Monthly Archives: May 2010

Vote Vampire Lincoln!

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I normally attempt to keep a close eye on politics, but I missed that Abe Lincoln was running in 2008.  I guess our 16th President must have lost the vampire war that Paul Zummo wrote about here and I wrote about here.  If I had known that he was running, who knows, I might have voted for Vampire Lincoln, considering the alternatives.

Brits Forgetting Winston Churchill

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Hattip to Allahpundit at Hot Air.  One in five British adults were unable to identify a picture of Winston Churchill in a recent survey.

As part of the survey, carried out to mark this week’s 70th anniversary of Churchill’s prime ministerial tenure, more than 1,136 people were asked to identify three prominent 20th century PMs including Churchill, Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair.

One in five (19%) adults failed to name Churchill, with the figure rising to 32% of 25 to 34-year-olds and 44% of those aged 16 to 24.

Following the pattern, researchers projected the rough date when the leaders would no longer be recognised, with Churchill’s demise predicted in 80 years’ time…

The survey, which involved people naming black and white headshot photos of the prime ministers, saw Churchill mistaken for Stephen Fry, Robert Hardy, Michael Gambon, Charlie Chaplin, Oliver Hardy, John Betjeman and Roy Hattersley, the Royal Mint said…

Kevin Clancy, head of Historical Services at the Royal Mint, added: “It’s shocking that one of our greatest statesmen runs the risk of potentially being forgotten.

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Catholic Education & Same-Sex Parents: A Question of Truth and Tolerance

The Holy Father in his amazingly insightful and thorough work Truth and Tolerance outlines a way—though focusing primarily on religious matters—that Catholics may engage a pluralistic world in a spirit of peace and tolerance while adhering completely to the divine truths of the Catholic faith, to which Catholics are called to live in accordance with and call others to through evangelization.

The whole point of the work is to establish the principles by which Catholics should encounter and engage people of different faiths, worldviews, lifestyles, etc., in the modern situation with its emphasis on conscience, individual freedom, and self-determination that inevitably creates a diverse society. The obvious danger is relativism and therefore a lack of any real conviction and principle. The “balance” is a correct temperament and a prudential spirit to find the proper avenue to best evangelize the world.

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Are We All Greeks Now?

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Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot AirAnother fine econ 101 video from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity.   Government debt is rapidly becoming the major issue of our time, both here and abroad.  The welfare states erected throughout the world have always had a resemblance to Ponzi schemes,  and all Ponzi schemes ultimately collapse, which is what is happening around the globe.  Robert Samuelson nailed it this week in the Washington Post:

What we’re seeing in Greece is the death spiral of the welfare state. This isn’t Greece’s problem alone, and that’s why its crisis has rattled global stock markets and threatens economic recovery. Virtually every advanced nation, including the United States, faces the same prospect. Aging populations have been promised huge health and retirement benefits, which countries haven’t fully covered with taxes. The reckoning has arrived in Greece, but it awaits most wealthy societies.

Americans dislike the term “welfare state” and substitute the bland word “entitlements.” The vocabulary doesn’t alter the reality. Countries cannot overspend and overborrow forever. By delaying hard decisions about spending and taxes, governments maneuver themselves into a cul de sac. To be sure, Greece’s plight is usually described as a European crisis — especially for the euro, the common money used by 16 countries — and this is true. But only up to a point.

Euro coins and notes were introduced in 2002. The currency clearly hasn’t lived up to its promises. It was supposed to lubricate faster economic growth by eliminating the cost and confusion of constantly converting between national currencies. More important, it would promote political unity. With a common currency, people would feel “European.” Their identities as Germans, Italians and Spaniards would gradually blend into a continental identity.

None of this has happened. Economic growth in the “euro area” (the countries using the currency) averaged 2.1 percent from 1992 to 2001 and 1.7 percent from 2002 to 2008. Multiple currencies were never a big obstacle to growth; high taxes, pervasive regulations and generous subsidies were. As for political unity, the euro is now dividing Europeans. The Greeks are rioting. The countries making $145 billion of loans to Greece — particularly the Germans — resent the costs of the rescue. A single currency could no more subsume national identities than drinking Coke could make people American. If other euro countries (Portugal, Spain, Italy) suffer Greece’s fate — lose market confidence and can’t borrow at plausible rates — there would be a wider crisis.

But the central cause is not the euro, even if it has meant Greece can’t depreciate its own currency to ease the economic pain. Budget deficits and debt are the real problems; and these stem from all the welfare benefits (unemployment insurance, old-age assistance, health insurance) provided by modern governments.

Countries everywhere already have high budget deficits, aggravated by the recession. Greece is exceptional only by degree. In 2009, its budget deficit was 13.6 percent of its gross domestic product (a measure of its economy); its debt, the accumulation of past deficits, was 115 percent of GDP. Spain’s deficit was 11.2 percent of GDP, its debt 56.2 percent; Portugal’s figures were 9.4 percent and 76.8 percent. Comparable figures for the United States — calculated slightly differently — were 9.9 percent and 53 percent.

There are no hard rules as to what’s excessive, but financial markets — the banks and investors that buy government bonds — are obviously worried. Aging populations make the outlook worse. In Greece, the 65-and-over population is projected to go from 18 percent of the total in 2005 to 25 percent in 2030. For Spain, the increase is from 17 percent to 25 percent.

The welfare state’s death spiral is this: Almost anything governments might do with their budgets threatens to make matters worse by slowing the economy or triggering a recession. By allowing deficits to balloon, they risk a financial crisis as investors one day — no one knows when — doubt governments’ ability to service their debts and, as with Greece, refuse to lend except at exorbitant rates. Cutting welfare benefits or raising taxes all would, at least temporarily, weaken the economy. Perversely, that would make paying the remaining benefits harder. Continue reading

Time Lapse Evidence Shows an Increase in Carbon Dioxide Does Not Harm Vegetation

[Updates at the bottom of this post.]

Atmospheric CO2 is not a pollutant.

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And he said: Let us make man to our image and likeness: and let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and the beasts, and the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth.  And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them.  And God blessed them, saying: Increase and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it, and rule over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and all living creatures that move upon the earth.  And God said: Behold I have given you every herb bearing seed upon the earth, and all trees that have in themselves seed of their own kind, to be your meat:  And to all beasts of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to all that move upon the earth, and wherein there is life, that they may have to feed upon. And it was so done.

–Book of Genesis 1:26-30

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Catholic-Islam Dialogue: Reciprocity the Key

For the past few years I have been taking my Catholic school students over to the nearby Mosque, as part of their World Religions research. It has gone well, everyone is on their best behavior, and it gives the students a chance to hear about Islam from devout Muslims, in their own place of worship. I also have visited the Mosque and Islamic community during the time of my run for public office to speak and dialogue about issues where we would find some common ground. It has all been a very positive experience, but there is one large elephant in the room that must be paid attention to.

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Political Miscellania 5/12/10

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A wrap-up of various items of political interest.

1.  The video that heads this post is one of the reasons why my vote for McCain in 2008 was a two handed vote, with one hand holding my nose.  McCain has long been an ardent supporter of amnesty and open borders.  Now that he is in a tough primary race with J.D. Hayworth, he is a born again believer in locking down the border against illegal aliens.  I certainly favor in making it tougher for illegals to get across the border, but I do not favor politicians who embrace positions simply to save their political skin.  I hope that the voters in Arizona will finally bring McCain’s political career to a screeching halt  by voting for his opponent in the primary.

2.  It looks like Hawaii will soon have a new Republican Congressman.  The Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee is pulling out of Hawaii 1 and basically conceding that Republican Charles Djou will win the special election on May 22. The Democrats have two candidates running who are splitting the vote and thus allowing the Republicans to take a Congressional seat that has been in Democrat hands for two decades.

3.  The tea party movement claimed another scalp by causing the defeat of Republican Senator Bob Bennett at the Utah Gop Convention in his attempt to get the Republican nomination for a fourth term in the Senate. This should be a warning for all politicians:  this year is different, no re-nomination or re-election can be taken for granted.

4.  Faithful readers of this blog will know that I have quite a bit of respect for blogger Mickey Kaus who is taking on Senator Barbara Boxer in the Democrat primary in California.   Shockingly last week the LA Times refused to endorse Boxer:

On the Democratic side, we find that we’re no fans of incumbent Barbara Boxer. She displays less intellectual firepower or leadership than she could. We appreciate the challenge brought by Robert “Mickey” Kaus, even though he’s not a realistic contender, because he asks pertinent questions about Boxer’s “lockstep liberalism” on labor, immigration and other matters. But we can’t endorse him, because he gives no indication that he would step up to the job and away from his Democratic-gadfly persona.

To have the LA Times refuse to endorse Boxer is a strong indication of just how weak she is this election year.  She is probably strong enough to defeat Kaus (sorry Mickey!) in the primary, but there is blood in the water for the general election. Continue reading

SCOTUS: 6 Catholics, 3 Jews, Law, Scholasticism and Tradition

I read a comment[1] a few weeks ago on GetReligion.org attempting to explain why John Paul Stevens was the last Protestant in the U.S. Supreme Court which simply said that Catholics and Jews have a tradition of being immersed in law (Canon Law and Halakha respectively for Catholics and Jews as an example).

This struck me as interesting because at first glance it kind of makes sense.

Of course there is much more to why the current make-up of the U.S. Supreme Court, 6 Catholics, 2 Jews, and an Episcopalian, is as it is.[2]

But I thought it was an interesting enough topic to dive into.

Lisa Wangsness of the Boston Globe chimes in with her two cents worth [emphases mine]:

Evangelical Protestants have been slow to embrace, or to feel welcomed by, the elite law schools like Harvard and Yale that have become a veritable requirement for Supreme Court nominees. One reason for this, some scholars say, is because of an anti-intellectual strain within evangelicalism.

As Ronald Reagan would say, there you go again, pushing the liberal theory that Christians are stupid (at least Evangelical Protestants).

Lets get beyond these stereotypes done by liberals to Christians.

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The Dignity and Worth of Every Person

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The Lying Worthless Poltical Hack, a\k\a Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, tells Priests and Bishops to speak out on immigration from the pulpit based upon a biblical concern for “the dignity and worth of every person”.

The respect that the Lying Worthless Political Hack has “for the dignity and worth” of the smallest and most helpless among us was well demonstrated by this quote from Naral Pro-Choice America in 2007 after Pelosi became speaker of the House:

“Americans who value freedom and privacy have many reasons to celebrate as Nancy Pelosi takes the Speaker’s gavel to make this historic move forward for our country.  For her nearly 20 years in office, Speaker Pelosi has been an effective advocate for women’s health and has championed her pro-choice values by consistently voting to protect a woman’s right to choose.  In November, voters across this country endorsed Speaker Pelosi’s call for a change and new direction by electing 23 new pro-choice members to the U.S. House of Representatives.  Today, we celebrate as Speaker Pelosi takes the reins; under her leadership Americans can expect a new focus on commonsense solutions, not the divisive attacks that marred the previous Congresses.”

Red vs. Blue Families

It’s fairly common for advocates of more liberal social policies to point out that “red states” tend to have higher rates of divorce, teen pregnancy, etc than “blue states”. This is taken to suggest that, however much conservatives may go on about “family values”, it is actually more liberal social values which are best for families. Ross Douthat does a good job of addressing this mentality in his column from last Sunday, in which he takes a closer look at some of these “family values” statistics.

Today, couples with college and (especially) graduate degrees tend to cohabit early and marry late, delaying childbirth and raising smaller families than their parents, while enjoying low divorce rates and bearing relatively few children out of wedlock.

For the rest of the country, this comfortable equilibrium remains out of reach. In the underclass (black, white and Hispanic alike), intact families are now an endangered species. For middle America, the ideal of the two-parent family endures, but the reality is much more chaotic: early marriages coexist with frequent divorces, and the out-of-wedlock birth rate keeps inching upward.
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Of Tea Party Terrorists and Cognitive Dissonance

With President Obama demonizing Tea Party protesters and the recent comments of New York Mayor Bloomberg speculating that the Times Square bomber was a tea party protester, it is mind boggling how the evidence continues to stack up against their arguments of Tea Party protesters being intolerant and racists.

Especially in the light of breaking news that thieves have stolen the Mojave Desert Cross that was built to honor Americans who died in World War I.  When  just less than two weeks prior the U.S. Supreme allowed that Cross to remain on the property.

I’ll bet good money that some raving liberal removed the cross because of his or her dissatisfaction with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling.

Yet where are the news of lynchings, swastikas painted on synagogues and burnt out black churches by Tea Party Protesters?

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Elena Kagan and the state of Democracy

I’m not sure I ever expected to wake up to read the New York Times coverage of a new nominee to the Supreme Court and find myself in agreement.

Of course, they think she’ll be a fine justice and I think she’s a pro-abort and could do without her. I also think she looks like Ursula from “A Little Mermaid,” which is less a comment on her than it is a comment on how many Disney movies I watch with my wife (curse you, Disney movie club!). That’s not what we agree on.

What we agree on is that she is a stealth candidate and that just by itself makes us uncomfortable. The official editorial reads:

President Obama may know that his new nominee to the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan, shares his thinking on the multitude of issues that face the court and the nation, but the public knows nothing of the kind. Whether by ambitious design or by habit of mind, Ms. Kagan has spent decades carefully husbanding her thoughts and shielding her philosophy from view. Her lack of a clear record on certain issues makes it hard to know whether Mr. Obama has nominated a full-throated counterweight to the court’s increasingly aggressive conservative wing.

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