One of the concepts in economics that people seem to have difficulty grasping at an intuitive level is how other people’s income affects one’s own income. Many people instinctively ascribe to the “lump theory” of money, in which one may imagine all wealth to consist of a set amount of money, like a dragon’s hoard. If you capture more of it, that means that someone, somehow, has ended up with less.
In certain circumstances, this theory might describe things pretty well, but in most times and places wealth grows and shrinks with productivity. Basically, if I am able to produce more goods and services of value to othe people in the same amount of time, then my income grows.
Joe Biden, Veep-in-charge-of-public-amusement , continues his one man war against national gloom. Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. In regard to a question about the new Hudson river rail tunnel on June 8, Joe said, ““Look, this is designed, this totally new tunnel, is designed to provide for automobile traffic. It’s something, as you know, up your way, that’s been in the works and people have been clamoring for for a long time.” The tunnel is solely for trains.
Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air . Economist Arthur Laffer, he of the Laffer Curve, sounds the tocsin regarding the incredible expanision of the money supply.
“But as bad as the fiscal picture is, panic-driven monetary policies portend to have even more dire consequences. We can expect rapidly rising prices and much, much higher interest rates over the next four or five years, and a concomitant deleterious impact on output and employment not unlike the late 1970s.
About eight months ago, starting in early September 2008, the Bernanke Fed did an abrupt about-face and radically increased the monetary base — which is comprised of currency in circulation, member bank reserves held at the Fed, and vault cash — by a little less than $1 trillion. The Fed controls the monetary base 100% and does so by purchasing and selling assets in the open market. By such a radical move, the Fed signaled a 180-degree shift in its focus from an anti-inflation position to an anti-deflation position.
Catholic writer Matthew Lickona has the first issue of a graphic novel out, and the topic is an interesting one.
1. An animal, a plant, or other organism having structural defects or deformities.
2. A fetus or an infant that is grotesquely abnormal and usually not viable.
– The American Heritage? Medical Dictionary
Alphonse is the story of eight lives that intersect because of an attempted abortion. Why “attempted?” Because while there are no angels or demons on either side, there is definitely a monster in the middle: Alphonse.
Rendered “grotesquely abnormal” by his unwitting mother’s use of controlled substances, he is both sentient and freakishly coordinated. He is also deeply wounded, twisted by fear and rage after the attempt on his life – and bent on revenge.
But violence begets violence. Alphonse is pursued even as he is pursuing, and haunted by the insistence of his only friend that there is another way…
I love Shakespeare and I love history, so I naturally glommed on to Shakespeare’s An Age of Kings (Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI and Richard III) after it was released by the BBC in this country. The plays are divided into 15 episodes, a total of 947 minutes. First broadcast in 1960, the plays present a galaxy of British actors and actresses who later went on to build outstanding careers. The two standouts are Sean Connery as Harry Hotspur, and Robert Hardy as Juvenile Delinquent turned Hero King Henry V. It should be remembered however that these were originally broadcast in 1960 and the visual quality is often not of the best. Nonetheless, mediocre black and white visuals detract not a whit from the superb performances. This would be a good set for homeschooling parents who wish to introduce their kids to Shakespeare.
To ask some questions is to answer them, and via Commonweal, I see that UCLA history professor emeritus Joyce Appleby has penned a lovely exercise in anti-Catholicism entitled, Should Catholic Justices Recuse Selves On Certain Cases?. Here is an excerpt:
But because of the Catholic Church’s active opposition to abortion, same-sex marriage and capital punishment, it raises serious questions about the freedom of Catholic justices to judge these issues. Perhaps the time has come to ask them to recuse themselves when cases come before their court on which their church has taken positions binding on its communicants…
…Recusal sounds like a radical measure, but we require judges to withdraw from deliberations whenever a personal interest is involved. Surely ingrained convictions exert more power on judgment than mere financial gain. Many will counter that views on abortion, same-sex marriage, and the death penalty are profound moral commitments, not political opinions. Yet who will argue that religious beliefs and the authority of the Catholic Church will have no bearing on the justices when presented with cases touching these powerful concerns?
Another segment in my series on the follies of modern Jesuits, with no slight intended to the orthodox Jesuits who soldier on under often grim circumstances. America, the Jesuit publication, has an article by Thomas G. Casey, SJ, an associate professor at the Gregorian University in Rome in which he suggests dumping Latin as the official language of the Church for English. Rather convenient for English speaking Jesuits, and also rather convenient for people who would like to ram down the memory hole the history of the Church up to Vatican II. Father Z does an effective fisking of the article here. The only addition I have is that Father Z is correct as to the Roman soldiers in Palestine speaking Latin at the time of Christ. Wherever recruited, Latin was the language of command in the Roman Legions and auxilliary units. The recruits, if they did not speak Latin, quickly picked up what was often referred to as soldier Latin. That was the language they spoke while on duty. It was a rather meaningless aside in Casey’s article, but he was wrong on that point.
A good friend and long time reader sent along a link to this information several months ago, and I’ve been incredibly remiss in not doing the research to put up this post sooner. However, as I did the research over the last few weeks, I found it very much worth the time. I hope you will too.
It was through a friend in the Catholic blogsphere that I was introduced to the pleasures of studying, collecting and shooting military rifles. The most common and available military rifles are the bolt action rifles carried by the major powers (other than the US, which fielded the semi-automatic M1 Garand) during World War II, in most cases little modified from the versions carried thirty years before in the Great War. This was the last great age of battle rifles with wooden stocks and large cartridges, before the high tech “ugly guns” of the modern world took over.
There are, however, significantly more rare rifles to be found of an earlier vintage, the early cartridge rifles used form the 1860s through 1900, and of these one of the rarest is the M1868 Pontificio, the only modern rifle ever manufactured specifically for the Vatican.
From the talented calculators at Political Math. Here is the blog post which accompanies the video.
My comments regarding the importance of basing our civil society upon bedrock natural law principles, rather than positivist/originalist theories, drew some fire. I respond here with a fresh entry with relevant quotes from the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church regarding the natural law’s role in building up our legal system.
As a matter of first principle, yes. As a matter of law, no, and such compromises are frequently necessary. Ross Douthat explains (is it just me, or does he seem somehow less influential as a New York Times columnist than he was as a blogger):
The argument for unregulated abortion rests on the idea that where there are exceptions, there cannot be a rule. Because rape and incest can lead to pregnancy, because abortion can save women’s lives, because babies can be born into suffering and certain death, there should be no restrictions on abortion whatsoever.
As a matter of moral philosophy, this makes a certain sense. Either a fetus has a claim to life or it doesn’t. The circumstances of its conception and the state of its health shouldn’t enter into the equation.
Although the subject of President Obama being honored by Notre Dame has quickly cooled in the fast-paced blogging universe- I wanted to weigh in with some comments because I think it is important to hold the President to account on some of the promises he made in his speech, and to offer some ideas for how Catholic universities should approach such political intersections in the future.
The LA Times, desperately applying as much lipstick as possible on a pig of an economy, wrote an article here about the up side of unemployment under Obama. The sombre and always serious Iowahawk gives this article the drubbing it screams out for here.
Maureen Dowd wrote a column last month in which she compared, tongue in cheek, Obama to Mr. Spock from Star Trek. Jeff Greenwald of Salon also sees a resemblance between Chicago’s “gift” to the country and the first officer of the Enterprise. Bill Whittle of Pajamas Media, takes great joy in informing us in a very entertaining video here why having an intellectual in the mode of Mr. Spock as president is very bad for the nation.
[Cross posted from DarwinCatholic]
I have the feeling that readers have emailed me about this site a couple times before, and I left it without comment because some topics seem like shooting fish in a barrel for a blog with the tagline “Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don’t survive.” However there comes a point when fish who choose to live in barrels deserve to come under fire.
Meet the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement.
VHEMT (pronounced vehement) is a movement not an organization. It’s a movement advanced by people who care about life on planet Earth. We’re not just a bunch of misanthropes and anti-social, Malthusian misfits, taking morbid delight whenever disaster strikes humans. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Voluntary human extinction is the humanitarian alternative to human disasters.
We don’t carry on about how the human race has shown itself to be a greedy, amoral parasite on the once-healthy face of this planet. That type of negativity offers no solution to the inexorable horrors which human activity is causing.
Rather, The Movement presents an encouraging alternative to the callous exploitation and wholesale destruction of Earth’s ecology. Continue Reading
Considerable controversy erupted over the weekend in the blogosphere as to the outing of bloggers who blog using a pseudonym. The details of what initiated this controversy are discussed in detail here at Southern Appeal, Ed Morrissey at Hot Air comments here, Jay Anderson has a thoughtful post here at Pro Ecclesia, as does Paul Zummo here at the Cranky Conservative. My observations are as follows:
The men of the 5th Ranger Battalion could barely keep from laughing when they first saw their chaplain, Lieutenant Joe Lacy, a week before D-Day. These were young men, in peak physical condition. Father Joe Lacy was old by Ranger standards, knocking on 40, overweight by at least 30 pounds, wearing thick glasses and short, 5 foot, six inches. He was described by one Ranger as “a small, fat old Irishman.” No way would he be able to keep up when they invaded France.
On June 6th we commemorate the anniversary of D-Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy — conveying our thanks to those who fought and died for the liberation of Europe, and the world, from the Nazis.
Many stories and reflections will be shared today. Here are just a few.
As remembered by Capt. John G. Burkhalter, former Miami minister and chaplain with the “Fighting First” division in France:
On one occasion we were near some farm houses and some large shells began to fall, so several of us near a stone barn dashed into it to get out of the way of shrapnel. Just inside was a mother hen covering her little chicks. When we hurried in she became frightened and fluffing her feathers rose up to protect her young. I looked at her and silently said, “No, mother hen, we are not trying to hurt you and your little family, we are trying to hurt each other.”
Nobody can love God better than when he is looking death square in the face and talks to God and then sees God come to the rescue. As I look back through hectic days just gone by to that hellish beach I agree with Ernie Pyle, that it was a pure miracle we even took the beach at all.” Yes, there were a lot of miracles on the beach that day. God was on the beach D-Day; I know He was because I was talking with Him..
At 6:30AM on June 6th, 1944 — 65 years ago today — American, British and Canadian soldiers assaulted the beaches of Nazi-occupied France in the first day of the return of the land war to Western Europe in World War II. In some sectors of the 50-mile-long section of coastline chosen for the landings, defense was minimal and soldiers slogged stolidly through the surf and onto land. In others, especially the American Omaha Beach, the first waves came under a withering barrage of machine gun and mortar fire which nearly completely wiped out the first waves.
The bravery of young men in such conditions, and the fears and sadness of their loved ones back home, constitute the sort of heroism, sacrifice and tragedy which have moved human hearts from the most ancient epics until the present day.
In one of the British landing craft, an officer played for his men a phonograph recording of the St. Crispin’s Day speech from Shakespeare’s Henry V. And so it seems a fitting tribute to the bravery of all the men from throughout the English-speaking world who huddled in their boats in the terrifying minutes before battle sixty-five years ago to post this, one of the greatest martial speeches in English literature, in the rendition from Kenneth Branagh’s outstanding production.
Something for the weekend. The Supremes give a memorable performance of Somewhere from West Side Story. Compare and contrast with this version by Barbra Streisand.
Finally, compare and contrast both with the original from West Side Story.
Sometimes one image serves to sum up an event in the world’s memory. For the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, that image is probable the one of the “tank man” — a lone protester who was photographed on June 5th, 1989 when he briefly stood, unarmed, before a tank column and stopped it.
There is not agreement as to who the “tank man” was, and most reports suggest he was arrested by the secret police and executed within the next two weeks.
In those heady days, it seemed possible that within a few years communist dictatorship would be nothing more than a memory, but twenty years later the communist oligarchs in China have learned to accomodate freedom and enterprise enough to remain in power. And the tank man’s dream remains unrealized.
Some time back there was a fellow in the news named Matt Dubay, a man who was claiming that Michigan’s paternity law is unconstitutional because it didn’t give him any ‘choice’ in whether to become a father.
The interesting thing about this suit is that it points out the inherent contradiction’s in the current legal understanding of sex in the United States. On the one hand, a woman must be given a ‘choice’ as to whether or not to be pregnant after she has already conceived, and so abortion is legally mandated. On the other hand, a man is considered to have already made himself financially liable for any children conceived from the moment that he has sex. Thus, in the man’s case, US law recognizes a traditional understanding of what sex is (an act that can naturally be assumed to be fertile) while in the woman’s case sex is merely considered an act which may bring on a transitional condition in which a woman has conceived yet has not yet decided whether or not she wants to actually be pregnant.
Clearly, being pregnant (and caring for a child) is a far, far greater burden for a woman than for a man, so one can see how (thinking with its heart rather than its head) our country got itself into this position. But it’s still a pretty untenable position to be in. Clearly, one must say either than sex is an act which has the inherent potential to create another human person, or it is not. One of these positions, of course, has the benefit of being true, while the other might be convenient for some, but is quite provably false.
Hattip to Daniel Indiviglio at the Atlantic. USA Today is reporting that the share of the Federal debt for each American household is $546, 668 with private average debt of 121, 953. Of course these numbers do not include the average household share of liabilities incurred by states and local levels of government. Does anyone believe that we will ever climb out of this debt abyss except through the terrible remedies of hyper-inflation or debt repudiation? As I have often stated on this blog the debt that we are amassing is fiscal lunacy and our economy will soon smash into a brick wall of government debt.
The fifth installment of my series pointing out the follies of some Jesuits in this country. Father John O’Malley, SJ, of the theology department of Georgetown has a piece in America, where else?, in which he hails Obama as a President who embodies something called “the Spirit of Vatican II”. Actually I think Obama really embodies “the Spirit of Jesuits Trapped in ’68”. Father Z does the necessary fisking of the article here. Carl Olsen has some pointed comments on the same subject here. Rich Leonardi of Ten Reasons points us to thoughts about the meaning of Vatican II by the late, and very great, Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ, which appeared in America in 2003.
Imagine a white male conservative making the same comments that Judge Sonia Sotomayor made:
A wise White man with his experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a Latina female,”
The mainstream media (old media) would have a field day recounting how racist Republicans are. It would be nonstop media coverage not seen since Trent Lott’s infamous statements.
Now here are Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s comments. Keep in mind that when she said these comments that she was dead serious:
A wise Latina woman with her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male,”
The weekend’s WSJ had an interesting article about work hours — the hours that people think they work, and the hours they actually do.
Over the past two decades of rapid technological deployment and globalization, it has become an article of faith among the professional set that we work sweatshop hours. Sociologist Juliet Schor started the rumor with her 1992 book, “The Overworked American,” which featured horror stories of people checking their watches to know what day it was.
Then God created the BlackBerry and things got worse. In late 2005, Fortune’s Jody Miller claimed that “the 60-hour weeks once thought to be the path to glory are now practically considered part-time.” In late 2006, the Harvard Business Review followed up with an article on “the dangerous allure of the 70-hour workweek,” calling jobs that required such labor the new standard for professionals. The authors featured one “Sudhir,” a financial analyst who claimed to work 90-hour weeks during summertime, his “light” season. He’s got nothing on a young man I met at a party recently who told me he was working 190 hours a week to launch his new company.
It was a curious declaration; I would certainly invest in a start-up that had invented a way to augment the 168 hours that a week actually contains.
From the ever sombre and serious Iowahawk. The problem with being a humorist these days is that reality has a habit of catching up with the absurd. From the Heritage Foundation:
In a Vox Nova post, Gerald Campbell claims the following of Francis Schaeffer:
In 1982, Frank’s father (Francis Schaeffer) wrote a book called A Christian Manifesto in which he called for the use of force if all other means of stopping abortion failed. He compared the United States and its practice of legalized abortion to Hitler’s Germany and argued that whatever means might have removed Hitler could be used to stop abortion here. In 1984, Frank Schaeffer wrote A Time for Anger. in which he argued the same point. His book became a national best seller with the help of the evangelical movement. Dr. James Dobson alone gave away 100,000 copies.
Gerald is not only wrong, but I believe — having corrected him once already on this very matter — he joins Frank Schaeffer in wilful slander of his father.
I have an reflexive admiration for writers who writers who actively think through questions and come to conclusions which are not necessarily indicated by their initial commitments — even though this effect is usually achieved by the writer disagreeing with me on at least some basic elements of worldview. Megal McArdle, who blogs for The Atlantic, is often one such, and she has a very interesting set of posts dealing with the murder of abortionist George Tiller.
The War on The War on Abortion
A Really Long Post About Abortion and Reasoning By Historical Analogy That is Going to Make Virtually All of My Readers Very Angry At Me
One More Post on Abortion
There are a couple more as well, but these struck me as the most fascinating. McArdle is basically pro-choice, and an economic libertarian, though in most ways was more an Obama supporter than a McCain one. But her take on this is event is a characteristically interesting one:
if you actually think late-term abortion is murder, then the murder of Dr. Tiller makes total sense. Putting up touching anecdotes about people he’s helped find adoptions, etc, doesn’t change the fact that if you think late-term abortions are murder, the man was systematically butchering hundreds of human beings a year–indeed, not merely butchering them, but vivisecting them without anaesthetic. I’m sure many mass murderers have done any number of kind things over the course of their lives, to which the correct response, if you’re trying to stop the murders, is “so?”
Imagine a future in which the moral consensus has changed, and our grandchildren regard abortion the way we regard slavery. Who will the hero of history be: Tiller, or his murderer? At the very least, they’ll be conflicted, the way we are about John Brown.
Hattip to Southern Appeal. The executions of Saint John Cardinal Fisher and Saint Thomas More as portrayed in The Tudors. It was largely because of the courage that these men showed, and the courage hundreds of other men and women demonstrated who were martyred under the Crowned Monster Henry VIII, his son, and Bloody Elizabeth, that a remnant of the Catholic faith survived for centuries in England, Wales and Scotland, in the face of bitter persecution, until Catholic Emancipation in 1829.
It may seem like overkill to write a multi-part book review, but historian Thomas F. Madden’s new Empires of Trust: How Rome Built–and America Is Building–a New World explores a thesis I’ve been interested in for some time, which has significant implications for our country’s foreign policy and the wider question of what our country is and what its place in the world ought to be.
The US has been often accused, of late, of being an empire. Madden effectively accepts that this is the case, but argues that this is not necessarily a bad thing at all. Among his first projects is to lay out three different types of empire: empires of conquest, empires of commerce, and empires of trust.
An empire of conquest is one spread by military power, in which the conquering power rules over and extracts tribute from the conquered. Classic examples would include the empires of the Assyrians, Persians, Mongols, Turks, Alexander’s Hellenistic empire, Napoleon’s empire and to an extent the Third Reich, Imperial Japan and Soviet Union. Empires of conquest are spread by war, and conquered territory is ruled either by local puppet rulers or by a transplanted military elite from the conquering power.
An empire of commerce is interested only in securing enough of a political foothold in its dominions to carry on trade, and is less concerned over political control or tribute. Examples would include the British and Dutch empires; in the ancient world the Pheonicians and Athenians; and later, medieval Venice. Empires of conquest are typified by a network of far-flung colonies directly controlled by the home country, at locations which are strategic for exploiting natural resources or trading with regional powers. They are less focused on conquering large swathes of territority than with controlling enough of a foothold (and enforcing enough stability in the surrounding area) to carry on their commerce.
The book, however, is primarily concerned with a third type of empire, the empire of trust, of which Madden gives only two examples: Rome and the United States. The term “empire of trust” itself requires some unpacking.
As several commenters have pointed out in other threads, there were two potentially ideologically motivated murders in the last 48 hours.
On Sunday morning, a well-known late term abortionist was shot and killed while attending services at his Lutheran church.
On Monday morning, a man opened fire on the recruiters at an Army-Navy career center in Little Rock, Arkansas — killing one and injuring a second. (The military being a needed and honorable profession, my prayers are all with these men and their families.)
Suspects for both crimes are now in custody and doubtless the machinery of justice will do its work in due time.
However, only the first of these is considered national political news, and while many are calling for soul searching on the part of the pro-life movement (or in some cases for government surveillance and downright suppression on it) few seem to be making similar calls in regards to the anti-war movement.
From the only reliable source of news on the net, the Onion. I hate to admit it, but some of the pizzas in the video actually looked pretty good to me. As Emile said in Ratatouille, “You know, if you can sort of muscle your way past the gag reflex, all kinds of food possibilities open up.”.
The White House issued a statement that bordered on the polemic from President Obama that ratcheted up the rhetoric surrounding the tragic death of abortionist George Tiller [emphasis mine]:
I am shocked and outraged by the murder of Dr. George Tiller as he attended church services this morning. However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion [notice how Obama ‘assumed’ that the issue was related to abortion without any of the facts present, implicitly connecting the suspect to the pro-life movement and instantaneously demonizing us], they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence.
Such partisan rhetoric is unbecoming of the office of the President. Especially when preliminary reports show that the suspect has no connections with any pro-life groups. In fact, Scott Roeder, the alleged suspect, is connected to various anti-government groups. This only shows President Obama’s speech at the University of Notre Dame of ‘not demonizing the opponent‘ as nothing more than empty rhetoric.
This type of rhetoric has only emboldened anti-life groups to capitalize on the tragic death of abortionist George Tiller. The pro-abortion National Organization for Women (NOW) has already deemed it a “terrorist” act and wants stalinist tactics used on Pro-Life groups by the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security to:
Preliminary reports show no connection of Scott Roeder with any Pro-Life groups.
LifeNews.com editor Steven Ertelt has reported that Scott Roeder, who has been detained by police in relation to the shooting of the abortionist George Tiller, has affiliations with extremist anarchist political groups with an anti-government bent.
As has been the case with most previous incidents of abortion-related violence, Roeder appears to have an affiliation with extremist political groups but not with the mainstream pro-life movement.
Pro-life groups have quickly and genuinely condemned the Tiller shooting.
We here at the American Catholic have condemned this act of violence.
Early reports so far show Scott Roeder having connections with anti-government organizations such as Freemen as well as having a prior conviction of ‘Criminal use of firearms’ in 1996.
(Photo of video taken from Kansas City Fox 4)
(Biretta Tips: Tom Blumer, The ConservativeXpress, & Foxfier)