24

Attention Las Vegas Catholics

This is a request for assistance from our readers to suggest a good parish inside the Diocese of Las Vegas for my family.

What I am asking in particular is a parish that has an orthodox priest that celebrates the Mass reverently.  That is not asking much.  Preferably a holy and charitable priest.

To be more specific, though this isn’t necessary, it would be nice if the architecture of the church did not resemble a Brady Bunch-1970s style of a building.  Again, preferably, a church with pre-Vatican II type of architecture.

What do I mean by reverently?

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Healthcare Reform & the Magisterium

In this spring’s debate over the healthcare bill, one of the disagreements that raised eyebrows most in Catholic circles was that between the US bishops conference and the Catholic Healthcare Association and other similar groups. The bishops claimed that the healthcare bill would lead to federal funding of abortions, while CHA et al. concluded that it would not.

In my opinion and that of numerous observers (including most of my fellow contributors here at TAC), the bishops were correct and CHA was horribly, terribly wrong.

There is another question, though… was CHA disobedient? That is, were they obliged as Catholics to accept the conclusions of the bishops conference? Was the activity of the bishops conference an act of their teaching charism which American Catholics were obliged to give their assent to?

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2

TLM in Houston

Tomorrow this Sunday, June 20th at 1:00pm, Houston’s Annunciation Church (1618 Texas Street, Houston, TX 77003) will be hosting the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter as they celebrate a Solemn High Mass according to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

Recently ordained Father John Rickert will be celebrating.  Deacon Michael Malain will be in attendance.

For those not familiar with the parking situation at Houston’s Annunciation Church, parking will be available in the parish parking lot on Jackson Street, the street behind the church.  The Houston Astros will be playing Sunday afternoon in Minute Maid Park which stands right next o Annunciation Church, but attendees at that game are not to use any of the parish parking spaces.

This is something that will be an beautiful experience for all those interested in liturgy, music, history and the worship of the risen Lord.

Please try and attend this Mass.  Perhaps many of you have not had such an experience.   To witness and to participate in this Mass will be one of the great spiritual experiences of your life.

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Their Finest Hour

Yesterday, June 18, marked the 70th anniversary of Winston Churchill’s “Finest Hour” speech to Parliament,  as he alerted Great Britain to the coming Battle of Britain.  Churchill did not sugar coat the situation for his listeners.  Britain faced a formidable enemy and the odds were against them.  However, rather than a call for negotiations or surrender, Churchill called for defiance and victory.  He starkly reminded his listeners that a victory for Nazi Germany would mark the end of Christian civilization.  Churchill was not speaking in hyperbolic terms.  He was a careful student of history, as well as writing and making it, and other than politics, history was his ruling intellectual passion throughout his long life.  He realized that the menace of Nazi Germany was sui generis and could not be lulled by appeasement or a meaningless negotiated peace that Hitler would violate with impunity, but that rather the Nazis must be resisted implacably with all the force that the Brits could muster.  Everyone who cherishes freedom is in the debt of Churchill for the words that he spoke on June 18 and his leadership at a time when the fate of the world truly hang in the balance.  This was the finest hour indeed for him and the nation he led, and no leader can have a finer accolade. Continue Reading

6

Illinois State Song

Something for the weekend.   The State Song of Illinois with scenes from my alma mater, the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.  My wife and I took our son down for his freshman orientation this week, some 35 years after I went through it. 

Another rendition sung on the steps of the Old State Capitol in Springfield.

Illinois is a wonderful state that has been long cursed with one of the most corrupt state governments in the nation.  Past time for the voters of the Land of Lincoln to correct this disgrace. Continue Reading

I Give Up, Here's a Links Round-up

“The Vatican” endorses the Blues Brothers.

North Korea embraces neoliberalism (baby steps).

Matt Yglesias is my kind of liberal.

The Onion channels Bertolt Brecht.

Israel further loosens border restrictions with Gaza.

A lot of people seems to think this is good news for Afghanistan. Have they never heard of the resource curse?

The menace of friendship. Paging Eve Tushnet.

9

Is Robert E. Lee Overrated?

Paul Zummo, the Cranky Conservative, and I run a blog on American History:  Almost Chosen People.  Yesterday Paul raised the question:  Is Robert E. Lee Overrated?

Yeah, the post title is somewhat deliberately provocative, but it’s also meant to be a serious question that I hope will spark some discussion.  I was going to ask it in the comments to Donald’s post below, but thought it might be useful fodder for debate in its own right.

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1

I've Always Suspected Most Politicians Are Zombies

From the only reliable source of news on the net, the Onion.  Zombie Reagan?  Well, I’d certainly rather vote for a dead cat than Obama!

In the interests of bi-partisanship, it is apparently not only the Republicans who may be relying on  zombies.  In Illinois, we know that the dead have been voting for decades in Cook county!

Since I am a Republican, I will give the late Bob Hope the last word on zombies and politics.

41

The World Cup & American Idealism

If you read the comments here at TAC, no doubt you’ve seen the accusation that America suffers from a Calvinist dualism that sinisterly causes all of American conservativism’s woes like it was the Catholic Church in a Dan Brown novel. While these claims are exaggerated, there’s a bit of truth in the idea that when compared to Europe, we’re a little more dualistic.

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Scientology and Coerced Abortions

Hattip to Big Hollywood.

The late L. Ron Hubbard’s religion-for-profit, Scientology, now stands accused of coercing employees in their SeaOrg organization into slaying their unborn children through abortions. I have always found it vastly amusing that this transparent scam calling itself a religion has been so popular among the glitterati in Hollywood, but these revelations illustrate how painfully destructive Hubbard’s money making scheme has been for so many people over the years.

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Real Sex vs. the Contraceptive Mentality (Part 1)

If you move in conservative Catholic circles much, you have doubtless heard the phrase “contraceptive mentality”. Though used frequently and negatively, I think there is value in delving a bit more deeply into what we mean by the phrase. I was moved to write this in semi-response to an interesting post by Brett Salkeld a couple months back which sought to explore the bounds of what a “contraceptive mentality” is. Another good resource on the topic is this post at Catholic Culture on the contraceptive mentality.

While recognizing the dangers of trying to be too wide ranging in subject matter in the limited space of a blog post, my goal here is to set out answers to the following:

  • What is a “contraceptive mentality”?
  • How is a contraceptive mentality contrary to how humans are “meant” to function morally and sexually?
  • How, if at all, does NFP (natural family planning) relate to a contraceptive mentality?

I think it’s easiest to think about the idea of a contraceptive mentality against the backdrop of how we function sexually as human creatures — a term I use advisedly in that I want to emphasize our rootedness in a certain biological reality of being primates with certain biological systems and instincts, while at the same time not ignoring our rational, emotional and moral sensibilities in the sense that “human animal” strikes me as implying.

Uncertainty and Conception

One thing that sets us apart from most other higher primates is that humans have fairly even sexual drive all of the time. Or, at least, men have sexual drive pretty much all of the time. Women seem to have more variation in their level of interest, and indeed there is a fair amount of evidence that one driving (though unconscious) element of their drive is that they are more “in the mood” during the times of the month when they are fertile than when they are not. Another thing that sets us apart from most other higher primates is that a woman’s fertility is not marked by unmistakable physical signs (change of color and swelling of the genital area, changes in smell, etc.) (Though Bonobos have often been compared to humans in regards to their relatively constant sex drive, they are like chimps in that female fertility is readily apparent through external signs.)
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17

Has Law School Become a Dead End Trap for the Unwary?

Hattip to Instapundit.

Law Prof Brian Tamanaha explains it all:

It’s grim reading. The observations are raw, bitter, and filled with despair. It is easier to avert our eyes and carry on with our pursuits. But please, take a few moments and force yourself to look at Third Tier Reality, Esq. Never, Exposing the Law School Scam, Jobless Juris Doctor, Temporary Attorney: The Sweatshop Edition, and linked sites. Read the posts and the comments. These sites are proliferating, with thousands of hits.

Look past the occasional vulgarity and disgusting pictures. Don’t dismiss the posters as whiners. To a person they accept responsibility for their poor decisions. But they make a strong case that something is deeply wrong with law schools.

Their complaint is that non-elite law schools are selling a fraudulent bill of goods. Law schools advertise deceptively high rates of employment and misleading income figures. Many graduates can’t get jobs. Many graduates end up as temp attorneys working for $15 to $20 dollars an hour on two week gigs, with no benefits. The luckier graduates land jobs in government or small firms for maybe $45,000, with limited prospects for improvement. A handful of lottery winners score big firm jobs.

And for the opportunity to enter a saturated legal market with long odds against them, the tens of thousands newly minted lawyers who graduate each year from non-elite schools will have paid around $150,000 in tuition and living expenses, and given up three years of income. Many leave law school with well over $100,000 in non-dischargeable debt, obligated to pay $1,000 a month for thirty years. Continue Reading

8

Mr. President, Not Even Close to Good Enough

Mr. President,

Last night you gave an address using the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as an opportunity to pontificate about many subjects. I am afraid that far from convincing me you are leading the federal government well in this disaster, you have removed beyond a doubt your indifference to the state of Louisiana. Since you rarely visited the state before the disaster (even when the un-repaired damage done by Hurricane Katrina should have called your attention), perhaps I, as a resident of this great state, can explain what you obviously don’t understand.

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3

Quick Econ Thoughts on Licensing

This was going to be a comment on Blackadder’s post which has turned into a discussion on licensing and whether it raises prices, but since I only have time to write out one thought process today I thought I’d turn it into a post.

Most folks outside economics see licensing as a way of legally certifying duties and providing a means of redress when incompetence occurs. Not only does a plumber who consistently allows sewer gases to enter a home get sanctioned civilly, he can be sanctioned by license loss and prevented from harming other households.

Let’s try two examples on our theoretical plumber here:

1) Say that we have a local economy in which licensing is not mandatory. If I want some plumbing done, I have several options: I could open up the phone book, call around, and hire the absolute cheapest guy who says he’s willing to give plumbing a job. He may do a terrible job, and set sewage to run through my ice maker.

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7

You Do Not Get Something For Nothing

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey continues committing political heresy:  telling the voters the plain unvarnished truth.  Government since the New Deal in this country has run on the premise of convincing a majority of voters that they can get something for nothing.  Those days are coming crashing to an end against a wall of debt.  Few things are more powerful in politics than a man or woman who understands that a page has turned and that new times are upon us.  Governor Christie understands this and is acting upon it.

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Political Miscellania 6/16/10

1.  As the above video indicates, Congressman Bob Etheridge (D.NC) does not realize that he is living in the age of video cell phones and Youtube.  His GOP opponent, Renee Ellmers, reminds him of the current facts of political life.

2.  If you are a Democrat, you know that political times are bad for you if National Public Radio runs a poll which indicates that your party is going to be creamed in November.

Democrat Stan Greenberg and Republican Glen Bolger conducted the first public battleground poll of this election cycle. They chose the 70 House districts experts regard as most likely to oust incumbents this fall. What they found was grim news for Democrats.

For this poll, Bolger and Greenberg chose the districts where incumbents are considered the most vulnerable, and, in the case of open seats, the ones most likely to switch party control in November. Sixty are currently held by Democrats — many of whom won these seats even when voters in the same district preferred Republican John McCain for president in 2008. The other 10 districts are the flip side — held by Republicans in the House, even though their voters went for Barack Obama in 2008.

These are this year’s swing seats — the political terrain where the battle for control of the House of Representatives will be won or lost. In this battleground, voters are choosing Republicans over Democrats 49 percent to 41 percent. Continue Reading

11

Whats That Purple Building, Daddy?

Pornography has taken off with the advent of the Internet.

Now you can get streaming video and pictures of exploitive acts of all sexual natures and variety.

Viewing pornography can be addictive.  It can also destroy your soul, not to mention your relationships with women and how you view women in general.

It is said that your eye is the window into your soul.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! (Holy Gospel of Saint Matthew 6:22-23)

Then why do you view pornography?

A documentary film titled What’s That Purple Building, Daddy? explores how pornography destroys souls, families, and this nations fabric of life.  It also shows what you can do to fight this evil.

Former porn users, Mark Houck and Damian Wargo, co-founders of The King’s Men, have taken steps to fight pornography by engaging in a strategy to close down Coyotes, a strip club in their own backyard. They succeeded! This inspirational video tells you how they went about it and outlines a plan of action for others to follow.

What’s That Purple Building, Daddy? will give you a fresh insight into how pornography is affecting everyone in America, and how men can successfully fight against this evil in their own lives and in their communities.

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What the Left Cannot Supply, the Right Will Not Demand

Recently I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a series of posts looking at the recent survey purporting to know a lack of economic knowledge on the Left, with one post for each of the eight questions on the survey. As I look at the list of questions, however, a clear theme emerges, namely that liberals tend to think that the price of a good or service isn’t much affected by the supply of that good or service or visa versa. According to the survey, liberals tend to think that restricting the supply of housing doesn’t increase the price of housing (question 1), that restricting the supply of doctors (through licensing) doesn’t increase the price of doctors (question 2), and that price floors won’t decrease the supply of either rental space (question 4) or jobs (question 8).

Coincidentally, I’m currently reading a (surprisingly good) book by Paul Krugman, in which he argues that conservatives tend to minimize or dismiss the part changes in demand have on getting us into or out of recessions. Naturally this got me thinking whether one of the things separating left from right in this country is a difference in the importance of supply and demand in economic phenomenon. For the above issues, at least, liberals seem to be ready to discount the importance of supply, whereas conservatives underestimate the importance of demand.

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Men Need to be Men

The King’s Men is an organization for Men to (re)discover what it means to be a man, a real man, a Catholic man as well as a manly Catholic.

As men we lead and protect the family.

We need to be active in the life of the Church.

We need to learn more about our Catholic faith and much, much more.

In today’s society and culture the role of men have been degraded, feminized, or ridiculed.  Our roles as men have been degraded to eliminate ‘gender bias’ by militant secularist humanists.  We have been feminized to the point of denying our natural gifts of being a leader, provider, and protector.  And we have been ridiculed by being attacked as misogynists.

This has taken such a toll on our role as men, we have forgotten what it means to be a husband, father, and a leader in the Church.

Mark Houck and Damian Wargo of The King’s Men apostolate explain this and much more in a 35 minute segment of EWTN‘s Life on the Rock.

Part 1 of 4:

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Is Collective Punishment Always Wrong?

As readers of this blog are probably aware, I am not a fan of the Israeli blockade of Gaza. I find the blockade to be morally unjustifiable and ultimately not in the interests of Israel’s security. Yet I do wonder about some of the moral claims made in the course of the controversy.

For example, a recent Vox Nova post by contributor Morning’s Minion contains the following aside:

Remember, collective punishment is absolutely forbidden under the moral law.

Morning’s Minion, of course, is hardly the only one to make this point, and at first blush it seems fairly sensible and obvious. It’s easy to see why punishing one person for the crimes of another, which is what collective punishment seems to consist in, would be morally objectionable, and one might readily conclude that, just as a straightforward application of moral logic, collective punishment is always and everywhere morally wrong.

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Louisiana Close to Passing Pro-Life Measures

One of the many things that makes Louisiana the greatest state in the Union is that due to its high population of Catholics it is the most pro-life state on the issue of abortion. This allows Louisiana to develop and pass pro-life laws that legislators in other states can adopt.

The latest laws are no exception, though perhaps they are too late. You may remember how in the healthcare debate, Catholics promoting the bill often pointed out that insurance often covers abortion and that the federal bill was doing little to expand coverage for abortion over the current private insurance system. Some in that camp obviously believed that the Republicans were too wedded to big business/insurance to actually change that.

I was glad they pointed this out, as it exposed a situation which I believed pro-lifers would soon rectify. Indeed, Louisiana is very close to doing just that:

House Bill 1247 by Rep. Frank Hoffman, R-West Monroe, would bar private insurers from covering “elective” abortions, including by women who are victims of rape or incest. The only exception would be for abortion procedures performed to save the life of the pregnant woman

Sen. Gerald Long, R-Natchitoches, who handled Hoffman’s bill, said it was filed in response to the health-care overhaul bill approved earlier this year by Congress, which gives states the right to “opt out” of covering elective abortions. He said the legislation is meant to affirm Louisiana’s long-standing opposition to abortion.

Hoffman’s bill, which passed 28-3, must go back to the House for agreement with changes made by the Senate before it can go to Gov. Bobby Jindal‘s desk.

Hopefully more pro-life states will follow Louisiana’s lead.

But it does clearly show the problems with the positions adopted by Catholics who promoted Obamacare. They gave up on the pro-life movement’s ability to actually change things. While sometimes the GOP does justly cause pro-lifers to be close to despair, Louisiana shows that sometimes real pro-life change can come if only we work for it.

4

David, Nathan and Freedom

In the Mass Readings last Sunday, for the reading from the Old Testament we had Nathan the Prophet denouncing King David for his sin of adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of her husband Uriah the Hittite after Bathsheba became pregnant with his child.  It is a familiar tale for us, and the familiarity conceals from us just how remarkable it is and how important for us it is, not just in a religious sense but also in our secular lives.

A forgotten masterpiece from Hollywood, King David (1951), helps remind us of the importance of the two great sins of David and their aftermath.  David is well-portrayed by Gregory Peck.  No longer the shepherd boy, he is now an increasingly world-weary King.  God who was close to him in his youth now seems distant.   Rita Hayworth gives a solid performance as Bathsheba, David’s partner in sin.  The best performance of the film is by Raymond Massey as Nathan.  Each word he utters is with complete conviction as he reveals the word of God to those too deafened by sin to hear it.  In the video clip above we see this when David attempts to argue that the soldier who died when he touched the Ark of the Covenant may have died of natural causes.  “All causes are of God”, Nathan responds without hesitation.  He warns David that he has been neglecting his duties and that the people are discontent.

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My Body My Choice, Drill Baby Drill, Hmm… Not So Much

There are two political mantras which have come to symbolize big problems in our mainstream party choices- “My body, my choice!” and “Drill baby! Drill!”. The liberal and conservative camps get so excited when their political heroes shout out these short catch-phrases. For me, they represent some really huge moral deficiencies. Continue Reading
4

Great Jesuits 6: Peacemaker

Number 6 in my series on great Jesuits of American history.  Pierre-Jean De Smet first saw the light of day in Dendermonde in Belgium on January 30, 1801.  His parents would have been astonished if they had been told that in his life their newborn would travel over 180,000 miles as a missionary, and most of it in the Wild West of the United States.

Emigrating to the US in 1821 as part of his desire to serve as a missionary, De Smet entered the Jesuit novitiate at Whitemarsh, Maryland.  In a move that today would have secularists screaming “Separation of Church and State!” and conspiracy buffs increasing the tin foil content of their hats, the US government subsidized a Jesuit mission being established in the new state of Missouri among the Indians.  At the time the US government often did this for missionaries of many Christian denominations among the Indians.  So it was that in 1823 De Smet and other members of the order trekked west and established a mission to the Indians at Florissant, Missouri, near Saint Louis.  Studying at the new Saint Regis Seminary in Florissant, Father De Smet was ordained on September 23, 1827.  Now a prefect at the seminary, he studied Indian languages and customs.  In 1833 he returned to Belgium for health problems and was unable to return to Missouri until 1837.

In 1838 he founded the St. Joseph Mission in Council Bluffs for the Potawatomi Indians.   He also began his career as a peacemaker as he journeyed to the territory of the Sioux to work out a peace between them and the Potawatomi.  It should be emphasized that Father De Smet was making these journeys at a time when he was often the only white man for hundreds of miles other than for a few mountain men and scattered traders.  He quickly earned a reputation among the Indians as utterly fearless and a white man whose word they could trust.

In 1840 he journeyed to the Pacific Northwest to establish a mission among the Flathead and Nez Perces tribes, who had been begging for a decade for “Black Robes” to be sent to them and teach them about Christ.  After visiting them, Father De Smet promised that he would go back to Saint Louis and return with another “Black Robe” to establish a permanent mission.  On his way back he visited the Crow, the Gros Ventres and other tribes.  In 1841 he returned to the Flatheads along with Father Nicholas Point and established St. Mary’s Mission  on the Bitterroot River, thirty miles south of present day Missoula.  The mission was quite successful as indicated by this event.  One of the converted chiefs of the Flatheads, after baptism, chose the baptismal name of Victor.  On one occasion Father De Smet was preaching to the Flatheads and mentioned how in Europe the Holy Father confronted many enemies of the Faith.  Victor became indignant and said, “Should our Great Father, the Great chief of the Black robes, be in danger–you speak on paper–invite him in our names to our mountains. We will raise his lodge in our midst; we will hunt for him and keep his lodge provided, and we will guard him against the approach of his enemies!” Continue Reading

My Spiritual Journey

The spiritual journey that I have been experiencing these many years all started with a prayer to our Holy Mother of God.  Because of her I have had the great fortune of living the beauty of our Catholic faith and the joy of knowing Jesus our Lord and Savior.

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How Did Your Family React When You Told Them That You Wanted To Be a Priest?

I enjoyed the response of one priest in which he told his parents it just became clear to him at the moment.  His parents responded by saying that’s how they felt about each other when they first met (and decided to get married)!

For the Rome Reports website click here.

For the Rome Reports YouTube Channel click here.

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How to Reverse the Catholic Exodus

Let us pray for all those change agents that are striving to bring back the authentic Catholic culture inside parishes, chanceries, and apostolates.

To view RealCatholicTV click here.

For RealCatholicTV’s The Vortex click here.

For the RealCatholicTV YouTube Channel click here.

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Sorry Charlie, Crist Vetoes Florida Ultrasound Bill, Bottom Line – More Babies Will Be Killed

The following is from Florida Right to Life Organization:

“THE MOST IMPORTANT PRO-LIFE, PRO-WOMEN LEGISLATION IN FLORIDA HISTORY WAS VETOED BY GOV. CRIST ON JUNE 11, 2010!

HB 1143 was a pro-life and a pro-choice bill. It required that an abortionist give an ultrasound test before an abortion. 82% of the abortion clinics in Florida already do, but they do not all give the woman the option to see or discuss the ultrasound.

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Social Contract and Morality

Kyle Cupp has a brief post describing the dehumanizing moral effects of seeing human dignity and rights as springing entirely from a social contract (implied or explicit):

This reduction occurs when we understand and act upon our moral obligations to one another only within the framework of a social contract–when we limit our obligations to those who have entered into such contracts and consider ourselves obligated only to those who share our citizenship, have signed a treaty we have signed, or participate with us in some other contractual arrangement. I make this reduction when I don’t care about torturing terrorists because they’re not signers of the Geneva Conventions, when I wish to alienate the immigrant who enters my country against my country’s laws, when I ignore my obligations to those not yet born because the laws of the land do not recognize their personhood, or when I insist that others shouldn’t be given Constitutional rights when the rights I wish to withhold from them are basic human rights.

I think that he’s right as far as he goes, but I don’t think that his point that basic human rights and duties are inherent to humanity (rather than assumed via some sort of contract/relationship) is actually the point usually at dispute in our society. Rather, what seems often to be disputed is what the extent of basic human rights are — and which “rights” are merely agreed civic rights which we grant explicitly via the social contract.

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Left=Economic Illiteracy?

Great minds think alike.  I had prepared a post on this subject and I see that Darwin already has posted on the same topic.  Normally I would simply trash my post, but this time I think our readers might find it amusing to see our different takes on this topic.

Everyone loves a pop quiz right, especially on economics!   Here are eight questions.   Possible answers are :   1) strongly agree; 2) somewhat agree; 3) somewhat disagree; 4) strongly disagree; 5) are not sure.

Here are the questions:

 1) Mandatory licensing of professional services increases the prices of those services.

 2) Overall, the standard of living is higher today than it was 30 years ago.

 3) Rent control leads to housing shortages. 

 4) A company with the largest market share is a monopoly.

 5) Third World workers working for American companies overseas are being exploited.

 6) Free trade leads to unemployment.

7) Minimum wage laws raise unemployment.

8)  Restrictions on housing development make housing less affordable. Continue Reading

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Ideology and Economic Knowledge

Prof Daniel Klein of had a brief piece in the WSJ this week talking about how people’s economic knowledge or ignorance breaks down by ideological lines.

Zogby researcher Zeljka Buturovic and I considered the 4,835 respondents’ (all American adults) answers to eight survey questions about basic economics. We also asked the respondents about their political leanings: progressive/very liberal; liberal; moderate; conservative; very conservative; and libertarian.

Rather than focusing on whether respondents answered a question correctly, we instead looked at whether they answered incorrectly. A response was counted as incorrect only if it was flatly unenlightened.

Consider one of the economic propositions in the December 2008 poll: “Restrictions on housing development make housing less affordable.” People were asked if they: 1) strongly agree; 2) somewhat agree; 3) somewhat disagree; 4) strongly disagree; 5) are not sure.

Basic economics acknowledges that whatever redeeming features a restriction may have, it increases the cost of production and exchange, making goods and services less affordable. There may be exceptions to the general case, but they would be atypical.

Therefore, we counted as incorrect responses of “somewhat disagree” and “strongly disagree.” This treatment gives leeway for those who think the question is ambiguous or half right and half wrong. They would likely answer “not sure,” which we do not count as incorrect.

In this case, percentage of conservatives answering incorrectly was 22.3%, very conservatives 17.6% and libertarians 15.7%. But the percentage of progressive/very liberals answering incorrectly was 67.6% and liberals 60.1%. The pattern was not an anomaly.
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In Defense of American Exceptionalism

“Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this Congress and this administration, will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we do know how to save it. We — even we here — hold the power, and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free — honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just — a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless.”         Abraham Lincoln, December 1, 1862

As a liberal democracy, is the United States different in any appreciable way from other liberal democracies in the western tradition, and if so, does the thought of its founders explain this?

 That is the question posed yesterday by commenter and Vox Nova blogger Morning’s Minion.   Commenter Art Deco took up the challenge:

I do not think you are going to find a nexus of social phenomena that is explained by a single cause. To the extent that intellectual genealogies influence people’s conceptions of what their interests and ideals are, the thought of that corps of politicians is important. To the extent that the social evolution of the United States has been shaped by political institutions which were informed by the thought of these men, their thought is important.

Any society has its signature elements. I am not sure why it escapes you what ours are, in the political realm and outside it. We can defer for a moment the more interesting discussion of the country’s social history and historical geography and just look at aspects of the latter-day political order, as you insist.

1. The political parties have tended to manifest conflict between subcultures rather than between social strata.

2. The political parties are haphazard and decentralized in comparison with their European counterparts (France excepted).

3. Formal political institutions are likewise, with many accumulated barnacles.

4. We maintain a common law system, which is not indebted to the Code Napoleon.

5. Our constitution antedates all but a few in Europe by a century and the forms delineated therein derive from institutions of colonial government more than 150 older than that; there has been intramural political violence in the United States but also absolute continuity of local institutions for more than 400 years and continuity of continental institutions for in excess of 200 years.

6. Because our institutions are comparatively antique and because they were delineated by a single statute, aspects of political practice in Britain were retained here while being abandoned there and elsewhere. Notable is the absence of parliamentary government, something quite unusual among the fifty or so most durable constitutional systems. (I believe the United States and Costa Rica are the only examples).

7. Both in politics and society, trade and industrial unions are much weaker here, comprehending just 9% of the private sector workforce. Unions in America are now lobbies for the interests of public employees.

8. The multiplication of the functions of the state and corporatist institutions and practices have been much more restrained here. Public enterprise has tended to be limited to natural monopolies owned and operated by provincial and local governments; the federal government operates a postal service, some hydroelectric stations, and maintains a large inventory of land, but that is it.

9. The political intelligence and moral sentiments of our elected officials (not our judges) remain more resonant with that of the general public than is the case elsewhere. I think it was Oriana Fallaci who once complained that if you ask a British legislator what the intellectual influences on him were, he might offer Marx or Burke; his American counterpart would name his own father. There is a reason we have capital punishment in this country and they do not in Canada, and that reason is not differences in public sentiment.

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Sergeant York and Gary Cooper-Part II

Continuing on from the first part of this post on Sergeant York and Gary Cooper.

Frank James Cooper, a\k\a Gary Cooper, was a child of the last century, being born into it on May 7, 1901, the son of Charles and Alice Cooper.  Unlike Alvin C. York, Cooper was born into a prosperous family, his father being a farmer turned attorney who would eventually serve on the Montana Supreme Court.  His parents were English immigrants from Bedfordshire, and from 1910-1913, Gary and his brother were educated in England.

After high school, Cooper went on to study at Grinnell College for a few years, although he did not receive a degree.  After an unsuccessful attempt to earn a living as an editorial cartoonist in Helena, he followed his parents out to Los Angeles where they had retired.  Cooper later said that if he was going to starve, he might as well do it where it was warm rather than where it was freezing.

Out in the land of fruits and nuts, Cooper tried his hand at many things in order to earn a living:  promoter for a  photographer, a seller of electrical signs and even applied for work as an ink-stained wretch at a newspaper.  Out of desperation for employment rather than any burning desire to be an actor, Cooper began to work as an extra in movies.  A friend, Nan Collins, advised him to change his name to Gary after her hometown of Gary, Indiana, and Cooper took her advice.  After several years as an extra, Cooper achieved early stardom in the western, The Virginian.   Although he would appear in every type of film imaginable in his career, Cooper always appeared most comfortable in Westerns, a genre which fit his understated, laid back acting style, and his laconic speech.  Cooper specialized in playing ordinary decent men, trying to do their best in extraordinary situations.  He also had a flair for comedy where his dead pan delivery, combined with a dry wit, ensured laughter whatever “funny” lines he was attempting to deliver.

The archetypal film during this period of his career for Cooper was The Westerner where he played a cowboy who tangled with “Judge” Roy Bean, “Law West of the Pecos”, magnificently portrayed by Walter Brennan who appeared with Cooper in several films, including Sergeant York as York’s pastor.  The film is a skillful mixture of comedy and drama, with Cooper giving a bravura performance.

Alvin C. York had been approached by Hollywood producer Jesse Lasky several times, beginning in 1919, to make a movie of his life.  Each time he refused, summing up his position simply with the phrase, “This uniform ain’t for sale.”

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Israel to Loosen Gaza Blockaid

Palestinian official Raed Fattouh, who coordinates the flow of goods into Gaza with Israel, said soda, juice, jam, spices, shaving cream, potato chips, cookies and candy were now permitted. He said Israel rebuffed Palestinian requests for construction goods, raw materials for factories to operate and medical devices.

Israeli officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were discussing internal policymaking, said their goal in allowing more goods into Gaza was to defuse pressure for an international investigation of the sea raid.

More.  Since the blockaid is essential to Israel’s security and right to defend itself, one can only assume that the country will now cease to exist.

4

The Importance of Sports in a Post-Modern World

In a few days the FIFA World Cup, which is one of -if not the- premier sporting events in the world, begins so I thought it might be a good time to reflect on the good of sports for those who don’t play them.

In modern sports, sometimes it’s hard to see this good. In sports today, we have college football conferences raiding each other in pursuit of the all-mighty dollar, destroying the wonderful regional nature of the game. We have Kobe Bryant, one of the all-time divas, two games away from yet another title. As Henry Karlson pointed out in a post a while ago, sports stars often find themselves in a position of privilege-both in terms of financial wealth and in terms of our excusal of their poor behavior (though I would attribute this in large part not solely to sports but also to the cult of celebrity we have today, which is another post for another day). We even had a stampede in anticipation of the World Cup.

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5

Political Weasel of the Year

Hands down, the holder of the title of political weasel of the year has to be Governor Charlie Crist of Florida, a former Republican, who left the party when it became obvious that he would lose the Republican Senate nomination to pro-life stalwart Marco Rubio.

When Crist began his career he was a pro-abort.  Then he became a pro-lifer and was elected Governor as a pro-lifer.  Now that he is running as an independent for the Senate against pro-lifer Rubio, Crist is preparing to go back to being a pro-abort and has scrubbed his campaign web-site of all mention of being pro-life:

Governor Crist of Florida, who has been vacillating for the past month over whether or not he will veto a recently-passed pro-life law, removed the pro-life/pro-family issue page of his U.S. Senate campaign website on Monday – an indication that he may be considering vetoing the bill after all.

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2

Big Brother and The Fish Wrapper Industry

Content advisory in the video for one very crude section.  From the only reliable source of news on the net, the Onion.  The Onion exaggerates a bit. Why the Boston Globe probably has at least a few years of death spiral left to it before it has zero subscribers.

The Federal Trade Commission has produced a staff  discussion draft which may be read here, filled with bad ideas to prop up the dead tree media.  Among the worst of the ideas is what boils down to government money being used to subsidize the fish wrapper industry:

Proposals for Increased Government Subsidies, Indirect and Direct A variety of proposals have emerged to allow further government support for journalism through either indirect or direct means. Whatever the means, care must be taken to ensure that government support does not result in biased and politicized news coverage.  🙂

Increase Government Funding

Establish a “journalism” division of AmeriCorps.   AmeriCorps is the federal program that places young people with nonprofits to get training and do public service work.87 According to proponents, this proposal would help to ensure that young people who love journalism will stay in the field. “It strikes us as a win-win; we get more journalists covering our communities, and young journalists have a chance to gain valuable experience – even at a time when the small dailies where they might have started are laying reporters off.”

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I'm Shocked, Shocked!

Hattip to the Volokh Conspiracy.

From the Journal of Psychology, Public Policy and Law:

Lawyers’ litigation forecasts play an integral role in the justice system. In the course of litigation, lawyers constantly make strategic decisions and/or advise their clients on the basis of their perceptions and predictions of case outcomes. The study investigated the realism in predictions by a sample of attorneys (n = 481) across the United States who specified a minimum goal to achieve in a case set for trial. They estimated their chances of meeting this goal by providing a confidence estimate. After the cases were resolved, case outcomes were compared with the predictions. Overall, lawyers were overconfident in their predictions, and calibration did not increase with years of legal experience.  Female lawyers were slightly better calibrated than their male counterparts and showed evidence of less overconfidence. In an attempt to reduce overconfidence, some lawyers were asked to generate reasons why they might not achieve their stated goals. This manipulation did not improve calibration.

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Vatican Weighs in On Middle East Christian Crisis

The Vatican  released a working paper during Pope Benedict XVI’s pilgrimage to Cyprus to prepare the way for a crisis summit of Middle East bishops in Rome. What I take away from this- along with the Holy See’s call for lifting the blockade of Gaza- is something of a vindication for my more raw views urging for a sea change in American Catholic opinion and action regarding the overall situation in the Middle East, and in Israel-Palestine in particular.

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3

A Moving Moment Outside The World's Largest Abortion Mill

An inspiring scene of Ramon refusing to cater for the new super abortion mill in Houston.

To help eliminate the world’s largest abortion mill in Houston contact the following groups:

Life Advocates of Houston

Texas Right to Life

Houston Coalition for Life

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

— Holy Gospel of Saint Luke 23:34 cf.

Ora pro nobis!

2

Farfour Mouse is Dead

Farfour Mouse was a popular character on the Tomorrow’s Pioneers show on the Hamas Al-Aqsa network in Gaza.  I say was, because as you can see in the above video an “Israeli” killed off the Mickey Mouse clone.  This kiddie-prop  reminded me of a real Disney cartoon, Education for Death, which appeared in 1943 and illustrated how the Nazis educated a child to grow up to be one of their Aryan supermen destined for death on one of the battlefields in Hitler’s War.

I will have to hand the Nazi’s one thing, their propaganda tended to have better production values.  The Hamas version definitely is hate propaganda for youngsters done on the cheap.  Here we have Farfour, before his “martyrdom”, telling his kiddie viewers of the necessity of fighting the Jews.  

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12

No More Generations?

On the NYT’s philosophy blog, there was an article written about the decision to have children. I didn’t realize it when I first read it, but it was written by notorious pro-abort Peter Singer (and by notorious, I mean that he’s pro-choice even after birth).

But very few ask whether coming into existence is a good thing for the child itself. Most of those who consider that question probably do so because they have some reason to fear that the child’s life would be especially difficult — for example, if they have a family history of a devastating illness, physical or mental, that cannot yet be detected prenatally

All this suggests that we think it is wrong to bring into the world a child whose prospects for a happy, healthy life are poor, but we don’t usually think the fact that a child is likely to have a happy, healthy life is a reason for bringing the child into existence. This has come to be known among philosophers as “the asymmetry” and it is not easy to justify. But rather than go into the explanations usually proffered — and why they fail — I want to raise a related problem. How good does life have to be, to make it reasonable to bring a child into the world?

A quick observation will point out that Singer assumes that health is a requirement for happiness, an assumption well refuted by many anecdotes about the joy of those who suffer with illness.

However, I find it amazing that Singer is willing to attempt to determine how “good” a child’s life will be.

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2

Gibbon, Hypatia and Bigotry

One of my favorite historians is Edward Gibbon.  I have made my way through his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire several times.  I find his style entertaining, his wit dry, and his scholarship, for his time, adequate.  Unfortunately Gibbon was also an anti-Catholic bigot, in part a reaction to a brief conversion to the Faith as a teen-ager, which exposed him to considerable paternal displeasure.  His bigotry is on full display whenever he treats of the Church, but usually he does not distort the facts.  That was not the case in his account of the female philosopher Hypatia, and the fate she met in Egypt in 391 AD.  That account, usually in distorted form, is a staple of anti-Catholic and atheist websites.  Now Hypatia is the heroine of a Catholic bashing movie Agora. The English trailer of the movie is at the top of this post.  David Hart has a superb post at First Things correcting Gibbon and the movie.

The occasion of my misery is the release of Alejandro Amenábar’s film Agora, which purports to be a historical account of the murder of the female philosopher Hypatia by a Christian mob in the early fifth century, of the destruction of the Great Library of Alexandria, and (more generally) of an alleged conflict that raged in the ancient world between Greek science and Christian faith. I have not actually seen the movie, and have no intention of doing so (I would say you couldn’t pay me to watch it, but that’s not, strictly speaking, true). All I know about it is what I have read in an article by Larry Rohter in the New York Times. But that is enough to put my teeth on edge.

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4

The Civil War in 4 Minutes

This video is unsurpassed for conveying in such a brief time, with each minute representing one year, the major events and shifting areas controlled by the Union and the Confederacy during the War. It also graphically portrays the human cost of the War as the seconds roll by and the dead and wounded toll grows ever higher. Continue Reading

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Hearst Stands Behind Anti-Semite Helen Thomas

Breaking News: The USA Today is reporting that Helen Thomas has retired following her anti-Semitic comments from last week (Biretta tip to TAC reader Phillip)

The Hearst Corporation, which owns Hearst Newspapers, continues to stand behind their ‘news reporter’ the anti-Semite Helen Thomas despite video evidence of her anti-Semitic remarks.

In her anti-Semitic remarks she called on Jews in the Middle-East to ‘get the hell out of Palestine’ and go back home to ‘Germany’ and ‘Poland’.  Apparently forgetting that they have been inhabiting the Holy Land for several thousands of years.

The Hearst Corporation, Helen Thomas’ employer, continues to stand behind her, but are saying her comments do not represent the values of the Hearst Corporation.

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