Monthly Archives: September 2009

Chutes, Ladders, & Progressivism

I came across this comment a while back, and I think it summarizes the experience of many of my fellow law and MBA classmates (all of whom are recent graduates or current students):

I don’t know how it was elsewhere, but the game my friends and I were sold had breezy constant ladders and shallow painless chutes. Now the ladders are falling apart or growing queues, and the chutes have proved to be sudden and devastating.

Now, on the one hand, it’s almost never rational to expect wonderful career opportunities to be awaiting one at every turn. And the graduates he’s talking about – people with sparkling resumes from the most prestigious undergrad and graduate schools – are hardly Dickens-level sympathetic protagonists. On the other hand, endless career opportunities are what many grad school admission offices are selling. And for many students and recent graduates of these institutions, six figures in debt with rapidly eroding job prospects,  the recession has been a rather traumatic experience.  This is certain to have a number of consequences, but I’ve been idly speculating that twenty to thirty years down the line, when they will be in a position to influence public policy, these individuals are likely to be more sympathetic than they might otherwise to redistributive policies. And, as it turns out, there is actually a recent academic study from the National Bureau of Economic Research that supports this idea. Here is the abstract:

Do generations growing up during recessions have different socio-economic beliefs than generations growing up in good times? We study the relationship between recessions and beliefs by matching macroeconomic shocks during early adulthood with self-reported answers from the General Social Survey. Using time and regional variations in macroeconomic conditions to identify the effect of recessions on beliefs, we show that individuals growing up during recessions tend to believe that success in life depends more on luck than on effort, support more government redistribution, but are less confident in public institutions.  Moreover, we find that recessions have a long-lasting effect on individuals’ beliefs.

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Changed My Mind: Three Strikes Laws

I’ve been challenged on a few occasions, as one tends to be if one is a fairly strong adherent of one end of the political spectrum or another, as to whether I’ve ever changed my mind on anything to a position contrary to the standard conservative one. And so, an example:

When a three strikes law was put on the ballot in California (where I lived at the time) I was a strong supporter. California was one of the first states to pass a three strikes law, and there was huge support for it because California was suffering badly from the 90s crime wave. The case for it seemed simple: If you’ve committed three felonies, you’re clearly not learning your lesson, and 25-life will take you off the streets and prevent you from continuing to be a danger to society. Support for the bill was heavily fueled by frustration with a justice system which seemed to act far too much like a revolving door, with rapists and murderers often being back on the streets within 5-8 years, and proceeding to commit similar crimes again. With the judiciary and prison system seemingly unwilling to do their job in keeping criminals off the streets, the case seemed strong for citizens to pass legislation forcing them to, and the three strikes law seemed like an obvious way to do it.
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Are You A Racist?

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Hattip to Powerline.  Jimmy Carter, incredibly enough one time President of the United States, believes a good portion of the opposition to Obama is racist.  Hmmm.  With Mr. Carter’s record on race, one could suspect that he might have a passing familiarity with racism.  The Obama administration quickly indicated that President Obama does not agree with his predecessor.  However, moogrogue at Missourah.com thoughtfully put together the above chart so that we may determine if we are racists according to the view enunciated by President 39.  Too bad Billy Carter is deceased and can’t be questioned about his elder brother’s statement.  I am sure it would be quotable and colorful as was this observation about his family: 
“My mother went into the Peace Corps when she was sixty-eight. My one sister is a motorcycle freak, my other sister is a Holy Roller evangelist and my brother is running for president. I’m the only sane one in the family.”

Irving Kristol, 1920-2009

And so we lose another giant. A self-identified liberal “mugged by reality”, Irving Kristol, commonly heralded as the godfather of ‘neo’-conservatism, has died. Hillel Italie gives an account of his life for RealClearPolitics.com:

A Trotskyist in the 1930s, Kristol would soon sour on socialism, break from liberalism after the rise of the New Left in the 1960s and in the 1970s commit the unthinkable — support the Republican Party, once as “foreign to me as attending a Catholic Mass.”

He was a New York intellectual who left home, first politically, then physically, moving to Washington in 1988. … his turn to the right joined by countless others, including such future GOP Cabinet officials as Jeane Kirkpatrick and William Bennett and another neoconservative founder, Norman Podhoretz.

“The influence of Irving Kristol’s ideas has been one of the most important factors in reshaping the American climate of opinion over the past 40 years,” Podhoretz said.

Among the host of publications he is credited as founding and/or editing was Commentary magazine (from 1947 to 1952); The Public Interest (from 1965 to 2002) and The National Interest from 1985 to 2002.

Kristol’s life, along with that of his fellow “New York intellectuals” Irving Howe, Daniel Bell, and Nathan Glazer, was the subject of the 1998 documentary, Arguing the World. In July 2002 he was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush, the highest civilian honor in the United States. Continue reading

How to Live a Selfish Miserable Life-and Fail at It!

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In preparation for a forthcoming post on the life of Catholic convert Bob Hope, I have been reviewing his work.  Eddie Foy and the Seven Little Foys (1955) is a highly interesting Bob Hope comedy/drama.  It is amusing like most Bob Hope films, but I have also found it intriguing because Hope portrays Foy at the beginning of the film as a selfish loner who wants absolutely nothing to do with a wife, let alone kids.  In the film his ambitions to lead a selfish solitary life are thwarted by love.  First, love for his wife and then, after her death, love for their numerous children.  At the end of the film we even see love of God starting to enter into Foy’s life.  His attempt to lead a life devoted to self alone ends in flat failure!

Like most Hollywood films some of the details of the actual Foy and his children are distorted, but it does not deter from the central message of the film.  Humans only have true happiness by loving others and doing good for them.  It seems a simple enough concept, and it certainly lies at the heart of Catholicism, but most of the evil in the world is a testament to how elusive many people find this core truth of human life.

I cannot leave this film without showing the clip of the legendary dance routine between Bob Hope and James Cagney, reprising his role from Yankee Doodle Dandy as James M. Cohan.  Cagney had his salary for the role donated to charity, regarding it as a tribute to Eddie Foy, who in the twenties had helped out struggling young actors.

 

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Update:  Here is the opening of the film which details how Foy was determined to remain single, and his resounding failure in that effort!

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Weapons of Mass Destruction

MassDestruction

Happy 25th Sunday of the year!

Ahhh, the fruits from the spirit in the sky of Vatican II!

Give us your opinion as to what has caused the celebration of the Mass to deteriorate since the Second Ecumenical Council (using Vatican II as a starting point, but not the cause).

You can only vote once, but you can choose more than one answer (on your first and only vote), so be careful!  Voting will end on Friday, September 25, 2009 AD.

Key:

Ad Populum = The priest showing his back to God while staring at the people.  Instead of facing God with the people (Ad Orientem).

Vernacular Liturgy = The liturgy of the Mass is celebrated in only the local language of the people instead of both the vernacular and Latin language.

(Biretta Tip: Catholic Cartoon Blog)

Quote of the Day: Irving Kristol

Symbolic Politics and Liberal Reform, Dec. 15, 1972

“All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling,” wrote Oscar Wilde, and I would like to suggest that the same can be said for bad politics. . . .

It seems to me that the politics of liberal reform, in recent years, shows many of the same characteristics as amateur poetry. It has been more concerned with the kind of symbolic action that gratifies the passions of the reformer rather than with the efficacy of the reforms themselves. Indeed, the outstanding characteristic of what we call “the New Politics” is precisely its insistence on the overwhelming importance of revealing, in the public realm, one’s intense feelings—we must “care,” we must “be concerned,” we must be “committed.” Unsurprisingly, this goes along with an immense indifference to consequences, to positive results or the lack thereof.

Father John Jenkins Pro-Life Baby Steps

Father John Jenkins, C.S.C., released a message to the University of Notre Dame family outlining two pro-life initiatives to recompense for the scandal of awarding President Obama an honorary degree.

1.  Father Jenkins plans to attend the March for Life Anniversary of Roe v. Wade event in Washington D.C.

2.  Establish a Task Force on Supporting the Choice for Life.

These two initiatives are a good first start in adhering to the teachings of the Catholic Church established by Jesus Himself.

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One Catholic's View of Health Care

I have been wanting to say something about the health care debate for sometime, but I have refrained from doing so for one simple reason; not only do I not know enough about the issue, but I am not certain where to even look for relevant knowledge about it. There are two, sometimes more, narratives about what the government is proposing that are so completely at odds, but put forward with such ferocity and vehemence, that it is difficult to know how much of the truth each side is portraying.

Thus I am left to wander about with my own hazy speculation. All I can speak to are my own principles and what little I do know about the state of health care and the dimensions of the problem, neither of which are adequate for the task at hand, but I will proceed anyway and let the discussion develop as it may.

One thing I believe that the vast majority of Catholics can agree to is that, somehow, some way, everyone is entitled by way of their human dignity to health care. Among the things that Christ will judge us for at the end of time is whether or not we helped Him, through the least of our brethren, while he was sick; did we care for Him, or turn our backs on Him?

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Deliver Us!

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Something for the weekend.  You know that you are living in an odd cultural period when the best musicals are animated!  Deliver us from the Prince of Egypt

God is always with us in all of our travails, perhaps never more so than when He appears to us to be completely absent.  When our spirit is lowest and we give way to despair, I suspect that God is never closer to us than at those times.  As Isaiah noted so long ago,  “See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you.”

When Unions Go Bad

Occasionally unions are a good tool for righting genuine injustices in the working world, but often they later become organizations focused on their own self-perpetuation. Because all union members pay the same dues, this self perpetuation often takes the form of protecting bad workers from the consequences of their actions. The good workers, after all, will almost certainly be treated well by their employers anyway, so the only service the union can provide when there are no real injustices to fight is to take care of workers who are incompetant or just don’t care — allowing them to do the minimum and still get annual raises rather than pink slips.

According to this recent article from the New Yorker, hardly a conservative publication, the New York City teachers union has clearly reached that point and then some.

In a windowless room in a shabby office building at Seventh Avenue and Twenty-eighth Street, in Manhattan, a poster is taped to a wall, whose message could easily be the mission statement for a day-care center: “Children are fragile. Handle with care.” It’s a June morning, and there are fifteen people in the room, four of them fast asleep, their heads lying on a card table. Three are playing a board game. Most of the others stand around chatting. Two are arguing over one of the folding chairs. But there are no children here. The inhabitants are all New York City schoolteachers who have been sent to what is officially called a Temporary Reassignment Center but which everyone calls the Rubber Room.

These fifteen teachers, along with about six hundred others, in six larger Rubber Rooms in the city’s five boroughs, have been accused of misconduct, such as hitting or molesting a student, or, in some cases, of incompetence, in a system that rarely calls anyone incompetent.
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"Closed Door Session" on Catholic Blogs in Canada

The ongoing and increasingly uncharitable public exchange between Fr. Thomas Rosica and LifeSiteNews.com may be on the verge of taking a disturbing new turn for the worse. Citing an article in “The Catholic Register”, LifeSiteNews informs us that

“The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has scheduled a closed-door session on independent blogs and web sites claiming to be Catholic at its October plenary.”

This follows, of course, the same Fr. Rosica’s public denunciation of LifeSiteNews, EWTN, and the Catholic blogosphere in general. Fr. Rosica also said that he “hopes the Pontifical Council on Social Communication takes up the issue”.

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House to Acorn: Drop Dead

 

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The House has voted to cut off all federal funds for Acorn.  The vote was 345-75.  Here is a list of the 75 House members who want to continue to shovel your tax dollars to Acorn.  Everyone of the 75 is a Democrat.

In other Acorn news,  the Obama campaign website has been scrubbing away references to Acorn down the old Orwell memory hole.

You know that Acorn is toast when even the Lying Worthless Political Hack, a/k/a Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, is calling for an investigation of Acorn.  The day before yesterday she wasn’t even aware that the Senate had voted to cut off funding for Acorn.

Lying Worthless Political Hack Fears Violence in the Debate Over ObamaCare

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The Lying Worthless Political Hack, a/k/a Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, not content to call opponents of ObamaCare Nazis,  has now raised the spectre of political violence:

“I have concerns about some of the language that is being used because I saw … I saw this myself in the late ’70s in San Francisco,” Pelosi said, choking up and with tears forming in her eyes. “This kind of rhetoric is just, is really frightening and it created a climate in which we, violence took place and … I wish that we would all, again, curb our enthusiasm in some of the statements that are made.” Continue reading

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