26 August 2012

Requiem for Nellie Gray–Funeral for a Friend of the Pro-Life Movement

Nellie Gray, the founder of the March for Life, died at the age of 88 on August 13. Gray was  given a Requiem Mass at St. Mary, Mother of God Catholic Church in Washington, DC.  Her funeral was a beautifully sung Trinentine High Mass, celebrated by Pastor Alfred Harris, with Boston Archbishop Sean Cardinal O’Malley and Washington Archbishop Donald Cardinal Wuerl in attendance. Gray had been a parishioner at St. Mary’s for sixteen years.

Nellie Gray served in the Women’s Air Corps during World War II. Afterwards, Gray earned her undergraduate degree in business, a Masters degree in Economics and went to night school at Georgetown Law School while working as a career public servant for twenty years at the State Department and the Labor Department.  In fact, Gray argued cases before the Supreme Court.  But she was so outraged by the Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade (1973), that she listened to God’s voice and dropped everything to oppose what she discerned was a travesty of justice.  In fact, she retired on a meager government pension and never took monies from March for Life to supplement her pension.

During her eulogy, her colleague from the March for Life attorney Terry Scanlon noted Nellie’s determination once her mind was made up.  Scanlon noted that Gray was the driving force in the anti-abortion movements “Respect for human life–no exceptions.”  Scanlon said that Gray was actively planning the 40th anniversary March for Life when she passed away.

Cardinal O’Malley recalled working with Gray during the early days of the March for Life, when they would exhaustingly paper Capitol Hill offices with materials protesting the virtual Abortion on Demand decision.  O’Malley, who is a Capuchin priest, quipped that today is the first time that he was around Nellie Gray not wearing sandals, which is the order’s customary vestment.

O’Malley opined that it always seemed like the coldest day of winter when the March for Life.  But memorializing January 22 as the day of infamy had great symbolic value and galvanized Pro-Life forces to spread the light for life in the dead of winter.  The first March for Life only had a couple of hundred participants.  Now, the March for Life is an annual event which the Lamestream Media either minimizes or ignores despite the fact of hundreds of thousands of participants, many young people, redress their government for this unjustice to the unborn.

Cardinal O’Malley philosophized that this world seems obsessed with celebrity, yet our real champion is a person like Nellie Gray, who discerned God’s will, abandoned all of her professional pursuits to do what she thought was right and helped build God’s kingdom.

Cardinal Wuerl offered a personal story about Nellie Gray’s outlook on life.  Wuerl was on the dais for the annunal March for Life, on what he too thought was the coldest day of the year.  Gray focused on Wuerl and asked “Where’s your hat?”  What Wuerl took from that interchange was despite the crowds and the circumstances, Gray looked at people as individuals and she was concerned about someone in trouble.  Wuerl extrapolated a probing question “Where’s your voice?” challenging people to recognize the barbarity of killing pre-born children.

When connecting scripture to the question “Where’s your voice?”, Cardinal Wuerl thought of Pentacost where the Spirit of God came down upon the Apostles, which made them bold and they began to speak.  Wuerl marveled at how Gray’s righteous indignation over the Supreme Court overturning abortion laws nationwide made one woman bold and the fruits over her work seem to reconnecting young people to the spirit speaking out for unborn babies.

Preparing the High Altar for Nellie Gray's Requiem, St. Mary Church Washington, DC [photo: BD Matt]

Casket of Nellie Gray lying in repose at St. Mary's Church Washington, DC [photo BD Matt]
St. Mary's Pastor Fr. Alfred Harris celebrating Nellie Gray Requiem Mass, Wash. DC [photo BD Matt]
March for Life V.P. Terry Scanlon offering Nellie Gray Eulogy   [photo: BD Matt]
Boston Archbishop Sean Cardinal O'Malley reminisces on Nellie Gray  [photo: BD Matt]

Washington Archbishop Donald Cardinal Wuerl's reflections on Nellie Gray's importance  [photo: BD Matt]
Celebrant Fr. Albert Harris incenses Nellie Gray's casket   [photo: BD Matt]
Washington Archbishop Donald Cardinal Wuerl offers a final benediction for Nellie Gray  [photo: BD Matt]
Pall bearers for Nellie Gray's casket as Knights of Columbus look on  [photo: BD Matt]
Boston Archbishop Sean Cardinal O'Malley comforting mourners for Nellie Gray   [photo: BD Matt]

Pope Blessed John Paul II, during a pilgrimage to Mexico in 1979, offered a prayer which captured the driving force behind Nellie Gray’s discernment of her mission from God:

Virgin of Gaudalupe, Mother of the Americas, grant to our homes the grace of loving and respecting life in its beginnings.  Loke upon us with compassion: teach us to go continually with Jeus through a great love for all the holy Sacraments.
Thus, with our hearts free from evil and hatred, we will be able to bring to all the true joy and true peace, which comes to us from your son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen

25 August 2012

In Memoriam of Neil Armstrong (1930-2012)--Man Who Ushered In the Giant Leap for Mankind

Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong Saluting the US Flag, July 21, 1969

Neil Armstrong, the first human who walked on the Moon, died at the age of 82.  Armstrong had recently undergone surgery to relieve blocked coronary arteries.

Purdue University, Armstrong Hall of Engineering
Armstrong was born and raised in West-Central Ohio. Armstrong was so keen on aviation in his youth that he had a pilot’s license before having a driver’s license.  Armstrong was an avid Boy Scout, earning the Eagle Scout distinction which was instrumental throughout his life.  Armstrong studied aerospace at Purdue University,  rather than M.I.T., as he was convinced that is was unnecessary to go all the way to Cambridge for a good education.  Armstrong’s tuition was paid through the Holloway plan, which mandated two years of study followed by three years service in the United States Navy before completing his undergraduate degree.

Armstrong was a US Navy aviator who saw action in the Korean War. During a low bombing run near Wonsan in September 1951, his plane was struck by anti-aircraft fire and subsequently hit a pole, slicing off three feet of the Panther fighter’s wing.  Armstrong was able to navigate back to friendly territory, but needed to eject due to damage to the aileron.  Perhaps it was this example of coolness under pressure that later influenced later colleagues of the need for Armstrong to be on the first lunar landing mission.

 After leaving the Navy active service in 1952, Armstrong completed his undergraduate education and then became a test pilot for a precursor of NASA, first in Cleveland and shortly thereafter at Edwards Air Force Base in California.  When completing a mission to drop a Douglass Skyrocket from a B-29 Superfortress, one of the engines disintegrated while ascending at 30,000 feet.  Armstrong and his co-pilot were able safely land using only one engine. Armstrong later flew the X-15 rocket planes, one of which reached an altitude of 207,000 feet.  Many of Armstrong’s fellow test pilots felt that he was the most technically capable of X-15 test pilots.
Recovery of Gemini 8 Spashdown 1966

In 1958, Neil Armstrong was chosen as one of the Man In Space Soonest program.  In November 1960, Armstrong was tapped to be one of the six pilots for the X-20 Dyn-Soar military space planes. Armstrong was one of two civilian pilots who were named as NASA’s “New Nine” in September, 1962.   Armstrong was the Commanding Pilot on Gemini 8 in March 1966, which was designated to rendez-vous and dock with an unmanned target vehicle.  Armstrong was backup Command Pilot for Gemini 11.

Neil Armstrong was named as the Commander of Apollo 11, which was destined to land on the Moon.  NASA officials wanted Armstrong to be the first man on the Moon as he was not deemed to have a big ego.  This P.R. prudence in choosing Armstrong was demonstrated on Apollo 11's trip to the Moon in July 1969 when Armstrong greeted his fellow Boy Scouts:

I'd like to say hello to all my fellow Scouts and Scouters at Farragut State Park in Idaho having a National Jamboree there this week; and Apollo 11 would like to send them best wishes". Houston: "Thank you, Apollo 11. I'm sure that, if they didn't hear that, they'll get the word through the news. Certainly appreciate that.

Armstrong’s level-headedness also served by his piloting.  Armstrong was unflustered by unknown error codes when piloting the Eagle Lunar Landing Vehicle on approach to the Moon landing.  Although Houston Mission Control was worried about potential low fuel issues of the Lunar Lander, Armstrong’s training led him to believe that there was 40 seconds of fuel left for launching from the Moon.

As for the inconic Moon landing, Armstrong had given quite a bit of though to these monumental words.  But in the excitement of moment, it seems that Neil dropped a syllable in uttering the famous “One small step for [a] man–one giant leap for mankind.”

Those words were heard by an audience of 450 million listeners out of a world population of 3.6 billion people.

Leaving the Moon was a little more potentially treacherous than expected. Aside from the worries over low fuel for lunar blast off, the bulky astronaut suits broke the ignition for the ascent engine.  This mechanical malfunction was overcome by using part of the pen to activate the launch sequence mechanism. Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were able to rendez-vous with the Columbia and the three Astronauts splashed down in the Western Pacific. The Apollo 11 crew spent 18 days in decontamination, during which time they were greeted by President Richard M. Nixon.

Apollo 11 crew and President Nixon, 1969
Armstrong briefly served as a NASA administrator and then taught Aerospace Engineering at the University of Cincinnati for eight years.  Armstrong received many awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Space Medal of Honor and the Congressional Gold Medal.

Armstrong did do some corporate endorsements, only for American companies.  Armstrong served as a spokesman for Chrysler in 1979 he deemed the automaker as a strong engineering company with financial difficulties.  Armstrong also served on several boards of directors for corporations.

However, Neil Armstrong was a remarkably private person. Armstrong threatened legal action in 2005 against his barber for selling some of Armstrong’s hair to a collector.  In lieu of returning the purloined hair follicles, the perfidious cosmetologist donated the $3,000 proceeds to a charity of Armstrong’s choice.  Armstrong also became chary about signing autographs as they were selling for large sums of money and there were many forgeries.  Such indiscreet idolization caused Armstrong to stop sending signed letters of congratulations to Eagle Scout recipients, a practice which he had done for years.

Armstrong was a modest man who ushered in mankind’s exploration of other planets. His example off cool confidence, meticulous preparation and remembering his roots should be an example to all of us.

Romney Bunch Attack Ad Blows It

The other day while campaigning in the Detroit Metropolitan Area, the place where he was born and raised (thank you), presumptive Republican Presidential nominee former Governor Mitt Romney (R-M) joking about birth certificates.

The Obama campaign went nuts, charging that the Romney campaign was engaging in gutter politics. Of course this ignores the Obama campaign’s alluvia of false characterizations towards their opponent of felonious tax cheating, vulture capitalism, killing laid off workers with cancer (even though Romney had left Bain), supposed animal abuse a score of years ago and unreported bulling from nearly 50 years ago at Cranbrook school. On top of that, not only had President Obama made his own jokes about his birth certificate controversy (even at official state functions), the Obama 2012 campaign sold “Made in the USA” tee shirts mocking the birther allegations. 

Trying to capitalized on Romney’s supposed birther gaffe, the DNC rapid response team produced “The Romney Bunch” attack ad.The DNC tried to concoct a stew of stingers, from birtherism to the war on women, class warfare, ending Medicare, union busting, imposing religion, and cutting education.

Most telling, the Rapid Response video attacked former four term Democrat Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL 7th) as being in it for himself, a subtle to slam one of then candidate Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) nominating speakers at the 2008 Democrat National Convention in Denver. It is a kinder and gentler pariah status than the epithets thrown at other conservative Blacks who have escaped the liberal plantation.

 Although the “Romney Bunch” had a clever concept and was a Rapid Response piece, it truly was a poor quality, especially the tinny music and echo filled vocals. It may be a harbinger of the dearth of campaign funds that Obama 2012 has on hand. The problem with the poor execution of the Brady Bunch is that the filk was not catchy enough to stand on its own, but the music still evoked the emotions of the original work. That does not work to Obama’s advantage.

 Surely the Brady Bunch theme of a big family was a sucker punch jab against Mormons, who typically have big families. This is where the Obama Rapid Response Team was too clever by half.  People will not immediately think of the parody Brady Bunch films in the 1990s which trashed the hokey, out of touch middle class values. Instead, most people fondly remember the Brady Bunch as Boomer television as  days of innocence and more traditional values co-existing in a hip, living color, polyester age. Talk about reinforcing the Romney brand. Oops.

Maybe the Obama Campaign should send Vice President Joe Biden to Tampa  to lead the Truth Squad in Tampa. That will be fun.

23 August 2012

Tampa-fication Thru Tea Party Temperance Not Spend-thriftiness

Democrats claiming credit for Tampa's triumphs 

In anticipation of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Salon Magazine (no conservative rag) published a piece entitled: “Tampa: America’s Hot Mess”, which details how a city which the 1988 bestseller “Megatrends” has degenerated into what is derisively called a “Hot Urban Mess”.

Columnist Will Doig uses the empty 40 acres in Tampa which were slated for the aborted $2.4 Billion Sun Rail project in July 2011 as an example of what he considers the short-sighted parsimonious civic spending in Tampa as a foretaste of what is in store for America if Presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) is elected as President.

The article seems to presume that Hillsborough County’s rejection of the ½ cent sales tax increase scotched the light-rail deal and unwisely condemned them to congestion.  Actually, the transit tax was a 1 cent sales tax increase which failed to get 60% of votes in 2010.

The presumption that light rail would be a transportation panacea is questionable on a cost-benefit analysis.  Mass transit works well in several cities with established urban cores, such as New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington D.C. and Chicago.  But then there is the infamous example of the $200 million Detroit monorail.  Baltimore’s light rail is not touted as a solution to urban congestion.  Presumably, progressives love choo-choo trains because of centralized planning, emulating European examples and employing municipal union employees. Light rail costs lots of money to establish the infrastructure and maintain it.  Perhaps express busses (which could be designed to look like street cars) running in HOV lanes could more efficiently comnbat congestion. But that derails the dream of urban railroads so beloved by progressive politicos.

Doig recounts that when Tampa went on a building spree spurred by real estate and the financial and insurance markets, there were tall glass buildings that were detached from the city itself and did not offer incentives for parks, transit or walkable space.

Perhaps the author is unfamiliar with Joel Garreau’s theory  why businesses were inclined to relocate to an Edge City  in the 1980s instead of urban centers.  The lower cost of office-space, cleaner campuses (without Superfund cleanups) which the companies control, modern infrastructure and municipalities which offered tax incentives for relocating rather than soaking supposed deep pocket companies to “pay their fair share” of taxes and graft.

It is unsurprising that the Salon columnist blames the Tea Party for not submitting to smart growth policies contained in the non-binding United Nations Agenda 21 document (not a treaty).  But without worrying about conspiracies over international Sustainable Development initiatives, the consternation can more easily be explained by the urban, suburban divide.  Democrats love centrality and dense populations, as this requires active government, lots of municipal employees and empowered politicians who bring home the bacon for their constituents.  Suburban sprawl denudes the density which requires the infrastructure and activist progressive politicians.  Of course the urban core of Tampa are Democrats and suburban Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties (St. Petersburg) are conservative strongholds.

Hurricane Isaac may make shuttling the 400 buses slated to transport RNC delegates to the Tampa Bay Times Arena more complicated, but it will be embracing the consequences of Tea Party Temperance on Taxation.  It is the height of hypocrisy for the Democrat Mayor and City Council to claim credit for the Tampa triumph and then backbite the conservative Tea Party types and conservatives

Considering the empty coiffers of many state and local governments due to boondoggles, overstaffing municipal union employees and ridiculously generous pension packages, there may be much more Tampa-fication in America rather than spend thrift states like California and Illinois.

20 August 2012

America's New State Religion?

In the wake of the Obama Administration’s HHS Qualified Health Plan Mandate (a.k.a. the Contraception Mandate), mainline churches have to come to terms with a Federal government which narrowly construes the First Amendment Freedom of Religious Expression.

While the Obama Administration exempts parishes from these objectionable regulations, no such leeway is given to religiously affiliated organizations, like Catholic colleges, religious orders, Catholic Insurers etc.  from paying for abortions, sterilizations and abortifacients.  But such groups were given a year’s reprieve from complying. As New York Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan quipped that they were given an extra year to figure out how to violate their consciences.

President Obama claimed a work around which would force a farce that insurers would give away these services so religious organizations would not have to pay.  Of course, this is a ruse as insurers would simply raise their premiums to everyone to cover these free services.  But Obama’s announcement came on the same day that the Federal Register published the original rules unchanged, so the ameliorations were a rhetorical chimera.

This move by the Obama Administration has awakened a sleeping giant.  This summer, the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops promoted the “Fortnight for Freedom”,  a coordinated nation-wide effort of prayer, fasting and educating American Catholics on the importance of preserving Americans’ First Amendment rights to the unfettered exercise of religious beliefs.

Some pastors have picked up this mantle to drive this crucial point home.  On the “Pastor’s Page of St. John the Evangelist of St. Paul (MN), Fr. George Welzbacher published this thought piece on the establishment of a nationwide first state religion–secular humanism.

It would seem that, for the first time in the history of our republic, we are witnessing here in the U.S.A. the establishment of a state religion, a religion so crafted as to delight the heart of a secularist, a religion with clearly defined dogmas, compliance with whose demands is to be enforced with all of the coercive powers at the disposal of the federal     government.  Here are the dogmas of this new faith. 
Dogma #1: A woman has the right, the unrestricted right, to make arrangements for the killing of her unborn child whenever such course of action is convenient.
Dogma #2: The chief purpose served by the institution of marriage is the securing of social recognition for romantic attraction, together with the panoply of benefits accruing to such recognition. The begetting of children, together with such subsequent upbringing as will equip them to contribute responsibly to the society in which they will spend their lives, can be dismissed as of  marginal importance. Thus every man, should this be his bent, has the right to marry another man, just as every woman, should she be so disposed, has the right to marry a woman. To suggest otherwise, to imply, for example, that a man's realigning of his reproductive powers to adapt to another man's digestive tract is in any way abnormal is to be guilty of a hate crime, in exculpation of which no appeal to the rights of conscience shall be allowed,  this being an intolerable crime, properly punishable with fines and/or imprisonment.
Dogma #3: The sovereign pontiff in this new state religion is the people's hero, Barack Hussein, now reigning gloriously in the White House.
Dogma #4: Enemy Number One of the new state religion is, by and large, the Christian faith and, with special intransigence, the Catholic Church. Measures must accordingly be taken to compel the recusant authorities of the Roman Catholic faith to genuflect at the new religion's altar. (Thus the new Health and Human Services mandate).
 All of this represents at least one way of looking at President Obama's arrogant trampling upon the First Amendment, not to mention his repudiation of God's Commandments.

If this is the case, I hope that I’m losing that religion come the first Tuesday in November.

h/t: Jerry Breen

Dogged Dhimmitude in Canuckistan

Still from footage of Allain Eintoss Arrest  (Source: Blazing Cat Fur)

Allain Eintoss, a Toronto resident,was assaulted and  arrested for walking his leashed therapy dog in a public park because it offended the sensibilities of Muslim protestors. During this year’s annual  Al Quds protest  in Queen’s Park, Toronto, in front of the Legislature in Ontario, Canada, which rallied anti-Israel sentiments against the supposed apartheid in the holy city of Jerusalem.

There was also a counter protest by supporters of Israel and the Jewish Defense League on the other end of the Park. The Metropolitan Toronto Police and the Ontario Provincial Police separated the demonstrators at opposite ends of the park with a bicycle barrier.

Allain Eintoss certainly sympathizes with the pro  Israel camp but proclaims himself as a big supporter of free speech went to Queen’s Park to walk around the public space.  He walked on both sides of the park his English Mastiff named “Cupcake”  with no problem for over an hour without incident.  Eintoss  interacted with a couple of girls on the Al Quds side who enquired about the type of dog was his Cupcake.

Then Eintoss heard a voice telling him that he could not walk there with his dog.  Eintoss replied that it was Canada and he could walk where-ever he wanted.  The police began to talk to Eintoss and then he was punched in the chest. Eintoss pushed back and the police jumped in and detained Eintoss.  The policeman was agitated as he accused Eintoss of inciting a riot and being insensitive presumably for  for having a dog around Muslims.  The lawman blustered that the incident would be going into Eintoss’s file and would be considered a prior if there was trouble the next time.  After consulting with his superiors, the policeman noted that Eintoss could either walk away or be jailed.  Since it was a Saturday, there was no magistrate available to paper the arrest so if the detainee took the latter choice that Eintoss would be jailed until Monday.  Eintoss took the first choice and left.

If Eintoss’s actions were exacerbating a volatile situation, a word to the wise would have sufficed rather than throwing the book at someone who is assaulted.  The petty police brutality and bluster seems very familiar for LEOs who are too full of themselves stationed around halls of power.  But that fact is minor league compared to the diminishment of rights in a democracy by catering to political correctness and submitting to dhimmitude.

Eintoss believed that in a free country he could walk where-ever he wanted to in a public space.  It seems not so much, especially if an agitator from favored or protected minorities like Islamists object.  In a Caliphate environment, non-Muslims are second-class citizens who are only tolerated if they pay the Jizya tax.  Nanny State political correctness just hastens the practice.

The other factor to contemplate is that Canada, and Ontario in particular, prides itself on an aggressive application of Human Rights Commission cases against intolerant speech.  In 2007, columnist to the world Mark Steyn wrote a supposed inflammatory column for MacLean’s Magazine entitled “The Future Belongs to Islam”.  This insult was not actionable for a deprivation of Steyn’s liberty but was still condemned as irresponsible journalism for suggesting Islamophobic ideas.  To which, Steyn countered:

[E]xplicitly threatens to reduce them to a maple-flavoured variant of Pravda... [A]n alarming proportion of the Dominion's ‘media workers’ seem relatively relaxed about playing the role of eunuchs to the Trudeaupian sultans.

One would think that in a Province which prides itself on a vigorous Human Rights Commission and protecting people from being offended that the Ontario government might look askance at the defamatory rhetoric which has been a part of the Toronto Al Quds rallies since there inception in 1979.  Despite video evidence by Environment Minister Peter Kent (Tory-Thornhill, Ont.) from last year’s Al Quds, the Sergeant at Arms still granted the permit as the footage was insufficient to deny a permit.

OK but by the same token someone who claims being offended by walking a therapy dog in a public space is enough to deprive citizens of their liberties.  With upside down sensibilities like that, maybe the lyrics to the national anthem should be changed to “Uh, Oh Canadistan”

If the Political Correctness want more proof of the intolerance of the Al Quds crowd, consider the anonymous phoned in death threats to Eintoss after the incident.  Is “We are going to kill you, you dirty jew" sufficient or does there have to be a decapitation first before you ignore it?

h/t: Blazing Cat Fur
     Media Research Center

13 August 2012

Mickey Mouse Creeping Sharia Lawsuit

Two years ago, Imane Boudlal was fired as a hostess at Disneyland’s Grand Californian hotel Storyteller’s  restaurant.  The now 28 year old  Ms. Boudlal, a Moroccan born Muslim who is an American citizen had worked at Disneyland for two years when she began wearing her hijab (head scarf) to work.  If you totally believed the fact pattern as told by the ACLU and the Hadsell Stormer Richardson & Renick lawyers, Ms. Boudlal was fired by Disney due to anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bias which religiously discriminated against her.

What the jury and the court of public opinion should take into consideration before rushing to judgment are the accommodations which where purposed and rejected by Boudlal.  All workers at Disney resorts wear uniforms or “costumes”, particularly front-line employees at thematic attractions and restaurants.  Boudlal asked that her costume at the fin de siècle themed restaurant could be modified.  Disney offered a compromise attire which should have satisfied the modesty rationale for observant Muslim women wearing a hijab.

Ms. Boudlal, however, rejected this employer accommodation by asserting “The hat makes a joke of my religion and draws even more attention to me” and "They don't want me to look Muslim. They just don't want the head covering to look like a hijab."  Disney notes that Boudlal was offered four different roles out of the public view, which she rejected. In lieu of the rejected accommodation attire, Boudlal was given a choice to take off the hijab, work in the back or go home.  Boudlal went home and tried reporting to work for several other days wearing her head scarf before being terminated.

Some may wonder why it took two years for Ms. Boudlal to file her discrimination lawsuit. The Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Los Angeles tried to use Boudlal as a cause célèbre  two years ago but attorney Ameena Qazi could not successfully try the case in public.


Even observant Muslims like Qudosi Chronicles editor Shireen Qudosi questioned Boudlal’s stated rationale for wanting to wear the hijab in “observance” of  Ramadan is ridiculous and a false act of faith.  Moreover, an observant Muslim woman who believing in it would not considered a head covering optional for over two years as did Boudlal.

It is also important to note that when Boudlal was terminated, she was represented by UNITE Local 11, which did not have a labor contract with Disney hotel employees for over two and a half years.  Hence, mocking the proposed costume accommodations made for Boudlal was good agi-prop for the Union’s perception among the public.  Well, UNITE Local 11 signed a five year agreement with the Mickey Mouse Company, and the higher wages and better health care seemed to supercede standing up for their “discriminated” Muslim union sister Boudlal.   So it was wise for Boudlal’s new legal representation before her right to sue expired.

Boudlal’s statements and actions are confusing.  Boudlal did not claim to have a spiritual conversion but was motivated to assert her religious rights as she became an American citizen.  Boudlal then complained that the sartorial accommodation drew even more attention to her and being out of uniform did not do the same.  Boudlal as an employee seems to think that she can dictate how an entertainment company that is theatric and thematic can present its employees to the public.  It does not seem that CAIR saw any accommodation for Boudlal’s modesty other than allowing her to shatter the carefully cultivated public images which Disney presents to the public and Boudlal agreed to as part of her employment.

Perhaps this is a case of creeping Sharia, where an active minority uses lawfare to dictate terms to the public.  If this case ever goes to trial, may the jury weigh all of the facts of the matter as they deliberate on this Mickey Mouse alleged discrimination case.

11 August 2012

Romney/Ryan–Vetting the Virtues of Veepstake Choices

[L] Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI 1st) and [R] former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA)

As publicized through a smart phone application and announced on the U.S.S. Wisconsin in Norfolk, Virginia, presumptive Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney chose seven term Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI 1st) as his choice for a running mate.

John Garner Nance, President Franklin Roosevelt’s Vice President during his first two terms (1933-1941) derided the second highest office in the land by opining: “The vice presidency is not worth a bucket of warm spit.”  Perhaps Vice President Nance was jaundiced by simply being the duties of being the tie breaking vote in the Senate as its President and the back up in case of the incapacitation of the President.   In modern times, Vice Presidents are often tapped as the designated official American representative at foreign funerals.

If the office of Vice President can be so inconsequential, then why does the naming of a Presidential running mate matter.  Since Vice Presidential picks are often revealed just before the general election campaign, this acts as a vanguard of a Presidential nominee’s decision making.  Former Vice President Walter Mondale made a big show of his 1984 interviews before selecting Representative Geraldine Ferraro (D-NY 9th) to be his Democrat running mate.  Then Vice President George H.W. Bush made a snap decision in naming then Senator Dan Quayle (R-IN) as his surprise pick in 1988.  Senator John McCain surprised nearly everyone by stealthily selecting first term Governor Sarah Palin (R-AK).

There can be several motives behind choosing a Presidential running mate.  Sometimes it is pure electoral math.  There was no love lost between then the 1960 Democrat nominee then Senator John Kennedy (D-MA) and the Senate Majority Leader then Senator Lyndon Johnson (D-TX) but the selection of LBJ guaranteed that the Democrats would take the big electoral prize of Texas by hook or by crook.  Arguably, one of the great virtues of Governor Michael Dukakis (D-MA) choosing Senator Lloyd Benson (D-TX) was the secure large electoral prize of the Lone State state.  Of course, this strategy is only significant when it comes from populous states like California, Texas, Florida and New York and if the choice has statewide appeal (e.g. a governor or a senator).

Another impetus for selecting a Vice Presidential candidate is for party unity.  Kennedy/Johnson in 1960 placated wings  of the Democrat party as well as having geographical balance.  The same could be said of Senator John Kerry (D-MA) choosing then Senator John Edwards (D-NC), who was his leading primary opponent. Conservative candidate then Governor Ronald Reagan (R-CA) chose moderate primary opponent Rep. George H.W. Bush (R-TX 7th) in 1980 to unite the party.

A strategic calculus in the Veepstakes is to project a theme or to compliment weaknesses in a resume.  Then Governor George W. Bush (R-TX) chose former Representative Dick Cheney (R-WY) as his running mate in 2000 because of his “gravitas” with his extensive Between-the-Beltways experience in Congress, White House Chief Staff and Defense Secretary.  The same could be said of the 1988 Lloyd Benson pick.  There were some concerns about an outsider like Reagan being a cowboy, so the choice of George H.W. Bush, who had been RNC Chair, CIA Director and Ambassador to China filled in the insider weaknesses as well as ameliorating anxiety over foreign policy experience.

Many wondered why then Governor Bill Clinton (D-AR) selected Senator Al Gore, Jr. (D-TN) in 1992  as his Vice Presidential pick, since Tennessee is neither a by electoral prize nor could Gore, Jr.’s resume as a one term senator and one term congressman give significant insider experience”.  Mondale’s choice of Ferraro was almost certainly to make a statement for women by shattering the glass barrier.

But sometimes the bottom of the ticket is used to reinforce qualities with the marquee candidate.  Clinton/Gore projected an aura of a “new generation” as well as the “new South”.  It is speculated that George H.W. Bush chose Quayle to balance experience with youth.  A big virtue of McCain tapping Palin as a V.P. choice was to reinforce the “maverick” brand.

Occasionally, V.P. picks are meant as a contrast.  Vice President Al Gore wanted to separate himself from the scandal of the late Clinton Administration so the Democrat choice in 2000 was Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CN), who had voted for impeaching Clinton.

In some ways, it is dicey to choose a House member as a running mate.  This did not bode well for Senator Barry Goldwater’s choice in 1964 of Rep. William Miller (R-NY 42nd).  Mondale’s choice of little known Queens Congresswoman Ferraro did not carry the Empire State.  Senator Bob Dole’s choice of former Congressman Jack Kemp (R-NY 31st & 38th) did not make an impact, even though Kemp had experience as a HUD Secretary who wanted to Empower America.

As for Romney’s choice of Rep. Paul Ryan, this choice was somewhat bold in that Ryan was well known as a Republican who proposed a detailed plan to try to balance the budget.  While Wisconsin may be in play, it is not a huge electoral prize.  It demonstrates that Romney is choosing a running mate to govern.  The Obama campaign had been labeling proposed Medicare cuts in the budget as the Romney/Ryan budget plan, so Romney’s Veepstake choice embraces this issue.  Democrats had used a look alike of Paul Ryan dumping grandma off a cliff during  off-election campaigns, so Ryan’s image is already battle tested.

A virtue which Paul Ryan brings to the ticket is uniting the Republican party.  Some of the base has expressed concerns that Romney had not solidified his conservative credentials.  Rep. Ryan’s seriousness about the budget proposals makes him a darling of the Tea Party and should energize the base.  The choice of Paul Ryan may appeal to Independent voters who are serious about growing the economy.

An essential element of being a V.P. candidate is a willingness to be an attack dog to get the contrast campaigns without sullying the top of the ticket. Rep. Ryan was willing to go toe-to-toe challenging President Obama’s choices (and lack there of) in budget cutting.  So the Romney/Ryan ticket can double down on challenging incumbent Obama on not passing a budget in three years and projecting insipid economic growth for the foreseeable future. Vice President Joe Biden, our national treasure, will have a formidable opponent during the October 11th Vice Presidential debate.

At age 42, Ryan brings a youthful flair to the ticket while also offering substantive experience.  Ryan worked his way up from a non-privileged background so he may have appeal in other competitive Rust Belt states like Ohio and Michigan. Ryan's earnest efforts on balancing the budget might swing enough Granite State voters who care about economic integrity.   Ryan’s prowess on budget issues could concentrate campaign coverage on the economy rather than the slimey ad-hominem attacks on Romney by Obama 2012.  If elected, Ryan could be an interesting force twisting arms in the Senate, especially Cocktail Party Republicans, to pass real reforms.

04 August 2012

Olympic Gold Medalist Gabrielle Douglas Faces Critical Hellfire for Her Strong Spirituality

After winning a gold medal as the overall Best Women’s Gymnast in the 2012 London Summer Olympics, sixteen year old American Gabrielle Douglas had shown herself to have her feet on the ground yet she looked up to the heavens in thanks.

 Douglas’ recognition of divine favor did not seem gratuitous or isolated. Even before heading to London, Gabby gave a spirit filled interview with KTIS, where the young gymnist revealed how twice daily scriptural readings and meditation were part of her training routine.

Throughout the competition, Douglas had shared her strong faith through Twitter.  On July 28th, Douglas tweeted “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged; for the Lord will be with you wherever you go!”. On July 30th, she shared “I believe in God. He is the secret of my success. He gives people talent.” Another tweet on July 31st noted: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” On the day that she wonder her individual gold, Douglas wrote via Twitter: “Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me.”

Sadly, there are those on the left who find Douglas’ outspoken evangelical faith unnerving, like Salon writer Mary Elizabeth Williams, who frets that Gabby’s prominence will give her a new platform to preach. Others critics have snarked about Douglas’ hair as being unkept instead of basking in the glory that Gabrielle is the first American woman to win both an individual and a team gold in gymnastics. It makes me wonder if this is transferred aggression from less religious  gymnastics “fans”.

 After the Olympics, Gabrielle Douglas may return to her home in Virginia Beach, Virginia which coincidentally happens to be the headquarters of the Christian Broadcasting Network.

02 August 2012

Laus Deo--Bible Museum to Be in DC

[L] Curator Dr. Scott Carroll [R] Steve Green

The Museum of the Bible, a non-governmental not-for-profit organization, has secured a site two blocks from the National Mall to open a large scale national, non sectarian gallery  to display sacred texts by 2016.

Steve Green, the heir to the the Hobby Lobby craft chain (and current President) began collecting bible artifacts in 2009.  In collaboration with his “Indiana Jones” manuscript expert Dr. Scott Carroll, Green estimates that he spends half of his time now amassing 40,000 biblical antiquities which comprise the Green Collection. Currently, the collection includes Torahs, papyri along with illuminated or decorated manuscripts which are valued at between $20 million to $40 million.  The antiquities world marveled at the rapid acquisition rate of the Green Collection.

 Traveling as part of the Passages exhibition, 400 pieces of the Green Collection is touring the world, with stops at the Atlanta and soon Charlotte, NC.  A smaller portion of the Green Collection traveled to the Vatican during Lent for a Verbum Domini, a exhibition celebrating interfaith contributions to the Bible.

The Green Collection will find a permanent home in Washington, DC at 300 D St. SW in a $50 million deal for a building which was previously  a home design center. The spokesman for the yet to be named biblical museum observed that Washington, DC was chosen over Dallas and New York City due to the ten hour driving proximity to over half of the United States.

Steve Green effuses over engaging people in Scripture.  While there are other Bible Collections in America, like Manhattan’s American Bible Society, the aim to the yet to be named Bible Museum will be to inspire people with the story of the Bible and its history. Green notes that the “[Bible] has been banned and burned more than any other book. It has over 40 writers over  a 1,500 year period.  That in itself is an incredible story.”

The average household in America owns seven Bibles and it has become somewhat common place. Yet Green feels that we have become ignorant of the Bible as it is no longer taught in the schools. The aim of making the Green Collection accessible to the public is to re-engage them with scripture and become acquainted with the God of the Bible.

Although Steven Green is evangelical and his family comes from a Southern Baptist tradition, the Bible Museum is intended to be non-sectarian.  In fact, Green hopes that atheists and skeptics of the Bible will tour the Collection and recognize that it is the most documented book from antiquity for which so many people have given their lives so there may be something to it.

When the Bible Museum is slated to open in 2016, it does plan to charge admission.  In the Nation’s Capital, paid admissions are the exception and not the rule, due to taxpayer largess with the Smithsonian Museums and the National Gallery of Art.  In the past decade, there have been a couple of successful private museums which charge admission, like the International Spy Museum and the Newseum.  Both of those ventures have dynamic and interactive presentations and somewhat specialized subject matter.

Washington's Carnegie Library
There have been two spectacular failures of paid admission museums between-the-beltways.  The City Museum in Washington in the historic Carnegie Library across the street from the Washington Convention Center, opened in 2003 to great fanfare and a Disney-like attraction.  But it closed in 2005 due to financial difficulties.
John Paul II Cultural Center

More on point was the John Paul II Cultural Center, a 130,000 square foot museum  near Catholic University in Brookland, DC sought to explore faith in the world, opened in March 2001 at a reported cost of $75 million.  It is speculated that the downturn in tourism after the September 2001 terrorist attack and economic recession doomed the project.  That may be true but personally I felt that there was not much to the collection for the proffered entry fee and it was far from typical tourist sections of the Nation’s Capital.  The JPII CC has now closed and the monumental building was sold to the Knights of Columbus for a reported $22.5  million in 2011.

While Steve Green reverse the majesty of the King James Bible, it would behoove the Bible Museum to augment the scriptural story beyond the Authorized Version, which just celebrated its quadricentenary in 2011.  Even though The Voice translation of the Bible may not work, it is an example of contemporary efforts to engage readers with scripture and should be recognized.

During the recent Restoring Love Rally in Dallas, Glenn Beck showed one of the eight surviving copies of a Bible commissioned by the Continental Congress after the American Revolutionary War that was given to soldiers as a token of gratitude, as King George had prohibited Americans from publishing their own Bibles.  Perhaps the Bible Museum could consult with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to rediscover God in America to make connections between the Federal City and how scripture shaped the formation of the nation.

h/t: Philanthropy Roundtable