Barney Fife and Ezra Klein

Don Knotts, one of the great comedians of his day, demonstrates how little his character Barney Fife recalled about the preamble of the US Constitution.  Ezra Klein, leftist blogger and columnist for the Washington Post would be pleased.  Recently he said:

The issue with the Constitution is that the text is confusing because it was written more than a hundred years ago and what people believe it says differs from person to person and differs depending on what they want to get done.

My co-blogger Paul Zummo, at The American Catholic where we also both blog, patiently explains to Mr. Klein why his comment is nonsense:

So the Constitution is confusing because it was written over a hundred years ago (actually it’s over 200 years old, but let’s not let little details like that deter us)?  A fascinating comment  coming from a Jewish intellectual, because the Hebrew Scriptures are a wee bit more than a hundred years old.  Should we disregard the Bible because it was written centuries ago – and in several different languages?  Also, it’s not as though the Constitution was written in old English.  Sure there are some stylistic flourishes that were more common in 18th century America, but one doesn’t need some sort of secret decoder ring to decipher the meaning of the text.  One need not be a PhD in ancient languages to understand the Constitution.

Klein’s comment is quite revealing, though.  This is the main bone of contention that most Progressives have with the Constitution – it’s old.  It was written over two hundred years ago by some dead white men, and therefore those of us living should not bind ourselves to some outdated and “confusing” text.  This is an attitude as old as the Constitution itself, and is implicit in Thomas Jefferson’s advocacy of changing the Constitution every 20 years.

What we see behind this attitude as expressed by Klein is a disdain for permanent things.  It is the core issue that separates progressives and conservatives.  Conservatives seek to preserve the heritage of the Constitution – and not just for the sake of it.  We recognize that if we turn the Constitution into a mutable plaything, ever changing with the times, then we might as well discard the thing and live under the temporary whims of whoever is in charge of the federal government. 

Go here to read the whole post. (more…)

Published in: on December 31, 2010 at 5:30 am  Comments (1)  
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Surviving a Holiday Zombie Attack


Off topic, but we here at Almost Chosen People always want to look out for the well-being of our readers, and thus we pass along the above video which is full of useful tips about beating off Zombie attacks during the holidays. (more…)

Published in: on December 30, 2010 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  

Last Eye Witness of the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

We sometimes forget how brief American history has been in terms of the entire history of mankind.  Samuel J. Seymour was five years old and had been taken by his godmother to Ford’s Theater in Washington to see the comedy Our American Cousin on Good Friday 1865.  Seymour heard the shot fired by John Wilkes Booth, saw Lincoln fall forward in his seat and  Booth leap from the Presidential box on to the stage.  Seymour lived to appear on I’ve Got a Secret in 1956 in the above video, less than a year before I was born.  Seymour would die soon after his appearance on the show, 91 years to the day from Lincoln’s assassination.  One point as to how times have changed:  The grand prize on the game show was $80.00 and a carton of cigarettes!

Published in: on December 29, 2010 at 5:30 am  Comments (3)  

300 Spartans and Freedom

Thermopylae had her messenger of defeat, but the Alamo had none.

                                                                        Thomas Jefferson Green

The heroic last stand at Thermopylae of the 300 Spartans under King Leonidas, along with a few thousand other Greek hoplites in 490 BC, has long fascinated Americans.   Fighting to the last for freedom has served to inspire Americans in times of war.  The recent movie 300, although I greatly enjoyed portions of it, especially the final speech which may be viewed here, was more a comic book brought to the screen, Mark Miller’s graphic novel, rather than any attempt to be historically accurate.  Perhaps the finest living expect on classical Greek warfare Victor Davis Hanson points out just a few of the inaccuracies in the film:

300, of course, makes plenty of allowance for popular tastes, changing and expanding the story to meet the protocols of the comic book genre. The film was not shot on location outdoors, but in a studio using the so-called “digital backlot” technique of sometimes placing the actors against blue screens. The resulting realism is not that of the sun-soaked cliffs above the blue Aegean — Thermopylae remains spectacularly beautiful today — but of the eerie etchings of the comic book.

The Spartans fight bare-chested without armor, in the “heroic nude” manner that ancient Greek vase-painters portrayed Greek hoplites, their muscles bulging as if they were contemporary comic book action heroes. Again, following the Miller comic, artistic license is made with the original story — the traitor Ephialtes is as deformed in body as he is in character; King Xerxes is not bearded and perched on a distant throne, but bald, huge, perhaps sexually ambiguous, and often right on the battlefield. The Persians bring with them exotic beasts like a rhinoceros and elephant, and the leader of the Immortals fights Leonidas in a duel (which the Greeks knew as monomachia). Shields are metal rather than wood with bronze veneers, and swords sometimes look futuristic rather than ancient. (more…)

Published in: on December 27, 2010 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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One Solitary Life

Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.

He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put His foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself…

While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. While He was dying His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth – His coat. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Nineteen long centuries have come and gone, and today He is a centerpiece of the human race and leader of the column of progress.

I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built; all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.

Published in: on December 25, 2010 at 5:30 am  Comments (1)  
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December 24, 1860: The South Carolina Declaration of Independence

One hundred and fifty years ago, the nation was about to celebrate Christmas, the last Christmas the country would have in peace for over four very long years.  On this day in 1860, South Carolina published its Declaration of Independence, which notes that the reason for the separation is slavery.  The South Carolina Declaration of Independence: (more…)

Published in: on December 24, 2010 at 5:47 am  Comments (2)  
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Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Something for a Christmas Eve. Hark the Herald Angels Sing combined with Renaissance Masters praising in paint Madonna and Child. (more…)

Published in: on December 24, 2010 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Hark the Herald Angels Sing  


A nice video meshing scenes from the John Adams miniseries and the Mel Gibson movie The Patriot.  It strikes me as the type of blended together memories that someone in old age who was privileged to have been young at the time of the birth of the Nation would have had in recalling those stirring days.

Published in: on December 22, 2010 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Independence  
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Fighting the Good Fight: The Father Peter Whelan Story

“Fr. Whelan, a Catholic priest from Savannah came in and spoke words of cheer to the condemned and prayed for the forgiveness of their crimes. This lone priest was the only minister of the Gospel that ever came into the prison to speak a kind word or set aright our misguided souls. He made regular visits to the prison, consoled the dying and anointed the dead of his faith. Too much praise cannot be accorded this reverend gentleman for trying to turn sinners to Christ; but in the Last Day, Heaven will cry out for vengeance on ministers of other denominations for their indifference toward their kindred confined in prison.”

Charles Fosdick, Company K, 5th Iowa Volunteers

Hattip to commenter Jim Schmidt.  Faithful readers of this blog will recall my post Priest of Andersonville in which I related the story of Father Peter Whelan, a Roman Catholic priest and Confederate Army chaplain who, on his own initiative, ministered to the tens of thousands of Union prisoners of war at the infamous Andersonville prison in 1864 (more…)

Published in: on December 21, 2010 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Fighting the Good Fight: The Father Peter Whelan Story  
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A bit off topic, but I was watching the film Casablanca yesterday, and I was stirred, as I always am, by the above scene from the film.  Ironically the film was made in 1942, and before the year was out American troops would find themselves fighting against Vichy French forces in North Africa.  However, the resistance was brief and most Vichy French troops adamantly refused to fight against Americans.

Published in: on December 19, 2010 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Casablanca  
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