Saturday, November 7, 2020

The New Blog

The first post on my new blog, In the Shadow of Mt Hollywood, is up. I probably won't be posting further on this blog, and if there are any important developments in the ordinariates, I'll likely post on them there. However, I won't be posting on routine ordinariate issues, personnel, or parish news.

I'm allowing comments on the new blog. Normal rules of courtesy and decorum prevail. I didn't allow comments on this blog simply due to the level of anger connected with Anglicanorum coetibus and the establishment of ordinariates. I recognizee that some angry people may wish to use comments on the new blog to extend controversies that I addressed here.

I request that people not do this and restrict comments on the new blog to the issues addressed in posts there. I'll delete as a matter of policy any comments on the new blog addressed to matters that were covered exclusively here. Otherwise, my moderating policy there will be pretty liberal.

Blogger recently made major changes to its format, and I'm still adjusting to them, as this blog was set up under old Blogger, and new blogs don't work the same way. As a result, the new blog will be "under construction" for some time.

Friday, November 6, 2020

It's Time To Wrap This Blog Up

Over the past six months, the Almighty has been gently but steadily suggesting to me that Anglicanorum coetibus is no longer a good use of my time. Through the life of this project, my unavoidable conclusion has been that this was never an organic development in the Catholic Church. A week ago, a visitor said, "I also don’t see Rome investing new money or any effort into helping [Bp Lopes] out, either. Foot note in history, perhaps."

It occurred to me then that not only was Rome not going to put new money into it, thry never put any money into it at all. Such money as was put into it was via private donations from within the US or via properties and endowments transferred from existing Anglican parishes that went into the ordinariate. That's got to say something about what potential Rome saw in the idea.

Over the past several years, with a new bishop and a new liturgy, the North American ordinariate hasn't grown and appears in fact to be slowly shrinking. The specific instances and the reasons why have been thoroughly reported here, and I don't think there's much more to say.

Oddly, one way the Almighty has spoken to me about this has been via Fr Bengry. Based on remarks on his varioius blogs and web sites, on one hand, it sounds like Fr Perkins has forbidden him to read any posts here, so I'm a little sorry he won't see this. On the other hand, some time ago, he located an archived version of my first blog, which I gave up and deleted about the time I thought the St Mary of the Angels Hollywood parish was going to go into a projected North American ordinariate. Looking for embarrassing material there, he seems to have come away with the impression that I'm a very good writer, and I should be exercising my talents more widely, and he said so on his blog.

This was effective advice, and I thank him for it. I wish Fr Bengry no ill, he has his own row to hoe, and I assume Fr Perkns and Bp Lopes will help him with this, as I hope they will examine their own purposes in life.

I'd like to thank the many visitors who've helped me with information and suggestions, especially my regular correspondent and a well-known academic. This has definitely been your effort as much as mine.

I have a birthday coming up shortly, and that anniversary is a good time to rethink and recalibrate. I expect that what I will do is within the next few days stop posting here, but I'm in the process of setting up a new blog with a new focus, intending to write more fully on some of the issues I've addressed tangentially here. A big reason I'm moving to an entirely new blog is that I want to allow comments on it, and I find that for whatever reason, I can't reset this option on this blog. I decided from the start not to have comments on this one due simply to the likely angry tone they would encourage.

I will leave this blog up as a reference indefinitely for as long as Blogger will allow it, but I won't update it after a last post here. At that time, I'll post a link to the new blog for those who may wish to follow me over there.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Here's The Best Analysis I've Found

Yesterday I complained that I couldn't find intelligent analysis of the current situation. However, later in the day, a commentator I've been following since 2016 on YouTube called the Hard Bastard didn't disappoint.
I don't believe the Hard Bastard's name has been disclosed. As far as I can determine from various remarks he's made, he is a non-college educated guy of Italian ancestry who lives in the Philadelphia area. (His Philadelphia accent is far better than mine, which was refined away in the Ivy League.) He is instinctively a secularist libertarian, resultimg from a past reaction to Jehovah's Witnesses. Nevertheless, his primary allegiance is to Reason, and I think he'll grow over time. I shoud warn sensitive readers that he sometimes uses very graphic language.

I note that two prominent members of Trump's current legal team, Jenna Ellis and Harmeet Dhillon, have been active in free-exercise church cases up to now. (I would guess these cases will be off the front burner for some time.) However, the election issues are actually closely related to the free-exercise issues, which also involve civil officials exceeding legislative authority.

Based on statements by Trump's legal team, which also includes Pam Bondi, Jay Sekulow, and Rudy Giuliani, they are in the process of developing a legal strategy to pull the election out for Trump. I would say that the Hard Bastard's understanding of the strategy, insofar as we can know it, is correct.

I'll be posting primarily on the election and related issues for the foreseeable future and may have more to say later today.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Election Analysis

I continue to be frustrated at the lack of intelligent analysis of the election anywhere, corporate or independent media. Lots of hysteria, little sense.

here's a good ongoing update at The American Catholic.

There's a basic summary of legal and electoral issues at Fox.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

And Yet Another California COVID Update

A Sutter County, CA superior court judge has ruled againt Gov Newsom's ability to issue arbitrary executive orders for COVID control:
Sutter County Superior Court Judge Sarah Heckman tentatively ruled that one of the dozens of executive orders Newsom has issued overstepped his authority and impinged on the state Legislature.

She more broadly barred him “from exercising any power under the California Emergency Services Act which amends, alters, or changes existing statutory law or makes new statutory law or legislative policy.”

. . . Heckman wrote in a nine-page decision that the California Emergency Services Act “does not permit the Governor to amend statutes or make new statutes. The Governor does not have the power or authority to assume the Legislature’s role of creating legislative policy and enactments.”

However, this is almost certainly going to be just the first chapter in another dog-bites-man story, in which a lower court judge issues an entirely justifiable ruling that executive orders that have the force of law must be enacted as laws by a legislature, but the injunctions are immediately stayed on appeal, and the proceedings are slow-walked thereafter. This has happened in numerous jurisdictions from Oregon to New York, most prominenly with federal Judge Stickman's Pennsylvania ruling.

I would say stay tuned, but I think there's going to be another long wait. Sutter County is an agricultural and partly suburban area northeast of Sacramento.

In La Habra Heights, a rural Los Angeles suburb southeast of the city, an Evangelical congregation, World Aflame, has sued city officials for harassment of activities protected under the US First Amendment. The unique twist here is that the church has been abiding by all applicable masking, outdoor worship, and social distancing regulations from all applicable authorities, but the city alleges that its outdoor services now violate a noise ordinance.

The harassment, according to Pastor Joe Garcia of World Aflame Ministries, is the work of La Habra Heights City Manager Fabiola Huerta and Juan Garcia, a private citizen who lives near the congregation’s rented meeting place.

The suit cited inspections by the Los Angeles County Health Department and Sheriff’s Office that found the congregation in compliance with all existing orders.

“Defendants have repeatedly falsely accused Plaintiffs of violating health orders. Realizing that Plaintiffs were beyond reproach in complying with federal, state, county, and city laws and public health orders, Defendants decided to focus on local subjective noise ordinances to continue to harass and persecute Plaintiffs,” the Garcias contend in their lawsuit.

. . . "In July 2020, after Plaintiffs moved their worship services outside to comply with COVID-19 health orders, Defendant Juan Garcia started yelling at church ushers and members and taking video and pictures of the church members on a weekly basis.

“Juan Garcia made complaints based on false allegations to the Los Angeles County Health Department and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, which visited the church numerous times during worship services and found no legal violations.

"Juan Garcia also made and continues to make complaints based on false allegations to the City of La Habra Heights (the ‘City’). The City and Fabiola Huerta in her official capacity as city manager, erroneously gave credence to Garcia’s false accusations and unlawfully joined Juan Garcia in conspiring to harass, fine, and cite Plaintiffs, in spite of evidence that Plaintiffs are in full compliance with state and county health orders and with the La Habra Heights Municipal Code (‘LHHMC’).”

Reading between the lines and applying my own experience in outdoor church services, even if the congregation is abiding by all the rules and limiting attendance to 100, socially distanced, masked, and without singing, an audio system is ncessary to hear readings, prayers, and preaching. If the service were indoors, the noise wouldn't be noticeable to neighbors. But with an audio system outdoors, the neighbors hear it. (However, based on the suit, even this level is within the actual city noise ordinance.)

It's hard to avoid thinking that the actual intent of COVID controls will be eventually to prohibit any form of congregational worship -- they're certainly working on ways to do it.

Monday, November 2, 2020

It's The Shutdowns

I don't believe any media, certainly not corporate, but even most YouTube commentators, has had a good handle on the US elections this year. I've commented here now and then that the COVID lockdowns are underrated as a factor motivating voter preference. My wife and I see day-to-day events that are hardly noticed by paid observers of any political persuasion -- barbers, hairdressers, maid services, facialists, and cosmetologists losing their businesses, month in and month out, for instance. This has an impact not only on the business owners themselves, but on those who must find alternatives.

Over the past weekend, some media outlets have begun to report on what they characterize as a "shift" toward Trump, or perhaps a final decision among "undecideds" for Trump. I'm skeptical that there was ever a "shift". Voters have had their minds made up since the lockdown goalposts began to be moved back in April -- remember when Dr Birx told us we'd be back to normal by Easter? Remember the rage in Los Angeles when the health director said we might need to lock down as long as Labor Day?

The issue began to crystalize only during the final presidential debate, where Vice President Biden made it clear that if elected, he would impose a national mask mandate (with federal mask enforcers?) and reimpose a stay-aa-home lockdown. On the other hand, President Trump has maintained a secondary campaign against Governors Cuomo, Whitmer, Wolf, and Newsom in all his rallies, taking swipes at them for their lockdown policies. None of them is on the ballot this cycle (which is not a coincidence), but Trump is correct in his instinct that resentment against them will drive the presidential and congressional votes.

A couple of pollsters have begun to take note. Yesterday on Fox's Sunday Morning Futures program, Robert Cahaly of Trafalgar predicted a major Trump win:

What we are seeing is a movement toward Trump with late breakers. [No, they've had their minds made up since May.] We are also seeing folks that had initially given every indication that they were going to support Biden or they were undecided moving toward Trump. And the issue we see moving on is the shutdowns. Even young people we’ve identified who don’t like the president. They like shutdowns even less. Even suburban women who said they have problems with the president, they like their children home and shutdowns even less.
On Saturday, Republican Rep Jim Jordan of Ohio told Jeanine Pirro tha Trump's margin of victory would be much greater than predicted by most pundits:
“I think the margin is going to be so strong — it’s going to be a no-doubter,” he said. “Remember, Americans understand this. They understand this election. In the end, it’s about freedom. Right? Look at what we’ve been through the last several months with Democrat governors and Democrat mayors telling Americans they couldn’t go to church, couldn’t go to work, couldn’t go to school, couldn’t go to a loved one’s funeral, but it was fine to protest, riot and loot.”

“Now, we’ve got Governor Newsom saying you can’t even have Thanksgiving the way you want to have Thanksgiving,” Jordan added. “And we’ve got Joe Biden talking about the Biden dark winter and locking down our economy. Americans appreciate the freedom we enjoy as American citizens. That’s what’s going to drive into the polls and why the President is going to win big.”

This brings me to the local puzzle in our own congressional district, California 28, which covers Glendale, Burbank, parts of Hollywood, and the eastern San Fernando Valley. It's quite heavily ethnic, with Latins, Filipinos, Armenians, Russians, and Jews, many of whom have lost their businesses in the lockdowns.

One thing I've noticed is that the Armenians began to attach Armenian flags to their cars during the renewed ocnflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. But as that conflict has cooled, the flags have stayed out. I've begun to realize these are actually Trump flags without saying Trump, which protects the cars from vandalism. The Armenians also bring Armenian flags to local Trump rallies, for what that's worth as well.

The incumbent congessman from the 28th district is Adam Schiff, who distinguished himself in the utterly unproductive impeachment controversy early this year. It remains to be seen how much resentment of COVID restrictions will drive local political races in ways that coporate media has so far not acknowledged.

I learn via Facebook that Beverly Hills police have already closed Rodeo Drive to traffic, and stores are boarding up in anticipation of riots Tuesday night.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

The Power Of Wishful Thinking

I've mentioned now and then that I'm a true crime fan. One of the shows I watch is American Greed, which had a recent episode on Troy Stratos, who conned his marks out of millions by claiming to be a Hollywood producer. One reason I follow true crime is the insights it gives me into the more mundane motives behind the petty chicanery I see closer to home. While watching the MSNBC show on Stratos the other night, something kept bringing me back to Fr Scott Wooten and the mysterious million dollars that's going to build the church in Cleburne, TX.

Although Stratos claimed to be a producer, he was also playing a con that for want of a better name I would call the Saudi Royal Family scam. In this scam, the perp claims to be a member of, or to have close connections with, the Saudi royal family. His collateral-- the trappings that give him credibility -- is driving Rolls-Royces and living in hotel penthouses, spending lavishly at nightclubs and resorts. All this is, of course, heavily leveraged and paid for by house-of-cards arrangements that inevitably collapse.

But in the meantime, the heart of his operation is basically to say, "My share of the royal family's fortune is $2 billion. I'm impressed ty the brilliance of your _______ project, and I want to invest at least $42 million in it. However, I'm having some difficulty getting the transaction through your Treasury Department for final approval. I've been on the line to Secretary Mnuchin and even President Trump, of course, but this may still take a few more weeks. In the meantime, could you help me out with a mere $3.3 million to satisfy the requirements of _________ to secure final approval?"

The basic incentive is that via flattery and the prospect of great wealth in a few weeks time, the con artist milks the mark for large incremental amounts, with the prospect of the ultimate boodle always remaining a short distance away -- until the perp disappears, adopts a new name, and continues his schemes, leaving multiple marks holding the bag. This was the essence of the Troy Stratos scam.

I make no secret of my view that there's something hinky about Fr Wooten's mysterious million-dollar gift. I feel quite certain that if anyone prompted him to verify it in the most minimal way -- Father, could you show us just last month's bank statement? -- he'd give a folksy sorta-kinda rigamarole about how it's not that simple, you probably aren't all that familiar with how these things are done, the money is in a separate whoopdedoodle brokerage until it can be released, but it's the vice of curiosity to ask too many questions about this. Blah, blah, blah. I wouldn't put it past him to invite me into the confessional to confess my sin of curiosity, frankly.

I think the million-dollar gift is always going to dangle just out of reach, but in the meantime, he's gotten Houston to waive its maximum age requirement for ordination, ordain him priest on the fast track, and heaven knows what else. I'm sure there's a what else. He didn't resign his Episcopal orders for nothing in my view. Did Houston even try to contact Bp Iker? The plus for Houston is that it gives a distant hope of looking successful in the Fort Worth area, which had once had prospects of being a hotbed for new ordinariate parishes. My regular correspndent remarks,

This part of Texas has been quite the merry-go-round. Fr Chuck Hough III we have discussed before. Fr Kennedy has been posted here and there. Not much evidence of a coherent plan.
Anoher visitor comments on what this portends for Bp Lopes's future;
He can retire a Bishop if the Ordinariate lasts long enough and if it goes under, meh. Next stop, back to Rome or some other administrative job for a nuncio in DC or other such post. It’s all very rosy for Bishop Lopes and his live-in secretary/whatever–position-he-is, friend. There doesn’t seem to be a fire under him to produce results, but I also don’t see Rome investing new money or any effort into helping him out, either. Foot note in history, perhaps.
That Houston is placing bets on Fr Wooten and his mysterious donor is not a good sign.