Enemies No Longer

Monday, May 31, AD 2010

The American Civil War was the bloodiest in our history, a total war of attrition waged on our own territory, which an at times none to congenial peace. It is, thus, all the more inspiring to read about the reunion which was held at Gettysburg in 1913, celebrating the 50th anniversary of one of the war’s bloodiest battles. An open invitation was made to all those who had served in either army, north or south, and been honorably discharged, and more than 50,000 men came to the three day event.

Personnel from the United States Army Quartermaster Corps and Engineer Corps arrived at Gettysburg National Military Park in 1912 to plan military and civilian support for the encampment. The engineers surveyed the field adjacent to the fields of “Pickett’s Charge” where they laid out the arrangement for “The Great Camp”, divided into areas for Union veterans and for Confederate veterans. Soldiers installed utility systems, erected hundreds of tents to house the veterans, built picnic tables, benches, and boardwalks throughout the camp. By the first of June the sprawling Great Camp occupied 280 acres, included 47 1/2 miles of avenues and company streets, was lit by 500 electric arc lights, and 32 bubbling ice water fountains were installed. Over 2,000 army cooks and bakers manned 173 field kitchens, ready to provide three hot meals per day for veterans and camp personnel alike….


The first veterans arrived on June 25 and within days the Great Camp swelled to overflowing. Every veteran was provided a cot and bedding in a tent that would hold eight men. Meals were served from a kitchen at the end of each company street and varied from fried chicken suppers to roast pork sandwiches with ice cream for desert. By the end of the reunion, the army kitchens had supplied over 688,000 meals to reunion participants. Invariably the days were hot and the thermometer topped 102 degrees on July 2. Heat exhaustion and physical fatigue resulted in hospitalization of several hundred veterans. Over 9,980 patients were treated by medical personnel for ailments ranging from heat exhaustion to stomach disorders. Remarkably, only nine veterans passed away during the week-long encampment. Despite the heat and often dusty conditions, nothing could keep the aged men in camp and hundreds wandered the battlefield. Many visited battle sites where they or their comrades had been fifty years before. Confederate veterans especially were pleased to find old cannon mounted on metal carriages to mark the locations where their batteries had been during that fateful battle. Invariably, the presence of khaki-clad US Army personnel caused a lot of excitement. The soldiers were there to guard camp supplies, give demonstrations, and provide services to the veterans who delighted themselves discussing the modern weapons of war. Many an aged veteran was eager to explain how much things had changed in fifty years to any soldier who was handy and army personnel were constantly entertained by the old soldiers at every turn. [source]

One of the major events of the reunion was a reenactment of Pickett’s Charge. Confederate veterans assembled to walk the three-quarters-of-a-mile across open fields towards Union lines, retracing the charge which on which fifty years before 12,500 men had set out and suffered 50% casualties. As union veterans watched the men in gray approaching them across the field again, many eyes were far from dry. And as the Confederate veterans approached the wall, their old adversaries broke ranks and came forward to meet them, not with lead and steel this time, but with the embraces of friendship.

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One Response to Enemies No Longer

  • All war, particularly civil war, is immensely sad.
    I watched a doco today on the civil war in Sierra Leone – what a heart-wrenching, brutal and incomprehensible war that was. The effects are still destroying 40% of the population.

    It is an amzing thing that the reconciliation of combatants can happen so spontaneously – kind of Godlike, don’t you think?

When Masculine Virtues Go Out of Fashion

Monday, May 31, AD 2010

The following is a column written by Tom Hoffman of the American Thinker.

The culture war begun in the sixties has, in large part, been won by the left. Nowhere is this clearer than in the feminization of men. The virtues of manhood which had been extolled and celebrated throughout the middle ages right up to the 1950s have been completely expunged from academia and pop culture. The baby boom generation was the last to be taught the values of rugged individualism, risk-taking, courage, bravery, loyalty, and reverence for tradition. John Wayne epitomized the rugged individual who was committed to fighting “the bad guy,” but he was only one of a whole host of competing figures cut out of the same cloth. What happened?

Today, the Boy Scouts are fighting the last battle in a lost cause. Any man who stands up to the “women’s movement” is completely marginalized as a sexist and homophobe. These names have become just as stigmatizing as “racist” used to be. It is no wonder that women now are the majority of college graduates and are increasing their role in every institution from private enterprise to public service, including the military. Is this a healthy trend? The answer is clearly “no.”

Edward Gibbon chronicles the increasing femininity of the Roman Empire in his six-volume work, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. He catalogues the progressive decadence that rendered the once-proud republic into spoils for barbarian hordes. The consuls in the early republic, who were warrior-generals adhering to a strict code of honor, gradually gave way to the backroom emperors who were no more than brazen criminals and thugs. It is the same script in all noble human enterprise: The fabric which bred success is torn apart by the complacency of the successful. When warfare is demonized as violence and negotiation is raised to an art, the end is near. Today, we are there.

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96 Responses to When Masculine Virtues Go Out of Fashion

  • Today, the Boy Scouts are fighting the last battle in a lost cause.

    I wish that fellow would leave this sort of talk to the likes of Rod Dreher.

    The irony is that an antidote was offered by (of all people) Eleanor Roosevelt when she said, “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. Masculine virtues retreat when people refuse to defend them.

  • Mr, Hoffman hasn’t met my three sons; or any of our MEN serving (multiple battlefield deployments) in the armed forces.

    But, point taken. We must actively promote manhood.

  • Maybe Mr. Hoffman hasn’t discovered the Catholic faith. Understanding the excellent example of Jesus and the Communion of Saints!

    That and he probably watches too much t.v.

  • I think that “rugged individualism” is the opposite of traditional manly virtue. Traditional manly virtue had a sense of corporate mission.

  • Why is there a photo of someone next to my post?

  • Daniel,

    I don’t know.

    My best guess is that you filled out a gravatar-type profile in the past and WordPress recognized your cookie and attached said picture from that previous gravatar-type profile.

  • “When warfare is demonized as violence and negotiation is raised to an art, the end is near. Today, we are there.”

    I don’t mean to be rude, but you’d have to be a bit of an idiot to believe that. Not just because the U.S. is currently fighting two wars, but because warfare is always very popular in the U.S.

  • Patrick you beat me to it.

  • War, even when it is legitimate, is always a defeat for humanity.

  • I’d extent Patrick’s comment to the entire Hoffman article. Dumb.

    Eric Brown, JP2 wasn’t a real man. We must remember the examples of Jesus and the early martyrs who drew their swords against their oppressors instead of cowering defenselessly like women.

  • I’d extent Patrick’s comment to the entire Hoffman article. Dumb.

    It is not, and don’t tempt me to say what is. For in excess of forty years, we have all been choked by a kultursmog which has had some consistent messages: in favor of exhibitionism, dependency, and manipulation over reticence, stoicism, self-reliance, competition, and rules with consequences.

  • First of all, I like the picture from Big Jake.
    War is not always a defeat. It is unfortunate and sad (I have personally experienced it), but it is on occasion necessary. As we try to establish justice in our fallen world among imperfect people, we must sometimes resort to imperfect means (i.e. war). Unjust wars are a defeat, but just wars can bring about justice (freeing slaves, ending genocide, etc.) As MLK once said “All it takes for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.” War should not just be written off as “a defeat to humanity.”
    That is not to say that war is the core of masculinity, but struggle definitely is. Whether that struggle is against Communism like JPII or against yourself or in battle.
    A great book on Christian masculinity is “Wild at Heart”.

  • You should rename your website Catholic Chest Thumpers and Gun Barrel Strokers Anonymous dot com.

    You all are an embarrassment to the church.

  • Pace Gibbon, Augustine was far more accurate in his depiction of the decline of Rome. His description of the Parade honoring the “god” Priapus in which an honorable Roman matron crowned you can imagine what, sounds much like the “Gay Pride” parades of today. Satan and his cohorts are just so repetitious and unimaginative.

    Many women [feminists] do not give up their girlish unfairness. They do not openly express what most concerns them – their appearance. If you do not believe me, try telling one woman that another woman is good looking. Then duck.

  • R.F.W.,

    Why does testosterone make you feel insecure?

  • Oddly enough, at exactly the same time this feminization of men has been taking place, popular culture has become increasingly loud, violent and aggressive. You can see it clearly if you compare an old John Wayne or Humphrey Bogart movie to one of Sly Stallone’s or Arnold Schwarzenegger’s action flix. The latter have bigger and louder guns and a much higher body count than The Duke or Bogie ever imagined. In addition, street crime and violence have risen exponentially.

    Why is this happening if boys are being removed from all those awful patriarchal influences and being discouraged from any kind of aggressive play? For the same reason wild elephants who are raised without older males around become violent and aggressive — they not only never learn “how” to fight, they never learn WHEN to fight, or why to fight. So they either become completely passive and never fight at all, or they fight all the time over every little thing. Learning to be a man means learning to control and channel aggression appropriately, and boys are not learning this.

  • Hoffman’s virtue theory is strange–disordered, even. He seems to be saying that what he calls the womanly virtues (negotiation, caring, compassion, sensitivity, and understanding) are bad for society when extolled and practiced by men. Virtues, however, are habitual dispositions to do the good. Practing one doesn’t prohibit practicing another. One can be both magnanimous and humble, courageous and prudent, etc. We’re all in our own way meant to practice and develop all the virtues as best we can. The more virtuous we are, the more human we are, the closer we are to being what we ought to be.

  • Also, when men are discouraged from displaying masculine virtues, women are forced to fill the void, which can be pretty difficult.

  • Ouais. See Rebel without a Cause.

  • “Also, when men are discouraged from displaying masculine virtues, women are forced to fill the void, which can be pretty difficult.”

    From the mini-series I Claudius:

    Tiberius to his mother Livia: “Why can’t you act like a normal woman!”

    Livia: “In order to act like a normal woman you need normal men around you!”

    How very, very true.

  • “Why is this happening if boys are being removed from all those awful patriarchal influences and being discouraged from any kind of aggressive play? For the same reason wild elephants who are raised without older males around become violent and aggressive — they not only never learn “how” to fight, they never learn WHEN to fight, or why to fight. So they either become completely passive and never fight at all, or they fight all the time over every little thing. Learning to be a man means learning to control and channel aggression appropriately, and boys are not learning this.”

    Bravo Elaine! A boy growing up without a father will have a difficult time escaping the fate of being a wimp or a savage unless some worthy male steps into the breach. The sexes are not fungible, and you have placed your finger on one of the prime functions of good fathers throughout the ages: teaching a boy that being a man doesn’t simply mean being a large boy.

  • Pingback: Are Some Virtues Bad for Society? « Vox Nova
  • Wow. Until I read this article I never realized how contemptible women are.

  • “Wow. Until I read this article I never realized how contemptible women are.”

    Still trying to sharpen up those reading comprehension skills phosphorious? The point of the post is that men and women have different sets of virtues that play important roles in society. This of course is merely stating the obvious, and it is a tribute to the force of political ideology that so many people attempt to deny it.

  • “The point of the post is that men and women have different sets of virtues that play important roles in society.”

    I didn’t realize that so much of the scriptures were written only to women. Good to know that the stuff Jesus said about the peacemakers being blessed, turning the other cheek, loving your enemies, forgiving 77 times, and all that stuff Paul wrote about love being patient, kind, not storing up grievances and being the greatest of virtues are primarily things women need to cultivate. Makes them much easier for me as a man to ignore.

  • “I didn’t realize that so much of the scriptures were written only to women.”

    Glad to enlighten you Ryan that there is more to the scriptures than Christ giving a peace sign. If you get to heaven you and Pope Urban II should have some interesting conversations. G.K. Chesterton, who celebrated the martial virtues, can give the color commentary.

  • “The point of the post is that men and women have different sets of virtues that play important roles in society.”

    Not so. Hoffman is very clear that the “womanly” virtues are bad for society: “Caring, compassion, sensitivity, and understanding are virtues meant to blur the distinction between good and evil and drown out the call of manly conscience to ‘do the right thing.'”

  • Not so Kyle. The whole passage makes clear that Hoffman was talking about the distortion of these values in contemporary culture:

    “Academia, with the help of the media, has labeled all reference to manly virtue as patriarchal, sexist, and homophobic. Womanly virtue, on the other hand, is extolled. Caring, compassion, sensitivity, and understanding are virtues meant to blur the distinction between good and evil and drown out the call of manly conscience to “do the right thing.” Like a mother who refuses to see the evil in her son, the feminist professors cast all moral standards as relative and subjective.”

    Hoffman is right on target. Every society needs balance and our society has become extremely unbalanced in this area.

  • Thank you Donald. I do enjoy engaging with different perspectives and am always willing to be instructed. I’m sure your conversations with Pope John Paul II and Dorothy Day will be equally enlightening.

  • “I’m sure your conversations with Pope John Paul II and Dorothy Day will be equally enlightening.”

    No doubt Ryan, although I would insist on Don Juan of Austria giving the color commentary!

  • Where does Hoffman say the “womanly” virtues have been distorted? He characterizes the extolling of “womanly” virtue itself as a bad thing!

  • It sounds like he is criticizing extolling the feminine at the expense of the masculine. That’s my read.

  • That is exactly how it is read.

    Kyle is deploying the usual liberal strategy of confusion in order to muddy the message.

  • I don’t think that Hoffman expresses himself with precision here, and I’m not sure that I’m in full agreement with him, but what he’s driving at seems to be a basically Aristotelian concept that true virtue is found in moderation. Thus, to take a single polarity, mercy with no justice, and justice with no mercy would both be disordered, non-virtuous states.

    He’s not saying that mercy is bad while justice is good, but rather that if one makes mercy a virtue but justice a vice, excluding justice from society, we end up with an unbalanced society which in fact reflects neither.

    Now, I think that it’s rather broad brush to take it that certain virtues are strictly masculine, while others are strictly feminine, but I don’t think it’s particularly off base to insist that remove one side of the balance scale results in disorder.

  • I think you would be hard pressed finding any writings in the New Testament, or in the first 300 years of the Church that extol war in any way. Since St. Aquinas put forth the just war theory, there has not been a war that lived up to it. This is because the world would not accept the teaching of the early church that we should not commit violence to each other, so St. Aquinas came up with a theory he knew no war could meet.

    You may be able to argue that “manly” values are what made America great, or that war and violence have their place. But you can not argue that doing violence to others has any place in Christian teaching. Pope Urban may have thought he was doing the right thing in freeing the Holy Lands through the Crusades, but even the Pope can make an error. O do you feel that Pope John the XII who the Catholic Encyclopedia describes as a coarse, immoral man, also made no errors. Or the many other Popes of the middle ages who sought more to enrich themselves and their families. We believe the magisterium, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, accurately passed on the teachings of Jesus and the apostles, not that they were right and justified in all they did.

  • It is no wonder that women now are the majority of college graduates and are increasing their role in every institution from private enterprise to public service, including the military. Is this a healthy trend? The answer is clearly “no.”

    Men being the only ones who were educated = The earthly paradise

    Women outnumbering men in colleges = sissified socialist hell.

    Wow. Until I read this essay, I never realized how contemptible women were.

  • Although this theory does explain a lot about recent history.

    After 9/11, Bush let Osama Bin Laden get away, and focussed his attention on Iraq. . . thus backing down from the bully who actually hurt us, and fighting a country that did nothing to us. Exactly the behavior predicted by this exciting new theory of He-Manliness. . . or lack thereof.

    I always suspected that Bush was a little. . . (and here I’m making that gesture where you hold your hand palm down, fingers spread and then twist it back an forth)

    You know what I mean. . .

  • Wow, the Vox Nova pansies are out in full splendor today.

  • He’s not saying that mercy is bad while justice is good, but rather that if one makes mercy a virtue but justice a vice, excluding justice from society, we end up with an unbalanced society which in fact reflects neither.

    I’m sorry. . . isn’t he saying exactly that:

    All reference to the service of a higher calling — to God and country — has been replaced by the call to community service with the emphasis on care and compassion for the downtrodden.

    A society dedicated to care and compassion of the downtrodden? The horror. . . the horror. . .

  • j. christian,

    Are you saying the apostles who went to their death not allowing their followers to fight were panzies? Maybe St. Ignatius was a panzy when he was marched across Europe to Rome and asked those who came out to great him to not fight for his relief.

    If you wish to discuss Catholic teaching on virtue and the “manly” virtues, please do. If you wish to call those who are willing to suffer non violently in the name of Christ (or who believe christians are called to be non violent in all causes) panzies, then please count me with the martyrs who did just that.

  • The Apostles were contributors to Vox Nova? Who knew?

  • I doubt if Saint Augustine would make the cut for Vox Nova however:

    “Do not think that it is impossible for any one to please God while engaged in active military service. Among such persons was the holy David, to whom God gave so great a testimony; among them also were many righteous men of that time; among them was also that centurion who said to the Lord: I am not worthy that You should come under my roof, but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed: for I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come, and he comes; and to my servant, Do this, and he does it; and concerning whom the Lord said: Verily, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. Matthew 8:8-10 Among them was that Cornelius to whom an angel said: Cornelius, your alms are accepted, and your prayers are heard, Acts 10:4 when he directed him to send to the blessed Apostle Peter, and to hear from him what he ought to do, to which apostle he sent a devout soldier, requesting him to come to him. Among them were also the soldiers who, when they had come to be baptized by John,— the sacred forerunner of the Lord, and the friend of the Bridegroom, of whom the Lord says: Among them that are born of women there has not arisen a greater than John the Baptist, Matthew 11:11 — and had inquired of him what they should do, received the answer, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages. Luke 3:14 Certainly he did not prohibit them to serve as soldiers when he commanded them to be content with their pay for the service.

    5. They occupy indeed a higher place before God who, abandoning all these secular employments, serve Him with the strictest chastity; but every one, as the apostle says, has his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. 1 Corinthians 7:7 Some, then, in praying for you, fight against your invisible enemies; you, in fighting for them, contend against the barbarians, their visible enemies. Would that one faith existed in all, for then there would be less weary struggling, and the devil with his angels would be more easily conquered; but since it is necessary in this life that the citizens of the kingdom of heaven should be subjected to temptations among erring and impious men, that they may be exercised, and tried as gold in the furnace, Wisdom 3:6 we ought not before the appointed time to desire to live with those alone who are holy and righteous, so that, by patience, we may deserve to receive this blessedness in its proper time.

    6. Think, then, of this first of all, when you are arming for the battle, that even your bodily strength is a gift of God; for, considering this, you will not employ the gift of God against God. For, when faith is pledged, it is to be kept even with the enemy against whom the war is waged, how much more with the friend for whom the battle is fought! Peace should be the object of your desire; war should be waged only as a necessity, and waged only that God may by it deliver men from the necessity and preserve them in peace. For peace is not sought in order to the kindling of war, but war is waged in order that peace may be obtained. Therefore, even in waging war, cherish the spirit of a peacemaker, that, by conquering those whom you attack, you may lead them back to the advantages of peace; for our Lord says: Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God. Matthew 5:9 If, however, peace among men be so sweet as procuring temporal safety, how much sweeter is that peace with God which procures for men the eternal felicity of the angels! Let necessity, therefore, and not your will, slay the enemy who fights against you. As violence is used towards him who rebels and resists, so mercy is due to the vanquished or the captive, especially in the case in which future troubling of the peace is not to be feared.”

  • I think Kyle’s reading (and that of some others here) of Hoffman’s post is flawed, and I have taken issue with it in his blog

    Click Here to seek Kyle’s post

    I will re-post my comment here, and add one point at the end:

    Kyle, with due repect to your philosophical acumen, which I respect not a whit less than my own, I must take issue with your reading of Hoffman’s piece. To me, it seemed unlikely that you would read a blog piece like that in an unfair way and interpret it wrongly, but it seemed no more likely that someone would take the very odd position you described. In order to relieve the dissonance of two equally absurd possibilities, I read it for myself. I speculated that the quote you lifted might possibly be redeemed by its context, and my suspicion seems to be confirmed by the actual blog post. I did not think it very plausible that someone would argue that caring, compassion, sensitivity and understanding are in and of themselves, deficient and incorrigibly prone to blur the moral conscience. I did not find it very likely that Hoffman was advocating manly virtues to the exclusion of the ones that he deems unmanly. The way I read the piece, he is pointing out a problem with the way academia and the media promote one set of virtues to the exclusion of another set which they reject, but he is not necessarily doing the same from the opposite direction (promoting what they reject, rejecting what they promote).

    Here is the quote you gave in its context (disregarding the further quote, which only serves to emphasize whatever point he is actually making):

    ” … Academia, with the help of the media, has labeled all reference to manly virtue as patriarchal, sexist, and homophobic. Womanly virtue, on the other hand, is extolled. Caring, compassion, sensitivity, and understanding are virtues meant to blur the distinction between good and evil and drown out the call of manly conscience to ?do the right thing.? Like a mother who refuses to see the evil in her son, the feminist professors cast all moral standards as relative and subjective.”

    I think the key to understanding what Hoffman is saying is the verb “meant”, which I have italicized above for emphasis, along with what I take to be the subjects of that verb, the doers of the action: “Academia…the feminist professors…with the help of the media”. It is a critique of what they are trying to do with those virtues, not of the virtues themselves.

    I doubt he would disagree with your point, that all the virtues must be practiced. He is simply correctigng an unbalanced excess in one direction by promoting an emphasis on those virtues which he judges to be marginalized. There is no good reason to insist on a reading of Hoffman as denying a legitimate place for compassion, sensitivity and understanding. I will seek his opinion on our different interpretations of his piece. He, of course, would know what intended.

    My final point is simply this – the root of the word virtue, vir is an accurate rendering of the classical Greek ????? (aret?), which is literally about manliness, and referrs to general excellence of character. It encompasses morality, but is not limited to it, but signifies excellence on all attributes.

  • What I suspect J Christian is pointing out, Paul, is that some people seem to be working themselves up into a tizzy of worry over misinterpreting a piece which really isn’t saying anything all that shocking (or exciting).

    Kyle says that he’s worried by the philosophy of virtue expressed in Hoffman’s piece — that hardly strikes me as surprising as Hoffman is writing a (not terribly deep) piece of social criticism, not laying out a philosophy of virtue. That the result is not a coherent philosophy is not surprising. (Kyle doesn’t even seem to totally disagree with the piece, as in his facebook posting publicizing his post he notes that he does see a problem with “manly virtues” being given short change in our society — pointing to the reworking of Aragorn’s character in the film version of LotR versus his character in the book.)

    Then, within the first four comments over there, we have one commenter saying Jesus would have wept, one saying this is a prime example of American fascist tendencies, and a third claiming that the TAC author “fetishizes violence” and wants to “give the government unchecked power to exterminate the threatening Other”.

    All about a fairly fluffy piece asking why it is that we don’t have better male role models in media and society.

    Much ado about nothing? Methinks so.

  • Though I think it fair to say that men and women express different aspects of human nature. That this different expression of human nature results in different expressions of the virtues I think can only be contradicted by those that live in a 70’s era understanding of human psychology.

    This is not to say that men do not express compassion nor women defense. However, frequently one can see distinctions in expression. Thus the reason why the good Lord made men and women to marry and raise children.

  • Uh oh. . . hold on to your codpieces, gentlemen:

    http://www.slate.com/id/2253645

    Is the Tea Party a women’s movement? More women than men belong—55 percent, according to the latest Quinnipiac poll.

    Women. . . in public life!

  • According to phosphorious and those that drink his kool-ade, all us “masculine men”, ie, conservatives, are misogynists.

    We are so misogynistic that we hated Sarah Palin to the national stage where liberals have rallied around her in droves.

    Yeah, the logic fits…

    …if you’re a kool-ade drinking liberal.

  • I think it was Lewis or Chesterton who described the modern age as virtues run amok. (Probably Chesterton, because that sounds a lot like Orthodoxy.) I agree with DC and Elaine that, without the idea of virtue as the golden mean, we get a society with crazy excesses. The modern “urban” culture, which dominates the suburban middle schools, distorts masculine virtues into violence and promiscuity. On the other side of the coin you have the emasculation that Hoffman writes about.

    I don’t agree with everything Hoffman says – I don’t think he understands the idea of moderation – but he is accurately describing part of the problem.

  • I don’t agree with everything Hoffman says – I don’t think he understands the idea of moderation – but he is accurately describing part of the problem.

    Bingo.

  • Yeah, the logic fits…

    …if you’re a kool-ade drinking liberal.

    Or Tom Hoffman.

    Pinky hit the nail on the head.

  • Yeah Phosphorious, you got me. I obviously have a great problem with women in roles of political leadership.

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2008/10/06/reagan-in-a-skirt/

  • I don’t agree with everything Hoffman says – I don’t think he understands the idea of moderation – but he is accurately describing part of the problem.</i."

    But that’s the problem. . . that he only deals with part of it.

    He has convinced himself that we live in a “feminized gae” (shudder!) and that the only cure is to “take back our masculinity” or something.

    While sneering at thew idea of “compassion for the downtrodden.”

    Lewis warned, in The Screwtape Letters i think, that one of the devil’s favorite tricks is to put us on guard against a vice that we don’t have, so that we avoid a virtue we desperately need.

    Looking around America today, I don’t see a country that is too reluctant to go to war, or use violence to further its goals. And Hoffman blames the sissified “libs.”

  • Yeah Phosphorious, you got me. I obviously have a great problem with women in roles of political leadership.

    Still it must worry you on some level that the Tea Party is being feminized, right? Otherwise why all the fuss.

    No one. . . except the evil feminists. . . complained when academia were exclusively male dominions. THAT was the natural order apparently.

    Once women have a slight majority in academia, and the world falls apart.

  • Sarah Palin is of course an interesting case. The claim is that Hoffman doesn;t despise women. . . e just wants women to act like women and men to act like men.

    And yet Sarah Palin displays all the manly virtues, doesn’t she? She shoots wolves from helicopters, for Pete’s sake.

    A woman who acts like a man is praised and lionized by the modern conservative. A man who acts like a woman is despised and ridiculed.

    This is properly called misogyny, no matter how much you don’t like the label.

  • This is properly called rubbish phosphorious no matter how much you may dislike the label. Palin is the mother of four kids and happily married. You don’t get much more feminine than that.

    I have never had a problem with conservative women in positions of political power. I of course oppose liberal women holding positions of political power just as I oppose liberal men holding those positions.

    Your problem phosphorious is that you find it much easier to debate the conservative strawmen you construct in your mind than actual conservatives.

  • Phospho,

    A woman who acts like a man is praised and lionized by the modern conservative. A man who acts like a woman is despised and ridiculed.

    So according to your theory, there must be some women who act like women whom these conservatives despise. Could you please provide some examples of those women?

    Frankly, I think all we’re learning from this conversation is that some people hate conservatives a lot more than they love reading comprehension…

  • phosphorious,

    Besides physical differences, do you think there are any distinctions between men and women?

  • It is no wonder that women now are the majority of college graduates and are increasing their role in every institution from private enterprise to public service, including the military. Is this a healthy trend? The answer is clearly “no.”

    I have been accused of having poor reading comprehension several times now. And conservatives have lined up to say how HAPPY they are that women are taking a larger role in GOP politics. . . because of course you have nothing against women.

    Then you all must flatly disagree with the passage quoted above, right?

  • So according to your theory, there must be some women who act like women whom these conservatives despise. Could you please provide some examples of those women?

    How does this follow? Here’s the argument as I understand it so far:

    Hoffman decries the lack of manly virtues and the overabundance of womanly virtues. he doesn’t explicitly say,as far as I can tell, that men should act like men and women like women, althought hat is how he’s being interpreted by everyone here. It seems to me that he simply dislikes “compassion for the down trodden” and the womanly emotions that nurture it. It seems to me that he simply doesn’t like women. But perhaps I’m wrong.

    But we can test this! It’s simple: Are the conservatives who defend Hoffman equally disgusted by men who act like women (those compassionate pansies!) and women who act like men?

    I claim that the answer is no, with Sarah Palin as exhibit A. A man who cries is beneath contempt, a woman who hunts is a presidential prospect.

    Conservatives don;t mind women who act like women. . . they can;t help it, and they provide much needed child rearing services (although they could stop mollycoddling the boys, couldn’t they!). . . but they respect women who act like men. They DO NOT respect men who act like women

    What have I failed to grasp about conservatism?

  • phosphorious,

    Besides physical differences, do you think there are any distinctions between men and women?

    Good question! There’s a lot of half baked ev-psych and hokum surrounding this issue.

    If pressed for an answer, I would say that the difference does not lie in the two sexes having different virtues, but in the expression of those virtues. Does anybody really think that women aren;t brave or that men aren’t compassionate? Or that both sexes shouldn’t be both? Did women not face Nero’s lions bravely, did Jesus not weep for Lazarus.

    Men and women may express the virtues differently, but to suggest that there are different virtues is damn nonsense.

  • Does anybody really think that women aren’t brave?

    I do not think physical courage is common among women.

  • It may be that Hoffman meant to correct an imbalance and not to disparage what he calls the “womanly” virtues, but he doesn’t make that intention clear in the text. He doesn’t praise “womanly” virtues when practiced rightly or distinguish between those virtues when they are meant to blur the distinction between right and wrong and when they are not. The way he tells it, the “womanly” virtues are meant to blur the distinction between right and wrong. He doesn’t clarify that the virtues themselves don’t have this effect. I suppose one might ask him if the “feminist professors” promote these virtues because they blur and lead to relativism or if it’s merely the particular use of said professors that makes these virtues do this. How he answers would help us understand what he meant, but for now I’m just going on what he said.

    Darwin is correct that I share a concern that certain virtues are not celebrated as they once were. If I were to put my complaint with Peter Jackson’s LOTR films in a nutshell, it would be that Jackson and his writers stripped several characters of their defining virtues. Aragorn loses his magnanimity, for example. Hoffman’s post doesn’t worry me such much as it leaves me shaking my head. If his point was to ask why we don’t have better male role models in media and society, then he could have made that point in a number of effective ways without seeming to say that it’s bad when “womanly” virtues are extolled.

  • Aragorn was the most poorly portrayed character in the trilogy of films. Other than his speech before the final battle, I thought Viggo Mortensen completely failed to convey why anyone would follow Aragorn to dinner, let alone a battle. This failed portrayal stood out to me, since I believed the other portrayals were dead on accurate.

  • …equally disgusted by men who act like women (those compassionate pansies!)…

    Hey, you’re the one reading “pansy” pejoratively. I threw that out there as an experiment. Why should one care about being called a “pansy” unless there’s something unique about his masculinity that he wishes to defend?

    Gotcha. 🙂

  • When Hoffman writes the following, what does he mean? Is he correct?

    It is no wonder that women now are the majority of college graduates and are increasing their role in every institution from private enterprise to public service, including the military. Is this a healthy trend? The answer is clearly “no.”

    What for Hoffman would be a healthy tread?

  • Most women and men have different types of physical courage. My wife will always look to me to take the lead in any sort of confrontational situation with third parties, and I am happy to oblige. On the other hand she is the veteran of two difficult pregnancies, one involving twins, which she faced with stoicism and grace, and which I suspect would have eluded me.

  • Donald,

    I don’t blame Viggo as much as others. Having seen him in other films, I think he could have portrayed Aragorn well, but the writers and producers felt the character needed to be more pusillanimous, I guess. Sure the character in the book had moments of self-doubt, but the filmmakers took those brief moments and constructed the whole character out of them. Arwen has to tell him to toughen-up, Elrond has to do the same. Even when he gets the crown, he looks unsure of himself. As Aragorn is my favorite literary character [really, how liberal can I be? ;-)], I left the theaters very disappointed.

  • I rather suspect that he would view a healthy trend as one in which men were earning college degrees in at least the same percentage as their proportion of the population. I rather suspect that most college educated women, as they search for a prospective husband, would wish for the same.

    In regard to the military, I share his concern that the combat arms should remain a male preserve, since I think that is an area where sex differences clearly matter. I say that as the father of a daughter, who, with my encouragement, is considering a career as an officer in the Air Force.

  • It seems that Hoffman’s (not very deep) essay is something of a palimpsest that everyone is trying to write over. One side merely sees it as “we’ve devalued some of the manly virtues too much,” and the other reads it as “a woman’s place is in the kitchen.”

  • You might be right in regard to Viggo Kyle, I am not familiar enough with his other work to make a judgment. What surprised me was that the other characters seemed to me to be accurately portrayed. “Strider’s” protrayal just left me very cold. On the other hand I liked Boromir portrayed by Sean Bean, a character I had no use for in reading the books.

  • It is no wonder that women now are the majority of college graduates and are increasing their role in every institution from private enterprise to public service, including the military. Is this a healthy trend? The answer is clearly “no.”

    What for Hoffman would be a healthy tread?

    He seems to be saying that the college-education/professional world is being shaped in such a way that it is much more amenable to women than to men, and thus that same portion of men are being in some sense excluded.

    I can’t speak for Hoffman, nor would I count on he and I agreeing on everything, but I would personally tend to think that a balanced academic culture would result in equal numbers of men and women thriving in college — given that men and women make up equal percentages of the population.

    In professional life, I tend to think that natural human thriving would result in men predominating somewhat, since I think it is greatly to the benefit of children to receive the full time care of a parent, and I think that in the vast majority of cases women are better suited to this than men.

    This failed portrayal stood out to me, since I believed the other portrayals were dead on accurate.

    Just to extend the digression: I’d have to add Legolas, Gimli, Faramir, Denethore, Arwen and Galadrial to that list.

  • As Aragorn is my favorite literary character [really, how liberal can I be? 😉 ], I left the theaters very disappointed.

    Indeed, you’re going to have to watch out Kyle. When word gets out that you idolize an admitted torturer, you’re going to be voted off the island and find yourself out in the water with us sharks…

  • Jump on in Kyle. Its fun being a Calvinist, Enlightenment individualist who seeks to oppress the poor and overturn Catholic Social Teaching and impale all who seek its pure realization in the political domain.

  • Hey, you’re the one reading “pansy” pejoratively. I threw that out there as an experiment. Why should one care about being called a “pansy” unless there’s something unique about his masculinity that he wishes to defend?

    Gotcha. 🙂

    Very good! Hoist by my own petard!

    But of course you’re quite wrong, overlooking the difference between connotation and denotation.

    For example, the phrase “mackeral snapper” denotes a certain set of individuals, namely Catholics. Might I not object to being called such, without being at all ashamed of being catholic?

    Or shall the name of this blog be changed to “The American Mackeral Snapper”?

    🙂

  • Donald,

    I agree: Sean Bean did wonders for Boromir. I liked Ian McKellan’s Gandalf as well.

    Darwin,

    I remember our having that debate over Aragorn, Gandalf and torture. Good debate. Anyhow, just because Aragorn’s my favorite character doesn’t mean I agree with everything he did. Some of my favorite characters are villains, after all.

  • j. christian,

    It seems that Hoffman’s (not very deep) essay is something of a palimpsest that everyone is trying to write over. One side merely sees it as “we’ve devalued some of the manly virtues too much,” and the other reads it as “a woman’s place is in the kitchen.”

    I think you’ve nailed it.

    Kyle,

    I remember our having that debate over Aragorn, Gandalf and torture. Good debate. Anyhow, just because Aragorn’s my favorite character doesn’t mean I agree with everything he did. Some of my favorite characters are villains, after all.

    No, no, you can’t get out of it that easily. Reason and distinction are simply not allowed in these debates. You’re just going to have to be a “textbook fascist” with the rest of us. 🙂

  • The LOTR movies are among my favorites, but what Peter Jackson did to Faramir’s character is unforgiveable. The Faramir of the movies bore absolutely no resemblance to, arguably, the noblest character in Tolkien’s books.

  • I hope that Hoffman will follow up and clear up any misinterpretion of his piece whether I am guilty of it or Kyle et al are. The piece is vague and open to either interpretion, and on that score I can agree that those criticizing this post have a point, for even if they are not reading hm right, that need notbe entirely their fault. The author can own up to some blame for that.

    I offer only one more argument for my intepretation of Hoffman’s intent in writing this piece, which I omitted because my last comment was already too long: At the end of his pot, Hoffman offers Jesus Christ as a model of what he takes to be the ultimate in manly virtue (he also offers a link to a fairly inoccuous web site). Our Lord is not generally believed to have displayed, during His earthly life and ministry, a notable lack in compassion, sensitivity or understanding.

  • “At the end of his pot”! 🙂 LOL

    There should be an “s” in there somewhere!

  • I would charitably interpret Hoffman’s article as simply a plea for more balance between “masculine” and “feminine” virtues, rather than as a misogynistic rant. He emphasizes the good side of the masculine virtues and the downside of the feminine ones, true, but he does so precisely in order to BALANCE the way society denigrates masculine virtues.

    As for the notion that conservatives love women who display masculine virtue… well, I think that’s true but only under certain conditions.

    Ask yourself this question: if Sarah Palin or Ann Coulter were 20 years older, had gray hair and wrinkles, and/or weighed at least 50 pounds more than they do now, but had exactly the same ideas, character, and experience they currently have, would they still be regarded as conservative icons… or would they be written off as a couple of old, loudmouthed, emasculating broads (or worse)? If that were the case, I rather suspect that they would be criticized rather than praised for displaying “masculine” virtues.

  • I think that’s a really good point, Elaine. For both men and women, a certain element of sex appeal is the familiar. Thus, the appeal to women of the “sensitive guy”, and the appeal to men of the woman who actually enjoys sports, hunting, etc. At the root of attraction is often a bit of the image in the mirror.

  • Okay, I reread Hoffman’s post in the most charitable light possible. Nobody here disagrees with the idea that manly virtues are good and should be taught and that many areas of our society neglect it. But Hoffman exaggerates to the point of absurdity. Nobody here should agree with his post in its entirety. I cannot believe that even Hoffman himself believes everything he wrote. He probably thought that writing to a conservative audience he could get away with some cheap shots against libs without actually being fair or accurate. Those who criticize the post are absolutely justified and those who defend it are really glossing over it because they agree with the central message.

  • I’m not sure how highly correlated effeminacy and loss of manly virtue are. Today’s manly men use facial products and get body waxes even though the cowardly men of yesterday would’ve thought that too effeminate. I remember an episode of All in the Family where Archie is disgusted by the fact that his male neighbor cooks. Today, cooking is fast becoming a man’s activity.

  • “Today’s manly men use facial products and get body waxes”

    Speak for yourself on that score restrained radical! No body waxes for me, and only shaving cream and alcohol, for external use, touch my face!

    Cooking has always been a partially male activity. My late father-in-law was a Navy cook, and you would not have wanted to have seen him come lumbering towards you in a dark alley! My late father would sometimes cook, in addition to operating the steel shears at the truck body plant where he worked. Of course summer barbecues have usually involved male cooking, although I have been teaching my steak secrets to my daughter.

  • Of course any thread on the masculine virtues is not complete without this film clip:

    The three surviving flag raisers from the battle, Ira Hayes, John Bradley and Rene Gagnon, raised the actual flag from the battle in this final scene.

  • Ask yourself this question: if Sarah Palin or Ann Coulter were 20 years older, had gray hair and wrinkles, and/or weighed at least 50 pounds more than they do now, but had exactly the same ideas, character, and experience they currently have, would they still be regarded as conservative icons… or would they be written off as a couple of old, loudmouthed, emasculating broads (or worse)?

    Two words: Margaret Thatcher. Not hot, yet a conservative icon on both sides of the Atlantic.

  • I still relish her “handbagging” “wet” male ministers!

  • “Older, with gray hair and wrinkles” – you mean Phyllis Schlafly?

  • Speak for yourself on that score restrained radical! No body waxes for me, and only shaving cream and alcohol, for external use, touch my face!

    I think we can also allow Old Spice or Clubman — after shaves are okay so long as the formula goes back at least 100 years.

    On cooking, I’m reminded of the scene in Donnie Brasco where the gangster explains that while women may cook, men are chefs.

  • Don, now that I think about it, you’re right about the cooking. But I stand by my other example. Many of today’s new veterans probably use facial products. The meathead firefighters down at the gym go to tanning salons and wear lip gloss.

  • O tempora, O mores. A note to all our female readers. Do not even think of marrying a man who takes more time primping than you do. You will regret it! 🙂

  • Restrained – The American Thinker site is not a place of subtle distinctions. Hoffman’s article is good by their standards. I read their articles sometimes. Then again, I also eat at Wendy’s sometimes, and I don’t brag about it or expect much from it.

  • I usually just despise the AC/VN rivalry, but I had to compare their thread with this one. We’ve definitely got better commenters here. AC covered more topics, better, and more civilly, with some really interesting writing. I think we got closer to the right answer, as well. Nice going.

  • Pingback: The social construction of American masculinity « Reditus: A Chronicle of Aesthetic Christianity

When You Vote Democrat, Your Taxes Get Raised

Monday, May 31, AD 2010

The Governors office and both chambers of the Washington State legislature are currently under Democratic control. Years of spending on European style socialist programs have created a budget deficit. The Democrats have decided instead of cutting or trimming their state programs whey will instead add a beer tax (and more) to compensate for the budget shortfall.

Republicans don’t have all the answers either.  But you know (most times) it won’t be taxes that they turn to to solve a budget deficit.

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13 Responses to When You Vote Democrat, Your Taxes Get Raised

  • If taxes were raised to 90% but abortion would be entirely stopped, would you support the tax party or the anti-abortion party?

  • That’s a big “if”.

    But that in most likelihood not ever happen.

  • Plus, I’m pretty sure if you vote democrat you won’t get into Heaven.

  • We need to return to the good ol days of fiscal responsibility we had under Bush.

  • In 15 glorious months, President Quis Ut Deus has achieved: one-in-six Americans unemployed or underemployed. One-in-ten mortgages delinquent. One-in-four mortgage balances higher than the home value. One-in-ten mortgaged homes will be repossessed after the Obaguvmint cuts the loan modification masquerades. One-in-four credit card balances being written off. ETC.

    All this economic achhievement through $800 billion in federal fiscal stimulus (the Chineses fiscal stimulus worked, the dems’ went to pay dem voters/prop bankrupt blue states) and $1.25 trillion in worthless mortgage securities bought by the Fed – that has just ended. Not to mention destructive (same as the bubble run-up) monetary policy actions . . . When the “chickens come home to roost”, we will hold responsible the Dems.

    Next year the Dem powers (controlled congress 39 months) will solve all of the above. The president and Pelosi/Reid will end the evil tax cuts for the rich: Look out below!

    And, in 2013 they’ll add 30 million to government health care entitlement programs and save $$$ billions (ya’ think?). And, generate all the electricity people need with sunbeams and zephyrs. So, they can tax the crap out of oil and gas.

    While he was saving the economy, Obama found the ten minutes he needed to save the Gulf Coast from oil spill devastation – 40+ days and nothing.

    All according to plan objectives: destroy the unjust, racist private sector and reduce citizens to an equal level of poverty and dependency.

    I have the answer: raise taxes!!!!!

  • I’m glad there is an admission that the political right doesn’t have all the answers either.

    To the point — with a Republican President and a Republican Congress there was an increase of public funding of abortion, an increase in the size of government, and a budget-busting foreign policy agenda. Has President Obama and the Democrats done anything to slow this train wreck? No. Will they? Probably not. Do they deserve criticism? Most certainly.

    But this is not merely a Democratic problem. A great number of the same Republican politicians that would be re-elected this November and many of whom would become national leaders are the same figures who were supporters of the Bush Administration, supporters of deficit-spending, and a number of which who voted for 8 years for massive funding of Planned Parenthood without any pro-life amendments through Title X and other programs — and, of course, the National Right to Life’s legislative hawks were out playing cards somewhere, surely only concerned with what the Democrats are doing.

    Every social program has its lobbyists and defenders. Some programs are legitimate and I don’t oppose them at all; others are not. Some I think should be consolidated, others terminated, and some continued. But it is the demand for social programs but a love for low taxation (no revenue) that has created the budget crisis — not just the spending.

    In California where voters tend not to oppose, in principle, social spending, there is also a law — passed by an amendment on the ballot — that does not allow taxes to be raised unless there is a 2/3 majority in both chambers of the California congressional legislature which is terribly difficult. In other words, this is a two-sided problem. So with a number points of distinctions, I do agree with this post.

    Though I do pray that those concerned about fiscal matters will join me when there is a Republican majority in Congress and a Republican president and oppose the growth and massive spending of American imperialism.

    – We spend more on defense than the next 10 nations combined.
    – Our Navy exceeds in firepower the next 13 navies combined. We have 100,000 troops in Iraq, 100,000 (with the arrival of additional troops in Afghanistan), 28,000 in Korea, 35,000 in Japan, and 50,000 Germany. Do we actually need a presence with such great number in the last three countries mentioned?
    – According to the DOD, there are 716 (or more — some may not be counted because they are secret facilities) U.S. bases in 38 countries.
    – According to the DOD’s “Active Duty Military Personnel Strengths by Regional Area and by Country” there are U.S. troops in 148 countries and 11 territories.
    – We spend $1 trillion dollars a year for the Pentagon, two wars, foreign aid to allies, 16 intelligence agencies, scores of thousands of contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, and our embassies. Much of this spending is on “the credit card” and we are currently building a $1 billion dollar embassy in London, England in the midst of this economic downturn. Do all of these efforts, all of these facilities, et al, constitute something — every measure of it — that is essential to our security?

    So here’s an idea — it is not a new one — but it is a good one. Republicans will fight new taxes and Democrats will fight to save social programs. So why don’t we gut the American empire?

    Does it make sense that we borrow billions and billions from Europe, Japan, and the Gulf states to defend those same countries? Why borrow billions from China to defend the rest of Asia from China? It is absurd to borrow from all over the world to be defenders of the world.

    Accuse Democrats until you’re blue of being socialist utopians that want to rob Peter to pay Paul. You might be able to make that claim with credibility if you are too alarmed that the Republicans now are on a war-without-end Wilsonian crusade with great budget-busting spending that has as its declared utopian goal of “ending tyranny” in our world and “promoting freedom” — an objective that obviously cannot be achieved in its totality in a world with sin and must surely it won’t be achieved through external force or solely through the use of arms.

    In short, vote Republican and you too will see a budget deficit and war without end. So let’s band together behind a coherent position and reform the parties from within.

  • …and war without end…

    How very silly – in addition to being historically inaccurate.

  • daledog,

    The point was meant to be hyperbolic — and I was not referring to historical precedent (Democratic presidents have launched more wars, surely) but the current political reality underscored by exaggeration. Objectives such as “defeating terrorism,” “fighting tyranny,” and “promoting freedom” are concepts not too far apart from that of “fighting poverty” and “combating racism.” In other words, these long-term objectives are not tangible, feasible goals (versus short-term goals such as “stabilize Iraq and withdraw”) and if the use of arms is an integral strategy in our foreign policy on such matters, then the Republicans will give us more war. If the terrorists move from Afghanistan into Pakistan or we catch them Iran, then we will have to follow them there and wage war against them and in the process nation-build where we’ve wrecked havoc — and this is a costly endeavor and it certainly has its advocates, McCain and Lieberman particularly.

    That was my point.

  • with a Republican President and a Republican Congress there was an increase of public funding of abortion

    ??

  • No Public Funding of Abortion: Myth or Status Quo?:

    In recent months, primarily due to the health care debate, much attention has been given to the contentious issue of public funding of abortion. Though it is true that the status quo, for the most part, has been not to directly subsidize abortion, Americans have been both directly and indirectly subsidizing abortion in a number of ways virtually since its legalization in 1973…

    …During the nominally pro-life Bush Administration, there was considerable federal funding of abortion. Planned Parenthood received funding through the Title XIX (Medicaid) and Title X appropriations to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, gaining over $50 million per year through each program.

    The Title X appropriation which funds a “comprehensive” sex education and contraception program is particularly alarming. Its prime recipients are Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion organizations and facilities. While Title X monies cannot be used directly to fund abortions by organizations such as Planned Parenthood who provide abortions, the increase of available funds can be used to offset operational costs and free up resources that can be used to promote and expand abortion services. For the fiscal year 2008, the tax-exempt “non-profit” abortion provider Planned Parenthood reported taking in $1.0381 billion dollars in revenues. More than a third of Planned Parenthood’s budget (roughly $350 million) came from grants from the federal government. In other words, taxpayers directly underwrite abortion by underwriting abortion providers.

    Despite this obvious problem, President Bush signed the appropriations bill increasing the Title X funding level to $265 million, a total of $11 million more than it had been in the last year of the Clinton Administration. In 2004 President Bush signed the annual appropriations bill increasing Title X funding to $280 million, a $26 million increase over his first term. After the election of a Democratic Congress in 2006, Title X received its largest funding increase in 35 years, totaling $310 million with the signature of the then-Republican president.

    In the 1980s, President Reagan issued an executive order clarifying the statute prohibiting Title X funds cannot subsidize abortions to also mean “that Title X recipients may not refer for abortion or combine family planning services with abortion services.” Thus, under the Reagan Administration, health care professionals working in Title X-funded clinics were prohibiting from providing any abortion-related information or referrals. This policy was continued by President George H.W. Bush and was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1991. The executive order, however, was rescinded by President Clinton.

    This regulation was surprisingly never reinstated by President Bush; federal appropriations to the Title X program increased every year underwriting the abortion business with taxpayer dollars, with the majority of those increases occurring with a Republican (and an allegedly pro-life) majority in Congress and all on the watch of a nominally pro-life Republican president.

    By no stretch of the imagination could one imagine any of this changing during the Obama Administration. The current trend has continued, with the 2009 and 2010 Title X appropriations totaling $312 million and $317 million, respectively. President Obama in his 2011 budget proposal has suggested a $10 million increase in Title X spending, a total of $327 million.

    It is worth noting that Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) introduced an amendment to the 2009 HHS Appropriations bill intended to de-fund Planned Parenthood. The amendment read: “None of the funds made available under this Act shall be available to Planned Parenthood for any purpose under Title X of the Public Health Services Act.” The amendment (surprisingly) passed out of committee but failed on a floor vote.

    Unfortunately a few pro-life Democrats did not vote in favor of the Pence amendment, though many did. This issue—disunity in terms of congressional pro-life votes—has become quite a stumbling block for pro-life unity that must seriously and immediately addressed. This need not be downplayed nor need it be exaggerated—there are both wavering as well as courageous pro-life Democrats in Congress.

    In the same instance, one must wonder why is it that the Pence amendment or another equally pro-life measure was not enacted in the six years of a Republican majority to ensure that organizations that provide or refer for abortions did not receive Title X funding? It is almost certain there were a sufficient number of yes-votes. This might be a cynical point (as well as true one) but it seems that the Republicans have gotten too comfortable not forcing the abortion issue by avoiding “showdowns” or any sort of direct confrontation that does not seem to carry with it any sort of political capital that benefit’s the party. In other words, it is not surprising (to a skeptical mind like my own) that Rep. Mike Pence, no matter how sincerely pro-life he may be, would offer such an amendment with a pro-abortion majority in Congress. There is political capital in the amendment’s victory as well as its failure—it is but another issue that the GOP can use against the Democrats. At the very least, the amendment distracts from the enormous sums that Planned Parenthood was receiving under a Republican President and congressional majority. If this is true, there is nothing particularly heroic about the amendment; it is nothing more than bait for pro-life voters.

  • So why don’t we gut the American empire?

    Because there is no American empire.

  • I obviously don’t mean “American empire” in a strictly historical use of the term “empire.”

    Though I’m not sure if you insist on nit-picking my arguments with distinctions instead of substantially undermining it — unless my argument is, for the most part, reasonable.

  • I am not nitpicking over your terminology, Eric. There is a good deal of blatherskite in ‘palaeo-conservative’, libertarian, and social antiquarian discourse (see ‘Front Porch Republic’) about ’empire’ and ‘resistance to empire’. They are not contending with anything outside their own heads. You use their words.

    If I recall correctly, our balance of payments deficit on current account has, since 1982, usually run to about 4% of gross domestic product. That is a measure of the extent to which we are borrowing abroad for our various objects – private consumption, investment, and public consumption.

    Public expenditure is a compound of government purchases of goods and services and transfer payments. Private consumption amounts generally to around two-thirds of gross domestic product. Expenditure on the military and the intelligence services has varied between 3.5% and 8% since 1982, and now stands at around 5%. Military expenditure makes but a modest contribution as to why you are ‘living beyond your means’. There is, however, no secular trend in living memory with regard to the devotion of productive resources to the military. About 10% of domestic product was devoted to the military in 1955. By contrast, the medical-industrial complex accounted for 5% of domestic product in 1960 and 16% today. You made a complaint about the size of our Navy. The personnel strength of the U.S. Navy is the smallest it has been since 1941.

    Bringing ends and means in balance requires financing your public consumption and transfer payments from tax revenues and penalizing private consumption with the tax code. Right now, we face acute problems with fiscal imbalances brought on by an exceptional situation in the economy, so the military budget is an inviting target. The thing is, you only have banking crises once every fifty or sixty years or so in this country. As a rule, the level of military expenditure we have had over the last decade is quite sustainable. The economic arguments against ’empire’, such as it is, are bogus.

Saint Augustine on the Trinity

Sunday, May 30, AD 2010

All those Catholic expounders of the divine Scriptures, both Old and New, whom I have been able to read, who have written before me concerning the Trinity, Who is God, have purposed to teach, according to the Scriptures, this doctrine, that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit intimate a divine unity of one and the same substance in an indivisible equality; and therefore that they are not three Gods, but one God: although the Father has begotten the Son, and so He who is the Father is not the Son; and the Son is begotten by the Father, and so He who is the Son is not the Father; and the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son, but only the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, Himself also co-equal with the Father and the Son, and pertaining to the unity of the Trinity. Yet not that this Trinity was born of the Virgin Mary, and crucified under Pontius Pilate, and buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven, but only the Son. Nor, again, that this Trinity descended in the form of a dove upon Jesus when He was baptized; nor that, on the day of Pentecost, after the ascension of the Lord, when there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, the same Trinity sat upon each of them with cloven tongues like as of fire, but only the Holy Spirit. Nor yet that this Trinity said from heaven, You are my Son, whether when He was baptized by John, or when the three disciples were with Him in the mount, or when the voice sounded, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again; but that it was a word of the Father only, spoken to the Son; although the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as they are indivisible, so work indivisibly. This is also my faith, since it is the Catholic faith.

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3 Responses to Saint Augustine on the Trinity

  • I see intimations of the filioque.

  • I always tacitly believed all the Church taught re: the Trinity but it never really made any difference in my life until one night at a family dinner, I happened to glance up at a picture on the dining room wall of the Trinity. It hit me that our fam, gathered around that table, was part of the “family” in the picture on the wall….that we wouldn’t be here without “them” &, in fact, we exist in them. THAT’s when the Trinity started to make a difference to me.

  • The story has it that Augustine was walking along the seashore, meditating on the Trinity. He came upon a child “emptying” the sea into a hole in the sand.
    “What are you doing?” he asked.
    “I am emptying the sea into this hole”.
    “Oh you will never succeed”.
    “I will succeed sooner than you will understand the Trinity”.

Kelly’s Irish Brigade

Sunday, May 30, AD 2010

I have had a few posts, here, here  and here, on the famous Irish Brigade that fought for the Union in the Army of the Potomac.  There were however other Irish units, North and South.  This song celebrates Kelly’s Irish Brigade that fought for the Confederacy in the West.  The Brigade was actually a regiment, the Washington Blues, organized by Joseph Kelly, a grocer in Saint Louis, prior to the Civil War.  Kelly was an Irish immigrant as were most of the men in his regiment.  They provided good service for the Confederacy, and you may read about them here.

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2 Responses to Kelly’s Irish Brigade

3 Responses to The Battle Hymn of the Republic

  • Thank you for posting.

    Memorial Day brings childhood memories. As a boy scout in the early 1960’s, our troop would march in each Memorial Day parade. It was special. Most of our fathers had served in WWII. Many of their sons would see action in Vietnam.

    On Memorial Day, I remember all the young men that gave their last full measure of devotion, and never got to raise families, like I have. And, I especially prayerfully remember Bill, Dan, Dave, and Paul who marched with me in those parades and never came home from their war.

    Flag etiquette: Memorial Day morning the flag is displayed at half staff. It is slowly raised to full staff and slowly lowered to half, in honor of the fallen. After noon, the flag is repsectfully returned to full staff.

  • Thank you gentlemen.

Tavis Smiley: More Examples of Christians Than Muslims Blowing People Up in America

Saturday, May 29, AD 2010

Tavis Smiley claims that terrorist activities by Christians happens quite often in the United States.  Not only does he make the claim that Christians do terrorism, but there are more terrorist acts done by Christians than by Muslims.

Mr. Smiley expressed these thoughts on a program hosted by Ayaan Hirsi Ali on the Public Broadcasting System (PBS).

Here are his exact words:

“Oh, Christians, every day, people walk into post offices, they walk into schools, that’s what Columbine is – I could do this all day long. There are so many more examples of Christians – and I happen to be a Christian. That’s back to this notion of your idealizing Christianity in my mind, to my read. There are so many more examples, Ayaan, of Christians who do that than you could ever give me examples of Muslims who have done that inside this country, where you live and work.”

Incredible.

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36 Responses to Tavis Smiley: More Examples of Christians Than Muslims Blowing People Up in America

  • The Columbine shooters were Christians, were they? Is that why they killed Cassie Bernall for saying she believed in God?

  • Blackadder is correct: the Columbine killers were militantly anti-Christian. Of course this whole thing is ridiculous to begin with, even without those details.

  • Maybe.

    The 9/11 terrorists reportedly slummed with prostitutes. Maybe virtuous and religious Muslims would disown them.

    The Columbine shooters were probably baptized. Barring any formal apostasy, they would be considered Christian.

    I think we can more safely say that extremists commit extreme acts of violence. Some of these extremists have religion as a philosophical substrate in their lives. And some of that subset are Christians.

    Are there more baptized Christians committing terrorism than Muslims? I don’t know this is a helpful question: Whose extremists are worse? The orthodox Christian keep watch over his or her own personal conduct, prays for and attends to victims of violence, and is careful not to cause vexation to others. The question of whose bad guys are worse is comic book fare: Whose archenemies are the baddest, Batman or Superman?

  • Obviously, TS is referring to the muslim film makers that were stabbed to death for insulting St. John the Baptist; and the al Jazeera reporter that was beheaded while “covering” the 1993 Waco government massacre of innocent women and children.

    At least, he didn’t make the accusation that 9/11 was an inside job or that “they” deserved to get murdered by muzzy mass murderers.

    Thank God for small mercies.

    In conclusion, that guy looks and sounds like the incompetent, felonious poseur currently “slumming it” in the White House. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

  • He forgot to mention how Christians stone women to death for so much as looking at a man.

    Oh, and how Christian “religious police” go about throwing acid into the faces of scantily clad women.

    And the Christian “modesty police” that arrest girls and women off of the streets and shred their clothing before forcing them into burkas.

    Not to mention the multitude of Christians that carve the genitals off of their young girls with razor blades.

    And what about all of the Christians attacking mosques and slaughtering Muslims while they are at prayer?

    He left out a lot.

  • Don’t forget, Coffee Catholic, how Christians behead or hang homosexuals.

    Teach us, Tavis Smiley!

  • The trul sad thing is that some people that listen to this tripe will bring in up in the future as gospel..so much for “public broadcasting” .and this self admitted “Christain ” i am suprised he did not mention the Crusades.

  • Wrong again, Todd. The examples of baptized Christians commiting atrocities for motivations that have nothing to do with their religious beliefs (assuming they even have any) cannot be compared to practicing Muslims who are motivated to commit atrocities precisely because of their religious beliefs. But of course you’re smart enough to know that already, but just can’t resist making your typically lame point.

  • He was speaking of acts inside this country. Given that our country is roughly 5% Muslim and 65-70% Christian, his statement shouldn’t be shocking. It is little different than saying there are more white people on welfare than black people on welfare. While I prefer a narrower definition of terrorism – for example, I don’t consider the incident at Fort Hood to be terrorism – there is little doubt that postal shootings and what not would be considered terrorism under many people’s definition of it, particularly when they don’t confine terrorism to being what Muslim’s do. But like the welfare example, this isn’t all that significant. There is gross poverty in the black community and the fact that there are more white people on welfare doesn’t change that. Likewise, the likelihood that more Christians have committed terrorist acts in this country doesn’t change the fact that there is a real and substantive movement that actively seeks to terrorize Americans under the banner of Islam.

  • Extremist Christians and Muslims have different targets in the US. The former targets the government, and the latter both the government and civilians. Christian extremists as we saw at Waco, Oklahoma City, and Jonestown have no problem morally with involving large numbers of innocents in violence.

    It may be easier for Christians to disavow such acts since Christianity hasn’t had a full-scale civil war since the 17th century. But as we saw in 1204, even Catholic-sponsored missions were not above going all Galatian on other Christians.

    Muslims are by far the greatest targets of their own violent extremists. I can appreciate that most Muslims want to avoid antagonism that might have deadly results. And we see from the Catholic internet that few are scorned as deeply and insultingly as pro-lifers who appear to deviate from the straight and narrow.

    Are Muslim extremists a greater threat to conservative white Americans than Christians? Sure they are. Who’s more likely to die at the hands of a Muslim extremist? Another Muslim, hands down.

    Again, I don’t think the AC line of reasoning here is helpful, either to us as Christians or Americans.

  • M.Z.,

    I agree about that definition.

    I see more Christians staring angrily and that terrorizes many of us that are innocent against these type of transgressions.

  • “Christian extremists as we saw at Waco, Oklahoma City, and Jonestown have no problem morally with involving large numbers of innocents in violence.”

    Vernon Wayne Howell, aka David Koresh head of his sect of the Branch Davidians, taught that he was Christ. Timothy McVeigh the Oklahoma City bomber was an agnostic. Jim Jones, who started out as a card carrying member of the Communist Party, derided Christianity and taught that he was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ, Gandhi, Buddah, Lenin and Father Divine. By 1978 he was a self-proclaimed atheist.
    Calling any of these fruit loops Christian is rubbish.

  • “Calling any of these fruit loops Christian is rubbish.”

    Well, sure. Christians would say that. If you cornered a Muslim imam and asked him about porn-watching murderers, he might disown, too.

  • Self-hating liberals and Smiley can have their opinions (Plato: Opinion is not truth.).

    They cannot make up facts.

    Waco was federal violence against an armed sect that had not committed terrorism. Did the fed police preclude Branch Davdian terror by massacring them? How does federal police killing 83 citizens compare with OBL planning and committing mass murders to punish America for having troops in Saudi, supporting Israel, etc.?

    Yeah, OK City bombing was a perverted attempt by a couple persons to get obscene revenge for the Waco massacre of women and children. How is that Christian? The Q’ran and Hadith are full of exhortations to conquest, mass murder, and terror. The history of Mohammedanism a lengthy catalog of invasions, conquests and massacres. Try reading it.

    Jonestown was a suicide – violence against self – en masse. How does that compare with muslim murder bombers?

    Put away the bongs and read.

  • The Q’ran and Hadith are full of exhortations to conquest, mass murder, and terror. The history of Mohammedanism a lengthy catalog of invasions, conquests and massacres. Try reading it.

    T. Shaw, it’s much easier to pretend that Muslim violence is in fact a perversion of true Islam, that way one absolves oneself of any untoward un-pc feelings. Sadly, the opposite is the case, as a majority of Islamic scholars and practitioners either embrace violence or agree with the end goal of terrorism: the imposition of sharia law. To even imply that there is a corresponding tenet within Christianity is engage in willful ignorance.

  • It’s sad to see intelligence used in the service of stupidity.

    The Columbine killers weren’t Christians. In fact they killed a girl because she said she believed in God.

    Timothy McVeigh was an agnostic.

    The People’s Temple folks started out as Christians, but by the time of Jonestown had long since explicitly rejected Christianity.

    The only group Todd mentions that even claimed to be Christian was the Branch Davidians, and whatever you think of them, they didn’t actually engage in any terrorist acts, but were killed when the government raided their facilities. And, of course, while the Waco Davidians considered themselves Christians, no one else did (whereas most everyone considers Atta a Muslim).

    It is ironic that in an attempt to show some kind of parity between Christians and Muslims when it comes to terrorism, Todd keeps picking examples of people who were not Christians.

  • Again, I don’t think the AC line of reasoning here is helpful, either to us as Christians or Americans.

    When is it ever? And why call it “reasoning”?

  • If one wants to cite terrorist/militant groups that are Christian, and in some sense point to Christianity as part of their cause, you pretty much have to go abroad. One could cite, with varying degrees of legitimacy, the IRA, the Orange militias, some Lebanese Christian groups back around the time of their civil war, and some Croatian extremists back in the 90s (and 40s).

    Now really, these were more nationalist militant groups of groups which identify as some form of Christian — more like the PLO than like Al Qaeda. Whether these should “count” is probably open to question. What this boils down to, however, is a basic difference which for some reason people are very hesitant to admit: Islam is, in it’s origins, explicitly militant, while Christianity is explicitly not. This is a basic theological difference between their founders and their sacred writings which no degree of equivalency will get beyond. The fact need not necessarily upset Muslims. If their religion is true, and ours is false, then it is not a defect that it has from its very founding lived, in part, by the sword. If Muhammad’s revelation is true, then this is how God wanted it to be, and there is no reason to be ashamed of it.

    None of this, however, really help’s Smiley’s claim which Todd is trying to back up, which is that there is significantly more terrorism in the name of Christianity in the US than there is in the name of Islam.

  • Have any of you considered that perhaps your take on Smiley’s claim is colored (perhaps even warped) by your own assumed definition (or lack thereof) of “terrorism”?

    Islamic terrorism is largely a response to Christian terrorism, I’m afraid.

    If one wants to cite terrorist/militant groups that are Christian, and in some sense point to Christianity as part of their cause, you pretty much have to go abroad. One could cite, with varying degrees of legitimacy, the IRA, the Orange militias, some Lebanese Christian groups back around the time of their civil war, and some Croatian extremists back in the 90s (and 40s).

    What this has to do with it, considering we’re talking about a transnational, i.e. “catholic,” church, I have no idea.

    Islam is, in it’s origins, explicitly militant, while Christianity is explicitly not.

    It sure is interesting how Christian origins are discussed in different contexts. If you people were talking to a Christian pacifist, you would argue that Christian origins have little to do with nonviolence, and that Jesus in fact used and perhaps even encouraged violence. When comparing Christianity to “Islam,” suddenly you’re interested in invoking the peaceableness of Christian origins.

    You are hypocrites, I’m afraid. The textbook definition of.

  • Timmy,

    If you people were talking to a Christian pacifist, you would argue that Christian origins have little to do with nonviolence, and that Jesus in fact used and perhaps even encouraged violence.

    Let me see if I have this right: you’ve just attempted to refute me by saying what I would argue in a hypothetical, then followed up by charging me with being a hypocrite for having committed those hypothetical actions you have imagined.

    Got it…

    But since you ask the question, you’re making an implicit assumption that there are only two possible positions: pacifist non-violence and the use of holy war to spread the faith.

    I would disagree with the pacifist claim that early Christianity taught that violence was never acceptable under any circumstances, that a soldier cannot be a Christian, etc. However, when I talked about Islam being “militant” in its origins I meant not “accepting soldiering as morally acceptable in protecting the civic order” (which is a uniquely pacifist use of the term) but rather “using military force and an explicitly expansionist fashion to spread the faith and political control at the same time”. The Caliphate was a direct and clear continuation of the way that Muhammad himself led the faith, with political authority and the sword in hand. Christ, on the other hand, taught that his kingdom was not of this world, and even with the Caesaro-papism of the East, beginning under Constantine, there was always a clear division understood between secular and religious authority, with clerics forbidden to bear the sword because they were consecrated to a higher task.

    There is a very real distinction here, for those willing to understand the history involved rather than insisting on a neat dualism between “non-violence” and “militarism”.

  • Timmy do you also believe the Nazi “final solution” was a response to Jewish terrorism?

  • Islamic terrorism is largely a response to Christian terrorism, I’m afraid.

    http://www.indo.com/bali121002/

    How is this ‘largely a response to Christian terrorism’?

  • “Islamic terrorism is largely a response to Christian terrorism, I’m afraid.”

    There is this quaint concept called backing up assertions with evidence. You might try it some time.

  • Isn’t the Tavis Smiley show publically funded? Why are my taxes paying this bum for spewing his rotten bile?

    Especially on Memorial day weekend.

  • At least, Bush could have esatblished an Ombudsman to stop the 24/7 PBS lies.

    Here (and among somme commenters) we have examples of the damage done to young minds by PBS broadcasts of nonfacts and public school/PC university anti-Christian indoctrination.

    Since 1775, approximately a million gave their lives for their country. Was it in vain?

  • There is this quaint concept called backing up assertions with evidence. You might try it some time.

    You might ask that of your buddies here who make assertions about Muslims without evidence, jerk.

    Donald I checked out some of your other posts. You are a textbook fascist.

  • Timmy, you are a textbook troll, and you are banned from this blog. Go to other venues where shrill invective is considered to be an adequate substitute for evidence and reasoned debate. You have nothing to offer but insult and hate.

  • Fascinatingly enough, “Timmy’s” IP address originates in the same West Virginia town as another commenter who was recently banned for consistent rudeness and aggression.

    Though I note he’s done his best to sound like a newcomer with lines like “Donald I checked out some of your other posts. You are a textbook fascist.”

  • Timmy,

    There’s no need for name calling.

    I completely back up everything that all the posters here at TAC say, especially Donald’s last comment.

  • “Fascinatingly enough, “Timmy’s” IP address originates in the same West Virginia town as another commenter who was recently banned for consistent rudeness and aggression.”

    I am shocked! Shocked!

  • My understanding is Jonestown was a suicide that only killed the participants, Waco was an act of violence by the government against the participants (again, only killing the participants) and that OKC counts as a terrorist act, but had nothing to do with Christianity. Three stikes. (And Columbine had nothing to do with Christianity, but deranged teen outsiders who were mentally unstable – in fact, it was more an act of violence against Christians – so make that four strikes, one extra for good measure).

  • My understanding is Jonestown was a suicide that only killed the participants…

    Wrong. They also killed Congressman Leo Ryan and four others at the airstrip.

  • One of the Columbine kids thought he was God; now unelss that kid happened to be Jesus Christ, he is not a Christian.

  • I just rewatched the video, and you know what, I didn’t realize that acts of Christian terrorism occurr “every day.” “Every day” acording to the ironically serious Tavis Smiley.
    I wonder if Mr. Smiles is familiar with Goebel’s Big Lie Theory, because he would be very proud.
    [No I am not calling Tavis a Nazi; I simply comparing his lies about Christian terrorists daily attacking the US, comparable to what Goebel’s said about the Czesolovakians treatment of the German speaking people in the Sudetanland. Come on; stop being outraged it’s totally comparable.]

  • Well one of the Columbine killers was a lapsed Jew. But you don’t hear libs calling them Jewish terrorists right?

    I’m sure this bit of information will be tucked away for a straw man argument by our intellectual superiors one day.

  • Pop quiz: What’s the first word that comes to mind after “suicide bomber” and/or “terrorist”?

    I rest my case, your honor.

Being Broke Can Sometimes Cure Stupidity

Friday, May 28, AD 2010

One of the few good things about hard economic times is that it affords us an excellent opportunity to regret the money that was wasted in good economic times (That timeshare in Honolulu sounded so good!) and also requires us, through bleak necessity, to amend our spending in the future.  Mark Steyn has a brilliant column on the likely impact of being broke on government spending.

How did the Western world reach this point? Well, as my correspondent put it, we assumed that we were rich enough that we could afford to be stupid. In any advanced society, there will be a certain number of dysfunctional citizens either unable or unwilling to do what is necessary to support themselves and their dependents. What to do about such people? Ignore the problem? Attempt to fix it? The former nags at the liberal guilt complex, while the latter is way too much like hard work: the modern progressive has no urge to emulate those Victorian social reformers who tramped the streets of English provincial cities looking for fallen women to rescue. All he wants to do is ensure that the fallen women don’t fall anywhere near him.

So the easiest “solution” to the problem is to throw public money at it. You know how it is when you’re at the mall and someone rattles a collection box under your nose and you’re not sure where it’s going but it’s probably for Darfur or Rwanda or Hoogivsastan. Whatever. You’re dropping a buck or two in the tin for the privilege of not having to think about it. For the more ideologically committed, there’s always the awareness-raising rock concert: it’s something to do with Bono and debt forgiveness, whatever that means, but let’s face it, going to the park for eight hours of celebrity caterwauling beats having to wrap your head around Afro-Marxist economics. The modern welfare state operates on the same principle: since the Second World War, the hard-working middle classes have transferred historically unprecedented amounts of money to the unproductive sector in order not to have to think about it. But so what? We were rich enough that we could afford to be stupid.

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One Response to Being Broke Can Sometimes Cure Stupidity

  • per Steyn: “The green jobs, the gay parades, the jihadist welfare queens, the Greek public sector unions, all have to be paid for by a shrinking base of contributing workers whose children and grandchildren will lead poorer and meaner lives because of the fecklessness of government.”

    You know, I agree with Steyn’s premise but I’m always perplexed re: How can people miss the Elephant in the Room?? I mean, absolutely no one wants to say that the “shrinking base” is due to the fact that virtually 100% of the population has contracepted or aborted their kids out of existence for the last 40 years, Catholics included. The economic mess we’re in now is only a symptom of that fact. I guess its just too painful to admit..

3 Responses to A Great Photo of Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman

Chris Christie: We Need to Stop the Explosive Growth of Government

Thursday, May 27, AD 2010

If we are going to get ourselves out of the morass of government debt in which we find ourselves, it will only be due to the efforts of men and women like Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey.

Yesterday he announced how he intends to lead New Jersey out of the fiscal wilderness:

As you all know, we have a fiscal crisis in New Jersey: a $10.9 billion deficit on a $29.3 billion budget.

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47 Responses to Chris Christie: We Need to Stop the Explosive Growth of Government

  • If only our President and Congress would recognize the spending problem. With our National debt reaching over 14 Trillion Dollars and the interest on debt soon to be I Trillon, when are we going to realise we can not continue down this path before we implode financially.

  • Texas has a 10% cap (tax assessed property value cannot be >10% from last year). Guess what? Regardless of economic conditions, tax assessed property values magically increased by 10% every year since the cap was in place (over 10 years ago). Perhaps indexing it to inflation would be better.

    at least at 2.5%, it will take a lot longer for taxes to double.

  • Governor Christie, When you’re done fixing things in New Jersey, would you consider moving to Texas to take a shot at our property taxes, please. Best of luck with the unions.

  • I’m liking Governor Christie more each day.

    He should be considered as a possible GOP primary candidate for POTUS.

  • NJ’s taxes are why New Yorkers move there. NJ has lower taxes on everything except for property. Parents would rather pay high property taxes and get the best public schools in the nation than pay high other taxes and get NYC schools. High property taxes also keep NJ a relatively wealthy state which is part of the appeal. The dirty secret in NJ is that they want high property taxes to keep poor people out.

  • RR,

    Which partly explains why Texas is a much more attractive state for families and corporations… no income tax!

  • Yeah, but Texas also has relatively high real property taxes (not as high as NJ, but still fairly high), so I’m not sure that’s it.

  • Yes, Texas does have a high property tax that Governor Perry has yet to make a significant dent in.

    Though having no income tax could still play a minor if not major role in this.

  • The dirty secret in NJ is that they want high property taxes to keep poor people out.

    You mean the poor are being kept out of Newark, East Orange, Paterson, Jersey City, and Union City?

  • You don’t need high property taxes to keep the poor out – all you need are high property values.

  • Median property tax in NJ: 2.4%
    Median property tax in Newark: 1.4%
    Median property tax in Hoboken: 3.3%

    Guess which city has more poor people?

    NJ had the highest median income in the country until 2007 when Maryland overtook NJ by a hair. I’d say NJ is doing a pretty good job at keeping poor people out.

    Jay Anderson, not all taxes are equal. Corporations and middle-class and wealthy families would rather pay property taxes than income taxes.

  • There is considerable variation in per capita income from one state to another, not because there are barriers to the entry of ‘poor people’, but because the aggregate skill sets of populations do vary.

  • RR,

    Good stuff.

    I see what your conveying.

    Though the stereotype of New Jersey is a hard one to let go.

  • It’s laughable to think either political party will achieve a balanced budget. Bill Clinton is the only major public official to accomplish it as a government executive in two generations.

    Federally, we would have to give up wars and bank bailouts. So much for Cheney and Paulson.

    The Iraq War would have been a much harder sell if citizens and corporations would have had to pay for it.

  • “Bill Clinton is the only major public official to accomplish it as a government executive in two generations.”

    He didn’t accomplish it Todd, absent games with social security. That he came within shouting distance was due to two factors completely outside his control: the tech bubble that artificially inflated tax revenues for the years 1995-2000, and the Republicans taking over Congress in 1994 that rescued him from his worst fiscal instincts.

  • The Iraq War would have been a much harder sell if citizens and corporations would have had to pay for it.

    Todd, I think about 75% of federal expenditure over the period running from 2001 through 2008 was financed through tax revenues and about 25% through public sector borrowing. Treasury bills, notes, and bonds are sold and traded worldwide, but I believe they remain predominantly the property of residents of the United States. With some qualification, we did pay for it, just not for every last cent.

  • I cannot help but note that military expenditure has over the last decade increased from about 3.5% to 5.0% of domestic product. Federal expenditure has until quite recently oscillated around 20% of domestic product; the increment attributable to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq would thus amount to 7.5% of federal expenditure. Money is fungible, Todd. We did not pay for the other 92.5% but not pay for this 7.5%.

  • Federally, we would have to give up wars and bank bailouts. So much for Cheney and Paulson.

    Todd, the federal government followed in 1930, 1931, and 1932 a policy of allowing bank failures to be resolved through leisurely bankruptcy court proceedings; the government also elected to ignore a rapid increase in the demand for real balances. Sound money, and all (one of Dr. Paul’s fetishes). Worked just swimmingly.

  • Jay,

    Yeah, but Texas also has relatively high real property taxes (not as high as NJ, but still fairly high), so I’m not sure that’s it.

    Not defending TX property taxes, but dude, they’re a walk in the park compared to Michigan’s. MI has a 6% sales tax and an income tax to boot. I haven’t figured out TX sales tax yet, it appears that for some reason it ranges from 6 to 8% and there is no income tax. Though if you want to travel fast and with little traffic, you’ll likely be paying a toll. 😉

  • Paying taxes is part of good citizenship. The problem with the tax system, federally, states, and locally is that they trend to unfairness.

    I think Steve Forbes’ idea of a flat tax might have some merit, were it applied equally to big corporations. Have a decently high tax rate, and apply it vigorously once a business or individual achieves a certain level of worth. Small businesses can compete more effectively when corporations like WalMart have to pass on their higher tax rates to consumers–assuming people would even want to pay real prices for crap when they could get better cheaper from places other than China.

  • Flocks of flying pigs around Kansas City and Utica. Todd and I agree on something.

  • I think Steve Forbes’ idea of a flat tax might have some merit, were it applied equally to big corporations. Have a decently high tax rate, and apply it vigorously once a business or individual achieves a certain level of worth. Small businesses can compete more effectively when corporations like WalMart have to pass on their higher tax rates to consumers–assuming people would even want to pay real prices for crap when they could get better cheaper from places other than China.

    This would only remotely make sense if you abolished the capital gains tax on securities — it hardly makes sense to tax a company’s profit heavily, then turn around and tax the investors who own the company again because the company had enough money left to pay them a dividend.

    I rather doubt it would have the effect that Todd is envisioning in re Wal Mart, however, in that small companies buy things from large companies, so the small companies would see their costs go up almost as much as Wal Mart. (Though it would make it more attractive to a be a small business owner, would doubtless be a good thing.)

    Also, frankly, the kind of efficiencies that a Wal Mart (or to use less tainted names, a Kohls or a Kroger or a Safeway or a Home Depot) manage to achieve would be very difficult to outweigh with any imaginable tax rate. Fast communication and the ability to build complex data systems to manage efficient supply chains are the things that would need to be banned in order to cripple the ability of large retailers to operate, and I would imagine that most people would not go for that.

  • Yes it does make sense.

    Incorporated enterprises garner the advantages of limited liability; if they go public, they also have access to capital markets. If they seek the advantages of asking to be treating as a ‘person’ as a matter of law, they can pay taxes like one. When I last had to study the question, state corporate taxes were usually quite modest (< 3% of net profits), so a flat assessment of 1/3 of net profits by the federal government would be in order.

    Capital gains need to be calculated appropriately (i.e. an index derived from the GNP deflator applied to the purchase price), but that is a different question.

  • US corporate income taxes are already about 35% on corporate taxable profits, though corporations with taxable income less than $100,000 end up paying much less due to the graduated tax table.

    After paying these taxes, corporations can distribute the remaining profits to their shareholders in the form of dividends, which are then taxed again as personal income (though at a rate somewhat lower than standard earned income or capital gains.)

    Are you and Todd arguing that there need to be significantly heavier taxes at both these stages? Or just that similar rates of overall taxation should be maintained but through a simpler, flat tax system. (The latter I have little argument with, the former is likely to have effects on the economy that most people would not enjoy much.)

  • I don’t think “fairness” should necessarily play a part in debates over corporate taxation. The best reason I’ve heard for taxing corporations at the same rate as people is that it makes it harder for business owners to cheat taxes by taking advantage of lower corporate tax rates.

    Dividends should only be taxed once and capital gains should only be taxed if the principal was never taxed.

    All this can be accomplished by replacing all taxes with a VAT. A digital VAT card, like a debit card, would allow the VAT to be levied progressively. Don’t know if that’s feasible on a large scale though.

  • Indded, fairness and corporate taxation don’t go together very easily. Among tax scholars, there are four cardinal objectives of a tax system:
    1. horizontal equity: the idea that people with similar abilities to pay ought to bear similar tax burdens.
    2. vertical equity: the idea that people with greater abilities to pay ought to bear greater tax burdens.
    3. administrability: the system should be administrable as a practical matter.
    4. efficiency: the tax system ought not to affect economic decision-making (i.e., interfer with normal market decisions).

    While mose people agree with these principles, they are tricky to apply with confidence, especially #2. And broad-based corporate income taxes are especially difficult to evaluate under #1 and #2 because the true economic burden (as opposed to the nominal legal burden) is passed on in ways that cannot be reliably understood or identified. Economists agree that the actual individuals who bear corporate tax burdens are the corporations customers, employees, and investors, but no one knows in what proportions, though there is common agreement that the answers depend by industry and are very temporally fluid. In other words, the corporate tax burden is distributed quite randomly and mysteriously, despite its paradoxical popularity. The best policy explanation for the tax is that corporations do burden their communities and must pay for those burdens. There is widespread disagreement among economists as to what extent this is the case. The best practical explanation for the tax is simply that most voters like the idea of sticking it to the corporations and have not figured out that corporations can no more bear a tax burden than a tree or bridge — some living breathing humans pay the tax.

  • Are you and Todd arguing that there need to be significantly heavier taxes at both these stages? Or just that similar rates of overall taxation should be maintained but through a simpler, flat tax system. (The latter I have little argument with, the former is likely to have effects on the economy that most people would not enjoy much.)

    Todd will have to speak for himself. I have run my electronic pen at length in the past on the appropriate manner of calculating tax liability and it seems to bore people silly. Given public expenditure in the range of 35-40% of domestic product, I think an assessment of roughly a third on corporate income (with no deductions or exemptions as they constitute a subsidy to favored business sectors) is about right.

  • Indded, fairness and corporate taxation don’t go together very easily.

    You have three businesses. For one, an impersonal and amorphous set of owners is not liable for the corporation’s actions and holds liquid shares. For the other, a discrete set of owners is liable and holds illiquid shares. For a third, a discrete set of owners is not liable but holds illiquid shares. Do you tax all three businesses at the same rate?

  • Dividends should only be taxed once and capital gains should only be taxed if the principal was never taxed.

    ‘Dividends’ are only dividends once they have been remitted to the shareholder. They are only taxed once as we speak.

    Capital gains are appropriately taxed, and taxed at the same marginal rate as the remainder of your income, if by ‘gain’ you mean an increase in the real value of the property in question, not an increase in the nominal value derived from currency erosion.

  • I don’t see why they shouldn’t be taxed identically. Incorporation costs are covered by incorporation fees. Share liquidity is paid for by exchange fees.

  • AD, I think you know what people mean when they talk about the double taxation of dividends. Tax capital to be used for dividends as corporate profit or as individual income, not both. I’d prefer the latter.

    Capital gains are appropriately taxed like the rest of your income only if the principal was tax-deferred. If investing with post-tax capital, a capital gains tax would be inappropriate.

  • If investing with post-tax capital

    I do not care if you paid for your Xerox shares with savings from your paycheck or if you paid for them by selling Kodak shares.

  • AD, it makes a big difference. Taxing the gains from taxed capital favors consumption over savings. Not taxing gains on taxed capital or taxing capital+gains at realization treats consumption and savings neutrally.

  • Real soon the idiots in congress, bumbledom (you call it bureaucracy), 500,000 “community organizers”, and the public employees’ unions are going to run out of other people’s , i.e., the private sector’s money.

    It’s already happened in Greece, Portugal, Spain, Iceland, Ireland, . . .

    There is weak economic growth because the private sector is being strangled by regulations and taxes.

    Anyhow, dividends are what’s left of corporate net income after taxes paid that is proportionately paid (not retained in the corporation) to the corporation’s owners/shareholders. Then, the distributed net income after taxes in the form of dividends is taxed a second time.

    Forget clueless university economics profs. The real world knows that zero corporate income taxes would result in economic growth and create far more wealth and tax revenues than the present demogogic set up of “tax the evil rich” laws and the politics of class envy/hatred.

  • Ideally, personal income tax liability would be a flat rate on one’s total income less a dollar value credit for yourself and each dependent. People whose computed liability was negative could be compensated by an addition to savings accounts dedicated to expenditures on medical treatment and long-term care. If the funds in these accounts exceeded a certain referent value, the excess remittance could then be forwarded to the tax ‘payer’, but it would (for the able bodied and working age) have to be capped at a particular percentage of earned income lest we remanufacture AFDC and general relief. Everybody faces the same marginal rate, but average rates vary considerably according to income. This is about what Milton Friedman proposed in 1962, and has the added benefit of allowing one to eliminate the miscellany of means-tested subsidies to mundane expenditure that the government offers and much of Medicaid as well.

    If you are concerned about savings rates, you can reduce income tax rates and add consumption taxes to finance the state and achieve policy goals. The United States has been running a balance of payments deficits on current account for 28 years, so concerns of that nature are appropriate. Since consumption taxes are regressive, they should be used sparingly.

    AEI has a discussion of the pros and cons of various proposals for consumption tax.

    http://www.aei.org/outlook/29082

  • AD, the poor need subsidies other than for medical care. I wouldn’t place any restrictions on their use of the subsidies.

    The only problem I have with Friedman’s negative income tax is that it necessarily undercompensates. I’ve come to believe that the poor should be subsidizes out of poverty, not some lesser amount that guarantees to keep them in poverty. Yet, itt would disincentivize work completely if people were compensated 100% of the amount they fell short. The only way can I see to bring everyone out of poverty without completely disincentivizing work is a work requirement, even if it’s government make-work.

    Our current income tax system can easily be turned into a consumption tax system by eliminating the tax on capital gains and dividends. Behavioral economics would still recommend a VAT since it looks more like a consumption tax and therefore would encourage more savings even though its functionally identical to an income tax without capital gains or dividend taxes.

    There are various methods of making a consumption tax progressive. The best method I’ve come across is to have a very high VAT then issue everyone a digital discount card that gives users steep but diminishing discounts with use.

    You link to Bradford’s X-tax. I supported it when it was proposed years ago. Bradford’s the one would thought that corporate taxes should match personal income taxes to reduce the opportunity for business owners to cheat.

  • rr,

    If I had more time I’d add more, but I’ll just say this:

    The conversion of our income tax system into a consumption tax would involve something a bit different than exempting capital gains and dividends; it would basically involve (i) permitting a deduction (or exemption) from the tax base for all savings and investments and (ii) requiring inclusion in the tax base all withdrawals from such savings and investments. You are correct to suggest that it could be accomplished by amending our current Code to do this. Think of an IRA system with no limits and no distribution requirements; the taxpayer pays tax as he spends based on his own needs and desires as he discerns them. Progressivity can be preserved via graduated rates. The most controversial aspect of such a system among tax scholars is the treatment of bequests at death (not charitable gifts — those present independent policy considerations). My own view is that such transfers should be considered consumption so that 100% of one’s lifetime income is taxed as it is expended. There are a number of advantages to such a system, but one important one is that it would treat the consumption and saving choice as a neutral one — an objective that is applauded by most economists.

    The expenditure (i.e. broad-based consumption) tax was first developed by British economist Nicholas Kaldor many decades ago, and was promoted by renown Harvard tax professor William Andrews in the 1970s and 1980s. The Reagan Administration seriously considered the idea, but concluded that its economic and policy advantages were not sufficient to overcome political disadvantages. Senator Sam Nunn proposed such a system a few years ago, but it garnered little interest except among academics.

    A negative consumption tax could be developed akin to Friedman’s negative income tax, of course, but would carry with it the same policy and incentive challenges.

    Our current tax system is a hybrid of multiple sorts. For example, the IRA/401(k) aspect makes it partly a consumption tax, just as the earned income tax credit has attrubutes of a negative income tax.

    If you are genuinely interested in tax policy I suggest you pick up the latest addition of “Public Finance” by Richard and Peggy Musgrave. While they lean a bit left in terms of their policy preferences, their text really is the single best source for folks with serious interest.

  • Mike, either would work. Either tax all income then don’t tax capital gains or exempt savings then tax the principal+gains at withdrawal. The methods result in identical tax burdens. As I stated before, besides differences in administerability, the only other difference is perception. People will save more if savings are tax-deferred even if taxing them first and not taxing them later produces exactly the same tax burden.

    Thanks for the reading recommendation.

  • rr, you improve the real incomes of the impecunious by extinguishing their direct and indirect tax liabilities. They are perfectly capable of allocating their income between their various immediate objects. The sticky point is that providing for a selection of contingencies requires one have a longer time horizon than is common in certain circumstances and the consequences of failure to prepare can be ruinous. Public insurance, vouchers, and direct provision are appropriate for medical care, schooling, and legal counsel, not for your weekly grocery bill or your monthly rent.

    Because the marginal rates are equal across all strata, one can invariably improve one’s material welfare by taking on additional working hours, with the cost measured in one’s demand for leisure. It is this last point which renders it generally inadvisable to pass unrestricted cash to people with no earned income, unless they be old or crippled. It was tried from 1935 to 1996. Results not too cool.

    Conjoined to this, it would be helpful if the federal and state legislatures ceased pricing low end labor out of the market with minimum wage laws, mandatory fringe benefits, and means tested social programs. That the Democratic congressional caucus elected this time in history to raise the minimum wage is indicative of deep stupidity or deep indifference.

  • rr,
    While either would perhaps work, there is a slight economic difference between taxing all income but deducting net savings versus taxing all income except the return from savings, though both would be steps in the right direction. As for the other distinction, if I understand you correctly (and I may not) the difference between taxing income as it is earned versus as it is spent is far more than perception. It alters the the current savings versus consumption preference calculus. People respond differently to consume or secure 6% after tax return versus consume and secure 4% after tax return. I think we both agree that the current system is not good for saving. I would only clarify that a tax that is imposed on lifetime income as it is expended is economically neutral whereas as the current income tax actually favors consumption. People are encouraged to consume a greater proprtion of their income than than they would in a tax free environment. This is not good tax policy in my view.

  • This is why I support the FairTax. Tax policy makes me crazy.

  • AD, I agree that people need some spending restrictions but it looked like you wanted to limit all subsidies to only health care. Also, not all methods of subsidy allocation work equally well. Vouchers create sticky prices at the voucher amount. I’d rather cut the poor a check then require that they obtain adequate health care coverage, legal counsel insurance, renter’s or homeowner’s insurance, and education for their children on their own. Cutting general subsidies to pay for them should only be done for those who fail to obtain the required services.

    I’d also agree that we can’t hand out subsidies to the able-bodied without a work requirement. I only wanted to point out that those who do work should be lifted out of poverty, by subsidies if necessary. I do not accept that those who work to the full extent their bodies allow should still live in poverty.

    I think government subsidies are better alternatives to min wages but I’m not convinced the low federal min wage we have does much harm. It’s too low to do much of anything. Illegal immigrants demand more than min wage.

  • Mike, we both want a pure consumption tax. I’m saying the point of taxation doesn’t make a mathematical difference. A sales tax, a VAT, an income tax exempting savings until withdrawn, and an income tax exempting capital gains, dividends, and interest, all produce mathematically identical results.

    Eric Brown, evasion would be too pervasive with a 30% sales tax on top of state and local sales taxes. I wish it weren’t so but the FairTax is simply unworkable.

  • AD, I agree that people need some spending restrictions but it looked like you wanted to limit all subsidies to only health care.

    No, I was suggesting that if you had a negative tax liability, free-to-spend funds remitted to you should be capped at a % of your earned income bar if you were past the statutory retirement age or adjudicated as disabled. Some standardized contributions to savings accounts for medical and nursing care would be the exception to the cap. The indigent under indictment also have a right to counsel.

    Vouchers create sticky prices at the voucher amount. I’d rather cut the poor a check then require that they obtain adequate health care coverage, legal counsel insurance, renter’s or homeowner’s insurance, and education for their children on their own.

    I will have to look up some economic analyses of voucher programs. The only thing I had in mind was vouchers for primary and secondary schooling conjoined to re-incorporation of public schools as philanthropies, a prohibition on charging tuition, and mandatory participation in regents’ examinations. This would act to set a global baseline budget for primary and secondary schooling. Homeschooling families like Darwin’s could cash-out their vouchers for a portion of the family’s state and local tax liability. It would be a liberalization of current practice.

    Again, the only public insurance programs I had in mind were for medical and long-term care. There has been extensive discussion in this forum in the past on better design for these programs.

    I would be pleased if Donald or Blackadder would post their ideas on legal services for the indigent. It has been my impression from reading the newspapers that direct provision by public agency (e.g. the state welfare department) is the least bad way to do this.

    Again, legal services, long-term care, and medical care are subject to somewhat unpredictable spikes in demand over the course of one’s life cycle. Not so groceries, housing, and gas and electric usage, which the government insists on subsidizing as we speak.

    I’m not convinced the low federal min wage we have does much harm. It’s too low to do much of anything.

    They just raised it, and what do you know, we have had a year’s worth of economic growth with no discernable impact on the unemployment rate. Read Casey Mulligan on the administration’s treatment of the labor market. We have had chronically elevated unemployment rates for decades (when compared to what we know of previous decades). Minimum wage laws, benefit mandates, payroll taxes, means tested public benefits, Wagner Act unionism, maladroit health and safety regulations, and employment discrimination law all contribute fragments to this.

  • With minimum requirements (e.g., regents exams) to ensure adequacy, I’m not sure a separate government allocation is necessary. Milton Friedman proposed vouchers as the first step to completely eliminating public funding of education because he thought people will obtain adequate education on their own. I wouldn’t go as far as he does, but for many families (probably most families), vouchers are as unnecessary for education as they are for food or clothing. Admittedly, some families will not spend enough on education. We can measure this by academic achievement instead of by dollars spent. The state can increase the tax liability (or cut free-to-spend subsidies) in exchange for vouchers for those underspending families without doing so for all families.

    Ditto for health care. Mandate adequate coverage with the government stepping in to properly allocate only if the taxpayer refuses to do so.

    It’s possible that across-the-board government allocation for required services like education and health care is cheaper than the “allocator of last resort” approach I outlined above. I’m open to changing my position, if that can be shown.

2 Responses to Footprints

  • Heh. I like that!

    I’m heading north tomorrow and will have an long, Internet-free weekend so I would like to wish all of you a safe and relaxing Memorial Day. And remember who it is we are memorializing.

  • No internet? Heresy, heresy! Enjoy the Memorial Day weekend Donna, and rest assured that the meaning of the Day will be remembered here on American Catholic over the weekend.

Lori Berenson Set Free

Wednesday, May 26, AD 2010

Marxist activist Lori Berenson was convicted in 1995 for her acts of terrorism with the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) in Peru.  She was set free on parole where she must finish her remaining five years in Lima without leaving the country.

She served 15 years and was granted parole today.  Lori Berenson probably benefited from the weight of the American government in reducing the original lifetime sentence to 20 years back in 2005.

MRTA was a Communist rebel group that looked to impose a totalitarian form of government in Peru through terrorist activities.  They’re most famous for their takeover of the Japanese embassy in Lima in 1997.

Over 70,000 Peruvians were victims of Marxist and Communist terrorist activities throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

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2 Responses to Lori Berenson Set Free

  • Berenson denied for fifteen years that she collaborated with MRTA. Now, it seems, this was a lie. She recently accepted “responsibility for the crime of collaboration with terrorists” and apologized to the people of Peru. Berenson was a revolutionary groupie – a rebel princess who, supported by a trust fund set up by her parents, engaged in various radical left-wing activities in Latin America.

  • Frank,

    You’ve described liberal terrorist John Walker Lindh. He’s the typical Marin County hot-tubber out of the liberal bastion of San Francisco.

    Spoiled rotten and raised to hate America.

    Typical stuff from your typical America-hating liberals.

6 Responses to Video: Different Presidents, Different Responses

  • I’m not sure exactly what I’m supposed to deduce from this. I suppose your feelings on this greatly have to do with how you believe the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ought to be concluded…

  • Anthony,

    Nice try at a straw man and outlandish speculation.

  • Actually I was being totally genuine.

    “Supporting the troops” often means supporting war, or THE war, at least.

    I “support the troops.” I want them home safely with their families, etc. But I can’t, in good conscience, support the ill-defined mission they’ve been handed (by both administrations).

    So, hey, no straw man or speculation intended. I just don’t understand the value of saying the military loved Bush (why? because he was folksy?) versus disdain for Obama (why? because of his likely indifference?).

    Again, I’m just trying to understand your point, which as you say, is supposed to speak for itself.

  • Agreement with Anthony. The video means nothing. Our military men and women are professionals, not adolescents. Their likes and dislikes of the chain of command is irrelevant. They follow orders. They do their jobs. And when they return home, hopefully they have a federal government that recognizes their sacrifices and compensates them fairly for it all.

    Since Tito’s point is vague, I’ll substitute mine:

    Support the Troops: bring them home.

  • This is comparing apples and bananas.

    The first the troops were at “stan at ease” and couldd make personal responses and the President came in with an informal style. The second the troops were at attention the President came in with a formal approach, being good Marines they stayed at attention until told to sit. I suspect one of the reasons the second was more formal was that the local command did not want an incident, while in the first they were not worried.

    The military like every one else tends to react to others by the amount of respect they perceive and the attitude toward them.

    No one ever doubted that President Bush has great respect for the military, and even if they disagreed with him they felt he was acting in what he believed was their interests.

    Despite efforts to the contrary President Obama projects what is easily perceived as an air of distain for the military. It would not be difficult for them, even when they agree, to suspect the his decisions have nothing to do their interests

    The conclusion drawn in the post is probably correct, but the video does not support it.

  • Protocol wise, the second speech entrance is the one that an APOLITICAL (demonstrated bias towards NEITHER political party or for that matter ANY political party)
    Professional, restrained, the stuff you see the officer corps doing more than the enlisted ranks.

    That said, there was and is an overwhelming difference between the two men, more so than between Clinton and either Bush. And for as much as Obama is compared to Carter, Carter DID serve in the Navy, whatever else, he and Reagen both took their duties as Commander in Chief seriously.

    Obama has more disdain for those in uniform than even Hilary Clinton ever had her first year in the White House with her husband,

John Adams, Sedition and the Obama Administration

Wednesday, May 26, AD 2010

The greatest blunder of the John Adams administration was the Sedition Act.  It inflamed his adversaries and gave color to their accusations that Adams was a tyrant.  It is stunning that the same men who had fought in the Revolution and helped to found a new government could have implemented legislation in 1798 which was so blatantly unconstitutional and antithetical to the liberties that they had so bravely fought for.  The Act helped destroy the Federalists and assure the success of Jefferson’s Republicans.  The text of the Act is as follows:

SECTION 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled. That if any persons shall unlawfully combine or conspire together, with intent to oppose any measure or measures of the government of the United States, which are or shall be directed by proper authority, or to impede the operation of any law of the United States, or to intimidate or prevent any person holding a place or office in or under the government of the United States, from undertaking, performing, or executing his trust or duty: and if any person or persons, with intent as aforesaid, shall counsel, advise, or attempt to procure any insurrection, riot, unlawful assembly, or combination, whether such conspiracy, threatening, counsel, advice, or attempt shall have the proposed effect or not, he or they shall be deemed guilty of a high misdemeanour, and on conviction before any court of the United States having jurisdiction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars, and by imprisonment during a term of not less than six months, nor exceeding five years; and further, at the discretion of the court, may be holden to find sureties for his good behaviour, in such sum, and for such time, as the said court may direct.

SECT. 2. And be it further enacted, That if any person shall write, print, utter, or publish, or shall cause or procure to be written, printed, uttered, or published, or shall knowingly and willingly assist or aid in writing, printing, uttering, or publishing any false, scandalous and malicious writing or writings against the government of the United States, or either House of the Congress of the United States, or the President of the United States, with intent to defame the said government, or either House of the said Congress, or the said President, or to bring them, or either of them, into contempt or disrepute; or to excite against them, or either or any of them, the hatred of the good people of the United States, or to stir up sedition within the United States; or to excite any unlawful combinations therein, for opposing or resisting any law of the United States, or any act of the President of the United States, done in pursuance of any such law, or of the powers in him vested by the Constitution of the United States; or to resist, oppose, or defeat any such law or act; or to aid, encourage or abet any hostile designs of any foreign nation against the United States, their people or government, then such person, being thereof convicted before any court of the United States having jurisdiction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars, and by imprisonment not exceeding two years.

SECT. 3. And be it further enacted and declared, That if any person shall be prosecuted under this act for the writing or publishing any libel aforesaid, it shall be lawful for the defendant, upon the trial of the cause, to give in evidence in his defence, the truth of the matter contained in the publication charged as a libel. And the jury who shall try the cause shall have a right to determine the law and the fact, under the direction of the court, as in other cases.

SECT. 4. And be it further enacted, That this act shall continue and be in force until the third day of March, one thousand eight hundred and one, and no longer: Provided, That the expiration of the act shall not prevent or defeat a prosecution and punishment of any offence against the law, during the time it shall be in force.

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One Response to John Adams, Sedition and the Obama Administration

Celebrity Pay

Wednesday, May 26, AD 2010

People often demand to know why it is that we as a society consent to pay movie stars and professional athletes such obscene sums of money, while teachers and other people clearly providing greater benefit to society are paid so very little.

There are a great many economic and social explanations one can go into, but one basic point that probably bears pointing out is that society does not in fact spend more on Hollywood or on professional sports than it does on teachers. Nationally, the US spends an average of $10,000 per year on each student in public schools, and average college tuition (blending public and private) is roughly the same. Thus, a person with a four year college degree has had roughly $170,000 spent on his education — almost certainly more money than he will spend over his lifetime on movies or watching sports.

The reason why teachers make so much less than movie stars or professional athletes is that the total amount of money collected by these entertainment celebrities is spread over a much smaller number of people. There are under 500 players in the NBA, around 1700 in the NFL. The number of actors who make truly large amounts of money (especially when averaged over a career which often has long dry periods) is at most a couple thousand. By comparison, there are over six million teachers and three hundred thousand college and university professors.

Entertainers make so much money because modern means of communication allow large numbers of people to enjoy the performances of a comparatively small number of people.

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6 Responses to Celebrity Pay

  • That is a good point. Also, athletes and other celebrities make a lot of their money off of endorsements. We do not directly spend our money on the celebrity in that case. Teachers/professors could certainly get in on that gig if they want to, and with some medical/health care products, some have.

  • It’s also due to the monopolization trends in entertainment. 100 years ago, there were thousands of baseball organizations, for example. They ranged from 16 major league teams to semi-pro outfits barnstorming and playing minor (nor development) leagues. Not so today. 30 MLB farm systems, and a few co-ops calling themselves independent leagues.

    Music, too. More people made a decent living performing and many more enjoyed music as an avocation. American culture has largely abandoned entertainment as a participatory activity. More adults watch sports, including their kids’, than play it, and many more people watch or listen to music instead of learning an instrument and doing it themselves.

  • While certainly I’m not one to defend actors, I will make a few points in their favor.

    TALENT.

    Having worked in advertising, let me tell you— its incredibly important to find performers that get your script, can add qualities to it that you didn’t originally see and can perform when they’re asked to.

    I once worked on a tv campaign that was a complete casting disaster. We hired exactly who the client wanted, against the recommendations of the ad agency and the director combined. This guy made about 100K to film 5 tv spots and he was TERRIBLE. When we edited, we found that the spots were dry, lifeless and totally boring.

    We worked overtime to find a solution that allowed us to edit most of the poor performance out and replace it with a new voice over. But who would do the voice over? Against the clients wishes, the agency quietly spent 50K to get a very well known “Hollywood” actor to come in and record at TEST voice over. The agreement was that if we used it on television, he would get an additional 150K.

    Let me tell you. This guy came in, he was a bit of a jerk: but in under an hour he NAILED the performance we needed and saved our campaign. As far as I’m concerned, he was worth every penny. We would have saved thousands of dollars had we been focusing on the right talent, versus believing we could find substitutes.

    I’d also put forward some other reasons why they are paid as much as they are:

    — few people do what they do well, and do it on-demand

    — many of the best paid actors also play roles in story development and production

    —yes, as has been mentioned, they “play” to a larger audience than your average 5th grade teacher

    —and of course, a single large salary for an actor might have to stretched over months or even years between major acting jobs. Only the most in-demand actors find themselves with regular work.

    Certainly I think exorbitant figures do get passed along, but considering how much money is taken in, and that a movie can make money for a studio for YEARS from licensing, dvd sales, advertising, etc. It makes more sense.

    Lets put it this way: Iron Man would have been NOTHING without Robert Downey Jr. He made that film work and overcame a fairly by-the-numbers story and a comic character that was not as well-known as Batman or Spider-man. So, I would argue that yes, he is worth every penny.

  • Anthony,

    Agreed on pretty much all points.

    Though one thing I’d flesh out a little further: While I agree that the talen to be a top actor (or a top professional athlete) is pretty rare, it’s rarity still wouldn’t be worth nearly as much if we didn’t have the technology to take that one good performer and put him or her in front of hundreds of millions of people nearly instantly. If we lacked that ability to mass broadcast the few top performers, there would be a much bigger niche for mediocre actors and atheletes making mediocre incomes.

    By the same principle, if there was a way for the true top 500 teachers in the country to educate nearly everyone at once through some mass medium, and if people recognized their work as far superior to most other teachers, we’d probably have teacher superstars making tens of millions a year for doing their stuff.

  • Darwin Catholic,

    Thank you for addressing this subject in this manner. I’ve long been frustrated by the bumper sticker arguments about compensation for teachers. This is always a touchie subject. Many teachers are fantastic educators and earn every cent they are paid. However, it is ridiculous to lump them all together and compare their salary to the absolute best ball player. Reality is most teachers get paid more than most ball players. I’m a baseball player and I get paid nothing. Most don’t. A very tiny percentage of ball players get to play in the minors for a year or two. Out of that tiny minority an even smaller percentage get to visit the majors for a week or two. An extremely tiny percentage (one in ten million) are good enough to last long enough to have a lucrative career. Reality is they are incomparable. A good teacher and a below average teacher are equally capable of having a long career and will likely be compensated (paid) equally. That is the problem.

  • While I agree that the talen to be a top actor (or a top professional athlete) is pretty rare, it’s rarity still wouldn’t be worth nearly as much if we didn’t have the technology to take that one good performer and put him or her in front of hundreds of millions of people nearly instantly.

    I’m not sure about that. The top actors of the 19th century – Bernhardt, Henry Irving, Edwin Booth, etc – made fortunes. All of them spent a lot of time touring and to live in the sticks and see Booth perform was the thrill of a lifetime for many people. How their fortunes compare to the ones made by movie stars today, I wouldn’t know, but certainly they made far far more than the average worker (including the average actor) of their time. Star quality mattered as much then as now.