Let's Send a Pro-Life Rocket Scientist to Congress!

Monday, October 11, AD 2010

I have often said that politics is not rocket science, but now we have a rocket scientist running for Congress!  Ruth McClung is a physicist who works as a rocket scientist.  She is strongly pro-life:

The value of life should not be taken lightly. Should I be elected, I would stand for the life of unborn babies. I would stand for protection of our elderly. I would also fight to defend animals against cruelty. Society must stand for those who cannot defend themselves or society is lost.

President Lyndon B Johnson said, “You know, doing what is right is easy. The problem is, knowing what is right.” I believe this statement is applicable to abortion.

I doubt that many would argue that the taking of an innocent life is wrong. The argument then begins with the question, “When does that life become a baby.”  Since I have an aunt and a cousin that both spent less time in the womb than many late term abortion babies, I cannot believe that those babies are not fully human and do not deserve the full rights of humans, including the right to life. I will support the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision upholding the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. My opponent is one of the 71 co-sponsors of H.R. 1964, which would nullify the national ban on partial-birth abortion.

I am also convinced that the humanity of a baby has nothing to do with whether or not it is in the womb.  At a “million cells” is it just cells, then at a “million and one cells” is it human?  There is no dividing line between non-life and life. We cannot devalue a human life in this way.  We must stand for life from the first cell!  If not, then we start down a dangerous path that will quickly lead to a culture of death in our society.  Is it not always better to error on the side of life?

I do not believe that many would suggest a young girl should do something that would cause her emotional pain for the rest of her life.  This brings me to the second life that abortion hurts – it is the life of the would-be mother.  We are giving young girls a huge choice that will affect them for the rest of their lives.  We need a society that stands up for these girls.  I understand that a girl may not be able to take care of a child at that point in her life, but I can say with surety that there will always be a family waiting to adopt that child. This will release that girl from the emotional burden that she may carry for the rest of her life.

Together, let’s stand for the value of life.

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7 Responses to Let's Send a Pro-Life Rocket Scientist to Congress!

  • Here’s the problem.

    That is all well and good, but listening to the video, it seems Ms. McClung is insufficiently grounded in the intellectual tradition of the Catholic Church.

    Apparently, she does not promote or defend the Church’s social teachings.

    It seems she would not fulfill Christ’s mandate to love and minister to the least of his brethren.

    BARF! Channeling the abortion catholic voter. GAG!

  • “Since I have an aunt and a cousin that both spent less time in the womb than many late term abortion babies, I cannot believe that those babies are not fully human and do not deserve the full rights of humans, including the right to life. I will support the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision upholding the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. My opponent is one of the 71 co-sponsors of H.R. 1964, which would nullify the national ban on partial-birth abortion.

    “I am also convinced that the humanity of a baby has nothing to do with whether or not it is in the womb. At a “million cells” is it just cells, then at a “million and one cells” is it human? There is no dividing line between non-life and life. We cannot devalue a human life in this way. We must stand for life from the first cell! If not, then we start down a dangerous path that will quickly lead to a culture of death in our society. Is it not always better to error on the side of life?”

    Indeed. This hits close to home for me today. My twin niece and nephew were born this morning at 29-weeks old. Apart from arriving 11 weeks early and being very underweight (each at around 2.5 lbs) they are healthy.

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  • There is at least one actual rocket scientist in Congress already – Rush Holt D-NJ. Unfortunatley, though, he’s a proabort …

  • Good for her. The rocket science thing is impressive in own right, but certainly nothing special for holding office. We had a nuclear physicist for President once. Can’t say that worked out too well. Then again, maybe what we need is a brain surgeon.

    Just for fun: 🙂

  • (Guest comment from Don’s wife Cathy:) Sarah Palin has now endorsed McClung (along with several other “commonsense conservatives” running for Congress) on her Facebook page here: http://www.facebook.com/notes/sarah-palin/more-great-candidates-to-support-this-year/440080678434

  • Yeah, and let’s not forget that we had the guy who invented the Internet run for President a few years ago.

Battle of Tours

Sunday, October 10, AD 2010

1268 years ago today, a  Frankish and Burgundian army under Charles Martel “the Hammer”, Mayor of the the Palace of Austrasia, defeated and turned back an Islamic army from Spain.  The battle was decisive in that it stemmed the tide of Islamic conquest in the West that had conquered virtually all of Spain in less than a decade.  Tours demonstrated that if the rest of Europe was to be conquered, it would take unending war against Christians who would never stop fighting against the followers of the prophet.  Europe would remain under siege from Islam for almost a thousand years, but Charles Martel and his men had scored the first decisive Christian victory in the long war which would ultimately turn back the first Islamic attempt to conquer Europe.

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8 Responses to Battle of Tours

  • That account seems similar to the shield wall of house carls Harold deployed at Hastings in 1066. Harold was early on killed and he was not there to hold back the carls from opening up and following the Norman cavalry that appeared to be routed. But the Norman was able to turn and “deal” with the disunited, leaderless Saxon infantry. NB: those Saxons same had, within a week, defeated a large Danish army led by a third claimant to the English throne.

    Te Deum . . .

    Plato, “Mortui solum finem belli viderunt.”

  • The Franks traditionally fought on foot, throwing axes, franciscas, at their enemies. Charles Martel was the father of European heavy cavalry, using cavalry with stirrups to supplement the Frankish infantry.

    The army defeated by Harold Godwinson was Norwegian. It was led by one of the most colorful characters of the Middle Ages, King Harald Hardrada, an ancestor of my wife’s, who took the side of Tostig, a brother of Harold Gowdwinson, in hopes of taking as much of England as he could. Instead, all he got was defeat and death at Stamford Bridge. If the Saxon army hadn’t been exhausted by the Stamford Bridge campaign, I think they might have defeated the Normans at Hastings.

  • My ancestors came with William the conqueror part of the mobile livery infantry.

    All this whining about being exhausted counts for absolutely zero when it comes to fighting for life or death.

    The Normans did more for England in one day than the thin-blooded interlopers from eastern Sweden would have done in a lifetime.

    🙂

  • Down with the Norman oppressors! 🙂

  • The family of St. Thomas a Becket came to England with the Normans, and St. Thomas was born in London.
    My father’s ancestors – Beckett – came from London( my paternal grandfather was born there). A young Englishman worked for me back in the 70’s; he and his father were builders in London before he came to NZ, and they purchased bricks from Beckett’s Brickworks in London. I like to think I’m a descendant of St.Thomas’ family, but without a jot of evidence to back it up 😉
    Then the Saxons? My paternal grandmother was of Saxon stock – her ancestors has migrated to England – around Norwich – in the 17th. century, and she was brought to NZ in the 1870’s – so on my father’s side, I am Anglo(Norman?)- Saxon.
    My mother’s family were of Celtic(Irish & Scottish) descent…..but that’s a whole other story 🙂

    (Dunno what that’s got to do with Charles Martel though 😉

    Will Europe need to find another Charles Martel, or will it simply be overtaking by being outbred? That is the way now that Islam intends to conquer Europe, as the europeans discard their Christianity and continue to decimate their own populations through abortion and contraception – ethnic and cultural suicide. So sad to be witnessing.

  • Don it is interesting to read the subject on this blog. Sometime back I received an email on statistics showing how Europe will be islamised by 2050. Looking at the current trend, I will not be surprised though I may not live untill then.

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The Death of Wolfe

Sunday, October 10, AD 2010

The Death of General Wolfe by Benjamin West is a painting which has always fascinated me.  Wolfe’s victory at the Plains of Abraham in 1759 sealed the doom of New France and also the doom ultimately of British rule in the 13 colonies.  Freed from the menace of their ancestral enemy, the colonists were also free to rethink the ties that bound them to the British crown.  West’s painting captures a pivotal moment in American history.  Not only is Wolfe dying, but an old order in America, not only for France but also for Great Britain, is mortally stricken.  American independence would have appalled James Wolfe, who had little love for Americans, but it is given to none of us to know the impact of our lives after our deaths.  Wolfe of course had a death of legend during the battle, as the great historian of the struggle between New France and the British, Francis Parkman details:

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One Response to The Death of Wolfe

  • Montcalm had acccess to the Sacraments. Sadly, Wolfe did not.

    Again (very) sadly (for the Catholic cause), I imagine the Quebec garrson fared better than did the Fort Edward garrion.

    “He who lives by the sword shall perish by the sword.”

Are Public Employees Overpaid?

Saturday, October 9, AD 2010

If you believe what you read on blogs or hear from certain politicians and pundits, a new kind of haves-vs.-have-nots class war is brewing across the land. Not between the rich and the poor, but between private and public sector workers, as related here.

Scandalous stories of public officials enjoying lavish or disproportionate pay and benefits at taxpayer expense, such as in Bell, Calif., and elsewhere , frequently make headlines and prompt calls for reductions in such compensation.

As with many other economic and taxation issues, the answer to the question posed in the title of this post usually depends on which side of the political spectrum you are on. Conservatives tend to answer “yes,” while liberals tend to answer “no” .

But which side is correct?

Before I delve into that question, I will first make some disclosures.  I am a full-time employee of the state of Illinois, making $35,000 per year. I do not belong to a union, and due to the nature of my job and agency, probably never will. I have only received one raise the entire time I have been so employed (nearly 4 years) due to a promotion to a slightly higher job level. I do not expect to receive any raises for the foreseeable future; in fact a pay cut is a distinct possibility. Prior to that I worked 20 years in private sector employment in the newspaper field. In some instances the pay and benefits were comparable to, and even better than, my current job. In other instances they were not as good.

Now to the question: are public employees overpaid? That depends on who you ask and how one defines “overpaid”. The average pay of state and federal employees in general is higher than that of private sector workers in general. When broken down by education, profession, etc. the picture is not as cut and dried. For lower-skilled jobs requiring only a high school or vocational education — e.g. custodians, receptionists, guards — the public sector pays better, whereas for professional jobs requiring a college degree or higher (attorneys, doctors, CPAs, etc.), the private sector pays more — often a lot more. These articles from Kiplinger and from Governing.com explain the differences in greater detail.

Two of the biggest reasons for these disparities are that 1) public employment tends to have a greater percentage of jobs requiring a college education or beyond and 2) public sector jobs are more likely to be unionized.

Public employee unions are a favorite bete noire of fiscal conservative politicians and candidates at the moment, and much of the public seems to agree with them. The fact that public employees continue in many (though not all) states and localities to enjoy benefits most private employees no longer have, such as regular salary increases, defined benefit pension plans, and caps on health insurance premiums and co-pays, arouses resentment among ordinary citizens who are forced to pay for such benefits via taxation.

Although many officeholders and candidates talk a good game when it comes to reining in public employee benefits, in practice the most frequent targets of budget cutting measures such as layoffs, furlough days and pay cuts, are lower or mid-level non-union employees. They often end up being punished for the sins (real or perceived) of their higher placed or unionized colleagues, simply because they are the easiest targets — not protected by either union contracts or political/personal connections.

The biggest problems on a state and local level are pension deficits — the growing gaps between the amount of money in public pension funds and the amount of benefits those funds are expected to pay in the future. According to this report by the Pew Center on the States, pension shortfalls are fiscal time bombs that threaten to devour entire state and city budgets if nothing is done to defuse them before it is too late.

How did the situation get that bad? In most cases it was due to a variety of factors — yes, generous union contracts played a part, but so did repeated failure on the part of lawmakers to invest properly in public pension funds, demographic changes (aging of the Baby Boomers, people living longer), and investments tanking due to the recession. No one factor can be singled out, and the entire blame for the pension crisis cannot be laid at the feet of one person or group of people. But regardless of who is or was to blame, the problem has to be dealt with, not swept under the rug.

Private sector employees are quick to point out that while they have to support public employee benefits with their taxes, public employees are not forced to do the same for private employees — they can choose whether or not to do business with a private company.

I agree, and this is in my opinion an argument that should be taken most seriously. For that reason, public employees are by necessity accountable to the public and will always be subject to various restrictions and considerations that do not apply to private employees (e.g., their salaries being public information).  This is not “unfair” or unequal, but simply part of the deal one signs up for when working for a government body.

Another claim often made by private employees is that government workers, by virtue of the pay, job security and benefits they enjoy, are artificially insulated from the realities their privately employed neighbors face — the constant threat of being fired or laid off, lack of retirement security, worry about medical bills, etc.

That might, perhaps, be true of top officials/administrators with strong political connections who make six-figure salaries, whose spouses have equally high-paying positions, and whose children or other family members are completely healthy. Otherwise, I am not so sure.

Many public employees, particularly non-union ones, are regularly threatened with layoffs or missed paychecks (most often at the end of a fiscal year). Given the poor financial standing of many public employee pension funds, combined with the fact that some public employees don’t get Social Security, I’d say many of them (including myself) who are 10 years or more away from retirement are just as worried about their retirement as you are.

Also, most public employees do not live in a bubble or a vacuum. Most used to work in the private sector at some time in their lives, and many are married to spouses who work in the “real world” or are currently unemployed or disabled. Their grown children, their parents, their siblings, and their friends and neighbors  include private employees or unemployed persons looking for work. The only exceptions I can think of might be political “dynasty” families like the Kennedys or Daleys. Plus, public employees pay all the same taxes everyone else does — federal, state, sales, property, the whole works. If taxes go up, it cuts into their budgets too.

Just because someone has a government job doesn’t mean they have, or should have, no interest in whether private business succeeds. If factories close and move overseas, if private companies go bankrupt and abolish or raid pension funds, if high taxes drive up the cost of living, if college education becomes unaffordable without taking on ruinous levels of debt — it affects them and their families too. It is in everyone’s interest, no matter what kind of job they have, to have a fiscally sound and honest government, competent public employees, and a sustainable tax structure.

Also, do not forget that for every instance in which a public official received undeserved pay, pensions or perks at taxpayer expense one could probably cite an equally egregious case of a private business executive enjoying lavish pay and benefits at the expense of fired workers, closed factories/offices, or raided pension funds. Greed is greed no matter where it occurs, and no sector of the economy is exempt from the effects of original sin.

Finally, since this is a Catholic blog, we should approach this issue from a religious perspective as well. Christ Himself chose a public employee, Matthew the tax collector, to be one of His Apostles. He also told His followers to “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s.” So, apparently, He did not believe that working for the government was inherently evil, unproductive or exploitive.

Some more pointed advice was given by Christ’s precursor, John the Baptist, to the public servants of his day who came to see him (Luke 3:12-14):

“Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him, “Teacher, what should we do?”
He answered them, “Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.”
Soldiers also asked him, “And what is it that we should do?” He told them, “Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages.”

John was referring to practices for which the public employees of the day were notorious — tax collectors often overcharged citizens and pocketed the “profit” they made, while Roman soldiers were known for shaking down citizens of the provinces they occupied for money, food, or other goods. Here John is telling them simply to do their duty, not demand any more of the public than the law requires, and be content with what they are paid. If today’s public officials and employees did the same, there would be a lot fewer problems.

As with most problems in a fallen world, there is no perfectly just way to balance the need for a professional, competent government workforce with that of a private sector free of unnecessary taxes and regulation. This does not mean, however, that we should not attempt to find as just a resolution as possible. However this will require people who are not to blame for the situation to help clean it up, and at considerable personal cost.

For public employees, this means more work for less pay, more out of pocket expenses, and for some, no job at all. For the rest of us it could mean higher taxes, reduced services or some combination of the two. All these things will impact thousands, even millions, of good, hardworking people who are simply doing the best they can and had no part in creating the situation. It may not be perfectly fair, but life ain’t fair.

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18 Responses to Are Public Employees Overpaid?

  • Excellent Post, Elaine!!

    But… I would like to raise a couple of points.

    Also, do not forget that for every instance in which a public official received undeserved pay, pensions or perks at taxpayer expense one could probably cite an equally egregious case of a private business executive enjoying lavish pay and benefits at the expense of fired workers, closed factories/offices, or raided pension funds. Greed is greed no matter where it occurs, and no sector of the economy is exempt from the effects of original sin.

    While I do agree that greed is a problem in some cases, I believe that there are instances where people can be too judgemental of a person who is wealthy or “rich” in the private sector who has been successful in life. Some may perceive a particular “rich” person as being greedy but in actuality that person may give to causes and foundations but we just may not know about it. Maybe, they want to donate and not have it spread across the news? Both envy and jealousy are also sins.

    In the private sector businesses usually either make it or they don’t, whereas with the public sector the workers or that particular government program can pretty much count on being bailed out, and if “needed” taxes will be raised or a new tax will be implemented without having the taxpayers consent, in most cases. Plus, the private sector doesn’t usually get bailouts as they did under Bush and Obama. And, that was only a few companies.

    Private sector jobs do not force people to patronage them like the public sector demands taxpayers to pay taxes to be subsidized by the public. Yes, the “little guy” usually draws the short straw and is the one to pay. While I believe that layoffs are a terrible thing, do you honestly think that a successful entrepreneur who started his/her own business, been in business for a number of years,and is being affected by the downturn should be the one to “pay” the consequences of downturn? The business person/owner may not be the employee who is being layed off, and probably doesn’t want to layoff any employees but in actuality he may feel compelled to layoff some employees just to keep his/her business afloat in tough economic times.

    When I lived in MD, the property tax prices were skyrocketing ( one lady’s taxes went from $300 to $900 in one year) because of how much the teachers and government bureaucrats in the Dept. of Education were being overpaid so the taxpayers voted on a ballot initiative to limit their increases to 2% per year. I believe there needs to be a cap on the amount of pay increase that ALL public sector employees may receive each year- maybe at 2%?

  • I’m not saying that ALL private sector layoffs are evil or motivated by greed, but mainly thinking of those really infamous cases like Enron or cases that involved actual fraud or embezzlement.

    Mainly I’m just saying that I’d prefer not to see the same kind of class warfare rhetoric that conservatives find so offensive when applied to the private sector rich in general, being applied to public sector workers in general — i.e. demonizing them as all lazy, unproductive, corrupt, etc, the way liberals do to the “rich.”

  • While this post displays a sense of justice toward individuals whether they be employed by the public or private sectors it also seems to operate on the premise that their is some level of equivalency between the two.

    From an economic and social justice perspective the goal ought to be minimizing the number of government employees and maximizing the number of private sector employees. How we get there can be debated but this needs to be the fundamental premise.

  • The use of “their” should be “there” in the above post.

  • I’ve been in the civil service for 16 years. During most of that time, study after study showed us to be greatly underpaid for our work. During the Clinton Administration – a period of unparalleled economic prosperity – the Administration repeatedly sought to limit pay and benefits increases because the government sought to pay down debt. Until quite recently, getting candidates for other than starting-level jobs has been quite difficult.

    I’m not complaining. I believe that I am paid fairly for my work. However, the present complaints about civil service pay are really quite silly. Most of our jobs were scarce sought after during better economic periods. It is only during economic downturns that people are anxious for public sector employment.

    Really, this has nothing to do with pay… It has EVERYTHING to do with uncertainty. The complaint is spurred by the uncertainty of the private sector. Job uncertainty is terrifying and unpleasant and many feel that it is just not fair that the public sector has job security. I’d wager that lower wages would not make those complaining feel any better. They feel like we need to be punished. We need to suffer job uncertainty. We need to fear the loss of our station in life if “fairness” shall reign. In other words, everyone should suffer together.

    It is hardly a Christian sentiment but is surely is a human one.

  • “At a time when workers’ pay and benefits have stagnated, federal employees’ average compensation has grown to more than double what private sector workers earn, a USA TODAY analysis finds.
    Federal workers have been awarded bigger average pay and benefit increases than private employees for nine years in a row. The compensation gap between federal and private workers has doubled in the past decade.

    Federal civil servants earned average pay and benefits of $123,049 in 2009 while private workers made $61,051 in total compensation, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The data are the latest available.

    The federal compensation advantage has grown from $30,415 in 2000 to $61,998 last year.

    Public employee unions say the compensation gap reflects the increasingly high level of skill and education required for most federal jobs and the government contracting out lower-paid jobs to the private sector in recent years.

    “The data are not useful for a direct public-private pay comparison,” says Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union.

    Chris Edwards, a budget analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute, thinks otherwise. “Can’t we now all agree that federal workers are overpaid and do something about it?” he asks.”

    http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/income/2010-08-10-1Afedpay10_ST_N.htm

  • In my above post “patronage” is supposed to be “patronize”.

    @Donald

    You make an excellent point! Why is there so much disparity of pay between private sector and public sector jobs? And, these days much of what the government does is filled with wasteful projects, and the money could be allocated in a much better fashion.

    @Elaine

    While some government employees are not corrupt and unproductive others are indeed corrupt and unproductive ( I am in no way saying you are corrupt or unproductive). There isn’t really class warfare being engaged by those criticizing the employees pay in the public sector but rather taxpayers are wanting our monies to be allocated properly, and not wastefully used on excesses, as is happening in our government Today. When the taxpayers are responsible for subsidizing those who work in the public sector and not those employees in the private sector than it isn’t a double standard to criticize one group and not the other. There are different circumstances and relationships involved between the taxpayers and these two groups of employees.

  • I’m a private sector employee in a sea of public sector employees. On the one hand, it isn’t exactly fair to compare government workers to private employees when they are, on average, more highly educated. Something like 80 percent of the population in the DC metro area have some form of graduate degree, and obviously many of these work for in the public sector. Based on education and experience, I would say the public sector compensation is largely fair.

    That said, there is a comfort level that public sector employees enjoy that those in the private sector do not. While strictly speaking it’s not impossible to be fired, it is a bit more difficult to get the axe if you work for the government at any level. Are many public sector jobs superfluous? Yeah, and I say that as someone who had such a job back when I still lived and worked for the city of New York. We had pretty much an entire agency where five people could have done the job of the 30 or 40 of us that were there.

    I think the question isn’t whether public sector employees are overpaid (they’re not), but rather whether or not there are simply too many of them (there probably are).

  • A good analysis of the comparison of public and private compensation:

    http://reason.org/news/show/public-sector-private-sector-salary

    I think differing education levels between public and private employees are somewhat misleading. I have a secretary who has been with me for 25 years. She is a high school graduate. She is also bright, hard working, a superb organizer and an excellent learner. She manages my office and assists me with the litigation portion of my practice. During the past 25 years she has attained a good practical grasp of legal procedures. I have no doubt that if the roles she fills were staffed according to federal job procedures, I would have at least two employees, one with an Associates Degree and the other with a BA. In the private sector my secretary has the skills and the jobs but not the educational credentials.

  • I think the question isn’t whether public sector employees are overpaid (they’re not), but rather whether or not there are simply too many of them (there probably are).

    Paul’s conclusion is correct. I recently began working for the federal government, and the problem isn’t so much that federal workers are overpaid and lazy, but that there are way too many statutory requirements driving their workload.

    Let me give you an example:

    A story hits the newspapers; the Dept. of Defense paid $700 for a screwdriver. Never mind the fact that this is probably mostly a fluke of cost averaging in some account ledger; Joe Q. Taxpayer is outraged! Our Congresscritters listen; they pass a law called the Defense Acquisition Workers Improvement Act (DAWIA – Google it, if you’ve never heard of this lovely). Henceforth, all federal civilian workers in the defense contracting field must take five bazillion hours of training in How Not To Pay $700 For A Screwdriver. Congratulations, America – you’re now paying $100,000 to save $695 on a screwdriver.

  • I think NRO recently looked at this. As noted public employees tend to be better educated. Part of this is certain govt. programs that reimburse for classes thus encouraging better education. Controlling for better education (as well as a number of other factors noted) public employess still make about 12% more than private sector employees.

  • “Henceforth, all federal civilian workers in the defense contracting field must take five bazillion hours of training in How Not To Pay $700 For A Screwdriver.”

    The running joke of the last few years among State of Illinois employees is the so-called “ethics test,” an online training tool in Q & A format which all workers have to complete once a year. When you complete it, that fact is registered electronically and you also have to print out a certificate to sign and present to your supervisor.

    Many of the right answers are or should be obvious to anyone with a modicum of common sense and honesty, and it could easily be completed in about 10 minutes by experienced State employees who are familiar with the subject matter, questions and answers. However, there have been cases of employees “flunking” the test — not being registered as having completed it — because they completed it that quickly. In order to avoid this, many workers resort to dilatory tactics such as taking coffee or bathroom breaks in the middle of the “test” so they don’t finish it too fast.

    Of course, the biggest irony surrounding the ethics test is that it was instituted by Governor Hairdo as a way of demonstrating his commitment to reform in state government.

  • This is a very good article and discussion.

    With regard to education, we have a big problem in this country revolving around discrimination law. An employer doesn’t look for the best person for the job; he looks for the person he can document is the most qualified person for the job. The bigger the organization, the greater the priority on quantifiable credentials. The open secret is that degrees don’t make you a better worker. But HR isn’t looking for better workers.

  • Oops. Let me finish that thought. I’d like to see less consideration of a person’s academics in determining his wages. Under our current thinking, it’s reasonable to have the best-educated workforce the government can get, and it’s reasonable that they should be paid more on the basis of their education. But that way of thinking is wrong. Ultimately, it’s unjust.

  • Elaine,

    The economic consequence of this kind of legislation (whether it’s your ethics example or my DAWIA example) is that it takes time away from doing actual work. Unless there’s a corresponding return on that training investment (which I strongly doubt), it’s spending more dollars than dollars saved. Marginal cost exceeds marginal benefit. And it requires that the government hire more FTEs for the same amount of work.

    Why not do a better job of screening new hires in the first place? In my experience, that’s what the private sector does better. They don’t require their employees to take hundreds of hours of training because they’re confident that they’re getting people with the right experience or, at the very least, are smart enough to figure out their new jobs. My #1 complaint (so far) working for the government is, they don’t treat their people like adults. Sometimes that attitude is deserved, but for most of us, it’s insulting and wastes our time. I have graduate degrees and 12+ years of professional work experience; do I *really* need to take that course in report writing???

  • I’d like to see less consideration of a person’s academics in determining his wages.

    Ideally, public sector wages would have some relationship to value marginal product of labor. But how do you measure government “output?” If the federal agency that employs me were eliminated tomorrow, the Earth would go on turning just fine. However, it’s also likely that we’d see fraud, waste, and all sorts of bad outcomes creep up over time if went to a completely self-policing regime. So our “product” is probably worth something more than $0 and less than the hundreds of millions of dollars budgeted for it.

  • Most of us know public sector and private sector employees who are overpaid and others who are underpaid. It is people who may or may not be overpaid.

    Recalling E.F. Schumacher somewhere in Small Is Beautiful, only something like 4% of modern society actually produces something tangible of real worth. The remaining 96% of us sell it, warehouse it, advertise it, account for it, legislate about it, sue about it, transport it, broadcast about it, blog about it, keep tabs on it, deal with warranty claims about it, stock and shelve it, scan it, accept payment for it, put it on layaway, display it, and on and on. Most of us work in a world of electronic digits. Actually productive citizens are few and far between, says Schumacher. I think he’s dead right.

  • Update: New Washington Post poll shows majority of Americans believe federal employees to be overpaid and less hard working than private sector workers:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/17/AR2010101703866.html?wpisrc=nl_politics

The Last Refuge of Scoundrels

Saturday, October 9, AD 2010

16 Responses to The Last Refuge of Scoundrels

  • I’m not a fan of Rick Snyder, but Virg Bernero is another Catholic who dutifully takes dictation from the abortion industry. In fact, the only Bernero ads I have seen involve abortion.

    I’m looking forward to voting against him.

  • That makes sense. Fewer live births, fewer unemployed, eventually. Hey, the geniuses have solved the Great Recession! “Happy days are here again . . .”

    If nothing else, these evil people are consistent.

  • Similar ads have been run against Illinois GOP candidate for governor, Bill Brady. (I haven’t personally seen them but know about them through political blogs and such.) However, I suspect they have had no effect overall, or if anything, actually backfired in his favor, since he was leading in most polls until recently.

    Unfortunately, Brady still may be in danger of losing due to other factors which would take all day to explain.

  • That ad from Bernero is a lie from the pit of hell.

  • Wow – anyone who is crazy enough to side with Planned Parenthood like is crazy. Is he Catholic too? Sheesh!

  • Rotten. Simply rotten. I could never understand how, of all people, a parent could support abortion. To call out that support in the name of one’s parenthood is simply disturbing. It’s also baffling how someone can apparently condone the pro-abortion view of their parents. We really have become a twisted culture.

  • Polls show that, of voters who say they are motivated by abortion, pro-lifers outnumber pro-choicers by a 2:1 margin.

    What people say motivates them differs from reality, so perhaps these ads are going after other demographics.

    However, I don’t know of many Republican candidates using their pro-life stand as a boasting point or attacking another candidate on abortion. There’s the “Vota Tus Valores” campaign against Boxer. Anything else?

    OP: “People are voting their pocketbooks this year with a vengeance, and everything else simply isn’t registering with most voters.”

    While abortion isn’t as obvious an issue when there isn’t a presidential election, there have been careful attempts to suppress pro-life and pro-family advocacy among Republican and “Tea Party” circles this election cycle. An economic focus appeals to GOP operatives who are libertarians at heart, but this ignores the cultural problems which have helped create the crisis.

    If the GOP focuses on economic issues (where it is incompetent), will it ever return to social issues?

  • “While abortion isn’t as obvious an issue when there isn’t a presidential election, there have been careful attempts to suppress pro-life and pro-family advocacy among Republican and “Tea Party” circles this election cycle.”

    Specific examples? The only one I can think of off-hand is Mitch Daniels’ idiotic call for a truce on the social issues. He almost immediately retracted when pro-life Republicans reacted with outrage. I can also think of counter-examples. Sarah Palin for instance has been working hand in glove with the Susan B. Anthony list to elect a host of pro-life Republican women.

  • Here is a pro-life ad from Marco Rubio who is the front runner to take the Florida Senate Seat:

  • A local blog with a lot of overlap with a local libertarian think tank called the Independence Institute has been deliberately downplaying social issues, stupidly thinking this is good for the country.

    I hope I’m just wrongly projecting my poor local experiences on the rest of the country.

    There’s also the example of GOProud at CPAC. Glenn Beck, a main mover in the Tea Party movement, is often dodging these issues too. You can also sense some pundits wring their hands in anticipation that their “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” GOP is aborning, though this is perhaps wishful thinking on their part.

    Is the Rubio ad actually running on television?

  • I don’t know if the Rubio ad is running on TV in Florida. I got it off You Tube.

    Most libertarians have little love for social conservatives which is why I am wary of them. Their influence in the Republican party tends to be fairly minimal.

    Goproud I think will have as little impact as the old Log Cabin Republicans gay group. Certainly the Congressional Pledge to America called for the protection of traditional marriage,

    Glenn Beck has been all over the lot. He seems to be socially conservative, and yet he makes contradictory statements. I have always viewed him as none too stable. Although he draws huge crowds, I do think his influence on the GOP is also minimal, certainly in regard to issues highlighted by candidates.

    Rino Pundits like Peggy Noonan tend to be laughingstocks in conservative GOP circles and I do think the perennial wish for a more socially liberal GOP is delusional. That fight was won by the Reagan conservatives in the 80 election and I do not think that is going to change.

  • “Rino pundits like Peggy Noonan”

    You have to be kidding. Have you actually read any of Noonan’s recent columns? I can’t remember the last time she had ANYTHING good to say about Obama. Anymore she constantly criticizes him for being totally out of touch with the American people (which is quite true), for not giving any sense of mature leadership, and for not taking seriously the very real concerns of the public, that not just the economy, but the very fabric of society is in danger. She has never once said that the GOP should ditch social conservatives, or that their concerns are unimportant. Perhaps you have Noonan confused with Kathleen Parker?

    It may be just me, but I like Peggy Noonan, have for years, I love reading her books and columns and it really drives me nuts when people try to paint her as some kind of RINO or traitor to the conservative cause, or put her in the same category as the pro-abort Catholics (which she is NOT) just because she said a few nice things about Obama before he was elected and because she had some doubts about Sarah Palin’s suitability as a candidate for national office.

  • “You have to be kidding. Have you actually read any of Noonan’s recent columns?”

    Oh yes Elaine, and I recall her from 2008 when she was eager to show her non-conservative pals that she was on board the Obama Express, and that she was more than happy to join in kicking conservatives when they were down.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122539802263585317.html

    I regard Noonan as a writer of marginal talent with a penchant for purple prose who has gotten a pass for years from conservatives because of her association with Reagan, but who has always been a RINO who has simply been out for Peggy Noonan and Peggy Noonan alone. Now that Obama is down she is back to being a conservative. Rank opportunism has never impressed me.

  • I agree, Mac.

    I keep thinking to cancel my WSJ subscription b/c they have noonan in the op-ed page on Saturday’s. She is out of touch with reality.

    People like her are partly guilty for the GOP – no all Americans’! – losses in the 2006 congressional change-for-the-worst. After that, she pushed the 2008 electoral, mass suicide.

  • I regard Noonan as a writer of marginal talent

    That is the curious thing about her career. She has no particular expertise (‘ere beginning a career as a political speechwriter, she was an employee of CBS radio, so has always worked in the word merchant sector), is not notable for ever being given to the unexpected insight, and has a style quite unremarkable. Jobs as syndicated columnists are not handed out like Halloween candy, but somehow she got one.

  • I’m joining this conversation late, but I have to say, I loved Peggy Noonan’s book about JPII.

    But I think she, like many other media people, is having a difficult time adjusting to the Age of the Internet. She once bemoaned the fact that there are no Wise Men leading us. That sounds reasonable, except that one of those she called a “Wise Man” was Walter Cronkite, who was more responsible than anybody else for giving Americans the (false) perception that Tet was a huge defeat for America and the Vietnam War was lost. I think what Noonan misses is a time when the solemn pronouncements of media pundits (like herself) were swallowed by a believing public instead of questioned and debated and jeered at and fisked by ordinary folk on the rough and tumble medium called the Internet.

    She did more than say a few kind things about Obama – she endorsed him. And although she has criticized him harshly since the election, she has never admitted she made an error in judgement. I find Noonan is continually making observations which are very far from fresh(i.e. Obama is cool to the point of coldness, has a tin ear, and doesn’t understand the concerns of middle class Americans.) Well, many of us humble non-pundits said as much during campaign 2008. She was also slow to “get” the Tea Party and her initial comments were as slighting as anything put out by the DNC. She strikes me as being as out of touch as the Obama administration.

2 Responses to Nirvana For Political Junkies

Hope and Despair

Thursday, October 7, AD 2010

The above video by Ben Howe neatly encapsulates why the Democrats are going to take a historic beating next month.  If a politician runs on a platform of Hope and Change he better deliver plenty of both.  Obama has delivered despair and a magnification of the trends that got us into the economic and fiscal morass we are in.  No one likes to be the mark of a con, and I think that a majority of voters now are firmly convinced that a massive con was played on the nation in 2008.

Josh Kraushaar at Hotline gives us a peek of the electoral storm that is in the process of being unleashed:

But when you look at the national polling metrics and the race-by-race picture in the House, there’s little evidence of any Democratic comeback. If anything, Republicans are in as strong a position to win back control of the House as they have been this entire election cycle.

Much of the newfound glimmer of hope comes from a misinterpretation of polling data released by Democratic campaigns and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Many of the polls aren’t all that encouraging for Dems, but have been spun to present a misleadingly optimistic picture.

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9 Responses to Hope and Despair

  • I’m beginning to feel that I really don’t care who wins in November.

    Just so long we take big cuts in government spending, shut down many, many government programs, lower taxes across the board and prepare to boot President Obama in 2012.

    That’s what’s going to happen, especially if President Obama continues to demonize those of us that make our own money in the private sector.

  • There was no reason why any Catholic should have been a victim of a con game. He told us who he was from the beginning, but nobody was curious enough to follow up. E.g., every name on his Catholic advisory board were dissenting Catholics. That should have been the first clue. Secondly, a little Google search into J. Wright and Black Liberation Theology would have told us most of the rest. Thirdly, the attitude that gave rise to that long walk in Berlin and the Greek columns in Denver should have clinched it, but, if you needed a fourth, his voting record in Illinois and in the Senate couldn’t have been clearer. So dry the crocodile tears and pay more attention next time.

  • If there is a next time.

  • Louise, Louise, Louise,

    I never voted for this socialist.

  • Nothing personal intended, Tito. Just that it was Catholic voters who elected this president, and knowing that is a difficult thing to live with when it was all so obvious. As one of the characters in an Evelyn Waugh novel asks, “Where is the safest place to hide a leaf?” On the tree, of course. it was all there to be seen.

  • Just so long we take big cuts in government spending, shut down many, many government programs, lower taxes across the board and prepare to boot President Obama in 2012.

    That’s what’s going to happen

    There are no givens, Tito. It will not happen by magic and it certainly will not happen at all if indifferent conservatives sit at home on Nov. 2. If the Dems lose control of Congress, the spigot can be shut off. We need to continue to hold the feet of the Republicans to the fire after the election so they don’t go back to their big spending ways. There will be no instant fixes – we’re in this for the long haul.

  • Oh, and Donald, one of our favorite sources of entertainment, Joe “shoot from the lip” Biden came through for us again today when he told a crowd of listless (perhaps they were stoned?) Madison liberals that they were the dullest audience he had ever spoken to. Way to lay on the charm, Joe!

    I am starting to believe Biden hates us cheeseheads. He can barely set foot in Wisconsin without giving offense to the natives – several months ago, he insulted a custard store manager and today it was a friendly, if lethargic, Mad City bunch. Did a kid in a Packer jersey beat him up many moons ago? The VP’s scorn for my state hurts, and yet I am willing to swallow the pain and thereby invite Biden to return again and again to campaign nonstop for Feingold and Barrett. Joe, next time I advise wearing a purple Vikings jersey with a number “4” on it, which will make you universally beloved in the Badger State.

    As it is, I think that if Johnson and Walker manage to pull off wins in November, they should send Biden flowers, chocolates, and thank you notes.

  • You have choices: pay checks or food stamps; American dream or soviet-style nightmare.

  • Biden, Donna, my unpaid staff writer! I think Obama probably just cringes at this point whenever one of his staffers begins a statement with the words, “Joe said yesterday..”

Lepanto

Thursday, October 7, AD 2010

 

White founts falling in the Courts of the sun,
And the Soldan of Byzantium is smiling as they run;
There is laughter like the fountains in that face of all men feared,
It stirs the forest darkness, the darkness of his beard;
It curls the blood-red crescent, the crescent of his lips;
For the inmost sea of all the earth is shaken with his ships.
They have dared the white republics up the capes of Italy,
They have dashed the Adriatic round the Lion of the Sea,
And the Pope has cast his arms abroad for agony and loss,
And called the kings of Christendom for swords about the Cross.
The cold queen of England is looking in the glass;
The shadow of the Valois is yawning at the Mass;
From evening isles fantastical rings faint the Spanish gun,
And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun.

Dim drums throbbing, in the hills half heard,
Where only on a nameless throne a crownless prince has stirred,
Where, risen from a doubtful seat and half attainted stall,
The last knight of Europe takes weapons from the wall,
The last and lingering troubadour to whom the bird has sung,
That once went singing southward when all the world was young.
In that enormous silence, tiny and unafraid,
Comes up along a winding road the noise of the Crusade.
Strong gongs groaning as the guns boom far,
Don John of Austria is going to the war,
Stiff flags straining in the night-blasts cold
In the gloom black-purple, in the glint old-gold,
Torchlight crimson on the copper kettle-drums,
Then the tuckets, then the trumpets, then the cannon, and he comes.
Don John laughing in the brave beard curled,
Spurning of his stirrups like the thrones of all the world,
Holding his head up for a flag of all the free.
Love-light of Spain–hurrah!
Death-light of Africa!
Don John of Austria
Is riding to the sea.

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4 Responses to Lepanto

3 Responses to Open Thread Thursday – Never Let A Serious Crisis Go To Waste

  • The Japanese have been on this same road for 20 years. I think it’s a depression that we’re in. It’s spin to call it a recession and to continually announce the “recession” is over now, … no now, … no now, … no really, “this” time it’s over, ….

    -Paw, Doomer in Chief
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/brierpatch/

  • The geniuses (former weathermen; clueless college profs; and retired bomb throwers) in the WH; among congressional dems (Fwank, Reid, Pelosi, Dodd in power since January 2007); and in the liberal/social justice elites are having their sway.

    Fasten your seat belts . . .

    Tax, regulate, mandate, take from the evil rich, unfund and mandate, cap and tax, kill jobs, murder opportunity, give to the saintly poor, sink everyone to an equal level of dependency and desperation.

    Here’s the plan: destroy the evil, racist, unjust capitalist system.

    They can always blame Bush.

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5 Responses to Environmental Culture of Death

Twirling, Twirling Towards Freedom

Wednesday, October 6, AD 2010

On Monday night there was a debate between Connecticut Senatorial candidates Richard Blumenthal and Linda McMahon.  During the debate Linda McMahon asked Mr. Blumenthal, “How do you create a job?”  Blumenthal’s answer was, well, see for yourself.

Watching this, I couldn’t help but be reminded of another example of genius on display.

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12 Responses to Twirling, Twirling Towards Freedom

  • The frightening thing is that Mr. Blumenthal is merely a reflection of his party. I doubt more than 2 out of 10 congressional Democrats, and 0 out of 1 Oval Office Democrats, would have been any more successful in answering the question than Mr. Blumenthal was.

    Even among Democrat governors, who should at least know SOMETHING about job creation, I see little evidence that more than a handful could have coherently answered the question posed by Mrs. McMahon.

    An entire political party made up of people who, on the one hand, hate employers, but, on the other hand, claim to love jobs, and without a clue about how said jobs are created.

  • “McMahon slams Blumenthal into the turnbuckle–and he’s looking dazed!”

  • Mr. Anderson’s proportions are precise.

    Upstate New York has a congressional delegation of eleven. Ten are Democrats. Of the ten, precisely one was a businessman; one other has some academic background in economics; a third was a professional musician who had some exposure to the business world. (The solitary Republican is a businessman, wouldn’t you know).

  • As someone who has to answer questions on the spot in public for a living, I don’t really think that fumbles like this signify much. Frankly I’m amazed that it doesn’t happen more often.

  • Miss South Carolina has a great future ahead of her in politics. Like Blumenthal she didn’t let raw ignorance stop her from blathering on.

  • Oh, no!

    Lessee: tax, no that doesn’t sound right; regulate, no; pay for abortion, no; ban oil drilling, no; call a union boss . . .

    Oh, yeah! When I came marching home from Vietnam . . .

  • Linda McMahon is exactly right.

  • the thing about truth… you don’t have to memorize it, its always there.

  • Blackadder, about 70% of the man’s work history has been in public employment. Another 17% has been in law practice, specifically as a trial lawyer. (That particular firm now does commercial and real estate law as well). He spent one year as a newspaper reporter. Summer employment and part-time employment between 1961 and 1973 would make up the balance. Newspaper reporters (per Stanley Rothman) often consider themselves the antagonists of the business community and that sort of self-understanding is evident from his career as Attorney-General of Connecticut. That he could not answer the question is no accident. He thinks of the business community as shady characters out of whom you extract fines.

  • If character counts in Connecticut, and I by no means conclude in the affirmative (having spent a number of years in/around the state some two decades ago), then the man is toast. Whether or not he can succinctly (or at all) answer the job creation question, his character is warped by persistent fabrication. In no way could I begin to form the words in my mouth “We’ve come a long way since the days I served in Afganistan…” Because I have never been anywhere near the place, this simply couldn’t accidentally escape my lips.
    This man is not a gaffe machine, he is a depraved liar.

  • The sad thing is, McMahon did no better. She had her stump speech talking point memorized very well, but a third-grade understanding of economics is OK only if you’re still in the third grade and not running for the US Senate. Both sides pandering to and betting on our ignorance: no wonder this looks like a race to the bottom. Is this the best Connecticut has to offer?

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Political Miscellania 10\6\10

Wednesday, October 6, AD 2010

A roundup of recent political news.

1.  I am not a witch!  Christine O’Donnell’s “I am not a witch” opening salvo in her ad campaign.  Normally an ad from a candidate denying she is a witch would be the last thing heard from a campaign doomed to defeat and oblivion.  However, these are far from normal times.  O’Donnell does two things with this ad.  First, she shows the public that she is a real person and not the cartoon character created by the mainstream media and the denizens of the Left, and she begins to position herself as what she is:  the ultimate outsider.  Not a bad strategy in a political year that will be kind to outsiders and cruel to insiders.

2.  Gallup Poll-Gallup for some reason has been late this year applying a likely voter screen in their polls.   The closer you get to an election the more reliable likely voter polls get, and the less reliable registered voter polls are.  In a high turnout election, Gallup predicts a 13 point Republican advantage among likely voters and in a low voter turnout election Gallup predicts an 18 point Republican advantage among likely voters.  Go here to read the results of the poll.  For comparison’s sake, in the 1994 election when the Republicans took both the House and the Senate, in the Congressional elections the GOP had a six point advantage on election day.

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11 Responses to Political Miscellania 10\6\10

  • Couldn’t the alleged “Democrat comeback” simply be what is known among pollsters as a “dead cat bounce” — a blip upward in the polls that takes place because the disfavored party has hit bottom and has nowhere to go but up, albeit briefly? The phenomenon has occurred often enough that it has a name (borrowed from stock market parlance referring to a brief rally in the price of a stock sliding toward oblivion).

  • It could be Elaine. A party that is on the receiving end of a “taking to the woodshed by the voters” usually does have a mild improvement in the polls close in to the election as some of their disaffected core voters rally to them out of party loyalty and fear of what the opposing party will do in power.

  • A genuine dead cat bounce wouldn’t have to be “invented” by the MSM, but it could easily be misinterpreted by them.

  • Willful misinterpretation would be my guess Elaine, since this is a well-known aspect of politics among those who follow elections, but I certainly do not underestimate the amount of ignorance possessed by some members of the mainstream media.

  • Donald nailed it! The mainstream media is going to try and “paint a picture”. More then any poll, I can’t believe how the Obama’s appointee’s/czars are jumping ship. This is a sure sign that they believe he’s a 1 term president and they need to stay employed. I for one believe both the House and Senate will go RED!!!

  • Don,

    Let me take a wild guess that you’re dyslectic?

    I only say this because the title of your post has the “slash” pointing in the wrong direction.

    If not, then I’m dyslectic.

  • Not dyslectic Tito. I simply usually do date slashes in that manner.

  • The Washington Post front-page, above-the-fold headline for the poll story was pretty funny. A paraphrase:

    Big letters: “DEMOCRATS GAIN IN POLL”
    Little letters: “GOP still leads”

    As for the “I am not a witch” opening salvo, Hillary must be kicking herself. (I kid! I kid!)

  • Translation: “I am way too young to be a witch.”

  • the MSM is a part of the Democrat party. period.

  • The situation with the GOP in Delaware reminds me of this:

    O’Donnell’s part is obvious. The rest of them are the GOP establishment in DE. Burn her! 😉

A Catholic Ghost Story

Wednesday, October 6, AD 2010

What are Catholics to make of supernatural phenomena? and ghosts in particular?

There is little question that the Catholic Church believes in the reality of the spiritual realm — St. Paul in Ephesians speaks of “our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.” But it is a realm inhabited by angels, demons, and of course, Satan himself. (And, if you’re an enlightened “post-Vatican II” Catholic like Fr. Richard McBrien, you can scoff at the very mention of the latter).

As far as ghosts are concerned, the prevailing tendency among Catholics is to look askance at the concept of “lost souls”, trapped in this life and waiting to cross over. There is scarce mention of “ghosts” in the Catechism and judging by the absence of clear, definitive teaching — the Church has refrained from adopting a firm position on their existence.

According to Gary Jansen, a contemporary Catholic from Rockville Centre, Long Island, ghosts simply didn’t exist. For him, “heaven, hell, angels were basic tenents of my Catholic faith, but never basic tenents of my life. . . . these topics were never discused during my twelve years of attending parochial school.” While his devout Catholic mother would mention strange occurrences, he prided himself on his rationality.

Until, that is, when he had an unsettling encounter in his son’s bedroom in 2007. Holy Ghosts: Or How a (Not-So) Good Catholic Boy Became a Believer in Things That Go Bump in the Night is an account of one Catholic’s real-life haunting:

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29 Responses to A Catholic Ghost Story

  • I know there is no official teaching on ghosts, but doesn’t Luke 16:27-28 indicate that spirits (ghosts) can come to earth??

  • I was taught that all, or nearly all, ghosts were really demons attempting to deceive the faithful, since departed spirits would be either in hell, purgatory or heaven and would have no reason to come back. In that sense, I had the impression that good Catholics and other Christians did not “believe in ghosts”, and the only proper way to respond to an alleged ghost was to rebuke it in the name of Jesus. However, the brand of Catholic practice I grew up with was charismatic/Pentecostal and heavily influenced by Protestantism, so perhaps this is not really a “Catholic” idea?

  • Thanks for the review, Chris. I haven’t yet read my copy of Holy Ghosts, but I’m definitely going to do so after reading this. The next couple of months seem like a perfect time to crack open such reading.

  • I am curious. There would also seem to be the possibility of demonic forces here. From the things I have read on exorcism, there seems to be no doubt that the Church believes that hauntings may be the work of demons, as well as benign ghosts. Saints have been known to appear to people that knew them, or in places with which they were familiar (abbeys, etc). But, random encounters with spirits?

  • Similar to Elaine, I consider most ghost claims to be either misunderstood experiences, fraudulant, or demons at work. Anyone who has read about exorcisms will understand that they can interact with matter if allowed. I don’t doubt that God can and does allow (send?) some deceased to convey a message (after all that is what Marian apparitions are).

    However I don’t believe it has to be a recognized saint. I recall reading a really cool book called Hell – And how to avoid it. One story was about two young fellas who went to a house of ill repute. The one guy left without doing anything, went to bed and said his customary three Hail Mary’s. He had essentially lost his faith but retained that practice from his youth.

    As I recall his friend came to his room in the middle of the night all burnt and smoking. Told him that when he left the the whore house he was assaulted and murdered. That his body was still in the street, but demons came and dragged his soul away. He said by special priviledge of the Blessed Virgin he was sent to him in order that he might be moved to convert and that it was all due to the nightly three Hail Mary’s. It was true about the guy getting killed and the young man went to the local monastery the next morning and related the story to the superior and joined the monastery.

    I believe those kind of ghost stories. Very skeptical about the idea that human souls go bump in the night.

  • Speaking of subway commutes. The space-time continuum is more like a subway than anything close to perfect. But that shouldn’t make us laugh at the scientists; you do have to follow the rules posted in the ticket box if you have a body. Be consoled that the others have even stricter rules–in some ways.

    If you stop whatever it is your doing when you first think of them and say a prayer for them right away, they’re more likely to leave you alone. Otherwise… but you can’t blame them. You’d do the same thing. Hell, yeah, it’s scary, but they’ll be praying your ass out next.

  • Well, Moses and Elijah made a cameo at the transfiguration. And Marian apparitions as noted above. It’s God’s universe, I suppose He can allow whatever He wants. As others caution, I would be very wary of anything immaterial trying to communicate with me. Just saying.

  • I believe the Jesuit Herbert Thurston wrote a book dealing with paranormal phenomena.

    Another book dealing with ghosts in a Catholic Context is Muldoon: A True Chicago Ghost Story: Tales from a Forgotten Rectory. It tells the story of the haunting of a rectory in a Chicago parish.

    http://www.amazon.com/Muldoon-True-Chicago-Ghost-Story/dp/1893121240/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1286378271&sr=1-2

    Some researchers suggest that poltergeists are the result of some kind of “psychic energy” generated by persons in a state of extreme emotional turmoil. The pastor of the parish in Muldoon was a self-serving man engaging in a number of irregular activities, and his actions contributed to the closing of his parish. I put down the book wondering if the strange events recounted there were the result of the priest’s own guilt over the things he was doing.

  • 1. So far as I know, I have never seen a ghost. (According to folklore, sometimes they are not recognized as such, as with angels.) However, a friend told me that in her parish, the pastor took a stipend to say Mass for a departed soul, but he himself died suddenly, and the new priest was unaware of the arrangement. The first morning the new pastor was “on the job”, he was surprised to find the parish safe with its door standing wide open, since he thought he had closed it the night before. Nothing seemed to be missing. He made sure to close it that night, but the same thing continued to happen. Eventually he decided to look closely at all the contents and found the Mass request. He said the Mass, after which the door to the safe remained closed.

  • 2. Remember, Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory are not places like Omaha; the idea of LOCATION pertains to a body, not a spirit. Thus the guardian angels always see the face of the Father (also not a corporeal reference, of course). Likewise, Marlowe has Mephistopheles say, “Why, this is hell, nor am I out of it. / Think’st thou that I, who saw the face of God / And tasted the eternal joys of heaven, / Am not tormented with ten thousand hells / In being deprived of everlasting bliss?”

    3. From what I have read, exorcists are split on the question of whether possessing spirits are all demons or if they also include the souls of the damned. Some spirits claim to be souls of the damned, but are they lying? At least one exorcist I have read thinks not, on the basis of what he was able to make them admit. (This pertained to someone who was possessed by many unclean spirits.)

    4. For an interesting work of fiction on more “mundane” hauntings, see A MIRROR OF SHALOTT by Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, http://www.archive.org/stream/mirrorofshalottb00bensuoft/mirrorofshalottb00bensuoft_djvu.txt.

  • For a fascinating discussion of many apparitions of souls in purgatory, read _Hungry Souls_, by Dr. Gerard van den Aardweg. Makes you realize how important it is to pray for the poor souls.

  • And that is the salient point- the point is to continue praying in the dark -as it were- for all the people we know who have died, and for general intercessions for “all the poor souls in purgatory” also asking them for their prayers- this is an act of faith which requires special visitations from any spiritual agents. Add to this prayers for protection from the evil spirits- and then one can allow their curiousity to roam a bit- but only after the good work of prayer is accomplished lest we get sidetracked by idle speculation that goes no where and does no one any good- like being thrilled by a hollywood horror flick

  • Should have said- “which requires no special visitations from any spiritual agents” sorry

  • “Well, first, I would say this. It seems perfectly clear that these other stories aren’t sent to help our faith, or anything like that. I don’t believe that for one instant. We have got all we need in the Catholic Church, and the moral witness, and the rest. But what I don’t understand in your position is this: What earthly right have you got to think that they’re sent just for your benefit?”
    — Monsignor Maxwell, A MIRROR OF SHALOTT

    At least read the first chapter, which contains a very reasonable discussion of exactly the same issues that are being discussed here. The tales in the subsequent chapters are placed in a fictional setting, but they have a real ring of truth about them; I suspect they are fictionalized versions of stories Monsignor Benson heard first-hand.

  • You might almost be certain that if that silly man Fr. McBrien disparages the idea of demons, that demons do exist.

  • The main thing is to always remember that nothing lies beyond the control of our Savior Jesus of Nazareth. Never quiz or address the ghost. Always pray to Jesus, or ask for Mary’s or a saint’s intercession on your behalf to the Lord. If it should happen that a spirit has a message to convey, he or she will do so right away without your prodding. They don’t come to beat around the bush. If a ghost has a benevolent intent, it never has to be conjured or asked to appear. God will permit it’s coming.

    Likewise, you go around playing with a ouija or incantation, you’ll get something that’s been lazing around, looking for someone to bedevil.

    As far as benevolent spirits who visit the living, look up the origin of why a set of Gregorian Masses lasts 30 days (a soul appeared after the 30th Mass said for him and told the person his soul was saved from Purgatory and is now in Heaven). I had a friend whose uncle died. He had a dream of that uncle, standing with a boy and a girl in white robes, and the uncle told him to tell his mother “we are all in heaven now.” When he did, this floored his mother, since her sister in law (the friend’s aunt and wife of the deceased uncle) had lost a boy and girl stillborn, but my friend was never told about this, and it was a family secret.

  • Thank you everyone, for commenting. Just a few quick reactions/thoughts:

    Regarding the question of whether “ghosts” exist, I find Fr. Hardon’s explanation plausible. I agree that some instances may be attributed to the genuinely demonic, but I wouldn’t categorically state such of every “genuine” instance of supernatural phenomena.

    Personally, I approach the topic of ghosts and supernatural phenomena along the same lines that I regard UFO’s and/or “life on other planets” — I’m an agnostic. We live in a mind-boggedly large universe — realms visible and invisible; material and immaterial, of which humanity is only a minute speck. Our positive knowledge towards the spiritual is confined only to what is divinely revealed, and apart from which there’s a slew of phenomena that lies beyond the realm of rational / scientific explanation. So I can’t categorically rule out the existence of ghosts; nor am I particularly inclined to actively seek them out.

    The Church’s counsel is that we should refrain from actively seeking out encounters with the spiritual realm (hence refraining from ouja boards, etc.). Given the often-underestimated power of the demonic and the very real potential for such phenomena to have (but not necessarily so) a specifically demonic origin, this strikes me as perfectly sound, practical advice.

    The same for Tim Shipe’s admonition to “pray for the poor souls in purgatory”, which we should do with regularity (and I know myself, not nearly enough).

  • My mother recalls a series of manifestations in her childhood home, some benign, some spooky, and one violent, this last compelling her mother to seek speedy assistance from the Church. I don’t know if an exorcism was performed, but a Mass definitely took place in the house, and that was that for the ghostly stuff.

    So, um. “Who you gonna call?” A priest.

  • I might buy the proposition that God permits ‘ghosts’ to communicate to teach or warn, or request some favor of the living if the ‘ghosts’ (a) didn’t scare the snot out of the living (a very uncharitable thing to do)and if the communications weren’t largely confined to banging pots and pans, making the room temperature drop, flinging doors open, etc., all of which doesn’t seem to be the best way of requesting some particular favour of the living.
    Perhaps confinement to earth for a time is a punishment of Purgatory. Who knows?
    Mark 6:49 recounts how the disciples of Jesus took him for a ghost when He walked on the lake. When Jesus reassured them, He did not correct them by saying there were no such things as ghosts (a perfect time to disabuse them of that idea).
    If I’m not mistaken the Bible records that when angels appear to men they often times say “Fear Not!” by way of reassurance. So I don’t really know what to make of supposed ghosts and their terrifying antics.

  • “Perhaps confinement to earth for a time is a punishment of Purgatory. Who knows?”

    Here’s a well known central Illinois ghost story that has a significant Catholic connection:

    http://www.prairieghosts.com/lakeclub.html

    It was also dramatized on the Discovery Channel in 2005, although some details were changed and the location was not the same since the real Lake Club had burned down years before (the nightclub used in the film was in Norfolk, Va.)

    The prayers said by the priest in this case were not “exorcism” prayers as one might use to cast out a demon (which would have required formal permission of the local bishop) but prayers for the repose of the soul of the deceased person, and they did, apparently, have an immediate effect.

  • , I have have come to experience indifference and utter disbelief from Catholic clergy when relating a personal ghostly experience as a five year old child that occured over at least three specific incidents, which later became clarified during a deep meditative experience seventeen years later. The profound out of physical sensations meditation recalled and revealed in great detail, the incidents and related events, as an intuitive revelaion of what I had completely forgotten about for seventeen years and seemed totally incongruous with the reason I was attempting the meditative effort. And yet it all came so precisely to explained the forgotten past events with what was going on at the age of 22 years old. Because the Catholic faith has little teaching on ghost much more experience on the subject, and clergy are taught that Catholic funerals as a sacrament prevent any such wanderings of the deceased individuals soul, they dogmatically avoid any discussion to the contrary on average. Although my expereince and story is rather lengthy, it is quite clear and understandable as to how and why the resulting circumstances evolved and led to the revelatory meditative enlightenment. This would cause many Catholic clergy to have to question and some rather dogmatic beliefs to be reconsidered and the Church clergy don’t like having to revise personal faith dogma anymore than absolutely necessary. For us who have had personal revelation, faith is a luxury for those who believe but have not seen. These experiences by no means marginalize the teachings of Christ or the scriptures but rather clarify and strengthen them. But it does leave those of eclasiastic authority in fear of losing validity of what they have been trained to believe, teach and uphold as personal faith dogma. Their faith is often the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. We who have had such metaphysical experience, although far less knowlegeable or trained in Church and scriptural dogma, have seen and having seen know somethings beyond faith. It does’t lessen our Catholic faith but stengthens it through transcendental knowlege and being at one with Wisdom in our personal experience.

  • A voice crying in the wilderness.

  • Didn’t C.S. Lewis in (if I remember correctly) “The Great Divorce” describe ghosts as souls who could not bear to leave earth and their past lives? I think it provided Lewis with a chance to get in a little dig at his fellow authors, who were described as disproportionally represented among the ghostly population. The writer/ghosts took to hanging around libraries and bookstores, obsessively checking to make sure their books were still on the shelves and that their literary reputations were still intact. Lewis represented ghosts as more pathetic than frightening, spirits far more concerned with the petty things of this earth than with eternal life.

    Given his view of ghosts, I doubt any undergrads are running into the spirit of C. S. Lewis in Oxford pubs or library stacks:-)

  • Just a warning from the Catholic Culture website on one of the links:

    “Ohio Spiritual Warfare Center

    OSWC is self-described as “a free service devoted to educating the faithful on matters of spiritual warfare and the dangers of the occult, the new age, including information and help with ghosts, demons, poltergeists, hauntings, apparitions, oppression, possession, demonic infestation and the spiritual warfare issues of our current age.” ….

    ….Until July 2009 WHOIS had this site registered under John Paul Ignatius …. as part of the St. Michael’s Call site. It is now registered to Joe Meineke. John Paul Ignatius is apparently Richard Lee Collett Jr., a sex offender convicted as recently as 2005. Please see our review of St. Michael’s Call for more information.

    …(It) has no official standing in the Diocese of Columbus, the founder is of questionable character and Mr. Meineke’s qualifications and training are unknown. For these reasons we recommend that you be wary about contributing money, seeking personal advice, or joining in this apostolate. “

  • Thanks for the tip! (Link removed)

  • “Lewis represented ghosts as more pathetic than frightening”

    In “Great Divorce” Lewis distinguished between Ghosts, the souls in hell or purgatory, and Spirits, the souls in heaven. Ghosts were, literally, mere shadows of their former selves and could hardly bear even to walk or touch anything in Heaven, while Spirits were vibrant, solid beings.

  • I suggest that you guys read HUNGRY SOULS….it is a awesome book about purgatory!! it contains pictures of burnt articles touched by souls from purgatory!!

  • I cannot validate the author’s experience or the authenticity of his account. But a trip to Mary Ann Winkowski’s site is a good introduction to much that is wrong with the modern do-it-yourself spirituality, however much she may lay claim to a Catholic identity.

Notre Dame 88

Tuesday, October 5, AD 2010

By Charles E. Rice

Fr. Norman Weslin, O.S., at the complaint of Notre Dame, was arrested in May 2009 and charged as a criminal for peacefully entering the Notre Dame campus to offer his prayer of reparation for Notre Dame’s conferral of its highest honor on President Obama, the most relentlessly pro-abortion public official in the world.  The University refuses to ask the St. Joseph County prosecutor to drop the charges against Fr. Weslin and the others arrested, still known as the ND 88 although one, Linda Schmidt, died of cancer this past March.  Judge Michael P. Scopelitis, of St. Joseph Superior Court, recently issued two important orders in this case.

The first order denied the State’s motion to consolidate the cases of multiple defendants.  That motion would have denied each separate defendant his right to a separate jury trial.  The order did permit consolidation of the trials of twice-charged defendants on the separate offenses with which that defendant was charged; a defendant charged, for example, with trespass and disorderly conduct would therefore not have to appear for two trials.  Judge Scopelitis also denied the prosecution’s attempt to force each defendant to return to South Bend for each proceeding in the case, which would have coerced the defendants to abandon their defense.  Instead, the Judge permitted the defendants to participate by telephone in pre-trial conferences.

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38 Responses to Notre Dame 88

  • Pingback: Notre Dame 88 Update by Charles E. Rice « Deacon John's Space
  • What an outstanding article!! It would be nice if Catholic Universities actually lived up to “being Catholic” or that they lived out Catholic principles which are in line with Church teaching. Even those that are Traditional or conservative Catholic colleges find it very hard in some cases to actually walk-the-walk and not just talk-the-talk when it really counts (I know this from personal experience). I guess human nature takes over or something.

    The charges should have been dropped a long time ago. Shame on Notre Dame!

  • Catholic in name only.

    “We shall go before a higher tribunal – a tribunal where a Judge of infinite goodness, as well as infinite justice, will preside, and where many of the judgments of this world will be reversed.” Thomas Meagher, statement on sentencing by a saxon court.

    Matthew 12:34: “You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.”

  • “Notre Dame appears to be governed by academic ruling class wannabes. The operative religion of the academic and political establishments, however, is political correctness. Activist opponents of ROTC and activist advocates of “gay rights” are politically correct. Activist pro-lifers, such as Fr. Weslin and the ND88, are not. For Notre Dame’s leaders to show respect for the ND88, let alone apologize to them and seek an end to their prosecution, as they ought, would be to touch a third rail of academic respectability. It would not play well in the ruling academic circles. What would they think of us at Harvard, Yale, etc?”

    Bingo! The powers that be at Notre Dame are defending their faith against the heretics of the Notre Dame 88, and that faith has nothing to do with Catholicism. It is a disgrace that every bishop in this country has not condemned this.

  • Maybe ND simply wanted to protect its students and faculty. The mob had already shown its penchance for breaking the law — no one was capable of knowing whether the mob would become violent — it is not unheard of.

    ND’s “inconsistent” treatment is also not shocking. Given the history of trespassing and the fact that past light treatment did not stop it, ND may be sending a stronger message to protect the safety and security of its community.

    Mr. Rice should also know, as a lawyer, that Fr. Weslin’s health or his past deeds are irrelevant as to whether he broke the law. Surely, they are great rhetorical flourishes, but they are just that, a trick used to distract you from the fact that a law was willfully and knowingly ignored.

    Finally, Mr. Rice also should know, as a lawyer, that clients discourage employees from being deposed for all sorts of reasons — not necessarily related to whether they are “hiding” something. This is libelous.

  • This is libelous.

    An easy stone to throw for someone hiding behind the veil of anonymity.

  • “The mob had already shown its penchance for breaking the law — no one was capable of knowing whether the mob would become violent — it is not unheard of.”

    Yeah, you can never know when an 80 year old priest peacefully praying will turn violent.

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2010/03/08/father-norman-weslin-champion-of-the-unborn/

  • I was there, on campus for the mass and rosary. My daughter is one of the ND88. I walked out and joined the protesters for much of the day. The activities were all available on youtube. Only a deeply dishonest person could conceive of a “mob” anywhere near Notre Dame that day. Peace.

  • What about the 87 other people? Did ND and the police know the intentions of each of them? Frankly, I think it’s despicable that you use Fr. Weslin as your shield. Also, I missed the memo where we excuse the aged and people who have done otherwise good things in their lives for breaking the law. These people made conscious decisions to trespass. They could have stayed outside the university and gotten their point across. Rather, they wanted to make a spectable and get on TV, which they succeeded in doing. They now need to be adults and accept responsibility for their transgressions.

    Also, just because a person is 80, just because someone is a preist, just because someone is praying, doesn’t mean they can’t be violent. People pray to their god all the time before committing acts of violence — that cannot be denied. People who are 80 commit acts of violence, and we certainly have learned that priests are not above committing acts of violence. I would also point out that Fr. Weslin was just one person — there were many more.

    To an objective observer, and clearly you are not, these people trespassed. They were arrested. End of story. Any excuse you want to make is a consequence of your relgious and political views–which, of course, is your right and fine. Just don’t pretend it’s anything other than that.

    That day was supposed to be about the graduates celebrating their accomplishment. These clowns made it about their cause, which is a shame.

  • ” Only a deeply dishonest person could conceive of a “mob” anywhere near Notre Dame that day. Peace.”

    As our anonymous commenter is amply demonstrating. The Notre Dame 88 are being persecuted because they are a standing rebuke to the Notre Dame administration honoring the most pro-abortion president in our history. All the obfuscation in the world cannot disguise that very simple fact. My congratulations Larry on the fine job you obviously did in raising your daughter.

  • Anonymous, how long have you been a member of the Notre Dame administration?

  • In case Mr. McClarey does not have acces to a dictionary, please see the definition of “mob” and “dishonest.”

    Definition of MOB
    1: a large or disorderly crowd; especially : one bent on riotous or destructive action
    2: the lower classes of a community : masses, rabble
    3chiefly Australian : a flock, drove, or herd of animals
    4: a criminal set : gang; especially often capitalized
    5: a group of people : crowd

    Definition of DISHONEST
    Characterized by lack of truth, honesty, or trustworthiness : unfair, deceptive

    Here is an entry on ad hominem attacks — often resorted to by those who cannot win an argument on the mertis: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem

    Let me get this straight, a group of 88 religious zealots trespass onto private property on which the President of the United States is speaking and you are surprised/indignant they were arrested? Seriously?

    If you can, deep in your heart say that you would be defending, with the same zealousness, people who were protesting the “right to choose” or Islamic protestors, then, maybe I would believe you.

    It is sad that people turned a day of celebration for the graduates into a political side show. They should be ashamed of themselves.

  • a group of 88 religious zealots

    Thank God Notre Dame is doing its damnedest stamp out religious zeal.

    Then again, it’s been doing that since the Land O’ Lakes Statement, so I guess it’s consistent.

    Oh, and nice job of hiding behind “the graduates,” anonymous ND admin guy.

    It’s this sort of mindset that reminds me why I’m recommending that my children go to an avowedly secular college as opposed to a Land O’ Lakes one. Sure, they’ll hate your faith at a state university, but at least they won’t wear a cloak of Catholic sanctimony while doing it.

    Better to be stabbed in the chest than the back.

  • Let me get this straight, a group of 88 religious zealots trespass onto private property on which the President of the United States is speaking and you are surprised/indignant they were arrested? Seriously?

    There are over 11,000 students at Notre Dame. Add the faculty and the staff and you have 15,000 people on the campus as a matter of course. Then you add in any visitors that day. The ’88 religious zealots’ will increase the size of the campus population by 0.6%. The rathskellar at the campus I know best will have that many people present around noontime, and that particular institution is one-quarter the size of Notre Dame.

    You might also note that his primary complaint is not that they were arrested, but that the institution has persisted in pressing charges when they had not done so in previous circumstances, and lied publicly about their resons for so doing.

  • Just for the kind of clarity and exactness which is typical of Catholic thought, it is not Notre Dame which is prosecuting the ND88. It is Fr. Jenkins – personally. The buck stops at his desk. He hides behind the institution. Let us make an analogy – he is hiding behind the skirts of Our Lady.

  • I looked up your ip address anonymous, and I really hope that you are not an attorney at the law firm you are e-mailing from, because you are not very good at arguing in comboxes and I truly would hate to be paying you to do so in court. The firm that you are e-mailing from seems to have quite a few contacts with Notre Dame. I wonder if you are doing this on your own time, or if someone at Notre Dame is actually foolish enough to pay you to mount this type of sophistical defense of the indefensible?

  • It’s a pretty large firm – I interviewed with them a while back and have friends that work there. In the DC office alone, there are fourteen Domers. It’s unlikely that the commenter above is billing time for arguing on blogs, but the tone of the comment and the handy dictionary references suggest a feisty 1-3 year associate.

  • “but the tone of the comment and the handy dictionary references suggest a feisty 1-3 year associate.”

    Quite true. I hope for anonymous that he wasn’t doing this on a firm computer equipped with tracking software. If I were a partner there I would take a dim view of associates wasting time on blogs during office hours. Ah, the advantages of being a self-employed attorney!

  • If I were a partner there I would take a dim view of associates wasting time on blogs during office hours.

    um…yeah…I agree…no junior associate should ever waste time on blogs during office hours…right on. Who are these people? 😉

    In their defense, I will say that many partner’s definition of ‘office hours’ is roughly “any time during which the associate is alive and not undergoing major surgery.” Another benefit of being self-employed, I suppose.

  • “In their defense, I will say that many partner’s definition of ‘office hours’ is roughly “any time during which the associate is alive and not undergoing major surgery.””

    That is precisely one of the main reasons I became self-employed John Henry. I wanted to have a family life and not work on weekends, and too many firms seemed to think that associates lived only to practice law, and to be the handy target of the ire of dyspeptic partners.

  • “Just for the kind of clarity and exactness which is typical of Catholic thought, it is not Notre Dame which is prosecuting the ND88. It is Fr. Jenkins – personally. The buck stops at his desk.”

    bingo. Fr. Jenkins is doing all he can do to stay in the good graces of his liberal friends. chump.

  • I believe Professor Rice’s general thesis is unquestionably correct: Notre Dame craves the approval of the Princes of this World.

    But from the belly of the beast, a few qualifications may be appropriate.

    I have been told, at any rate, that because the charge is criminal trespass, Notre Dame, despite what everyone says, cannot ask the county prosecutor to dismiss the case. The prosecutor could ask that the case be dismissed, but he would have to justify the request to a judge.

    As Professor Rice documents, previous instances of this sort had been handled quietly by the university itself.This time the South Bend and St. Joseph county police were brought in, and I suspect that everyone in the administration now sees this was a blunder. Part of the reason for deposing Mr. Kirk may be to determine just how this decision came to be made.

    Notre Dame has offered “generous”terms to the defendants. Plead guilty, accept some kind of nominal or suspended punishment, and put the whole thing behind us. The university is in the position of the poor Roman magistrate judging the typical virgin and martyr: Cut me some slack–just genuflect to that damned idol over there and we can all go home. Such blandishments were generally rejected; and I suspect the current ones will be as well.

  • I have been told, at any rate, that because the charge is criminal trespass

    No kidding. If I am not mistaken, under New York law, an act of trespass does not qualify as criminal trespass unless (at a minimum) there is a fence or wall around the property which excludes intruders.

  • “I have been told, at any rate, that because the charge is criminal trespass, Notre Dame, despite what everyone says, cannot ask the county prosecutor to dismiss the case. The prosecutor could ask that the case be dismissed, but he would have to justify the request to a judge.”

    You have been misinformed. Prosecutors nolle prosse countless cases across the nation each day. The consent of the court is pro forma since the court lacks the power to compel the State to prosecute anyone, which is wholly in the discretion of the prosecutor.

    “Notre Dame has offered “generous”terms to the defendants.”

    Of course this demonstrates that Notre Dame is the driving force behind the prosecution. The terms that the Notre Dame 88 should accept from Notre Dame are the dismissal of all charges, payment of their legal fees, a written apology from Notre Dame, and a promise from Notre Dame that they will no longer honor pro-abort politicians.

    This of course is in the spirit of Theoden’s reaction to Saruman’s request for “peace”.

    “We will have peace. Yes, we will have peace, we will have peace when you and all your works have perished — and the works of your dark master to whom you would deliver us. You are a liar, Saruman, and a corrupter of men’s hearts. You hold out your hand to me, and I perceive only a finger of the claw of Mordor. Cruel and cold! Even if your war on me was just as it was not, for were you ten times as wise you would have no right to rule me and mine for your own profit as you desired — even so, what will you say of your torches in Westfold and the children that lie dead there? And they hewed Hama’s body before the gates of the Hornburg, after he was dead. When you hang from a gibbet at your window for the sport of your own crows, I will have peace with you and Orthanc. So much for the House of Eorl. A lesser son of great sires am I, but I do not need to lick your fingers. Turn elsewhither. But I fear your voice has lost its charm.”

  • Not to sound like I’m defending Anonymous here, but…. if the ND88 were KNOWINGLY risking arrest, by crossing a line they had been warned not to cross, and if they were clearly told by university authorities that they WOULD be arrested if they persisted in their actions, then they should accept the consequences, plead guilty and serve whatever sentences they get. That’s what other practitioners of this kind of civil disobedience do (or should do, in my opinion). They don’t argue that they are innocent and being persecuted, they acknowledge that they broke the law to call attention to their cause AND they’d gladly do it again. If that means they go to jail, that goes with the territory, doesn’t it?

    That being said, it would be fitting if Fr. Jenkins or other authorities at Notre Dame asked for the charges to be dropped as a gesture of mercy and solidarity with the cause they were espousing.

    All this, of course, presumes that the ND88 knowingly engaged in illegal actions and were clearly warned that they were risking arrest. If it was a case of a LEGAL protest gathering getting out of hand, or of the participants crossing some invisible “line” they hadn’t been told was there, that would be another story completely.

  • Also, the fact that Notre Dame allegedly let other protesters off more easily doesn’t change the nature of the illegal actions committed by the ND88. While it does show that Notre Dame isn’t being consistent in enforcing its supposed rules regarding protests — and that is a significant issue — still, you can’t argue your way out of any other punishment by saying “But someone else got away with it!”

  • “Not to sound like I’m defending Anonymous here, but…. if the ND88 were KNOWINGLY risking arrest, by crossing a line they had been warned not to cross, and if they were clearly told by university authorities that they WOULD be arrested if they persisted in their actions, then they should accept the consequences, plead guilty and serve whatever sentences they get.”

    Only if Notre Dame wishes to be in the same moral category of the segregationists who legally prosecuted people who sat in at restaurants. When one is being punished unjustly, I see no merit in accepting punishment meekly. Make them prove it at trial. Turn the case against the prosecution by making a big stink about it in every forum possible. Make sure that the injustice of the prosecution becomes a cause celebre. Jenkins and his cohorts would love nothing better than the Notre Dame 88 to meekly admit their guilt and for them to accept their punishment like good boys and girls. I am glad that this satisfaction has been denied them by the intestinal fortitude of the Notre Dame 88.

  • “still, you can’t argue your way out of any other punishment by saying “But someone else got away with it!””

    Actually Elaine I have done just that in some of my cases by proving selective prosecution and having judges determine that prosecutors have abused their discretion. It isn’t easy to do, but given fact situations egregious enough, it is possible.

  • “his (Rice’s) primary complaint is not that they were arrested, but that the institution has persisted in pressing charges when they had not done so in previous circumstances, and lied publicly about their reasons for so doing.”

    I understand this and it’s an appropriate question to raise. And, I suppose that by pleading not guilty and fighting the charges every step of the way, the ND88 could bring those two injustices to light. But, at the end of the day, it seems to me that “don’t do the ‘crime’ if you can’t do the time” applies to civil disobedience actions as well.

    Also, for reasons I have explained before, I don’t think civil disobedience that involves deliberately trying to get arrested for trespassing as an attention-getting device is quite in the same category as lunch counter sit-ins. Sit-ins involved people breaking a law that was inherently unjust — a law designed specifically to prevent people of a certain skin color from doing something they had a natural right to do — to show the world just how unjust and ridiculous the law was. Going out of one’s way to break an otherwise JUST law that has nothing directly to do with the injustice being protested (abortion) is different.

  • What is remarkable to me, and what I really just don’t grasp, is *what possible motive* ND could have in continuing with these charges. Fr. Jenkins, for all his limitations, is certainly no dummy, and he, as well as the other members of the senior administration (to say nothing of the Board of Trustees) must realize that ND qua university will not gain anything from this process. It’s not as though Princeton or Duke will suddenly kowtow to the Dome because a few pro-life activists were arrested there. This view can’t seriously be entertained. It’s also only attracting *more* negative press to ND, and further alienating fence-leaning Catholics who were not happy about Obama but were neither entirely supportive of much of the shenanigans and selective (and sometimes politically motivated) outrage expressed at his visit. These Catholics, seeing now ND’s apparent inconsistency of procedure, will now take more darkly a view of the administration than they ever did before. So I don’t see that ND has anything to gain here, while they have much to lose. If I did not already have experience with administrators’ capacities for practical reasoning, these two considerations would make me think that ND *can’t* remove the charges at this point (something Donald denies). The whole situation is just weird.

  • The whole situation is just weird.

    If you posit that Notre Dame’s administration despises the demonstrators and wants their ilk to stay away forever, the effort to humiliate and injure them seems less weird.

  • I suppose I find it self-evident that that strategy is counterproductive *given* the interests of ND, whatever they think of the demonstrators. (Whatever one thinks of the ND88, and I am generally supportive of them, turning them into martyrs for the pro-life cause will hardly have the effect you suggest.) And I suppose that I think the administrators themselves should realize this. But again, never overestimate administrators’ capacities for practical reasoning.

  • Just to be clear: I yield to no one in contempt for how Notre Dame has handled the case; and my opinion of the real motives of the university administration is culpably uncharitable. Nonetheless. . .

    In Indiana, criminal trespass includes entering private property without permission and refusing to leave when requested to do so by the owner or an authorized agent of the owner. If I come to your front door and, say, hector you about joining the Jehovah’s Witnesses; and you ask me to go away; and I refuse: then you can call the cops. I don’t have to climb over a wall or anything like that.

    What possible motive can Notre Dame have for continuing these charges? Notre Dame has only itself to blame for the pickle that it is in, but it may have less freedom of action (pace Mr. McCleary) than people assume (if also more freedom of action than implied in my previous post). The risk of nolle prosse, I think, is that the the judge might react by dismissing the case (rather than just letting things hang). If the case is dismissed or the defendants acquitted, the university (and perhaps the South Bend police) might find themselves in line for a false arrest suit. How plausible this is I don’t know, but it’s what I gather third or fourth hand from lawyers familiar with the case.

    On a more principled level, the university has a legitimate interest in keeping its status as private property. Again, as I understand it, one line of defense by the 88 is that the university campus is in fact open pretty much to anyone, that it amounts to public space where they may legitimately exercise their first amendment rights (and, after all, the university took no action against those demonstrating in favor of the award to Obama). But the university does not in fact let the general public come and go as it pleases. At every home football game the area around the campus is filled with ticket scalpers, but scalpers are not allowed on campus. If the 88 win their point, would the university have welcome in the scalpers?

    (I also wonder if there isn’t some relevance to the Westboro Baptist case. One’s sympathies would be on opposite sides, but there may be a family resemblance in terms or principle. The families of fallen soldiers may have a legitimate complaint against those who obnoxiously interfere with the funerals; and Notre Dame may have a legitimate complaint against intrusion from those who the administration finds, however perversely, obnoxious to itself or its undertakings.)

    I hope the 88 get off, and, while normally I’m not wild about punishment of any kind, I hope the consequences to the university are sufficiently severe to cause some in the administration to rethink the actual values they live by. But in the abstract the university’s case is not entirely without merit.

    I’m also partly sympathetic to what I take to be Elaine Krewer’s point: If I actively court martyrdom and martyrdom is consequently offered to me, I should probably accept it gratefully, not whine about it. But it’s not clear that the 88 were actively courting martyrdom. It seems that many of them really did not think that the university would react in the clumsy, small-minded, militantly graceless way that it did.

  • “The risk of nolle prosse, I think, is that the the judge might react by dismissing the case (rather than just letting things hang).”

    You are confusing apples and oranges. Nolle Prosse is not a dismissal with prejudice. The Defendants could bring a motion to dismiss with prejudice at any time, as could the prosecutors, but nolle prosse is not the same thing. A nolle prosse simply means that the prosecutor is not proceeding with the prosecution. No double jeopardy attaches and the defendants can be recharged at any time. As for a civil suit from the ND88, that could be brought at any time and has little refence to what happens in the criminal case. A perfect example is how OJ Simpson could be found not guilty of the murders and still lose the civil suit over the murders.

  • If I come to your front door and, say, hector you about joining the Jehovah’s Witnesses; and you ask me to go away; and I refuse: then you can call the cops. I don’t have to climb over a wall or anything like that.

    In New York, there is a ‘Trespass’, which is in a submisdemeanor category called a ‘violation’, and ‘Criminal Trespass’. There are three degrees of criminal trespass. For the most part, you have to be inside a building to be charged with ‘criminal trespass’, but you can be charged with the 3d degree criminal trespass if you enter grounds enclosed in some way.

    If I am not mistaken, the crime you describe is, under New York law, [non-criminal] ‘Trespass’. The maximal sentance for trespass is 15 days in the county jail and a three-figure fine. As a rule, the judiciary is quite lax when they are given the discretion, as they are in non-felony cases hereabouts. Then again, a large fraction of the municipal court case load Upstate is heard by lay J.P.’s. A buddy of mine in the state Attorney-General’s office tells me that lay judges are often quite good, but when they are bad they are horrid.

  • This may be getting to be too much inside baseball, and I’m not a very good player.

    Nolle prosse: The risk is that the judge’s reaction would be to dismiss with prejudice, which does happen sometimes. I hadn’t thought about a civil suit–but that’s unlikely on its face; and, anyway, Notre Dame didn’t suffer any damages.

    The Indiana law on criminal trespass is more stringent than what is typical of other states.

  • In regard to a civil suit I was referring to a hypothetical suit by ND88 against Notre Dame.

    I can’t imagine a judge dismissing a criminal case with prejudice based upon a nolle prosse motion by the State, absent a motion filed by either the State or the Defendants to dismiss with prejudice. In a nolle prosse motion the current prosecution and case simply ends because the prosecutor does not wish to proceed. A motion to dismiss with prejudice by the Defendants would have to establish that a successful prosecution was impossible due to some legal defect in the prosecution or that under any possible facts shown at trial no conviction would be possible. That is a very high standard to meet, and I do not see any way in this case that a judge could so find under the existing law and facts of the case.

  • This whole incident caused me to rule out ever applying to Notre Dame, which I seriously considered at one point. While attending a law school fair in New York, I approached the Notre Dame booth and asked the representative, in as neutral a tone as possible, if there was any emphasis on the Catholic nature of the school reflected on its campus, not mentioning that I myself was Catholic. She downplayed the notion, saying something to the effect of “no, it’s not a big deal.”

    “Maybe ND simply wanted to protect its students and faculty. The mob had already shown its penchance for breaking the law — no one was capable of knowing whether the mob would become violent — it is not unheard of. “

    No, indeed not. Recall the brave and truly Catholic students who stood up to and battled the ku klux klan in South Bend in 1924.

    How tragic that Notre Dame now wields nothing but moral cowardice in utilizing secular police power to promote abortion, the political lineage of which is directly traceable back to psychotic white supremacists and eugenicists.

TAC Pro Football Rankings: Week 4

Tuesday, October 5, AD 2010

Is anyone any good? Jeesh, I know Texas is a horrible place to visit, but surely the Superbowl is worth the incursion? After all, Louisiana is right next door.

Last year was year of the Titans, with the Colts, Vikings, and Saints clearly in another league. This year, everyone has significant problems. The Colts have dropped 2 games. Favre wants to go back to Miss. The Saints have a plethora of injuries and the offense hasn’t looked great.

Each team seems to have an inexplicable loss on their record. The Jets opener against the Ravens, the Pack’s loss to the Bears, etc. After Week 4, you have a pretty good sense usually of where everybody stands. Everyone has significant improvements that need to be made; the question is who can make them in time to get into the playoffs, as it seems that unlike last year, once you’re in the playoffs it’s anybody’s game.

To the rankings!

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6 Responses to TAC Pro Football Rankings: Week 4

  • I don’t believe the pro-football rankings are as popular as the College football rankings.

  • Rankings don’t determine the championship in professional football. The pro league relies on a ridiculous, arbitrary system called “playing football” to determine the national champion.

  • The pro league relies on a ridiculous, arbitrary system called “playing football” to determine the national champion.

    Truly preposterous system.

  • Well, Tito, I think it has to do with this season. hard for anyone to be really passionate about their team right now; everyone looks yucky.

  • The pro game sucks by comparison. Keep your damned playoff.

  • “… I think it has to do with this season …”

    Of course it has to do with the season. The season is way too long. (And they’re actually going to make it longer by expanding to 18 games. 18 games!?!) They’re already playing the Super Bowl in frickin’ February.

    Half the teams in the playoffs are playing at or just above .500. Compelling stuff, that.

    There’s no tradition. There’s no pomp. There’s no pageantry. The cheerleaders leave absolutely nothing to the imagination (unlike their college counterparts, who seem far more attractive despite showing far less skin).

    I grew up living for Sunday afternoon. Now I could give a rat’s.

    All my football watching is done on Thursday night and Saturday, where the REAL drama lives. And, yes, they do “play football” to determine the National Champion in college football. They play it EVERY week of the season, where EVERY game counts.

Gracious Loserman

Tuesday, October 5, AD 2010

Here’s an update to my post from last week.  Doug Hoffman has just announced that he is dropping out of the NY-23 House race and has endorsed the Republican nominee Matt Doheny.  His full statement is here.

“It was never my intention to split the Republican vote in the 23rd District.  So today, I withdraw as a candidate from this race.  Under New York State Election Law my name cannot be removed from the Conservative Party line on the ballot. However, I strongly urge and request that my supporters not vote for me and certainly not vote for the Democrat or Working Families Party candidate.

“Matt Doheny and I may have differed on some issues during the course of our primary race. Now, we must put those differences aside and do what is best for our nation. So today, I am asking all my supporters to cast their vote for Matt Doheny on Election Day, November 2nd.

Classy move, and I think the right one.

And yes, I need to work on my headline writing.

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One Response to Gracious Loserman

  • While certainly the gracious thing to do and, ultimately, probably the smart thing to do, as well, the fact that Hoffman’s name was already on the ballot, and will remain on the ballot, as the Conservative Party candidate reinforces my view that this situation is completely distinguishable from the Charlie Crist/Princess Lisa exercises in self-indulgence.