Monthly Archives: July 2009
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.
At the request of my friend and fellow contributor to The American Catholic, Darwin Catholic, I will elaborate more on some of the general points I introduced to the discussion over his latest post about economic morality. For those who did not follow the exchange (of me versus everyone, understandable on this somewhat more conservative blog), I questioned the accuracy of any scientific theory of economics that did not take into account class conflict (or, as some insist on saying, “class struggle”). Darwin and others responded by questioning the validity of the very category of class. Hence, we have a great deal of ground to cover – I hope you will bear with me, and that we all end up learning something.
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?
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!
I wasn’t sure whether or not to post this as an update to my earlier post on John Holdren, but I thought it was interesting enough to warrant its own posting.
I’ve read some of the scanned pages of Ecoscience, the 1977 book co-authored by Holdren that calls for horrifying coercive measures for population control. Interestingly, Holdren & Co. felt the need to address pro-life arguments in their book. Their moral reasoning only proves, yet again, how dangerous (not to mention illogical) some ‘scientists’ can become when they venture into moral philosophy. This provides us an opportunity to take a tour through the inhuman humanism condemned by Pope Benedict in Caritas in Veritate.
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
I do not believe I was morally wrong or politically naive to personally give President Obama the benefit of the doubt and, until he proved otherwise, accept his claims of wanting to ‘work with’ pro-lifers at face value. I believe prudent and ethical politics, as well as the requirements of Christian charity, placed such an obligation on me, though I understood why some Catholics strongly disagreed. Even just recently I wrote a blog suggesting that we should not engage in nasty rhetoric against the president – and for the most part, I still believe that.
But with Obama’s selection of Dr. John P. Holdren to “Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy”, among a few other high positions – and with the recent revelations of what this man, along with his co-authors, advocated in a 1977 book called Ecoscience (of which I was entirely ignorant), I believe the benefit of the doubt has just been cut.