayek's view of "weasel words," offers this:
A weasel was once said to be able to empty an egg without leaving a mark, and "social" is in this sense a "weasel word": a phonetic husk with only an echo of meaning.   
Here's a quote from Hayek on the use of "social" followed by a hyphen:  
It is..."increasingly turned into an exhortation, a sort of guide-word for rationalistic morals intended to displace traditional morals, and now increasingly supplants the word 'good' as a designation of what is morally right." 
Kimball goes on:
"Think only of the odious phrase "social justice."  What it means in practice, is de facto injustice, since it operates by enlisting the legal machinery of justice in order to support certain predetermined ends."

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Words of Relevance: Owen Paterson and "The Green Blob"

That's Owen Paterson, who recently left his post as British secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs.  He was not a big favorite of the green lobby, because he never bought into their  hysteria (which made many of them very rich).  Today's quote is from a piece he wrote in The Telegraph last month (reprinted today in the Wall Street Journal).  It could be said he left his post 'not with a whimper, but a bang.'

Here's the quote:
It has been a pleasure to take on the challenges of the rural economy and environment.  However, I leave the post with great misgivings about the power and irresponsibility of - to coin a phrase - the Green Blob.
By this I mean the mutually supportive network of environmental pressure groups, renewable energy companies and some public officials who keep each other well supplied with lavish funds, scare stories and green tape.  This tangled triangle of unelected busybodies claims to have the interests of the planet and the countryside at heart, but it is increasingly clear that it is focusing on the wrong issues and doing real harm while profiting handsomely. 
Paterson's relationship with the green lobby was never cordial as can be surmised by this addendum to his above remarks:
I soon realized that the greens and their industrial and bureaucratic allies are used to getting things their own way.  I received more death threats in a few months at [the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] than I ever did as secretary of state for Northern Ireland. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Words of Relevance: Eric Hoffer on Israel & The Double Standard

Eric Hoffer, is quoted in today's Wall Street Journal from the biography written by Tom Bethell: "Eric Hoffer: The Longshoreman Philosopher."

The quote is from 1968, but, as is true of most memorable and insightful quotes, is as relevant today as when first uttered. Hoffer discusses the double standard with which the world has always judged Israel and the Jews.  The Journal published a fairly lengthy excerpt from Bethell's biography, but this post will highlight only that which is the most timely given the current state of affairs in the Middle East.

Here's the quote:
The Jews are a peculiar people: things permitted to other nations are forbidden to the Jews.
Others drive out thousands, even millions of people and there is no refugee problem.  Russia did it, Poland and Czechoslovakia did it.  Turkey drove out a million Greeks and Algeria a million Frenchman.  Indonesia threw out heaven knows how many Chinese - and no one says a word about refugees.
But in the case of Israel, the displaced Arabs have become eternal refugees.  Everyone insists that Israel must take back every single Arab.  Arnold Toynbee calls the displacement of the Arabs an atrocity greater than any committed by the Nazis. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Words of Relevance: ACOG & The Right of Conscience

From a post by Wesley J Smith at "First Things."

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) published an ethics-committee opinion denying its members the right of conscience against abortion:

The first important consideration in defining limits for conscientious refusal is the degree to which a refusal constitutes an imposition on patients who do not share the objector’s beliefs. One of the guiding principles in the practice of medicine is respect for patient autonomy, a principle that holds that persons should be free to choose and act without controlling constraints imposed by others. . . . Respect for autonomy has particular importance in reproductive decision making, which involves private, personal, often pivotal decisions about sexuality and childbearing.

One might be tempted to contrast the above with this quote from the original Hippocratic Oath:
"I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art."
Hippocrates, though, has fallen out of favor with our medical schools as evidenced by the removal of the above quote from the current version of the "Hippocratic Oath."  For more on the changes, go HERE:

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Words of Relevance: Flannery O'Connor on "Success"

Flannery O'Connor, who has been called the most important Catholic writer of the 20th century by Fr. Robert Barron, called herself a "hillbilly Thomist."  Her short stories were considered shocking by many, but when scrutinized were found to have deep Catholic messages.  She has been quoted as describing her Catholic faith as follows: "I am a Catholic not like someone else would be a Baptist or a Methodist, but like someone else would be an atheist."

Today's quote from her summarizes her view of success, and the role it will play in the final judgment.

Here's the quote:
We are not judged by what we are basically.  We are judged by how hard we use what we have been given.  Success means nothing to the Lord."