Sunday, December 14, 2014

Words of Relevance: Hannah Arendt on Public Opinion

Hannah Arendt, one of the most influential political philosophers of the twentieth century wrote many famous books.  Among them: The Origins of Totalitarianism, On Revolution, The Human Condition, and Eichmann in Jerusalem in which she coined the phrase: The Banality of Evil.

In On Revolution she compared and contrasted the American and French revolutions.  She called the French revolution a disaster; the American revolution, a success.  She posited the French turned from their original goal of freedom and instead concentrated on "compassion for the masses."  Today's quote is from that work, and its relevance to today should be easily discernible to the reader.

Here's the quote:
Since no one is capable of forming his own opinion without the benefit of a multitude of opinions held by others, the rule of public opinion endangers even the opinion of those few who may have the strength not to share it. ... This is the reason why the Founding Fathers [of the United States] tended to equate rule based on public opinion with tyranny; democracy in this sense was to them but a newfangled form of despotism...

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Words of Relevance: Daniel Henninger on Mobs

That's Daniel Henninger, deputy editorial page director of The Wall Street Journal, who today surely encapsulated the thoughts of millions of law abiding citizens in the opening sentences of his regular weekly column entitled today: Mobs of New York.  Everything Henninger writes is relevant, but today's quote is perhaps the most succinctly relevant thing yet said on this topic.

Here's the quote:
How did we get to the point in the United States where street protesters are treated as saintly figures?  How did it happen that important public leaders - the American president, the mayor of New York, college presidents - feel obliged to legitimize these protests, no matter what they do to a city, its citizens or owners of private property?  Why is it that the leaders of America's most important institutions are no longer capable of recognizing a mob when they see one?
There is, of course, an obvious answer.  It concerns the "leaders" mentioned above and it comes from the infamous Butch Cassidy: Who are those guys? and, more importantly, who voted for them?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Words of Relevance: Irving Berlin: God Bless America

Irving Berlin (1888-1989), about whom George Gershwin is quoted as saying:

"I want to say at once that I frankly believe that Irving Berlin is the greatest songwriter that has ever lived.... His songs are exquisite cameos of perfection, and each one of them is as beautiful as its neighbor. Irving Berlin remains, I think, America's Schubert. But apart from his genuine talent for song-writing, Irving Berlin has had a greater influence upon American music than any other one man. It was Irving Berlin who was the very first to have created a real, inherent American music…." 

He gave us such memorable musical hits as: "White Christmas," "Puttin on the Ritz," "How Deep is the Ocean," "Say it with Music," "Always," and so many others. 

He is probably remembered most fondly for his "God Bless America,"
written in 1918 and revised by him in 1938.  The opening lyrics of that great song make up today's quote, and one has to wonder whether the speech police would permit the public singing of such "controversial" lyrics today given the mention of prayer and God.

Here's the quote:
While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that's free. Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
 As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer.
God bless America, Land that I love. Stand beside her and guide her Through the night with a light from above. From the mountains, to the prairies, To the oceans, white with foam, God bless America, my home sweet home. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Words of Relevance: Marc-Antoine Charpentier: Te Deum in D

This arrangement of Te Deum by the French composer,   Marc-Antoine Charpentier, is a perfect way to celebrate Thanksgiving Day.

Thanks to Rorate Caeli for posting.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Words of Relevance: Edward C. Banfield and the Ferguson Riots

Edward C. Banfield (1916-1999), one of the leading political scientists of his time is quoted in the Wall Street Journal today.  The quote is from his great book: The Unheavenly City, which was published in 1970.  His words are relevant today in view of what has happened the last few days in Ferguson, Missouri.  The quote, which is a little lengthy but well worth reading, appeared in the Notable & Quotable section of today's paper.

Here's the quote:
The rioters knew they had little or nothing to fear from the police and the courts. Under the pressure of the civil rights movement and of court decisions and as the result of the growing ‘professionalism’ of police administrators . . . the patrolman’s discretion in the use of force declined rapidly after the war. At the same time courts were lenient with juvenile offenders. ‘Tough kids’ had always attacked policemen when they got the chance, but by the 1960’s the amount of toughness required was not very great, for in most cities it became more and more apparent that a policeman who shot a boy would be in serious trouble. Not being able to use force, the police could not effectively use the threat of it. It was not uncommon for a gang of boys to disarm and beat a policeman who, following orders, would not use his gun against them. During a riot, the police were especially ineffective—because their offenses were not very serious, most rioters could not be successfully threatened; the only thing that could be done with them was to take them into custody, and this was something the police were seldom numerous enough to do. Sometimes the police had to stand by and allow looting to go on before their eyes. This, of course, increased the tempo of the rioting.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Words of Relevance: Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks on Marriage

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, former chief rabbi of the United Kingdom, gave perhaps the most inspiring speech this past Monday at the Humanum colloquium on complementarity in Rome.  The colloquium was a "three-day gathering of scholars and religious leaders from numerous countries and faiths" focusing on the theme “The Complementarity of Man and Woman.” It was sponsored by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The colloquium concentrated on marriage between one man and one woman, and so was, and will be, excoriated by the sodomite lobby.  Without addressing that lobby or what it stands for, Rabbi Sacks spoke eloquently about "what he calls the “seven key moments, each of them surprising and unexpected” by which we can track the development of the institution of marriage."  (quotes are from Catherine Harmon at CWR)

The full text of his speech, as posted by Austen Ivereigh in Rome, can be found HERE.

The full text is something to be read when time permits, but in the meantime one particular quotes stands out.

Here's the quote:
[Our] compassion for those who choose to live differently should not inhibit us from being advocates for the single most humanising institution in history. The family, man, woman, and child, is not one lifestyle choice among many. It is the best means we have yet discovered for nurturing future generations and enabling children to grow in a matrix of stability and love.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Peggy Noonan: Obama & Mealy-Mouthed Filibustering

Peggy Noonan, who has occasionally worked both sides of the street since her days as a Reagan speechwriter, perfectly captured the essence of Barack Obama in a piece she wrote recently for the Wall Street Journal.  The piece was entitled "The Loneliest President Since Nixon," and today's quote, taken from it, will raise a chuckle in the mind of anyone who has been paying attention to the president during his not perfectly scripted interviews.

Noonan writes: I mentioned last week that the president has taken to filibustering, to long, rambling answers in planned sit-down settings—no questions on the fly walking from here to there, as other presidents have always faced. The press generally allows him to ramble on, rarely fighting back as they did with Nixon. But I have noticed Mr. Obama uses a lot of words as padding. He always has, but now he does it more. There’s a sense of indirection and obfuscation. You can say, “I love you,” or you can say, (and here's the quote)
“You know, feelings will develop, that happens among humans and it’s good it happens, and I have always said, and I said it again just last week, that you are a good friend, I care about you, and it’s fair to say in terms of emotional responses that mine has escalated or increased somewhat, and ‘love’ would not be a wholly inappropriate word to use to describe where I’m coming from.”

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Words of Relevance: MIT Professor Jonathan Gruber on The Stupidity of American Voters

That's Jonathan Gruber, professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and one of the architects of Obamacare.  By now most of the world knows of his candid - and honest - explanation of  how the Obama administration was able to get the (not so) Affordable Care Act passed.

His explanation provides a most interesting look behind the scenes at what was supposed to be the most transparent administration in our nation's history.

Here's the quote:
“This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay, so it’s written to do that.  In terms of risk-rated subsidies, if you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in – you made explicit healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed… Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical for the thing to pass…" 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Words of Relevance: G.K. Chesterton on Tradition

G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936), one of the most prolific writers of his time, who wrote in virtually every genre employed during that era, had something very important to say about a topic that has taken front stage today: Traditional vs Modern.

Those who hold to Tradition today are called Conservatives, and those who oppose tradition are called Modernists or Progressives.  One can easily find support from a host of people for either of those positions, but Chesterton spoke eloquently in support of the position adhered to by Conservatives.

Here's the quote:
Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors.  It is the democracy of the dead.  Tradition refuses to submit to that arrogant oligarchy who merely happen to be walking around.  

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Words of Relevance: Jonathan Swift on Lack of Reason

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), one of the most eloquent writers of his time, wrote many things that are relevant today, especially concerning politics, politicians, and the people who vote for them.  With the just concluded mid-term elections, many voters are scratching their heads trying to understand, for instance, how anybody who values life could have voted for a politician who has promised time and time again that he or she steadfastly and forever will support a mother's "right" to kill her child.

How does one convince the supporter of such a politician that there is no such "right" in our Constitution or anywhere else?  Swift saw the hopelessness of trying to sway that supporter toward righteousness, and made his feelings very clear.

Here's the quote:
“It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.”

Friday, October 31, 2014

Words of Relevance: Kate Bachelder: Top 10 Liberal Superstitions

That's Kate Bachelder, assistant editorial features editor of the Wall Street Journal.

She wrote an important piece today in the Journal, in which she lists the Top 10 superstitions, or myths, of the Liberal establishment, all of which are important to remember in these final days of the 2014 campaigning.

Herewith the list, which will serve as today's quote:
(1) Spending more money improves education.
(2) Government spending stimulates the economy.
(3) Republican candidates always have a big spending advantage over Democrats.
(4) Raising the minimum wage helps the poor.
(5) Global warming is causing increasingly violent weather.
(6) Genetically modified food is dangerous.
(7) Voter ID laws suppress minority turnout.
(8) Obamacare is gaining popularity.
(9) The Keystone XL pipeline would increase oil spills.
(10) Women are paid 77 cents on the dollar compared with men. 
Bachelder makes her compelling case for each of the above listed superstitions in her article, which you can read by clicking HERE.  (subscription required)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Words of Relevance: Fr. George Rutler: The Secularist and Islam

Father George Rutler wrote today at Crisis Magazine an essay entitled: Mad Intelligence: The Secularist Response to Islam.  In the essay, Fr. Rutler has nothing good to say about "public thinkers," who he says have been usurped by practical atheists who are politely styled "secularists.” He goes on: Essentially, the secularist is not without religion: rather, he has made a religion of politics and wealth, and rejects any religion that worships anything else...Secularists play down Islamist atrocities because they seek to eradicate the graceful moral structure that can turn brutes into saints.  Heinous acts are sometimes dismissed as “workplace violence.”  

Fr. Rutler explains why the secularists do not see the world as it is: The secularist makes a religion of irreligion, and is different from the saints who are “in this world but not of it” because the secularist is of the world but not rationally in it. This explains why the secularist’s solutions to the world’s ills are so destructive.  Today's quote provides an example of the destructive irrationality of the secularists.

Here's the quote:
There even are those in high places who pretend that Islamic militants are not Islamic and foster the delusion that false gods will not demand sacrifices on their altars.