Monthly Archives: January 2010

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

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.

Pray for those in Haiti

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.

Quote of the Day: Hayek on Individualism

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. Continue reading

Global Warming Freezing Temperatures Hit the Globe

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.

Fort Hood Shooter: Passing the Buck

A Defense Department Review has found that doctors overseeing the training of the Fort Hood shooter continually voiced complaints concerning his strident views on Islam and inappropriate behavior.  At the same time Nidal Hasan was promoted and received positive performance evaluations.

In telling episodes from the latter stages of Hasan’s lengthy medical education in the Washington, D.C., area, he gave a class presentation questioning whether the U.S.-led war on terror was actually a war on Islam. And fellow students said he suggested that Shariah (shah-REE’-yuh), or Islamic law, trumped the Constitution and he attempted to justify suicide bombings.

Yet no one in Hasan’s chain of command appears to have challenged his eligibility to hold a secret security clearance even though they could have because the statements raised doubt about his loyalty to the United States. Had they, Hasan’s fitness to serve as an Army officer may have been called into question long before he reported to Fort Hood.

Instead, in July 2009, Hasan arrived in central Texas, his secret clearance intact, his reputation as a weak performer well known, and Army authorities believing that posting him at such a large facility would mask his shortcomings.

The Army knew not only that Hassan was a Jihadist sympathizer, but that he was also a substandard doctor:

Continue reading

The Construct of Rebellion

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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Forget the film, run the trailer!

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:

Simpson's 20th Anniversary

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.

We Still Love Ya Joe!

Well what do you know?  Who knew that this Saturday Night Live skit during the campaign accurately reflected Obama’s fears?  Apparently Obama was greatly alarmed during the Fall in 08 at his running mate’s unending propensity to open his mouth and say something stupid.

The relationship between Barack Obama and Joe Biden grew so strained during the 2008 campaign, according to a new book, that the two rarely spoke and aides not only kept Biden off internal conference calls but refused to even tell him they existed…

[W]hen Biden, at an October fund-raiser in Seattle, famously predicted that Obama would be tested with an international crisis, the then-Illinois senator had had enough.

‘How many times is Biden gonna say something stupid?’ he demanded of his advisers on a conference call, a moment at which most people on the call said the candidate was as angry as they had ever heard him…

Speaking to his own staff, Biden insisted that it hadn’t really been a gaffe. And feeling a bit defensive, he invoked one of the worst memories of Obama’s primary campaign.

‘I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t say anything about bitter people who cling to their guns and religion,’ Biden cracked, the authors paraphrase. Continue reading

The Irish Brigade at Fredericksburg

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. Continue reading

Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on the Theme by Thomas Tallis

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.

Pachelbel Canon in D Major

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.

Thank you, Mister President!

For not scheduling your State of the Union address on February 2nd, feast of the Presentation of the Lord and the night of the season premiere of the final season of Lost, the greatest television show in broadcast network history.  :-)

Alabama Wins Mythical National Championship and Other College Football Rants

[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.

Continue reading

Taxes, Treasury Secretary Geithner and Joe Friday

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

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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On Certification Instead of Regulation

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: Continue reading

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