3

Night of the Living Government!

In keeping with the mini-Zombie theme I have started here at TAC, we have the above Klavan on the Culture episode from 2009.  Hmmm, Zombies as metaphor for out of control government spending.  Actually I do not think it is apt.  After all, a horde of ravenous Zombies might eat a few brains, but they would quickly be dispatched to the nether regions since, if Hollywood can be trusted, Zombies are notoriously poor combatants, moving slowly, clumsily, and giving away their positions with incessant growling.  When confronting zombies, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself!  (Plus running out of ammo.)  Continue Reading

3

Bowl Pick’Em Update

As we head into the New Year’s Bowls, I thought you’d like an update on how our pick’em contest is progressing.

Green is for a correct guess, red for a wrong one. Bold is for games in which there was disagreement.

You’ll notice a most amusing trend: on the ones in which our contestants were unanimous, we’ve been mostly unanimously wrong! Only our picks of Boise St. & Oklahoma St. have survived! I am most glad that Jay saved LSU from that category by picking the Aggies!

Everyone is very much still alive, as Jay & I are tied with 9 point, Jagneaux has 8, and dave and opinionated Catholic are  not too far behind at 7.

As for the bowls themselves, they’ve been quite entertaining. Unless of course, you’re a Tennessee fan in which case you probably ought to accept that in the year 2010 our Lord decided that he hated Tennessee Volunteer football. You may have similar feelings if you hate the “No-Fun-League” penalty on Kansas State that cost them the game.

So while you reflect on 2010, continue to enjoy the bowls & the contest! And go Carolina Panthers!

19

Ezra Klein Lays It On The Line

Ezra Klein recently appeared on a cable news show to discuss the Republican plan to read the Constitution on the floor of the House.  He called it a stunt, and then elaborated:

The issue with the Constitution is that the text is confusing because it was written more than a hundred years ago and what people believe it says differs from person to person and differs depending on what they want to get done.

So the Constitution is confusing because it was written over a hundred years ago (actually it’s over 200 years old, but let’s not let little details like that deter us)?  A fascinating comment  coming from a Jewish intellectual, because the Hebrew Scriptures are a wee bit more than a hundred years old.  Should we disregard the Bible because it was written centuries ago – and in several different languages?  Also, it’s not as though the Constitution was written in old English.  Sure there are some stylistic flourishes that were more common in 18th century America, but one doesn’t need some sort of secret decoder ring to decipher the meaning of the text.  One need not be a PhD in ancient languages to understand the Constitution.

Klein’s comment is quite revealing, though.  Continue Reading

14

Predictions for 2011

Once again I boldly charge in where angels wisely fear to tread, and make predictions for 2011:

1.  The global warming scam/sham will continue to unravel.  I only hope we recall this episode the next time elites around the globe use junk science as an excuse in order to attempt to remake civilization.

2.  The Republicans in the House will put a halt to Obama’s legislative agenda, and Obama will veto most bills originating in the House that make it to his desk. 

3.  There will be considerable friction between the GOP in the House and the Republican Rinos in the Senate.

4.  The economy will begin to improve with unemployment ending the year around 7.5%.

5.  Either the North Korean or the Iranian government will be toppled in a violent overthrow. Continue Reading

21

Catholic Blog Argument Fallacies

Thanks to commenter RL for  a truly inspired idea!  Most Catholic bloggers and commenters would like to think they argue like Saint Thomas More in the video clip.  Unfortunately we, and I include myself in that “we”, more often argue like Norfolk, Cranmer and Cromwell.  In hopes perhaps of improving the quality of Catholic combox debate, here is a list of Catholic blog fallacies taken from comments made to Darwin’s post here:

1.  I have the biggest encyclical!-Cite a few passages from an encyclical by one pope to “win” a debate on a contentious subject. Never mind what other popes may have written on the subject, ignore the history of the Church on the subject completely, and certainly never concede that the pope perhaps was making a general statement that might not fit all situations. Throwing in a bit of Latin is always a neat touch. Then, when other commenters resist the fact that you have “won”, you can, more in sorrow than in anger, either imply, the best tactic, or state flatly that they are dissenters and that they are not now arguing with you but the Vicar of Christ.

2.  You heretic, you!-(Dawin Catholic contributed this):  Don’t forget that no intra-Catholic-blogsphere throw-down is complete without accusing someone of engaging in a heresy at least 1000 years old.

The following are from RL:

3.  Heresy Fallacies-Accusing your opponent of heresy without identifying the article of faith denied and usually basing it on something not even remotely dealing with heresy. Usually the charge is leveled at someone who doesn’t agree with your political policy prescriptions. i.e. Reductio ad Calvinism. “You disagree that every family making over $50,000 a year should be taxed at 80% which is a clear indication of Calvinism, something I have come to expect from people of your ilk”. Continue Reading

7

How To Argue Online

One of Megan McArdle’s readers provides a guest post on useful tactics for “winning” online arguments. If you spend much time fighting on the internets, many of the items here will sound familiar. Indeed, I think I’ve seen all of these used here at TAC by various regulars at times, and there are a few where I found myself thinking “Oh, that would be so-and-so’s favorite tactic.”

Enjoy a chuckle.

4

My New Year’s Resolution

I don’t normally do new year’s resolutions.  It seems silly to assign January 1 as some arbitrary date by which I will amend my life.  That being said, I have hit upon a resolution that is one that I hope (but don’t expect) most other people will adopt:  I refuse to blog on or even read about presidential horse race stories until no earlier than Labor Day.  We have just concluded a mid-term election, and yet every other item seems to be related to the 2012 race.  The presidential election cycle has become preposterously long, to the point now that we begin speculating on the proceeding race before the dust has settled on the most recent one.

I have chosen Labor Day because that gives me about four months to involve myself in the 2012 primary, which is well more than enough time.  Normally presidential candidates wouldn’t even announce their candidacy until after this date.  Now we’re faced with the prospect of several GOP debates by the end of the summer.  This is patently absurd.

Some people will contend that this process is a good way of vetting candidates.  This, too, is patently absurd.  All this excruciatingly long campaign season does is identify who the best campaigner is.  It does nothing to help us identify the best man or woman for the job.  It should not take more than a few months to come to a firm conclusion as to which candidate to support.

There are a few caveats.  If something monumentally shocking occurs – President Obama announces he’s not running for re-election, for example – then I might be inclined to pass comment.  Similarly, if one of the cndidates should make news in a non-presidential campaign context – Governor Daniels signs an abortion ban in Indiana, for example – then that, too, might be worthy of comment.  Finally, there is some ambiguity about what constitutes a “horse-race” item.  I’ll just say that a blog item about Herman Cain’s speech to the rotary club of Des Moines Iowa is something worthy of being ignored for the time being. I might read op-eds written by potential or announced candidates  for no other reason than to get a feel for what they stand for, but otherwise I don’t want to hear about it.

Since it’s almost new year’s, I am going to get a head start.  I hope that this is one resolution that sticks.

1

Predictions of Things Past

The end of the year signals that it is time for me to make predictions for next year, something I will do later this week.  However, first we will have a look at my predictions for last year:

1.   The Republicans will take back the House in November, either outright on election day, or through party switches between election day and the swearing in of the new Congress in 2011.

Well, that was certainly on the money!

2.   The Republicans will take back the Senate in November, either outright on election day, or through party switches between election day and the swearing in of the new Congress in 2011.  I am assuming that Joe Lieberman will caucus with the Republicans if the Republicans have 50 seats.

Nope, although the Republicans came close with 47 seats, representing a total gain for the year of seven seats for the Republicans which was a good, solid performance in a year when the contested seats up were mainly in states that had gone Democrat in 2008.

3.   The economy will continue in the doldrums next year with the unemployment rate not getting lower than 9%.

Unfortunately this prediction was entirely accurate.  The unemployment rate is currently 9.3% for the nation and never got below 9%.  Go here to view a graph.

4.    Regime change will occur in Iran with the Mullahs being toppled by a popular insurrection.

Sadly no, although the mismanagement of the economy of Iran might yet eventually topple the regime.

5.    Pope Benedict’s Anglican Initiative will prove amazingly successful  with ever increasing numbers of Anglicans and Episcopalians swimming the Tiber to participate.

True!  The mass announcement of Five Anglican bishops in November that they were converting to Rome merely being the tip of a large movement. Continue Reading

4

We’re In This Together

At mass on the Feast of the Holy Family, I was in particular struck by the readings. The first reading, from Sirach, deals with relationships between parents and children:

God sets a father in honor over his children;
a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons.
Whoever honors his father atones for sins,
and preserves himself from them.
When he prays, he is heard;
he stores up riches who reveres his mother.
Whoever honors his father is gladdened by children,
and, when he prays, is heard.
Whoever reveres his father will live a long life;
he who obeys his father brings comfort to his mother.

My son, take care of your father when he is old;
grieve him not as long as he lives.
Even if his mind fail, be considerate of him;
revile him not all the days of his life;
kindness to a father will not be forgotten,
firmly planted against the debt of your sins
—a house raised in justice to you.

The second paragraph here is one that has always particularly struck me, as it emphasizes that honor to one’s parents is not simply a matter of “they have good ideas, so you should listen to them” but rather that parents deserve honor because they are parents. “Even if his mind fail… revile him not,” is something I had cause to remind myself often (though judging from my actions, not always often enough) during the time we spent caring for my Dad’s mother in her last days — a women who wanted things done her way at all times, even as simple things like making coffee and putting things in the fridge became impossible for her to do herself.

The second reading is the passage from Colossians 3 which is nearly the same as the Ephesians 5 passage which was discussed at some length a few weeks ago.
Continue Reading

43

A Bad Witness to the True Meaning of Christmas

It was December 21st and MrsDarwin and I were standing in the local branch of our bank, getting a cashier’s check for more money than I like to think about so that we could go close on our new house. These things take time, as people don’t normally come in and asked to cut large chashier’s checks, and as we were standing there I gradually became aware of an increasingly loud conserversation between an elderly male customer and a teller at the other end of the counter.

“I’m very offended,” he announced. “Very, very offended. And do you know why I’m offended?”

“Why sir?”

“Because I am a Christian and when I look around here four days before Christmas I don’t see a single Christmas decoration. Do you know how long I’ve been a customer here? I want to talk to your manager.”
Continue Reading

4

When Zombies Attack Over the Holidays!

How much useful information can be found on the internet!  One word of caution however.  In my experience those who overindulge, either in food or drink, can often make sounds like zombies, so only shoot if you can ascertain that the target is a zombie.  (Yes, sadly, that does go for relatives who seem to specialize in letting their inner lout come out this time of year.)

16

Christmas at Bastogne: 1944

During the Battle of the Bulge, the 101rst Airborne Division made a heroic stand at Bastogne from December 20-27 which helped turn the tide of the battle.  On December 25, a packed midnight mass was held in Bastogne, with Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe, who commanded the 101rst troops at Bastogne, in attendance.  Afterwards the General listened to German POWS singing Silent Night, and wished them a Merry Christmas.

General McAuliffe issued a memorable Christmas message to his troops:

Continue Reading

3

Good King Wenceslas

 

Something for the weekend and the feast of Saint Stephen, the first of the glorious line of martyrs for Christ.  Good King Wenceslas has always been one of my favorite Christmas Hymns.  We see in this hymn how the love of Christ in the breast of the King translates into immediate and personal action on his behalf to aid the poor man.  The winter storm are the adversities of life that deter so many of us from good works.  Following boldly in the footsteps of the saints can allow us to conquer all obstacles in our path to carrying out  that prime command of Christ:  “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 

The first video is by Bing Crosby and is the finest rendition of the hymn I have heard. Continue Reading

9

One Solitary Life

Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.

He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put His foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself…

While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. While He was dying His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth – His coat. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend. Continue Reading

5

A Proclamation

The twenty-fifth day of December.

In the five thousand one hundred and ninety-ninth year of the creation of the world from the time when God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth;

the two thousand nine hundred and fifty-seventh year after the flood;

the two thousand and fifteenth year from the birth of Abraham;

the one thousand five hundred and tenth year from Moses and the going forth of the people of Israel from Egypt;

the one thousand and thirty-second year from David’s being anointed king;

in the sixty-fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel;

in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;

the seven hundred and fifty-second year from the foundation of the city of Rome;

the forty second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus;

the whole world being at peace,

in the sixth age of the world,

Jesus Christ the eternal God and Son of the eternal Father,

desiring to sanctify the world by his most merciful coming,

being conceived by the Holy Spirit, and nine months having passed since his conception,

was born in Bethlehem of Judea of the Virgin Mary, being made flesh.

2

O Sanctissima

 

O blessed Virgin Mary, who can worthily repay thee thy just dues of praise and thanksgiving, thou who by the wondrous assent of thy will didst rescue a fallen world? What songs of praise can our weak human nature recite in thy honor, since it is by thy intervention alone that it has found the way to restoration. Accept, then, such poor thanks as we have here to offer, though they be unequal to thy merits; and receiving our vows, obtain by thy prayers the remission of our offenses. Carry thou our prayers within the sanctuary of the heavenly audience, and bring forth from it the antidote of our reconciliation. May the sins we bring before Almighty God through thee, become pardonable through thee; may what we ask for with sure confidence, through thee be granted. Take our offering, grant us our requests, obtain pardon for what we fear, for thou art the sole hope of sinners. Through thee we hope for the remission of our sins, and in thee, O blessed Lady, is our hope of reward. Holy Mary, succour the miserable, help the fainthearted, comfort the sorrowful, pray for thy people, plead for the clergy, intercede for all women consecrated to God; may all who keep thy holy commemoration feel now thy help and protection. Be thou ever ready to assist us when we pray, and bring back to us the answers to our prayers. Make it thy continual care to pray for the people of God, thou who, blessed by God, didst merit to bear the Redeemer of the world, who liveth and reigneth, world without end. Amen.

                                                                                                                                                                    Saint Augustine

 

At Christmas we remember the coming of God into our vale of tears as one of us.  The infinite magnitude of God’s love for us demonstrated by His willingness to share our birth and our death in order to free us from our sins.  Our attention is riveted on to the scene in a humble stable some two thousand years ago where Mary gave birth to our Savior.  One of the chief glories of Catholicism is that we have always remembered the love that God has for Mary, the Queen of Heaven, humanity’s sole boast.  Although it is not regarded as such, Christmas is truly the greatest of all Marian feasts.  Few hymns to Mary are more beautiful than O Sanctissima. Continue Reading

41

Top 5 Christmas Movies

There’s nothing quite like this wonderful time of year to gather round with the family and sit by the warming roar of a television set.  Christmas has inspired some of the finest cinematic classics – as well as things like Jingle All the Way. Most of these movies revolve around themes like peace, love, togetherness, and Santa.  Every now  and then you might even hear a mention of the birth of Christ as the reason for the season.  And doubtless right now some cable channel is showing one of the approximately 4,845 versions of A Christmas Carol – two of which are mentioned below.

So as my Christmas treat to you all, here’s my list of the five best Christmas movies of all-time. Continue Reading

4

Of Christmas and Klingons

 

Hattip to Midwest Conservative Journal.  I enjoy Christmas traditions.  The Christmas Tree, singing Carols, wretched Illinois weather, hot coco, presents, watching several versions of A Christmas Carol, etc.  Perhaps the wildest version of a Christmas Carol is a Klingon adaptation of the timeless tale, presented, of course, in Klingonese.  The Wall Street Journal gives us the details:

CHICAGO—Across the country this week, productions of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” are warming hearts. In this city, one version poses this question: What if Charles Dickens were a Trekkie?

The answer runs an hour and 20 minutes and includes three fight scenes, 17 actors with latex ridges glued to their foreheads and a performance delivered entirely in Klingon—a language made up for a Star Trek movie.

“It’s like an opera,” says Christopher O. Kidder, the director and co-writer. “You know what’s happening because you already know the story.”

For those not fluent in Klingon, English translations are projected above the stage.

The arc of “A Klingon Christmas Carol” follows the familiar Dickens script: An old miser is visited on a hallowed night by three ghosts who shepherd him through a voyage of self-discovery. The narrative has been rejiggered to match the Klingon world view.

 

For starters, since there is neither a messiah nor a celebration of his birth on the Klingon planet of Kronos, the action is pegged to the Klingon Feast of the Long Night. Carols and trees are replaced with drinking, fighting and mating rituals. And because Klingons are more concerned with bravery than kindness, the main character’s quest is for courage. Continue Reading

22

A Plea for a Cease Fire in the War on Christmas

Is it possible at this late date to call a cease-fire in the War on Christmas?

The kind of cease-fire I am talking about is not a surrender to aggressive secularists who want all mention of Christmas, or of the reason for its celebration, erased from the public square.

I am not talking about, for example, these federal bank examiners who, had they been assigned to Bedford Falls, probably would  have busted George Bailey for wishing them “Merry Christmas” instead of for losing $8,000 in deposits. That sort of insanity ought to be resisted, and (as evidenced by the apparent resolution of the Oklahoma bank kerfluffle) can successfully be resisted.

No, the kind of truce I am proposing is a plea to the group Mark Shea refers to as “Christmas Inquisitors” — those who see any use of the term “Happy Holidays” in preference to “Merry Christmas” as some kind of affront to their beliefs. This group also includes those who see something inherently wrong or sacreligious about any kind of Christmas or holiday celebration that fails to include explicit reference to the birth of Christ.

I celebrate Christmas in the religious sense as eagerly as anyone.  But I respectfully beg to differ with those who insist that it is the duty of private businesses or even of public facilities and institutions to “keep Christ in Christmas.” It isn’t.  Their job, such as it is, is to accommodate the desire of their customers, or of citizens, to fulfill whatever aspects of a multi-layered religious, cultural, and social occasion they wish to observe.

None other than C.S. Lewis recognized this truth decades ago. In this essay from “God in the Dock,” Lewis explains the different aspects of the modern Christmas:

“Three things go by the name of Christmas. One is a religious festival. This is important and obligatory for Christians; but as it can be of no interest to anyone else, I shall naturally say no more about it here. The second (it has complex historical connections with the first, but we needn’t go into them) is a popular holiday, an occasion for merry-making and hospitality. If it were my business to have a ‘view’ on this, I should say that I much approve of merry-making. But what I approve of much more is everybody minding his own business. I see no reason why I should volunteer views as to how other people should spend their own money in their own leisure among their own friends. It is highly probable that they want my advice on such matters as little as I want theirs.”

I will interrupt Lewis’ essay at this point to note what he says about the cultural aspect of Christmas — the “popular holiday.” He basically argues that people are free to celebrate it, or not, in any way they wish, as long as it does not interfere with anyone else’s celebration or non-celebration. He sees no reason to complain about “how other people should spend their own money in their own leisure among their own friends.”

That does not sound like someone who would get bent out of shape over store clerks who say “Happy Holidays”,  or people who choose to celebrate Kwanzaa, Festivus, or the Winter Solstice. I also don’t think he’d care whether or not the occasion for making merry was a “real” cultural holiday or a “fake” observance invented by one person (Kwanzaa) or even by a fictional character (Festivus), as long as no one was forcing him to participate or pay for it (which becomes an issue when public schools are involved).

He does go on to say, however, that “the third thing called Christmas is unfortunately everyone’s business. I mean of course the commercial racket.”

“The interchange of presents was a very small ingredient in the older English festivity. Mr. Pickwick took a cod with him to Dingley Dell; the reformed Scrooge ordered a turkey for his clerk; lovers sent love gifts; toys and fruit were given to children. But the idea that not only all friends but even all acquaintances should give one another presents, or at least send one another cards, is quite modern and has been forced upon us by the shopkeepers.”

Now there are other occasions besides Christmas that carry these three “layers” of meaning — for example, weddings of religiously observant couples are 1) an occasion for celebration of a sacrament, 2) an occasion for family and friends to gather and enjoy a good time, and 3) an occasion when social convention requires gifts to be given and for the couple to acknowledge each gift individually with a thank-you note. The same is true of occasions such as graduations, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, anniversaries, birthdays, etc.

Obviously, private businesses will use cultural and social occasions to market their products and services. Wedding planners, banquet halls, bakers, caterers, makers of academic robes and class rings, florists, greeting card merchants — all of them rely on cultural/social occasions for the greater part of their profit. The same is true of Christmas, when many merchants make most or even all of their yearly profit. (One explanation for the origin of the term “Black Friday” is the belief that many retailers finally earn enough money to get out of the red and into the “black” for the year on that day.)

However, we do not expect the merchant who sells products or services appropriate to any other social occasion, to instruct or remind people of its “real meaning”. We don’t expect, for example, the owner of a bridal shop or a catering service to provide pre-marital counseling, the florist who sells us flowers for Mother’s Day to offer us advice on how to get along with our mothers,  or a jeweler who sells class rings to counsel high school seniors on how to get into Harvard. So why do we expect merchants and advertisers to “keep Christ in Christmas”? Isn’t that our job, and the job of our families and churches?

Now I can hear some of you already saying “But there is far too much emphasis on the social and commercial aspect of Christmas in our society. It’s drowning out the religious significance completely. Surely you don’t think this is a good thing?”

Of course it is not a good thing. Even more than 50 years ago, in post-war England, Lewis saw that the relentless commercialization of Christmas “gives much more pain than pleasure” to the average person.

“You have only to stay over Christmas with a family who seriously try to ‘keep’ it (in its third, or commercial, aspect) in order to see that the thing is a nightmare. Long before December 25th everyone is worn out — physically worn out by weeks of daily struggle in overcrowded shops, mentally worn out by the effort to remember all the right recipients and to think out suitable gifts for them. They are in no trim for merry-making; much less (if they should want to) to take part in a religious act. They look far more as if there had been a long illness in the house.”

However Lewis did not propose any “solution” other than personally refusing to take part in the “racket”.

“We are told that the whole dreary business must go on because it is good for trade. It is in fact merely one annual symptom of that lunatic condition of our country, and indeed of the world, in which everyone lives by persuading everyone else to buy things. I don’t know the way out. But can it really be my duty to buy and receive masses of junk every winter just to help the shopkeepers? If the worst comes to the worst I’d sooner give them money for nothing and write if off as a charity. For nothing? Why, better for nothing than for a nuisance.”

So how do we resist the tidal wave of commercialism and/or political correctness that threatens to engulf us every holiday, er, Christmas season? We pray. We think about what is important to us and about the values we wish to uphold. And we make merry in whatever way is appropriate to our situation. If that means opting out of gift exchanges or sending cards, fine. If that means saying “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays,” fine. If it means saying “Happy Holidays” in an attempt to be more inclusive, that’s OK too. After all, there is more than one holiday in the holiday season… it encompasses Thanksgiving and New Year’s as well as Hannukkah and other religious, cultural and ethnic observances such as Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Lucy’s Day, St. Nicholas’ Day, Boxing Day, and Epiphany or “Old Christmas”.

And on that note… peace on earth, goodwill to all, Happy Holidays AND Merry Christmas!

22

The Perfect Messiah

I have zero tolerance for people who attempt to turn Jesus into some sort of secular political leader in order to further their own political agenda.  It’s reprehensible when done by social justice types on the religious left, and equally reprehensible when done by social conservatives.  So it saddened me to see this blog journal on Red State written by presidential aspirant Herman Cain titled “The Perfect Conservative.”  I’ll give you three guesses as to who he is talking about, and the first two don’t count.  Here’s a taste of his post: Continue Reading

4

Get Over it Driehaus!

Faithful readers of TAC will recall that Steve Driehaus is the Democrat Congressman of Ohio 1.  (Soon to be former Congressman since he had his walking papers given to him by the voters of the District on election day. )  Prior to the election Driehaus sued the Susan B. Anthony list over this ad:

As I stated at the time this was a classically stupid move on the part of Driehaus:

“He doesn’t want you to see the ad above. He is desperate because he trails his opponent Steve Chabot by double digits according to a recent poll.  He is one of the incumbent Democrat Congressmen who have been cast adrift by the Democrat party because their re-election races appear hopeless.  He is also one of the “pro-life” Democrat Congressman who voted for ObamaCare.    The Susan B. Anthony List paid for a billboard to remind the constituents of Driehaus that ObamaCare allows for public funding of abortions.  Driehaus complained to the Ohio Election Commission, claiming that the ad is misleading.  A hearing is scheduled for the end of October.  The attorneys for Driehaus strong armed the owner of the billboard not to allow the ad until the Commission has issued a ruling.  The President of the Susan B. Anthony List Marjorie Dannenfelser has stated in regard to Driehaus and his lack of familiarity with the first amendment:

The Ohio Elections Commission has allowed Steve Driehaus to achieve his strategic objective of preventing constituents from learning the truth about his vote in favor of taxpayer funding of abortion in the health care reform bill. We are disappointed and surprised that the complaint was not immediately dismissed. The fact that the health care reform bill allows for taxpayer funding of abortion has been agreed upon by every major pro-life group in the country, including National Right to Life, Americans United for Life, Focus on the Family, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The larger problem here is a public official’s attempt to use a criminal statue to silence legitimate debate on his record. The proper place for public policy debate is in the public square, not in an Elections Commission or criminal court. The SBA List will see this process through to the end and vigorously defend our position that the health care reform bill, supported by Steve Driehaus, allows for taxpayer funding of abortion. Moreover, we will use every vehicle possible within our First Amendment rights to communicate this message to the people of Congressman Steve Driehaus’ district between now and the hearing.

Of course by attempting to suppress the billboard, Driehaus has ensured that it has been seen by far more people over the internet and in newspaper and television stories than would have ever seen the billboard.  Brilliant.  Desperate and stupid is a poor combination in politics.”

Well, the election is over, so one can assume that Driehaus is busy seeking honest employment?  Of course not!  As Christopher Johnson at Midwest Conservative Journal, a blog I peruse every day, notes: Continue Reading

Joe Biden’s War on Christmas

 

Reason TV has fun with recent statements by Veep and National Clown Joe Biden that the lame duck Democrat 111th  Congress should stay in session up to Christmas in order to pass legislation now that would not have  a prayer of passing after the 112th Congress is sworn in next month.  I think Reason TV is being unfair to Jolly Joe.  I think  he loves Christmas with all of its bright lights, colorful presents and good food, not to mention the day off.  Joe has always been up for a good party, and to say otherwise is simply not true. Continue Reading

7

Repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

I am a big supporter of repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). Unfortunately, the policy the Senate repealed on Saturday wasn’t the policy I wanted to see repealed.

To be sure, DADT as applied to gays in the military was eventually going to be repealed, even if it was a prudent attempt to prevent relationships within a unit that could endanger lives. I’ll let the military people decide about that. But we should understand what DADT really banned: it banned gays from openly discussing their homosexuality in the military.

So now that homosexuals have won the right to discuss their homosexuality, I wonder if they will be willing to repeal the social policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” that is currently applied to Christians who want to discuss their Christianity.

How many times have Christians been told that their religion needs to be kept to themselves? I’m not merely talking about the political sphere here, though to be sure that applies. I’m also talking about every other area: social media, work, art, etc. Even in sermons, priests and preachers are criticized if the homily is too controversial or too Christians. Faith can only be discussed among small groups of like-minded believers in whispers as if the Church was an underground resistance movement. If the faith is to be brought to a broader audience, Christians have been reduced to trying to sneak their faith “through the gate” as CS Lewis described.

If religion is going to cease to be something people just do in the privacy of their homes & churches on Sunday and become a real and revitalizing part of American life, then the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy as applied to Christians has to be done away. After all, if homosexuals (as they argued) cannot truly be themselves unless they can openly discuss their sexuality, why do we have the idea that Christians can be (and indeed must be) Christians while not openly discussing their faith?

Sadly, I imagine the forces behind Saturday’s repeal are among the most avid advocates of the DADT policy as applied to Christians.

28

Homosexuals in the Military: O Brave New World!

 

“You all remember,” said the Controller, in his strong deep voice, “you all remember, I suppose, that beautiful and inspired saying of Our Ford’s: History is bunk. History,” he repeated slowly, “is bunk.”

             
 He waved his hand; and it was as though, with an invisible feather wisk, he had brushed away a little dust, and the dust was Harappa, was Ur of the Chaldees; some spider-webs, and they were Thebes and Babylon and Cnossos and Mycenae. Whisk. Whisk–and where was Odysseus, where was Job, where were Jupiter and Gotama and Jesus? Whisk–and those specks of antique dirt called Athens and Rome, Jerusalem and the Middle Kingdom–all were gone. Whisk–the place where Italy had been was empty. Whisk, the cathedrals; whisk, whisk, King Lear and the Thoughts of Pascal. Whisk, Passion; whisk, Requiem; whisk, Symphony; whisk …
 

 
 
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

 

As a parting “gift” to the nation, the lame duck Democrat controlled 111th Congress passed legislation yesterday repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, and now homosexuals may serve openly in the military.  The interesting secret about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is that it tended to be an escape mechanism out of the military for homosexuals, and those claiming to be homosexuals.  In recent years about 500 individuals have on average been discharged annually with about 80% announcing their homosexuality in order to be released from service.  I quote Melissa, a lesbian and a former medic, on how “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has worked in practice:

Many people used the “Im gay” tactic to get out of BCT (Basic Combat Training), or AIT (Advanced Individual Training) when I first enlisted. If the dont ask dont tell policy is repealed, this will help to stop “cowards” from enlisting. DADT was a cop out beyond recognition that people used to escape the military life, pre-deployment/assignment, and post-deployment.

 I assume that the number of homosexuals in the military is relatively small, probably as a fraction of the military less than the percentage of the adult population that is homosexual.  The impact of the change in policy is difficult to say since no militaries that actually fight wars, as opposed to the militaries of most European powers that are now largely ceremonial in nature, have long track records of homosexuals openly serving. 

I fear that the military will now come under pressure to make  the military a “welcoming environment” for homosexuals, and that troops who hold to a moral code that regards homosexual conduct as morally abhorent, the overwhelming consensus in Western culture from the triumph of Christianity until around 1970, will find themselves under increasing pressure to conform to the belief that, in Jerry Seinfeld’s phrase, “there is nothing wrong with that” in regard to homosexuality. 

 Of course that is the whole purpose for this farce, just as with “gay marriage”:  to put the imprimatur of the State on the idea that homosexuality and heterosexuality are morally equivalent and that only benighted bigots think otherwise.  This of course is directly contrary to the teaching of the Church as clearly pointed out by then Cardinal Ratzinger in 1986:

 

7. The Church, obedient to the Lord who founded her and gave to her the sacramental life, celebrates the divine plan of the loving and live-giving union of men and women in the sacrament of marriage. It is only in the marital relationship that the use of the sexual faculty can be morally good. A person engaging in homosexual behaviour therefore acts immorally.

To chose someone of the same sex for one’s sexual activity is to annul the rich symbolism and meaning, not to mention the goals, of the Creator’s sexual design. Homosexual activity is not a complementary union, able to transmit life; and so it thwarts the call to a life of that form of self-giving which the Gospel says is the essence of Christian living. This does not mean that homosexual persons are not often generous and giving of themselves; but when they engage in homosexual activity they confirm within themselves a disordered sexual inclination which is essentially self-indulgent.

As in every moral disorder, homosexual activity prevents one’s own fulfillment and happiness by acting contrary to the creative wisdom of God. The Church, in rejecting erroneous opinions regarding homosexuality, does not limit but rather defends personal freedom and dignity realistically and authentically understood. Continue Reading

9

TAC Bowl Pick’em

There’s still time to get in your picks for the Bowl Pick’Em game here at TAC. To encourage you, Jay Anderson & I have provided you with our picks & our comments about each bowl. Dave Hartline as well as commenter Nicholas Jagneux have also sent in picks, which I’ll show at the end. Again, your picks are definitely appreciated and we’ll take them until 1 o’clock CST tomorrow (when the New Mexico Bowl starts).

But first, another reminder to repeat “Leaders” and “Legends” to the nearest Big 10 fan you know.  Whatever dignity the Big 10 had is gone…ouch.

So let’s talk about the bowls! Continue Reading

9

Divided Thoughts over the Tax Deal

I find myself with oddly divided feelings about this whole tax deal making its way through congress. On the one hand, while extending the tax cuts which we’re already experiencing seems prudent, especially in a recession, piling additional tax cuts on top of those (especially the across the board 2% reduction in social security withholding) seems seriously unwise when our deficit is already the size that it is.

On the other hand, I could certainly use the extra $150+ per month in take-home income. As I look at moving bills and such, I keep thinking, “Well, if this passes my paychecks will go up soon.”

We routinely scorn politicians for being easily bought, but I’m feeling rather hungry for my pot of lentils myself about now.

3

Gates v. Washington

I think most Americans today fail to realize how close this country came to dying right after its birth.  After the disastrous New York campaign, the Continental Army was reduced to a few thousand ill-fed, ill-trained and ill-uniformed men under Washington.  As the year of 1776 was coming to an end, many Americans thought the cause of American independence was also coming to an end, but not George Washington.  He realized that for the war to continue he had to come up with some masterstroke that would rouse American morale and convince his troops that they stood a chance to win this lop-sided conflict. Continue Reading

5

Signs of despair (and hope) in Christian-Muslim relations

In his book-length interview Light of the World, Pope Benedict emphasized that, with respect to Muslims:

“The important thing here is to remain in close contact with all the current within Islam that are open to, and capable of dialogue, so as to give a change of mentality a chance to happen even where Islamism still couples a claim to truth with violence.”

Earlier in November, he renewed his call for religious freedom in Muslim countries Continue Reading

4

Eleanor Powell and Friend

 

Hattip to Bookworm Room.  The Queen of the tap-dancers, Eleanor Powell, filmed this sequence with her dog Buttons, in the film Lady Be Good in 1941.  Powell trained the dog herself, and the filming occurred in her living room in order to make it more comfortable for Buttons as the dog was used to performing there.  Both Powell and her dog give energetic performances and they both seem to be having a good time. Continue Reading

6

Activism! They Cried

The reaction to Judge Hanson’s ruling in Virginia v. Sebelius was predictable:  rejoicing on the right . . . not so much on the left.  A few people actually attempted to analyze the decision on a legal, rather than policy basis.  (Shocking!)

It’s also not surprising in the least to hear the talking point going out – like on the appropriately named Talking Points Memo blog linked above – that this demonstrates conservative hypocrisy with regards to judicial activism.  After all, don’t conservatives bemoan activist judges who overturn the will of democratic legislatures?  This would be a fair point if it actually captured the gist of conservative sentiment on judicial matters.

Happily for us all I wrote a post some two and a half years back detailing why I didn’t like the term judicial activism.  I’ll re-post most of it here. Continue Reading

28

Ephesians 5 Round Up: Does “Wives Be Submissive” Have Any Content?

As I wrote a bit over a week ago, my attention was caught by a post in which Brett Salkeld asked the question, Does the Injunction that Wives Submit to Their Husbands Have any Content? He said:

I am not so progressive that I am opposed in principle to the idea that there might be something of value in this claim. In other words, I do not presume that Paul’s teaching on this matter can be dismissed simply as a function of his era. Of course, investigation may determine that his teaching is not central to the Christian understanding of marriage and is simply the result of his writing at a particular time and place, but that is not my presumption. Such claims, for me, must be demonstrated, not presumed. I am conservative enough to insist that they are are not self-evident.

I have found myself frustrated, however, by those authors and commentators within the church who insist that wives must in fact submit to their husbands—that men are, necessarily, the “head of the household.” Such an insistence is typically followed by numerous qualifications and caveats indicating precisely what such a claim does not mean in the concrete. Men are not to be tyrants. They are not to make every decision independently. They are to provide space for the development and self-expression of their wives. All well and good, of course. Who would disagree with any of these? But as easy as it is to highlight what not to do in the concrete, it seems to me that this teaching will have no purchase on the reality of contemporary marriage if no one can articulate what it actually does mean in the concrete. Continue Reading

11

Justice Breyer, the Second Amendment and Federalist 46

Justice Stephen Breyer of the US Supreme Court has never been a fan of the Second Amendment.  On Fox News on Sunday he made an historical claim that I would like to analyze in this post.

Madison “was worried about opponents who would think Congress would call up state militias and nationalize them. ‘That can’t happen,’ said Madison,” said Breyer, adding that historians characterize Madison’s priority as, “I’ve got to get this document ratified.”

Therefore, Madison included the Second Amendment to appease the states, Breyer said.

I assume that the Justice is referring to Federalist 46 written by James Madison, and which may be read here.  (I apologize in advance to our resident blog expert on the Federalist papers Paul Zummo.  Paul, if you see any mistakes on my part in the following, please let me have it!)

The Justice is correct that many in the states were concerned that the proposed new federal government would have too much power, and Federalist 46 was written to help allay those concerns.

The only refuge left for those who prophesy the downfall of the State governments is the visionary supposition that the federal government may previously accumulate a military force for the projects of ambition.

Madison realized that this was a sensitive point.  The American Revolution had only ended five years before, and the attempt by Great Britain to rule through military force was a raw memory for all of his readers.  Madison tackles this fear head on by comparing the military force of a standing federal army to the militias of the states:

Let a regular army, fully equal to the resources of the country, be formed; and let it be entirely at the devotion of the federal government; still it would not be going too far to say, that the State governments, with the people on their side, would be able to repel the danger. The highest number to which, according to the best computation, a standing army can be carried in any country, does not exceed one hundredth part of the whole number of souls; or one twenty-fifth part of the number able to bear arms. This proportion would not yield, in the United States, an army of more than twenty-five or thirty thousand men. To these would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million of citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves, fighting for their common liberties, and united and conducted by governments possessing their affections and confidence. It may well be doubted, whether a militia thus circumstanced could ever be conquered by such a proportion of regular troops. Those who are best acquainted with the last successful resistance of this country against the British arms, will be most inclined to deny the possibility of it.

So far so good for Justice Breyer.  However, he misses completely the import of other things that Madison says in Federalist 46.

Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of. Continue Reading

12

Federal Judge Rules Individual Mandate Unconstitutional.

A copy of the decision is here. Two other federal district courts have previously upheld the individual mandate against constitutional challenge, and at least one suit remains pending.

It’s often claimed that the individual mandate is a necessary compliment to the provisions of ObamaCare banning denial of coverage based on pre-existing conditions and so forth. The idea is that if an insurance company can’t deny you coverage once you are already sick there is a strong incentive not to get coverage until you are already sick, which leads to a death spiral (that’s a technical term) of increased insurance prices and lower levels of coverage.

However, as Paul Starr noted back when the bill was being debated, there are ways of dealing with this problem that don’t involve a mandate:

The law could give people a right to opt out of the mandate if they signed a form agreeing that they could not opt in for the following five years. In other words, instead of paying a fine, they would forgo a potential benefit. For five years they would become ineligible for federal subsidies for health insurance and, if they did buy coverage, no insurer would have to cover a pre-existing condition of theirs.

The idea for this opt-out comes from an analogous provision in Germany, which has a small sector of private insurance in addition to a much larger state insurance system. Only some Germans are eligible to opt for private insurance, but if they make that choice, the law prevents them from getting back at will into the public system. That deters opportunistic switches in and out of the public funds, and it helps to prevent the private insurers from cherry-picking healthy people and driving up insurance costs in the public sector.

For whatever reason, the Democrats choose not to head this advice, and didn’t include any alternative to the mandate in the bill, even as a fall back measure. This means that, if the mandate is ultimately found unconstitutional, there will be nothing in the law to prevent the “death spiral” scenario. Granted, this can always be passed in the future, but this may not be as easy to do depending on the political environment at that time. Why the Democrats didn’t do this is a mystery to me.

3

So many books! So little time!

So many books! So little time! And, unfortunately, not enough to afford them all. Erasmus’ motto, “When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes” worked during college, but is hard to get away with once you’re married with children and have a spouse to answer to. =)

We’ve heard much lately of Pope Benedict’s interview with Peter Seewald: Light of the World: The Pope, The Church and The Signs Of The Times, regarding which Ignatius Press’ Carl Olson has been doing a magnificent job rounding up reviews and discussion across the web; and George Weigel’s “sequel” to his reknowned autobiography of John Paul II: The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II — The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy, and Patrick W. Carey’s biography Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ: A Model Theologian.

Here are a few more on the horizon that might be of interest to our readers (and which are definitely on my “to read” list from 2010). Continue Reading

18

Catholicism and College Football

No doubt many of you spent the weekend ignoring family and holiday festivities and perhaps even food & drink in order to study up on the all the bowl games so you can make your picks for the TAC Bowl Pick’em contest. But it occurred to me that while we at TAC have talked a lot about who would win the most games, we never discussed who ought to win those games.

A few months ago, we discussed how the New Orleans Saints were the team that all good Catholics ought to cheer for. After that post, I had a lot of feedback thanking me for providing this guidance but also wondering if there could be some guidance on the college level. Take this email for example:

Dear Michael,

I am a twenty-something in West Virginia whose hobbies include making parody blogs and using political terms I don’t quite understand. I have hated football for some time, believing it to be anathema to my own beliefs. However, after reading your post I realized my hatred of football was a product of my own fascist tendencies.. However, there are no pro teams in West Virginia but there is a college one; I would prefer to cheer for a college team but require your guidance to know who to root for.

Or this one :

Dear Michael,

I am a Cowboys fan living in Ohio. However, after your post I find my heart step by step being moved by what can only be the Holy Spirit to cheer for the Saints. I could hardly help myself from letting out a hearty “Who Dat!” after Malcolm Jenkins stripped the ball against my former favorite team on Thanksgiving. I pray that God can grant me the faith to bleed black & gold. But this is not enough, as I have started to examine my college allegiances. Is there a college team out there that can inspire my soul the way the Saints do?

There were many many emails like this, almost as many emails as there are people who honestly think the executive order has the legal effect Bart Stupak claims it has. So for these few months, I have been discerning what the standings of many college football teams are in the eyes of God. Continue Reading

3

Advent: God So Loved The World

Advent might be summarized by John 3:16:   “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

In daily life it is often easy to lose sight of the fact that we are always in the hands of an infinitely loving God who became one of us, His creatures, as a result of that love.  Men often fear and deny God I think out of a profound belief that they are unworthy of this love.  Peter, the prince of the apostles, after meeting Christ asked Him to leave him because Peter was a sinful man.  In our times, drenched in cynicism and wallowing in sin, love is in short supply it seems, and the idea of a loving God is one that many of us flee from and attempt to futilely deny.  This attitude calls to mind this passage from the Screwtape letters:

The truth is I slipped by mere carelessness into saying that the Enemy really loves the humans. That, of course, is an impossibility. He is one being, they are distinct from Him. Their good cannot be His. All His talk about Love must be a disguise for something else—He must have some real motive for creating them and taking so much trouble about them. The reason one comes to talk as if He really had this impossible Love is our utter failure to out that real motive. What does He stand to make out of them? That is the insoluble question. I do not see that it can do any harm to tell you that this very problem was a chief cause of Our Father’s quarrel with the Enemy. When the creation of man was first mooted and when, even at that stage, the Enemy freely confessed that he foresaw a certain episode about a cross, Our Father very naturally sought an interview and asked for an explanation. The Enemy gave no reply except to produce the cock-and-bull story about disinterested love which He has been circulating ever since. This Our Father naturally could not accept. He implored the Enemy to lay His cards on the table, and gave Him every opportunity. He admitted that he felt a real anxiety to know the secret; the Enemy replied “I wish with all my heart that you did”. It was, I imagine, at this stage in the interview that Our Father’s disgust at such an unprovoked lack of confidence caused him to remove himself an infinite distance from the Presence with a suddenness which has given rise to the ridiculous enemy story that he was forcibly thrown out of Heaven. Since then, we have begun to see why our Oppressor was so secretive. His throne depends on the secret. Members of His faction have frequently admitted that if ever we came to understand what He means by Love, the war would be over and we should re-enter Heaven. And there lies the great task. We know that He cannot really love: nobody can: it doesn’t make sense. If we could only find out what He is really up to! Hypothesis after hypothesis has been tried, and still we can’t find out. Yet we must never lose hope; more and more complicated theories, fuller and fuller collections of data, richer rewards for researchers who make progress, more and more terrible punishments for those who fail—all this, pursued and accelerated to the very end of time, cannot, surely, fail to succeed. Continue Reading

18

Meet the New Boss, Same As the Old Boss

From the Internet’s only reliable news source.  President Obama exits a press conference early, leaving former President Clinton in charge in order to promote a tax deal that is unpopular with most of his base.

Wait, this isn’t an Onion video?  You mean President Obama really did this?

Well, I guess it’s official.  The administration has descended into self-parody.

8

GDI v. GDP

Another  fine econ 101 video from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity.  One of the main economic problems of our time is that we Americans tend to be experts at spending money and novices at making money.  I will have a post on Christ and Scrooge later this month which will be rather negative towards Scrooge. (Surprise!)  However, perhaps nationally we need a bit of the Scrooge attitude towards making money and less of the spendthrift habits that have been a disaster for us publicly and privately.

1

New biography of Avery Cardinal Dulles

As if one didn’t have enough books to read already. From Paulist Press, a new biography of Avery Cardinal Dulles, America’s most distinguished Catholic theologian, who passed away in December 2008. (And at 736 pages, it sounds like quite a read).

Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ: A Model Theologian, 1918-2008
by Patrick W. Carey. Paulist Press. 736p.

Cardinal Avery Dulles, SJ, is the foremost American Catholic theologian of the post-Vatican II era. This book is a religious and intellectual biography that focuses on his contributions to the development of American Catholic theology and to the larger arena of American Catholic life. The book traces his life and thought from his childhood in a prominent American Presbyterian and political family to his days as a student at Harvard where he converted to Catholicism, to his World War II experience in the Navy, to his ordination as a Jesuit, and then to his career as a theologian in the post-Vatican II era. In the entire twentieth century, no other theologian, with the possible exception of John Courtney Murray, SJ, has had as important an impact upon American Catholic thought. Dulles, though, is unmatched in the twentieth century because of his prolific publications and the wide distribution and reading of his published theology. More bishops, priests, and religious, as well as large numbers of laity, have been influenced by his writings and by any other single American theologian. This book will put his contributions to theology within the wider context of his religious life and the cultural and religious transformations in the United States during the last half of the twentieth century.

Reviews and Related Info

4

Elections Have Consequences – Tax Cut Edition

I’ll leave it up to others on the blog to discuss the merits of the compromise on taxes and unemployment benefits recently reached between President Obama and Congressional Republicans.  For what it’s worth, I’d probably vote for it were I a member of Congress (shudder), but I do think that the Republicans could have pushed a little harder on certain measures.

What fascinates me as a student of American history are some of the reactions, and also some of the reactions to the reactions.  First of all,  Congressional Democrats have rejected the measure in a non-binding caucus vote.  This has caused Jim Geraghty to ponder:

I understand the White House line is that today’s rejection is part of the “normal process.” Really? Is it normal for a majority of the president’s own party to vote against deals he makes?

Normal?  No.  But I think this is a positive development in a way. Continue Reading

6

Tight Money is a Tax on the Unemployed

One argument commonly made by inflation hawks is that inflation is bad because it is a tax on savers. The idea being that since inflation erodes the purchasing power of a dollar, those who keep their money in a savings account will end up being able to buy less with that money down the road if there is inflation than if there is not. There is an element of truth to this idea, though if inflation is expected there are ways to deal with the problem, such as offering higher interest rates for savings accounts.

A propos of David’s post earlier to day, however, it occurs to me that there is a flip side to the inflation taxes savings argument, namely that disinflation (i.e. lower than expected inflation) functions as a tax on the unemployed. When a certain amount of inflation is expected over the coming years, this ends up getting built into people’s wage demands, contracts, loans, etc. If inflation is approximately 2-3% a year for several decades, then people will come to expect a raise of at least 2-3% a year to cover the increase in the cost of living, and they will get upset if this doesn’t happen, even if inflation is significantly below 2-3% (on election day I met a man who was angry he had been denied a cost of living raise in his Social Security for 2009, even though there was deflation that year).

If expected inflation doesn’t appear, there won’t be enough money for businesses to pay their workers and will have to cut either wages or employment. But since workers hate nominal wage cuts (even where these don’t translate into real wage cuts), employers tend to respond to this situation by laying people off rather than spreading the pain around. The result is that during inflationary or disinflationary periods real wages tend to increase (since prices are falling while wages remain constant in nominal terms) and so does unemployment. Functionally this acts as a kind of wealth transfer from the unemployed to those who still have jobs. Thus, tight money is a tax on the unemployed.

5

Leave it to Mel, the Beaver and the Shark

From the only reliable source of news on the net, the Onion.  Wait, no, that’s not right!  The above video certainly seems like a creation from the warped minds at the Onion, but even they would have a hard time dreaming this one up:  Actor with alcohol, anger and fidelity “issues”, portrays deranged husband and father who gets back in touch with his family by using a beaver hand puppet.   It would take a heart of stone not to laugh endlessly at the sheer lunacy of it all.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the film makes a huge amount of money, at least from audiences who enjoy truly dark comedy and perhaps from the select few who love the irony of it all.

Mel said that he took an axe to his marriage, so perhaps this is all some bizarre attempt at redemption in the eyes of the public at least, if not in the eyes of his ex-wife and kids.  What this film does establish beyond question is that Mel Gibson truly is one strange character.  I say this as someone who enjoyed most of his films dating back to his road warrior days, and who defended him on blogs for years, especially against the shameful charge that his masterpiece, The Passion of the Christ, was, in any way, anti-Semitic.  Alas, someone can be a fine artist, and still be a man with massive flaws and that is the case with Mel.  Through  alcohol abuse, adultery, and out of control rants, the actor many Catholics pointed to with pride, revealed himself to have very common Hollywood failings. Continue Reading