Profoundly Un-American


As nearly everyone plugged into the Net knows by now, Brendan Eich is one of the exalted visionaries of cyberworld, having invented the ubiquitous and indispensable JavaScript programming language.

Firefox LogoHe was one of the organizers of the Mozilla Foundation, a nonprofit group that encourages and guides development of Internet-related applications by webheads dedicated to the open-source concept of technological advancement through information sharing.

It seemed natural that Eich would be selected to lead the Foundation’s for-profit subsidiary, Mozilla Corporation, maker of the widely used Firefox web browser.

Natural, that is, until it came to light that he had made a $1,000 donation to the campaign promoting Proposition 8. That’s the infamous 2008 California ballot initiative specifying that marriage is exclusively between one man and one woman.

Horror of horrors! How could such a retrograde view be supported by one of the leading lights of an industry in which most practitioners consider human gender to be as open-source as their technology? Why…why…why — such a notion is as antiquated as Kaypro or Commodore or the Apple IIe.

Away with him! Banish him to the land of 300-baud dial-up modems!

So Eich was out, after less than two weeks as CEO of Mozilla. And — Whadda ya know? — a virtual firestorm has engulfed the forward-looking community of innovators.


Deadline? What Deadline?


ACA Logo“What the hell is this, a joke?”

That’s House Speaker John Boehner on finding out that people who aren’t able to sign up for Obamacare by the absolute, final, rock-solid, last-ditch, no-fooling-around, we’re-not-kidding, you-better-believe-we-mean-what-we-say deadline of March 31 will get extra time and not be subject to a fine after all.

As long as they assert that they “made a good-faith effort” in the attempt.

Assert by checking a box on a form, that is — a claim which will be unverified. Hey, it’s the honor system.

As reported by Britain’s Daily Mail, Boehner insisted…

“The law says that enrollment stops at the end of March. That’s what the law says….

“I’ve got to live by the law. You’ve got to live by the law. The American people have got to live by the law. And guess what? The president needs to live by the law as well.”

Now there’s a concept — one over which our highly improvisational Chief Executive doesn’t seem to lose much sleep.


Hold the Presses!


It should come as no surprise that the class I remember most fondly from my days as a Journalism major at Temple University would be Editorial Writing. But then, as I have confessed…

Temple U LogoI’ve always been opinionated and long-winded. Which pretty much proves I was born to blog.

My least favorite class was Editing. It was taught by an old guy who had been a slot man for many years on a local paper, and who insisted we learn the names of every county seat in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. (Explanation: A slot man was the guy who sat in the center — or slot — of the horseshoe-shaped copy desk, directing the flow of stories to the editors seated around him.)

Spelling counted in Editing class. In fact, the course was all about accuracy and detail — which felt extremely tedious and restrictive to us students, raised as we were on equal portions of Edward R. Murrow and Clarke Kent. Our idea of journalism was digging for dirt, uncovering corruption, defeating bad guys, bringing truth to the people.

Our professor’s idea was getting the names, ages and addresses right.


Standards and Freedom


Hillsdale College has long been known for its lecture series and policy forums. In the early ’90s, during my years there as Director of Public Affairs (academic-speak for PR flack), we held a symposium on the subject: Can Democracy Preserve Our Freedom?

It explored whether America’s form of representative government could sustain itself indefinitely in the face of factionalism and self-interest — forces which had always been present in U.S. politics, but which (in the post-Reagan years) seemed to be getting worse. Some very distinguished thinkers took part, including conservative intellectual icon, Russell Kirk, and European journalist/philosopher, Jean-François Revel, author of “Without Marx or Jesus,” “The Totalitarian Temptation,” and other works.

Our topic was quite provocative — counter-intuitive, really — as the Soviet Union was crumbling and democracy appeared triumphant on every front. These days it seems quaint. Almost naive.

Indeed, the question looming before us now is less whether democracy can preserve our freedom than whether current political trends should be viewed as a threat to Judeo-Christian civilization. Some people are seriously worried about what the answer might be.


Cosmos — II


Whether or not the new Cosmos series was intended to debunk God, the second episode was guilty of what, in television, is a much more damnable sin: It was boring.

Fox TV LogoTrying to capture the enormous complexity of life in an hour interrupted by way too many commercials — this is Fox, remember, not PBS — the show presented a veritable star cluster of facts and assertions with the shallowest and most fleeting of explanations, and pretty much no specific evidence of anything. The effect, on me at least, was tedium, unrelieved even by all the dazzling visual effects.

It goes without saying that the Darwinian concept of Natural Selection would be presented as the undisputed source of life’s limitless variety (it’s not a theory, we were told). While people of faith look at this great multiplicity and see the creative power of God, Cosmos celebrated the power of chance.




If you follow the Catholic blogoshpere, you’ve no doubt seen a goodly portion of outrage over the premiere episode of Fox TV’s new Cosmos, the update of Carl Sagan’s ’70s PBS science series. The cause of all this indignation is a rather tacky cartoon segment (in contrast with the other stunning graphics featured in the show) Fox TV Logodescribing how the 16th-Century Catholic Church persecuted philosopher/mystic Giordano Bruno.

As related by host (and Carl Sagan protégé), Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Bruno was burned at the stake for proposing a heretical idea. To wit: that the earth revolved around the sun, and that the stars seen shining in the sky were themselves actually suns, each of which likely had its own orbiting planets.

Let’s dispense with the facts of the matter — this from a secular source, The Scientists by Cambridge astrophysicist John Gribbin (Random House 2002)…


Lifted Away


We’re in the season of Lent, which is a time when prayer, always recommended, is keenly urged.

But while Lenten prayers tend to have a penitential character, we shouldn’t ignore their mystical potential. Indeed, Lent is a good time to let ourselves be lifted away from our daily cares to a higher level of spiritual communion — which this season is intended to help us achieve.

Back in the day, I wrote a song for my musical group, Company, the entertainment ministry I’ve mentioned from time to time. It became part of our concert repertoire, and we included it on the album we released in 1980.

It’s a simple tune, in 3/4 time, intended to convey the peacefulness which certain prayer experiences can promote…


Lifted Away

Words & Music by Bill Kassel

When all the cares disturb my heart
When sorrow tears my soul apart
I think about the peace I’ve felt in Your touch
Neither the wine that man has grown
Nor seed of flower the earth has sown
Could ease my mind or lift me so much

Lifted away
To a place where my heart knows no trouble
Lifted away
To a land where my mind lives in peace
Lifted away in the freedom
You’ve taught me to know
I think you You
And I’m lifted away

I’ll think of You each day, and then
When time has run its course again
Look back on all the trials
You’ve carried me through
I’ll give my heart for You to know
And if You say You want it so
I’ll live in peace forever with You

Lifted away
To a place where my heart knows no trouble
Lifted away
To a land where my mind lives in peace
Lifted away in the freedom
You’ve taught me to know
I think you You
And I’m lifted away.

Copyright © 1980 by Bill Kassel


CompanyKitty and David Brilliant, two of the founders of Company, came across some old photos from the group’s seven-year run. I recently added them to our Facebook page. If you’re curious, you can check them out at…



If you’d like to see other song lyrics I’ve posted, go to CATEGORIES in the left column, and click on Song Lyrics.


Ukraine — Part II


Permit me to daydream for a moment that the editorial board of the Washington Post is reading my stuff. It was just a couple of weeks ago that I observed

“…I don’t see there’s much the U.S. or the European Union can do to assure a smooth Ukrainian transition to honest government and genuine freedom. Is anybody prepared to draw a line over which Putin must not step in his pressuring of Ukraine?

“The U.S. has endured more than a decade of draining wars along with six years of fantasy-as-foreign-policy.”

Ukrainian FlagNow the Post has published an editorial headlined: “President Obama’s foreign policy is based on fantasy,” noting that he has…

“led a foreign policy based more on how he thinks the world should operate than on reality. It was a world in which ‘the tide of war is receding’ and the United States could, without much risk, radically reduce the size of its armed forces …. Secretary of State John F. Kerry displayed this mindset … when he said, of Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine, ‘It’s a 19th century act in the 21st century.’

“Unfortunately,” the Post editors observed wryly, “Russian President Vladimir Putin has not received the memo on 21st-century behavior.”

Well, okay, the fantasy aspect is pretty obvious. I’d just like to think that somewhere a few high-powered, highly paid journalists follow this blog.

That’s my fantasy.

The salient point, however, is that it’s the Washington Post dissing the President. The Washington Post. We’re talkin’ the mother ship of the mainstream media, the home of Woodward and Bernstein, the benchmark of liberal punditry.

This comes after Syria, and Egypt, and Iraq, and Hamid Karzai flipping us the bird in Afghanistan, and Chinese saber rattling in the Sea of Japan, and Iranian belly laughs over the anti-nuke agreement, and parking their warships off the Jersey coast.

And, of course, Benghazi.

Have we finally reached some kind of tipping point on perceptions of this administration?

Just to be safe, White House telephone operators should be instructed to refuse calls from Sweden. The Nobel committee might want its prize back.


An Ash Wednesday Confession


I have to confess that there are certain Catholic pious practices I don’t entirely get.

It probably reflects the fact that I’m an adult convert and wasn’t raised in the Church — or that I’ve made less progress on my spiritual journey than I like to assume.

One of the things I don’t get is fasting.

As I understand it, the Church advocates self-denial as a way of detaching ourselves from fleshly preoccupations. Yet I’m never more preoccupied with concerns of the flesh (that is to say, eating) than when I deny myself food.


Human Nature on Campus


It’s always gratifying to see someone on the left openly acknowledge how Progressives really feel about freedom.

Harvard Logo (lrg)Writing in the Harvard Crimson, Sandra Y. L. Korn (Harvard Class of 2014) has called for the abolition of academic freedom, a principle she deems “a bit misplaced to me,” in favor of what she terms “a more rigorous standard: one of ‘academic justice.’”

“When an academic community observes research promoting or justifying oppression, it should ensure that this research does not continue.

“The power to enforce academic justice comes from students, faculty, and workers organizing together to make our universities look as we want them to do.”

Now there’s an honest young woman. No lip service to outdated American values like individual liberty. No tortured Obamaesque rationalizations of FCC plans to inspect broadcast news operations under the ruse of defending the First Amendment.

Sandra Y. L. Korn sees liberty as a flat-out obstacle — indeed a contradiction — to justice. And she insists it’s time to man-up (well, person-up) and cast the insidious idea of academic freedom into the ashcan of history.




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