Monthly Archives: July 2009

Affirmative Action and Me

It always annoys me when I am confronted with a form which demands to know my “race or ethnicity” and offers no “mixed” option. Being exactly half “white” and half “hispanic”, it seems tiresome to have to pick one or the other. “Just pick the one you feel represents you most,” a nice lady at the DMV once told me. But of course, what I think represents me most is being half each — not picking one over the other. I would certainly not say that I “am” Hispanic, yet the experience of having a large Mexican-American half to the family is hardly accidental to my life experience.

One of the areas I knew this would make a more than usually substantive difference in my life was deciding how to fill out college application forms. I objected to the idea of racial quotas (something that was still going on fairly explicitly in 96/97) and I figured that with an English last name even if I were tempted to try to take advantage of “Hispanic” status, I wouldn’t pass the laugh test. So I put myself down at “Hispanic” on the PSAT and “white” on the SAT, and simply refused to pick on all my college applications.
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Res et Explicatio for A.D. 7-30-2009

Salvete AC readers!

Buckle Up! Because here are today’s Top Picks in the Catholic world:

1. Newspapers outlets and news agencies are reporting that Pope Benedict XVI has signed off on the laicization of Father Tomislav Vlasic.  Tomislav Vlasic is one of the leading priests alleging that apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary have been appearing continuously to six Croat seers since June 24, 1981 in the Bosnian town of Medjugorje.  These apparitions are continuing to this day and has been visited by an estimated 30 million pilgrims.  An estimated 40,000 messages have been conveyed to the seers by the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Officially the Vatican has not decided on the matter of these alleged apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The Vatican has recently taken over the case of reviewing these allegations from the local Bosnian diocese.

There are skeptics and proponents debating the facts and implications of the latest scandal over Medjugorjie.  But what is clear is that Medjugorgie has lost more of its tarnish these last few years.

I won’t argue with the genuine conversions and sincerity of many believers that have occurred at Medjugorie.  Though I have a couple doubts concerning these apparitions which I will write to in a separate posting for a later date.

2. Quote of the Day:

“We do know that at the end of time, when the great conflict between the forces of good and evil takes place, Satan will appear without the Cross, as the Great Philanthropist and Social Reformer to become the final temptation of mankind.”

Archbishop Fulton Sheen (Life of Christ, p. 10)

Kind of sucks the wind out of your sails doesn’t it if you believe in the redistribution of wealth and all.

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White House Meeting Ferments Beer Brew-hahha

It’s not unusual for people attempting to smooth over a contentious discussion to say that they’d of course be willing to get together for a friendly beer some time. Apparently, when one has the resources and media visibility of the President, it’s possible to actually pull this off, but trouble can ensue.

When President Obama called Cambridge police officer Crowley last week to try to smooth over tension resulting from Obama’s declaration that Crowley’s arrest of Professor Gates had been “stupid”, Officer Crowley suggested that the three men should get together for a few beers. It seems that Obama thought this was a good idea, and a beer summit between the three men is currently scheduled to take place are scheduled to get together at a White House and knock back a couple cold ones.

However, this morning’s Wall Street Journal reveals that peace making is never simple, American brewers are upset over the likely offering at the beer fest: Continue reading

The Population Bomb and Politicized Science

Hattip to Alberto Hurtado at Southern Appeal.   The myth of the Population Bomb is a cautionary tale of the dangers of politicized junk science.    Paul Ehrlich’s best seller in 1968 helped propel public policy in an anti-natalist, pro-abortion and pro-contraceptive direction.  As I hope all of our readers know, the book was a heap of rubbish, making wild alarmist predictions about the dangers of population growth, none of which came true.  Good articles on Erhlich’s bomb of a book are here, here, and here.  Rather than a population bomb, we have a population implosion throughout most of the world, including in Muslim states

Now why would a book that was so spectacularly wrong headed have so captured the imagination of policy makers for generations?  Because books like Erhlich’s truly have nothing to do with science.  Science jargon is merely a wrapper for a political agenda;  in Ehrlich’s case one which was both radically pro-environment and anti-human, with a heaping dollop of hatred for people who had more than two kids.  I have a great deal of respect for science, and little but contempt for those who attempt to claim the mantle of science for political agendas through the use of junk science. Continue reading

ObamaCare: A Pre-Mortem


Barring some political miracle, National Health Care is dead. Many  current polls indicate that a majority of the public is now against it.  There is no chance of having a vote in either chamber of Congress before the August recess.  Considering the high popularity numbers that Obama had coming into office, and the wide majorities that the Democrats enjoy in Congress this is astounding.  What caused this debacle?  A few thoughts. Continue reading

How to Get There from Here

There’s been much discussion of late about what other country’s health care apparatus the US should consider emulating, and in such discussions France is often mentioned. Now, all cheerful ribbing against the French aside, their health care system is not nearly as “socialized” or nearly as afflicted by treatment denials and waiting lists as those of the UK or Canada. It is also rather more like the system that the US already has, in that it is a hybrid public/private system, though in their case there is a guaranteed base level of coverage everyone has through the government (funded via a hefty payroll tax — not unlike Medicare) which most people supplement with private coverage. Most doctors are in private practice, and 25% do not even accept the public plan, just as some practices in the US do not accept Medicare. However, everyone does have that minimum level of coverage, and the French spend a lower percentage of their GDP on health care than the US (11% versus 16%) which when you take into account that France’s GDP per capita is a good deal smaller than that of the US (which is the polite, economist way of saying it’s a poorer country) works out to the US spending about twice as many dollars per person on health care, while still not having universal coverage.

So what are we waiting for? Why don’t we go enact the French system here right now? Why doesn’t Obama put on a jaunty beret, dangle a cigarette coolly from the corner of his mouth, hoist a glass of wine, and just say, “Oui, nous pouvons.”
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Reading Michael Burleigh

Despite a semester overseas in England and mandatory schooling in the subject, it is to my great regret that I neglected to pay much attention to European history in college. What I did study a decade ago I’ve barely retained — something I’ve been compensating for in years since, by way of a 45 minute subway commute that provides just enough time to get a few chapters in.

The British historian Michael Burleigh is one whose work I’ve discovered recently and have benefited greatly from reading. Earlier this year I finished Earthly Powers (“The Clash of Religion and Politics in Europe, from the French Revolution to the Great War”) and am now working through the sequel: Sacred Causes (“The Clash of Religion and Politics, from the Great War to the War on Terror”). Both volumes are fascinating studies of European history, through the prism of church-state relations and the myriad attempts of each to assume the role of the other. Continue reading

No Strongman for Honduras

Tomorrow will mark one month since Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was roused from his bed by members of the military and escorted, in his pajamas, to a plane heading out of the country. Later that same day, June 28th, the Honduran congress elected Roberto Micheletti as interim president, with a term to expire on January 27th, 2010 — the date on which Zelaya’s term would otherwise have ended.

Since then, things have held in a state of tense limbo. No other country has recognized Micheletti as the legitimate president, and Zelaya is now camped out on the Honduras/Nicaragua boarder pushing for his return. Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez, a backer of Zelaya, has darkly threatened consequences if he thinks Venezuelans in Honduras might be threatened, but to date no outside power has attempted to force the Honduran military to stand down.

However, the situation is more complicated than a simple coup. This in depth article in the weekend’s WSJ on the lead up to Zelaya’s ouster is a pretty good primer on the subject. The military removed Zelaya in response to orders from the Honduran Supreme Court for the military to arrest Zelaya for disobeying the constitution. Zelaya was attempting to push through a ballot referendum to change the constitution — his primary object according to most Honduran authorities and observers being to remove the constitutional provision which limits each president to only one term in office. In this, he was following the example of other Latin American presidents who have sought to remove the constitutional provisions in their countries that were designed to keep one man from maintaining power indefinitely. Continue reading

Father Cyclone and the Fighting 69th

Father Larry Lynch


Larry Lynch was born, the first of 12 kids in his family, in the City Line neighborhood of Brooklyn on October 17, 1906.  He grew up on some pretty tough streets while also serving as an altar boy at Saint Sylvester’s.   He came to greatly admire the Redemptorists, an order of missionary priests founded by Saint Alphonsus Liguori in 1732.  In America the order had distinguished itself by its work in some of the roughest slums in the country and thus it was small wonder that a tough street kid would be attracted to them.  Larry Lynch was ordained a priest in the Redemptorist Order in 1932. Continue reading


Something for the weekend, Waterloo by ABBA.  I played this last night while perusing the President’s declining poll numbers and this story.  I will not even attempt to defend my liking for ABBA.   I realize their music is the worst type of disco treacle but I still like it.  Feel free to mock away in the comboxes.  I will make no attempt to defend the musically indefensible.  I may inflict more ABBA on the readers of this blog, but I will do so at decent intervals.

Obamacare: If Congress Passes It, Let Them Live Under It

Hattip to Robert Stacy McCain at The Other McCain.  Rep. John Fleming (R. LA.) is the sponsor of House Resolution 615 which states that in the event National Health Care passes, all members of Congress who vote for it are urged to receive their health insurance under it.  This sounds like a very good idea to me.  If it is good enough for voters it should be good enough for CongressCritters.  Of course urging isn’t enough.  They should be required to be subject to Obamacare if it passes.  Here is the text of the resolution.

Understanding the Police

The nation (or at least, that portion of it which follows the news cycle) suddenly found itself in one of these “national conversations” about policing this week, after President Obama accused the Cambridge, Mass. police of having “acted stupidly” in arresting his friend and supporter Prof. Henry Louis Gates Jr. outside his own home for “disorderly conduct”. The police report, minus some privacy data such as addresses, can be viewed here. The short version, is as follows: Prof. Gates returned from a trip to China and found himself having trouble getting into his house, so he and his cab driver forced the door open. A passerby saw this, feared a burglary was taking place, and called the police. Officer James Crowley of CPD arrived on the scene shortly thereafter, saw Prof. Gates in the house as he approached it, and though he looked to be a resident, but knocked, explained the situation, and asked for ID to be sure.

Here the two versions of the story diverge. According to Prof. Gates, Officer Crowley repeatedly refused to identify himself, lured him out onto the porch, and then arrested him. (You can read the Professor’s version in an extended interview here.) According to Officer Crowley, Prof. Gates did provide identification, Crowley was satisfied that he was the homeowner, but Gates had immediately taken an angry tone (repeatedly accusing Crowley of treating him this way because he was black) and that Gates followed him outside, accusing him of racial bias and generally shouting at him, until after a warning Officer Crowley arrested him for disorderly conduct.

Now, I think it’s pretty appalling to be arrested at your own house for yelling at someone, even a police officer. At the same time, the police report rings a lot truer to me that Prof. Gates’. And while even given that account, I don’t like the idea of arresting someone in front of his own house for being loud and rude towards the police, it strikes me that Prof. Gates violated a lot of the very basic rules that everyone knows about interacting with police. Perhaps I can best explain with an example:
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