19 Responses to Quantitative What?

  • There has recently been a back and forth over the question of whether Milton Friedman would support QEII if he were alive today. Personally I think those arguing that he would have supported it have the better of the argument. Indeed, if you look at Friedman’s Monetary History of the United States, he blames the Great Depression on the Fed’s refusal to use monetary expansion to offset the decline in the supply of money and credit that happened in 1929.

  • Friedman, as a a leader of the Monetarists, argued that a steady, small expansion of the money supply was the only wise policy, and he warned against efforts by a treasury or central bank to do otherwise. The only difference between Friedman and Bernanke is not policy but the speed of implementation.

  • Disagree with you BA. Friedman wanted a steady growth in the monetary supply, and that is clearly not what the Quantitative Easing policy is attempting to accomplish. I believe Metzler is on target in his analysis:

    “Friedman’s main message for central banks was to maintain a monetary rule that kept the growth of the money supply constant. In his Newsweek column, “Inflation and Jobs” (Nov. 12, 1979), for example, Friedman emphasized that “unemployment is . . . a side effect of the cure for inflation,” so that if a central bank “cured” unemployment by inflating, it “will have unemployment later.” In other words, don’t try it.

    Friedman’s Newsweek column for July 28, 1980 (“Improving Monetary Policy”) came with the unemployment rate rising past 7%. His proposals for improving policy made no mention of using monetary expansion to reduce unemployment. He proposed rules for stable growth to achieve target “dollar levels of monetary aggregates.”

    Friedman served on President Reagan’s economic policy advisory board. His memos on monetary policy repeat the themes he made familiar to Newsweek readers and others all over the world. There is not a word suggesting that monetary policy should try to raise the inflation rate in order to reduce the unemployment rate.

    This is unsurprising, as he had explained many times in the past that any such reduction would be temporary and last only until people caught on to the higher inflation. At that point, they would demand higher wages and interest rates.

    Friedman made an exception to his rule about steady-state monetary policy in case of deflation. When prices fell, as they had during the Great Depression or in Japan in the 1990s, he urged the central bank to increase money growth. I served as one of two honorary advisers to the Bank of Japan in the 1990s. With short-term rates close to zero, I gave the same advice, urging the bank several times to buy long-term bonds or foreign exchange to increase money growth until deflation ended.

    All this is not relevant now, since there is no sign of deflation in the United States. The Fed’s claim that there is a risk of deflation should embarrass it. …”

    http://raymondpronk.wordpress.com/2010/11/08/milton-friedman-on-printing-money-or-quantitative-easing-to-increase-inflation-and-reduce-unemployment-absolutely-not/

  • In regard to the Great Depression it is certainly true that Friedman believed the Fed should have acted to increase the monetary supply in order to halt bank crashes. That is far different from what is taking place now.

  • What could go wrong!

    Full speed ahead!!

    BA: The Great Depression (G-D) Fed SHRANK (or allowed it to happen) the Money Supply (whatever ‘measure’ you believe in) by one-third because it thought that was what was needed.

    Just another wrong turn.

    Hoover raised taxes.

    The Congress passed trade war legislation. The rest is history.

    Today, Prof Bernanke, et al think again running the $$$$$$$ printing press is needed.

    Obama wants to raise (evil rich/class war) taxes.

    Hopefully, Congrss won’t declare war on foreign trade.

    The $1.25 trillion MBS buys DID NOT work. Three trillion $$$$$ in deficits did not work.

    The economy is moribund b/c of uncertainty: over-regulation, politicization, escalating care mandate costs, financial deform, cap and trade/energy expense increase threat, etc., etc.

  • The Federal Reserve is acting to increase the monetary base. The money supply is a function of the monetary base but is not identified with it. If you check the figures published by the Federal Reserve, the supply of m1 (cash + demand deposits) and m2 (m1+ time deposits &c.) has seen annual rates of increase in the low single digits in spite of rapid expansion in the monetary base over the last two years and change. He has not actually been violating Dr. Friedman’s prescription. Sir Alan Walters was 25 years ago an advocate of an annual fixed expansion of the monetary base, but he qualified that by saying you needed a manual override to maintain m1 in conditions of liquidity crisis as happened in 1931 (“when there’s a run on your currency, print notes and stuff ’em down their throats”).

    The money supply in its various measures (m1 and m2 &c) was in rapid decline after October 1929 because people’s propensity to hold cash balances was increasing at a considerable clip and the monetary base was stable. The Federal Reserve was reluctant to attempt open market operations like the one’s Dr. Bernanke has been undergoing (although it eventually did) for fear the effects would be neutralized by international gold flows.

  • Have I been put on moderation?

    The Federal Reserve is acting to increase the monetary base. The money supply is a function of the monetary base but is not identified with it. If you check the figures published by the Federal Reserve, the supply of m1 (cash + demand deposits) and m2 (m1+ time deposits &c.) has seen annual rates of increase in the low single digits in spite of rapid expansion in the monetary base over the last two years and change. He has not actually been violating Dr. Friedman’s prescription. Sir Alan Walters was 25 years ago an advocate of an annual fixed expansion of the monetary base, but he qualified that by saying you needed a manual override to maintain m1 in conditions of liquidity crisis as happened in 1931 (“when there’s a run on your currency, print notes and stuff ’em down their throats”).

    The money supply in its various measures (m1 and m2 &c) was in rapid decline after October 1929 because people’s propensity to hold cash balances was increasing at a considerable clip and the monetary base was stable. The Federal Reserve was reluctant to attempt open market operations like the one’s Dr. Bernanke has been undergoing (although it eventually did) for fear the effects would be neutralized by international gold flows.

  • Trying to decide how much of an evil tool (usury) to use in order to get a good result is ridiculous. The Fed CANNOT make things better and it was never designed to do so. It has one purpose: to rob everyone of material wealth for the sake of a very few and in that process to eliminate sovereignty and consolidate power. It is a tool of enslavement.

    We are falling for a Machiavellian trap when we are engaged in a debate of whether the Fed should increase or shrink the money supply, by how much, at what pace – all distractions. The consideration should be do we allow a small group of trans-national financiers and warmongers to control the fate of this country and the world, or do we return power over money to the people’s House and the (what should be the States’) Senate?

    Economics is necessarily political and politics is necessarily a moral question – the Fed is absolutely immoral. It is past time to overturn the tables of the moneychangers.

  • Have you all put me on moderation? My comments are being eaten.

  • I sure hope not, Art. Goodness knows this thread commentary could benefit from some “moderation” right about now.

  • If your comment is eaten, it is generally a spam filter issue and not moderation.

  • Art, you are not on moderation. Your comments got into the spam file for some reason and I have retrieved them. Now back to the law mines for me.

  • I accede to superior logic.

    Monetary Base (data FRB St. Louis) and employment growth??

    July 2006 $835 billion (height of the unprecedneted housing bubble)
    July 2007 855
    July 2008 873
    Dec. 2008 1,691
    Dec. 2009 1,994
    yesterday 1,919
    after QE2 ?? 2,500??

    Seems it (MB nearly doubled) didn’t work in 2008 and no inflation (cheers in the background). Nor, in 2009. Nor, in 2010. Now, make it a 32% increase.

    What could happen?

    It’s worth a try.

    Full speed ahead!

  • The $1.25 trillion MBS buys DID NOT work.

    Did not work toward what end? The economy has had stable prices for two years. Considering that we were suffering serious deflation in the fall of 2008, I would say their policy has been successful.

  • I guess my comment, yesterday afternoon, with the various levels of the monetary base (MB) got lost.

    Well, in the height of the housing price run-up (June 2006), the MB was $850 billion. By end 2009, it was $1,800 billion. Currently, it’s $1,918 billion. With QE2 it will, I imagine, go to about $2,500 billion.

    Art Deco: Serious deflation!

    Are you a university economics professor? Usually, only intellectuals come up with such comments.

    Serious deflation: In 2009, the price of a house in Merced, CA falls from $300,000 (MB = $850B) to $150,000 (it’s price in 2004; MB $1,900B) . That is not deflation. That is the unexpected (not me, I saw it coming) bursting of an unprecedented housing bubble. But, it is a serious problem in that the mortgage balance owing on that $150,000 house was $300,000.

    Got to run. I have to bring the good news about troubled debt restructures to a bunch of weenies.

  • I dug your comment out from the Spam file T Shaw. It seems like the Spam filter could use some tweaking since it seems to be “eating” non-Spam comments more than it did before the change over.

  • T. Shaw, the decline in the Consumer Price Index recorded in November 2008 was consistent with an annual rate of decline of 17%. We were suffering serious deflation. Asset prices are not included in the Consumer Price Index. With regard to assets, housing prices stabilized at a level somewhat above the long-term trend in the Spring of 2009, so those have not been deflating either. Equity prices hit their trough in March of 2009.

    The rap on quantitative easing is that its end result is likely to be inflationary. My suggestion to you is that in the peculiar circumstances in which we find ourselves, it has not been and it is reasonable to conjecture will not be. (One might also point out that some inflation would be beneficial to the economy).

    Your complaint seems to be that everything the Federal Reserve is contemptible, which encompasses a denunciation of the Fed for quantitative easing (Sept. 2008 to the present) and for allowing the money supply to fall (Oct. 1929 to March 1933). Whatever.

  • Friedman wanted a steady growth in the monetary supply, and that is clearly not what the Quantitative Easing policy is attempting to accomplish.

    Friedman’s views were a bit more nuanced. For example, he thought that “to keep prices stable, the Fed must see to it that the quantity of money changes in such a way as to offset movements in velocity and output.” If velocity falls sharply then monetary expansion is needed to offset this.

    The Fed’s inflation target is 2%. Before QEII, five year inflation expectations were 1.2%. After QEII this rose to 1.7%. So it seems to me that QEII is aimed at accomplishing precisely what Friedman wanted.

Big Government and Small Society

Wednesday, November 17, AD 2010

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...

4 Responses to Big Government and Small Society

  • Excellent post, Darwin. Hopefully it won’t deter from what you really want to talk about, but I have one question about the demographic trends. While some of these trends favor Democrats, on the other hand the big growth areas in our country are in states favorable to Republicans: Texas, Utah, Florida, etc. So what I wonder is: will the influx of these Democratic constituencies in these states make them more Democratic-leaning, or will the cultural milieu of these environments change these young voters and cause them to be more sympathetic to conservatism?

  • “… will the influx of these Democratic constituencies in these states make them more Democratic-leaning, or will the cultural milieu of these environments change these young voters and cause them to be more sympathetic to conservatism?”

    Paul, my guess is both, but more of the former, resulting in those states shifting to a more purple hue. Examples: Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia.

  • “Do people come to support an all-consuming relationship between individual and state because other social institutions have already broken down for them, for some unrelated reason, and they have nowhere else to turn for support, or is it the growth of a state which leads to the breakdown of other social relationships”

    Well, here are my thoughts on that issue:

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2010/10/30/a-chicken-and-egg-question/#more-25767

  • Thanks for sharing your analysis here, DC, and it seems to be logical and solidly in line with the empirical evidence (sorry, that’s the philosophy courses I’m currently enrolled in talking through my fingers!)

    As a college instructor for the past 9 years (in three different and diverse states: VA, HI, and TX), my hypothesis is that young adults of college age (even, perhaps especially, those not enrolled in tertiary education) are generally tuned out to politics. They seem to be more susceptible to cynical news sources like Stewart, Colbert and Conan, all of whom skew very “progressive”, and they also lack the life experiences to see through a lot of the idealistic manipulation behind slogans like “hope” and “change”, so they are more likely to pull that lever in the voting booth for candidates who seem “edgy” or “cool”, whilst these young adults have little or no real understanding of any of the issues. Indeed it’s highly likely that they’ve had any meaningful exposure to many conservative ideas proudly and cogently explained.

    All of this adds up to what we saw in 2008–millions of young adults who really don’t “get” politics pulling a lever once for “hope” and “change” rhetoric. Now the ones who are paying any attention at all to the results of their vote in 2008 can see how little good it’s produced, and they are completely dissuaded from voting in the mid-terms, and perhaps even in the 2012 presidential elections. If I were in a cynical mood, I would say that this is ultimately a net positive for political conservatives. However, from a Catholic anthropological angle, I think it’s incumbent upon us as Catholic Christians to educate the youth better in the moral principles upon which the Church grounds its moral teachings. If young people can be taught to understand these principles and apply them as voters, I think there is great potential for a conservative cultural and political renaissance in the US.

39 Responses to Helpful Advice from Pro-Choicers

  • So basically all we pro-lifers have to do is abandon most of our principles, and we’ll be able to reach a happy consensus. Sounds easy, doesn’t it?

    Pro-lifers have managed to do it quite easily with the Republicans. I don’t see how doing so with the Democrats is that great of a leap. The only thing at issue is which principles are being abandoned. Admittedly, I see mouthing bromides as not being a great enough principle to ignore my other interests. That might even be a slight exaggeration given that Chief Justice Roberts was advised not even to do that at this confirmation hearing.

  • MZ,

    Would you like to provide some examples of pro-life abandonment of principles done to please Republicans which are analogous to the betrayal of principles advocated here by Saletan, or is this just a generic tu toque on your part?

  • We could start with torture. Social justice is a running joke in pro-life circles. Is that sufficient? I think the abandonment of principles has been pretty thorough on the pro-life side. If you want to be just abortion specific, which there really is no reason to be, you can add the three exceptions.

  • Your response was less constructive than the original piece you critique.

    Address the culture of death through non-legal means? Oh the horror! We must oppose this!

    Comparing US to Sweden is like comparing Mother Teresa to Obama. You can draw a parallel but it’d be dumb to do so. Perceived future quality of life is the #1 factor women consider when thinking about abortion. There are lots of cultural and political steps pro-lifers can take to address that.

  • I posted a comment over at another site that I think is apropos here. I am not generally a fan of Saletan’s work, which is eviscerated by his assuming the unrebuttable value of being “pro-sex” (whatever that means), but I think that this post is unfair. Consider:

    It seems to me that #2 and #5 on Saletan’s list are no-brainers for pro-lifers; adopting them certainly doesn’t run contrary to any pro-life principle, and, if nothing less, will rebut some of the more stereotypical objections to the movement: i.e. that it is anti-woman, that it cares only for unborn babies, that it is a wing of the Republican party, etc.

    #1 is more ambiguous–is Saletan asking us to *stop* trying to legislate the issue or asking us to supplement our legislative goals with other strategies? If the former, then #1 should be ignored; if the latter, then #1 should be followed. (And where’s the harm in assuming a weaker reading of #1?)

    #3 and #4 are more troubling. #4, because a taking of an innocent human life is a taking of an innocent human life, whether during the first, second, third trimester, or at any time after.

    The proposal behind #3 involves (1) an empirical claim and (2) a normative proposal based on the purported truth of the empirical claim. As for #3 (1), I don’t know whether the study Saletan cites is representative of other empirical findings on the relationship between contraception and rates of abortion; if it is, then pro-lifers *not* opposed to contraceptive sex *in principle*–i.e. many Protestant Americans–can sign off on #3, since these pro-lifers don’t have any principled objection to #3(2), which states that if contraceptive sex *does* lower the rate of abortion, it should be encouraged. Catholic pro-lifers, regardless of the validity of #3(1), should find #3(2) more troubling.

    So I find two of Saletan’s proposals unproblematic in principle, one that is unproblematic given a weaker reading (#1), one that is just wrong (#4), and one that is underdetermined by empirical evidence, leaving me skeptical about its usefulness.

  • Address the culture of death through non-legal means? Oh the horror! We must oppose this!

    That’s a nice strawman you’ve built there RR, except that I’m not opposed to this. What I’m critiquing is the notion that we’re supposed to abandon our attempts to change the legal regime solely for a cultural project.

    Comparing US to Sweden is like comparing Mother Teresa to Obama. You can draw a parallel but it’d be dumb to do so.

    Speaking of dumb. Again, the point is simply that the idea that greater support for social welfare programs won’t significantly impact the abortion rate, or at least not as much as Saletan supposes.

    There are lots of cultural and political steps pro-lifers can take to address that.

    Thank you for stating the obvious, RR. Where would we be without such words of wisdom?

  • “Again, the point is simply that the idea that greater support for social welfare programs won’t significantly impact the abortion rate, or at least not as much as Saletan supposes.”

    Excuse me, but which is it?

  • WJ,

    It seems pretty clear that with regards to #1, he is suggesting that pro-lifers put our pursuits to up-end the legal regime on the back-burner. He notes that he doesn’t expect us to, but it’s pretty clear that’s the basic gist of what he’s arguing.

    #2 I’ve basically addressed, and we might have to agree to disagree. There’s nothing wrong with #5 on its face, but the tone taken indicates a bit of moral preening that I don’t care for. And we agree about 3 and 4, of course.

  • Excuse me, but which is it?

    It’s my concession that we simply don’t know the precise extent to which greater welfare spending would reduce the abortion rate. It’s quite possible that the decrease would be greater than I believe, but at the same time I highly doubt it would massively decrease the abortion rate in this country.

  • One last point in general. I’ll concede that a couple of these points are not wrong in and of themselves. It just strikes me that it’s kind of a weak effort to pretend that there’s really any sort of common ground. Also, the implication is that pro-lifers don’t do some of the things that Saletan suggests we do (#1 especially). Perhaps, as Wj suggests I’m being unfair, but does anyone really think that there ultimately can be any kind of substantive common ground on the issue of abortion? Yes, maybe we can yell at each other less, but at the end of the day one side believes that the unborn child is a life deserving of protection at all stages, and the other doesn’t, and that’s a difference we can’t casually disregard.

  • Reducing abortions can’t be common ground?

  • MZ,

    We could start with torture. Social justice is a running joke in pro-life circles. Is that sufficient? I think the abandonment of principles has been pretty thorough on the pro-life side. If you want to be just abortion specific, which there really is no reason to be, you can add the three exceptions.

    Well, actually, I think there is reason to limit the topic to abortion, since that’s the subject Saletan was addressing. The three exceptions certainly represent a compromise (pushing to ban most abortions at the expense of banning all of them) but I don’t necessarily see that it represents an abandonment in the way that Saletan proposes with “compromises” such as “support early term abortions so you don’t get late term abortions”. I’m unaware that many people consider being killed today better than being killed in four weeks, so whereas most people consider fewer people being killed to be superior to more people being killed.

    RR,

    Perceived future quality of life is the #1 factor women consider when thinking about abortion. There are lots of cultural and political steps pro-lifers can take to address that.

    I think there’s strong reason to believe, however, that it’s primarily relative future quality of life that people are worried about when they resort to abortion. In other words: “all other things being equal, my life will be harder if I have a child right now than if I don’t.” There is no degree of social support that would make it not be harder to have another child now than to not have one — being a parent is hard regardless of whether there are food stamps or rent subsidies or government funded childcare. These can ease things a bit, perhaps, but I think it’s really hard to make the case that the impact is all that high. It certainly makes no sense to follow Saletan’s advice in dropping legal opposition to abortion in favor of “reduing the need”. Frankly, as long as sex results in pregnancy (a startling constant that many people cannot seem to acclimate to) there will be a “need” for abortion perceived by some people.

  • Reducing abortions can’t be common ground?

    For that to be the case, one would have to imagine that Saletan had any real interest of reducing abortions — whereas the evidence would suggest that he’s primarily interested in pursuing a progressive agenda and would like to convince those who are anti-abortion that they should join him on this on the theory that it might have some ancilary positive effects they would like.

  • DarwinCatholic, I agree that the extent to which public policy can close the relative future quality of life gap is debatable. I don’t think the case for significant impact is that hard to make though. I imagine it would have a greater impact on older women who may be less adverse to having children even if they believe it’s inopportune. It may also have a significant impact on women who already have children and who would have more if they didn’t believe they’d take a huge hit to their quality of life.

  • DarwinCatholic, specific policies aside, I don’t see how reducing abortions can’t be common ground simply because pro-choicers don’t share the same reason.

  • There might be a better argument for common ground if one argued that in fact what is murder should be illegal. Its like arguing that there should be common ground on racism while supporting Jim Crow laws.

  • There is no common ground with people who see butchering children as a right.

  • Even granting for the sake of argument that people like Saletan are genuinely interested in reducing the number of abortions and are not supportive of things like this. we haven’t really gotten anywhere. It’s nice to talk about “common ground” at an academic conference, but at some point the real world intrudes and you have to actually implement those common ground approaches. Well, one side believes that greater reliance on social welfare programs will reduce the abortion rate, and the other doesn’t share that confidence, and some might even think that welfare spending might lead to increased abortion rates. Similarly, one side thinks that the promotion of contraception will lead to reduced abortion rates, while the other either wholeheartedly disapproves of the use of contraception or at the very least doesn’t quite see the connection. One side, for the most part, is unfazed by sexual immorality and the sexualization of our culture, the other thinks that abstinence is the best way to avoid the need for abortion.

    So what then? Again, we can talk all we want and engage in high-minded rhetoric, but ultimately there are fundamental differences that don’t necessarily lend themselves to compromise solutions.

  • There can be no common ground on the wisdom of common ground with people who think common ground necessitates compromise.

  • Its like arguing that there should be common ground on racism while supporting Jim Crow laws.

    If you think white folks went through a period of self-loathing and ignored their interests to pursue the end of slavery, you have a romantic and inaccurate view of history. Even if you stick to just the black side of the civil rights movement, you will find many instances where groups let things slide because they thought that attempting to right an injustice at that point and time would be detrimental to the movement. See the history of the Urban League and the NAACP. The civil rights struggle involved a lot more than the just-so story pro-lifers tell themselves.

    Darwin,
    If I were to rewrite Saletin’s proposal as legally proscribe 3rd trimester abortion in the face of being unable to proscribe 1st trimester abortion, any pro-lifer would be supportive as he should be. Considering that a number of Saletin’s proposals have nothing directly to do with abortion and they are being poo-pooed for that reason, it is legitimate to consider the compromises pro-lifers have made for getting candidates to offer bromides. His proposals at least have the advantage of limited novelty and are for the most part achievable. Supporting Republicans on the other hand has had the benefit of putting Republicans in power.

  • There can be no common ground on the wisdom of common ground with people who think common ground necessitates compromise.

    Again, that’s just simply profound. Now would you actually like to make a concrete suggestion as to how the achievement of common ground can be reached with people who have fundamentally different approaches to an issue, or do you prefer vague, wispy sentimentality?

  • Paul Zummo, but those fundamental differences do not align along pro-life/pro-choice lines which means there is room for common ground. Must pro-lifers believe that welfare does not reduce abortions? Must pro-choicers believe that abstinence education is bad?

  • There can be no common ground on the wisdom of common ground with people who think common ground necessitates compromise.

    What does someone have to do in order to rule out working with them for “common ground”, if mass-scale butchering of children isn’t sufficient to rule it out? I’m seriously interested in an answer to that question. If mass-scale butchering of children isn’t sufficiently despicably evil for you, is there anyone with whom you would decline to enthusiastically pursue “common ground”?

    Butchering children is far worse than holding slaves, trading in slavery, being a raving anti-semite, or any number of other moral horrors. I wouldn’t try to find common ground with racist slave traders or Jew-haters either.

  • , but those fundamental differences do not align along pro-life/pro-choice lines which means there is room for common ground.

    But you’re missing the larger point. Yes, there are disagreements within each camp as to various approaches, but that only makes any attempt to reach “common ground” more difficult.

    Look, to me all this talk about “common ground” is just utterly vapid. What exactly is achieved is we all gather round the circle, sing kumbaya, and agree that we have “common ground?” Oh, now we’re talking about ways we can slightly reduce the incidences of a grave evil? Well to quote Derrick Coleman, “whoop de damn do.” I’m sure it will be great comfort all aborted children that there were 950,000 abortions instead of 1.2 million. Common ground!

  • Why would I rule out pursuing common ground with anyone so long as I believe something positive can come out of it? If Hitler wanted your help in banning euthanasia, you’d decline simply because he’s Hitler?

  • Can’t we reach common ground on exempting every tenth Negro from slavery?

  • “If you think white folks went through a period of self-loathing and ignored their interests to pursue the end of slavery, you have a romantic and inaccurate view of history. Even if you stick to just the black side of the civil rights movement, you will find many instances where groups let things slide because they thought that attempting to right an injustice at that point and time would be detrimental to the movement.”

    It seems part of that movement was passage of laws which banned discrimination. Perhaps the Civil rights movement would have moved along faster if those laws weren’t passed and common ground was the norm.

  • Why would I rule out pursuing common ground with anyone so long as I believe something positive can come out of it?

    RR, it is clear at this point that we’re just talking past each other, so I’m gonna bail.

  • Paul, yes I’d celebrate a 20% reduction in abortions. I’d question your pro-life credentials if you didn’t.

  • If Hitler wanted your help in banning euthanasia, you’d decline simply because he’s Hitler?

    Um, how do I say this, um, YES. I would “decline”, which is to say I would not try to pursue common ground with Hitler.

    A more to-the-point question, though, is would I pursue “common ground” with fellow citizens who wanted to bring the gas chambers to America to exterminate America’s Jewish population?

    Again the answer is a resounding NO, I would not pursue “common ground” with fellow citizens pursuing an American reenactment of the Holocaust. I rather suspect that those touting the benefits of “common ground” would also decline to do so, if it came down to it, and that the only reason they don’t recoil from the “common ground” appeal is that they don’t really see abortion as the despicable wickedness that it is.

  • Common ground circuses are a complete waste of time and fog an issue which is really crystal clear: one either believes that the unborn are deserving of full legal protection or one does not. I do not want common cause with those who think it is perfectly legitimate to kill unborn children. I want to convert them or defeat them.

  • MZ,

    If I were to rewrite Saletin’s proposal as legally proscribe 3rd trimester abortion in the face of being unable to proscribe 1st trimester abortion, any pro-lifer would be supportive as he should be.

    But Saletan’s argument is that the few restrictions pro-lifers have been able to put on abortion have simply delayed people and caused them to have later term abortions, and that we should thus drop those restrictions. I have no problems with banning late term abortions, but I do obviously have a problem with dropping the hurdles that have been put on early term ones.

    His proposals at least have the advantage of limited novelty and are for the most part achievable. Supporting Republicans on the other hand has had the benefit of putting Republicans in power.

    Given that Republicans tend to support restricting abortion and Democrats tend to support handing them out like candy, I’m not really clear why pro-lifers would see this as a downside. The reason I tend to support republicans (at least given that the only other viable choice is Democrats) is that I want Republicans in power instead of Democrats.

  • I think part of what’s at issue here is that politics is inherently factional — as in, getting things done usually has to do with supporting a particular faction composed of individuals who have certain beliefs in common.

    Now, with regard to abortion, the fact of the matter is that while there are some pro-choice Republicans and some pro-life Democrats, most of the time you are faced with a more conservative candidate who is against abortion and a more progressive candidate who is in favor of abortion.

    What Saletan is suggesting is essentially that those who are against abortion make a point of supporting those who are more progressive (who happen almost invariably to also be those who are pro abortion) over those who are more conservative. It should hardly be a surprise if both conservatives and those who are opposed strongly to abortion see this is a ludicrious suggestion. The only people who it will appeal to are:

    – Those who are somewhat opposed to abortion but are strongly progressive.

    – Those who are progressive and wish that people who are against abortion would stop “voting against their interests” on economic issues (at least according to the progressive notion of what is in one’s interest.)

  • The thing we need to do is drop all those niggling restrictions on slavery and find common ground in reducing the need for slavery.

  • Perhaps more redistribution of wealth from Northern industrialists to Southern plantation owners.

  • “If Hitler wanted your help in banning euthanasia, you’d decline simply because he’s Hitler?”

    Of course because Hitler would hold other views so poisonous that any assistance from him for any goal, no matter how laudable, would be an almost literal deal with the devil. Actually Hitler was a big believer in not being cruel to animals. No Jews among them.

    In regard to these common ground follies, we have pro-lifers sitting around with people who are against the law protecting unborn children but who are purportedly concerned about reducing the number of abortions. By doing anything with these folks in regard to abortion, pro-lifers give them bona fides for good faith to which they are not entitled.

  • “Given that Republicans tend to support restricting abortion and Democrats tend to support handing them out like candy, I’m not really clear why pro-lifers would see [electing Republicans] as a downside. The reason I tend to support republicans (at least given that the only other viable choice is Democrats) is that I want Republicans in power instead of Democrats.”

    This.

    “What Saletan is suggesting is essentially that those who are against abortion make a point of supporting those who are more progressive (who happen almost invariably to also be those who are pro abortion) over those who are more conservative. It should hardly be a surprise if both conservatives and those who are opposed strongly to abortion see this is a ludicrious suggestion. The only people who it will appeal to are:

    – Those who are somewhat opposed to abortion but are strongly progressive.

    – Those who are progressive and wish that people who are against abortion would stop “voting against their interests” on economic issues (at least according to the progressive notion of what is in one’s interest.)”

    And this.

  • Speaking of “helpful advice from pro-choicers”:

    Check out this article from the Illinois political blog Capitol Fax on how the adamantly pro-abort Personal PAC targeted pro-life, GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady for defeat, and how their efforts seem to have had enough of an effect to possibly make a difference in a VERY close election:

    http://thecapitolfaxblog.com/2010/11/15/why-and-where-pat-quinn-won/

    My first reaction to this article was great sadness that so many people should devote their skills and experience in political fundraising, publicity, and marketing to the cause of insuring that unborn children can continue to be killed anytime, anywhere, for any reason.

    My next reaction was to consider: what can pro-lifers learn from these people? And most importantly, what strategies and tactics of theirs can we adapt to OUR advantage?

    One suggestion that immediately came to mind is that we should, like Personal PAC, target (middle aged) parents of young daughters — but with a different message. Illinois has no parental notification law (it was passed and signed into law more than 15 years ago but the courts have repeatedly refused to let it take effect) so a pro-life flyer could emphasize that fact that their daughters could get pregnant AND have an abortion — perhaps even several abortions — without their even knowing about it or having a chance to lend a hand or discuss their options.

    Maybe a pro-life message could include a personal testimony from a mother or father saying “We almost lost our grandchild without ever knowing it.” Or from the mother of an aborted child, saying “If only I had talked to my parents before I had an abortion….” Then include some information on the candidates who oppose parental notification and those who support it.

    Now granted, parental notification is just one aspect of the whole pro-life effort and it can’t stop there, but, it is a measure that enjoys a broad base of support even from people who call themselves pro-choice, and would probably be the easiest place to start hacking away at the likes of Personal PAC. From there we could move on to things like informed consent and other measures.

  • I do think his first point is a good one. We DO need to focus on changing the legalization of abortion, but more importantly we need to focus on changing hearts and minds. Outlawing abortion won’t end it, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t outlaw it, but it does mean that we need to go after the conversion of individuals with love and mercy. True reform is in the hearts of men.

    Which brings me to my next point:

    Sarcasm isn’t going to get you anywhere in the debate. It just alienates those whom you are debating against. Think about every time someone was sarcastic to you, did it change your mind? We must argue with right reason and compassion. We must fight for the good of all out of love for all, including our enemies. Our sarcasm and disgust will only drive them further from the teachings of Our Lord in the Gospel and through the Church.

Brave New World for TAC

Wednesday, November 17, AD 2010

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.

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6 Responses to Brave New World for TAC

Secretary Napolitano Explains it All

Wednesday, November 17, AD 2010

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.

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4 Responses to Secretary Napolitano Explains it All

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

Tuesday, November 16, AD 2010

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.

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

  • I’m sure most people will be pleased, not the least, our own Bishop Owen Dolan of Palmerston North diocese (retired) who is the cousin of Archbp. Timothy, and paid a visit to him earlier this year after leading our Diaconate retreat inj Auckland.

    Orthodoxy will prevail. 🙂

  • The Tide is certainly turning, though lets see if good Abp Dolan can back his words with action.

  • Hey Don the Kiwi, I’ve been meaning to ask you about the Archbishop down in Wellington and his level of orthodoxy…

    I visited your beautiful country for a month back in 2007, all of the north island and most of the south island (didn’t get down to Dunedin or the southeastern corner of that island), and I really fell in love w/ Wellington for its mix of people, physical beauty, and vibrant culture. I went to an evening Mass on a Sunday at the cathedral, and was fortunate enough to see the Archbishop preside then. I spoke with him briefly afterwards, and like all good kiwis, he was friendly to this Yank. I don’t remember his homily being anything extraordinary, but it was solid, although I do remember seeing a couple of altar girls serving, as well. Any thoughts on the Archbishop of Wellington?

    Kevin

    P.S. I did pass through Palmerston on my way to the wine country near Hawkes’ Bay. Some delicious wines are produced down there!

  • It’s unfortunate that there are “left-learning” Bishops and “right-leaning Bishops.” Is it possible to use the categories “orthodox” and “heterodox” instead?

  • Zach, if you only knew the hornet’s nest I stirred up by using the word heterodox and orthodox at a church gathering some time ago. There are still some people who won’t speak to me today simply because I used those words. I am of the belief that since I didn’t invent the labels; orthodox or heterodox, along with liberal or conservative, I shouldn’t be held to account if I or someone else fits or doesn’t fit into these particular labels. It seems to that those who are secure in their beliefs don’t mind being called liberal or conservative, and or orthodox or heterodox.

  • Hi Kev in Texas.

    I visited your beautiful country back in 2007……..”

    Keep that up mate, we’ll make you an honorary Kiwi. 😉

    Wellington is indeed a pretty city, but depending on the time of year you visit. Winter time brings very cold and strong southerly winds – the city is known as “windy Wellington”; its also on a major techtonic faultline, so like San Francisco, is gonna get a big one one day in the not too distant future.

    The Archbishop of Wellington diocese is John Dew, and is probably the 2nd most liberal of our 7 bishops in NZ, the most liberal being Bp. Peter Cuneen of Palmerston North diocese (Bp.Dolan is retired and more conservative) I live in Tauranga in the North Island, and part of the Hamilton diocese. Our bishop is Denis Browne, and is slightly liberal of centre, but a fine bishop. Our most orhtodox/conservative bishop is Barry Jones of Christchurch, who is the only Bp. in NZ who sticks to the old traditional “Our Father”. But being such a small country and a small number of bishops, they can’t stray too far from the centre without arrousing comment – although the Church in NZ generally is slightly liberal, but with a strong orthodox bent – like me (forget the liberal though 🙂 )

    And yes, we are blessed with some regions that allow the grape to provide some great beverages. NZ Savignon Blanc and Pinot Noir are world beaters, and our reds are getting better all the time. I’ve gotta say though, that its very hard to beat the Aussies for great reds – but we’re catching them.

    And if you happen to be visiting again, be sure to contact me and we’ll see if we can meet up. ( Don McClarey has my e-mail)

    Bless you, brother.

  • BTW Kev in Texas.

    What part of the State are you? I correspond from time to time with Mark Windsor in Dallas.
    Just sayin’. 🙂

  • So what’s going to change as a result of this? The liberal bureaucracy of the USCCB remains in tact (and will continue to undermine the efforts of orthodox, pro-life efforts).

    It’s great that Archbishop Dolan “speaks out.” But actions speak louder than words. Obama still got his award. Pro-aborts in Milwaukee and NY continue to receive the Eucharist. And in Wisconsin, a bill that forces Catholic pharmacists and Catholic hospitals to distribute the morning after pill went unopposed by Archbishop Dolan–providing cover to enough RINOs that the bill was passed into law despite a Republican-held legislature.

    I don’t mean to be uncharitable, and I’m glad for Dolan’s victory. But let’s not pretend like the landscape has changed. We need heroes, and aside from Cardinal-Elect Burke, they are few and far between.

  • Zach, left-leaning isn’t always synonymous with heterodox… in this particular instance, I’m fairly sure that Bishop Kicanas *is* a left-leaning but orthodox bishop.

    I’m overjoyed that Archbishop Dolan will be the public face of the USCCB, but I don’t think we need to wait to have a bench full of right-leaning bishops in order to do what is ultimately the most effective form of social, cultural and political transformation: our own sanctification.

  • The homosexualists had their last, great hope of transforming the church snuffed by this election. We can be sure that another orthodox, Abp. Kurtz, will be elevated from the vice presidency to replace Dolan three years from now.

Open Letter to Conservatives on Monetary Policy

Tuesday, November 16, AD 2010

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.

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25 Responses to Open Letter to Conservatives on Monetary Policy

  • NIA (Nov. 16, 2010) – Hyperinflation is Guaranteed if U.S. Stays on Current Path
    http://inflation.us/hyperinflationguaranteed.html

  • David,

    The NIA thinks that the median income in 1975 was $154,000 in today’s dollars. They are not a credible source of information.

  • I’m not learned enough to comment on QE2 but this is the first I’ve heard of setting monetary policy through NGDP futures contracts and I think it’s a brilliant idea. Don’t know if it would be wise but very interesting nonetheless.

  • The FRBoG doesn’t need to ask permission from me or any other yahoo, conservative unwashed idiot critic. They do whatever Prof Bernanke and his (egg head) Board of Governors think is appropriate.

    I’m with RR. I don’t remember other than monetary policy has to do with interest rates and money supply (with velocity changes somehow). Money supply is usually monkeyed with by reserve requirements and etc.

    Printing money has ever been inflationary. But, former BoG Vice Chairman Blinder and the current VC assure us that even though the FRBoG has never done one thing correct in 97 years, we can be assured that there will be no inflation after printing $600 billion in money: because there was no inflation after buying $1.25 trillion in MBS paper???

    Funny thing there neither was any improvement in employment and minimal upside in national output.

    I will copy the Prof’s comments into a WORD doc and can review after time passes.

    I have little faith in college profs when they play at monteary divination, or when they harrrass college kids.

  • Dave,

    The full letter and a list of signers can be found here. There are 23 signers, some of whom do not have any particular expertise when it comes to monetary policy (e.g. William Kristol).

    For comparison purposes, over 200 economists signed an open letter opposing Obama’s original stimulus package and a similarly large number signed an open letter opposing TARP. My view would be that the low number of signers is, if anything, an indication that the views expressed in the letter do not have widespread support even among conservative and libertarian leaning economists.

  • even though the FRBoG has never done one thing correct in 97 years,

    That’s absurd. Stop it.

    There are 23 signers, some of whom do not have any particular expertise when it comes to monetary policy

    Only a few are economists. To be fair, one can wager it was not extensively circulated beforehand. It has some heavy hitters: Michael Boskin, Charles Calomiris, and Douglas Holtz-Eakin.

  • OK, Art Deco: Name three “things” the FRBoG got right since 1913. Clearing checks and balancing the books don’t count.

  • Even Greenspan is questioning the current policy of the Fed…

    Greenspan Says U.S. Playing `Dangerous Game’ on Stimulus
    http://www.bloomberg.com/video/63579250/

  • T. Shaw, the Board of Governors and the Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve System have dozens of meetings each year to make consequential decisions on the interest rates they charge, on the quantum of the monetary base, and on regulatory matters within their book. You are telling me you have analyzed every single decision over a period of 97 years and they were in error every single time. Such a statement is nonsensical.

    The successful stabilization of prices in 1951 and 1981-82 should count as successful initiatives, as would be containing panic at the time of the 1987 market crash.

  • David, Greenspan’s reference is to ‘the stimulus’, i.e. fiscal policy.

  • Art Deco – That’s an important point. Thanks.

    I do have some questions though… Where did (or does) the money for whatever stimulus come from? Didn’t they have to print the money to do it/them? They didn’t raise our taxes or sell enough additional bonds to give them out. Fiscal policy is connected to Monetary policy.

  • Art,

    Shortly, we will see how this scheme works. The $1.25 trillion MBS buys did not raise output, AD, or employment. There are other ‘things’ holding down the economy. To run the inflation machine to solve a problem that is not monetary . . .

    What time frame will we use?

    The “cures” you cite were worse than the diseases, which could have been avoided in the first place.

    I don’t know about 1951. I was a year old. I remember 1987, what a hoot. The Fed has a lot to do with equity markets?

    I lived and worked through the 1980 -1981 Fed moves (Prime Rate 19%, 30 year mortgage rate 20%). That was like economic cancer treatment: radical radiation and chemo-therapy simultaneously administered. If you think that was a good, there is no reasoning with you.

    If you think keeping the fed funds rate at 1% in the 2000’s was a success . . . Ask the shareholders of IndyMac Bank, and $80 billion in FDIC insurance losses . . .

  • Dave,

    The fiscal stimulus was, I believe, financed by borrowing, not by printing the money for it.

    There are arguments in favor of abolishing the Federal Reserve and/or returning to a gold standard. For the time being, however, we do have a Fed and a fiat currency, so the question is not whether the Fed should print money but how much it should print. Market indicators are that it is not printing enough to keep up with demand. Hence the need for more monetary stimulus.

  • T. Shaw,

    The 1980-81 recession was harsh. Yet given that the Fed’s alternative was to continue with high inflation, it seems that the Fed made the right call there. Do you really disagree with that?

  • BA: No.

    But, why was the USA given such an alternative?

    Seems the FRB could not protect USA . . .

    Who’d’a thunk! 12% inflation and 10% unemployment! The Misery Index (calculated by adding inflation and unemployment) rose to 21.9% in 1980 (today it is 10.2%).

    What economic model covers that?

    Here are other 20th century Fed and big government achievements:

    A Perfect Storm of D.C. policy caused the Great Depression:
    In the 1930s, the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act caused a collapse in global trade.
    The Fed allowed the money supply to shrink by one-third.
    Herbert Hoover raised taxes.

    In the 1960’s – 80’s Washington tried again.
    Great Society welfare and health-care programs.
    Wage and price controls.
    Inflationary Fed policy
    70% marginal tax rates, 50% capital-gains tax rates.
    Highly regulated energy, airline, banking and trucking industries created severe problems.

    Seems to me the Fed has the anti-Midas touch. The powers that be keep placing blind faith therein.

  • Bovine Scatology. Open letter to ‘conservatives’ from liberals pretending to be conservative. Come on! Who is buying this Bovine Scatology?

    Trying to determine how much and in which way the Fed should do anything is akin to trying to influence Hitler as to how many Jews and Catholics should be killed and in what manner. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York makes all the decisions, Bernanke is just the ‘politically appointed’ face and the BOG is only for show. Congress, the President and the people have no say in this whatsoever.

    The Fed is nothing more than usury. It is immoral, it is unethical, it has NEVER accomplished any of its stated goals and has been relatively effective at accomplishing its intended goals: Control the government through the purse by addicting the politcos to debt borrowing (spending) and then offering a solution to inflate the money supply in order to ‘reduce’ the debt. It is a wealth transfer from all the people to the trans-national financiers and owners of the monster from Jekyll Island and a transfer of sovereign power from the people to the federal (national) government and eventually to a global scheme of corporatist-totalitarianism (or some variation of the Hegelian (evil) synthesis of Capitalism/Communism)

    This is unAmerican, it must be stopped, money weight must be set by Congress. This is anti-Catholic, it must be stopped, usury is a grave evil and along with murder (especially abortion, infanticide, euthanasia) and Sodomy (acceptance of pederasty, homosexualist behavior, porn, masturbation, etc.) are the principle reasons this country is in trouble. Those evils are related and the instigators and perpetrators of these evils are all of a piece.

    You cannot consider yourself an orthodox Catholic and be in support of the Federal Reserve scheme. Ignorance is not an excuse. It is time to end this thing – not abruptly, but a definite transition is necessary and the power of the purse belongs to the Congress in the people’s House and what should be the States’ Senate (repeal the 17th).

    Expect a double Paul pincer attack against this beast in January, watch the authentic conservatives support them and watch the Regressives (‘progressives’, liberals, Democrats and so-called Republicans with absolutist stripes) flail. The Fed is on its heels, it cannot even control what it started, the house of cards is crumbling and the beast is frightened by the people who have learned what it really is. It will NOT live to see its 100 birthday.

  • His comments about the future of the U.S. and China are even more interesting… Glenn Beck’s hair must be on fire.

    George Soros says conditions “pretty perfect” for gold
    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6AF4BV20101116

  • David, your referent is to an article which prints a piece of correspondence. The letter-writer is under the false impression that the consumer price index excludes food and fuel prices. It does no such thing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics does produce an additional price index referred to as ‘core inflation’ which excludes food and fuel prices because these are volatile. The Consumer Price Index itself includes food and fuel prices (and why we should regard the Bureau of Labor Statistics as producing unreliable measures and this man eyeballing the price of Raisin Bran at his supermarket as a reliable measure I cannot fathom).

  • What economic model covers that?

    Milton Friedman’s conception of a family of Phillips Curves, one for each level of expected inflation.

    Here are other 20th century Fed and big government achievements:

    A Perfect Storm of D.C. policy caused the Great Depression:
    In the 1930s, the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act caused a collapse in global trade.

    The United States in 1929 exported only about 5% of its domestic product (and generally imported less than that). It was not well-integrated into international markets. Only those economies notably dependent on the American market would have been injured by first-order effects of that tariff: that of Canada and perhaps some of the territories of the Caribbean Basin and a scatter of others.

    It should also be noted that the aftershocks of the financial crisis in the Fall of 2008 included an implosion in world trade as severe as that which occurred in 1929-30, without tariff legislation.

    Excises on imports are hardly an example of ‘big government’, unless you consider the era extending from 1789 to 1916, when little use was made of direct taxes or common excises, to be an era of ‘big government’.

    The Fed allowed the money supply to shrink by one-third.

    That is not an example of an excessively busy central government but of an excessively passive one. The Federal Reserve had concerns about the effects of open market operations in the context of the currency peg, so did not attempt them until 1932. The currency peg was there by statute. It was commonly expected that the United States would follow Britain off the gold standard in Sept. 1931. It failed to do so and undertook actions to stem an outflow of gold, so while Britain began an economic recovering, the United States experienced the most harrowing 10 month period in the nation’s economic history. You all need to get your story straight. The Federal Reserve’s maligned program has as its object an expansion in the monetary base to meet the demand for liquidity. This is precisely what the (constrained) Federal Reserve failed to do in the period running from the Fall of 1929 to the Spring of 1932.

    Herbert Hoover raised taxes.

    Congress raised taxes at the President’s request, because the fall in revenue co-incident with the Depression had generated a (contextually) large defecit. The practice of balanced budgets was the orthodoxy of the time, and we can now see the salutary aspects of that orthodoxy, even if it was adhered to in circumstances where it was injurious.

    In the 1960’s – 80’s Washington tried again.
    Great Society welfare and health-care programs.
    Wage and price controls.
    Inflationary Fed policy
    70% marginal tax rates, 50% capital-gains tax rates.

    Highly regulated energy, airline, banking and trucking industries created severe problems.

    This stew of complaints has some validity, but it is perfectly irrelevant to a discussion of monetary policy in 1931 or today. BTW, high marginal tax rates were not a Great Society initiative, nor was the mercantile regulation of the transportation sector or banking. The former was leftover from the 2d World War and the latter from the Depression. I actually rather miss Glass-Steagall, all things considered.

    Seems to me the Fed has the anti-Midas touch. The powers that be keep placing blind faith therein.

  • The last sentence is a quotation from T. Shaw. It is wrong.

  • BI – BOB RUBIN: “US In Terribly Dangerous Territory,” Bond Market May Be Headed For “Implosion”
    http://www.businessinsider.com/rubin-bond-market-implosion-2010-11

    Warning of the risk of an “implosion” in the bond market, former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin says the soaring federal budget deficit and the Fed’s quantitative easing are putting the U.S. in “terribly dangerous territory.”

    Speaking at an event at The Pierre Hotel in New York City honoring Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Rubin joined the growing number of current and former officials (foreign and domestic) to criticize QE2. The Fed’s plan to buy $600 billion of Treasuries “has a lot of risk,” he said, calling the international reaction “horrendous”…

    Bloomberg – Dollar to Become World’s `Weakest Currency,’ JPMorgan Says
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-11-18/dollar-to-become-world-s-weakest-currency-drop-to-75-yen-jpmorgan-says.html

  • Reuters – Bernanke Hits Back at Fed Critics, Points at China
    http://www.cnbc.com/id/40264759/

We Have Nothing to Fear But the Fear of Fear

Tuesday, November 16, AD 2010

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. 

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7 Responses to We Have Nothing to Fear But the Fear of Fear

  • Excellent post Paul!

    I think another admirable event and action in this nation’s founding was how the Bill of Rights came into existence. Borne out of the fear you speak of, it was a great compromise to bring the parties into agreement and it has proved to be very beneficial to our nation (and perhaps other parts of the world by the standard it set). I doubt we’ll ever see another win-win compromise like that again.

  • Thank you, Rich. In the paper that I alluded to and which I borrowed some of the ideas for this post from, I brought up the Bill of Rights. It was perhaps the major contribution of the Anti-Federalists and a great compromise, as you mention.

  • Fantastic article, Paul. Your connections to Federalist 51 and 55 were extremely impressive. The point about the sublime brilliance of checks and balances was also quite insightful. Thanks very much for citing my article.

    By the way, your title was hysterical!

  • I appreciate that, Keith. I’m happy that I discovered your blog.

  • Um, Paul, their was a context you neglected, which was the banking panic which erupted in November 1932. It ran on for four months and resulted in the closure of some 4,000 banks. Fractional reserve banking requires confidence and the loss of it can generate a most unsalutary feedback loop. Roosevelt was addressing this very phenomenon.

  • Art, I’ll concede not knowing the background of this speech as well as, say, Lincoln’s inaugural, but it seems the context of the paragraph and speech in total refers to general policy matters. That said, your point does emphasize the distinction we ought to make between the type of irrational fear that cripples us and can lead to bad results vs the sort of rational fear that motivates genuine opposition to policy.

  • “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.” This speech was (and continues to be) offensive to Catholics and Protestants who believe that Fear of the Lord is a gift of the Holy Ghost and that “our help is in the name of the Lord Who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 124:8). The Anti-Federalists were right; Roosevelt continued the centralization of power started by Lincoln.

Full Body Stupidity

Tuesday, November 16, AD 2010

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.

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7 Responses to Full Body Stupidity

  • I find it interesting that we’re using language singling out Obama on this. Now, I’m as happy to blame Obama for things as the next dog, but let’s call a spade a spade, here. Obama is just following in his predecessor’s administration’s footsteps. Do you really think that A) Obama’s DHS could have rolled this chicanery out into our airports had Bush’s DHS not already eroded the 4th Amendment; or B) that this step would not have been executed by the aforementioned Bush – had the technology been available at the opportune moment – or by a theoretical President McCain?

  • Wolfie, I guarantee that the Bush administration would never have done this. Treating all passengers in this fashion is a political landmine and they would have recognized it as such. I expected the Obama administration to act as Leftist ideologues. What has been unexpected to me is that they also consistently act like bloody fools.

  • The viewer comments on that first video were really depressing. Actually, the whole video was kind of depressing.

  • See, I really don’t see how the Bush administration was adept at avoiding political landmines. What stood out to me was that they, more than any other administration in my lifetime, was fine with treating the population of this country as if they were all potentially suicide bombers. Guilty until proven innocent. Never mind that almost every single measure taken to curtail individual liberty and privacy since 09/11 has also been more about theatrics than actual security. In that regard, I just look at Obama as Baby Bush.

  • Could they be trying to keep people from moving around the country? I don’t have any need to travel anyway, but this stuff sure doesn’t make me want to start planning a trip.

  • Not looking forward to the trip to Kit’s great-grandmother’s this Christmas. We’ll be among the long, long line of “opt outs” for the technological strip-search. (Not just because of the whole “see through your clothes” thing; there’s way too much cancer in our family for me to be cool with extra x-rays.)

    On a meta-note, I was amused that my reader had this comic right below this post on the feed.

  • Pingback: Secretary Napolitano Explains it All | The American Catholic

Cody Alicea And His Flag Return to School

Monday, November 15, AD 2010

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!”.

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3 Responses to Cody Alicea And His Flag Return to School

Moralism and Monetary Policy

Monday, November 15, AD 2010

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.

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3 Responses to Moralism and Monetary Policy

  • Ironically, F.D. Roosevelt’s changes in monetary policy and in financial regulation were very effective.

    The difficulty with your argument is that it is dead wrong with regard to this particular problem. The current crisis has had sources and motors which derive from aspects of the moral and ethical life. Those of you schooled in law and philosophy can parse it out, but this layman will call it a deficit of conscientiousness on the part of both households and institutions and a deficit of public spirit on the part of politicians and some commentators.

    1. The decay in the capacity for deferral of gratification, manifest in the secular increase in per capita debt loads by households.

    2. The decline in underwriting standards by those originating mortgages (I’ve a friend in the banking business in Rochester; his disgust over the phenomenon of subprime lending, which his bank eschewed, was in part a moral judgment about the practice).

    3. Lack of due diligence. The characters in the AIG Financial Products group had, up to 2005, no clue about the composition of the mortgage pools on which they were writing credit default swaps.

    4. Inertia. Asked to explain some of his odd behavior in 2008 and 2009, Henry Paulson: Congress does flat nothing about anything unless their is a crisis (and yet the institution is consumed by busyness as they play parliamentary games with each other).

    5. Absence of historical sense: Charles Calomiris has made this point. Banking and financial crises are not all that unusual and there are established protocols for addressing them. His complaint was that Paulson and Geithner (and Bernanke?) threw this out the window and commenced madly improvising.

    6. Cronyism. The eschewal of certain policy tools (e.g. debt for equity swaps) and the character of the eventual piece of financial regulation does not have too many plausible explanations bar the reflexive subordination of public interest to private interest by Barney Frank and others. Ditto the very existence of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

    7. Artifice. The Democratic Party given the chance made use of circumstances to push pork projects and enact a contextually gratuitous piece of legislation on medical insurance in lieu of a serious amendment to financial architecture.

    8. Sheer carelessness. So, just who owns that promissory note?

  • Excellent, AD.

    Many factors contributed. The proportion of home ownership rose from 64% to 69% in 2005. HUD, under new NY Gov Cuomo, ordered FNMA/FHLMC to do 50% of their mortgage purchases in “low-to-moderate” income citizens.

    The amount of money that FNM/FHLMC ran unto the housing market caused a price bubble.

    Banks saw comparable sale prices rising and bought into the maxim RE prices never decline.

    Loans were made solely on nonstabilized comp sales appraisals. The other four factors in credit underwriting were ignored.

    Many other factors were invoilved. But, the players all beleived that a new paradygm was at play and things had changed forever. NOT!

    That hapens over and over and they never learn.

  • I suppose any crisis can ultimately be blamed on greed and ignorance. In that case, human nature, i.e., self-interest and information asymmetry, is part of the technical equation and may be remedied with technical solutions.

TAC College Rankings: Week 12

Monday, November 15, AD 2010

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!

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21 Responses to TAC College Rankings: Week 12

  • LSU continues to romp through their most difficult schedule since they take “all-comers”.

    They destroyed the University of the Little Sisters of the Poor this past weekend to increase their chances of playing for the mythical championship.

    //sarcasm off

  • I am no fan of LSU (or anyone else in the SEC for that matter), but let’s not pretend that TCU or Boise State would still be undefeated if they had played LSU’s schedule.

    Boise State’s “signature” win was a last-second comeback against a team that lost to James Madison.

  • Tito:

    LSU has 7 bowl eligible teams, with an additional 3 BCS teams on the schedule. They play two in-state teams in accordance with LSU’s determination to help other in-state schools financially. Name me a team with a better schedule than LSU. Certainly not Boise, who plays 3, maybe 4 bowl eligible teams this year.

    LSU’s cupcake games are Boise’s conference showdowns. Name me a team with a tougher schedule.

  • Easy to say when the BCS schools avoid Boise State.

    That’s fair?

  • Easy to say when the BCS schools avoid Boise State.
    That’s fair?

    Yeah, which is why Boise played Oregon St. and Virginia Tech this year. No ones playing them.

    LSU is not under an obligation to play every non-AQ team that wants a shot at the big time.

    But you dodged the question: name me a team with a tougher schedule.

  • I defer on Boise State until next year… when they are a member of the Pac 10. At that point, we’ll see how they fare with a tougher schedule.

    Bring on the Huskers! I believe they are entitled to another “don’t let the door hit you on the way out” loss. 🙂

    A flashback to 1998:

  • VATech’s loss to James Madison was a fluke. Aside from that game, VATech has played pretty well. It’s loss to Boise State was as close as could be, and it was the opening game of a very young and inexperienced defense against a team full of returning starters. That said, while Boise State is a good team I agree that they would likely not be able to withstand the weekly challenges of a top conference.

  • I defer on Boise State until next year… when they are a member of the Pac 10. At that point, we’ll see how they fare with a tougher schedule.

    You mean Utah. Utah and Colorado are joining the PAC 12. Boise is joining the MWC next year, so TCU and Boise will be playing each other.

  • Mike,

    The Hokies are running the table in the ACC – weakest BCS conference not called the Big East.

    😉

    And I say that as an ACC alum.

  • This is why college is such bs. So Boise St is given the shaft not just because they play a weak schedule that is the result of higher profile programs ducking them, but even the good teams that they beat are downgraded because they don’t really play a tough enough schedule, or the teams that they beat aren’t really that good. Let’s go nuts and just look at the teams beaten by the teams beaten by the teams beaten by the teams beaten by Boise St and TCU and see what their strength of schedule is like.

    Let’s cut this farce out already and just declare that only teams in the Big 10, Pac 10, Big 12, and SEC are truly eligible for the title game, and in the former two conferences only in certain select years when the conference is strong.

    Eh, screw it, whoever wins the SEC should just be declared the national champion.

  • Eh, screw it, whoever wins the SEC should just be declared the national champion.

    Works for me. 😉

    So Boise St is given the shaft not just because they play a weak schedule that is the result of higher profile programs ducking them,

    I think TCU could make this claim, but not Boise. They played 2 BCS teams, and not puny ones either. Both OSU and VT were close to winning their conference the year before.

  • Plus VoTech is back from the brink this year.

  • Oh, please. Spare me the cries about how college football is a sham. I don’t think Boise State has played as tough a schedule as LSU, but I still have the Broncos ranked 2nd because (1) they’ve done what’s been asked of them and (2) I think Alabama will beat Auburn while Boise State will likely run the table. If that happens, then Boise State belongs in the championship game.

    But if there are 4 or 5 undefeated teams at the end of the season, and one of those teams has beaten several other top 25 teams, forgive me for being more impressed with that team than I am the gimmicky team playing on a gimmicky blue field. I have them at #2 right now, so all you playoff crybabies should just be satisfied with that.

    😉

  • I think TCU could make this claim, but not Boise. They played 2 BCS teams, and not puny ones either. Both OSU and VT were close to winning their conference the year before.

    Yes, but then we hear about how these programs really aren’t that strong, and they play in weaker BCS conferences, etc. It’s like Boise St can’t win. First they’re knocked for playing in a weak conference, and then the wins against teams from elite conferences are pooh-poohed. I’m sure BSU would welcome the opportunity to play upper echelon schools, but that’s just not going to happen – and I don’t even blame the elites for ducking BSU when their conference schedules are so tough. Why on Earth would LSU or Alabama or Oklahoma schedule BSU or TCU when they’ve got to play five or six top 25 teams within their own conference?

    The system itself is what the problem is.

  • Eh, who cares. Real football is played on Sundays anyway. 🙂

  • And I predict the Hokies will lose whatever BCS bowl game they play in, assuming they beat whatever 7-4 team they play in the ACC championship.

  • Well, at least “real football” was finally played in the Meadowlands on Sunday. Finally.

  • You may be right, Jay, but I’m not so sure. If Hokies run the table, the most likely Orange Bowl opponent will be TCU, which should be a very interesting game. I’m a Duke guy myself, but admit to being a fan of Beamer ball. His end of season team rankings consistently out-perform his recruiting class rankings, which is the mark of good coaching. And Beamer is not afraid to play a risky non-conf opponent ala Boise State, something he does pretty much every year. If the Orange Bowl match-up turns out to be TCU then one would expect a high-scoring game, which is why it will probably be a defensive struggle.
    I think this year’s Tech team might be a bit under-rated. Beamer has admitted he should not have scheduled a game for the Saturday after the Monday night Boise State game (I doubt Boise State did), and it was that loss to James Madison that really haunts them. IMO the loss to Boise State was predictable given that Tech was starting 7 or 8 newbees on defense and Boise State’s offense brought back everyone. That experience mismatch probably does not amount to much now, but it certainly would in game 1.

  • The only thing sadly that will get LSU in is if this Cam Newton thing explodes. That is SEC followers and voters learn that AUBURN got to where it at by having a player that should not be playing and their is revolt with votes going to LSU

    It already appears to me as Clay Travis reported that Newton very likely is already no eligible

  • Nebraska offered a 2 for 1 vs Boise State and they declined…

  • SEC West teams play the toughest schedule. And, LSU has the most Top 25 wins this season.

    Of course, a playoff would solve all of this.

    (But, then, we’d have arguments about how many teams get in the playoff. With an 8 team playoff, teams 9 -12 would complain; and so forth.)

    As for Cam Newton, maybe he should be ineligible. Either way, his team spanked LSU. No doubt. I’d love for LSU to make the SEC Championship game (assuming that they beat Arkansas; not an easy task). But, I’d always have the memory that on the field – where it matters – they got beat. For me, it would always have an asterisk.

This Has “Bad Idea” Written All Over It

Monday, November 15, AD 2010

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.

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2 Responses to This Has “Bad Idea” Written All Over It

Election Day

Monday, November 15, AD 2010

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.

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8 Responses to Election Day

  • Wish I could be as sanguine about our “democracy,” but, based on presidents, legislatures and judges governing against the will of the people, I’d have to say the system is irretrievably broken. When one set of bums gets thrown out, another set replaces them. Politics in America is all about money. The more you raise the better chance you have to win. “Campaign contributions” are a euphemism for bribery and backroom deals. Corruption is rife, mendacity rules and the people, content with their bread and circuses, are not really concerned about their loss of freedoms.

    This comes after 68 years of careful observation, and is not some knee-jerk cynicism. I’m glad to be checking out soon. I don’t want to be around when America implodes from total decay and depravity.

  • Joe, every last thing you wrote, and I mean every last thing, could have been lifted word for word from newspaper editorials written in the 1790s. Your pessimism about the prospects for our experiment in self-rule go back to the very beginnings of the Republic, as does my optimism. Time, as it always does, will tell.

  • I doubt the US will disappear any time soon. It will, like many (most, all?) political systems go on and slowly decay, like some ancient ruin. Certain vestiges of self rule will remain, but those will be as unrecognizable to us as our current ones would be to our founding fathers (just look how far we’ve decayed in a short 200 years). But something will remain – whether it’s worth keeping will depend largely upon what the rest of the world (and hence, available alternatives) look like.

  • “It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: “And this, too, shall pass away.” How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! — how consoling in the depths of affliction! “And this, too, shall pass away.” And yet let us hope it is not quite true. Let us hope, rather, that by the best cultivation of the physical world, beneath and around us; and the intellectual and moral world within us, we shall secure an individual, social, and political prosperity and happiness, whose course shall be onward and upward, and which, while the earth endures, shall not pass away.”

    Abraham Lincoln, September 30, 1859

  • I had thouhght that phrase (This too shall pass) is in the Gospels. Not so.

    Mark 9:29-36 “… Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away …”

  • Donald, I’ve been reading too much Schopenhauer lately. I would like to try your rose-colored glasses for a day or two. Anything to cheer up this old misanthrope.

  • Schopenhauer would depress a laughing hyena Joe. I prefer Doctor Franklin:

    “Whilst the last members were signing it [i.e., the Constitution] Doct FRANKLIN looking towards the Presidents Chair, at the back of which a rising sun happened to be painted, observed to a few members near him, that Painters had found it difficult to distinguish in their art a rising from a setting sun. I have said he, often and often in the course of the Session, and the vicissitudes of my hopes and fears as to its issue, looked at that behind the President without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting: But now at length I have the happiness to know that it is a rising and not a setting Sun.”

    James Madison

Right All Along

Sunday, November 14, AD 2010

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.

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27 Responses to Right All Along

  • I saw part of this series already and found it quite enjoyable.

    Count me in on all 10 of those propositions.

  • Ten Amens!

    I wonder what are liberals’ top ten propositions.

    Camus: “All attempts to make Heaven on Earth have resulted in hell on Earth.” (6)

    Here’s my hare-brained take on a liberal ten diktats:

    1. War never solved anything. Anyhow, we deserve any and all attacks.

    2. Free enterprise/free marrket system is racist, uncharitable, and unjust.

    3. Unlimited government in every aspect of life.

    4. “If it feels good and doesn’t ‘hurt’ someone, do it!” “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

    5. Federal government power eclipsing the states is necessary to ensure the narrative is funded and universally executed. They will need fly-over states’ money to bail out CA.

    6. Distort, exaggerate, and invent crises. Institute unworkable, fiscally ruinous, utopian projects dependent upon massive governmental power.

    7. Popular dependence (through desperation) on the State is needed to ensure perennial re-election.

    8. Institute high taxes to give $$$ to the voting bloc.

    9. That government derives its powers from liberal judges, who know better than we the people and our elected representatives, i.e., the consent of the governed. They call it the “dictatorship of the majority.”

    10. That untrammeled government is necessary for human liberation from traditional morality; personal responsibility; Republicans; Sarah Palin; and zenophobic, evil, rich people (class envy).

    It’s probably best they do not pronounce them. We’d likey want to exile them to Zimbabwe or California.

    Sorry!

  • Re: T. Shaw:

    Since the author stressed a hope that non-conservatives would gain a greater understanding of conservatives, I will present a more charitable layman’s version of what American liberals actually believe:

    1. In equal rights and rule of law.

    2. In individual freedom.

    3. In a strong national defense, but that it is immoral to engage in foreign wars for mere economic or political interests.

    4. A concern that free enterprise is imperfect and that there is a role for government to promote fairness and transparency in the economy.

    5. That personal morality is personal and it is the role of the government to enforce rights not morality.

    7. That no man is an island and that promoting the health and welfare of the most vulnerable benefits everyone.

    The take-away message I get from this exercise is that it is easy to make a list for any side that sounds good in principle, and easy to make a caricature to demonize your opponents. The hard part is figuring out what actually works when the rubber meets the road – and it doesn’t do anyone any good if you don’t bother to understand what others actual stand for.

  • I watched Hume’s special… It’s decent. I would compare it to Ice Truckers on the History Channel.

    http://www.history.com/shows/ice-road-truckers

    Do you have Sam Tanenhaus’ book? Have you read it? I have it setting right beside me. I think you have totally misrepresented his thought. Very simply his argument in this book is that there are two camps of Conservatives. The first are “realists” or pragmatists like Eisenhower, Reagan, Chambers, and Buckley. The second are “revanchists” or ideologues like Krauthammer, Podhoretz, Kristol and Gingrich. The true role of conservatism is not to advance a narrow ideological agenda, but to engage in a serious dialogue with liberalism.

    “God preserve me from ideologues.” – Daniel Patrick Moynihan

  • I have read his book Dave. He understands American conservatism as much as a pig understands penance. By no stretch could Eisenhower be considered a conservative except when viewed from rather far to the Left. As to his attempted division among conservatives, Tanenhaus likes conservatives who have been dead for a while. It is living conservatives who tend to give him the heebie jeebies. No doubt he has been having a bad case of the heebie jeebies since the election following his prediction that conservatism was dead. Excellent!!!

    Oh and Daniel Patrick Moynihan was a pro-abort Dave. He considered pro-lifers to be among those he denounced as narrow ideologues, although partial birth abortion was a bridge too far even for him.

  • If you want to read a good book on American conservatism Dave, the book linked below is a good place to start:

    http://www.amazon.com/Right-Nation-Conservative-Power-America/dp/1594200203

  • I’ve read the late Murray Rothbard’s book Dave. He was a pro-abort loon who thought Eisenhower was a bigger threat to the world than Khrushchev. The video below is taken from Chapter 14 of his Ethics of Liberty. Repugnant is too mild a term for my view of Murray Rothbard’s body of work.

    William F. Buckley said it all in his obituary on Rothbard:

    “MURRAY ROTHBARD, age 68, died on January 7. We extend condolences to his family, but not to the movement he inspired.

    The academic and journalistic achievements of Professor Murray Rothbard of the University of Nevada were prodigious-25 books, including Man, Economy, and State, and a four-volume history of economic thought, the final two volumes of which will appear in the spring. He was the primary influence in founding the Libertarian. Party, whose godfather he continued to be until he broke with it a few years ago.

    What reason, then, not to regret the end of his influence on the conservative-libertarian movement?

    Murray Rothbard had defective judgment. It pains even to recall it, but in 1959 when Khrushchev arrived in New York, with much of America stunned by the visit of the butcher of Budapest-the Soviet protege of Stalin who was threatening a world war over Berlin Rothbard physically applauded Khrushchev in his limousine as it passed by on the street. He gave as his reason for this that, after all, Khrushchev had killed fewer people than General Eisenhower, his host.

    Murray couldn’t handle moral priorities. In 1991 he decried the Cold War, which had just ended by liberating three hundred million people while maintaining our own independence. As president of the John Randolph Society, he spoke jubilantly at its convention in 1991 of his fancy, that we should “think the unthinkable and restore the good old Articles of Confederation.” In recent years he disavowed Milton Friedman on the grounds that in endorsing the idea of school vouchers, Professor Friedman had sold out to the enemy, the State. James Burnham, the noble strategist and philosopher, he attacked bitterly in 1968 (“I can see Burnham now, helping the slavemasters of the South round up the slave rebels under Nat Turner”). In 1957, reviewing in NR a book by Murray Rothbard, Henry Hazlitt observed that he suffered from “extreme apriorism.” Indeed he did, Rothbard retorted in an essay that defended categorical positions, leaving no room for qualifications however critical. We have not read his economic history, but if it is as reliable as his contemporary history, we warn against it a generation of scholars which, from all appearances, is paying it the attention it deserves. In his speech to the John Randolph Society Rothbard gave this rendition of the history of NATIONAL REVIEW: “And so the purges began. One after another, Buckley and NATIONAL REVIEW purged and excommunicated all the radicals, all the nonrespectables. Consider the roll call: isolationists (such as JOM T. Flynn), anti-Zionists, libertarians, Ayn Randians, the John Birch Society, and all those who continued, like the early NATIONAL REVIEW, to dare to oppose Martin Luther King and the civil-rights revolution.” Anybody who could decipher this magazine’s history as above, could also conclude that Khrushchev was morally preferable to Eisenhower.

    Murray Rothbard was a wonderfully pleasant social companion. He had been a friend and colleague-he did the research for the passages in Up from Liberalism that dealt with economics. But in 1962, at an lSI-sponsored seminar at Yale, I spoke derisively, if with good humor, about Murray’s proposal to privatize the lighthouses, suggesting that such a platform would persuade listeners less of the advantages of the private sector than of the disadvantages of knowing nothing about lighthouses. Rothbard was outraged and noisily denounced this journal, vowing never again to contribute to it.

    We muddled through without him, and he got on with his own work, though the influence of the Libertarian Party did not correspond with its valuable insights- the American people, during the Cold War, were not going to welcome in large numbers a political party whose leader thought the defense of freedom through containment was a travesty.

    It was a great pity, but his problem ought not to be thought of as tracing to the seamless integrity of libertarian principles. In Murray’s case, much of what drove him was a contrarian spirit, the deranging scrupulosity that caused him to disdain such as Herbert Hoover, Ronald Reagan, Milton Friedman, and-yes-Newt Gingrich, while huffing and puffing in the little cloister whose walls he labored so strenuously to contract, leaving him, in the end, not as the father of a swelling movement that “rous [ed] the masses from their slumber,” as he once stated his ambition, but with about as many disciples as David Koresh had in his little redoubt in Waco. Yes, Murray Rothbard believed in freedom, and yes, David Koresh believed in God.”

  • Donald – Rothbard was far from a perfect human being. No one would argue about that. Radicals for Capitalism by Brian Doherty (which Blackadder & Blosser have read or are reading) actually goes into detail about both the flaws and greatness of Rothbard’s personality. Notice the links I put on Joe’s post about Pro-Life Libertarians. I made those remarks before your own. Great minds think a like.

    I think though to get a more balanced perspective on the complexities of the man it’s important to read what his friends had to say about him. Lew Rockwell Jr., Justin Raimondo, and Ron Paul would be good folks to read about their views of Rothbard.

    I must admit though your distaste of Rothbard matches similar thoughts I have of Buckley and N.R. in general. Highly negative opinions of Buckley are shared by many others of the Right as well, i.e. Russell Kirk, etc. His neoconservatism is one the root causes of this dislike… Insulting a man after he’s dead is another. That takes a lot of courage.

  • I would caution against worship or adoration (dulia) of Ronald Reagan. The worship of him at the Republican debate that was held at his Presidential Library, and some other debates as well, was frankly sickening. Many Presidential historians and political scientists, who are honest, will tell you Reagan first few years were the best. After he was shot it went all down-hill. His second term was largely consumed by the Iran-Contra affair. Much of what Reagan criticized in former administrations he did at more egregious levels than anyone in history… His complete and total lack of fiscal discipline exploded our deficit and debt. Cutting taxes while increasing spending was (and is) a fatal flaw. The fruit of this irresponsibility would a few years later cause Ross Perot to run for President. No, Reagan is no hero or saint. Maybe Nancy, but not Ronald.

    Trying to be balanced here I will admit that Reagan was a great communicator. He was natural. Entertainment was in his blood. Running for national office is all about show-business. Refer to another great communicator of that era below…

    http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/jessejackson1984dnc.htm

  • “Insulting a man after he’s dead is another. That takes a lot of courage.”

    He didn’t insult Rothbard Dave, he merely told the truth about the man. He said nothing in the obituary that he hadn’t said many times to Rothbard directly while he was alive. Calling Buckley a neo-conservative is rich. He was a conservative, and fighting for conservative principles, long before you came into existence Dave. The conservatism that you favor of the Lew Rockwell and the Justin Raimondo exotic strains is distinctly a very minute viewpoint among conservatives in this country and Buckley helped bring this about. Hence the disdain in which Buckley is held in paleocon circles.

  • Reagan was the greatest President of my lifetime Dave. Your views of him are in line with your embrace of the paleocon rubbish peddled by hucksters like Rockwell and Raimondo.

  • “After he was shot it went all down-hill.”

    Reagan was shot after 69 days in office Dave. Was your comment meant to be funny or simply a reflection of ignorance about Reagan?

  • [Buckley’s] neoconservatism is one the root causes of this dislike…

    Clearly the term has lost any meaning whatsoever if Buckley is going to be labeled a neo-con. Anyway, he certainly had a more meaningful impact on conservatism and on the course of this country than the likes of Lew Rockwell and his merry brand of paleocon hucksters.

  • My folks were part of the conservative Democratic coalition that help to elect Reagan, both times. I remember distinctly making a folder of cut-out articles promoting his Presidency in 1984. Considering the times and the alternatives he was the best choice. The first election I could vote in myself was 1992. (I nearly missed the cut-off in 1988.) If only PJB could have beaten H.W. Bush.

    http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/patrickbuchanan1992rnc.htm

    I think we need to make an honest assessment of Reagan’s Presidency, both the good and bad. Any political scientist and historian whose expertise is the Presidency will tell you it takes 50 years or longer to judge a Presidency. It’s far too early to judge his Presidency because the consequences of his decisions are still being felt in the current, both the good and bad ones.

    Rockwell and Raimondo are not Paleo-cons. Maybe Paleo-Libertarians would be a better description. Both of them are anti-war, at least against unjust wars. Both of these groups support a more realistic and reasonable foreign policy. The foreign policy that our Founding Fathers advocated in fact. None of which Buckley and followers supported or supports. Both of these groups promote more reasonable monetary and fiscal policies. All of these positions are the truly conservative one. No my friend, the union of Traditional/Paleo-Conservatives and Libertarians is a good thing, a very good thing.

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2010/11/15/a-union-of-conservatives-and-libertarians/

  • I just looked up the definition of huckster. It gave Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and William Kristol as perfect examples of one. Oh, I missed one. The God-Father of Hucksters Inc. is William F. Buckley Jr.

  • All of these positions are the truly conservative one.

    Ah yes, the “only true conservative” argument. I’ve heard it before, and it remains unconvincing.

  • Actually my friend, Lew Rockwell is a neo-Confederate crank and border-line anti-Semite who is a stranger to anything resembling true conservatism. As to Justin Raimondo, anyone who looks to him for direction on anything is truly confused.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justin_Raimondo

    The discussion page on the Raimondo wiki is a hoot:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Justin_Raimondo

  • “I just looked up the definition of huckster. It gave Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and William Kristol as perfect examples of one. Oh, I missed one. The God-Father of Hucksters Inc. is William F. Buckley Jr.”

    Dave, please do not clutter up my threads with this type of rubbish.

  • From the Amazon review of the above books:

    “Deconstructs the war on Iraq as part of the neo-con blueprint for consolidating the American Empire.”

    Errrr right. Pass.

  • Dave, I am truly not interested in your conspiratorial bed time reading. I think it best for the future if you not comment in my threads. I assure you that I have no interest in the future in commenting on any of your submissions to this blog.

  • Cdl. Ottaviani died thirty years ago. For him to have addressed the Iraq war in his writings would have been quite a tour de force.

  • Contributions include academics such as Noam Chomsky, Immanuel Wallerstein, and Claes Ryn; journalists Milton Viorst, Robert Fisk, Kirkpatrick Sale, and Justin Raimondo; former CIA professional Ray McGovern; former Defense Intelligence Agency professional W. Patrick Lang; and Fr. Jean-Marie Benjamin, personal friend of the former Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq Traiq Aziz.

    Luscious.

  • I deleted your last comment Dave. I told you not to comment on any of my threads in the future and I meant it. Any future attempts by you to comment on my threads will be deleted by me when I see them.

  • Dr. Tom Wood’s well-written and substantial review and endorsement of the Neo-conned books is very helpful. It clears up the Cardinal Ottaviani confusion above. It also references several other Catholic writers, among other non-Catholics, whose thought is collected within this two-volume series.
    http://www.lewrockwell.com/woods/woods51.html

    Refer to the short-list of various folk who have endorsed these books. The endorsements go on for pages and it’s truly an impressive list of endorsements.

    Bishop Mark Coleridge, Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne
    Bishop Hilarion Capucci, Patriarchal Vicar of Jerusalem in Exile, retired Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine
    David Allen White, Professor of English, U.S. Naval Academy (a rock-solid Catholic evangelist and apologist @ the Naval Academy)
    Stanley Hauerwas, Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics, Duke Divinity School

    Donald – my apologies for upsetting you. I crossed the line by calling Buckley a huckster. I would only ask others to refrain in calling Rothbard, Rockwell, and Raimondo a bunch of huskers and cranks, etc. We all can do better. Politics always seems to get folks riled up. My apologies though. I really do mean that. I will refrain from making any further comments on your post(s) unless you give me the thumbs up to do.

    v/r,
    The Chief Among Sinners ~ Jones

  • Dave, for now it is best that you no longer comment on my threads and I will return the favor.

Profiles in Fecklessness

Saturday, November 13, AD 2010

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.

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Rocky Top

Saturday, November 13, AD 2010

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.

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