Now This, This Would be a Sign of the Apocalypse!

Wednesday, January 13, AD 2010

A Republican may be elected to serve out Ted Kennedy’s unexpired term?  It could happen! Public Policy Polling, a Democrat leaning polling outfit shows the election a toss up between the Democrat Coakley and the Republican Brown.  Scott Rasmussen, the best political pollster in the business in my opinion, shows Coakley up by two.  Last week he showed her up by nine.  On Monday Brown raised over a million dollars in one day in internet donations.

If Brown wins the Senate race in the Peoples’ Republic of Massachusetts, it will send a political shock wave across this country the like of which hasn’t been seen in many a year.  If Ted Kennedy’s senate seat isn’t safe, what seat is safe for the Democrats?  Oh, I don’t believe that I should call it Ted Kennedy’s seat per Mr. Brown.

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13 Responses to Now This, This Would be a Sign of the Apocalypse!

  • From where I sit, I do not think there is any chance Scott Brown will be elected. Massachusetts politics are too corrupt.

  • It is an uphill climb Zach, no doubt about that. It is interesting however that Massachusetts does have a history of electing Republican governors fairly recently, so the idea of a Republican winning statewide is certainly not impossible.

  • I don’t expect Brown to win, but then, I didn’t expect Corzine to lose in deep blue NJ either. If Brown comes within a couple of points of Coakley, Dems should still be very nervous. Coakley ran a dreadful campaign, because she expected it would be a waltz. She thought she wouldn’t have to fight for “the Kennedy seat” (ah, Massachusetts – or should I say Massachusettes, like the cool kidz do – once upon a time you rebelled against royalty). The fact that she does, in fact, have a battle on her hands is unnerving her.

    If Brown manages to pull it off, I shall develop a strange new respect for Massachusetts voters.

  • Eric

    It seems “you can’t vote for or support a pro-choice candidate” because “they are baby killers” and “supporting baby killers should get you excommunicated” might be countered with “He’s a Republican” and that’s good enough for some. It also suggests that much of that rhetoric is just political rhetoric, and not indicative of belief when there are these cheers for a pro-choice candidate. So you are right to point this out. Shows quite a few things all in one.

  • From what I can tell thus far, Brown is indeed, essentially, pro-choice.

    http://thephoenix.com/BLOGS/dontquoteme/archive/2010/01/04/scott-brown-s-abortion-problem.aspx

    http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/01/04/abortion_stances_of_brown_coakley_not_so_easily_defined/?page=1

    His support for minor pro-life initiatives notwithstanding, in my mind, a minimal pro-life position includes opposition to RvW.

    However, his opponent is also pro-choice, and apparently has a voting record more favorable to the abortion industry.

    In this case should Catholics vote for a “lesser evil” or abstain altogether? The ‘Catholic Answers’ voting guide says:

    “In some political races, each candidate takes a wrong position on one or more issues involving non-negotiable moral principles. In such a case you may vote for the candidate who takes the fewest such positions or who seems least likely to be able to advance immoral legislation, or you may choose to vote for no one.”

    “Not voting may sometimes be the only moral course of action, but we must consider whether not voting actually promotes good and limits evil in a specific instance.”

    http://thephoenix.com/BLOGS/dontquoteme/archive/2010/01/04/scott-brown-s-abortion-problem.aspx

    Tough call. Voting for the Democrat is clearly out. Voting for Brown? I wouldn’t. I would abstain. But by this criteria anyway, one might vote for Brown.

  • The Catholic Answers voting guide fails to meet Catholic moral standards. On the other hand, I thought people said you could never “vote for a pro-baby killer, even if it is the least of evils.” Now when you start reasoning “least of evil” allows prudential decision as to who one should vote for, then people who saw no practical difference between Obama and McCain were fine with voting Obama and not to be condemned as being “pro-death.” I say this not as one who voted for Obama, since I didn’t. I am just pointing out how it is always convenient there are always excuses given for Republicans. But if one “can never bend” then it would seem supporting a pro-choicer is a no-go, and one should either abstain from voting or vote for someone who is going to lose.

    Again, all this shows is the double-standards, nothing else.

  • Coakley is attacking Brown for being pro-life, which he is not:

    http://www.lifenews.com/state4720.html

    Coakley is in favor of partial birth abortions which Brown is against. If I were in Massachusetts I would vote for Brown, although my vote would actually be against Coakley.

    Here is a story exploring the abortion positions of Coakley and Brown.

    http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/01/04/abortion_stances_of_brown_coakley_not_so_easily_defined/?page=1

  • Coakley thinks that if you are a faithful Catholic you shouldn’t work in emergeny rooms because of emergency “contraception”.

    “Ken Pittman: Right, if you are a Catholic, and believe what the Pope teaches that any form of birth control is a sin. ah you don’t want to do that.
    Martha Coakley: No we have a seperation of church and state Ken, lets be clear.

    Ken Pittman: In the emergency room you still have your religious freedom.

    Martha Coakley: (…stammering) The law says that people are allowed to have that. You can have religious freedom but you probably shouldn’t work in the emergency room.”

    http://www.redmassgroup.com/diary/6604/coakley-you-can-have-religious-freedom-but-you-probably-shouldnt-work-in-the-emergency-room

    Man, if I were in Massachusetts I would crawl over broken glass to vote against this bigot.

  • “The Catholic Answers voting guide fails to meet Catholic moral standards.”

    Then which voter guide does meet them? I’m open to suggestions. How do Catholics – who care about the teaching of the Church, that is – in Europe or other countries where all of the candidates support abortion rights vote? Do they vote? If so, what is their criteria?

    “I thought people said you could never “vote for a pro-baby killer, even if it is the least of evils.”

    What “people” are you referring to?

    “But if one “can never bend””

    If one is obliged to vote, and all the candidates are pro-choice, then it can’t be “bending.” Some Catholics believe they have a moral obligation to vote for SOMEONE – some take it further and say there is an obligation to vote for someone who is likely to win, ruling out third party candidates who have no shot.

    I am not so certain about that. There are times when Acts 5:29 trumps Romans 13:1. This is possibly one of those times – to withdraw from the political process altogether.

    If there is a clear Church teaching on what one is to do in a situation where all of the candidates support an intrinsic evil, I would like to see it. I believe the CA voter guide was based on what JP II said in Evangelium Viate:

    ” In a case like the one just mentioned, when it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality. This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects.”

    My guess is that they believe this would apply to voters as well.

  • The Catholic Answers voting guide, I think, is based on a false understanding of how to apply natural law principles to specific situations and circumstances. It more or less sets up a proportionalist trap. In my view, it is no more logical than the voting strategy set up by Catholics United that does not understand the hierachy of values.

    If anything, there is a radical modern misunderstanding of the virtue of prudence, which is founded upon the edifice, which Pope John Paul II himself often referred to, of “right reason.” Since Machiavelli wrote The Prince, both virtue and prudence (which is a virtue, obviously) have been radically misunderstood.

    Nevertheless, Catholic Answers’ Voting Guide for “Serious” Catholics is not a magisterial document, which is evident, I think, in the defiencies in its philosophical presumptions and I personally don’t feel obligated to vote in accord with it. The pope’s encylical might have inspired the voting guide, but that doesn’t make it void of errors–not that you suggested anything to the contrary.

    Moreover, I see this growing trend of Senate Republicans with this view — Hutchison, Snowe, Collins. Moreover, I am more appalled that pro-life organizations such as the one in Massachusetts (endorsing Brown) might endorse such candidates in their races if the other person is “more pro-choice.” I would think it better not to compromise your principles and not endorse the less-than-stellar “pro-life” candidate and rather just emphasize how bad the pro-choice candidate’s record is. It really boils down to proportionalist tendencies, which in some respects is inevitable.

    I seriously am very sympathetic to the argument which due to current circumstances makes it “non-negotiable” for voting Catholics to vote Republican, but in effect, it turns the pro-life vote into what African Americans have become to Democrats — a bloc of “sure” votes where Republicans win office and by and large govern as if the very issues we voted for them on are non-issues. The next election they throw us the same old rhetoric and “renew” their committment, but nothing goes differently. The Republican strategist can measure that the most strident pro-life Americans will not vote for a Democrat and even if a nominal pro-life Republican is running, we will judge that it “better than nothing” and vote for the Republican anyway to stop the “worse policies” of the Democrat. This trend seems spiraling and self reinforcing, which I don’t see how we can upset the status quo or change the indifference of some, or even, many Republican elected officials without their losing, or electing those who will upset the status quo — but how can you tell? It’s very difficult.

    I am sure there is a lot of this, in which, you and I probably have acute agreement. My greatest issue, or rather my cynicism, is unlike with slavery or other issues in the past, is that contemporary politics has found comfort in the status quo on all sides of the contemporary moral issues to the chagrin of those who are powerfully convicted, one way or another, on such issues. In other words, with say, slavery, you know that your opponent will try to craft the law in conformity with their views on slavery — either total legality or total illegality. There was no “reducing the number of slaves” rhetoric or strategic incremental methods for bringing about its illegality. This is most obvious to me in the fact that the Republicans have replaced the majority of the post-Roe court or the less-than-desirable amount of pro-life legislation coming off of Republican-controlled committees in Republican-dominated Congresses and so forth. From a practical order, considering current political trends, practices, and circumstances, I don’t buy the Catholic Answers argument for reasons other my philosophical issues with it — it seems to me to just preserve the status quo. Nothing I’ve said means vote Democratic. It does unveil we’ve got a lot of work to do.

    The other difficulty I have — and this is personal — is that by my prudential calculation which I am obliged in conscience to follow is that a pro-choice Republican should not receive my vote, being such a worldview is, more or less, my political antithesis and following my views, a detriment to the common good. Does that mean vote for the pro-choice Democrat? Not necessarily.

    I am also very fascinated by the fact that for many Republicans his abortion stance is virtually a non-issue and they are advocating that he win to block the health care bill — largely a consequentialist line of reasoning, regardless of one’s views on the health care reform efforts. This is especially true when one considers the line of thinking that amounted to counter-efforts against the pro-choice Republican candidate running for the House in New York that met party opposition for being a “RINO.”

  • Eric,

    “Catholic Answers’ Voting Guide for “Serious” Catholics is not a magisterial document”

    No one, least of all myself, claimed that it was. The problem is that there does not appear to be a magisterial document that addresses this issue. We face a similar dilemma with torture, though in that case, I think it is more clear if one really bothers to look and reflect on all that has been said.

    “which is evident, I think, in the defiencies in its philosophical presumptions”

    It isn’t evident. That is the problem. Perhaps you could explain it again? That such a document would not be “void of errors” is practically a given – I only used it as an example. It is one of the more well-considered examples, too, so I shudder to think what some of the other voter guides looked like.

    “There was no “reducing the number of slaves” rhetoric or strategic incremental methods for bringing about its illegality.”

    Ha! I agree, but tell it to the neo-Confederate historians, whom a surprising number of Catholic conservative intellectuals appear to agree with. On this point I simply know the history too well – it was all or nothing for the South.

  • dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!

    Great line, but I doubt the sequel will be any good:

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1289401/

    Enjoy!

Pray for those in Haiti

Wednesday, January 13, AD 2010

A 7.0 earthquake rocked Port-au-Prince in Haiti earlier today.

Haiti is a desperately poor nation at the best of times. Weaker and older structures will mean even worse damage and loss of life, and in a nation where hunger is routine the disaster will only worsen the situation.

If you have the ability to provide monetary help, Food For The Poor has a Haiti earthquake donation page.

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3 Responses to Pray for those in Haiti

Quote of the Day: Hayek on Individualism

Tuesday, January 12, AD 2010

From “Individualism: True and False” (1946)

…[T]he state, the embodiment of deliberately organized and consciously directly power, ought to be only a small part of the much richer organism which we call “society,” and that the former ought to provide merely a framework within which free (and therefore not “consciously directed”) collaboration of men has the maximum scope.

This entails certain corollaries on which true individualism once more stands in sharp opposition to the false individualism of the rationalistic type. The first is that the deliberately organized state on the one side, and the individual on the other, far from being regarded as the only realities, while all the intermediate formations and associations are to be deliberately suppressed, as was the aim of the French Revolution, the noncompulsory conventions of social intercourse are considered as essential factors in preserving the orderly working of human society. The second is that the individual, in participating in the social processes, must be ready and willing to adjust himself to changes and to submit to conventions which are not the result of intelligent design, whose justification in the particular instance may not be recognizable, and which to him often appear unintelligible and irrational.

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Global Warming Freezing Temperatures Hit the Globe

Tuesday, January 12, AD 2010

As freezing temperatures continue to grip the nation and the world I thought this political cartoon apropos to the many climate change proponents that continue to peddle this pseudoscience.

Which is why I am promoting the possibility of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution for the Separation of Science and State.  The new law would make it possible to separate the radical environmentalists and their socialist allies from imposing their false faith in scientism upon Americans.

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33 Responses to Global Warming Freezing Temperatures Hit the Globe

  • While the U.S. has been unusually cold of late, this hasn’t been true of most of the world.

  • BA,

    Could catch.

    Generally speaking.

    😉

  • The over-politicization of the issue of climate change has generated massive-marketing of misinformation and false presumptions, across the political spectrum, about the reality of climate change. This, I think, is a glaring example of it.

    The theory of global warming concerns the increase of the average temperature of the planet, particularly since the latter part of the nineteenth century. Even the most irreputable sources on the subject, e.g. Wikipedia, even points out this very point in its first line on the subject (“Global warming is the increase in the average temperature of Earth’s near-surface air and oceans since the mid-20th century and its projected continuation“).

    This is a very basic and fundamental fact in regard to climate change. What are the implications of such fact? The reality of global warming does not claim that we should never see temperatures fall beyond normal trends, even to the point of seeing record temperatures in terms of coldness. Temperatures can, and do in fact, rise in certain areas and fall in others. The rise in global temperature, as the theory asserts it, is not evenly dispersed throughout the planet in every geographic location.

    Those who are convinced of the reality of climate change — which includes our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, by the way, as well as his Venerable predecessor — believe that the average rise of global temperatures in certain places creates ecological, and therefore, profound dilemmas, and even crises, for socio-economic justice particularly for third world nations — the affects of climate change, arguably, effect these people because of their geographical location. An increase in global temperature which arguably causes the rise of sea levels will affect the amount and pattern of precipitation, affecting agricultural yields which still is the source of economic vitality for many poor nations. Other effects include increases in the intensity of extreme weather. I need not go into more detail because the direct point is not to argue for the theory, but to make a criticism toward the pseudoscience claim.

    The bottom line is that pointing out abnormally cold temperatures in one specific geographical region hardly amounts to “throwing a wrench” into the theory — which in its very definition speaks of the average global temperature. The foundations of the theory of global warming is not shaken by such a critcism. It may be, and is, argued against on other grounds and whether those criticisms hold any water is not the point here. But this very criticism here, if anything, unveils ignorance of a very basic premise of global warming which it seeks to discredit.

    It must be said that no reasonable mind can conclude that everyone who believes in climate change are alarmist ideologues — not that anyone ever asserted such a thing.

    But here is a thought for the skeptics: when Galileo wanted to propose the heliocentric model of Copernicus to replace the geocentric model which had been the status quo consensus for quite some time, he had to propose a new theory and account for all the data and phenomenon that was thought to be explained best by the previous working hypothesis and demonstrate that the case for the new hypotehesis was indeed stronger–that is how science works.

    If you don’t believe in, say, evolution, then it follows that one should propose an alternative theory that readily explains the natural phenomenon just as evolutionary theory claims to do and this new theory should account for any failures or lackings in the theory its seeking to replace. It should, in other words, be a better theory. Again, this is how science works.

    Simply put, everyone who believes in climate change is not some liberal alarmist population control freak. I can speak for myself and I surely am not; neither is the Holy Father. If global warming is pseudoscience and nothing more than a conspiracy, I would imagine you would win more converts if you found, say, a counter-theory and argued for it — a theory that explains, despite the fact that global warming is a farce, why the polar ice caps have not gotten the memo. I have never seen whole bodies of glaciers melt because of consistently cold weather. Why are penguin populations dying? Why are sea levels rising? The climate change debate — and the politicization of it — can go back and forth forever. But if you can succeed in undermining the theory at its edifice by proposing a viable scientific alternative, then you might may just have a case. It certainly would be a better one than casting doubt because scientists wrongly dressed up data that, perhaps, didn’t give off the alarmist impression some research donors or other interest groups might have desired — no intelligent mind would conclude that an independent phenomenon’s reality is contingent on human thought about the truth of that reality, even if there was a scandal that involved people who believe in that very reality.

    But maybe this is really a case as to why we should not politicize science.

    That’s my two cents.

  • Eric,

    I’ve not seen anyone explain why the skeptic’s basic argument is wrong. The argument is that whatever warming we are seeing is the Earth’s recovery from the mini ice age, that the RATE of warming has remained consistent over a period of several hundred years, including a few centuries during which humanity’s use of hydrocarbons was nil or very low, that temperature does not correlate perfectly with carbon dioxide levels but does correlate with solar activity, that human civilization has weathered warmer periods than any that are projected for the 21st century (and that could not have possibly been caused by human activity), that Co2 is not harmful and actually has positive benefits, and there is more, but that should suffice for now.

    It is claimed, and I have seen many fancy charts attesting to, that there was a Medieval Warm Period. There are apparently many scientists who accept it, and it was evidently a fact that one of the leading global warmists tried to deny with his “hockey stick graph.”

    I really, honestly, humbly, sincerely would like to understand why these claims are either wrong or lies. Saying that skeptics are paid by big oil is also a non-answer. I don’t know if what I presented here constitutes in your mind a “viable scientific alternative”, but until I see a satisfactory rebuke of these claims, I will remain skeptical, especially in light of the documented anti-life, anti-family, agenda of the secular environmental movement headquartered at the United Nations (an agenda which is acknowledged and rejected by Pope Benedict, I might add – his recognition of warming trends in no way implies a political support for the UN agenda).

    I support less consumerism and materialism as a matter of spiritual health – I certainly don’t need to be frightened with apocalyptic scenarios in order to take seriously the Church’s already consistent moral argument against these things.

    Right now we have international institutions – the UN and the Chinese government – publicly declaring, openly declaring, that population reduction via the one child policy of forced abortion, sterilization, kidnapping and withholding of benefits to the poor has proven an effective means of reducing humanity’s “carbon footprint.” The clear choice is being establish for us by these institutions; begin taking drastic measures to address “overpopulation” or face the consequences of global warming.

    In the face of such inhuman madness, and with the possibility that the challenge of the skeptics might bear fruit if they are given a chance to more fully develop their critique before an international audience, I say we must err on the side of respect for human life, we must err on the side of skepticism for now – while continuing to take seriously the Church’s already powerful argument against excessive consumerism, which has no need of a global warming theory.

  • Eric,

    The science is questionable.

    Then there is the hurdle that this is man-made.

  • “I’ve not seen anyone explain why the skeptic’s basic argument is wrong. The argument is that whatever warming we are seeing is the Earth’s recovery from the mini ice age, that the RATE of warming has remained consistent over a period of several hundred years, including a few centuries during which humanity’s use of hydrocarbons was nil or very low, that temperature does not correlate perfectly with carbon dioxide levels but does correlate with solar activity, that human civilization has weathered warmer periods than any that are projected for the 21st century (and that could not have possibly been caused by human activity), that Co2 is not harmful and actually has positive benefits, and there is more, but that should suffice for now.”

    The theory of global warming posits that the average temperature of the earth is increasing and that the uneven affects of this has, regardless of its cause, negative consequences in certain regards for certain populations. There is in fact legitimate disagreement about whether or not global warming is solely a naturally occuring phenonmenon, a human-induced phenomenon, or some combination of both of these with varying emphasis on human effects. In other words, not everyone who believes in global warming has in fact a universal, identical belief about its causes. It is entirely parallel with the wide acceptance of evolution with a great number of disagreements over the details.

    Moreover, the argument you just posited — that of the skeptics — acknowledges that there is some sort of warming that is the result of a mini ice age. Therefore, there is warming, it is naturally occuring, and there is nothing to be concerned about insofar as human activity. There is an entire camp of global warming proponents who think this very thing and are critical of the analysis of others who accept climate change.

    This counter-argument may even well be true because it acknowledges global warming as a natural status quo which accounts for all the natural phenomenon we see — the criticism is, as it usually is, the extent of human activity influencing global warming if it does at all. That argument does not even deny global warming, in the sense, that there has been an increase in the average global temperature — it is simply a different reading of the same data, with the conclusion that the temperature rise is apart of a greater naturally occuring and repetitive cycle that has nothing to do with human activity and should not be met with great alarm. That is the position of one of my environmental professors when I was a student who completely accepted the reality of global warming as obvious but disagreed with other conclusions he thought to be unfounded.

    “I really, honestly, humbly, sincerely would like to understand why these claims are either wrong or lies. Saying that skeptics are paid by big oil is also a non-answer. I don’t know if what I presented here constitutes in your mind a “viable scientific alternative”, but until I see a satisfactory rebuke of these claims, I will remain skeptical, especially in light of the documented anti-life, anti-family, agenda of the secular environmental movement headquartered at the United Nations (an agenda which is acknowledged and rejected by Pope Benedict, I might add – his recognition of warming trends in no way implies a political support for the UN agenda).”

    I never made a claim about the skeptics having partisan interests. No, I don’t find what you presented as a “viable scientific alternative” because I don’t see how it denies global warming; in fact, the contrary is true. Moreover if you must remain a skeptic, than do so. However I think it is a basic fallacy of logic to say that X makes argument Y, but since X uses Y to promote immoral means, Y must not be true. Moreover, the advocates of a theory cannot be reduced to what some in the movement are saying. I (obviously) believe in the theory of global warming, as do Pope Benedict XVI and countless other pro-life, pro-family, pro-religion people who somehow see no point of contradiction in our belief. The issues at have at their source false philosophical presumptions not climate change — it is merely being wrongly used as an agent, a Trojan horse to promote a moral evil. Climate change itself is not the thing to be opposed in my view.

    “In the face of such inhuman madness, and with the possibility that the challenge of the skeptics might bear fruit if they are given a chance to more fully develop their critique before an international audience, I say we must err on the side of respect for human life, we must err on the side of skepticism for now – while continuing to take seriously the Church’s already powerful argument against excessive consumerism, which has no need of a global warming theory.”

    I obviously will disagree because our disagreement is fundamental. I’m not going to–not that I have to–discontinue believing something I believe to be objectively true because other people who acknowledge the same reality in the context of their false philosophical and metaphisical worldviews interpret that reality in a such a way that they use it to promote a false evil. This happens with just about every movement you can think of.

    And you’re right, the Church makes a case against consumerism rather well. But I doubt the Church believes it “needs” global warming to make that case. Rather by the judgment of the Holy Father and many scientific experts in the Vatican, it does seem to be the case — an objective reality of which they cannot deny because its inconvenient in other respects. All we can do is Catholics is apply ethical norms to whatever circumstances may arise — indeed, I think God asks no more of us than this.

  • Tito,

    Not every proponent of global warming actually believes that it is man-made. I have read entire scientific articles where the scientist in question is convinced of the reality of global warming and at the same time believes that human activity has nothing to do with it.

    There is not a “one-size-fits-all” view on global warming.

  • The theory of global warming posits that the average temperature of the earth is increasing and that the uneven affects of this has, regardless of its cause, negative consequences in certain regards for certain populations

    This is certainly true. At the same time, an increase in the average temperature of the earth also has positive consequences in certain regards for certain populations, regardless of its cause. Whether the negative consequences outweigh the positive consequences for a given amount of warming is not, I think, something we have a good grasp on, particularly given that the field has become so politicized. The views of climatologists prior to the politicization of the field is probably best summed up in the fact that what we call the Medieval Warm Period used to be called the Medieval Climate Optimum.

  • Eric,

    “There is in fact legitimate disagreement about whether or not global warming is solely a naturally occuring phenonmenon, a human-induced phenomenon, or some combination of both of these with varying emphasis on human effects.”

    The atmosphere of urgency – and in some cases, hysteria – surrounding the Copenhagen meeting, the orchestrated propaganda (such as using school children to beg Obama to save the world for the polar bears – a despicable, Goebbels-like tactic), the magnitude of the changes that the environmentalists wish to impose upon the governments and economies of the world, and the fact that population levels are now linked to carbon levels, all suggest to me that the substantial majority of this movement believes that humanity’s actions play a large enough role in GW to warrant drastic, immediate action.

    It is one thing, and I support it, to prepare for a rise in sea levels due to naturally occurring global warming. Such is our duty to the vulnerable and poor peoples of the world.

    But if there is, as you say, legitimate disagreement as to the role that human activity plays in this phenomenon, then Copenhagen (and next, I believe, Mexico City), which aimed at significantly altering the global economic and political systems, is at best an irresponsible, hasty response – at worst it is a thinly-concealed power grab. This is logically undeniable.

    ” No, I don’t find what you presented as a “viable scientific alternative” because I don’t see how it denies global warming; in fact, the contrary is true.”

    Eric, it ought to be clear that the skepticism is with regards to the role that humans play in global warming. Many of the skeptics – as ought to be self-evident from the claims they make – do not deny warming trends. What they are skeptical of is the contribution of humans, and what such a contribution would logically imply on the economic, political, and social fronts.

    If it wasn’t clear before, I hope it is now.

    “However I think it is a basic fallacy of logic to say that X makes argument Y, but since X uses Y to promote immoral means, Y must not be true.”

    That is not my argument, Eric. Because I don’t think you are deliberately trying to misrepresent me, allow me to restate what I said before: “until I see a satisfactory rebuke of these claims.” Meaning, I am not declaring that the immorality of the secular environmentalists renders the theory of AGW false; I am arguing that in light of both their clearly stated motives AND the possibility that they may simply be wrong on the science, gives us a legitimate reason to remain skeptical of their entire political agenda.

    The rest of your post still rests on the incorrect assumption that I am speaking of global warming as such.

    My apologies for not having made it crystal clear, 100% clear in the original post – I am talking about skepticism of man-made global warming, of a human contribution to warming trends that is so great that it warrants the sort of drastic, sweeping changes demanded by radical environmentalists, the UN, the Obama administration and other institutions.

    In this case I would say you are mistaken if you believe that you have incontrovertible proof that human contribution to global warming is as great as the alarmists make it out to be, alarmists who are not on the fringe but who are the driving force of the entire international push to “fight climate change.”

  • And let me make another thing clear – if the skeptics are right about man’s contribution to global warming, that it is not significant or is nil, then the wind will be taken out of the sails of a mounting anti-life agenda. That is why it is important to subject these claims to the closest scrutiny.

    Of course, if the skeptics are wrong, and the human impact is great – so great that it does warrant drastic political action on pain of major worldwide catastrophes that could potentially cause millions of deaths – then it is hard to argue against the logic of population control. We would be obliged to do it, to resist it at every turn, but in that case the wind would be in our faces and we would be bailing water.

    In the interests of making things easier and not more difficult for ourselves, let us remain skeptical. To remain skeptical is no offense to the truth because the skeptics have raised points that I, albeit as a layman, find quite logical. The facts they present, I am in no position to judge, so I can only judge the reasonableness of their claim until someone can say, “these are not the facts.”

  • Joe — I don’t think I actually ever stated whether or not I believe human activity has any affect on warming trends. Even if there is such a thing, I don’t think the lunacy of the alarmists, which is independent in its reality would have any logical bearing over whether human contributions are real or not.

    In fact, I tend to think that global warming is by and large a natural phenomenon — though I am convinced that human activity is minimally a factor, or at least, I’m open to that possibility.

  • Eric,

    I don’t think you did either. So I should apologize for arguing against AGW as if you did argue for it.

    But I do want to get the argument out there. So again, my apologies.

  • Sometimes we endure hard times, my friend.

    Moreover, I want to add — sometimes when we are debating “global warming,” which I look at solely as a scientific subject, there is a lot of reference to political activity by a group of people who believe in global warming which I see entirely as another subject.

    Much of our disagreement is over the emphasis of association.

  • Eric,

    It isn’t another subject if the science is being guided by the politics – which in the light of scandals such as climategate, to me, is a real possibility. Then we do have to question the human motives at play.

    Yes indeed, science in an ideal world should be kept separate. But when scientists are complaining that their critics might use the Freedom of Information Act to access their data, they aren’t talking about science in that case, but something political, something non-scientific at any rate. And when what I think are credible claims are made that the original IPCC reports on climate change were modified by non-scientific, essentially political bodies, then again politics becomes an issue.

    We do not live in a world of “pure science”, but a fallen world in which scientists themselves are not exempt from human problems. The skeptics claim that the Medieval Warm period, or “optimum” as BA said it was once called, was simply removed from history in order to create the now-discredited “hockey stick chart.” So it appears there is a pattern of, if not outright falsification, manipulation of facts and data, historical and contemporary, to present a certain view.

    We cannot blind ourselves to these real events in the interests of keeping science pure. If these scientists themselves may have poisoned the well, we would do well to drink from it with caution.

  • And…

    ” I don’t think the lunacy of the alarmists, which is independent in its reality would have any logical bearing over whether human contributions are real or not”

    I hope you understand, that is not my position. I would never argue such a foolish thing. The lunacy of the alarmists is simply a more pressing reason to take the claims of skeptics seriously. If they are defeated on the facts, the will be defeated politically. If they are not, then the battle is more difficult. So why not see where the skeptics might take us?

  • Again, the Weart book is worthwhile reading. The second edition is updated from the 2003 release, and probably contains more of the mountain of evidence.

    And yes, while the American *weather* is cold and snowy these days, please don’t fall into the usual trap of mistaking weather, which is what’s happening outside the American door at this moment, for climate, which is the pattern of atmospheric conditions for a region or a planet, over a period of time.

    Also yes, there is an increase in warming trends over the past century, and especially the past forty years which is unprecedented in any warming period since the last glaciation.

    So sure, for the first time in eleven millennia, something natural may be happening. It’s possible. But given the correlation of greenhouse gas emissions, it’s not the most likely answer.

    Alarmists have a political and financial motive, even more so than scientists. Of course, they probably won’t be alive when the North Atlantic flushes with glacier melt and the planet springs back into an ice age. But there’s nothing wrong, so they say, with eating, drinking, and being merry with Big Oil in the meantime.

    The worst thing I saw coming out of the UEA e-mails was that scientists think alarmists and skeptics are nuts. Big deal.

  • The worst thing I saw coming out of the UEA e-mails was that scientists think alarmists and skeptics are nuts.

    If so then you must not have looked at them that closely.

  • It is true that below average temperatures in the US does not negate global warming if it is true. It will also be good to remember that when there are above average temperatures this summer, and the media is screaming “Global Warming!!!!!!!!!!”, that does not necessarily prove global warming either.

    Let’s see the data.

  • “Let’s see the data.”

    Have you read the book yet? If the data is unconvincing, then read the book.

    I don’t listen to the media when they doubt climate change; why would I pay attention when they promote it? They’re only trying to sell toothpaste, cars, and Viagra.

  • Actually would like to see the data that apparently is not being presented in the English University studies. Also with what appears to have been not presented in Russian and Austrailian studies. Also with US studies.

  • Phillip, read the book, man.

    As for your second blog link, Big Oil alarmists are well aware that climate trends in the tropics are far less than at the poles. Otherwise, why would Arctic Ocean ice melt more quickly than the Amazon turn into a desert? That politically minded people would zero in on Australia’s Northern Territory isn’t a surprise. They know the global climate is changing, so why not focus on an area where change is minimal?

    As for your other link, the blogger’s problem is that he can’t get raw information. He suspects there’s a problem with the NASA or GISS data, but he can’t prove it. I have no doubt he would like to prove it, and I wish him the best in his quest for information. If I had it on my computer, I’d send it to him.

    As for saving raw data, as a person with a background in science, I’m not really surprised or dismayed by it. As I said before, if you want to consider yourself well-informed on climate change, read a book, not a blog. If you choose not to read the literature, you’ve chosen the easy path of ignorance. At the very least, you should keep yourself informed from the scientists themselves, rather than the global-warming-alarmist talking head on MSNBC.

  • Not an argument Todd. Looking at it from a scientific perspective. Being from a scientific background you know the raw data needs to be saved so questions like this can be addressed. The fact that organizations are refusing to release it, suggesting it be deleted in emails, and fighting FOI requests is concerning.

    Again this is not to say Global Warming isn’t occuring. Just saying release the raw data for independent peer review.

  • BA and Eric,

    I need to be more precise with my retort.

    I don’t believe global warming is man-made.

    But I do allow for the possibility that there is a recurring cycle that allows for global warming now.

    I’m glad we’re all Christian.

  • Stop the presses, hold the phones, cease and desist everything!

    BA and I agree! 100%!

    🙂

  • Blackadder writes January 12, 2010 A.D. at 3:01 pm:
    “While the U.S. has been unusually cold of late, this hasn’t been true of most of the world”.

    Those caught in the largest snowfall of the decade in England and France and much of Europe might take this statement as a shining example of U.S. provincialism.

    Of course, it has not been “unusually cold of late” below the Equator.

  • Eric Brown writes:
    “But here is a thought for the skeptics: when Galileo wanted to propose the heliocentric model of Copernicus to replace the geocentric model which had been the status quo consensus for quite some time, he had to propose a new theory and account for all the data and phenomenon that was thought to be explained best by the previous working hypothesis and demonstrate that the case for the new hypothesis was indeed stronger–that is how science works”.

    As matter of fact, Galileo did not account for the majority of the data. This was done by Kepler, not relying on a heliocentric theory. [NB: Galileo did not “like” gravity; he also opted for the planetary orbits as perfect circles].

    Galileo’s was a mathematical theory. This is why Card. Borromeo suggested that he propose it as such.

  • Would I be considered too impossibly retrograde to wonder if there is much truth in the theories of global cooling so fashionable four decades ago. These scientific fads are rather tiresome, constantly changing as they do. Sounds like phlogiston.

    Curiously global cooling and global warming seem to have the same solution – prevent babies. Might it be that the solution is the driving force behind both theories.

  • I don’t think anyone denies that Global Warming is a reality. After all, modern temperature taking only started around 1850, when it is acknowledged that that was the end of the Mini Ice Age.

    The dispute is the extent to which MAN has caused, or influenced global warming. My personal view after reading a lot of evidence from both sides; MANKIND MAY have influenced warming to a small extent, but the body of evidence appears to support a natural cycle. The bullshit surrounding Co2 as a “Toxic Substance” is simple lunacy – we need Co2 in our lungs to prompt our next breath; and the acidifying of the oceans by the absorption of Co2 has been debunked as patently false. The politicisation of the topic has cast much doubt on the veracity and credibility of those scientists involved. Indeed, last week we had one of the top IPCC scientists stating that in view of current climate events, we may be in for a 30 year or so “Mini Ice Age.” So who can you believe?

    The above link to Climate Change in Australia is interesting; there wer similar droughts and fires there in the late 80’s/early 90’s when I had lived ther for 10 years and returned to NZ in 1988. The ElNino effect does to Oz what they have stated in the loink, but that does not apply to all the South Pacific. El Nino gives us here in NZ strong and wet sth,westerlies, which cause flooding on our west coast, and droughts on the east coast- and generally cooller that normal temperatures.
    This past winter, we had our coldest May on record.
    We had our coldest October since 1945.
    2008 we had more snowfall than for 30 years.
    2009 (last winter) we had more snowfall for 60years – in some areas, the most in living memory.
    Last summer was wetter than usual, and cool.
    This summer is much cooler than usual.
    So what does this mean – I dunno.

    I think God is sitting there in heaven having a chuckle about this conceited creation – humanity – who think they are a prime cause – smarter than Him.

    I think I’ll chuckle along with Him.

  • I was also wondering why it was so cold in South Texas this winter. So I asked the climate scientists over on http://www.RealClimate.org . They explained it was due to a strongly negative arctic oscillation — a shift from the weather pattern going from west to east to a north to south patterns. They gave me links to data showing that the average temp for the entire world was still above normal warmer, and that it was much warming in the West Arctic, some 7C warmer.

    As Jesus said, “Ask and it shall be given unto you.” Or something like that.

    Those with good and sincere hearts will not be dissuaded from mitigating climate change.

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Fort Hood Shooter: Passing the Buck

Tuesday, January 12, AD 2010

4 Responses to Fort Hood Shooter: Passing the Buck

  • “Still, Hasan’s officer evaluation reports were consistently more positive, usually describing his performance as satisfactory and at least twice as outstanding. Known as “OERs,” the reports are used to determine promotions and assignments. The Army promoted Hasan to captain in 2003 and to major in 2009.”

    In my day “satisfactory” on an OER (fitrep in those days) was the kiss of death for any career. There was grade inflation in evals and uless one got a fair number of “outstandings” one was not going to get promoted. Perhaps someone was trying to ease out Hasan in the long-haul. Of course not noticing what was going on in the here and now.

  • Yeesh. A jihadi Frank Burns.
    Just what the Army needed.

  • Brilliant cminor!

  • “They gave Hasan glowing reviews so he would be promoted, transferred and be someone else’s problem.”

    Happened all the time in the navy with women and minorities. No one would risk the label of chauvinist or racist.

The Construct of Rebellion

Monday, January 11, AD 2010

In 2010 the Catholic Church in particular and Christianity in general are under attack because age old truths are being abandoned for the Dictatorship of Relativism. One might ask; how did we get here? It didn’t happen overnight; as a matter of fact many of those doing the rebelling actually think they are doing us all a favor.  Centuries and millennium evolved into a construct of rebellion where self appointed leaders who thought knew better than the Church and society itself tried to change all that was sacred and holy into something, they but most importantly their friends in the intelligentsia, could accept. Too many cooks in the kitchen can be bad for your acquired culinary tastes, but when truth is watered down it is something entirely different and far more serious. In this instance, we are talking about souls, not taste buds.  If this is so then how could the thesis of my book, The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism be true? The answer is simple because the world is getting closer and closer to the precipice. Some may chose to jump but thankfully more will chose to come back from ledge into the world of reality and when they do they will see the many positive developments happening in the Church. One’s own mortality has a way of causing self preservation.

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55 Responses to The Construct of Rebellion

  • Well said, Dave. Thank God for Mary’s heel crushing the head of the serpent that is rebellion, or the whole place would have turned into one boring, childish, real-life version of “Wayne’s World.” It’s no wonder so many folks despise her as she has done what they ought to be doing.

  • What is the evidence for The Porsche?

  • My compliments for a well argued post. I am unaware of the O’Brien site or books, but I cannot disagree with any of your assessment nor your conclusions. I have been making a similar argument via my Canadian blog (http://www.frtimmoyle.blogspot.com) trying to point out the logical contradiction of modern day relativism – a contradiction that exists because moderns no longer possess a knowledge or sense of the role of the church in times past. I offer the following taken from one of my posts written when the European court ordered the removal of the crucifix from Italian classrooms:


    Where I freely admit that the governing authority of any school should be able to either choose or not to present this symbol of Christian/Catholic faith, it is entirely another thing to deny the right to express their faith/convictions/belief in the public square. The principle that is expressed as “separation of church and state” also implicitly includes the freedom to express those values that we believe are the path which leads to the betterment of all humanity.??Read the story, and ask yourself whether the secular argument that leads to this European suppression of the freedom of speech of believers is any different from the agenda that marks the direction of North American society today.??This story is proof positive of the price of failing to argue in defence of the principles which are the accumulated human reasoning that stretches back to the earliest days of recorded history. Whether the moral principles of our modern civilization evolved as the refinement of simply human wisdom, or whether it is a still imperfect vision of God’s will, they have brought Western civilization to the point where we are today. The “rights” that are now so suddenly being tossed aside in the last twenty-five years are the foundations upon which the right itself is rooted. The poisoned fruit of the civilizational tree now endangers the root from which it sprang. ??Freedom of expression of faith in the public square must be respected; it is the essential corollary of the freedoms of thought and speech. I pray that leaders of our faith, our Bishops, would look to the European (or Québécois for that matter) social experiment and heed the need to “teach”, in every forum possible, the wisdom and teaching of our Church: to educate those raised in the “sex, drugs and rock and roll” generation (the first generation of essentially uncatechized “C & E” Catholics (i.e., “Christmas and Easter”) who now have moved into society’s corridors of power) of the wisdom of these first principles before they use the levers of power to shape the debate. ??Freedom of life… Freedom of belief… Freedom of speech: these are the Bishops’ menu of first principles to defend in full. Let’s pray that they fashion sumptuous salad of arguments, no matter how appealing the dessert table secularism seems to offer. ??Society needs strong bones to grow and prosper. We eat of the poisoned fruit at our own peril.

    Fr. Tim

  • Excellent commentary, Fr. Tim, which very much reflects why us California voters are now being put on trial for having the temerity to vote for changing the Constitution to limit marriage to one man and one woman.

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  • Lest one begin to think that this is all new, I quote St. Basil to the western bishops in the 4th Century:

    “The dogmas of the Fathers are despised; apostolic traditions are set to nought; the discoveries of innovators hold sway in the churches; men have learned to be speculatists instead of theologians… The aged sorrow comparing what is with what was; more pitiable the young as not knowing what they are deprived of”. [Ep.90]

  • Thank you Dave for letting history teach us, at least some will repeat the errors and call for a “king” to rule and guide or other idols instead of our Lord and Savior. Your recent Times article was excellent also.

  • Dave, you’ll be thrilled to know that Spirit Daily posted this today in its second most prominent spot.

  • Thank you for writing this. Thank you for mentioning the Blessed Mother crushing the devils head.I attend morning mass and pray the daily rosary for conversions and repentence(for many years) and within the last month have had 3 people say they want to come back to the church and I have been taking them to Sunday mass with me. One has already talked with the priest.The other I am taking to a Catholic healing service. The 3rd is actually an unchurched person who accepts what I am teaching him and wants to talk to the parish priest. When the Blessed Mother said she will give graces of conversion and repentance when you say the rosary, she means it. Thank you.

  • Great article !! Truer words were never spoken. We need to hear more of the truth to stir all Catholics
    into reality and into standing up for the Church and our rights.

  • There are 3 essentials ingredients in the Church that keep any soul on the correct road. The Eucharist. Confession and the Rosary. Stay faithful to these and you and your household will be saved. The world is passing away and we are passing through it to something that we can not even begin to understand. Show mercy to all those who are in darkness.

  • As a simple un-educated mother of seven I read the whole article Construct of Rebellion, and thought it was most informative and full of truth.
    However, what it was lacking was the matter of placing some blame on the church itself for the departing of so many Catholics from their true faith during the 2000 years of excistance.
    I asked should the church not have been more alert and listened to the complaints from the faithful on some liturgical customs and for the lack of education in the full deep meaning of scripture and the bible, also the lack of explaination the dogmatic reasons for truth?
    Even the fathers of the church were weak at times and had to also endure the evil one.
    Now we have at least been assured through the workings of the wonderful Popes we have had with John Paul and Benedict that the church will always remain. Both of them have used the media and every other medium to prove that the Catholic church is the only true one to embrace all of the world’s people.

  • as one person commented I echo: Confession, Mass, the Eelfucharist….and let the world blow its up and fall into hell…..or let it REPENT FAST.

    sanctuaryhouse.tumblr.com…….. CALL IT UP…

  • In Worcester, Massachusetts, a Diocese is coming unglued because it embraced dissent and New Age occultism. Visit: http://lasalettejourney.blogspot.com

  • I am wondering which diocese in Worcester Roger is talking about.Eileen George gives monthly

  • teachings there and she is veryorthodox andoutstanding catholic

  • The same diocese which hosts a “Commission for Women” which has New Age links. The same diocese where numerous children have been sexually abused. The same diocese where a Holy Cross professor (and ex priest) promotes homosexuality and is “married” to another man. I could go on but you wouldn’t accept the facts.

  • How does Eileen George feel about the College of the Holy Cross sponsoring Planned Parenthood on its campus? How about the Newman Center at Fitchburg State College promoting homosexuality as a simple variant of normal sexuality as well as homosexual “marriage”? Is she concerned that the Diocesan Commission for Women has links to Joyce Rupp? Read what Donna Steichen and other orthodox Catholics have had to say about Rupp.

    With all due respect for Eileen George, the Diocese of Worcester is losing many of the faithful (75 of 120 parishes are in economic crisis by the Diocese’s own admission) for a reason.

  • Holy Cross has engaged in homosexual agitprop:
    http://hccns.org/articles/news/081115_homosexual-promotion.htm

    Sorry Martha, Eileen George’s presence in the Worcester Diocese doesn’t justify that.

  • While I agree with your basic outline, there are two things that bother me with what you wrote: 1) The many grammatical and typing errors. Sorry, but when people have a good idea and they’re trying to communicate it, it helps to do so with correct punctuation and without typos.

    2) Whether or not people believe what Michael Brown wrote in his book or posts on his site is no indication of their adherence to the truth or lack thereof and no one should take it as such. Mr. Brown may be a Pulitzer-nominated journalist, but that doesn’t mean everything he writes is of the same quality as his work on Love Canal. Mr. Brown is not the sum total of the Catholic Faith. That comes to us from the apostles and their successors.

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  • Thomas, while you may claim to be an excellent grammarian, you might want to brush up on your reading skills. Where did I say or insinuate that Michael Brown is the sum total of the Catholic faith?

  • “Sadly, the construct of rebellion is prevalent in all areas, even among some faithful Catholics.” A construct of rebellion implies that there’s something authoritative against which one can rebel. One cannot rebel against one who does not have authority and Michael Brown does not have authority.

  • “…self appointed leaders who thought [they] knew better than the Church…” It’s the authority of the Church that’s being rebelled against. Not Michael Brown.

    Thomas, are you simply here in an attempt to wear down the author of this article?

  • No, John, I’m not. I made two observations about what I consider to be an otherwise well-constructed argument – grammar and saying that not liking Michael Brown’s book is part of the construct of rebellion.

  • No Thomas, you wrote: “A construct of rebellion implies that there’s something authoritative against which one can rebel. One cannot rebel against one who does not have authority and Michael Brown does not have authority.”

    No one said that Michael Brown is the authority being rebelled against. Instead, the author of the article wrote about, “..self appointed leaders who thought [they] knew better than the Church..” That’s the Church. Not Michael Brown.

    You are engaging in dishonesty.

  • On the contrary, John. The author writes (with my edits): “However, the pull of being accepted by the world is tough even for self-professed, orthodox-minded Catholics. For example, the secular scholarly world rolls its eyes and snickers at modern day miracles and apparitions. One of the most popular Catholic websites, Spirit Daily, is one such site that makes mention of both. However, mention you read this site and you are bound to be looked at with suspicion even in the world of orthodox-minded Catholicism…It would seem that for some, the fear of being lumped in with those who see the Blessed Mother in every scrap of burnt toast or every dilapidated barn door holds far more sway than believing that the Blessed Mother has appeared in human history to bring attention to her Son, the Savior of us all. Sadly, the construct of rebellion is prevalent in all areas, even among some faithful Catholics.”

    Hence my statement that in order to rebel, one must have something authoritative against which to rebel. Just because people don’t like what Michael Brown writes — no matter how well researched it is — doesn’t mean they’re part of the construct of rebellion. I certainly accept that Mary appears in the world and that God works miracles. I don’t necessarily like Michael Brown’s approach.

  • This kind of dialogue appears to be feeding the egos of the individuals. Are we working for our own glory or God’s. I think the best road to travel is the one of Humilty and Love. Why not focus on ourselves individually and see where we are on the road of repentance and reconciliation.

    Better still why don’t we focus on Christian Unity and do positive things, – let us do the will of the Father and not our own, let us take this opportunity to love one another and at least celebrate Easter on the same date every year. At least the rest of the world will see that we are united on the essence of our faith; the death and resurection of Jesus Christ.
    It is only through unity that we will have :
    Peace, Love and Reconciliation
    Mary Joanne
    onedate.org

  • I don’t appreciate your unfair criticism Mary. I was merely attempting to defend what the author wrote. Hiw words are being twisted. There is no peace without truth Mary. It is the truth which sets us free (John 8:32), not falsehood.

  • The author wrote, “…It would seem that for some, the fear of being lumped in with those who see the Blessed Mother in every scrap of burnt toast or every dilapidated barn door holds far more sway than believing that the Blessed Mother has appeared in human history to bring attention to her Son, the Savior of us all. Sadly, the construct of rebellion is prevalent in all areas, even among some faithful Catholics…”

    What the author is saying is that because some rebel against the Church’s authority, they even reject or disregard Our Lady’s appearances to mankind. Our Lady always leads people to Jesus her Son and His Church. The author is not saying. or suggesting in any way, that Michael Brown is some sort of ersatz Magisterium of the Church or Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

    To suggest otherwise is to engage in dishonesty.

  • Thomas, you are demonstrating the pedantic nature of the “lawyerly” arguments for Relativism. Argue all the brush strokes away and soon the painting itself will no longer exist for you.

  • “Just because people don’t like what Michael Brown writes — no matter how well researched it is — doesn’t mean they’re part of the construct of rebellion. I certainly accept that Mary appears in the world and that God works miracles. I don’t necessarily like Michael Brown’s approach.”

    I agree. I read Spirit Daily, probably more than I should, and I always come away from the site with confusion, not peace.

    What has always bothered me about Michael Brown is his very heavy reliance on non-Church approved apparitions, particularly the “1990 prophecy”. It’s clear to me that he believes all of them, even those which have not received Church approval. I certainly believe Mary has and still does appear in the world, but there are so many alleged apparitions, and many of them contradict each other.

    I certainly don’t believe they should all be thrown out, but they need to be examined. Michael Brown is always going on about today’s Church “throwing out the mystical”, but I don’t believe that’s a fair claim. Why is it so “bad” to discern these apparitions, and if something about one doesn’t make sense, discard it? Why did God give us intellects if He doesn’t want us to use them?

    Michael Brown may be well-intentioned, but the net result of reading his site is confusion.

  • Elizabeth writes “What has always bothered me about Michael Brown is his very heavy reliance on non-Church approved apparitions, particularly the “1990 prophecy”. It’s clear to me that he believes all of them, even those which have not received Church approval.”

    Elizabeth, calumny is a sin. I would refer you to what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say in that regard. Mr. Brown has said – repeatedly – that we MUST accept the Church’s final decision on ANY apparition site. And this includes Medjugorje. For you to imply that Mr. Brown is someow failing to discern the authenticity of an apparition site or that he does not accept the Church’s ultimate authority is preposterous.

    Gaudium et Spes (specifically No. 28) forbids judging a person’s interior dispositions. I suggest you meditate very carefully on that teaching.

  • In Fides et Ratio, No. 16, Pope John Paul II teaches us that, “The world and all that happens within it, including history and the fate of peoples, are realities to be observed, analysed and assessed with all the resources of reason, but without faith ever being foreign to the process. Faith intervenes not to abolish reason’s autonomy nor to reduce its scope for action, but solely to bring the human being to understand that in these events it is the God of Israel who acts. Thus the world and the events of history cannot be understood in depth without professing faith in the God who is at work in them. Faith sharpens the inner eye, opening the mind to discover in the flux of events the workings of Providence. Here the words of the Book of Proverbs are pertinent: “The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps” (16:9). This is to say that with the light of reason human beings can know which path to take, but they can follow that path to its end, quickly and unhindered, only if with a rightly tuned spirit they search for it within the horizon of faith. Therefore, reason and faith cannot be separated without diminishing the capacity of men and women to know themselves, the world and God in an appropriate way.”

    Faith and reason are described by His Holiness in this important Encyclical Letter as two lungs. Imagine how difficult it is to breathe properly with only one lung!

    Michael Brown is all for discernment of private revelation. But, along with St. Paul, he believes that we shouldn’t despise prophecy. Understand the difference?

  • peter santos: You accuse Elizabeth of sin because she expresses concerns about a Catholic writer and speaker. You accuse her of “judging a person’s interior dispositions”, and then lecture her on how she should meditate on Church documents.

    Elizabeth states that, in her opinion, Michael Brown relies heavily on non-Church approved apparitions, particularly the “1990 prophecy”. This is not judging Mr. Brown’s “interior dispositions”, but simply stating fact. On Spirit Daily, Mr. Brown mentions the “1990 prophecy” VERY frequently, and is quick to defend Medjugorje. Yes, he does state clearly that we should accept the final decisions of the Church on these matters. But, that does not negate what Elizabeth wrote.

    It seems to me that because you disagree with Elizabeth YOU assume evil motives on HER part. She says nothing in her post that would constitute the “sin” you claim she has committed. YOU are the one who has accused someone of sin because of a post. Elizabeth makes no such accusation.

    As an aside, I follow Spirit Daily and have for about 4 years now. I enjoy reading both the links and Mr. Brown’s own articles. Much discernment is needed in digesting these writings, clearly, as Mr. Brown’s opinions do not constitute official Church teaching. Stating that plain fact is NOT a sin, Peter.

  • For Elizabeth to assert that Michael Brown believes all apparitions or private revelation, “even those which have not received Church approval,” is calumnious. It’s a lie. He has written against certain private revelations which were obviously false. The rest he commends to the Church.

    Calumny is, objectively speaking, sinful. It may even constitute grave sin. It offends against both charity and truth. It is a violation of justice.

  • For Elizabeth (and anyone else who falsely accuses Michael Brown of accepting all apparitions), I submit the following words of Mr. Brown himself from 2005:

    Discerning Apparitions A Difficult Process

    [Q & A by Michael H. Brown]

    In the past twenty years there has been an explosion of alleged apparitions, locutions, stigmatics, and healers. Which are real and which are not?

    I would never attempt such a list, because I don’t have the authority to do so. We simply go by what the Church has decided, unless there is not yet a decision, in which case we try to exercise discernment.

    How do you tell if an apparition is real?

    This is one of the hardest questions in the world to answer. The process of what we call “discernment” is intensely complex. It’s also very personal. There is no formula. Some apparitions miss certain criteria and yet bear signs of authenticity while others seem to fill most standards but have problems at their very root. In the end, only through prayer and fasting can we get a true inkling. It is the spirit — not the mind — that discerns.

    You mean a “gut feeling”?

    No. I mean a feeling in the depths of the spirit after a period of fasting. When we fast, we are more sensitive to evil. We are more likely to know if it is present. This is very important.

    But aren’t there some tips to discernment?

    In the Bible it says that “by their fruits you will know them,” and so this is certainly one major facet. But we have to be careful about what we consider “fruits.” I have seen many cases in which people adhering to what turned out to be a deceptive circumstance had a great first impression, or even found the visit a major step in their return to the faith, to their conversion. God can take good from evil. He can draw with crooked lines. It is for that reason that we must be careful in speaking negatively about a circumstance, even if there are indications of problems; we don’t want to discourage those who have had good experiences.

    Are there often problems?

    Most claims of apparitions, visions, or locutions are a mix — in other words, there are parts that seem inspired, parts that come from the person’s subconscious, and parts that may be from a source that is deceptive or demonic. All of us are in touch with God and those who feel they have a special “line” of communication may in some cases have such a special gift, although too frequently this leads to ego, and ego leads to a person putting his or her own spin on what they think they have been “told.” This is very common, and why so many predictions do not materialize: The prophecy was not a direct communication but filtered through the ideas, preconceptions, and feelings of a person. It is the demonic component that of course concerns us the most. A demonic influence can cause not only spiritual trickery but also deep discouragement, division, and illness.

    Is divisiveness a standard of discernment?

    Certainly, it’s one. Now, remember that even with the authentic apparitions like Fatima or Lourdes or Medjugorje, which the Pope discerned as worthy of devotion (in recently publicized private letters), there is resistance. There is spiritual warfare. And that can lead to division. There will be some division. But that division usually is far outweighed by good fruits such as conversion. If division is the main effect, or if there is constant, lasting rancor, and a lack of peace, then there is a problem with the apparitions. We can also say to watch out for pride among the seers, attempts at self-promotion, and the spawning of a cult-like following. Cults in the bad sense of that term are a bad fruit (there are also holy cults, when proclaimed as such by Rome). Those who begin to exclude others because they don’t believe in a certain apparition are not in tune with the Holy Spirit, Who tells us through the Church that we don’t have to accept a private revelation. Meanwhile, we must watch for prophecies that are too gloomy and dark, that give messages of tremendous specificity, that ramble on at great length, and that contain messages threatening people who don’t believe in the particular revelation. There are some messages that have denounced anyone who won’t help purvey a private revelation. As soon as I see that, I know there is deception.

    What about those that mention the anti-christ?

    We have to weigh these with special caution. In my discernment there is truth to the coming of a personage of evil, and certainly major events, but we have to be cautious about believing that the coming scenario will exactly fit the scenarios spawned by those who have speculated on specific end-times schedules. Are we in the end times? We are at the end of an era. It is a very, very important time. It is not the end of the world. What is about to happen will fit the general prophetic pulse we have heard now for nearly 25 years (since the onset of Medjugorje, which caused an explosion in private revelation), but it will occur in ways we don’t specifically anticipate and that make sense (the feeling of, “oh, yeah, of course”) only in retrospect.

    What percent of seers are authentic?

    It’s impossible to say. What we can say is that very, very few are corporeal apparitions at the level of a Lourdes or Fatima. “Corporeal” is to see the Blessed Mother as a full-bodied, multi-dimensional apparition similar to the way we see another person: with eyes wide open. Some who claim this are imagining it, are projecting a “vision,” and a vision can be authentic, but it is not at the level of an apparition.

    How prevalent is actual demonism in alleged revelations?

    It is not uncommon. That is one way to put it. This is the fast lane of mysticism, which is one reason the Church is cautious. I might add that I am always perplexed by why a local bishop usually uses the term, “no evidence of the supernatural,” to dismiss a troublesome apparition. Often, there is plenty of evidence of the supernatural, but it’s supernaturality that is coming from the wrong source. At the same time, and overall, private revelation is of great benefit and as in Jesus’ time, among the Pharisees and Sadducees, it is sorely neglected by the official Church.

    Is the U.S. Church more closed and skeptical toward apparitions and phenomena like weeping statues than other nations?

    Yes, due to our scientific bent, much more skeptical.

    Why do you believe in Medjugorje?

    I have been there I think seven times, and I didn’t believe in it the first few hours I was there. I thought it was collective hysteria. Then I started to see phenomena myself — a lot of it — and tremendous, tremendous fruit, whereby virtually everyone who was going there was experiencing a deepening of faith or outright conversion unlike any other religious encounter with which I was familiar, just really profound and in most cases lasting. I had never seen people touched on such a massive scale. Dozens of millions have been affected in a way that can be compared only with older sites such as Lourdes or with trips to the Holy Land. Medjugorje leaves a feeling of peace and well-being and conversion.

    Whereas a false apparition?

    Another way of discerning a false apparition or a false anything is that it tends to drain you. It takes your energy. This is a hidden means of discernment: it takes more than it gives. It is temporary. This is often a good way to evaluate any situation, although like everything else in this field, there are exceptions (no foolproof means of discernment). We are very open to mysticism — it is crucial to our time and to any time — but we urge folks not to become involved in new such claims unless they are fasting and staying close to the New Testament. Daily reading of the Bible puts us in the correct frame of mind and is probably the best way to discern an apparition.

    06/27/05

    As for his acceptance of Medjugorje, there is nothing against faith there. A decision has not been made regarding that alleged apparition site. Mr. Brown has already said that he will ACCEPT THE CHURCH’S DECISION.

    Elizabeth is engaging in calumny. She should make this right.

  • I don’t understand where you’re coming from. How can you be so bold as to assume I’m in a state of mortal sin? Isn’t that up to God to judge? Not you?

    What exactly IS the “1990 prophecy”? Has it undergone Church scrutiny? Has it been submitted to any Church authorities for discernment and/or approval? I have been reading Spirit Daily for about 5 or 6 years. This is what I meant by an unapproved private revelation. There is no source and no mention of it ever being submitted to the Church.

    Medjugorje is different. It hasn’t been formally approved by the Church, but the Church is more than aware of it, so to speak. Not so with the 1990 prophecy.

    There is good on his site (his articles on Maria Esperanza, but much that leaves me, and others I’m sure, scratching their heads. There is a lot of stuff from his “mailbag” that makes me wonder. How much of this is real, and how much of it is coming from people’s overwrought imaginations? He needs to be more careful when presenting these viewpoints and some sites he links to. It’s all very confusing and doesn’t help the average person on their spiritual journey. That is all.

  • Elizabeth, Peter never said you are in “a state of mortal sin.” Your dishonesty is showing again. He wrote, “Calumny is, objectively speaking, sinful. It may even constitute grave sin. It offends against both charity and truth. It is a violation of justice.”

    You falsely accused Mr. Brown of accepting ALL private revelation, “even those which have not received Church approval.” This is – objectively speaking – calumnious. But rather than acknowledging that your post was false and unjust, you now assume a defensive posture and accuse Peter of judging your soul.

    When will your dishonesty cease? You are behaving very poorly.

  • I know what I wrote. I don’t appreciate Elizabeth’s false accusation against me.

  • This is the time I will ever read or visit this site. I’ve been accused of being a poor reader, of trying to wear down an author after a mere two posts, being dishonest, being egotistical, twisting words which were clearly written, and of being a relativist. Elizabeth comes along and gives her opinion that Michael Brown relies too heavily on Marian apparitions and personal revelation and she’s accused of calumny. There is no engagement of ideas here, only personal animus. The impression one is left with is that if one does not agree with everything written at this site, then that one is necessarily part of the construct of rebellion. Not exactly the best impression to leave with anyone.

  • Sorry, meant to say “This is the last time I will ever read or visit this site.”

  • Thomas, you’re not here to participate in a “dialogue.” Like Elizabeth, you’re here to level false accusations. Read Peter’s post of Michael Brown’s article from 2005. He does not accept all private revelation uncritically. Nor has anyone (including himself) held up Mr. Brown as “the authority” on all private revelation.

    As Christians, let us refrain from such falsehoods.

  • I will never cease to be amazed how the internet has the capacity to take a solid, well formed argument for the faith, and transform it into this demonstration of the classic “my father can beat up your father” form of analysis (or in this case, “my Mary can beat up your Mary” such as this thread has morphed into.

    Will wonders ever cease.

    Yes indeed, a great illustration of how the the internet is a wonderful tool for the faith… or is it that the internet is the place to witness the faith of tools?

  • Apparently Fr. Moyle has no problem with calumny. Maybe he should brush up on his Catechism. If this thread has “morphed” into something unproductive, it is because of unfair allegations and misinterpretations.

    Asinine comment Father. With all due respect for your priestly office. Asinine.

  • “Detraction and calumny destroy the reputation and honor of one’s neighbor. Honor is the social witness given to human dignity, and everyone enjoys a natural right to the honor of his name and reputation and to respect. Thus, detraction and calumny offend against the virtues of justice and charity.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2479).

    I would exhort those who visit this thread to read Michael Brown’s 2005 article on discerning private revelation and hold Elizabeth’s false accusations up to the light of truth.

  • I agree with you Peter. Where was Father Tim when Elizabeth was leveling a false accusation against Michael Brown? He chides you for exposing Elizabeth’s false accusation against Michael Brown and showing it for what it is and describes it as a “my father can beat up your father form of analysis.”

    Father is a disappointment.

  • I am closing this thread.

    In the future please stay on the topic at hand.

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Forget the film, run the trailer!

Monday, January 11, AD 2010

From the only reliable source of news on the net, The Onion.  Not uncommonly, I have enjoyed a trailer more than the film.  As to Iron Man, I loved the film.  It was the most hilarious take on a superhero I have ever witnessed.  Seeing Iron Man learning how to fly in his suit was worth the price of admission.  How a washed up drug addict like Robert Downey, Jr.,  successfully resurrected his career as a comedic action hero is one of the more interesting entertainment stories of the last few years.

Here is the trailer for Iron Man 2:

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2 Responses to Forget the film, run the trailer!

Simpson's 20th Anniversary

Sunday, January 10, AD 2010

The Simpson’s 20th Anniversary show is on tonight.  Although I think the show has declined in the last few years, it can still manage to be funny, although almost always in questionable taste.  Among the guests appearing tonight will be Bill Donohue of the Catholic League which has taken the show to task in the past.   L’Osservatore Romano published a positive piece on the Simpsons last December;   a rough google translation is here.  In regard to the Catholic Church, the references to it on the show have ranged from benign to gutter anti-Catholic.  Here is one of the benign references.

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7 Responses to Simpson's 20th Anniversary

  • Harvey Mansfield, one of my favorite living political philosophers, called the Simpsons the smartest show on television. I think that is correct, but you’d have to omit the past 4 years from your judgment.

  • I wrote this short note on the Simpsons a while back, and reposted it to my blog.

    I’d omit the last 10 years, personally.

  • I used to think the Simpsons got kind of a bad rap, particularly when compared to the other notorious Fox comedy that premiered around the same time — “Married… with Children.”

    Although both shows were funny most of the time, I always thought “Married” was far worse from a moral point of view, for the simple reason that while both the Simpsons and the Bundys were dysfunctional, the Simpsons did at least have some basic love and respect for one another and tried to be a better family, whereas the Bundys didn’t even try.

    And of course, no matter what anyone says, we all know Illinois has the “real” Springfield complete with a polluted lake, a power plant run by a bald-headed guy who looks uncannily like Mr. Burns, a nearby city called Shelbyville, and Mel-O-Cream donuts, the kind Homer would kill for 🙂

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  • I always liked that ‘Protestant Heaven’ vs. ‘Catholic Heaven’ bit.

  • Catholic Heaven rocks Anthony!

  • At its peak, The Simpsons was not only the smartest show on television; it was the smartest show that has ever been on television.

    Example. In the famous episode where the Simpsons’ dog, Santa’s Little Helper, falls in love with another dog and they have a bunch of puppies which Mr. Burns tries to make a tuxedo out of, the two dogs go on a series of “Lady and the Tramp”-style dates. During one date, they get their photo taken at an amusement park, with their heads sticking through holes in a blown-up painting of dogs playing poker. They have a laugh. But I wonder how many people know that the genius who painted the poker-playing dogs, Cassius Marcellus Coolidge, made his fortune as the inventor of the amusement park photo-cutout?

We Still Love Ya Joe!

Sunday, January 10, AD 2010

3 Responses to We Still Love Ya Joe!

The Irish Brigade at Fredericksburg

Sunday, January 10, AD 2010

A moving video of the Irish Brigade at the battle of Fredericksburg, December 13, 1862, based on the movie Gods and Generals.  It was criminal military malpractice for Burnside, perhaps the most incompetent general in the war, to assault the fortified Confederate positions, but his idiocy does not derogate in the slightest from the extreme heroism of the Union troops who suffered massive casualties while attempting to do the impossible.

The Irish Brigade was one of the units called upon that day to do the impossible.  One of the regiments in the Brigade was the  69th New York, the Fighting 69th as they would be designated by Robert E. Lee for their gallant charge at this battle, a unit faithful readers of this blog are quite familiar with.   This day their chaplain personally blessed each man in the regiment.  They called him Father Thomas Willett.  That was as close as they could get to pronouncing his actual name.

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13 Responses to The Irish Brigade at Fredericksburg

Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on the Theme by Thomas Tallis

Saturday, January 9, AD 2010

Many of my favorite pieces of music I associate with the night sky. This is because my father, who was throughout my life a planetarium director, often used his favorite pieces of music as background during planetarium shows. Being the oldest, I frequently had the chance to tag along to planetarium shows, and sit under the dome, listening to my father’s voice. And so now, when I hear something like Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on the Theme by Thomas Tallis I find myself thinking of the constellations, and I also find myself oddly misty about the eyes.

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Pachelbel Canon in D Major

Saturday, January 9, AD 2010

Something for the weekend.  I just finished a particularly onerous piece of legal work that has been preoccupying me for the past two months.  Time for something mellow, and for me nothing is more mellow than the Canon in D Major by Pachelbel.

Update:  As pointed out by Joe in the combox, for some reason unknown to me the Youtube video has a portrait of Mozart.  Here is a portrait of Pachelbel.

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5 Responses to Pachelbel Canon in D Major

7 Responses to Thank you, Mister President!

  • Surely I can’t be the *only* Lost fan here…

  • I used to be a Lost fan, but they lost me due to a combination of their erratic schedule, certain stupid plot turns, and other priorities in my life. Frankly, I’m surprised to hear it’s still in production. Perhaps this is the season where you’ll see Jack on water skis trekking back to the island with only a ramp and a shark between him and the island.

  • Rick, Rick, Rick… you show have stayed with it. When did you bow out? 2nd or 3rd season? Things got a bit silly for a bit, especially in the early 3rd, but the finale of the 3rd kicked off a non-stop roller coaster.

  • I think it was in the third season that it lost it’s grip on me. I hated the whole Kate/Sawyer/Jack thing (creating romance where didn’t already exist is often a sign of writing weakness). Last I recall seeing was they were off the island, and IIRC, Jack trying to persuade Kate (and Hurley?) to go back.

    Do you suppose it’s possible to pick back up on it after missing so much?

  • Yeah, the consensus — even among the executive producers — is that things got a bit wobbly there at the time you stopped… I don’t blame you. Can you pick it up again? I think so… I’m pretty sure all of the seasons are on Hulu. Really, beginning with that finale, seasons 4 and 5 were strong. Not perfect, but much more like the first season than the first half of season 3.

    FYI!

  • Your opinion provides me with incentive to rent the DVDs. I’ve heard so many good things about it, but have never had the time to watch it.

  • I strongly second Chris’s recommendation! Lost is one of the best dramatic series ever produced for television, notwithstanding some weaknesses in the 2nd half of season 2 and the first half of season 3. I lived in Honolulu while they filmed the first four seasons and had the opportunity to see lots of the sets and meet some of the cast. They were always filming all over Oahu, and their set and FX departments were always doing a great job dressing up Honolulu to look like London, Miami, and Sydney. Great show, and gives one a LOT to consider in terms of philosophy. Much better to watch a whole season quickly on DVD, as well!

Alabama Wins Mythical National Championship and Other College Football Rants

Friday, January 8, AD 2010

[Updates below]

The University of Alabama football team won the B.C.S. National Championship* or what I like to refer to as the mythical national championship for N.C.A.A. football.  Alabama beat an over rated University of Texas team 37-21 last night without having the opportunity of playing the only other undefeated team in the country, Boise State University.

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14 Responses to Alabama Wins Mythical National Championship and Other College Football Rants

  • Go BSU! Though having said that, Alabama would win.

  • Most likely, but we’ll never know.

  • Drop the BCS farce, but NO PLAYOFF! Go back to the old bowl alignment system (which, fortunately, is what the university presidents have said will happen if the BCS is ever scrapped).

  • I’m with Jay. That’s a truly conservative view. I heard on the radio that there is now a PAC to support congressional candidates who favor a bowl playoff system – sign of American decline #3,712.

  • Alabama is certainly deserving of mention as one of the top teams in the country, but without a playoff system there will always be doubt as to whether or not Alabama is truly the undisputed number one team in America.

    I’m for a playoff, and I’d love for teams like Boise State to get a chance. But Alabama is the best football team in the country, and they would whomp Boise State.

    ROLL TIDE!

  • Okay. My suggestion is to return all the bowl games to their traditional alignment, and play them in August.

    Then do what division i, ii, and iii college football does. 16 teams. Fun. And money, money, money.

  • I’m no Bama fan, and love upsets. But Bama would have handled BSU as easily as Florida handled Cincinatti.
    And like other posters, I think the playoff idea is overrated.
    While Texas’s loss of McCoy was huge, it is pretty clear that the nation’s best team won.
    That said, it is far more likely that Texas would have taken Bama if they had had McCoy than BSU would have beaten Bama had it had the opportunity.
    There will always be ifs and buts (e.g., would Iowa have gone undefeated and displaced Texas had it not lost its QB for its only two losses — very close games to good teams?)
    Congrats to Bama for a well-earned championship.

  • Boise State would have rolled over the Tide and Bear Bryant!

    Scrap the BCS if there is no playoff system.

    At least have a 2 + 1, ie, take top two teams after bowls and have a championship.

    So revert to the old bowl system and just pick the top two teams.

    And we’ll see if the Big East gets ANY real bids after that!

  • “Craig James voted them # 7 overall”

    Somebody needs to lock Craig James up in a closet/shed. Guy’s a jerk.

  • Boise State would have rolled over the Tide and Bear Bryant!

    Quick, someone slap Tito! He’s going into hysterics, defaming the honored memory of the great Bear Bryant.

  • Tito,

    The PAC-10 went 2-5 and got owned my the Mountain West. Are you finally ready to relent on your baseless claim that it is the best conference in the country?

  • Bama barely held on to beat a QB who had thrown 26 college passes coming into the game and they gave up 50% more yards and points as Nebraska did when they shut down the Colt McCoy version. If McCoy doesn’t get hurt, Texas would have won that game.

  • Big Tex,

    Thanks for the slap.

    I think when I started reading the Vox Nova blog the devil overcame me and I lost it when I said that about Bear Bryant.

    Thank goodness I was near a Bible and quickly read Revelation. I’m out of it now.

    Phew!

  • Matt G.,

    The Pac-10 doesn’t recognize the existence of any conference besides the Big-10, so those scrimmages don’t count.

    😉

Taxes, Treasury Secretary Geithner and Joe Friday

Friday, January 8, AD 2010

Being self-employed I always have the great joy of paying my taxes four times a year in estimated payments.  I just did the one due on January 15, and in the fine mood that always puts me in, I thought it was time to recall  Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and his difficulty paying some of his taxes.

The Wikipedia article on Geithner gives an excellent summary:

Tax scandal

At the Senate confirmation hearings, it was revealed that Geithner had not paid $35,000 in self-employment taxes for several years, even though he had acknowledged his obligation to do so, and had filed a request for, and received, a payment for half the taxes owed. The failure to pay self-employment taxes, in part due to the way his employer reported his wages which was not in accordance with tax law, was noted during a 2006 audit by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), in which Geithner was assessed additional taxes of $14,847 for the 2003 and 2004 tax years. Geithner also failed to pay the self-employment taxes for the 2001 and 2002 tax years (for which the statute of limitations had expired) until after Obama expressed his intent to nominate Geithner to be Secretary of Treasury. He also deducted the cost of his children’s sleep-away camp as a dependent care expense, when only expenses for day care are eligible for the deduction. Geithner subsequently paid the IRS the additional taxes owed,and was charged $15,000 interest, but was not fined for late payment. As President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Geithner annually completed an ethics statement noting any taxes due or unpaid, along with any other obligations. Geithner’s completed statement did not surface during confirmation hearings.

In a statement to the Senate panel considering his nomination, Geithner called the tax issues “careless,” “avoidable” and “unintentional” errors, and he said he wanted to “apologize to the committee for putting you in the position of having to spend so much time on these issues.” Geithner testified that he used TurboTax to prepare his own return and that the tax errors are his own responsibility. This statement is in conflict with statements by the Obama campaign that Geithner was advised by his accountant that he did not owe the taxes. The Washington Post quoted a tax expert who said that TurboTax has not been programmed to handle self-employment taxes when the user identifies himself as being employed. Geithner said at the hearing that he was always under the impression that he was an employee, not a self-employed contractor, while he served as director of the Policy Development and Review Department of the IMF. Geithner comments are contradicted by the Senate report that showed he was not only informed of his status, but that he actively applied for the allowance.

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3 Responses to Taxes, Treasury Secretary Geithner and Joe Friday

  • Amazing: Donald and I have a point of agreement!

    Count me a doubter from the beginning on Mr Geithner. There’s a certain breach of trust that a man chosen to a post like Treasury wouldn’t have his own treasury in order.

    On one hand, I can appreciate that Mr Obama would want a talented guy–and there’s no doubt the man is talented–on his team. My criticism is mainly that Mr Geithner was tagged as the superstar of economics from the beginning. This administration *had* to have him.

    On the other hand, even if we can concede Mr Geithner was the best, how much better than #2 could he really have been?

    Clearly, he could survive this in a way the head of the IRS might not have been able to. Or if we had been in less of an economic crisis, perhaps it would have been easier to jettison the nomination and settle for the second fiddle.

    The symbolism of it will probably not harm either the president or the head of Treasury, either in the next 3-7 years or post-administration. I suspect some people who make honest mistakes with their taxes (and those, perhaps like Mr Geithner, who don’t) won’t avoid the economic or professional harm as you’ve described here, Donald.

  • Calculating self-employment tax is Tax 101. Someone with Mr. Geitner’s resume should not have made an error in calculating this tax. He should also have reviewed his TurboTax-prepared 1040 before signing it and mailing it to the IRS. (He failed at his personal obligations.)

    Mr. Geitner is too incompetent for his current position, a crook, or both. Our government should only hire honest, qualified individuals and his dishonesty scares me more than his incompetence. (What secret deals is he cooking with whom?)

  • (What secret deals is he cooking with whom?)

    Yves Smith (“Naked Capitalism”) referred to him last spring as a ‘poster child for regulatory capture’. Seems about right.

"I agree with the Church in principle, but …"

Friday, January 8, AD 2010

Last week I posted a reaction to House Speaker Pelosi’s interview in Newsweek (cross-posted to First Things‘ “First Thoughts”). Perusing the comments, I discovered that the author of No Hidden Magenta — a blog with the daunting task of “bridging the gap between ‘Red and Blue State’ groupthink” — has responded with fury and dismay:

At least one reason why neither the Pope nor the Archbishop have denied Pelosi Holy Communion–despite having ample opportunity to do so–is because prudential judgments about how best to reflect a moral principle in public policy involved technical considerations of practical reason that do not go to the heart of what it means to be a Roman Catholic; in other words, they are not about the central value at stake. If Speaker Pelosi believes that abortion is a positive good that should be promoted by the state (rather than as a privacy right for all women) that is one thing (and her recent actions with regard to Stupak suggest that she doesn’t think this), but there are any number of good reasons for supporting less-than-perfect public policy as she claims to be doing in trying to reduce the number of abortions while not supporting an abortion ban. …

Now, we can and should have debate about this question–and I think Pelosi is profoundly mistaken in her position on public policy–but let’s be clear: both the Pope and her Archbishop do not think such a position puts her status as a Roman Catholic or as a communicant in jeopardy. And those who think it does would do well to follow their example in distinguishing between ‘moral principle’ and ‘public policy.’

I’m relieved that the author believes Pelosi is “profoundly mistaken” in her position on public policy. I’m less convinced, however, that “the Pope and her Archbishop do not think such a position puts her status as a Roman Catholic or as a communicant in jeopardy”, and the author’s explanation for why they allegedly do not think so.

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6 Responses to "I agree with the Church in principle, but …"

  • How could anyone say she accepts Church teaching on the matter?

    Pelosi: “I would say that as an ardent practicing Catholic this is an issue that I have studied for a long time, and what I know is over the centuries the doctors of the Church have not been able to make that definition. And St. Augustine said three months. We don’t know. The point is it that it shouldn’t have an impact on a woman’s right to chose.”

    Aside from her deficient understanding of Augustine and the Church(speaking as charitably as possible), she still negates her argument by the last line. “A women’s right to choose [killing her unborn child]” is not a Catholic concept and is clearly at odds with the Church (including Augustine and the other Doctors – not to mention that the Doctors aren’t the Magesterium either).

    Many bishops published corrections of Pelosi’s transparent theological hack job and there is nothing to indicate she was persuaded.

  • There may be several ways to exercise prudential judgment on how best to reflect the principle that abortion is evil in a specific public policy. But proposing and voting for legislation to keep it legal at all stages for any reason, refusing others to exercise their own conscience in opposing it, and getting it publicly funded ain’t one of them.

  • Public policy is crouched in the public good and unity. The good for the public could mean a need for euthanasia. We see these ideas put forth in the heathcare debate. Some illness are way too expensive at the end of life. So Ms Pelosi is saying she can separate ethical and moral discernment when it envolves public policy. What upsets me is that her ideas confuse her own beliefs in principle and she tell us we should follow her way.

  • W Posh,

    The public (common) good does not call for a moral evil. Euthanasia is such and is not consistent with the common good.

    Now it will in fact be that there will need to be limits on health care. Individuals will disagree with what should be covered for all and what some may pay for out of their own resources. These distinctions can be in concordance with the common good. But setting those limits is different that actively seeking to kill a person.

  • Pelosi, and others seem to be trying to justify themselves into Heaven. Isn’t this whole piece about relativism? 2 + 2 = 4, for ever and always – that’s a truth. God issued a COMMANDMENT, not a suggestion, which states (as near as we can tell) “thou shalt not murder” – that’s also a truth. No matter when you think life begins, if you plan and act to cause that life to cease, then you have committed a grave ( we used to use the more descriptive term “MORTAL”) sin. It doesn’t matter what your religion, it is STILL a Mortal Sin.

    Remember, God created us with free will. In the Garden, we exercised that free will, and turned our backs on God, chosing to follow the creator of lies. Why do we STILL follow those who justify their lies to us? At the end of our lives, and for all time, we will be in Heaven or Hell, Forever.

  • I agree with you marvin the only reason they changed the name to grave is people thought that mortal was to harsh… why is that so hard? dont like it? then don’t sin..

On Certification Instead of Regulation

Thursday, January 7, AD 2010

What started as a “Ha, do you libertarians endorse this?” dare by Mike of Rortybomb has turned into a somewhat interesting discussion between him and Megan McArdle about to what extent it’s possible to protect people who are not good at understanding complex financial products (the elderly, or people who just aren’t good at understanding complicated service agreements) from being victimized by banks without in the process hurting the people you’re trying to help. This as the new credit card legislation is going into effect, trying to crack down on banks which raise interest rates quickly if you’re late paying, have hidden fees, or move due dates around (theoretically in an attempt to keep people from paying on time.)

Mike suggests that banks should be required to offer a “plain vanilla option” of products such as credit cards or checking accounts.

And that solution would be mandating financial services to provide Vanilla Option financial products. Boring, low-reward trap-fee products you’d probably have to pay a yearly fee for.

So much of our financial services are predicated on tricks and traps but also have a lot of benefits. You get free checking, but if you overdraft you lose more than you gained. Now with a vanilla option, you could pay more upfront to not take the risk of losing later. This is banking how it used to be, boring. And this is exactly the kind of product that people with weak cognition would want to have available. Someone approaching older age, but before getting there, could opt for the “extra boring” financial services package. People buy renter’s insurance; some might view a yearly-fee on their checking account or credit card as a “trap insurance.”

Megan doesn’t think the idea would be very successful:

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One Response to On Certification Instead of Regulation

  • The Thaler and Sunstein book Nudge made some similar recommendations regarding what you might call “plain vanilla” options for things like credit cards, mortgages, etc. In general they think that you could get around the problems noted by Ms. McArdle by making the plain vanilla the “default option” rather than just one option among many. The idea is that most people tend to stick with a default option whatever it is, and the few who don’t tend to be the ones who are more knowledgeable and capable of comparing the pros and cons of other options. I’m not sure how that would translate into things like health care, but it’s an interesting idea.