Monthly Archives: November 2010
My hero Milton Friedman is more succinct:
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
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.
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:
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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!”.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
Something for the weekend. I have never been particularly fond of Country and Western music, a musical genre that my late parents perhaps overdosed me on as I was growing up. However, I have always been fond of the rollicking Rocky Top. The video at the beginning of this post melds the song with pictures from the Volunteer State. Continue reading