Though I’m a lifelong Californian, when I lived in Sacramento I was occasionally asked if I grew up in the midwest. Lots of us speak like midwesterners in this part of the state.
|What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland
|The Inland North|
|What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz
I just arrived in Ventura after an 8-hour drive which took me down I-5 on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. Suffice it to say that I was viscerally moved by the utter desolation – miles of once fertile fields are now dry and riddled with sagebrush, orchards are dead and dying and uprooted, signs are everywhere blaming Congress for creating a new dustbowl in what once was the nation’s breadbasket. The sight was particularly shocking to me because I remember what the place once looked like: prosperous, productive, green and alive. Now it is a virtual desert, unemployment is around 40%, and whole towns are blowing away with the dust. Why this destruction? Why? It isn’t just the drought. The drought is over in California. No, the south San Joaquin Valley’s economy is devastated because so-called “environmentalists”, who must truly be man-hating mental cases, deemed a tiny fish called the “delta smelt” more important than civilization and the welfare of human beings. The pumping of irrigation water was stopped by court-order to preserve water levels in the delta for the sake of this little fish.
I prefer to spotlight randomly discovered quotes on the internet in groups of three, but alas, tonight they arrive in twos. First, Laura Wood of “The Thinking Housewife” on Fatherhood and Democracy:
The ideal citizen in any high-functioning democracy is the father. He is more important politically than the mother; more important than the young man without children or the single woman; more important as a type than even the property owner. If I were to build an infant republic, I would limit the franchise to fathers, possibly making ownership of property an additional qualification.
There may be great statesmen or thinkers who have no children, men such as Alexis de Tocqueville who possess vision and insight. There may be celibate spiritual leaders and occasionally a great woman leader. But, it is the ordinary father who is the human cell of democracy, without whom it cannot prosper over the long term.
In the father, the impersonal and personal, the abstract and concrete, the public and private are more likely to exist in the sort of harmony that makes for good political judgment. By father, I don’t mean any man who has biologically reproduced, but the man who takes part in rearing his children and has an active bond with them, whether they are young or adults. The man who never sees his children, has no interest in them, or only supplies compulsory financial support does not meet this definition.
For a woman, the world is too personal and parochial; she seeks security first. For the man without children, the future is sterile; even property or personal wealth will not make him care for those who will live many decades from now. The father is more apt to possess both public-spiritedness and loyalty, dispassion and compassion.
Patriarchy is often misunderstod. Too often it conjures images of despotic chiefs or overlords. A democratic patriarchy is the rule of ordinary fathers. As Pericles said in his famous funeral oration:
” … for never can a fair or just policy be expected of the citizen who does not, like his fellows, bring to the decision the interests and apprehensions of a father.”
“Holy Scripture describes life very touchingly as a weary land…. So it is in religion. We cannot live among unbelievers, and enjoy that bright life of the spirit which belongs to those who dwell in ages and regions of faith. They, who lingering in domestic Edens they are loath to leave, consort much with those who are not children of the Church, soon become evidently the worse for it, the moment they live at peace with them and cease trying to convert them. Faith, like holiness, suffers a sort of enervation from such society, and languishes in an uncongenial atmosphere. Hence people get strange views about the easiness of the salvability of heretics, and at last sink to making the kindliness of a doctrine the measure of its truth, and that not kindliness to our dearest Lord or to His one Church, but to those who are not His or hers.”
True statements, both of them, but not likely to be popular topics of conversation at next month’s “holiday parties”.
“I was afraid that when I arrived in California, my business and politics would so engross my mind that I could not fix my mind on the Saviour. But I am most happy to say that such is not the case. In fact it seems to be coming more easy for me. At night I pray ’till I fall asleep. In the morning I wake before day and then is my best time. I try to repose all my trust in my Maker.” - John Bidwell in a letter to his fiance, Annie Kennedy
The secularist progressives who guard the legacy of Chico’s founder are not going to bring this up very often, but anyone who digs a little will be struck by the depth of John Bidwell’s Christian faith and piety. Bidwell’s much touted “enlightened” conduct – such as his humane treatment of the Indians, his defense of Chinese immigrants against nativist violence, and his staunch anti-slavery views – derived not from lofty political theories but from his belief in Jesus Christ. True, he was also a prohibitionist and an advocate of women’s suffrage, but that came with Presbyterianism in those days, so we ought to cut him a little slack. Bidwell so strongly desired that Chico become a city of faith that he donated one city block to each of the Christian traditions represented in the population.
They say “it takes one to know one”, and John Bidwell knew the measure of a good man. On his way to California he journeyed with the legendary Catholic missionary, Fr. Pierre-Jean De Smet, S.J., of whom he wrote:
“He was genial, of fine presence, and one of the saintliest men I have ever known, and I cannot wonder that the Indians were made to believe him divinely protected. He was a man of great kindness and great affability under all circumstances; nothing seemed to disturb his temper… Sometimes a cart would go over, breaking everything in it to pieces; and at such times Father de Smet would be just the same – beaming with good humor.”
One of John Bidwell’s biographers, Nancy Leek, works at the library here in town. A generous soul, she shares her knowledge of northern California history, free of charge, on her blog “Goldfields”. I’m putting her book on my Christmas list.
The cat does not leave the mouse,
young ladies remain coffee addicts.
The mother loves her cup of coffee,
the grandmother drank it also.
Who can blame the daughters!
Think about it. A single term, ten year presidency would be a tremendous benefit to the country. The president, once elected, could devote his full attention to governing rather than running for re-election. Among other advantages, this would re-direct more than one billion dollars – the total spent by all candidates in a presidential campaign every four years – from campaign expenditures to potential investment in the economy. The president would be less a captive of his political party and more free to build coalitions. Many of our social and economic problems require long-term solutions and short-term sacrifices: a single, ten year term would allow the president to implement long-term policies that may be unpopular in the beginning but ultimately best for the nation. It would also provide a sense of stability, predictability, and familiarity to our political life, which is presently much too chaotic. Foreign nations, too, would find American policies more intelligible and less volatile. Americans would choose their presidents more carefully, knowing they would be “stuck” with the same man for ten years, the only remedy being impeachment.
Yesterday, November 20, was the Feast of Christ the King on the Novus Ordo calendar. It’s good to recall the reasons Pope Pius XI instituted this feast:
30. We would now, Venerable Brethren, in closing this letter, briefly enumerate the blessings which We hope and pray may accrue to the Church, to society, and to each one of the faithful, as a result of the public veneration of the Kingship of Christ.
31. When we pay honor to the princely dignity of Christ, men will doubtless be reminded that the Church, founded by Christ as a perfect society, has a natural and inalienable right to perfect freedom and immunity from the power of the state; and that in fulfilling the task committed to her by God of teaching, ruling, and guiding to eternal bliss those who belong to the kingdom of Christ, she cannot be subject to any external power. The State is bound to extend similar freedom to the orders and communities of religious of either sex, who give most valuable help to the Bishops of the Church by laboring for the extension and the establishment of the kingdom of Christ. By their sacred vows they fight against the threefold concupiscence of the world; by making profession of a more perfect life they render the holiness which her divine Founder willed should be a mark and characteristic of his Church more striking and more conspicuous in the eyes of all.
32. Nations will be reminded by the annual celebration of this feast that not only private individuals but also rulers and princes are bound to give public honor and obedience to Christ. It will call to their minds the thought of the last judgment, wherein Christ, who has been cast out of public life, despised, neglected and ignored, will most severely avenge these insults; for his kingly dignity demands that the State should take account of the commandments of God and of Christian principles, both in making laws and in administering justice, and also in providing for the young a sound moral education.
33. The faithful, moreover, by meditating upon these truths, will gain much strength and courage, enabling them to form their lives after the true Christian ideal. If to Christ our Lord is given all power in heaven and on earth; if all men, purchased by his precious blood, are by a new right subjected to his dominion; if this power embraces all men, it must be clear that not one of our faculties is exempt from his empire. He must reign in our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ. He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to him alone. He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which should serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls, or to use the words of the Apostle Paul, as instruments of justice unto God. If all these truths are presented to the faithful for their consideration, they will prove a powerful incentive to perfection. It is Our fervent desire, Venerable Brethren, that those who are without the fold may seek after and accept the sweet yoke of Christ, and that we, who by the mercy of God are of the household of the faith, may bear that yoke, not as a burden but with joy, with love, with devotion; that having lived our lives in accordance with the laws of God’s kingdom, we may receive full measure of good fruit, and counted by Christ good and faithful servants, we may be rendered partakers of eternal bliss and glory with him in his heavenly kingdom.
Lots of bad news here, but this little tidbit jumped out at me:
10 – The total cost of just three federal government programs – the Department of Defense, Social Security and Medicare – exceeded the total amount of taxes brought in during fiscal 2010 by 10 billion dollars.
If nothing else, we can thank President Obama for ending our costly and pointless military involvement in Iraq. Let’s hope the next president does the same in Afghanistan, and makes sure the DOD budget is reduced proportionately. Next we can hope for an administration that will transition all federal social programs to the states. Lacking control over the money supply, the states will have some real incentive to find solutions and control costs.
We’ll never pay off a $15 trillion national debt, but there’s no reason why we can’t substantially reduce a $1.3 trillion budget deficit.
Last night I drove the children to Cottonwood to see the amazing April Verch and her talented accompanists. The audience was a fairly small, intimate crowd of people loosely associated with the area’s old time fiddlers’ community. April’s style of dancing is known as “Ottawa Valley dancing”, from the Canadian region of the same name – a blend of Irish, Scottish, French, German, and Polish influences. When I told her that I have an eight-year old daughter whom I think would benefit from channeling her natural bounciness into learning to dance like this, April replied that she hopes to come out with an instructional DVD in the near future.
She is not only an amazing dancer but an incredible fiddler, a talented songwriter, and a delightful folk singer. Here’s a sample of the entertainment we enjoyed last night: