By Charlie Johnston
Our friend, Kitty Cleveland, has a new CD out, “Hail, Holy Queen,” devoted to Our Lady. I saw this message go up on her Facebook Page yesterday:
“I need your help! Billboard Magazine just called for an interview about the new “Hail, Holy Queen” CD–they think I’m going to chart, but only if CD sales keep coming through my website. Please spread the word. Thanks, friends! Keep it comin’! 😃“
Kitty has been my favorite Christian singer for about four years. Actually, she is my favorite living singer, period. A couple of years ago, I discovered that she was a fan of this website, commenting occasionally as Christiaria. It is so delightful to find that someone you are a big fan of is also a fan of yours. She and her sisters, Beth and Carolyn, have
become key contacts for me in the New Orleans area.
I went to Sunday Mass with them last year. Kitty is the singer at her Parish once a month. She asked me to come up to the balcony with her that Sunday and “help her out” by singing backup to her. I do okay harmonizing a little on the fly, so up I went. I was absolutely tickled – and was quietly boasting to people that I had sang backup to Kitty Cleveland. At a reception on that visit, I chuckled when I overheard Kitty telling someone enthusiastically that “Charlie Johnston sang backup to me!” Delightful when everyone comes out happy.
Would it not be absolutely fantastic if Billboard Magazine had a CD entirely devoted to Our Lady listed on its charts? I ordered mine this morning. If you’ve got a little extra in the Christmas fund, why not order one for yourself or a friend? They make great stocking stuffers! Let’s make Our Lady number one on the Billboard Charts! (And you will love Kitty’s clear, rich voice.)
The first “fake news” appeared in America before the founding of the American Republic. Pamphleteers put out terribly polemical stuff to support their cause and harpoon their opponents. This is the way of the world. That is why learning to think critically, to ask questions, and to check facts is so important. When dealing with children, it is important to distinguish between fantasy and reality – to teach them how to question things for plausibility. When we are adults, we are expected to exercise that rational skepticism for ourselves.
No doubt many of the founders were frustrated by the fake news put out by their opponents in polemical pamphlets. They combatted this by arguing the point and showing evidence for their case. One thing that often helped was having a few stable sources of news that carefully guarded a reputation for reliability. Sadly, the worst cases of fake news in modern times come from the establishment media. It has chosen to be a reckless partisan in affairs, rather than a responsible chronicler of them
The founders, like all Americans since, have been bedeviled by fake news throughout our history. They fought it with better arguments and evidence. One thing that no American patriot on any side in our history ever would have approved of is letting government decide what is and is not “fake news.” If the establishment media really wants to make things better, it could improve its standards and quit trying to be both umpire and player at the same time. Meantime, the rest of us should act like the adults we are rather than naieve little snowflakes who need to be protected from ourselves by Big Brother.
Potential Russian hacking of American secrets and Russian “hacking of the election” are two entirely different things. No serious person is suggesting the Russians hacked our election machinery. Rather, they are suggesting that Russia used information it had hacked from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and various officials to influence how people would choose to vote.
Foreign governments try to influence the internal politics of both rival and allied nations all the time, using whatever means at their disposal. The first big blow-up in US history on the matter came with the XYZ Affair early in the administration of John Adams. The Obama administration tried heavily handed to influence England citizens to vote against Brexit earlier this year. The same administration sent political operatives to Israel a few years back in a concerted effort to defeat Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Such efforts usually trigger a nationalist backlash in the target country, but they are standard operating procedure in every nation on the globe.
For 18 months, Republicans have been warning that the nation’s secrets are at risk from cyber-warfare, particularly from China and Russia. That is largely what the concern over Hillary Clinton’s illegal homebrew server was about. The Obama administration was remarkably sanguine about the whole business – so long as it was just Ukraine, Eastern Europe, Syria, the South China Sea and legitimate American interests that were compromised. The establishment media agreed there was nothing much to see there. But as soon as progressive interests and Democrat fortunes are threatened, the left and the media are ready to go on war footing. No one is arguing that what either Russia or Julian Assange released constituted misinformation: it is conceded that the WikiLeaks materials gave an authentic glimpse into the ugly behind-the-scenes attitudes and actions of top progressive officials. National Review’s Deroy Murdock hilariously covers the substance of the purported Russian hack. But neither the anti-God progressives nor the establishment media have any principles at all any more except winning and imposing their will on lesser mortals.
National cybersecurity has always been important – even when it only involves the fate of nations and US national interests rather than the fortunes of the Democratic Party. As the public is not likely to be as aroused by the fact that it was the DNC and its officials actual emails that were released as they are by the idea of Russia interfering with America’s election machinery, the utterly corrupt media misleadingly spouts headlines that the “election” was hacked – when no such thing happened or is alleged. But this is the sort of fake news that props up the progressive media narrative, even as it will eat further away at its crumbling credibility.
Here’s an idea: let’s be serious about cyber-security, about protecting national secrets at all times – and leave the marketplace of ideas to sort out how people respond to attempts at meddling.
And now, my mother’s recipe for Christmas Fudge. This is real fudge – no marshmallows to stabilize it – so it is much trickier and requires a certain precision in timing. Leave it on the stove a minute too little and it will come out sticky and gloppy; a minute too long and
it will come out soupy and grainy. You don’t have to stir constantly, but almost. Use a wooden spoon only and always use a candy thermometer. I have rarely known anyone who routinely got this right the first few times…there is a certain feel to it. So don’t feel bad if your first batch does not come off right. Fortunately, kids always like the flavor, even when you mess the batch up. I think I have finally gotten the hang of it pretty well, as my last five consecutive batches have been perfect. It’s tricky enough that I would not be the least surprised to see my next batch botched, though. So here goes:
Tootie Johnston’s Christmas Fudge
You will need:
Wooden Stirring Spoon
Medium Cookie Sheet or Cake Pan
4 cups sugar
12-oz can of condensed milk
1/3 cup clear Karo Syrup
8-oz Baker’s unsweetened chocolate
heaping 1/2 teaspoon salt
Spray the saucepan and the cookie sheet with Pam No-stick spray (either plain or butter flavor). Put all the above ingredients in saucepan and put on medium heat, stirring constantly. Put the candy thermometer on the side of the pan, making sure the bulb is submerged in the heated liquid. As it melts down, it will become a bubbling dark brown liquid. Watch the candy thermometer. You may occasionally stop stirring and lightly increase the heat to get the temperature up a little. Don’t stop too long, though, or some of the mixture may scorch. As soon as the temperature reaches the soft-ball stage, take the pan off the heat. (I usually double-check this after I have got it off the heat by dripping a little from the spoon into a clear glass of cold water. If it is right, the drip will form a soft ball – like dropping candle wax into a glass of water. If not, it will start to dissolve.) Have the following ingredients ready to add to the pan immediately:
2 1/2 tsp vanilla flavor
1 stick (8 oz) butter
The vanilla will bubble up like it is boiling before it settles in. Stir at least 175 times. When you have finished, the butter will be completely dissolved into the mix. At this point, you may stir in 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts, then stir at least another 50 times. An addition I made is, after stirring in the pecans, to add a cup of raisins – and then stir another 50 times. Particularly after adding the nuts, and then the raisins, you will feel the mixture stiffening, getting harder to stir. For best results, stir a total of 300 times. This brings air into the mix and ultimately makes it very creamy. Finally pour it into the cookie sheet or cake pan and let it set fully.
Don’t worry about what is left in the pan. Both you and the kids will enjoy scraping and licking the pan. Also, what is in the pan will set much quicker than what you have poured into the cookie sheet – and by spooning out some of the pan you will know within about 15 minutes whether you have produced a solid batch or not.