6

The True Cost of TARP

What does the fact that, so it now seems, the TARP program will only end up costing taxpayers $25 billion tell us about the merits of the program? According to Jonathan Chait, this low price-tag makes the program “one of the most successful policy initiatives in American history.” This is a bad argument. If, as its proponents claim, TARP really did stave off a second Great Depression, then it would have been one of the most successful policy initiatives in American history even if it had cost taxpayers the full $700 billion. On the other hand, if TARP wasn’t necessary, then it likely wasn’t worth it even at the cost of only $100 per American.

Positive assessments of TARP seem to typically assume that the alternative to TARP would have been doing nothing (actually many opponents of TARP also tend to assume this). But this is not plausible. If Congress had decisively rejected TARP, it’s not like Bernanke was going to pull a Ray Patterson and book a cruise to Fiji. Instead we likely would have had an earlier bigger QE I. The overall economy would have ended up roughly in the same place, except that Wall Street would have borne a larger share of the pain.

This, at any rate, is the view of a number of iconoclastic economists on both the left and right. Continue Reading

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Final TAC College Rankings of 2010

And for most of us, we’re done.

With Boise St. and LSU losing, we’re down to three title contenders. TCU will need either Oregon or Auburn to lose. In my mind, they need either one to lose big in order to justify TCU getting into the title game b/c of how pitiful TCU’s schedule is.

Some random thoughts from the weeked, as it’s exam week for me:

A few commenters on Twitter noted the irony of Notre Dame beating the Trojans in a week when the pope had to battle contraception. Everyone can enjoy the sweet, sweet tears of USC fans.

Do college coaches not know about this new fangled thing called the prevent defense? Nevada & LSU, I’m looking straight at you (or am until i burst out in tears b/c we lost to a clearly inferior Arkansas team b/c we didn’t play freakin prevent defense. Nope, not bitter at all). Speaking of Nevada, I watched that game (one of the perks of having a newborn is getting to watch late night TV!). A lot of fun to watch as a game, but the stands? This was the big road test for Boise, and the stands for the student section were smaller than my high school. Auburn has to go play in front of 90,000+ Bama fans. It’s just not comparable. I just don’t know if I can ever justify putting those kinds of schools over a BCS team for a national title.

Does Rich Rod stay at Michigan or do they give him another chance? I don’t know how much longer Michigan will be content to be so far behind not only Ohio St., but also Iowa and Wisconsin.

Boise went from the Rose Bowl to the Kraft Fight Hunger. They would play a PAC-10 team but since the PAC-10 can’t fill its spots it’ll get an ACC team: either BC or Miami, which just fired its coach.

I hate rankings being used as conference tiebreakers, especially when the teams met in the regular season. Use some metric from the season, like points differential instead.

I’m going to hate writing the next sentence, but LSU losing was great for college football. Cries against the BCS would have increased if LSU, whom the media have decided is only lucky, made it in over TCU. This would have increased if Oregon lost and we had an SEC rematch. The same is true for Boise. TCU has no business in the title game this year (they did last year), so I think the anger against the BCS will abate unless one of the big two lose this weekend.

By the way, I’m rooting for South Carolina next weekend. Pay for play is a bad deal, and while logically Auburn ought to go over TCU, emotionally I want those cheaters to watch TCU go over them. Furthermore, that would knock Arkansas out of the BCS bid, sending them to the Cap One bowl instead of us. Yes, I am rooting for LSU to get knocked out of the “better” bowl and go to the Cotton, perhaps to play the Aggies. Sorry, but after last year I never want to go to the Cap One bowl again (ps-dear SEC-when LSU fans are openly hoping to not go to your premiere non-BCS bowl, it’s time to change the premiere non-BCS bowl). And yes, I know that they put in a new field but I’d rather Jerryworld than Disney world (the fact that I could maybe convince my wife to take a texas trip but not a Orlando trip has nothing to do with it)

TCU just joined the Big East. While the Big East could use a football school, 17 teams in basketball? Sure, they get exposure but how many teams until you have to contract? If you don’t think Mike Slive will be traveling with LSU to Morgantown this fall, you’re dead wrong.

Now, for next week I figure there won’t be enough to do another set of rankings (not to mention I’ll have three exams that week), so the rankings are done for the year. However, our college football stuff will not. I’ll ask all the rankers to submit their picks for the bowls with their reasoning behind the picks. I’m not sure if we’ll do all the bowls of just the ones after Christmas. When the bowl lineups come out, I’ll make a call. However, I also want our readers to participate. So you can send in your picks via comment here or via our facebook page. We can bash each other picks, trash talk etc.

(Speaking of trash talk, is it acceptable to post your team’s victory cheer on the facebook page of the opposing team after a win? Ex: an Ole Miss fan posting “Hotty Totty!” on the wall of an LSU fan. I think so, b/c it’s not really trash talk, it’s just “yay! my team won!” and is fairly harmless, especially if there’s a history of playful trash-talk between the two. However, someone recently disagreed with me and told me I was a jerk. I was curious if in fact I am a jerk).

Allright, so to the final rankings!

Continue Reading

16

Wikileaks: US Never Expected Ratzinger Elected as Pope

[Updated Below]

Wikileaks information has been disclosed by Rome Reports that the U.S. intelligence services were completely caught off guard and surprised at the election of then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.

[Found another YouTube video that works]

Updated as of 10:40am Central time, 11-30-2010 AD:

U.S. intelligence was expecting a Latin American as the next pope, and predicted that then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger would have lost in the first round voting.

The rest from Father Zuhlsdorf:

Before the election the staff of the US embassy to the Holy See sent speculations to Washington about the one to be elected.

“The first factor will be age, the cardinals will seek someone who is neither too young nor too old, because they don’t want to have another funeral and conclave quickly” but “they also want to avoid having a long pontificate like that of John Paul II.”  Furthermore, “it will be a person in reasonably good health”.  Another element will be “linguistic ability” and he will have to know Italian.

Continue Reading

6

Bankruptcy Coming Soon to a State Near You?

Most attention regarding public debt tends to be riveted on the Federal ocean of debt.  However, several states have also gotten themselves into a fiscal morass.  California faces a pension shortfall of half a trillion dollars.  Comparatively speaking, Illinois is in the worst shape of any state in regard to public employee pensions, with a shortfall of 54 billion. Illinois was in the red 13 billion this year and Democrats in the General Assembly want to borrow 4 billion in new debt to make this year’s pension payments.

This cannot go on.  States like California and Illinois have amassed debts that they simply cannot pay under any reasonable forecast of state tax revenue over the next two decades.  Even if spending were slashed to the bone in these states, continuing to operate the state governments and meet the present obliagtions appears to be mathematically impossible.  This leaves two options for the debt of these states.  The first option is a federal bailout.  Although I do relish the image of a bankrupt Federal government bailing out bankrupt state governments, this is simply not going to happen in the current political environment.  The second option is that the states go bankrupt.  Current law allows local governments, cities, counties, towns, etc to go bankrupt but  not states.  The bankruptcy code would have to be amended to allow this, and the only way for this to be done is for Congress to do it.  Mainstream commenters like Michael Barone are beginning to seriously discuss the prospect of states going bankrupt.

I do not see the political will yet to amend the code in Congress, for the President to sign it if such an amendment were to pass, or for states to declare bankruptcy if the option becomes available.  However, I do see it coming eventually.  Already California has found it difficult to sell recent bond issues, and Illinois bonds have been downgraded in credit ratings.  However, assuming states in fiscal holes reach a point where they can no longer borrow, and we may reach that point sooner rather than later, bankruptcy may be the least terrible option.

Continue Reading

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The Pulpit, The Catholic Blogosphere’s Newest Catholic Newsite

The Pulpit.

This is my newest creation and contribution to the Catholic blogosphere, a news aggregate site that combs the Internet for the best Catholic punditry around the world.

I hope the faithful readers of The American Catholic surf over there and take a gander of what we, The Pulpit, have to offer.  We differentiate ourselves from other news aggregaters in which we display articles written from such authors as Father Zuhlsdorf to Mark Shea and from George Weigel to Ross Douthat and everything else in-between.  Hopefully providing for you the most insightful and well written articles that affect us as Catholics.

If you like what you see, subscribe to the feed or tell your friends in an email!

Again, here is the website: http://thepulp.it/

Enjoy!

1

More MSM Foolishness on the Condom Kerfuffle

To be honest, I’m a little tired myself of the Great Condom Debate of 2010, and had no intention of blogging about this business.  Then I read this article in the Washington Post, and after almost giving myself a concussion from banging my head on the table, felt the need to vent a little.    It manages to combine MSM ignorance regarding the nuances of theological debate with some casual Catholic dissidence on a great moral matter.    Good times indeed.

The reporter, Michael Ruane, was getting reaction from the parishioners at St. Matthew’s Cathedral yesterday.  It should be noted that until ten months ago this was my parish, and I’m still heavily involved with it.  That the reporter managed to nail down a few people who disagreed with the Church on the issue of contraception is not necessarily an indictment of the Cathedral, as I’m sure he would have – unfortunately – received similar responses at most Churches.

To begin with, Ruane inaccurately summarizes the issue: Continue Reading

1

Newman: Reflections at the Beginning of Advent

 

“Thine eyes shall see the King in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.” Isaiah xxxiii. 17.

 YEAR after year, as it passes, brings us the same warnings again and again, and none perhaps more impressive than those with which it comes to us at this season. The very frost and cold, rain and gloom, which now befall us, forebode the last dreary days of the world, and in religious hearts raise the thought of them. The year is worn out: spring, summer, autumn, each in turn, have brought their gifts and done their utmost; but they are over, and the end is come. All is past and gone, all has failed, all has sated; we are tired of the past; we would not have the seasons longer; and the austere weather which succeeds, though ungrateful to the body, is in tone with our feelings, and acceptable. Such is the frame of mind which befits the end of the year; and such the frame of mind which comes alike on good and bad at the end of life. The days have come in which they have no pleasure; yet they would hardly be young again, could they be so by wishing it. Life is well enough in its way; but it does not satisfy. Thus the soul is cast forward upon the future, and in proportion as its conscience is clear and its perception keen and true, does it rejoice solemnly that “the night is far spent, the day is at hand,” that there are “new heavens and a new earth” to come, though the former are failing; nay, rather that, because they are failing, it will “soon see the King in His beauty,” and “behold the land which is very far off.” These are feelings for holy men in winter and in age, waiting, in some dejection perhaps, but with comfort on the whole, and calmly though earnestly, for the Advent of Christ. Continue Reading

6

The Priest and the Marine

Born on January 3, 1936, one of five kids, Robert R. Brett knew from an early age what the wanted to be.    As his sister Rosemary Rouse noted, “He always wanted to be a priest. He was always there for everyone.”

He attended Saint Edmond’s and Saint Gabriel’s grade schools and then attended a preparatory seminary for high school.  Brett entered the Marist novitiate at Our Lady of the Elms on Staten Island and made his profession of vows on September 8, 1956.  Studying at Catholic University, he received a BA in philosophy in 1958 and a Master’s Degree in Latin in 1963.  He was ordained a priest of the Society of Mary in 1962 by Bishop Thomas Wade at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Continue Reading

The L’Osservatore Romano Fallout

Here’s a roundup of articles highlighting the mess the the Vatican’s semi-official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, has done:

Pope & the Great Condom Conundrum – Chris Blosser, The Amrcn Cthlc

NCReporter Getting Condom Conundrum Wrong – Fr. Z WDTPRS?

The Continuing Mess at L’Osservatore Romano – Dr. Ed Peters, ItLotL

The Vatican Newspaper Has Betrayed the Pope – Phil Lawler, Cth Cltr

Cthlcs, Journos Want Firings at L’Osservatore Romano – H. White, LSN

In Defense of L’Osservatore Romano – John L. Allen Jr., All Things Cthlc

Are You Kidding Me John Allen? – Tito Edwards, The American Catholic

More on the Condom Conundrum itself:

New Developments on the Pope & Condoms – Jimmy Akin, NCRegister

Jimmy Akin, Pope & Magisterium – Steve Kellmeyer, The Fifth Column

Did the Pope Actually Say We May Use Condoms? – M. Brumley, LOTW

Did Pope “Justify” Condom Use? – Fr. Fessio, Cth Wrld Rep

Pope Benedict Doubles Down on Condoms – Brett Salkeld, Vox Nova

Pope Changes Catholic Faith Completely! – Mark P. Shea, InsideCatholic

Is Ed Peters A Shill? – Steve Kellmeyer, The Fifth Column

Condoms, Catholicism and Casuistry – Ross Douthat, New York Times

A Good Clarification On Pope’s Condom Conundrum – Fr. Z., WDTPRS?

(Hat Tip: ThePulp.it)

9

Pope Benedict and the Great Condom Conundrum

As far as the Great Catholic Condom Conumdrum of 2010 goes (prompted by an excerpt of no more than 2 out of a nearly 200 page book-length interview God and the World), the myriad reactions among Catholic circles, seems to me largely (perhaps loosely) divided among two camps. But this is not simply a division between “progressives” and “conservatives”. Even those who would consider themselves orthodox, faithful adherents to Church teaching and admirers of Pope Benedict are divided.

On one side you have Fr. Martin Rhonheimer, Dr. Austen Ivereigh and even Fr. Lombardi himself. On the other side, you have Janet Smith, Fr. Joseph Fessio, and Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. Consider… Continue Reading

7

Would You Like Some Politics With Your Turkey?

 

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, fresh off a disastrous election campaign, believes that Americans might be discussing politics with their Turkey today.  (I can’t think of a subject less likely to come up today at the McClarey Thanksgiving Dinner except for raising armadilloes for fun and profit.) 

Just in case your Republican friends or relatives at Thanksgiving try to repeat anything they’ve heard from Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, or by reading Sarah Palin’s Facebook page, we wanted to help you respond with the truth.

In the event that it does, the DCCC has a cheatsheat which you may peruse here. Continue Reading

7

George Washington: First Thanksgiving Proclamation

A contemplation of the compleat attainment (at a period earlier than could have been expected) of the object for which we contended against so formidable a power cannot but inspire us with astonishment and gratitude. The disadvantageous circumstances on our part, under which the war was undertaken, can never be forgotten. The singular interpositions of Providence in our feeble condition were such, as could scarcely escape the attention of the most unobserving; while the unparalleled perseverance of the Armies of the U States, through almost every possible suffering and discouragement for the space of eight long years, was little short of a standing miracle.   George Washington

The father of our nation was a religious man.  He had no doubt of the existence of God, and that He intervened in the affairs of men and nations.  Therefore it is no surprise that he originated the tradition of the last Thursday in November for Americans to thank God.  Lincoln revived the tradition in 1863 in the midst of the Civil War.  When we celebrate Thanksgiving today, we are celebrating a holiday that is at the very core of American history from the Pilgrims forward. Continue Reading

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Are You Kidding Me John Allen?

John L. Allen Jr., otherwise referred to in most circles as John Allen, is the prolific writer for the dissident Catholic newspaper National Catholic Reporter has come out defending L’Osservatore Romano in the recent Pope Condom Comments controversy.

John Allen laid the blame clearly on orthodox/conservative Catholic bloggers for “jealousy, politics, and dated expectations of how the Vatican paper ought to behave.” referring to critics of L’Osservatore Romano and its editor Gian Maria Vian, of which I am one of those critics.

Mr. Allen, by “dated expectations of how the Vatican paper ought to behave”, do you mean as in defending Church teaching and not embarrassing the pope at all costs?

Are you kidding me?

Continue Reading

2

Must Read: Mark Brumley

Mark Brumley is the president of Ignatius Press, which today published a little book by a little German which is generating a little buzz.

Yesterday at IP’s official website for the book Mark posted a “summary interview” regarding the condom controversy. I highly encourage anyone interested in better understanding what the heck is going to read this interview.

2

Notable Catholic news stories (I mean, besides condoms)

Providing a moment’s respite from what George Weigel dubs the media obsession with “Salvation by Latex”, here are some other notable (and/or interesting) Catholic stories that caught my attention:

7

Great Turkey Disasters

As we prepare for Thanksgiving tomorrow, and as we recall our blessings and thank God for each and every one, let us also remember the humble turkey and the various disasters that result when that proud bird is not treated with the care that it deserves, dead or alive.    Oldtimers like myself will recognize the above video as part of the famous “Turkey Drop” episode from WKRP, a sitcom from the Seventies.

Of course Turkey Disasters are not, unfortunately, restricted to the realm of fiction.    Deep frying a turkey poses various risks. Continue Reading

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TAC College Rankings

After a lackluster week in college football (unless you’re Bo Pelini), the Friday after Thanksgiving gives us an excellent slate of college football. Arizona v. Oregon, Auburn v. Alabama, and Boise v. Nevada. The day after, TCU, Stanford, Wisconsin, LSU, and Ohio St. will all be looking to get wins & style points to position themselves for a BCS bid, possibly a title game if a scenario that involves the Second Coming occurs.

We know that Oregon is dreadful in the computers. We know the SEC schools do really well. Can everyone stay undefeated? Can one of the non-AQs impress enough to get in? And throw in the fact that this is rivalry week, which always adds for an extra bit of chaos and unpredictability. The worst teams can and will challenge teams that normally would be far superior to them (like for example when Ole Miss debuts a quasi triple option offense in a failed attempt to beat LSU. Enjoy Hell, you racist rednecks). Weeks like this make college football a lot of fun.

To the rankings! Continue Reading

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Another Roundup of Catholic Blogosphere’s Reaction to Condomnation

I have placed together another roundup of the better informed among us in the Catholic blogosphere concerning the Pope’s comments on the use of condoms (to build upon a previous similar post).

In my personal opinion, the more I read up on this issue, the more confused I become.

For the record, I am no philosophy or theological expert.  I have a more rudimentary understanding of the teachings of the Church, ie, I clearly understand what and why, not necessarily the minutiae and nuance.

So I comprehend what the pope meant that if the person in question (example of a male prostitute in the act of fornication) decides to use a condom to protect a client, thus indicating that said person is heading in the right moral direction.  Which then begs the question, then it is ok (or is it understandable) to use condoms in certain circumstances, despite Church teaching (Vatican document), ie, Humanae Vitae (Wikipedia entry), to the contrary?

Nonetheless, one cannot come away thinking that the pope himself has allowed for the use of a condom. Period!

This point is obvious enough that Damian Thompson of the Daily Telegraph is breaking his own arm from patting himself on the back so hard from this discovery (here, here, and here)!

Before I give the impression that Pope Benedict has given his blessings to the rise of a brave new condom nation, His Holiness was not speaking ex-cathedra.

But considering the weight of the papal office and the high standing the Church herself holds as a pillar of morality in a depraved world, the comments are disconcerting to the average (practicing) Catholic.

Anyone Can Use a Condom? – Steve Kellmeyer, The Fifth Column

Clarification of Pope’s ‘Male Prostitute’ Reference – John Thavis, CNS

Deflating the NY Times Condom Scoop – George Weigel, Natl Rev Online

When Are Points Not Worth Making on Pope & Condoms – Darwin

Wisdom of The Cross: Benedict & Contraception – Reginaldus, NTM

Ed Peters: L’Osservatore Romano as Origin of Problem – Fr. Z

Did Pope ‘Endorse’ Condoms? – Steve Kellmeyer, Fifth Column

Confusion On Pope’s Condom Views – N. Squires/J. Bingham, Tlgrph

Stop the Presses! – Steve Kellmeyer, The Fifth Column

(Hat tip:  The Pulpit)

13

Waiting for Blood

I’ve been ending day lately with an hour or two of reading Jose Maria Gironella’s, The Cypresses Believe in God, a massive novel set on the eve of the Spanish Civil War. Given the novel’s sheer size, and that it starts out spending so much time just giving a sense of early 30s Spain as a place and time, as the civil war itself begins to approach one feels with the characters a certain creeping unreality, as the descent of politics and then society as a whole into factional violence seems to become first imaginable, then possible, and finally inevitable.

Having fallen asleep, as it were, in 1935 Catalonia, it was with an odd sense of unreality that I clicked on a link this morning and found a New York Times columnist declaring it impossible to work with his political opponents peacefully and darkly predicting “there will be blood”.

17

Apologia Pro Libertarianism Sua

There’s been a bit of discussion about the nature of libertarianism on the blog recently, and as the resident pseudo-libertarian, I thought I would re-state where I come down on the matter (this is based largely on an older post I did on the subject, which sadly is now lost in the cyber-ether).

To understand where I am coming from, one needs to make a distinction between political positions held as a matter of moral principle, and those held as a matter of prudence. Take the issue of torture. One might oppose the use of torture on the grounds that it’s not a good way to get information from suspects, or because by using torture on the enemy you risk retaliation by the enemy on your people, etc. Alternatively one might believe that torture is just immoral, and you should do it regardless of whether or not it is effective.

Call the first type of objection to torture “pragmatic” and the second “principled.” (A person might object to torture on both pragmatic and principled grounds, in which case the opposition would be principled, though buttressed by pragmatic considerations). Dividing the justifications for various political positions into principled or pragmatic can be sometimes tricky, but the basic idea is, I hope, intuitive enough.

A principled libertarian, as I use the term, is someone who holds libertarian political beliefs for principled reasons. Taxation is theft, my body, my business, etc. In my experience, when you say libertarian this is what people think of. Continue Reading

20

When Are Points Not Worth Making?

The media firestorm swirling around Pope Benedict’s discussion of morality and condom use seems like a good illustration of the problem of great trouble and anguish being caused by making completely true and reasonable points. The pope’s comment itself is both true and sensible: there is nothing magically wicked about condoms in and of themselves, rather it is using them in order to render sexual relations sterile which is immoral. However, because the pope is such a uniquely high-profile figure in the world, both those (inside and outside the Church) who are desperately eager for the Church to approve artificial contraception as morally licit, and those who live in constant fear that the faith will somehow be betrayed to the ravening hoards outside, immediately went into full freak-out mode. Continue Reading

15

Roundup of Catholic Blogosphere Reaction to Pope’s Condom Comments

The Pope’s comments in an unauthorized excerpt release from Peter Seewald’s latest book, “Light of the World, The Pope, The Church and The Signs of the Times”, has caused quite a stir.

Basically he said, as an extreme example, if a male prostitute was to use a condom during sex, it was a step towards a better morality.

Pope Benedict wasn’t speaking ex-cathedra.

Nonetheless, the secular media, like clockwork, has declared that condoms are now allowed by all fornicators (not like dissident Catholics were following the teachings of the Church anyways).

So here is a short roundup of the better informed among us:

Pope Approves Restricted Use of Condoms? – M.J. Andrew, TAC

Understanding Pope’s Dilemma on Condoms – Jimmy Akin, NCRgstr

Condoms, Consistency, (mis)Communication – Thomas Peters, AmP

Pope Changed Church Condoms Teaching? – Q. de la Bedoyere, CH

A Vatican Condom Conversion? – Mollie, Get Religion

Pope: Condoms, Sex Abuse, Resignation & Movie Nights – John Allen

What The Pope Really Said About Condoms in New Book? – Janet Smith

Ginger Factor: Pope Approves of Condoms! – Jeff Miller, The Crt Jstr

The Pope and Condoms – Steve Kellmeyer, The Fifth Column

Condoms May Be ‘First Step’ In Moralization of Sexuality – Cth Herald

Pope Did Not Endorse the Use of Condoms – Fr. Zuhlsdorf, WDTPRS?

Did Pope Change Teaching About Condoms? – Brett Salkeld, Vox Nova

(Hat tips:  The Pulpit & Henry Karlson)

God the Servant

The feast of Christ the King is one of my favorite in the liturgical year.  It reminds me powerfully, through the confusion of daily life, that God reigns and rules.  However, there are myriad other ways of looking at God, and one of the more unusual, and powerful, is courtesy of the patron saint of paradox, G. K. Chesterton, in his The Ballad of  the White Horse. Continue Reading

5

Favorite Civil War Book

The point I would make is that the novelist and the historian are seeking the same thing: the truth — not a different truth: the same truth — only they reach it, or try to reach it, by different routes. Whether the event took place in a world now gone to dust, preserved by documents and evaluated by scholarship, or in the imagination, preserved by memory and distilled by the creative process, they both want to tell us how it was: to re-create it, by their separate methods, and make it live again in the world around them.

Shelby Foote

I know quite a few of our readers have a keen interest in the Civil War, and I am curious as to what their favorite Civil War books  are.  There are so many magnificent studies of the Civil War that I have read over the years, that I find the question difficult to answer.  However, I think pride of place for me is Shelby Foote’s magisterial three volume The Civil War:  A Narrative.  Written by a master novelist, Foote’s volumes are an epic recreation of the terrible conflict that made us, certainly more than any event since, what we are today.  That is my choice, what is yours?

41

Thoughts on Health Care as a Right

As MJ posted yesterday, Pope Benedict was in the news this week in regards to health care this week. A couple things struck me as interesting about this article, and the debate that immediately sprang up around it here.

1. It’s Not All About US Politics

It’s not often that those in the Commonweal and National Catholic Reporter set get to rub their political opponents noses in something and play the, “You’re not a very good Catholic, are you?” game, so it’s hardly surprising if there’s been a bit of crowing in some circles. However, as is often the case, I think it’s a mistake to see this as primarily relating to recent US political struggles, much though Catholic Democrats would like to imagine that the pope is admonishing the USCCB for not supporting ObamaCare. Indeed, the pope’s sentiments should be rather castening to those of us in the developed world: Continue Reading

1

Castro Hates the Tea Party

An English translation of the first portion of the above video.

Fidel Castro: Comrades, our nation is completely bankrupt! We have no choice but to abandon communism!
Castro’s Aide #1, Castro’s Associates: [sigh]
Fidel Castro: I know, I know, I know… but we all knew from day one this mumbo jumbo wouldn’t fly! I’ll call Washington and tell them they won.
Castro’s Aide #1: But presidente, America tried to kill you!
Fidel Castro: Ah, they’re not so bad. They even named a street after me in San Francisco!
[Aide #2 whispers something into his ear]
Fidel Castro: It’s full of what?

Hattip to the Babalu Blog, the go to blog on the net to keep advised of the follies of the Castro regime in Cuba.  It seems the Bearded One views the Tea Party as “fascist”: 

Speaking to a group of students visiting Havana, former Cuban leader Fidel Castro accused the Tea Party of leading the United States towards “fascism.”

In his comments, Castro chided the United States as a “ruined nation” and derided the Tea Party as “extreme right.”

Castro also announced that health concerns had forced him to step down from his position as head of the Cuban Communist Party.

Castro’s exchange with the students was published in Granma, the state-run newspaper.

“I got sick and did what I had to do — delegate my powers.” Granma reported.

Castro ceded the Presidency of Cuba in 2006 after 46 years in power. He was replaced by his younger brother Raúl.

Under both brothers, Cuba has been isolated from the international community, criticized for its lack of democratic elections and for its systematic abuse of human rights. Continue Reading

1

Ghost Boredom

From the only reliable source of news on the net, the Onion.  Well the featured “medium” I suppose was either intended to be a fake (A fake “medium”?  Astounding!) or just a naturally boring guy.  The humor works better if he is simply naturally boring.  I once attended a lecture on roller coasters and the professor speaking managed the considerable feat of making roller coasters seem dull and tedious.  Some people have a natural ability to take any activity, no matter how exciting, and drain the life completely from it.

3

Thomas Wenski – “hard charging, hog-driving” Archbishop of Miami

Michael E. Miller (Miami New Times) provides a detailed — and fascinating — profile of Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski:

Dressed all in black, the biker roars his 1,800-cc Harley-Davidson Street Glide to a halt on the gravely shoulder of Florida Avenue in Lakeland. Ray-Bans hide his eyes. With his spike-topped black helmet glinting in the South Florida sun, he more closely resembles a Prussian soldier than Easy Rider.

Lucas Benitez spots the motorcyclist and his palms begin to sweat. All day, the stocky Mexican with a buzzcut has led a thousand Latino tomato pickers on the 11-mile march from Plant City to Lakeland to protest the stingy pay of $50 per two tons of fruit torn off the vine. When he looks at the biker, all he can think is: Not another pinche redneck picking a fight.

Then the heavyset motorcyclist steps from his machine and ambles toward the marchers. “Buenas tardes,” he says, holding out a hand. “I’m Bishop Thomas Wenski.” Continue Reading

1

Fighting Global Warming

The NCR notes a Rutgers professor went on the Joy Behar show and compared having kids to littering. I found this shocking. People watch the Joy Behar show?

Sadly, the idea that kids are an evil and that the virtuous green movement should rid them (presumably through contraception and abortion, though they rarely state the latter explicitly) seems to be growing in momentum on the left. In a humorous coincidence, this comic appeared in today’s newspaper (from Yahoo!).

People really will believe anything these days…

4

Big Government and Small Society

The Democratic Party suffered a historic drubbing a couple weeks ago. However, one of the things with which several left leaning commentators publically consoled themselves was that demographics are in their favor. The parts of the electorate which tend to vote for Democrats are growing, while those who tends to vote for Republicans are shrinking. Progressives like to focus on the examples of this they feel proud of: the non-white percentage of the US population is growing, and non-whites tend to vote Democratic. Young people also lean more heavily progressive on a variety of issues than previous generations did at the same age.

From a progressive point of view this sounds pretty good: progressivism will succeed in the end because it is supported by young and diverse people, while conservatism will die out because it is supported by old white people — and no one like them anyway, did they?

I’d like to propose an alternate reading of the data: Continue Reading

6

Brave New World for TAC

TAC is undergoing an upgrade, and I’m proud to announce this upgrade also includes an expansion. TAC has launched a facebook page and a twitter page! Look up “The American Catholic” on facebook and @TheAmCatholic (full name “TheAmericanCatholic” on twitter to follow us!

Now, why are we doing this? It occurred to us that people desperately want to know what our contributors have for breakfast. This allows me to tell you that I had Pop-Tarts, and that Tito made hash browns out of Idaho potatoes.

Of course I’m joking. The goal is two-fold. First, we’ll do what everyone else does with these platforms, which is link back to the posts, allowing people a different way to get our posts than just an RSS feed. More importantly however, we’d like to see this really supplement the TAC community and discussions.

There are many topics or news items that interest us, but aren’t blogged about because there’s not enough material to write a blog post or enough time to write the post. Micro-blogging allows us an opportunity to share these stories with you and discuss them. We’re hoping these discussions are as fruitful as our comment boxes and will really add to what we’re doing. This isn’t just a one-way street. We’ve noticed that a lot of big name bloggers in the Catholic blogosphere get a lot of help from their readers in that readers will email them with news or post ideas. We think our readership can do the same thing, and as a group blog these platforms are great for allowing you, the reader, to post on our wall or tweet us with things you’d like to see discussed at TAC. This way, TAC can become a more interactive blog and become an even better forum for the discussion of issues in light of Catholic teaching.

So please, if you’re on facebook or twitter, follow us! We’re still figuring things out with, so forgive us if we have some snafus, but we think this will really help improve TAC so thanks in advance for putting up with us.

4

Secretary Napolitano Explains it All

Hattip to Instapundit. The video is by Don Surber.  As noted in my post Full Body Stupidity, the wrath of the public is beginning to be roused by the full body scans or intrusive pat downs that airline passengers are being subjected to.  In response the Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, or BIG SIS as some people refer to her, tells us that we have nothing to worry about:

And we ask the American people to play an important part of our layered defense. We ask for cooperation, patience and a commitment to vigilance in the face of a determined enemy.

As part of our layered approach, we have expedited the deployment of new Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) units to help detect concealed metallic and non-metallic threats on passengers. These machines are now in use at airports nationwide, and the vast majority of travelers say they prefer this technology to alternative screening measures.

AIT machines are safe, efficient, and protect passenger privacy. They have been independently evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, who have all affirmed their safety. And the weapons and other dangerous and prohibited items we’ve found during AIT screenings have illustrated their security value time and again.

Rigorous privacy safeguards are also in place to protect the traveling public. All images generated by imaging technology are viewed in a walled-off location not visible to the public. The officer assisting the passenger never sees the image, and the officer viewing the image never interacts with the passenger. The imaging technology that we use cannot store, export, print or transmit images.

If an anomaly is detected during screening with AIT, if an alarm occurs after a passenger goes through a walk-through metal detector, or if a passenger opts out of either of these screening methods, we use pat-downs to help detect hidden and dangerous items like the one we saw in the failed terrorist attack last Christmas Day.

Continue Reading

11

In An Unprecedented Move, Left Leaning Bishop Kicanas, Vice President Of US Bishop’s Conference Passed Over For Right Leaning Archbishop Dolan

It was as stunning, as it was unexpected; by a vote of 128-111 the left leaning Bishop Gerald Kicanas, Vice President of the US Bishop’s Conference was passed over for President of the US Bishops by New York’s Archbishop Timothy Dolan. In the history of the US Bishop’s Conference, a sitting Vice President has never been passed over for another candidate. It had been assumed to be a foregone conclusion that Bishop Kicanas of Tucson, who is a protégé of the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin and his seamless garment theology, would easily win.

A number of factors may have tipped the scales toward the gregarious and well loved new Archbishop of New York. Tim Drake wrote an article about Bishop Kicanas which called into question his role as head of Chicago’s Mundelin Seminary. Some had questioned why the future bishop would allow a man who to be ordained even though many had questions concerning the prospective priest’s background. The priest would later be charged with molestation.

Continue Reading

25

Open Letter to Conservatives on Monetary Policy

By monetary economist Scott Sumner:

1. The Fed isn’t really trying to create inflation.

The Fed doesn’t directly control inflation; they influence total nominal spending, which is roughly what Keynesians call aggregate demand. Whether higher nominal spending results in higher inflation depends on a number of factors, such as whether the economy has a lot of underutilized resources. But it’s certainly true that for any given increase in NGDP, the Fed would prefer more RGDP growth and less inflation. Even after QE2, the Fed still expects less than 2% inflation for years to come. If the Fed had any marketing sense, they’d be telling the public they are trying to boost recovery by increasing national income, not increasing the cost of living. It would also have the virtue of being true.

2. “But doesn’t economic theory teach us that printing lots of money creates high inflation?”

In general that is true. But there are three important exceptions:

1. If the monetary injections are expected to be temporary, the inflationary effect is far smaller. The Japanese central bank did lots of QE in 2003, but pulled much of the money out in 2006 when deflation ended. It worked in preventing high inflation, indeed it may have worked too well.

2. If interest rates are near zero, the public demands more liquidity. The Fed can supply that liquidity with little impact on the price level.

3. If the Fed pays interest on reserves, then the quantity theory of money (more money means more inflation) doesn’t necessarily hold. They recently started paying interest on reserves, and that’s one reason why the big injections from 2008 didn’t have an inflationary impact. The Fed can adjust the rate as necessary, and indeed in my view a lower IOR would be more effective that QE2. Continue Reading

7

We Have Nothing to Fear But the Fear of Fear

One of the most famous speeches in American history is FDR’s First Inaugural.  The most memorable quote from this address occurs early on when he intones, “we have nothing to fear, but fear itself.”  It is one of the most oft-quoted bits of political rhetoric.  It is also one of the most profoundly silly.

Even if one grants that the line is not to be taken literally, it is wrong.  Here is the entire first paragraph of the speech to provide some context.

I AM certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our Nation impels. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.

For a  rundown of why this is an absurd sentiment, see this excellent blogpost by Keith Spillet.  Keith delves into some of the philosophical problems with this line, and I largely concur with his assessment.  Beyond that, I also find the line to be, somewhat ironically considering the subject matter, demagogic.  Though it is ostensibly a call for optimism in the midst of dark economic times, it is a fairly cynical attempt to brush back criticisms of his program.  It is a rhetorical device that is employed today, and it is one that I find highly insulting.  Continue Reading

7

Full Body Stupidity

Many things done by the Obama administration have mystified me since they appeared to be bound to alienate great swaths of the population.  However, I have never seen a policy of this administration more likely to create a great public outcry than the current policy of the Transportation Security Administration that all passengers must submit to full body scans or physical pat downs.  The full body scan produces a naked image of the traveler.

Many people are offended by this, and hence we have nuns subjected to pat downs.   This three year old girl being subjected to a pat down shows the joys that await parents if they do not want to have their small children subjected to a full body scan.

Continue Reading

3

Cody Alicea And His Flag Return to School

A follow up to Paul’s post here on the attempted banning of the American flag carried by Cody Alicea on his bike to honor his veteran grandfather.  Under enormous public pressure the school backed down.  Today, Cody Alicea went to school with his flag on his bike, but he didn’t go alone.  Hundreds of veterans riding motorcycles with American flags gave him an escort of honor.  As an immigrant friend of mine who served in the Marine Corps in World War I was fond of saying, “Some country this America!”.

3

Moralism and Monetary Policy

Last week I mentioned in the comments to this post that I think most political and financial problems are fundamentally technical rather than moral and cultural in nature. Several people took exception to this idea, so I figured I should probably try to elaborate a bit on what I meant.

Start with a historical example. During the 14th century, European society was rent asunder by the Black Death. Between a third and half of people died, and the resulting turmoil caused serious political, economic, and social upheavals. As Wikipedia notes, many governments “instituted measures that prohibited exports of foodstuffs, condemned black market speculators, set price controls on grain and outlawed large-scale fishing,” none of which stopped the spread of the disease. Given the vast amount of suffering, it’s only natural that many people concluded that the causes of the Black Death were fundamentally moral or cultural in nature. Many people argued that human sinfulness, greed, pride, etc., had caused God to turn his back on Western society, whereas others sought to blame the outbreak on a specific group, such as the Jews. Today, of course, most people recognize that the cause of the plague was less a matter of morality than of hygiene. But if you were to tell an average 14th century European that the plague was being caused by fleas from rats, he would likely think you were naively trivializing the issue. Continue Reading

21

TAC College Rankings: Week 12

Let’s a take moment of silence to remember Tito’s Idaho Vandals. *Pause*

A week of so much potential for wonderful chaos left us with a more set picture. Although TCU is largely assuredly to be undefeated, the suddenly don’t have any great wins. Oregon St. & Baylor both lost, and Utah got embarrassed by a Notre Dame team that got whalloped by Navy. It appears that Boise, strengthened by Virginia Tech’s dominance in the ACC, will likely jump TCU if the Broncos beat #18 Nevada in two weeks. Oregon appears in good shape, as Arizona and Oregon St. don’t look as troublesome as they did a week ago, though they did have to survive a scare at Cal. Auburn gets a week off to pray that Cam Newton isn’t declared ineligible while trying to prepare themselves for a trip to Bama.

It is hard to imagine a one-loss team like LSU getting into the title unless Boise, Auburn, and Oregon all lose. Possible, but for LSU it would require Auburn to probably lose twice (or get declared ineligible) so it appears LSU’s chances are equivalent to the chances of Christ coming back in the next few weeks. LSU appears to be the only one with a chance, as the computers don’t give anyone else much love, though I suspect Ohio St. could muscle their way into the picture with a big win over Iowa.

So yes, put me on record as publicly declaring that LSU’s chances of making it to the title game are equivalent to those of the Second Coming in the next few weeks. I doubt I will have to eat crow for that statement. Now to the rankings! Continue Reading

2

This Has “Bad Idea” Written All Over It

Pat Archbold relays news about a potential pro-life ad during next year’s Super Bowl.

A small group of antiabortion-rights advocates are hoping to recruit a presidential candidate so they can run graphic ads showing aborted fetuses during the Super Bowl, Congress.org reports.

The group hopes to employ the same tactic used during the midterm elections by Missy Smith, an antiabortion-rights activist who unsuccessfully ran for Washington, D.C., delegate. Smith “took advantage of federal rules that prevent broadcasters from censoring election ads unless they defame others or violate copyright,” according to Congress.org. In the early 1990s, the Federal Communications Commission and federals court ruled that graphic abortion images are not indecent.

I happen to think there is a place for graphic images of aborted fetuses in an effort to dem0nstrate the brutal and inhuman nature of abortion.  This, though, is not an appropriate venue.  While this is the most highly-watched television program of the year and an event that would guarantee maximum coverage, it would be more likely to turn off and offend viewers than to convince them of the moral depravity of abortion.  As several commenters noted, this is a family viewing event, and I don’t think I’d want small children of my own subjected to those images quite yet, and certainly others who are on the fence on this issue would feel the same.

8

Election Day

Don’t worry!  We are done with elections for a while!  I am not going to start writing about 2012 already!  However, as annoying as the election commercials, mendacious politicians and all the assorted insults to our intelligence that are part and parcel of political campaigns are, we sometimes forget how truly remarkable a process it is in the history of our planet. Continue Reading

27

Right All Along

I have been a political conservative since 1964 when I was 7 years old.  Brit Hume has a fascinating history, Right All Along, of the modern American conservative movement running on FOX News on Sundays at 8:00 PM Eastern.  Part 2 is being broadcast tonight:  A Time For Choosing.

The success of the modern American conservative movement is truly remarkable.  42% of adult Americans identify as conservatives, more than twice the number of self-identified liberals. This has been accomplished in the teeth of almost all of the media, academia and the entertainment industry being hostile to the movement.  In a way this opposition has been of assistance to conservatives politically.  Most institutions in this country have come into disrepute since the 60’s, so a political movement which is perceived as being opposed by the powers that be can often find favor with many voters for that reason.  Politically conservatives have often prospered in defeat, the aftermath of the elections of 1964, 1976, 1992 and 2008, for example, while victories have usually led to a fracturing of the movement, and political defeat. Continue Reading

7

Profiles in Fecklessness

By now most are familiar with the story of the boy whose school told him to remove the American flag from his bicycle.  If not, here is the story at Creative Minority Report. After the public outcry reached a fevered pitch the school reversed its decision.  But of course no decision to ultimately do right can be made without a lame explanation.

Ed Parraz, the Superintendent of the Denair School District told us a school supervisor asked Cody to take down the flag. The supervisor will not be fired or face repercussions. Parraz says the supervisor had information that Cody Alicea’s safety was at risk because of the flag. Some students had complained about it and had apparently made threats.

“The last thing we wanted was to deny Cody his rights,” said Parraz speaking about the boy’s wish to fly the American flag.

Parraz said national flags were banned from campus after a Cinco De Mayo incident when tensions escalated between students displaying the Mexican flag and those waving the Stars and Stripes.  Recently, several students complained and there was even one threat.

“I think it would be irresponsible of us if we kind of shined it on and let him have the flag and he got jumped or something like that and got hurt,” said Parraz.

So the proper way to respond to threats is to cave in to the people doing the bullying?  Is that really the lesson we ought to be imparting to our children?

Of course, this rationale is probably a poor attempt by the school to cover its, err, behind.