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.
Hattip to Dale Price at Dyspeptic Mutterings. Personally when it comes to dental care I normally do not quibble about price, no pun intended, although I do understand that there are people, like this fellow here, who disagree with me.
On the subject of dentistry, the video below is probably not one to view if you have a dental appointment today.
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
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
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
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.”
Apparently Dan Brown didn’t just do shoddy reasearch on art, history and theology for his Da Vinci Code, but also albinism was beyond his ability to spend ten seconds studying on the internet. Here is the website for the fellow who came up with this brilliant parody back in 2006. Perhaps Mr. Brown should have used a squad of albino squirrel assassins instead?
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
We continue to work through the authoritative Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church on the topic of the Political Community. In this part we will look at what happens “When Government behaves badly”. From the Compendium paragraphs #383 and #383: Continue Reading
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
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
Those of us who occasionally have been cantankerous can take some solace that among the ranks of the Blessed there are those who also had such moments while on Earth. One of those is Blessed William Ward whose feast day is today. Continue Reading
Hattip to Ledygrey at Southern Appeal. Any resemblance between the video above and the video in this post is purely intentional.
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.
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.
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:
“Life with a ‘Quiverfull’ family: the story behind the story” – Reuters journalist Rick Wilking shares his experiences documenting the lives of a Christian “Quiverfull” family who have 15 children due to their belief that all family planning is best left in the hands of God.
Night, February 15, 1898, the American battleship USS Maine lay at anchor in the harbor of Havana. Although tensions were running high between the US government and Spain, the colonial power occupying Cuba, the night was calm. Suddenly, at 9:40 PM, a huge explosion devastated the forward section of the Maine, an external explosion setting off the powder in the magazines of the Maine. Into this vision of hell on Earth strode the Catholic Chaplain of the Maine, John P. Chidwick. Continue Reading
In light of Zach’s stellar posting which generated over 240 comments ranging from anarchism to Oscar Romero and which inspired a posting by Michael Denton. These comments, although informative to a certain extent, may have detracted from the original intent of the posting. Henceforth in regards to said activities being done on Zach’s posting concerning Representative Chris Smith, I am starting a new tradition here at American Catholic, the open thread.
So feel free to comment to your hearts delight that isn’t related to any other postings on this website.
The comments policy is still in place so don’t forget to treat each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.
There’s a conversational dynamic which I’m already getting tired of, though I’m sure that we’ll see a lot more of it in the coming weeks and months, and it goes basically like this:
A: “I see the following problems with Obama’s health care proposal…”
B: “Don’t you understand the Church teaches health care is a right? Do you want there to be 47 million uninsured? How can you stand in the way of the one chance to do this? Do you think the current system is just fine?”
Clearly, just because the Democrats in Congress are patching together a 1000+ page bill which has specific characteristic and goes under the title of “healthcare reform” do not mean that this is the only way in which one might seek to reform healthcare. And although this may be the primary alternative to the status quo available at this moment in time, even someone who considers the status quo to be far from perfect might well consider the proposal currently coming together to be worse than the status quo.
[Updates at the bottom of this posting]
Ecumenism today is in a sorry state. Most Protestant denominations have splintered off to the point that dialogue has become pointless. Only the Orthodox offer any hope of reunion with us, but that is a distant land where we are struggling to navigate towards.
In the meantime too many well-intentioned Catholics yell “Ecumenism! Ecumenism!” yet they know not what they say nor do. Heck, they can’t even explain it themselves.
For example I’ve stopped attending Taizé services because the only people that attend them are other Catholics. If it was intended to bring our separated brothers in Christ together then I failed to see a single one of them attend in the three years that I have been going.
Ecumenism, whatever that means anymore, is a dead cat. It’s going nowhere because it has no idea what it is. Hence the forty years of fruitless labor has produced nothing to celebrate.
Too often, Catholic education, particularly at the high school level, seems to be valued not so much for its moral and religious content as for its prestige in the community, or for its ability to produce graduates who get into the “right” colleges and get higher-paying jobs later on.
In my experience, Catholic high schools tend to be known in their communities as 1) schools rich kids attend, 2) a way to escape poor-quality public schools, 3) athletic powerhouses, or 4) institutions whose graduates enjoy disproportionate wealth and influence — the quality Chicagoans famously call “clout.”
Just today, in fact, I heard someone refer to alumni of a local Catholic high school as a “Catholic mafia” that allegedly dominates local business and politics. Although this characterization is probably not entirely justified, many alums of this particular school do seem to end up in positions of influence in the community.
In July I always take a three day mini vacation with my family. Since it opened in 2005, one of our destinations is the Abraham Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Illinois, adjacent to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. Yesterday we traveled down to the Museum for our latest dose of Lincolnia. Continue Reading
Salvete AC readers!
Buckle Up! Because here are today’s Top Picks in the Catholic world:
1. I want to welcome Blackadder to American Catholic. Yes, it’s belated, but needed nonetheless. He has been an excellent addition to our fledgling website. He’s written many exceptional posts over at Vox Nova and we are glad to have him here with us. He also writes at the fine political group blog, Southern Appeal.
2. Meaningless word of the day, Ecumenism.
A close second, Interreligious Dialogue.
…which dovetails very well into my third pick…
An oldie but a goodie from the only reliable source of news on the net, the Onion. Life without the Internet. What would we do? We might have to “gasp” talk to one another! Bloggers would have to post their missives on their doors for passers-by to write comments! What would we do with the several hours freed up each day from not browsing the internet? The Horror, the Horror!
I imagine all of us blogging heroes believe that our outpourings of information and wise counsel, is having at least a minor impact in changing the world for the better. And I do believe that promoting the social doctrine of the Church is part of the evangelizing mission of the Church. But there is something that we must keep in our hearts as we continue fighting the good fight with our mighty pens (or flashing fingers upon key boards). And I cannot put it better than Pope Benedict XVI- so I will quote him here- and recommend the web site BenedictEveryday.com, where you can sign up for daily bits of Pope Speak delivered to your email address. Here is something to ponder as we prayerfully continue our political activism:
Many recent developments in Iran, all of them bad for the Iranian regime of Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader, with apologies to Fearless Leader of the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, Khamenei. Huge demonstrations rocked Iran on Friday with crowd estimates ranging from 100,000 to over a million in Tehran. Repression, brutal as it has been, is simply not stopping the Resistance from taking to the streets once a week.
In honor of America landing a man on the Moon forty years ago, the indispensable Iowahawk has a column here in which he suggests sending Congress to the Moon. I’d like to be among the first to climb on board this rocketwagon. I suspect we will never get our budgetary house in order until Congress is sent to the Moon, and I believe that most Americans have long thought that Congress and a full Moon go together. However, as the above picture indicates, I can think of a few officials from the Executive Branch who should go along for the ride!
It is one of the interesting contradictions of politics that political factions sometimes rely on the problems they seek to eliminate for their existence. For instance, it has been widely noted that while it is generally part of the Democratic set of ideals to reduce economic disparity, while Republicans tend to be accepting of it, Democrats are most successfully elected in areas with high economic disparity and Republicans are most successfully elected in areas with economic homogeneity. One might imagine that this is because those who actually experience inequality see the folly of their actions and switch to become Democratic voters, and perhaps there’s some level of truth to this, but still it seems odd that the Democratic hold on a region strengthens as its inequality increases. In other words, they do better if their goal of creating a more egalitarian economy fails.
I was reminded of this reading an article this morning about a group of newly elected Democrats in the House who are from some of the nation’s wealthiest congressional districts. (Democrats now control 14 out of the 25 richest congressional districts in the country.) These congressmen are worried about a provision in the pending health care legislation which would fund much of the new spending with a tax increase of 1-5.4% on income groups making $350k/yr or more.
I don’t have an objection in principle to taxes that hit the rich harder than the poor. As was observed about the reasonableness of robbing banks (if one is going to be a robber): That’s where the money is. Continue Reading
I posted a while back about the publication of Alphonse, a graphic novel written by Matthew Lickona and drawn by Chris Gugliotti. I’ve since had a chance to read Alphonse, Issue One and enjoyed it. It’s an off-beat and dark story, but a very evocative one. Alphonse’s mother is a serious druggie — long in denial about the fact she is pregnant. When she shows up at a women’s health clinic, 34 weeks pregnant, she insists that she can’t go through with the pregnancy, and a doctor agrees to provide an abortion and hysterectomy. However, Alphonse is not your ordinary, helpless child of 34 weeks gestation. He is, through fate or the harsh mix of chemicals his mother’s habits have exposed him to, aware of her thoughts and his danger, and also unusually coordinated for his size and age.
In the first issue we see his escape from the abortion clinic, and his rescue by a pro-life protester who takes him home and begins to nurse him through the withdrawal which removal from his mother’s chemical habits causes. A man of action despite standing under twenty inches tall, Alphonse seems poised to bring about changes in the intersecting lives of a number of characters.
Alphonse is not a political cartoon or simple message book. It is a gritty fantasy told in a macabrely inventive visual style — using a fantastic situation to explore a topic which is often considered radioactive in our society. Abortion is a topic which many seek to pigeonhole quietly by declaring a “tragedy”. Alphonse seeks to be the Macbeth to this tragedy — bloody, bold and resolute.
Author Matthew Lickona agreed to answer a set of questions for me in order to provide you with this interview.
Back on July 20, 1969 I remember staying up to watch this with my father. Here is a NASA Contractor Report on the flag raising. My father was not the most talkative man in the world, but I could tell he was quite proud when the flag was raised. So was I.
The flag raising has been seized upon by conspiracy theorists who claim that the moon landings were government hoaxes. How could a flag wave without an atmosphere? This has been answered numerous times. Continue Reading
Pvt. Bowe R. Bergdahl, 23, of Ketchum, Idaho
Please pray for the safety and relase of Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl, 23, of Ketchum, Idaho, captured and presently held hostage by the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Islamic militants released a video of the captured American soldier, whose identity was confirmed by the Pentagon on Sunday (Los Angeles Times).
A song for a Sunday afternoon:
Hattip to Instapundit. As he notes, Chappaquiddick is one anniversary Google was certain to ignore.
Here is Ted Kennedy’s non-mea culpa, notable for how little of the details of the incident he could recall, and an example of how to appear to take responsibility while not taking responsibility.
Any other American who failed to report a lethal accident such as this for such a lengthy period would probably have served some jail time, county or prison. Any other politician would have had his career destroyed. Something to keep in mind when Kennedy dies and he is referred to as “The Lion of the Senate”.
Hattip to American Digest. Putting the government in charge of our health care, what could possibly go wrong?
I saw the movie with Liam Neeson entitled “Taken”, the other night. It is the ultimate ‘Dads protecting daughters’ fantasy. It plays on a whole lot of primal emotions- particularly the temptation to give oneself over to extreme violence to protect the lives and sanctity of one’s children. Every father wants to imagine himself capable of defending his beloved children from any and all threats- and the father in “Taken” was that ultimate fatherly force. He represented more of a divine Angelic father who slays spiritually evil forces, than a realistic earthly dad- and as such I was able to excuse the incredible violence as something of a parable of ultimate accountability for those humans who perpetrate the evils of human trafficking and slavery.
That mainstream American culture is something of a train wreck is hardly news at this point, and that regard there’s a certain wisdom to the approach, “Let the dead bury their dead,” rather than having the brashness to be the one shouting, “Oh, hey, look! A body!” Still, occasionally one runs across things which are at the same time so sad and so indicative of our cultural ills one feels the need to comment. Such a case, to my mind at least, was this article from the most recent Atlantic Monthly suggesting that for the modern Homo suburbanicus middleclassus marriage is a failed idea which should be pretty much abandoned. Or as the cheery sub-headline succinctly put it: “The author is ending her marriage. Isn’t it time you did the same?”
The author is a 47 year old woman, a successful performance artist married to a musician, who after twenty years of marriage and two children find herself in the aftermath of an extramarital affair deciding that she really doesn’t feel like doing the work to rebuilt a relationship with her husband.
Which is not to say I’m against work. Indeed, what also came out that afternoon were the many tasks I—like so many other working/co-parenting/married mothers—have been doing for so many years and tearfully declared I would continue doing. I can pick up our girls from school every day; I can feed them dinner and kiss their noses and tell them stories; I can take them to their doctor and dentist appointments; I can earn my half—sometimes more—of the money; I can pay the bills; I can refinance the house at the best possible interest rate; I can drive my husband to the airport; in his absence, I can sort his mail; I can be home to let the plumber in on Thursday between nine and three, and I can wait for the cable guy; I can make dinner conversation with any family member; I can ask friendly questions about anybody’s day; I can administer hugs as needed to children, adults, dogs, cats; I can empty the litter box; I can stir wet food into dry.
The Holy Father is undergoing surgery after breaking his wrist in a fall.
AOSTA, Italy — A hospital spokesman says Pope Benedict XVI is undergoing surgery after breaking his right wrist in a fall during his vacation in the Italian Alps.
Tiziano Trevisan, a spokesman at the Umberto Parini Hospital in Aosta, says surgeons were operating Friday on the wrist to reduce the fracture, a procedure to realign the broken bone fragments.
He said they were giving 82-year-old Benedict “light sedation,” though heavier anesthesia may be given as the surgery progresses.
A Vatican statement says the pope fell in his room in a nearby chalet overnight and despite the accident, celebrated Mass and had breakfast before going to the hospital.
As regular readers of this blog know, I have been sounding the tocsin regarding government spending since the Bailout Swindle of 2008. Here is one of my posts in which I list other posts I have written on the subject.
Yesterday the Director of the Congressional Budget Office had a chilling post on his blog which you may view here. He states in part:
“Under current law, the federal budget is on an unsustainable path, because federal debt will continue to grow much faster than the economy over the long run. Although great uncertainty surrounds long-term fiscal projections, rising costs for health care and the aging of the population will cause federal spending to increase rapidly under any plausible scenario for current law. Unless revenues increase just as rapidly, the rise in spending will produce growing budget deficits. Large budget deficits would reduce national saving, leading to more borrowing from abroad and less domestic investment, which in turn would depress economic growth in the United States. Over time, accumulating debt would cause substantial harm to the economy. The following chart shows our projection of federal debt relative to GDP under the two scenarios we modeled.”
His chart is at the top of this post.
Keeping deficits and debt from reaching these levels would require increasing revenues significantly as a share of GDP, decreasing projected spending sharply, or some combination of the two.
He concludes on this somber note:
The current recession and policy responses have little effect on long-term projections of noninterest spending and revenues. But CBO estimates that in fiscal years 2009 and 2010, the federal government will record its largest budget deficits as a share of GDP since shortly after World War II. As a result of those deficits, federal debt held by the public will soar from 41 percent of GDP at the end of fiscal year 2008 to 60 percent at the end of fiscal year 2010. This higher debt results in permanently higher spending to pay interest on that debt. Federal interest payments already amount to more than 1 percent of GDP; unless current law changes, that share would rise to 2.5 percent by 2020.
This is fiscal madness. We have the wealth and the ability to solve this problem by spending cuts, and minor tax increases if, and only if, combined with meaningful and deep spending cuts. What we lack is the political will. We are destroying the future prosperity of our kids because of current political cowardice, folly and inertia.
Some of you probably think it is pretty easy to write for a blog. You probably think that all it involves is writing whatever comes into your fool head and then an occasional response in the comboxes. Well, actually, that is about 98% of it for me. However there are a few other duties. Perhaps the most time consuming is deleting “nut” comments. These comments are usually so bizarre that I assume any effort to respond to them would be futile. However, yesterday Jay Anderson at Pro Ecclesia received a prime example of the type of “”nut” comment I am writing about, and I thought our readership might like to see it. Continue Reading
In trying to answer the big questions about the central banks and global economy- I think it is important to note these historical facts and ask what their relevance might be:
Paul Volcker was appointed by liberal Jimmy Carter to be the head of the Fed, and was re-appointed by conservative Ronald Reagan. Alan Greenspan was appointed to head the Federal Reserve by Reagan, and then was re-appointed by President Bush I, Clinton, and again Bush II. This begs the question of how such a powerful position in managing our nation’s monetary policies can remain so “above” all the political cat-fighting between so-called “liberal” politicians and so-called “conservative” politicians. Shouldn’t there be a real difference of opinion when it comes to who should hold such key positions of power in the overall economy? I will add that Paul Volcker was named by President Obama to be “First Chair of President’s Economy Recovery Advisory Board”- so the musical chairs continues- is this some kind of a game?
My family and I are fans of the Harry Potter films, so we will definitely be joining quite a few other Muggles in trekking to a theater to do our bit to make J. K. Rowling wealthy enough to buy a few smallish nations. I have never read any of the Harry Potter books, although one of my sons and my daughter have read all of them, as has my wife, who has read them in several languages other than English. (Yes, I did marry above my intellectual station in life.) I don’t read any great message into the Harry Potter phenomenon, other than that there will always be a market for escapist fiction with good guys, bad guys, and a definite beginning, middle and end, laden with action, humor and sentiment.
I did find it intriguing that L’Osservatore Romano gave an overall enthusiastic review to the latest film, or rather I found the reaction to the review intriguing. Damian Thompson celebrates this here as a Vatican about face on Harry Potter and takes a swipe at Americans and Italians while doing so, reminding us yet again why Brits are so beloved the world over. Robust British ethnocentrism notwithstanding, I think Mr. Thompson and much of the media are wrong as playing this as some sort of reversal in Vatican policy. (As if the Vatican has a Harry Potter policy!) True, L’Osservatore Romano had previously published a negative piece on Harry Potter in January of 2008. A translation of the article is here. However, this piece ran with a positive assessment of Harry Potter in an article which may be read in English here. A balanced look at the current review is here.
I may have to turn in my Catholic Geek card for this admission, but I still haven’t finished reading Caritas in Veritate, I’m only about ten pages in. Though I’ve tried the usual background reading, Benedict’s prose (though more readable than some of his predecessor’s) is not really the sort of thing one can read one paragraph at a time in between working. And while I do usually have 30-60min between 11pm and midnight in which to read before falling asleep, I must confess I’ve mostly been devoting that time to finishing a spy novel rather than turning tired eyes to Catholic social thought.
However, if I may nonetheless take the liberty of addressing some of the general discussion of economics and morality which has been stirred up by the encyclical, there is what seems to me a familiar dynamic coming into play as people discuss whether the Church can or should teach on matters of economics. The situation strikes me as somewhat similar to the argument about whether the Church can teach on matters of science.
On science, I would like to think, the terrain if fairly well understood. The Church does not and cannot teach with any particular authority on scientific theories themselves: Is the universe six billion years old, or only 6000? Is string theory a load of rubbish? Does the Earth revolve around the Sun? Will the expansion since the “big bang” end in a “big crunch” or in the heat death of the universe?
Hattip to the ever alert Jay Anderson of Pro-Ecclesia. Because Congressman Tim Ryan (D.Ohio) abandoned his pro-life position, Democrats for Life of America removed him from their national advisory board. This news story demonstrates Ryan’s transition to voting pro-abortion. Interesting that Ryan abandoned the pro-life cause after the Democrats took control of the House in 2006. I suspect that he is ambitious and decided that in a House run by pro-abort Democrats being a pro-lifer was not a career enhancer. At any rate, as a pro-life Conservative Republican I salute the action of these pro-life Democrats. It would have been better to boot him in 2008 after his changed voting record had become clear, but the main thing is that Democrats for Life have acted now. Their action lends credence to the seriousness with which they view the issue of abortion. Bravo! (Two articles praising Democrats in two days by me? I’m going soft!)
Hattip to Rock, Paper Shotgun. Although strategy computer games have always been my first love, in my younger days I would have been a prime candidate for this malady. One of my son’s first words was Doom when he saw the game box in a hobby shop. I don’t waste my time with that type of nonsense anymore. Hmmm, I wonder if there is a blogger disease?
Hattip to Creative Minority Report. 19 Blue Dog pro-life Democrats have sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi advising her that they will vote against National Health Care if it does not exclude abortion funding. Here is the letter: Continue Reading
Near tragedy in DC yesterday when a screen of Totus (Teleprompter of the United States), crashed. Rumors abounded yesterday that Totus was no more. Had this, dare I say it, been an assassination attempt against Totus? Was Vice-President Biden involved? There is no love lost between Biden and Totus, but certainly Biden would not stoop to electronicide, would he?
Fortunately Totus announced here on its blog that it is OK. Totus blames Felix its operator. Hmmm, I wonder if there are recent sightings of Biden and Felix together? Stay alert Totus, the screwdrivers, if not the knives, may be out against you!
Judging from our posts, I believe it is safe to say that we at The American Catholic are a bookish lot. I think this applies also to most of our learned commenters. I have always loved books, a trait I inherited from my sainted mother who had a deep passion for the printed page. If I were not married to a fellow bibliophile, and a librarian of course !, I can imagine my love of books perhaps having been a sore point in my marriage. “Another bookstore?” “Can’t we go anyplace without you dragging me to a dull bookstore?” “You paid what for that history of the Peninsular War!?!” “The books are in the dumpster. Say a word and you may end up there too!” Instead, both I and my bride of 27 years view bookstores as homes away from home, to the vast amusement of our kids.
In this post I am going to list ten books I would recommend. These ten books have all had some impact on my life. I invite everyone who is interested to also give their book recommendations in the comments.
1. The Bible-Since my parents gave me my first Bible, at my request, on Christmas Day 1970, I have attempted, and usually succeeded, in reading a chapter from the Old Testament and a chapter from the New each day. The varied type of literature in the Bible I find endlessly fascinating: novels, court chronicles, proverbs, otherworldly prophecies, military history, gospels, letters, an endless literary and intellectual feast. Aside from the spiritual benefits of the Bible, which of course is the main reason for reading the Bible, no one in our civilization can be considered to be well-educated if they are bone ignorant of this book. Continue Reading
The idea of supporting the troops is not one where you find a whole lot of argument. Of course in the Vietnam era there are the stories of how hippies used to spit on servicemen, calling them “baby killers”. I’ve heard that scenario repeated so many times, I’m starting to wonder if this reaction was really so widespread, or if it got an urban legend boost at some point. I’m sure this type of thing happened, I was too young to take in the riots, the protests against the Vietnam War to fully appreciate the dynamic of the times. But in any case, we are now pretty much united in the notion that while a given war may be unjust, we don’t blame the average man or woman in uniform. In fact, we seek ways to honor or show respect for them, even if we are seeking to end the conflict in which they are engaged. This is a good thing on the whole. Continue Reading