Monthly Archives: April 2009

Make America Safe Street By Street – Here's How

Here is something I wrote over at Facebook’s “Dads Protecting Daughters”- Joe and I traded some comments there, and I thought I would open it up to the American Catholic society! Here goes:

A Safer World For All Children

We have touched upon some of the cultural issues relating to the protection and nurturing of our daughters (and sons- really this Facebook cause “Dads Protecting Daughters” directly relates to boys and girls). Now I want to bring up something on the literal street level- this is a political and economic area of concern. I am a huge “root causes” guy- the Catholic social teachings and Hierarchical commentaries are constantly saying in effect- “be courageous, look at the root causes of violence, of terrorism, of war”. I take this very, very seriously.

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EconTalk

For something over a year now, I’ve been enjoying the EconTalk podcast, something which Blackadder of Vox Nova turned me on to. EconTalk is a weekly, one hour podcast put out by the Library of Economics and Liberty. It’s hosted by Dr. Russ Roberts, a professor of economics at George Mason University and regular National Public Radio commentator on economics, and the format is usually one of Prof. Roberts interviewing an economist about his/her recent book, or about an topic of current interest. And generally it succeeds in pursuing that fascinating middle ground of being accessible to the general listener while not shying away from discussing highly technical/academic topics.

I was inspired to post on them at this point because this week’s podcast was of a different format than usual, consisting of an extended interview of Prof. Roberts by a journalist on the difference between wealth and income, and what it means to say that we have “become much less wealthy” over the course of the recession of the last 6-9 months. Roberts also discusses the inexact nature of economics as a science and how the uncertainties of interpreting data play into policy debates.

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Krugman's Foundation

This Newsweek article about Nobel Prize-winning economist and NY Times columnist Paul Krugman contained an interesting biographical detail:

Krugman says he found himself in the science fiction of Isaac Asimov, especially the “Foundation” series—”It was nerds saving civilization, quants who had a theory of society, people writing equations on a blackboard, saying, ‘See, unless you follow this formula, the empire will fail and be followed by a thousand years of barbarism’.”

His Yale was “not George Bush’s Yale,” he says—no boola-boola, no frats or secret societies, rather “drinking coffee in the Economics Department lounge.” Social science, he says, offered the promise of what he dreamed of in science fiction—”the beauty of pushing a button to solve problems. Sometimes there really are simple solutions: you really can have a grand idea.”

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Priest of Andersonville

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I normally take great pride in being an American, but there are passages in our history which all Americans should be ashamed of.  During our Civil War in many prison camps, both North and South, POWs were treated wretchedly with inadequate shelter, clothing and food.  The worst by far was Andersonville.

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Google's Top 25 Catholic Websites

John Henry and myself are a bit of stats geeks and we’ve been trying to figure out the most accurate way to gauge the number of visits American Catholic has been receiving by our readers.  We use WordPress, Sitemeter, and Feedburner to see how we fare and I’ve entertained the possibility of using StatCounter to add to our curious habit.  Then John Henry mentioned Google Reader and how it keeps tabs of the number of subscribers each website and blog has.  That gave me the idea to add all of my favorite Catholic websites and see which ones have the most subscribers!

Now before you go and see who ranks where keep in mind that Google Reader only keeps track of Google account holders that add websites and/or blogs to their reader.  It doesn’t keep track of how many times a site is visited and not all websites such as the Vatican (and yes even a couple of blogs such as Catholic Report) don’t even offer an RSS or Atom feed to subscribe to.  If it’s any consolation Google Reader seems to be the most popular reader out there with Bloglines a close second.

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Dawn Johnsen

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Obama has picked Dawn Johnsen to head the Office of Legal Counsel for the  Department of Justice.  Dawn Johnsen was the legal director of the National Abortion Rights Action League back in the eighties.

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Deadly Greenbacks!

From the only reliable source of news on the net, the Onion.  You know, the truly sad thing is that after the past year I could almost imagine this type of scam being pulled by the government.

Deal Hudson on Israel and Palestinian Christians, Revisited

In his latest article for InsideCatholic.com, Deal Hudson presents Ten Hard Facts Confronting Benedict XVI in the Holy Land concerning the plight of Palestinian Christians.

One would expect that — when presenting a list of “hard facts”, particularly a topic as provocative as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — elementary journalistic standards would require the citation of a source.

Furthermore, one might expect the placement of such statistics in context to further enable a moral evaluation.

That Hudson completely neglects to do this is frustrating, to say the least.

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Worthless Political Hack Says Embryonic Stem Cell Research Is Answer To Our Prayers

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Worthless Political Hack Nancy Pelosi, in defiance of the teaching of the Catholic Church of which she is purportedly a member, said on Friday embryonic stem cell research is the answer to our prayers.  She is quoted as saying , “We need science, science, science, science, science. ” I agree with the  Worthless Political Hack.  She might consider this little factoid:  number of cures and treatments from adult stemcell research:  72;  number of cures and treatments from embryonic stemcell research:  00.00.  If the Worthless Political Hack ever wishes to read the actual science on the subject a good place to start is here.

Johnny Has Gone For A Soldier

Something for the weekend.  I have been thinking a lot about the American Revolution this week.  One of the most popular ballads during that war was Johnny Has Gone For A Soldier.  Sad like most Irish tunes, it captures well the bitter partings that war always causes.  Dedicated to Major Andrew McClary, New Hampshire militia, and all the patriots who went to be soldiers and who never came back from that war.

Lesser of Two Evils or Worthy of Honor

Since the Notre Dame controversy has all the staying power of an inebriated relative after a dinner party, I’ll attempt one more brief comment on it.

It is a disappointment to me, though hardly a surprising one, that just about everyone in the Catholic blogsphere who advocated voting for Obama in the first place (or sympathized with those who did) now find so much to object to in those Catholics (including quite a few bishops — all who have address the topic to my knowledge) who are upset at Obama being made the commencement speaker for Notre Dame and awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

The argument, which was made frequently enough during the election, was that while Obama was far from perfect (and, we were always assured, the speaker was indeed deeply troubled by his positions on abortion) he was the better of two distinctly poor alternatives available on the ballot.

If such was one’s true position, I disagree, but with a fair amount of respect.  Sometimes both options available are very bad, and choosing the lesser of two evils is quite the judgment call.

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Catholic Democrats Come to the Defense of Notre Dame

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Catholic Democrats come to the defense of their leader in regard to Georgetown and Notre Dame and run into a buzzsaw named Father Z here.

Update:  Good analysis of why Catholic Democrats and other Obama-philes are so concerned about the fallout from Notre Dame is given here by the always readable Damian Thompson across the pond at his blog Holy Smoke.

On The Question of Inequality

There’s been some discussion of inequality in posts and comments here recently. I have ambitions to write a series of the particular challenges I believe our country is facing in regards to inequality in a modern high-skill-based economy, but given recent discussion I’d like to open with something fairly open-ended.

John Henry pointed out that the Catechism of the Catholic Church addresses the question of equality to some extent in its section on Human Solidarity:

1935 The equality of men rests essentially on their dignity as persons and the rights that flow from it:

Every form of social or cultural discrimination in fundamental personal rights on the grounds of sex, race, color, social conditions, language, or religion must be curbed and eradicated as incompatible with God’s design.40

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The Rejected Ambassadors: The Plot Thickens

A couple weeks ago, Tito posted on the Washington Times report claiming the Vatican has rejected several candidates for the position of U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican. It appeared the report had been satisfactorily debunked by the Catholic News Service, which quoted a statement by Father Federico Lombardi to the effect that the rumors were unreliable. Now, however, the Times Online has received confirmation of the story from “Vatican insiders”. This confirmation reconciles the two statements to a certain extent: no candidates have been officially rejected, but apparently informal rejections have taken place. Ultimately, this type of story is of little significance, but it’s always interesting to watch the interaction of the Vatican and the media. Here are some excerpts from the Times Online story:

Caroline Kennedy, the Roman Catholic daughter of the assassinated President, has been rejected by the Vatican as the next US ambassador to the Holy See because of her liberal views on abortion, stem-cell research and same-sex marriage, according to Vatican insiders.

Andrea Tornielli, the biographer of Pope Benedict XVI, said that at least two other potential ambassadors put forward by President Obama have also been blocked because they did not share the Vatican’s views on “pro-life” issues. A Vatican spokesman said that no candidates had been formally submitted “and therefore it is not true that they have been rejected”.

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