Monthly Archives: September 2010

TAC College Football Rankings: Week 1

Idaho Vandals QB & NFL Prospect Nathan Enderle

So we’re trying a new feature here at TAC. Since we noticed we have a lot of college football fans, we thought it might be fun to start our own rankings system. This way, we have an excuse to talk college football every week in a Catholic setting. B/c we thought of it this week, this ranking is coming out on Thursday but the others should be coming out on Mondays.

Here’s how it’ll work. People will send in their rankings and I’ll assign points to them (25 for 1st, 24 for 2nd, etc.) and then average out the points and rank the teams according to that. Then I will take that score along with the computer models and…just kidding. No computer models.

My hope is that it’ll build and we’ll get more people involved (and if you want to submit rankings, let me know-you don’t have to write for TAC). At the end of the year, we may even do a special bowl pick-em thing if it seems popular enough.

Rankings follow after the jump ?

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Well, Duh!

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Fidel Castro, the soon to be late dictator of Cuba, proclaims what most Cubans have known since he took over Cuba two years after my birth.  Journalist Jeffery Goldberg of the Atlantic asked him if the Cuban economic model was something he believes should be exported.  The failed baseball player said that the Cuban economic model didn’t even work for Cubans.  Go here to read the story.

The “Cuban economic model” as far as I can tell basically consisted of reducing most of the population to the status of state slaves to support the nomenklatura of the Cuban Communist party.  The system only “worked” because huge subsidies from the Soviet Union propped it up.  After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the elimination of the subsidies, the Cuban economy went into freefall as detailed here→']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Ferengi-nomics

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(Content advisory to the above video.  A few of the Rules of Acquisition are off-color.  You know what the Ferengi are like.)

We have been having a debate recently on The American Catholic between Austrians and Distributists.  As a devotee of free enterprise with as little government intervention as possible, I have found some wisdom in the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition as set forth in one of my favorite fictional realms:  Star Trek.  Many of the Rules of Acquisition of course are merely for entertainment purposes and would lead to immoral results, if not bankruptcy or prison, if attempted in reality.  However,  after a quarter century of running my own business, I believe these rules are insightful:

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Lincoln on Secession

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Lincoln, in his war address to Congress on July 4, 1861, made his views regarding secession clear and, I believe, is his longest treatment of the topic.   It has always struck me as interesting that Lincoln thought it necessary to clearly distinguish between secession and rebellion, and took up so much time in an address to Congress to do so.  Lincoln always understood that the war of ideas was just as important as the war on the battlefield, something some of our Presidents have failed to understand to their cost. A good summary by Mackubin Thomas Owens of how Lincoln’s position on secession had a long heritage among American statesmen prior to the Civil War may be read here.  My own views on secession are set forth in the comments  here.  Lincoln on secession:

“It might seem at first thought to be of little difference whether the present movement at the South be called “secession” or “rebellion.” The movers, however, well understand the difference. At the beginning they knew they could never raise their treason to any respectable magnitude by any name which implies violation of law. They know their people possessed as much of moral sense, as much of devotion to law and order, and as much pride in and reverence for the history and Government of their common country as any other civilized and patriotic people. They knew they could make no advancement directly in the teeth of these strong and noble sentiments. Accordingly they commenced by an insidious debauching of the public mind. They invented an ingenious sophism, which, if conceded, was followed by perfectly logical steps through all the incidents to the complete destruction of the Union. The sophism itself is, that any State of the Union may, consistently with the national Constitution, and therefore lawfully and peacefully, withdraw from the Union without the consent of the Union or of any other State. The little disguise that the supposed right is to be exercised only for just cause, themselves to be the sole judge of its justice, is too thin to merit any notice.

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A Secular Argument Against Gay Marriage

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by Joe Hargrave

Recently Kyle Cupp at Vox Nova (one of the good ones, he is) addressed the arguments of a Peter Sunderman at The American Scene regarding the validity of arguments against gay marriage. In brief, Sunderman doesn’t really believe there are any. Instead opposition to gay marriage, even his own, is motivated by a vague “intuition” that cannot find adequate manifestation in any rational argument. While Kyle unfortunately appears to agree with Sunderman, I do not.

Let us first be clear that the case for traditional marriage between one man and one woman is already more than amply made. As Kyle points out, gay marriage advocates such as Andrew Sullivan are willing to acknowledge all of the great and useful aspects of traditional marriage. What they maintain is that opponents of gay marriage have not demonstrated how its legal recognition will harm traditional marriage.

I have never been the greatest adherent of the notion that “the law instructs.” Oftentimes I believe laws merely reflect shifting economic and cultural trends, often playing catch-up after the fact. In the case of homosexual unions, however, any act that places them on the same level as traditional unions will necessarily send a message to everyone in society, including children, that it is a matter of indifference whether one marries a person of the same sex or of the opposite sex.  And it must be mentioned here that in the face of declining Western birth rates, the case for traditional marriage is stronger than it has ever been. Contrary to overpopulation hysteria, which I suppose some will want to debate over, developed countries need more children, and they need them now. It is hard to see how the problem of declining birth rates will be addressed by a society that is indifferent to sexual behavior.

With that said, let us now make the easiest case against gay marriage.

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Xenophobia, Patriphobia and the Ground Zero Mosque

The Ground Zero Mosque Debate has been interesting.  The vast majority of Americans oppose it, while about a third of Americans support the building of the mosque.  This issue has been debated quite a bit on this blog, and my opposition to the mosque is set forth in my post Cynical Brilliance which may be read here.  The debate has raged around the internet, much of it merely repeating the same points ad nauseum.  One of the more original contributions is that of Professor Carson Holloway at Public Discourse:

Liberal patriphobia also arises in part from liberals’ sensitivity to the historical traumas that have been inflicted on the human race through a disordered love of one’s own. In the European experience, Nazism and Fascism stand as sobering reminders of the enormous criminality that has been done in the name of a perverted patriotism. In America, the historical crime of slavery was initiated and defended on the basis of whites’ definition of Africans as alien and other, and hence as not possessed of any rights that demanded respect. Liberals are correct to be mindful of such injustices, sensitive to their causes, and alert to avoiding their recurrence. They err, however, in laying the blame for such crimes entirely at the feet of the love of one’s own as such. The real culprit is the excess of the love of one’s own, not to say an insanely inflated version of it. As St. Augustine remarked, the abuse of a thing does not take away its use; and it would be no less foolish to abandon the love of one’s own because of the excesses of nationalism than it would be to abandon erotic love because of crimes of jealousy.

Although well-intentioned in its origins, liberal patriphobia should be rejected as incoherent and morally dangerous. It is incoherent because it is what C.S. Lewis called, in The Abolition of Man, a mere moral innovation—that is, a novel teaching that rejects important portions of the moral tradition of the human race on which it is nevertheless silently parasitic. This was, in fact, Lewis’s criticism of Nazism. It wrenched from traditional morality the universally accepted principle that a man must love and serve his country, while at the same time it abandoned the equally venerable claim that justice requires that we respect the rights of all men, even those of foreign nationality. Modern liberalism simply reverses this error, denying that a man may especially cherish his countrymen while groundlessly insisting that he love the whole human race. In fact, modern liberalism learned its love for humanity from a traditional morality that also taught a heightened love for one’s own. If one principle is to be rejected, then both are groundless. If one is to be retained, then both have authority. ']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

As The September 11 Anniversary Nears, A Review Of Al Qaeda's Little Reported-On War Against The Catholic Church

While most of the world mourns the nearly three thousand who were brutally murdered by Al Qaeda on September 11, 2001, many assume all of Al Qaeda attacks stem from a warped political motive. Most may not be aware that since the day of its inception many of Al Qaeda’s targets have involved the Catholic Church and her holy sites.

Less than one year before the September 11, 2001 attacks Al Qaeda was planning a spectacular Christmas attack at the large and historic Strasbourg Cathedral in France. While this attack was foiled, an attack on the Catholic cathedral in Jakarta, Indonesia was not thwarted, resulting in the deaths of several churchgoers and those on a nearby street.

Yet, five years before this brazen plan, an even more sinister plan was nearly carried out by the chief planner of the September 11, 2001 attacks, Khalid Sheik Muhammad, which he coordinated to coincide with the visit of Pope John Paul II to Manila for World Youth Day in January of 1995. The plan called for the pontiff to be killed along with countless of the faithful who was planning to see him in Manila that day. Incidentally, some speculate that the crowd that came to see the Polish pontiff that day was nearly the same size that came to see his funeral some ten years later. Some speculate it may have been the largest religious gathering at one place in our known history, some five to seven million strong.

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Obama To Announce New Business Tax Cuts

President Obama will propose several new tax cuts and incentives for businesses on Wednesday, September 8th, including one which is billed as having a decidedly right-leaning flavor:

President Barack Obama, in one of his most dramatic gestures to business, will propose that companies be allowed to write off 100% of their new investment in plant and equipment through 2011, a plan that White House economists say would cut business taxes by nearly $200 billion over two years.

The proposal, to be laid out Wednesday in a speech in Cleveland, tops a raft of announcements, from a proposed expansion of the research and experimentation tax credit to $50 billion in additional spending on roads, railways and runways. But unlike those two ideas, both familiar from Mr. Obama’s 2008 campaign, the investment incentive would embrace a long-held wish by conservative economists that had never won support from either Republican or Democratic administrations.
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Genius, Weird Al Yankovic

That is a word that many music entertainers use to describe “Weird Al” Yankovic.

All of the songs that Weird Al parodies he gets approval for.  In fact after the Coolio controversy about his “Amish Paradise” music video he now makes sure he speaks with the music entertainer directly before he proceeds in the production of any new venture.

Weird Al also parodies music styles, ie, pastiche, in addition to pop music hits.

In another cult classic which is a rare original from Weird Al, he pokes fun at the pop music group Devo and their brand of music which is New Wave.

Shortly after the song was released, Weird Al received a letter from the lead singer of Devo, Mark Mothersbaugh, congratulating him on writing “the perfect Devo song”.  He has also said that the song is “beautiful … and I hate him for it, basically.”

An apocryphal story has been recounted where the lead singer of the Talking Heads, David Byrne, said after viewing the video for “Dare To Be Stupid” that Weird Al is a “genius”!

Dare To Be Stupid is the title song of the same album, and in my personal opinion his best album ever.

Enjoy!

[Warning: The following videos are without profane lyrics or any form of nudity.  You may finally realize that you can enjoy "contemporary" or "pop" music without all the vileness that emanates from the black hole that is MTV.]

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Santorum to Respond to JFK in Houston Speech

This Thursday (September 9th) will see former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) come to my campus, the University of St. Thomas-Houston. Santorum is set to give an address on the role of Faith and Public Life. It is quite clear that this address is merely a precursor to a 2012 presidential run and thus it will be a highly politicized speech, as was JFK’s speech on Faith in the Public Square 50 years ago. Nonetheless, I am curious to hear what Santorum has to say. I promise to provide a recap of the address for this blog sometime next weekend, so stay tuned.

If Santorum is to run for President successfully he is going to have his work cut out for him. Much like Senator Sam Brownback in 2008, Senator Santorum will be pegged as the “values candidate”.  In order to gain any traction, Santorum will need to do well in Iowa, a state that has a track record of hostility towards Catholic candidates. If social conservative heavyweights like Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin jump in the race, Santorum might as well throw in the towel and hope to be someone’s VP. To his great credit, Santorum has admitted that he was wrong to have endorsed the pro-choice, Arlen Specter over the pro-life candidate, Pat Toomey during the 2004 Pennsylvania Senate Republican primary.

Even though he has been out of the Senate for almost 4 years now, Santorum remains a controversial figure in American politics, as evidenced by comments on blog posts here and here. More on Santorum next weekend…

Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the Stone

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On Labor Day it is good to recall Saint Joseph the Worker.  When God decided to partake in our humanity, He could have had anyone for His foster father, and He chose a humble carpenter, a man who worked with his hands.  Why?

The Bible gives us no indication that Saint Joseph was intelligent, brave or resourceful.  He may have been all these things, but the Bible does not tell us.  We know that he was of the House of David, but judging from all indications in the Bible he lived in humble circumstances.  What made Joseph stand out to God other than the fact of his heritage?

Kindness I think, simple human kindness.  This was graphically demonstrated at the very beginning when Saint Joseph first is mentioned in the Gospel of Saint Matthew 1:18 and 19:

Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.

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Sacred and Holy?

And they cried with a loud voice, saying:  How long, O Lord (holy and true) dost thou not judge and revenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? Apocalypse 6:10

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If you listen closely you can hear the attendants (which include the mayor of our fine city of Houston Anise Parker) at this “dedication” commenting on their newly “sacred and holy” ground. They are speaking of the largest abortuary in the United States.

If we are moving toward, or already in, a post-Christian civilization then should we be surprised that those who promote and support abortion and other anti-life policies impart a religious sheen on their actions?  After all, human sacrifice was present in almost all pagan religions to some extent with the Aztec sacrifices being among the most infamous.  These people are willing and proud worshipers of Baal and, unless we pray, fast and offer Masses in reparation for these sins, we will only allow this evil to grow and ever more innocents slaughtered at the altar of “Choice”.

On Populism, The Tea Party, and Politics

The American political scene since its inception has constantly been riddled with problems. The question of what the present-day problems are cyclically arises in political discourse. In the past two years in particular, it has become an almost universal observation that the political discourse is bitterly partisan in ways that we have never seen as a country.

Those in the punditry business have presented a number of hypotheses, some good, some bad, as to how or why all that we are witnessing is taking place. The content of such speculation is hardly unexpected: President Obama has made a number of strategic errors; the Republicans are just sheer obstructionists with no ideas or solutions to anything; partisanship in Washington is just too great on both sides of the aisle due to the Democratic supermajority; the overflow of ideological partisanship to 24-hour chattering cable-news stations is making the nation more partisan because each side chooses their news source, their associations, etc., in alignment with their own views, reinforcing their own habits of thoughts and therefore we collectively fail to challenge to substantively confront counterviews; disagreement over the Senate filibuster has caused a ruckus because it has either halted or changed the political dynamics of Democratic policy initiatives due to delay— is this a mechanism of checks-and-balances or an unreasonable threshold, in present time,  requiring a supermajority for any important legislation?

There are many other explanations commonly put forth, but what is perhaps the most underlying problem of all, the truest explanation and biggest culprit of all, indeed, the biggest threat to democracy, goes unnoticed: the apathy, the ignorance, and the growing incoherence of the American public. This may be called, for the lack of better terms, the “populist problem.” →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Yes, It Is a Weird Al Weekend

I’m coming out of the closet, I’m a “Weird Al” Yankovic fan.  I don’t listen to him much these days, but I do keep up with some of his latest hits like my post from yesterday.

So here are some of his more enjoyable hits that some may not be aware of…

[Warning: The following videos are without profane lyrics or any form of nudity.  You may finally realize that you can enjoy "contemporary" or "pop" music without all the vileness that emanates from the black hole that is MTV.]

In 2006 AD the music video “White & Nerdy” re-introduced “Weird Al” back into the mainstream of American culture.  This video was his first Top 40 single since 1992’s “Smells Like Nirvana”.  It also eclipsed the greatest single he ever had, “Eat It”.

In between those to seminal hits he has been very active releasing albums every other year or so, but this new hit of his re-established himself as an icon of parody videos and clean fun.

“White & Nerdy” is the second single from “Weird Al’s” album Straight Outta Lynwood.  It parodies the song “Ridin'” by Chamillionaire and Krayzie Bone. (OK, I’ll admit it, I have no idea who Chamillionaire and Krayzie Bone are, but that’s what it said in Wikipedia)

This song makes fun of nerds everywhere from Houston, Texas to Springfield, Illinois.   It includes constant references to stereotypically “nerdy” things, such as collecting comic books, playing Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), and editing Wikipedia, as well as stereotypically “white” things, like watching Happy Days and playing ping pong.

Chamillionaire himself put “White & Nerdy” on his official MySpace page, and commented that he enjoys the parody. In an interview, he also stated he was pleasantly surprised by “Weird Al”‘s rapping ability, saying: “He’s actually rapping pretty good on it, it’s crazy … I didn’t know he could rap like that.”

Enjoy the cameo’s, especially from Donny Osmond!

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Yes, there are more funny and highly entertaining video’s from Weird Al.  I compiled a short list of his most creative hits.

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Zorro: Foe of Big Government?

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When I was a small boy, I loved watching the old Walt Disney show Zorro.  I have read recently that Disney, a political conservative, used the Zorro show to argue against big government.  There are some episodes that support this, involving outrage by the people over unjust taxes.  The fictional character Zorro fought against tyrannical government in Old California, and I guess Disney decided that this was  a good storyline for how he viewed big government.  →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

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