Friday, November 14, 2014

Dr. Massey Makes an Endorsement in the Romanian Presidential Election

I don't have a vote in Sunday's election for the new President of Romania. My wife potentially does, as a joint US-Romanian citizen. She can vote if she goes to the US Consulate in New York City, but she's not doing so.

Other friends of ours here in America, members of the Romanian Diaspora, are traveling Sunday to cast their votes. And they seem overwhelmingly to be leaning toward a certain candidate. And I hereby endorse that candidate.

Klaus Iohannis
I hereby, for what it's worth, endorse Klaus Iohannis for President of Romania.

He is a leaning right centrist, the mayor of the beautiful medieval city of Sibiu. 

His opponent is Victor Ponta, a left leaning centrist, whom I cannot endorse primarily because he plagiarized a significant portion of his doctoral dissertation.
Victor Ponta
Even though the University of Bucharest, which originally awarded him the degree, voted to strip him of it after his academic improprieties were uncovered, the Ministry of Education, controlled by his party, blocked that action.

It comes down to a matter of trust. Romania is at a crucial point in her history. She has, I would argue, progressed under Traian Basescu. But the new President can set Romania on a course of further stability and prosperity.

"Dr Ponta" cheated on his dissertation. What else will he cheat on? He cheated to get his doctorate. You don't think he'd cheat to become President of Romania? You don't think he'd cheat for political expediency again?

Vote Klaus Iohannis on Sunday, my Romanian friends.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Veterans' Day Reflection by a Non-Veteran

I became particularly aware of the enormous sacrifice that veterans of our armed forces make when I served for four years in an organization that is half civilian and half military--the National Security Agency. 

I know, boo, hiss. Perhaps all you've heard about the NSA is that they are spying on you. But they're really  not. They really are devoted to uncovering foreign intelligence to keep the country safe. That's what I did for them for four years after 9/11. And we should be grateful for the service the NSA performs.

Anyway, while there, I worked side by side with military assigned to various duties. And I honor their service to America on this Veterans' Day.

But those of us who served our country in War Zones while not in uniform bear a different type of burden. 

I was in Iraq from June to September of 2004. Not as long as a lot of people, obviously, but longer than anyone I knew at the time.

I was serving in an official government capacity. I was in danger. The base where I was stationed came under mortar attacks twice when I was there.

I was awarded the Global War on Terrorism Civilian Service Medal for my service, but I had to fight tooth and nail to get the medal I had earned.

As our nation has come to rely more and more on civilian federal employees and contractors for key services in war zones, I do feel that some recognition should eventually be due to them. 

The day I left the city where I was stationed (the NSA has told me I can't state that city out loud), I was at a food service facility. I had spent three months eating various styles of lamb meat prepared by local Iraqis we had on base, but now, as I awaited my flight to Baghdad, I ate in style! It was a glorious banquet. But I also could not help but notice, the people serving me this food were not Iraqis. And they were not Americans. They were quite obviously Filipinos.

A month after I left, that facility was destroyed by a suicide bomber who killed a number of US military and also civilian contractors.

They were working in the same dangerous conditions as me. But there was no medal waiting for them. They were risking their lives simply because the salary they were making was well beyond what they could earn at home.

God bless all who have risked their lives for freedom, for love of country, and for the prosperity of their families. 

And God bless our Veterans, who put their lives on the line for us and our nation.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Made in Wisconsin: Cardinal Raymond Burke

For Church wonks such as myself, the news that Wisconsin native Cardinal Raymond Burke will be removed as head of the Apostolic Signatura and made head of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta is an ecclesiastical earthquake! His current post is important. The post to which he reportedly will be transferred is a clear demotion.

Raymond Burke was born in Richland Center, Wisconsin on June 30, 1948. He is not the first Wisconsinite to become a Catholic Cardinal, but he has certainly risen to the highest position in the Catholic Church that any previous child of the Badger State ever did.

He came from humble rural Wisconsin beginnings, but his meteoric rise began shortly after Seminary. After receiving Bachelor and Master degrees from Catholic University in Washington, DC, he received Bachelor and Master degrees from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and he was ordained a priest by Pope Paul VI himself. He received his doctorate in Canon Law and was consecrated as Bishop of La Crosse, Wisconsin by Pope John Paul II in 1995.

In 2003 he was transferred to the position of Archbishop of St. Louis, Missouri. 

In 2010 Pope Benedict XVI appointed Burke as a Cardinal and he was moved to Rome to begin a series of positions leading to his current role as head of the Apostolic Signatura.

Cardinal Burke is his own man. And so, when the new Pope Francis stated that the Catholic Church needs to be less obsessed solely with issues such as abortion, Cardinal Burke seemed to chafe, stating to a media outlet, "But we can never talk enough about that." 

Cardinal Burke has also seemed to flout the Pope's example of simplicity in ecclesiastical garb, sporting vestments of a high medieval style.

It seems that Pope Francis wants someone else in the position of Head of the Apostolic Signatura, especially in advance of his Extraordinary Synod on the Family next month, a meeting in which changes to Catholic practice regarding communion for divorced and remarried Catholics may be discussed.

At any rate, Wisconsin should be proud that one of our own rose to such a high post within his Church community. According to his conscience, he served to the best of his ability. May his continued ministry to the Christian Church be fruitful.

Keith Massey was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin. He has his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Biblical Hebrew, with a minor in Arabic. After 9/11, he served as an Arabic linguist at the NSA. He is currently a Latin teacher at a public high school in New Jersey.

Keith is the author of Intermediate Arabic for Dummies. His fiction novels follow the adventures of Andrew Valquist, roughly patterned after himself--a man born and raised in Wisconsin who gets pulled into the world of international intrigue. 

Keith's novels are A Place of Brightness, Amor Vincit Omnia: An Andrew Valquist Adventure, Next Stop: Spanish, and In Saecula Saeculorum.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

When Did World War III Begin And When Will It End?

The Pope asserted today that we are, in fact, currently in World War III. Speaking in a homily at a monument to Italy's World War I dead, the Pope asserted that we are effectively in a "piecemeal" World War III even now, when you consider the range of armed conflicts that have raged for over a decade.

On reflection of this, it strikes me as obviously true. The reason we haven't previously referred to ourselves as being in World War III is that, during the Cold War, we had already reserved that name for the future and, we thought, inevitable fight between NATO and the Soviet Union.

But, based on the criteria whereby World Wars I and II were so named, it's clear the current global situation qualifies for the name World War III.

World War I was called the Great War and only retroactively termed World War I. The Time Magazine issue of June 12, 1939 first named it such, while already referring to their contemporary hostilities as World War II.

The current range of hostilities is well beyond that seen in World War I. That was essentially a war in Europe with somewhat related actions in Turkey. In the last decade, combatant nations and groups from across the globe have launched attacks in North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia.

One might counter the claim that we are in World War III by asserting that the disparate hostilities the world has seen are not strictly related to one another. To be honest, however, World War II was really two generally separate wars. The Nazis and the Japanese had a pact, but they were never true allies. The Japanese had to be aware that the Nazis considered them an inferior race who were just conveniently dividing the American forces. And the Nazis had a non-aggression pact with the Soviets as well, which they broke the moment they felt it was no longer in their best interest.

Further, it's not clear that the bloodshed of the last decade is completely unrelated. An argument could be made, for instance, that Russian intervention in the Ukraine was emboldened by the perception that Europe and the United States are preoccupied with concerns in the Middle East.

And so, I agree with the Pope. We are currently in what will likely someday retroactively be termed World War III. Historians will consider September 11, 2001 to be the convenient beginning of the war, though, like all wars, the flashpoint was preceded by a building of tensions. 

Less clear is how World War III will ever be declared to have come to an end someday (God willing). Perhaps it will yet evolve into a transnational conflict that could see someone eventually surrender and the world collectively decide it's done with war for a while. More likely, after what could be at least another decade, the current conflicts will have cooled and, following an interval of relative peace, the world will declare that period of conflict finally over. 

And, in that moment, people will begin to ask what World War IV will resemble.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Made in Wisconsin: Bob Suter

Wisconsin is in mourning as I write this post. On September 9, 2014, Robert Allen Suter passed away suddenly of an apparent heart attack in Middleton. His funeral will be held in a stadium in Madison (the Alliant Energy Center) on Saturday, September 13 because no Lutheran church in the area could possibly hold the amount of people expected to attend.

Bob Suter was born on May 16, 1957 in Madison, Wisconsin. He grew up on the blue-collar East Side of that city, as did I. He attended Madison East High School, as did I. He was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church on the East Side, as was I.

He attended, as I later would, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and played hockey for the Badgers in 1977, a year in which they won the NCAA National Championship.

Bob Suter made it on to the 1980 Olympic Hockey Team. Now, back then, the Soviets essentially ran a professional team that got to play in the Olympics because they technically were not disqualified by being officially professional players. And the United States assembled its team from college players with considerably less experience than their Soviet counterparts.

We were mighty proud that two Madisonians, Mark Johnson and Bob Suter, were on that team. We on the East Side of Madison were understandably particularly proud that an East Sider represented our country in that venue.

And we watched live and on pins and needles as they played the Soviets and achieved the Miracle on Ice.

Bob Suter made his home in Wisconsin until his untimely death two days ago. He operated a sporting goods store and worked tirelessly to promote youth hockey in the Madison area. Fittingly, he died at the Capitol Ice Arena in those pursuits.

Rest in peace, Bob Suter. You are loved and will be sorely missed.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Learning Latin with Pope Francis - September 9, 2014

To visit my archive of Latin Papal Tweets, go to my main page.

September 9, 2014


Literal translation of the Latin: The faithfulness of God (is) stronger than our unfaithfulness and our infidelities.

Here's how the Latin works.

Grammar Points
The Faithfulnuss
nom. sing. fem. noun
fidelitas, fidelitatis
of God
gen. sing. masc. noun
Deus, Dei

comparative adverb from fortis, forte
(than) unfaithfulness
abl. sing. fem. noun
infidelitas, infidelitatis
abl. sing. fem. adj.
noster, nostra, nostrum; modifies infidelitate

(than) infidelities
abl. pl. fem. noun
proditio, proditionis
abl. pl. fem. adj.
noster, nostra, nostrum; modifies proditionibus

Monday, September 8, 2014

Learning Latin with Pope Francis - September 6, 2014

To visit my archive of Latin Papal Tweets, go to my main page.

September 6, 2014


Literal translation of the Latin: Jesus is the Good Shepherd who, although (we are) sinners, nay, indeed inasmuch as (we are) sinners, seeks us out and remains with us.

Here's how the Latin works.

Grammar Points
nom. sing. masc. proper name
Iesus, Iesu; subject of est
3rd pers. sing. pres. ind. verb
sum, esse, fui
the Shepherd
nom. sing. masc. noun
pastor, pastoris
nom, sing. masc. adj.
bonus, bona, bonum; modifies Pastor
nom. sing. masc. rel. pronoun
qui, quae, quod; subj. of quaerit and remanet
acc. pl. 1st. pers. pronoun
nos, nostrum; direct obj. of quaerit and remanet

acc. pl. masc. noun
peccator, peccatoris; dir. obj. of quaerit and remanet


inasmuch as

acc. pl. masc. noun
peccator, peccatoris; dir. obj. of quaerit and remanet
3rd pers. sing. pres. act. ind. verb
quaero, quaerere, quaesivi, quaesitum

with us
abl. pl. 1st. pers. pl pronoun + cum as enclitic

3rd pers. pres. act. ind. verb
remaneo, remanere, remansi