Thursday, December 31, 2009

Rover Film Review: Avatar



Avatar

Directed By: James Cameron (Titanic, True Lies, Terminator)
Starring: Sam Worthington (Terminator Salvation)
Zoe Saldana (Guess Who, Star Trek)
Sigourney Weaver (Baby Mama, Alien)
Stephen Lang (Gettysburg, Public Enemies)

Rating: PG-13 (intense epic battle sequences and warfare, sensuality, language and some smoking).
Running Time: 162 mins.

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%

Review:
Imagine if you had the best painter in the world, someone who could invoke emotions with his art unlike anyone else in the history of mankind. And you've gotten him to illustrate a book for you. Exciting prospect, right? Just one issue, the book is "See Spot Run". That's James Camerons's Avatar .

I saw this movie in 3-D and would recommend it in that medium as well as IMAX if you can. It's beautiful, the planet Pandora comes to life in vivid colors, the insects feel real, and, if the alien creatures looked like anything remotely terrestrial, the film would feel more life-like than any other production in history. Even with the strange creatures, one can imagine an entirely new ecosystem inhabiting a strange and beautiful world.

This realistic environment is shown in the midst of banal plot which turns Avatar into Dancing with Alien Pocahontas. Marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) comes to Pandora, intergrates with aliens under the tutelage of scientist Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) with a recon mission ordered by his commander ( Stephen Lang ). He becomes part of the alien tribe, falls for the girl ( Zoe Saldana ), and rallies them to defeat the evil humans bent on destroying them and their peaceful way of life.

Besides the heavy-handed liberal agenda which permeates the film, Avatar seems like a retread of so many other films, it drags unmercifully on and on for over two and half hours. The stereotype of the evil corporation, the gun-ho marine, and the peaceful indigenous are central to the plot, draining any originality from the story. In the end, James Cameron gives us a beautiful piece of art, but the story fails to live up to the visuals.

We have a film worthy of being seen in the theaters, but unwatchable a second time, in my opinion. I say this as the Avatar has now grossed 600 million dollars world-wide, so maybe I'm wrong. Regardless, I hope that one day this same technology can be applied to a script and story that more fully fulfills the promise of the beautiful artwork and imaginative production James Cameron has brought to the screen after nearly ten years.

5/5(visual) + 2/5 (story) = 3.5/5.

Rover Film Review: Up in the Air



Up in the Air

Directed By: Jason Reitman (Juno, Thank You for Smoking)
Starring: George Clooney (O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Solaris)
Vera Farmiga (The Departed, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas)
Anna Kendrick (Twilight, New Moon)

Rating: R (Language and some sexual content.)
Running Time: 109 Minutes

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%

Review:
Jason Reitman's Up in the Air is a quiet movie. The sounds are those of conversation, quiet hotels, and plane flights. Ultimately, it conveys a good message but one in a film that is not for everyone.

Ryan Bingham ( George Clooney ) fires people for a living. He's constantly on the move and unconnected to his 'home', his family, anyone. Over the course of the film, he encounters two people, Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga) and Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick) who challenge his smug detachment from humanity.

The film ends on a sad note, perhaps, and continues one major twist near the end, but ultimately provides some moral fiber. Bingham progresses from a selfish, narcissistic traveler to a relatively decent human being. The audience is lead towards concepts of what and who really matters in one's life. In the end, the human spirit of community is portrayed successfully.

Overall, it's an excellent film, with great acting and directing. However, for those expecting a Michael Bay or, even, Michael Mann film - one filled with action, excitement, explosions or even steady dialogue - Up in the Air will be a disappointment. For those wanting a first-class ride, Jason Reitman doesn't disappoint, building upon his excellent Juno and Thank You for Smoking.

4/5

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all of our readers and supporters!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bias

An amazingly biased article on abortion and the health care bill can be found here: http://apnews.myway.com/article/20091219/D9CMCH600.html.

Wow.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Top 5 Albums of the Year

IMO, here are the Top Five Albums of the Year (2009):

5. Kid Cudi: "Man on the Moon"


A great hip-hop album from a rising star. The flow is great with largely mature, thoughtful lyrics. Beats are fun and fresh, while guest appearances don't overwhelm but add just the right spice.

Sample Track:"Make Her Say" ft. Kanye West and Common
For fans of: Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, Common, Lady GaGa.


4. Great Northern: "Remind Me Where the Light Is"


The second album from one of my new favorite bands. Great Northern combines female and male vocals for uplifting, wintry-sounding songs that evoke emotional responses. A great soft rock album and excellent follow-up to their superb 2007 debut.

Sample Track:"Story"
For fans of: Snow Patrol and Coldplay.

3. Jay-Z: "The Blueprint 3"



Hova returns with his best album since his "retirement". The Blueprint 3 balances everything, leading to one of the 25 greatest Hip Hop albums of all time. It showcases everything from club favorites to reflections on growing old.


Sample Track: "Empire State of Mind"
For fans of: Rihanna, Kanye West, and Nas.

2. The Very Best: "Warm Heart of Africa"


Every year an artist bursts onto the scene evoking new adoration and appreciation for what music can and should be. Last year, I especially liked Vampire Weekend and MGMT. This year, The Very Best opened up music to me. The combination of excellent production, worldly flavor, and upbeat songs creates unbridled emotion and a general feeling of buoyancy - all while being wholly original. Do yourself a favor and at least sample what this band has to offer.


Sample Track: "Julia"
For fans of: Vampire Weekend, M.I.A., and Amadou & Mariam.

1. Animal Collective - "Merriweather Post Pavilion"


An album that came out 3 weeks into the new year, Merriweather Post Pavilion remains the best of the year. It flows from track to track creating a landscape of images in your mind through the power of beautiful and complex lyrics fused with amazing instrumentation. Animal Collective's follow-up EP - "Fall Be Kind" - follows and the two serve as an example of what music should be in the tradition of a complete album. While nearly impossible to distinguish what the best track is, as the entire piece should be taken in as a whole, "My Girls" and "Lion in a Coma" stand out for me.

Sample Track: "My Girls"
For fans of: Grizzly Bear, Incubus, good music.

Honorable mention:
(in no particular order)
Grizzly Bear - "Veckatimest"
30 Seconds to Mars - "This Is War"
Karen O and the Kids - "Where the Wild Things Are Soundtrack"
Kasabian - "The West Rider Pauper Lunatic Asylum"
Editors - "In This Light on this Evening"
Decemberists - "The Hazards of Love"
Andrew Bird - "Noble Beast"
Wolfmother - "Cosmic Egg"
Eskimo Joe - "Inshalla"
Metric - "Fantasies"

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Conscience Clauses

There's an excellent piece in the newest Rover regarding the importance of conscience clauses for our nation especially as we debate new health care legislation.

Following up is this excellent piece which provides an examination of the current state of such clauses and their practical import in today's health care world.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

New American Hero?

Congressional Candidate Lieutenant Colonel Allen West
Let's hope he wins

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Fun Fact

In light of Charlie Weis' buyout, it's interesting to note what 18 million dollars get's you these days around here.

It would give 90 kids a free Notre Dame education.

Or buy every undergraduate football tickets for 9 years.

Or lower every student's tuition by $1615.

Or fund 1/7 of the Spirit Campaign's goals for Student Life (4 new dorms and a new Student Center).

Or provide nearly 1/5 of the requested contributions for the Spirit Campaign's goals for Athletic Renovations.

Or purchase 16,822,429 Junior Whoppers (with tax) at the LaFortune Burger King.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Rover Film Review: The Blind Side



The Blind Side

Directed By: John Lee Hancock (The Rookie)
Starring: Sandra Bullock (lots of things)
Tim McGraw (Friday Night Lights, Four Christmases)
Quinton Aaron (Be Kind Rewind)

Rating: PG-13 for one scene involving brief violence, drug and sexual references.
Running Time: 128 min.

Rotten Tomatoes: 73%

Review:
Based upon the 2006 book by Michael Lewis, The Blind Side highlights the origins of current NFLer Michael Oher. If you're looking for a film that details the Christian spirit, while proving that anyone can overcome long odds with the right support, this film is for you.

Michael ( Quinton Aaron ) arises from a dysfunctional home torn apart by violence and drugs in the project. A wealthy Taco Bell franchisee ( Tim McGraw ) and his strong Southern wife ( Sandra Bullock ) take the orphan in, clothe him, feed him, shelter him, and raise him.

Several montages follow, with some memorable cameos by former and current SEC coaches (including Notre Dame's own Lou Holtz), depicting the development of this young man from the ghetto to the top of the recruiting lists. He decides on Ole Miss, following in his new family's foot-steps, but not without some trouble along the way.

The film follows the plot of so many other movies and "true-life stories" in depicting the triumph of one over long odds. Although I was slightly bothered by the negative portrayal of every black person except Oher, in the end, the Christian message of charity and love triumphs over stereotypes (of which this film abounds). The movie is decent, although fans of the books might miss the analysis of the Left Tackle position that Lewis detailed.

A largely family friendly movie and one churning towards a nice box office return and Oscar buzz for Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side is a decent movie that follows the trajectory of so many other sports movies of the last years (including the director's own The Rookie)

3/5

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Picture of the Day

Happy Thanksgiving! From the Irish Rover

Monday, November 23, 2009

Bishops and Politics

Not to make this a blog solely dedicated to health care, but...

This piece on Politico provides a nice, relatively unbiased account of Bishop's lobbying in the debate over health care.

Although it refuses to call out Rep. Kennedy as acting contrary to his religion as the reason for Bishop Tobin denying communion to him, the article is a nice overview. It highlights the Catholic Church's advocacy for withholding federal funding of abortions, support for a conscience clause, and appeal for coverage for all - legally and illegally - within the United States.

The Catholic Church is also highlighted as one of the largest providers of health care in the country right now - an important fact that should be remembered by Congress as they seek to reshape the country.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Your Second Homework Assignment...

Following the bloated House bill, we now have an even larger Senate Health Care Bill. However, unlike the House bill which included the Stupak amendment barring the funding of abortions - the Senate version has no such provision.

The 2,074 page document would essentially leave the decision up to the Health and Human Service Secretary's discretion as to when abortion would qualify as part of the Federal Public Option.

The bill also states that one insurance plan must have abortion coverage and mandates taxpayers' funds be allocated for the procedure which ends the life of a child.

The bill also provides Louisiana with a two page definition validating an additional 100,000,000 dollars. In other words, Senate Leader Harry Reid is buying the vote and support of Senator Mary Landrieu.

Republican democracy is awesome! Especially when Senator's votes go for 100 million dollars and the people and House's will is ignored.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Production Night

The clock is turning past 2am, and we still have three or four articles to edit, then the long process of placing and copy-editing begins.

As I reflect on the previous seven hours, Kathleen is clearly the driving force of tonight's issue. She tirelessly worked on almost 90% of our content making sure it was edited and sent to Brandon for placement. Brandon always works hard and late into the night ensuring that the Rover looks great and is sent to the printers. These are the people who give it all each Production night to ensure a quality product.

Atta-a-boys all around.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Catholic Advocacy Wrong?

Democratic Representative Lynn Woolsey is calling for the IRS to investigate the Catholic Church's tax-exempt status following their advocacy calling for a ban on federal funding for abortions in the new health care bill.

The real money quote: “They seemed to dictate the finer points of the amendment, and managed to bully members of Congress to vote for added restrictions on a perfectly legal surgical procedure. And this political effort was subsidized by taxpayers, since the Council enjoys tax-exempt status.”

That's right, according to Rep. Woolsey, abortion is a surgical procedure. Babies have been so dehumanized, it's the equivalent of having a tumor removed. Wow.

More: http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/faith/2009/11/house_democrat_investigate_cat.html

Monday, November 9, 2009

Abortion and the Health Care Bill

This past Saturday, the House passed a new Health Care Act extending coverage to 98% of Americans 220-215 (one Republican voted for the measure). Included in the final passage of the Bill was the so-called Stupak Amendment (named after Rep. Stupak (D) of Michigan). The amendment "not only prohibits abortion coverage in the public insurance option included in the House bill. It would also prevent private plans from offering coverage for abortion services if they accept people who are receiving government subsidies."

The amendment passed 240-194 [all 176 Republicans and 64 Democrats], however lawmakers already are moving to strip the amendment from the compromise version.

“I am confident that when it comes back from the conference committee that that language won't be there,” Wasserman Schultz said during an appearance on MSNBC. “And I think we're all going to be working very hard, particularly the pro-choice members, to make sure that's the case.” Wasserman Schultz is the Democratic Chief Deputy WHIP.

The Senate currently is considering its version of the health care bill, of which Joe Lieberman has stated he will not vote for if it kills the private insurance industry. If the Senate manages to pass a bill, the House version and Senate version would then be reconciled. It is here that the Stupak Amendment would be stripped or neutered.

Our work as Pro-Life Catholics is far from over.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

An Excellent Piece

My dad sent me this piece in the Weekly Standard and written by Charles Krauthammer. It's an interesting presentation of a theory in which Krauthammer ties together Obama's foreign and domestic policies so that it suggests the this "neoliberalism" seeks to weaken America purposely both here and abroad because we lack the moral right to be a hegemon, whether for good or bad.

All together an excellent piece.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Fox News

Two issues I made an error in my editorial regarding whether Fox News was biased or not. I apologized for this error - I was more interested in using the marketing slogan "Fair and Balanced" than in actually calling out the cable news channel.

Anyway, as a follow up is this article. In essentially examines the Democrats who are working and have worked for what some perceive as the Republican dominated channel. Interesting reading to say the least.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Homework Assignment

Alright, as a college student I've had some pretty ridiculous reading assignments. One Theology class requiring 300 pages a week comes most significantly to mind. But this? This is ridiculous.

1990 pages in one week?

Well at least, all I'm going to have to do is check that this new health care legislation works, doesn't violate any morals, and actually saves money. Hope there's no pop quiz, Professor Pelosi.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Follow-Up

In a follow-up to a Rover article in the last issue.: http://thehill.com//blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/64971-mich-democrat-pelosi-not-happy-with-me

Here is the text:

Mich. Democrat: Pelosi 'not happy with me'
By Bob Cusack - 10/27/09 01:30 PM ET

Rep. Bart Stupak said Speaker Pelosi is not pleased with his effort to change abortion-related provisions in the healthcare bill being crafted by the House.

During an interview on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal" show, Stupak (D-Mich.) said he is undeterred in trying to ensure that taxpayer dollars do not pay for abortions. Stupak, who opposes abortion rights, acknowledged that some in his party are upset with his public campaign to change the bill.

"The Speaker is not happy with me," Stupak said.

The Energy and Commerce subcommittee chairman said he has been working with Democratic leaders on a compromise, but they haven't been able to strike a deal. Stupak pointed out that he and Democratic leaders have a fundamental disagreement on whether health plans that receive subsidies from the government should be allowed to provide coverage options on abortions.

Stupak wants a vote on the House floor to strike the language, and predicts he would have the votes to pass such an amendment.

"This has been federal law since 1976," he said, noting that President Barack Obama has vowed not to allow healthcare reform to pay for abortions.

"We have to have a vote," he said.

If he doesn't get one, Stupak said he and as many as 39 other Democrats will vote no on a procedural motion to bring the health bill to the floor. A House vote on healthcare reform could be taken next week.

Stupak stressed he wants to vote for healthcare reform and is "still somewhat optimistic" that he will reach an accord with Democratic leaders.

However, the Michigan Democrat said he will not be backing down: "I'm comfortable with where I'm at. This is who I am. It's reflective of my district. If it costs me my seat, so be it."

A portion of the interview can be accessed here.The entire interview can be seen here.
Source:
http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/64971-mich-democrat-pelosi-not-happy-with-me
The contents of this site are © 2009 Capitol Hill Publishing Corp., a subsisiary of News Communications, Inc.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Finishing Up Production

Live Blogging - from production - it's almost 2am and we're wrapping up the new issue of the Irish Rover.

We're all tired, we're all busy, we're all ready to be done, but we're all dedicated. Dedicated to ensuring the University of Notre Dame remains committed to what makes this school so great - Jesus and the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church.

Should be done within an hour.

Good night, world.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Changes...

Please be aware, that we here at the Irish Rover are working at some possible chances to the web-content of our fine publication.

Thank you for your patience.

-Kevin Donohue
Publisher

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Support ND Football

It's nice to sometimes make people aware of issues that aren't as divisive as some. As the college football season heats up, it appears that Notre Dame's own Jimmy Clausen is gaining recognition for his fantastic number so far. (Michael Floyd would too, except for his season-ending injury Saturday).

Clausen is currently 8th in ESPN's Heisman Watch. Support Jimmy by going to his fan-club website: www.jimmyheisman.com

Go Jimmy and GO IRISH!

PS Look for a new Rover issue coming out on Thursday.

Friday, September 11, 2009

There is no substitute

I am currently watching the History Channel's "Remembering 9/11," uninterrupted by commercials. Even though the events of that day are well known to me, the video footage still leaves me numb.

It was just eight years ago. Eight years ago our nation was savagely attacked and thousands died. No one's forgotten it. Yet as I watched images from that day, and the emotions I felt that morning in my middle school library began to sweep over me again, I realized that I had forgotten it, or at least its significance and the response it elicited.

An attack like that occurring today seems unfathomable. But there on the screen was a reminder that it's anything but. I fear that as a nation we've already put 9/11 in the back of our collective memory. While we still pause to reflect on its anniversary, it doesn't hold nearly the same kind of power and meaning as it did just a few years ago.

Perhaps it's not too hard to see why. Today, 9/11/09, our president spoke, but not to remind us of why we're in Afghanistan or why combating terrorism abroad is essential for our national security. Instead, he promoted health care reform and the need for green jobs. Students in Minnesota assembled Energy Efficiency Outreach Bags instead of viewing footage from that fateful day. Others in Oklahoma pulled weeds and planted a garden. While these deeds are certainly a decent gesture, they completely fail to truly remind us of a tragedy that happened less than a decade ago and could happen again.

The eighth anniversary of 9/11 will probably be over by the time you read this. But the images and events of that day are still readily accessible, and just as relevant. I urge each and every one of you to take a couple minutes and simply watch. There is no substitute.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Rover Film Review: Inglourious Basterds



Inglourious Basterds

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill)
Starring: Brad Pitt (Se7en, Fight Club, Troy), Melanie Laurent (First American Film), Christopher Waltz (First American Film), and Diane Kruger (Troy, National Treasure)

Rating: R for strong graphic violence, language and brief sexuality.
Running Time: 153 Minutes

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%

Review:
Tarantino's highest-opening film to date, Inglourious Basterds returns the filmmaker back to the tight plots and extreme violence of his two best movies: 1992's Reservoir Dogs and 1994's Pulp Fiction. The film is extremely violent - especially in dealing with extreme knife-play. But unlike, the Kill Bill duo, the violence here serves a purpose - providing context and brutality in a (semi-)realistic World War 2 setting.

The story opens "once upon a time in Nazi-occupied France" and introduces over the course of three short "chapters" to our three main story arcs: the Jew-hunting SS officer Col. Hans Landa (in an Oscar-worthy by German actor Christopher Waltz), the band of Jewish-American soldiers brutally hunting down Nazi's led by Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt), and the scheming, Jewish owner of a Parisian cinema (Melanie Laurent). The cinema is set to place host to the Nazi high-command as it celebrates the opening of a new propaganda piece.

What follows is an excellently written, sometimes brutal, always well-acted movie that stretches a tad too long in the middle, but delivers an excellent ending. The protagonists race to kill (or in Landa's case defend) Hitler and the high command as the plot evolves over three days. The movie is excellent because it delivers what Tarantino is expected to deliver: great lines, cultural reference, entertainment, and violence; while adding the maturity of an older film-maker in regards to camera work and (in general) pacing. It appears that the singular focus on gore that Tarantino has shown in the last ten years has finally and thankfully been pushed aside for a return to being one of the (if not the) best director/writers in Hollywood today.

*Note the violence is brutal - this movie, like all in the Tarantino canon, is not for the faint of heart.

4.25/5

Sunday, September 6, 2009

ObamaMania

Friday, September 4, 2009

Book Review: What Happened to Notre Dame?

Notre Dame professor emeritus of law Charlie Rice is releasing his latest book, "What Happened to Notre Dame?," this month (with Forward written by Notre Dame professor emeritus of philosophy Ralph McInerny and Introduction written by Notre Dame professor of philosophy, Alfred J. Fredosso). I recently have received a review copy of the book and thus have had a chance to look through its contents. Not only is the book very thorough in its examination of the seeming rise and fall of Notre Dame's Catholicity, but it also includes a keen dissection of the what led up to and took place surrounding the controversial 2009 Notre Dame commencement. The following is an excerpt from the publisher's synopsis...

... What Happened to Notre Dame? by Charles E. Rice, with a Preface by Ralph McInerny and Introduction by Alfred Freddoso – three of Notre Dame’s most distinguished scholars, who together have served the University 124 years – first recounts the details of Notre Dame’s honoring of President Obama. It then examines the succession of fall-back excuses offered by the Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., and University publicists to justify Notre Dame’s defiance of the nation’s bishops and of Catholic teaching.

But Rice is not content with mere reportage. What Happened to Notre Dame? diagnoses the problem’s roots by first providing an overview of the Land O’Lakes Declaration, its inception and its aftermath, including the ways in which its false autonomy from the Church has led to an erosion of the Catholic identity of Notre Dame and other Catholic universities.

Then, it offers a cure. Christ, who is God, is the author of the divine law and the natural law. The book presents reasons why an acknowledged interpreter of these laws is necessary, and why that interpreter has to be the Pope exercising the
Magisterium, or teaching authority of the Church. And it shows why it is so important that we have such a moral interpreter for all citizens and not just for Catholics. The alternative is what Pope Benedict XVI calls the “dictatorship of relativism,” which the book analyzes. Even for those who do not share the Catholic faith, our reason leads us to conclude that the natural law is the only moral code that makes entire sense and points to the conclusion that the Vicar of Christ is uniquely suited to give authoritative interpretation to that law.

In the final chapter Rice shows why great good can come out of Notre Dame’s blunder in rendering its highest honors to such an implacable foe. Notre Dame got itself into such a mess because it attempted to be Catholic without the Church and
ended up defying the Church and disgracing itself. But good can result from the lesson here that roll-your-own morality is no more tenable than roll-your-own Catholicism.

Rice shows why what happened to Notre Dame is symptomatic of what’s happening in other Catholic colleges, indeed in colleges with non-Catholic religious affiliations. He shows how the abandonment of principle at the college level spills over tothe general culture, with devastating effect, as religious standards get pushed out of the public square. And, finally, he shows why people who have never seen the Golden Dome, never rooted for the Fighting Irish, and never graced a Catholic Church, also have a stake in what happened to Notre Dame...

(St. Augustine's Press, 224 pages, paperbound, $15.00; ISBN-13: 978-1-58731-920-4; ISBN-10: 1-58731-920-9; publication date: September 2009)


This book can be found at the following books sellers:

Barnes and Noble
Amazon.com
Books-A-Million

Monday, August 31, 2009

Go go go go go!

Ever wonder what it's like to be an armadillo?
Or a cow? Wolf?
Well, there you go.

(h/t The Daily Dish.)

The Rover Film Review: Moon

Moon



Moon
Director: Duncan Jones (Whistle)
Starring: Sam Rockwell (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; Choke) and Kevin Spacey (Se7en, American Beauty, etc.)
Rated: R for Language
Run Time: 97 Minutes

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%

Moon is a rare and unique film featuring a thought-provoking plot, superb acting, and an excellent soundtrack. Without giving too much away, Sam Rockwell plays Sam Bell, an engineer working alone (except for the computer GERTY [voiced by Kevin Spacey] )mining resources on the moon. Sam is nearing the end of his three year contract, when an accident suddenly jolts Sam, and the plot, widely away from expectations.

What follows is an interesting examination of what it means to be human.

WARNING SPOILERS

Sam is a clone - the last in a long line of beings created to fulfill a three year lifespan and then seemingly destroyed to be replaced by the next. Memory implants of the original Sam Bell are the only comfort these clones have - keeping their existence hidden even from themselves.

Moon, while utilizing such well-known Hollywood devices as the evil-corporation, manages to break free from convention and deliver an examination of what it means to be human. Is GERTY human? Are the clones? The movie doesn't answer these questions - just proposes them. I would highly recommend this film and consider it the best of the year so far. Duncan Jones, up to now most known for being David Bowie's son, clearly has an eye for issues that reach into humanity - serving as the story creator, a writer, and a director. The film is in limited release and I also thank the fine people at DPAC for bringing this film to campus.

5/5

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Passing of Ted Kennedy

There is an excellent appraisal of Ted Kennedy as a Catholic here.

I believe the most interesting part of this great editorial is the second-to-last paragraph:

"This also marks the passing of a certain type of cultural Catholicism — Northeast, Irish and increasingly Italian, concerned with obtaining political power while maintaining an identification with the Church, yet happy to relinquish the substance of the faith if it gets in the way. Indeed, today such cultural Catholics have dispensed even with the identity aspect and are often outright hostile to the Church of their baptism."

Please read the entire thing.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

D'Arcy in America

In America Magazine's August 31st issue, Archbishop John Quinn (archbishop emeritus of San Francisco) looked back on the controversy surrounding Notre Dame's 2009 Commencement invitation/honor to President Obama. As an editor's note specifies, "Archbishop Quinn originally prepared these observations for consideration at the June meeting of the American bishops. Circumstances did not make that possible at the time. He has submitted them to America as a contribution to the debate on the role of bishops in dealing with public issues." Archbishop Quinn reviews some of the pros and cons of the Church's public involvement in those matters, specifically spelling out a few ways in which her involvement might lead people astray.

In this same issue of America, Fort Wayne-South Bend's bishop, Bishop John M. D'Arcy, offers his "pastoral reflection on the controversy at Notre Dame." The bishop explains what he believes to be a bishop's responsibility to all members of his diocese. Further, and more importantly, D'Arcy raises questions about the silence of ND's board of trustees during the whole affair, as well as respectfully poses three striking questions to all Catholic universities:

[1] "Do you consider it a responsibility...to give witness to the Catholic faith in all its fullness?"
[2] "What is your relationship to the church and, specifically, to the local bishop and his pastoral authority as defined by the Second Vatican Council?"
[3] "Where will the great Catholic universities search for a guiding light in the years ahead? Will it be the Land O’Lakes Statement or Ex Corde Ecclesiae?"

Both articles are well worth while to read.

Friday, August 21, 2009

New Layout

You may have noticed a new color scheme to the Irish Rover blog. As we begin Volume VII of the Rover we will switch to this new scheme for our print edition. Additionally, we have made slight changes to our layout and the type of paper on which the Rover is printed. We hope everyone enjoys these updates.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Nuns for Planned Parenthood?

In a time when a proposed healthcare overhaul will use taxpayer funds for abortions (as Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-CA, asserted- see http://www.lifenews.com/nat5349.html), Catholics must do all they can to present a united front on life issues. Those Catholics who describe themselves as faithful while supporting pro-abortion leaders or laws pose the greatest threat to such cooperation.

According to an article on The Catholic Key blog, the National Catholic Coalition of American Nuns has endorsed the "Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act." Sponsored by former pro-life Representative Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), the bill would significantly increase access to birth control while masquerading as a "common ground" approach to the feud over abortion. The USCCB Pro-life Office has appropriately dubbed it the "Planned Parenthood Economic Stimulus Package of 2009."

Sister Simone Campbell, Sister of Social Service and the executive director of Network, a Catholic social justice lobbying group, said of the bill, "This legislation gives me hope that we can finally begin to move beyond using pregnancy as a political wedge issue and to focus instead on providing women and families with the resources they need for healthy pregnancies and babies...It is time to work together to eliminate political posturing on this issue.”

To be a nun is to be a bride of Christ. I'd be interested in hearing Sister Campbell repeat those words when she comes face to face with her husband.

Article reference: http://catholickey.blogspot.com/2009/08/prominent-catholic-sister-endorses.html

Shedding Light on Healthcare

To those of you who are, like me, woefully uninformed about the intricacies of federal legislation, this article may be of valuable assistance.

James Capretta is a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, home to the famed George Weigel. He is also a Fightin' Irish alum (with a stopover at Duke, but "blessed are the merciful"). His son, Tom, is a rising Senior, former Manorite, and, reportedly, a ROTC machine.

On to the article:

Obamacare: It's Even Worse Than You Think

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Love and Marriage

We question our culture's attitude towards sex -- but how many of us have thought through the way in which our society views marriage? There's a lot more to question besides easy divorces, argues this piece.

The theology is off (speaking of covenants instead of sacraments), but the way it explores the general expectation that marriage happens when you're in your late 20s, financially stable, and fully emotionally independent makes the piece very much worth reading. A snippet:

"For all the heated talk and contested referendums about defending marriage against attempts to legally redefine it, the church has already ceded plenty of intellectual ground in its marriage-mindedness. Christian practical ethics about marriage—not the ones expounded on in books, but the ones we actually exhibit—have become a nebulous hodgepodge of pragmatic norms and romantic imperatives, few of which resemble anything biblical."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Reinventing Popes

Double-posted to The DC Writeup:

Liberal American Catholics love to reinvent dead Popes. When John Paul II was alive, liberal Catholics ignored his teaching on a whole host of issues, from the all-male priesthood to liberation theology. But after Pope Benedict XVI’s election, they have attempted to contrast the suddenly “moderate” and “beloved” John Paul with his “conservative” and “hard-line” successor. John Paul is not the only one to be subject to this historical revisionism. Almost every Pope from Leo XIII to Paul VI has been recast to appear more or less liberal or conservative than he really was, so as to fit some leftist template of “liberal = good, traditionalist = bad.”

The principle is simple: Liberals despise Popes who oppose them and pretend to like Popes whom they can portray as supporting their agenda.

Liberal Catholics are now (at least momentarily) changing their tune on Pope Benedict to justify their support for the fiercely pro-choice Barack Obama. Though Josef Ratzinger was derided before and after his election with such epithets as “God’s Rottweiler,” “the Grand Inquisitor,” and “a Nazi” (no joke), his meeting with President Obama this month, along with his new encyclical Caritas in Veritate, are being hailed by the left as proof that the Church is over her silly fixation on abortion, and is now equally concerned with peace, “social justice™,” universal government health care, rainbows, ponies, and the Socialist Utopia.

Some context for those who don’t know what’s going on with the Catholic Church in America would be useful. The Church in the U.S. has been rocked by two closely-related events: the 2008 election and the University of Notre Dame’s 2009 commencement address by President Obama.

An emerging new Catholic Left, led by such thinkers as U.S. Ambassador to Malta Doug Kmiec and such groups as Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, put forward a significant case in favor of supporting Obama’s candidacy in 2008. They based their support in Obama’s commitment to bringing about peace in Iraq, protecting the environment, providing health care for the uninsured, and reducing abortions by improving the social conditions of the usually-poor women who choose it.
As great as that all sounds, more traditional and conservative Catholics attempted to point out two inconvenient facts. First, these goals expressed by Obama as priorities for his presidency were also shared by John McCain. The two differed in terms of how to accomplish them, but, though the Catholic Left acted like Obama had the Catholic market cornered on these issues, McCain’s approaches to them were not inherently immoral or opposed to Church teaching.

Secondly, Obama (unlike McCain) wholeheartedly endorses the legal status of on-demand abortion, federal funding for embryo-destructive stem cell research, repealing the Mexico City Policy to allow federal funding for abortion overseas, a publicly-funded health care plan that covers abortions, and appointing Supreme Court justices who will protect Roe v. Wade. Oops. Many American bishops, led by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, were forceful in asserting to their flocks the logical priority that Catholics had to give to the abortion question in their vote.

For these same reasons, approximately eighty American bishops publicly opposed the decision of the University of Notre Dame to honor President Obama by naming him their 2009 commencement speaker and by giving an honorary doctorate. The bishops thought it was scandalous for a Catholic school to honor someone whose positions and actions are antithetical to the most important social issue the Church faces today. Liberal Catholics howled in protest to the bishops, saying that the Church needs to engage the broader culture (by kissing its ass, apparently) and accusing bishops of wanting to put us back into the “Catholic ghetto.”

So, you can see that the Catholic Left position, under assault from the hierarchy, really could use a bit of magisterial help. Well, along came two P.R. godsends from no less authority than the Pope himself.

First, President Obama met the Pope for the first time on July 17 at the Vatican. With their uncanny gift for ignoring important distinctions, liberals gleefully shrieked, “See! See! The Pope met with him, that must mean the American bishops are just a bunch of reactionary partisan frauds!” Of course, the Pope just met and talked with Obama, as he meets and talks with almost every world leader with whom he has diplomatic relations. He did not render Obama any conspicuous honors or hold him up as someone to model—as Notre Dame did.

Secondly, the Pope’s magnificent teaching letter (or “encyclical”), Caritas in Veritate, was publicly released on July 7. The encyclical was broad, providing a summary of a huge swathe of the Church’s social doctrine, including certain more particular comments about the recent financial crisis. Statements indicating the importance of protecting the environment, of the rights of workers to unionize, of rejecting motives of excessive greed in business, of preserving some social welfare programs, and one particular paragraph that seemed to recommend an expanded role to the United Nations were hailed by liberals as a sign that the Pope was now a progressive who joined them in an utter rejection of capitalism.

However, none of these “liberal” ideas were exactly new sentiments coming from the Papacy, and I don’t think I can find many conservatives who would object in principle to anything the Pope suggested. As for his statement on the United Nations (the one novelty in the document), who would oppose giving the UN authority over some limited aspects of international trade, so long as it were first reformed so as “to be regulated by law, to observe consistently the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, to seek to establish the common good, and to make a commitment to securing authentic integral human development inspired by the values of charity in truth,” as the Pope stated?

And, by the way, what is “authentic integral human development” in the Pope’s mind? He said earlier in the encyclical, “Openness to life is at the centre of true development.” He decried the spread of abortion, euthanasia, and the sterilization of women in developing countries, specifically criticizing the NGOs that provide these services to women (CoughMexicoCityPolicyCough!). It is clear that defending the dignity of human life is the central, foundational concern of the Pope in this encyclical, and that it is at the heart of the Church’s social teaching in the modern era.

And this is the problem with the Catholic Left. They care about abortion, but apparently not enough to, you know, try to make it illegal or anything. Maybe they should try to take in the words Benedict quotes from John Paul II’s Evangelium Vitae: “…a society lacks solid foundations when, on the one hand, it asserts values such as the dignity of the person, justice and peace, but then, on the other hand, radically acts to the contrary by allowing or tolerating a variety of ways in which human life is devalued and violated, especially where it is weak or marginalized.”

Monday, August 10, 2009

Job Opening!

A good friend of mine, Megan Miller, is the Managing Editor of the Superior Catholic Herald. She's very talented and a great person, and she's hiring a staff writer! She tells me that recently graduated Rovers are especially encouraged to apply.

In a rough job market for journalists, seriously, this is good news. Here's the blurb:

Outstanding opportunity for professional Catholic to serve as reporter at the Superior Catholic Herald. As part of a three-person staff, you will write a variety of feature stories about the Catholic community in northern Wisconsin. Qualifications include feature writing experience, photography skills and familiarity with newspaper design. Understanding of Catholicism a must. Send letter of interest – including salary expectations, resume and three writing samples to Megan C. Miller mmiller@catholicherald.org. Inquiries can be directed to 715.394.0213. Deadline ASAP.

Hypocrisy: Sanford Edition

Mark Sanford (R), current governor of South Carolina, continues to have an amazing year. In addition to vacationing in Argentina with a woman not his wife (or was it hiking in the mountains?), it appears that Mark Sanford has been getting quality travel for quite a while.

Essentially, while in office, Governor Sanford decided that in addition to being morally conservative (like respecting marriage) he should also be fiscally conservative. So he got a budget haircut.

That cost nearly $1300 to fly to. Nice.

In addition to misusing the SC Government Jet for budget haircuts, he used to ferry himself and family around, and visit partisan GOP conventions. Yet another example of the extreme hypocrisy evident among politicians.

Rover Film Review: The Ugly Truth



Film Review: The Ugly Truth (Rated R for sexual content and language.)

Cast: Katherine Heigl (Knocked Up), Gerard Butler (300).
Director: Robert Luketic (Legally Blond, Monster-In-Law, 21)

Rotten Tomatoes: 16%

The Ugly Truth purports to showcase 'the ugly truth' of relationships and love, mainly sex. And in this, the film rivals a Judd Apatow flick - full of sexual references and crude humour (an interesting move for Katherine Heigl after her remarks regarding Apatow's raunchy Knocked Up).

In pursuing a romantic comedy angle and populating this 96 minute long film with sexual innuendo galore, the film strives to follow in Apatow's steps, but falls well short - lacking in humor, morality, and, frankly, story.

For example, Gerard Butler's Mike is portrayed as a likable-everyman rogue, who - used and deserted by women in the past - turns to becoming a crass womanizer himself. But, by the end, the audience is supposed to accept his complete devotion to someone who embodies all the qualities he rails against for the first sixty minutes, all while suddenly being likable because he cares for his nephew.

My second biggest peeve, besides the overall unlikeableness of the film, is the portrayal of the perfect man 'Colin'. Yes, he is imbued with qualities to make any lady swoon, but by the end, he is seen as shallow and like, Mike (and Heigl's Abby) obsessed with sex. Is this what relationships are about in Hollywood? Sex?

The Ugly Truth ends up fulfilling half its title, being quite 'ugly' - lacking in many qualities which would make this film watchable. The complete lack of moral integrity shown in the film, similarly epitomizes a view of culture and society that is becoming all too common in the media today.

1.5/5

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Get Money, Get Paid

The following is a response to the recent announcement that Eli Manning signed a $97 million contract with Pepsi products to be a company spokesperson: In these times of economic desperation with so many unemployed being unable to feed, clothe and shelter themselves and/or their families it is an absolute outrage that something like this can still occur in the United States of America. One of the most disturbing facts about our capitalist nation is the misappropriation of funds directed to the salaries of entertainers. Everyone should agree that the value an athlete, movie star, talk-show host, team-owner, etc. brings to the average citizen is very small. Granted, they do offer a minuscule of diversion from our daily trials and tribulations, as did the jesters in the king's court during the middle ages. But to allow these entertainers to horde such great amounts of wealth at the expense of more benevolent societal programs is unacceptable.

Our society is also subjected to the "profound wisdom" of these people because it equates wealth with influence. Perhaps a solution to this problem and an alternative to defeated school levies and crumbling infrastructures, as well as all the programs established to help feed, clothe and shelter those who cannot help themselves, would be to tax this undeserved wealth. Entertainers could keep 1 percent of the gross earnings reaped from their endeavor and 99 percent could be deposited into the public coffers.

As Congress considers limiting the amount of pay given to Corporate Executives they should decide instead to raise the taxes on these Banksters and the so-called entertainment industry.

The old ideas of the redistribution of wealth have failed, and it is time to adapt to modern-day preferences. Does anyone think this will reduce the quality of entertainment? It seems to me that when entertainers received less income, the quality was much higher.

-J. Bialek

--
The above is a letter to the editor, received on Friday, August 7th, 2009. It might not say anything that many have not already thought or even spoken to those around them, however it doesn't hurt to hear it again. Though I do believe that a $97 million paycheck is grossly disproportionate to the services being rendered, I admit that I am not in entire agreement with Mr Bialek's suggestion of singling out "Banksters and the so-called entertainment industry" in lieu of setting limits on corporate executive compensation (of which I am not entirely in favor either) in the government's effort to gain some control of the economy.

Fortunately or unfortunately, if I may speak from my ivory tower, I believe that the truest way for the current economic debacle to begin to be solved is for each of us to humbly admit how deeply our modern culture has sunk into the many forms of greed. Although the cardinal virtues of Prudence, Courage, Self-Control, and Justice have not been all together stamped out, these nonetheless are not cultivated or even encouraged. From what I can see of it, I can only think that the only way that America can hope for a change in the direction that we are now going is for us to go back to the basics of virtue, to rediscover virtue. I do think that there are those who have begun to rediscover virtue and who seek to share this with others. However, this news often falls on deaf ears. It is not until we can accept and admit to the root problems of our economic system (or any problematic system for that matter) and then virtuously seek to amend them that we will be able to rightfully call our American nation "great."

Friday, August 7, 2009

Be Wary of Relativism

After being introduced as a “global citizen” at the Delhi University last month, Secretary of State Clinton went on to make this peculiar remark:

“We are in this together. We may have profound differences, but I am often reminded that as we learn more from science about the human genome, we recognize that we are 99.9 percent the same. As you look at our DNA, you don’t see religion or race; you see humanity. And no place represents that future more profoundly than this great country.”

Certainly, her comments could be framed in a benign manner, as a poignant reflection pointing out the commonalities between people of every corner of the earth. But in the context of her role as Secretary of State, this statement reveals a dangerously na├»ve approach to international relations, rooted in the misguided doctrine of relativism that seems to have become a cornerstone of the Obama Administration’s foreign policy.

Relativism asserts that no idea or principle is of greater value than any other, no moral code more justifiable than another. Essentially, it promotes the concept that our differences are insignificant, mere semantics, as it were. Relativism apologists back up their beliefs by pointing to our shared experiences as humans, or as Clinton put it, the fact that we are genetically “99.9 percent the same.” This worldview that we are all the same and our differences are “relative” runs counter to the uniqueness of each human individual, a fundamental component of the liberal democracies philosophical underpinnings.

Allusions to this impractical worldview have been a reoccurring theme of the current administration’s first few months in power. Clinton’s recent address to the Council on Foreign Relations ran rampant with relativism and was described as a “see-no-evil-hear-no-evil speech,” in which she seemed to indicate the U.S. was simply a mere member of the global community, as opposed to the lone international hegemon it currently is.

An adherence to relativism can also explain the Administration’s apparent disdain for championing freedom and human-rights abroad.. Obama’s foreign policy has all but abandoned promoting democracy, and the president himself has suggested that democratic processes are “mere form.” Clinton, when asked, about the vast ideological differences between the United States and communist Cuba, stated, “Let’s put ideology aside; that is so yesterday.”

However, despite Mrs. Clinton’s suggestions to the contrary, the world is made up of parties who believe ideological differences are highly relevant, and who reject her assertion that “we are in this together.” The vast disparity between American values and those of Islamic extremists, for example, will not be mitigated by acknowledging that we are made of the same stuff. Some of our differences are certainly bridgeable, but down-playing those that are while ignoring those that aren’t in favor of a “global community” worldview does the U.S. no favors. Any call for global solidarity needs to be grounded in the shared value of certain ideas and principles, not merely the sequence of our DNA.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Belmont Abbey to defend truth against EEOC threat

According to an article in the Gaston Gazette, Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, NC has been deemed guilty, by the EEOC, of gender discrimination and of mistreatment of faculty. The background: Upon realizing in 2007 that the health coverage provided to employees of the College covered contraceptive benefits, BAC's president Bill Thierfelder quickly moved to eliminate that provision, understanding its incompatibility with ethical and moral norms. As a private, Catholic institution, the College has the right to deny such coverage and theoretically should have faced no difficulty. Some of the faculty, however, expressed extreme discontent, and submitted a complaint against the College to the EEOC. The verdict: The decision made by Belmont Abbey to refuse coverage of contraceptive benefits only affects women, and since it has no immediate effect on men, who cannot be prescribed contraceptives, it is therefore a case of gender discrimination. Furthermore, Belmont Abbey "retaliated" against those supposedly poor, enfeebled, wronged employees who brought forth the complaint because the letter sent by the administration to faculty and staff explaining the issue listed the names of said plaintiffs.

"By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes," but let's hope Belmont Abbey will not have to fight against it alone. The issue should be close to the hearts of all interested in the preservation of morality, ethics, and the whole of society.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Fun Photo

Found this fun photo via Rakes of Mallow , an ND sports blog, who got it via Bulldog Vintage.





On the left is Babe Ruth, repping the Notre Dame Fighting Irish circa 1927. Lou Gehrig apparently made the unfortunate choice of supporting the University of Southern California Trojans.

FYI, the Irish won the 1927 game at Soldier Field in Chicago 7-6 coached by Knute Rockne in front of an estimated 120,000 fans (one of the most watched games in NCAA College Football history).

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Importance of Satire

From Jonathan Swift and Voltaire to Stanley Kubrick and Saturday Night Live, satire has been an important way to look from the outside at government, culture, and thought.



Here'a a little satire on the 'Cash for Clunkers' program and health care reform.


h/t to Michelle Malkin.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Health Care, Catholicism, and Conservatism

Before I begin, these are my views, they are not shared by all Catholics, by all Notre Dame students, by all members of the Irish Rover, or even by everyone in my family.

You might have heard about health care reform - it's been around the news a bit when the media hasn't been too busy talking about Beer Summits or Car Sales. So I feel that as a member of and writer for Notre Dame's largest (and only) conservative, Catholic newspaper, I, or we as a staff, need to address this topic.

On the one hand, as a conservative (n.b. not a Republican necessarily), I support private solutions for their efficiency. I support smaller governments and the idea that capitalism and equality provide the best opportunity for people to succeed either in the job market or in getting adequate health care.

On the other hand, as a Catholic, I realize that the capitalist system does have its failings. Equality is a difficult thing to achieve in reality and the government is in the best position to assist those who 'fall through the cracks'.

With those two viewpoints in mind, here are some keys for healthcare:

1. Efficiency. Health care should be efficient and quality. It's no good having universal health care, if I can't get the the proper service I need when I need it. Can government-run health care provide it?

2. Transperancy. The government, both in its dealings in designing the bill and in its implementation, should be transperant. All aspects, including cost, of the bill should be debated and analyzed. It shouldn't be rushed - but honestly debated (that goes to both sides). We are talking about reforming a significant sector of the economy (over 15%) and one that affects each and every person in this country.

3. Ethics. Besides the obvious lobbying and loopholes, the new health care plan should be ethically strong. This is important not only in the legislative push to get the bill enacted, but also in the guidelines it establishes. Abortion, euthansia, etc. are all important elements to consider regarding health care, how will they be handled? Will they go hand-in-hand with being transperant and efficient?

4. Impact. What will be the economic and societal impact be with the new plan? How many jobs lost/gained? How many people will get cover that they need? Who will benefit? Who will be hurt? Where will the money go? How will new medical research be done? How will it affect doctors, hospitals, nurses, etc.? There are many things to be considered and too few are actually being examined. I understand the importance of using momentum to push through legislation (see Patriot Act 2001/2002). This is not a minor thing, how will it affect our nation?

I see those 4 as the major things to be considered. Obviously, 'Ethics' is a distinctly Catholic aspect of health-care, but it should not be slighted.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Catholic Adoption Agencies at Risk in Britain

The health care vote has been pushed back to October. That fact alone suffices as a celebratory post.

Fortunately, I will not attempt to elaborate on the chaos tearing apart Congress. Rather, I'd like to comment on the recent closing of the Catholic adoption agency of the Archdiocese of Westminster in Britain. According to an article in the National Catholic Register, Britain's Sexual Orientation Regulations require adoption agencies to service any couple who applies. Rather than dissociate from the Church in order to continue functioning, as many Catholic adoption agencies in Britain have done, the Catholic Children's Society of Westminster has ceased its services to new couples. It will, however, continue to assist those children and families it previously brought together.

In an admirable statement, the agency declared, "[If] we were to continue,...we would be forced to assess same-sex couples...This would not meet our existing criterion that couples coming forward must be married as man and wife. The trustees are convinced that what is best for children is that they be brought up by married couples. This is shown by research, but it is also consonant with the teaching of the Church. In the unanimous view of the trustees, it would be totally unacceptable for our Catholic agency to act in a way that is at odds with the teaching of the Church."

Ann Widdecome, a Catholic and a member of the Conservative Party of Parliament, said of the effects of the Sexual Orientation Regulations, "We knew right from the start that the adoption agencies would close down...They cannot go against the teachings of the Church. For the sake of political intolerance, they can now longer operate."

I'd like to draw attention to that last sentence. "For the sake of political intolerance, they can no longer operate." The statement brings to mind the state of affairs in countries faced with an ever-growing protest among gay rights activists against those institutions which promote marriage as the union of man and woman. The closing of the Catholic Children's Society provides a perfect example of relativism's double standard. While the Sexual Orientation Regulations give same-sex couples the freedom to seek any adoption agency of their choice, Catholic adoption agencies are no longer at liberty to act according to conscience in servicing families. Same-sex couples are allowed to live according to their own moral code at the expense of adoption agencies seeking to practice in accord with their own beliefs.

Times like these call for continued witness to the Catholic faith. As St. Thomas More once said, "The times are never so bad that a good man cannot live in them."

Reference: CNS. "Adoption Agency Shut Down." National Catholic Register, pg. 4. July 12, 2009.

Transperancy?

As Rep. Eric Cantor points out in today's Washington Post, the promises of Barack Obama and the Democratic majority, like so many others, on making the federal government more transparent appear to be falling by the wayside as our government, economy, and society are restructured along more 'enlightened' liberal ideas.

I remember intense outrage over former-President Bush's 'shadow government' as seen in noted-liberal and President Bush-critic Jon Stewart's own book America in a handy pull-out or in the word's of a Democratic senator:

"The biggest problems that we're facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all. And that's what I intend to reverse when I'm president of the United States." -- Sen. Barack Obama, March 31, 2008

Oh wait that man is now President. Where's the accountability and transparency?

According to Michelle Malkin and the noisyroom.net, there are currently 38 non-Senate approved, non-accountable officers tasked with everything from WMDs and Mideast Peace to the Great Lakes and safe schools.

The most troubling aspect of the czar formula is its overall lack of oversight. Scrolling the list of announced appointments it appears that a shadow government of un-regulated officials now exists with many czars matching cabinet positions:

Education to Education (which is a state controlled aspect to begin with)
War/Afghanistan/Weapons/WMD to Defense
Economy/Pay/TARP/Stimulus Accountability to Treasury
Latin America/Middle East/etc. to State




What we see is a replication of the traditional posts of a cabinet with a set of officials accountable to only the President, appointed at his whim, paid well, and operating outside the normal bureaucracy to an extent unseen by any former President.

I have no problem with our nation's biggest issues - the Middle East, health care, and the current economic crisis - being dealt with directly. I am worried about accountability, transparency, the growth of bureaucracy, and the the hypocrisy shown by President Obama and his liberal followers.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cancerous Beauty

What do tanning beds, mustard gas, and arsenic have in common? According to recent reports, all three rank similarly in terms of their lethal effects on humans.

After completing a meta-analysis study looking at the carcinogenic effects of exposure to ultraviolet radiation (namely through tanning beds and other such sources), international cancer experts have determined that all types of ultraviolet radiation are carcinogenics. This finding places UV radiation in the same cancer-causing-category as tobacco and the Hepatitis B virus. Such a factoid probably is not too comforting to frequenters of tanning salons, especially considering that the risk for skin cancer "jumps by 75 percent when people start using tanning beds before age 30."

In a country (and world) that is becoming increasingly environmentally conscious and more concerned about the cost of health care (not to mention we are in the midst of an economic recession), one might think that lines at the tanning industry would take a hit following announcements such as these. But, the faker-bakers are not yet convinced seeing that the number of under-30 patrons have increased in recent years, thus making the axiom, "Beauty hurts," ring true.

Because who doesn't like making fun of Harvard?

In light of Obama's recent faux pas of butting into a domestic police incident with which he has zero relevance and has made a complete fool of himself concerning, I came across this little commentary. (Warning inappropriate language, still funny).

Monday, July 27, 2009

Do the lyrics matter?




I am musicophile. I love it and am particularly a sucker for a strong chorus and intense solo instrumentation. My tastes run from Classical to Rap. Of course, I'm becoming a larger fan of the older 'classical' bands - The Beatles and The Who are definitely favorites, how can one not love Frank Sinatra's voice?, and there's a pleasure to be had from listening to the big band sound of Glenn Miller.

This background brings me to a question which many people of conscience struggle with, including myself. Do the lyrics in songs matter?



The music industry (as well as media as a whole) is rife with immoral behavior - sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll go together like Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and Starr, just for a longer time. Since Elvis' moves grabbed national attention in the 1950s, the adoration fans has come face to face with this immorality. This is especially true over the evolution of media and music in the last 20 years.

Music is increasingly accessible and heard - I can hold 15000 songs (750 CDs, 1300 Records) in my hand - and in fact am listening to my iPod at this moment (Pink Floyd). This constantness has also seen the rise in increasingly more risque performances and lyrics.

For example, everyone should know the antic of Britney Spears, but it is not limited to the personal lives of stars. Whether its Top 10 hits like 50 Cent's 'Candy Shop' or Lady Gaga's 'LoveGame', both of which contain thinly veiled references to sex and whose accompanying music videos are, without question, softcore pornography ('LoveGame' being banned on Network 10 in Australia), songs and material are increasingly sexualized.

This trend should concern any mature person - especially one of a Catholic moral background. In an era where we walk around with white ear-buds, music is everywhere. But is it good (morally so, 'LoveGame' has maybe the catchiest hook of the year, though 'Boom Boom Pow' by the Black Eyed Peas a song with zero lyrical sense is similarly mind-grabbing)? Should the fact that a former stripper is monopolizing our airwaves singing about wanting a ride on a 'discostick'?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Obama's Proclamation Hardly Captivating

Last weekend, President Obama delivered his version of the Captive Nations Week proclamation. The original Captives Nation Week resolution, signed into law by President Eisenhower in 1959, not only decried oppression world-wide, but also mandated that the United States, as “the citadel of human freedom,” provide “leadership in bringing about [Captive Nations’] liberation and independence.” However, although the President spoke to the value of “fundamental freedoms” and “universal principles,” his words lacked the passion and conviction needed to demonstrate America’s commitment to advancing freedom to all corners of the earth.

For instance, President Obama’s proclamation was completely devoid of any mention of democracy. This should come as no surprise. In the president’s first half year in office, he has all but abandoned supporting democracy abroad, even in places where the foundations have already been laid.

Furthermore, the President refrained from mentioning any oppressive regime by name, in fact, choosing not even to address the concept at all. Compare this meager approach to President Bush’s 2008 Captives Nation proclamation, which unabashedly acknowledged the existence of ruthless governments “who murder the innocent and seek to subject millions to their violent, totalitarian rule.” Bush went on to pointedly call out eight freedom-stifling regimes by name, while also firmly stating a need to support the fledgling democracies of Afghanistan and Iraq.

In his remarks, President Obama declared that advancing freedom is in America’s interests, “not only because it is right, but also because our Nation’s fate is connected to that of other nations.” While Obama claims to understand the significance of championing liberty and human rights globally, his inaction and passionless words to this point don’t back him up.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Restoration of Quito Culture

I read an article in the Wall Street Journal this past weekend about the cleaning up of the city of Quito (San Francisco de Quito) in Ecuador, which has, in the recent past, been known for the danger lurking in its streets, especially after dark. According to the article, Quito is quickly gaining the attention of more tourists as it re-orients itself to its rich cultural history and establishes a safer environment for visitors and natives alike.

The city was founded in 1534 when the Spanish conquered the Quitu tribe. Almost immediately, the victors began the construction of the oldest Catholic Church in the city, Iglesia de San Francisco, and planted the seeds of Catholicism there, allowing for the establishment of the Diocese of Quito in 1545 and the archdiocese in 1849. The city was a colony of Spain up until the early 19th century, when it finally gained independence from Spain in 1822 and was annexed to the Republic of Gran Columbia. In 1830, it was named the capital city of the Republic of Ecuador, and during its independent existence has been the site of numerous periods of civil discord.

Now in an effort to attract more tuorists, the city is taking advantage of its cultural gems, such as the Church of San Francisco (Iglesia de San Francisco) that is currently undergoing a renovation, and officials are working to drive out the rampant prostitution and theft. The Journal article did not report on any activity of the Church in pushing these reforms, but I hope that the renovation of the oldest church is more than just a facelift for the building and instead also indicates a commitment to the continual rejuvenation of the faith life among the Ecuadorian people. True cultural revival of the city would be impossible if such an element were to be neglected!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Today in History

Today marks the 40th anniversary of man's first successful space landing on the moon. As we celebrate not only this feat, but also how far astronautical exploration has come since 1969, we should also keep in mind other great things that happened on this day in history. Here is the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (In no particular order)...


1773 - Clement XIV issued the brief, 'Dominus ac redemptor noster,' officially dissolving the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). The Society was restored in 1814 by Pius VII.

1861 - First battle of the American Civil War (Battle of Bull Run) ends, the South is victorious giving rise to the Confederate Army.

1873 - Jesse James exercises his first train robbery.

1898 - Spain cedes Guam to the United States.

1899 - Ernest Hemingway is born.

1925 - The "Monkey Trial," as known as "The Trial of the Century," ends. John Scopes convicted of violating state law for teaching Darwin's theory of evolution in the classroom. (Conviction later overturned).

1930 - The US Veterans Administration is established.

1938 - Janet Reno, first US attorney general, is born.

1949 - US Senate ratify the North Atlantic Treaty (NATO).

1954 - France surrenders Vietnam (North and South) to the Communists.

1960 - In Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) Sirima Bandaranaike becomes the world's first woman Prime Minister.

1972 - 57 murders occur within a 24-hour time span in New York City.

1978 - World's strongest dog, 80-kg St Bernard, pulls 2909-kg load 27 m.

2007 - "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," the final volume of the wizard series by J.K. Rowling, goes on sale.

2009 - Mary Daly writes this post.

Friday, July 17, 2009

With VOA Left Voiceless, Obama Fails to Reach Russian Public

President Obama’s foreign policy thus far has been marked by an emphasis on public diplomacy. As a result, successfully engaging foreign publics has become a top priority of his administration. The President himself has taken an active role in this effort, delivering several high-profile speeches to audiences around the world. His July 7th oration in Moscow, which focused on the importance of media freedom and human rights, was one such occasion.

But Obama’s message failed to reach his intended audience- the Russian public. On Russian television, which is tightly controlled by the Kremlin, Obama’s remarks were largely ignored, receiving hardly any air-time.

To make matters worse, a crippling cyber-attack had rendered the international websites of Voice of America (VOA) useless. As a result, VOA, the federally-funded broadcast service congressionally mandated to provide objective, accurate news to foreign audiences, was utterly incapable of offering the Russian public unbiased coverage of the President’s speech. VOA’s loss of web-based capabilities might have been less damaging if not for the fact that its oversight, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, decided in 2008 to completely do away with VOA’s Russian language radio and television broadcasts into the country.

VOA has demonstrated its ability to circumvent anti-American state-media and deliver objective news programming, most notably in Iran following the June 12th election. However, the internet-only approach in Russia, and the inability to provide sufficient security for this service, allowed Kremlin-controlled media to undermine Obama’s attempt to connect with the Russian public. Unless the Obama Administration takes the necessary steps to ensure the vitality of VOA and similar programs, our nation’s outreach to foreign publics will continue to be rebuffed by unreceptive governments.