Monthly Archives: November 2010

Full Body Stupidity

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

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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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Cody Alicea And His Flag Return to School

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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!”.

Voluntary Pluralism: The Only Rational Choice

I’ve written a lengthy follow-up to my last post on Distributism and third ways for interested readers. I thought it would be better to post it on my personal blog due to its length, though we can discuss it here. In this post I defend voluntary pluralism – which I believe is embodied in our liberal democratic republic – against the alternatives of coerced pluralism (Social Democracy), voluntary monism (Christendom), and coerced monism (Totalitarianism). And no, I have absolutely nothing against medieval Christendom. I just don’t think it’s coming back in the way it was once known.

If you think I’m full of it, you can let me know here or on my blog. Your choice.

Moralism and Monetary Policy

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

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

A Union of Conservatives and Libertarians?

I would like to continue a conversation which has been ongoing on The American Catholic. I see an increasing amount of cross-talk and cross-coordination between two political camps whose relationship in the past has been one of outright conflict or at best a tenuous temporary alliance on certain specific matters. I am talking about the relationship of the Traditional and Paleo-Conservatives with the Libertarians. Something new is now occurring though. Is this new union a perfect storm? It could be, but it’s too early to tell. Time will be the judge. For a political junkie like myself, it’s exciting to see this new (or old) development. I am hopeful. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

TAC College Rankings: Week 12

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

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

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

So yes, put me on record as publicly declaring that LSU’s chances of making it to the title game are equivalent to those of the Second Coming in the next few weeks. I doubt I will have to eat crow for that statement. Now to the rankings! →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

This Has “Bad Idea” Written All Over It

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

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

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

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

Fresh Attack on Fed Move

WSJ.com – GOP Economists, Lawmakers Call for Abandoning $600 Billion Bond Purchase

The economists have been consulting Republican lawmakers, including incoming House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, and began discussions with potential GOP presidential candidates over the weekend, according to a person involved…

Some prominent liberal economists, including Nobel laureates Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman, already have challenged the efficacy of quantitative easing, arguing that more fiscal stimulus is needed to restore the economy to health.

Signers of the new manifesto criticizing the Fed include: Stanford University economists Michael Boskin, who was chairman of President George H. W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers and John Taylor, a monetary-policy scholar who served in both Bush administrations; Kevin Hassett of the conservative American Enterprise Institute; Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former Congressional Budget Office director and adviser to John McCain’s presidential campaign; David Malpass, a former Bear Stearns and Reagan Treasury economist who made an unsuccessful run for a U.S. Senate seat from New York; and William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard and a board member of e21, a new conservative think tank seeking a more unified conservative view on economic policy..

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Election Day

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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. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

TAC Upgrade Complete, Website Back Up

Dear loyal readers,

We, TAC, have completed our upgrade.

We were down for roughly 24 hours and now we’re back up!

You’ll notice a few changes, but more changes are coming, but not anything that will disrupt service.

So enjoy our posts, comment to your hearts delight, and pray for our evangelization efforts.

In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,

The TAC Editors

Right All Along

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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. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

TAC Down Until Sunday Evening, November 14

Dear TAC readers,

The American Catholic is going through an upgrade this next week in order to better serve our readers and engage the world.

This means we will be down for roughly a 24 hour period and will return tomorrow evening, November 14 around 6pm Central time.

Thank you for your patience!

TAC Editors

Profiles in Fecklessness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rocky Top

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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. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

A Question for Our Readers

This may seem somewhat ridiculous, but I’ll ask it anyway because I’m curious what people think. What is a reasonable amount of money to spend on a couch? At what point does the expense of the couch become an excess? How does the quality of the couch and the time that you will be able to use the couch affect the legitimate magnitude of the expense? Is it absurd to buy an all-leather sectional?

I ask because I want to know what Christian discipleship looks like in all things in life. And because honestly, I’m not sure. Sometimes, it’s easy to know what Christian discipleship looks like. For example, I know that willingness to die for the faith is very Christ-like. I know that prayer is an essential part of Christian discipleship. And I know that adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is our highest good as human beings. But these are high and holy actions for our faith life; what about things not as obviously related to our faith life, like putting furniture in a house or apartment?

I look forward to hearing what you may think, or not think if the question totally bores you. So please let me know – am I the only one who asks these types of questions? Should I just chill out? Or what? In the meantime I think I will try to ask God in prayer.

Jihadists, Truth and Father Raymond J. de Souza

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The appalling murder of dozens of Christians at Our Lady of Deliverance Cathedral by Al Qaeda on October 31, gives us another opportunity to look into the minds of these butchers.

Al Qaeda released a statement on the Internet claiming the attack.

“Upon guidance issued by the Ministry of War in the Islamic State of Iraq in support for our downtrodden Muslim sisters that are held captive in the Muslim land of Egypt and after accurate planning and selection, an angry group of righteous jihadists attacked a filthy den of polytheism,” according to the statement, which was obtained by The Long War Journal. “This den has been frequently used by the Christians of Iraq to fight Islam and support those who are fighting it. With the grace of God, the group was able to hold captive all those in the den and take over all its entrances.”

Based on the statement, it appears that al Qaeda in Iraq had hoped to hold the Christians in Baghdad hostage for at least two days, as a deadline for “the release” of Egyptian women supposedly being held in Coptic churches in Egypt was issued.

“The mujahidin in the Islamic State of Iraq give Egypt’s Christian and belligerent Church as well as its chief of infidelity a 48-hour ultimatum to disclose the status of our sisters in religion, who are held captive in Egypt’s monasteries of infidelity and churches of polytheism,” al Qaeda demanded. “The mujahidin further demand the release of all of them together with an announcement of the release via a media outlet that the mujahidin can access within the deadline.”

Al Qaeda said that if the demands were not met, “the lions of monotheism [al Qaeda's fighters], who wore their explosive belts, will not hesitate to kill the militant Iraqi Christian captives.”

Al Qaeda in Iraq also threatened to carry out attacks against Christian churches across the globe.

“Afterwards, various attacks will be launched against them inside and outside this country, in which their lands will be destroyed, their strength will be undermined, and they will be afflicted by the humiliation that God ordained for them,” al Qaeda said.

The jihadists want us dead because we are Christians.  They have absolutely no compunction about slaying Muslims who oppose them, and in their eyes Christians are fit only to be killed or to be slaves.  The alleged reasons given by Al Qaeda for the attack on the Cathedral are completely delusional and demonstrate yet again that to them the murder of Christians is, in itself, a positive good. ']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

CS Lewis Explains Why We Honor Veterans

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When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say, For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today.  Inscription on the memorial to the dead of the British 2nd Division at Kohima.

We have made men proud of most vices, but not of cowardice. Whenever we have almost succeeded in doing so, God permits a war or an earthquake or some other calamity, and at once courage becomes so obviously lovely and important even in human eyes that all our work is undone, and there is still at least one vice of which they feel genuine shame.  CS Lewis, Screwtape Letters

Sometimes simple questions can help illuminate great truths.   Why do we honor veterans? 

 Today is Veterans Day.  Ironically, many veterans will be working today as the “holiday” is mostly one solely for government workers, and most veterans in the private sector will be on the job today.  Veterans Day was originally Armistice Day and was observed to recall the ending of that conflict on November 11, 1918 and to honor the American veterans who served in it.  After World War II, veterans of World War I, many of whom had sons who served in World War II, spearheaded a move to change the name to Veterans Day to honor all Veterans.   Legislation changing the name of the holiday was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Eisenhower on May 26, 1954.  All well and good, but why do we set this day aside to honor those who have served in the military?

One veteran of World War I, CS Lewis, perhaps can help us understand why we honor veterans.  Lewis served on the Western Front as a Second Lieutenant in 1917-1918 until he was  wounded on April 15, 1918.  Lewis, the future Oxford Don, was an unlikely soldier and he wrote about his experiences in the War with humorous self-deprecation.  However, he had immense respect for those he served with, especially the enlisted men under his command, for their good humor and courage under the most appalling circumstances.  His war experiences had a vast impact on Lewis, as can be seen in his Screwtape letters, where Lewis writes about war. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

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