Eleanor Powell and Friend

Wednesday, December 15, AD 2010


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...

4 Responses to Eleanor Powell and Friend

Activism! They Cried

Tuesday, December 14, AD 2010

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...

6 Responses to Activism! They Cried

  • Justice Thomas will buy it but it’s not clear that the others will. Justice Scalia concurred in Gonzales v. Raich which allowed the federal government to regulate non-economic intra-state activity if it frustrates the regulation of interstate commerce.

  • I guess we’ll see, but I disagree. It’s probably lining up as 4-4 from the start, and ultimately it will come down to what Justice Kennedy had for breakfast the morning he decides.

    As an aside, it’s a bit sad that the fate of our country so often winds up being decided by Anthony Kennedy. In that regard, I share Jeff Goldstein’s less than exuberant attitude this morning.

  • Great analysis Paul! How about judicial tyranny as a name replacement? I would call Judge Hanson’s ruling an act of Judicial constitutionalism which abides by the will of the people. Justice Kennedy is a centrist so it will be a close call, but ultimately the ruling will depend on the arguments by both sides.


  • For what it’s worth: I heard a lame stream media radio report call Judge Hanson a GOP judge.

    Is GOP a liberal swear word?

    Thank God for small mercies. They didn’t accuse the Judge of stealing money from impecunious, undocumented immigrants and penurious, single-parent families.

    Is the Supreme Court exempt from Obamacare? Congress is.

  • I don’t see Roberts getting five votes to “overturn the will of the people”. I can imagine one of those six-opinions in-part-concurring decisions that establishes no precedent and manages to cut a few paragraphs out of the legislation.

    Does the other side have a term for their approach, other than “living Constitution”?

  • I can see anything from 5-4 striking down the individual mandate to 8-1 upholding it. Attention has focused on Kennedy as the swing vote, but it’s easy to see Roberts, Alito, or even Scalia defecting.

    What killed the government in Lopez was that the government was asked to give an example of a law that would exceed Congress’ authority under their theory and weren’t able to do it. My understanding is that the government has so far been unable to give such an example in this case as well.

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

Tuesday, December 14, AD 2010

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...

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

  • One problem is that both Vatican II and the catechism are totally silent on this topic while Casti Connubbi of 1930 trenchantly insisted that undermining wifely obedience is the work of false prophets….section 74….as one reads on, there is more nuance in subsequent sections but the initial insistence of section 74 seems to have….?….gone where by the time Vatican II arrives. Darwin and Brett have done more work on this than the Magisterium post Pius XI and that is not ideal because in a marriage crisis, a husband telling his wife to talk to their pastor about this topic is rolling the dice. It’s not hard to imagine the pastor being as non committal in this area as John Paul II was since he used Ephesians’ “mutual submission” to be everything and only mentioned the 5 other NT passages in passing and negatively as being the old way of the OT…..in both “Dignity of Women” and in “Theology of the Body”. Fortunately someone had the sense to at least not put his view in the catechism. I used to debate a Catholic woman on the net who argued against wifely submission based on the above two texts of John Paul II.

  • A wise Husband and Father will always attempt to lead his family, especially by example, but he will understand that authority and respect are by products of wisdom and successful leadership. If a husband is making hare-brained and/or selfish decisions, he is misusing his role in the family. There is a great deal of difference between leadership and tyranny. Husbands and Wives in my experience tend to get along best when big decisions are made by consensus, and when they talk things over rather than one party attempting to do a fait accompli on the other.

  • a husband telling his wife to talk to their pastor about this topic is rolling the dice.

    I hope I’m not going to massively offend someone here, but it seems to me that a husband who is sending his wife off to talk to their pastor about whether or not she needs to be submissive towards him is dealing with a near total breakdown situation in the first place.

    I imagine it would be great for a marriage in which the wife is constantly feeling the need to assert her independance on Every Single Point if she, on her own, came to some sense of how none of us get our way all the time and there’s a Christian virtue to submission of the will at times. But at a relationship level, I can’t imagine that a guy telling his wife, “Hey, you gotta submit. Just go ask the pastor.” will work. In a situation like that, if he’s going to succeed as a leader he’s going to have to successfully win respect and credibility, not demand it by fiat.

    Just my 0.02.

  • I apologize in advance: I haven’t read every comment and link in this series, and someone may have already hurled this into the discussion.

    St. Paul did not write to the Ephesians: “Wives should be submissive to their husbands.” He wrote: “Wives should be submissive to their husbands AS TO THE LORD.” That “as to the Lord” is the operative phrase. How do we submit to the Lord? In some sort of grinding, dehumanizing slavery? Of course not. On the night before He died for us He said “I call you no longer slaves, but friends.” And that is the submission we owe to Him: we say our “yes” to Him, we submit to Him, as to our closest and dearest friend. We are happy to say “yes” to Him (even if it means saying “no” to ourselves) because He is that Friend closest to our hearts; He is our “other self”. And that is the submission that wives owe to their husbands: they say “yes” to their husbands as to their closest, dearest friend.

    Oh…and, by the way, if husbands will love their wives in that astonishingly demanding and self-sacrificing way that St. Paul outlines in the verses following his brief exhortation to wives, it will be ever so much easier for those wives to “submit” to their husbands.

    fr. j.

  • Darwin
    The Catholic net is about active Catholics….the Church’s flock is multiples larger than that.
    The Church is not just dealing with great marriages or great people….or elegant people who would never say your above…” Hey, you gotta submit…etc.”. The Church rather is dealing with people of such a wide spectrum that probably half are mixing the Faith with everything from spiritism in Africa…to Santeria in the Domican Republic…to Euro derived whites in the US mixing it with illegal speeding down streets that might have children playing.
    That is why the New Testament has exactly fiats on this topic…fiats…but it has
    those fiats within a culture wherein it was presumed that males studied the Bible
    more than the NFL season schedule. So what to do when in the modren world, by the time he dies, most Catholic men have not read a quarter of the Bible on their own? Hence the confusion. The fiats are about studying families who live out the read faith in the workplace in conscience. Take away that context and you have many Catholic families as Benedict has just opined in the recent interview book.
    Read Pius XI, CC, section 74…..fiat oriented but a much different world.

  • If I recall correctly, there was an article in First Things in 1993 on just this topic that would be worth a second read. I think the title might have been something like, “Marriage in Counterpoint and Harmony”.

  • I frankly don’t believe that wives should be so bloody submissive. Period.
    To clarify, I believe that marriage should be an equal, loving relationship–with neither partner being lord and master over the other. I see repeated references here to being different than pagans. . . but, judging by the ‘differences’ being cited, I’m wondering if anyone here has actually studied pagan cultures. In many pagan societies, women were (and are) completely submissive to all men, husband included. It seems that if we, as Christians, really want to be different, we should respect women.
    Furthermore, it doesn’t sound like anyone has taken into account the fact that PEOPLE VARY. Surely, a larger number of men may possess certain character traits, and a larger number of women may possess certain other character traits, but you can’t lump people together by any rule, gender included. There are men that are very quiet, loving, bookish types, and there are women who can’t get enough of hunting, fishing, and football.
    Also, the entire system of being ‘submissive’ is just unequal and unfair. Those in favour of wifely submission always stress that the husband and wife are equals, neither better than the other, but these are really just empty words; because, in actual practise, the husband is obviously in charge. Sort of like a master’s relationship with a slave, eh?
    And, when wives try to be submissive, this often puts a strain on the relationship. Aside from the fact that some wives may feel resentment, there are other problems that can arise. A brief anecdote about a couple I am acquainted with: Husband and Wife are a good, Christian couple, loving towards each other. Wife tries to be submissive, and always lets her husband make the final decision. Their lives go along, seemingly happily, until one day, they have a huge argument–Husband says, “I feel like I’m married to a dog! You never want to make any decisions, and you just follow me around like a retriever! What happened? You used to be so adventurous and fun!” Wife, nearly in tears, says, “But I was just trying to be submissive!”
    See? Any normal man will get rather tired of a wife who is more like his servant than his partner. And, in the case of huge, majour arguments, in which neither partner is willing to budge, there’s a better way to solve the problem than always letting the husband have his way–take turns. Isn’t this what we all learn as children, that sometimes we have to let the other person have a turn? So, in one argument the wife can give in, then in the next one the husband has to give in. Fair, square, and absolutely Christian.

  • Pingback: TUESDAY AFTERNOON EDITION | ThePulp.it
  • Harper,

    I’m not clear to what extent you intend your comment to respond to the post versus just the theme or title, but I certainly do not (nor did any of the posts linked) advocate wives behaving in the manner described. Indeed, that would seem directly opposite to what Paul says when he writes:

    Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord…. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

    NO relationship should consist of dog-like submission — but that doesn’t mean that every relationship should consist of “we take turns having our way” equality. Indeed, that seems to me a particularly bad way to run any relationship, marital, parental or managerial.

  • Any time you start feeling all “leaderly”, remember the purpose for which you are the leader: to serve others not to boss them around and aggrandize yourself.

    Wow. Being a leader is evil if you are a husband? Why don’t you just say Ephesians 5 is wrong? This is nice advice but you have completely lost the moorings of the original text. It is no longer an exegesis but rather a gab session. Not that gab sessions are bad. Just that the summary conclusions don’t come from the text. If anything the emphasis is the opposite of what the text says.

    We have lost the concept of submission in Catholicism. You could replace that with what does it mean to submit to your priest or bishop. To most Catholics it means very little. We used to submit to a fault. We had male chauvinism and we had clericalism. Now we have flipped to the other extreme. Authority means nothing. It is worse than nothing. It is seen as a vice rather than a gift.

  • Darwin, (I’m assuming that isn’t your real name?)

    Thanks for the reply. Perhaps I didn’t say what I meant very clearly–I don’t think that couples should just take turns doing what they want. I think that they should try to come to a satisfactory conclusion for both of them. But, as mentioned in some of the posts this article links to, there sometimes are things that a husband and wife just cannot agree on. And, the answer to that according to many people, is that the husband should automatically make the final decision. THAT is what I object to–I’m not one of those rabid feminist types, but I am an advocate for equality and human rights. And relationships that are fair to both partners.

  • Randy,

    No, I neither think that it’s evil if a husband is a leader nor that Ephesians 5 is wrong. My point, which was perhaps lost in an attempt at rhetorical cuteness, is that from a Christian perspective leadership is not a matter of “I’m the leader, which means I’m special and better than you and can boss you around” but rather a matter of service. Again, in the text Paul says wives should be subject to their husbands “as you are to the Lord” and that husbands should love their wives “just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”.

    How did Christ love the Church? Well, shortly before he suffered and died for us (which is certainly the biggest example) he provided the apostles with an example of Christian leadership by serving them at the Last Supper. Does that mean that he was not in fact in authority over them? Of course not. If anyone has ever been in authority over anyone, Christ was in authority over His followers.

    Not being like Christ, we all have a tendency when we feel ourselves to be in authority to think that this means we’re better, or that this is a great opportunity to make others do things we don’t want to do while we kick back a bit. It was refuting this and substituting a reminder that Christian leadership is for service, not for self, that I was trying to get at with the “feeling all leaderly” comment. This is most certainly in keeping with Catholic history. After all, one of the titles of the pope is “servant of the servants of Christ”.

  • Harper,

    No, Darwin is not my real name, but I’ve been going by it in the blogsphere for a number of years so I tend to stick with it. (My real name is on the contributors page if you’re seriously curious.)

    Understood on the “who gets to decide”, though at the same time I’d disagree that a relationship in which there is one person who is the head of the other is necessarily unequal in the human sense, or contrary to human rights. (Or that such a relationship means one person makes all the decisions.)

    For instance, in my professional relationship with my director at work, there are certain types of decisions which I am authorized to make. My director gave me those responsibility on the basis of his authority, and he holds responsibility if I make a decision in that area of responsibility which ends up working out badly for the company. But they remain my decisions, and he allows me to make them even in cases where he disagrees with me, because he has assigned those areas of responsibility to me and he respects that assignment.

    On the other hand, there are areas in which he has final say, and although I may advocate one choice all the way up to the line, if he chooses to go the other way I need to fall in line and support and implement his decision.

    There are lots of different ways that responsibilities could legitimately be assigned between us, but the only way that it works as a decision-making structure is if there is in fact one person who actually holds authority. It is, to my mind, not possible to work entirely by consensus. Nor does it seem to me that married couples fall naturally into totally equal relationships, but rather complimentary relationships. It sounds like that may be our main point of difference here — that I’m assuming that even with the incredible variation between people and couples, and the many different ways that one can live out a successful marriage, there that is a basic reality which Paul correctly recognizes here that husbands naturally tend to be the heads of households. And it’s within the context of that natural reality that Paul is advising Christians on how to live within that structure as Christians.

  • Darwin,

    Interesting points you bring up. And I agree that husbands and wives can have separate responsibilities (e.g. wife is completely responsible for groceries, husband has complete authourity over lawn manicure, etc.).
    However, I think it is possible to have an equal relationship between two people. For example, two people who decide to start a business together COULD have one of them hold more authourity, but there are also many business partners who are precisely that–equal partners.
    Also, when you speak of ‘assigning’ responsibilities–who does the assigning? The husband, right? Unfortunately, that is something that just strikes me as so completely unfair, I can’t emphasise it enough. It seems very much like a parent-child relationship, with the husband handing out whatever privileges he deems appropriate. And, though I hate to quibble with Paul, deciding who gets the authourity based solely on gender has always seemed to me to just be (sorry, Paul) rather silly. As I said above, people vary. Gender is not the only factor at work.

  • Since joining a traditional (Latin Mass) parish, I’ve met many families who subscribe to this heartily. Interestingly, it’s the wives who insist on it more than the husbands. As in one discussion some of us were having about it, and a woman said, “My husband is the head of our household, and he’d better be, or I’ll kick his —-!” These are no shrinking violets, but strong women with opinions, and one of those is that they expect their husbands to step up and take charge of things.

    When I was dating, one thing I learned was how deadly is the answer, “I don’t know; what do you want to do?” Not that you shouldn’t ever let the woman make a decision, but when a man routinely tries to leave decisions up to a woman, it doesn’t convince her he cares about her opinion; it convinces her he’s a schmuck who can’t lead.

  • Of course wives should submit to their husbands. It’s in the Bible, end of discussion. I’m not married yet, but when I am, I will expect my wife to submit to my decisions and not argue.

  • Actually the title of your post indicated to me you wanted to allow this text to teach something counter-cultural. Sure leadership should be done charitably. But should it exist at all? I was looking for something in the conclusions that Oprah would object to. I guess I didn’t find anything. Just declarations that it is nice to be nice. Using the term “leaderly” as something obviously equivalent with self-aggrandizement seems to be defeating the point you try and make in your reply. Christian leadership is not like that. I think you agree with that in principle but don’t allow for it in practice.

    One real question with authority is when the leader is bad. Or at least in your opinion the leader is bad. We give ourselves huge loopholes that practically reduce submission to only when you basically agree. Then we leave ourselves as the sole judge of whether we have abused these loopholes or not. I don’t want to single out wives because I see this pattern every time obedience is called for. Not just by liberal Catholics. Orthodox Catholics can be worse. The more we want the community to do God’s will the harder it is to give in on what we have discerned to be God’s will.

    It is hard. Sometimes the dad is a real jerk and the mom seems to have it together. Should she submit to him for the rest of her life? I would advise talking to your priest. That still sounds like an easy out because most priests won’t insist on submission. But at least it is better than leaving the boundaries of submission to the judgment of the submitter.

  • You know what I find interesting? And I may be wrong here, but – it seems like all the guys are over here talking about the topic, and the comment-box discussions on the women’s posts consist of women talking about it. So we’ve retreated to the virtual kitchen, while y’all are standing around the grill.

    (This all falls apart if Harper is “as in Lee” and not, you know, a dude. I can say that, because I have a man’s name).

  • Randy,

    Sure leadership should be done charitably. But should it exist at all?

    Yes, of course. I’m not sure if we’re missing each other here or something, because I’m under the impression that I’ve made the case a couple times here for leadership (and in the context of marriage and family, specifically that the husband is the ultimate leader) while you seem to think that I’m wiggling out of it.

    I was looking for something in the conclusions that Oprah would object to. I guess I didn’t find anything.

    I’m not familiar with the Oprah oeuvre, so I can’t say for sure, but I would assume that she would disagree with my stated foundation for all this that marriage is a complementary rather than an equal relationship in terms of command structure, and that the husband is the ultimate leader within that structure.

    One real question with authority is when the leader is bad. Or at least in your opinion the leader is bad.

    FWIW, my thought on that was in one of the bullets in the “for wives” section near the end of my post: “Hard as it may be, you may need to do this [obey a decision you think is bad] sometimes with the thin comfort that cheerful obedience can be a means to holiness even when the decision is not good.”

  • Dorian,

    Yep, I’m a woman. But I’m usually hanging about with the men at social gatherings anyway. *grin*.

  • Randy – ” I was looking for something in the conclusions that Oprah would object to. I guess I didn’t find anything. Just declarations that it is nice to be nice.” Ouch!

    I do think that the Oprahfied outlook on marriage would differ from some of the conclusions, particularly – as Darwin pointed out – the idea of obedience as a path to holiness, submitting to a decision even when you think it is bad. I think Oprah would say, “and husbands, you need to make sure you’re doing the same,” but possibly add something about how the inner holistic wisdom of women means we don’t make boneheaded decisions, so husbands should probably just let the woman do what she knows is right. I’m probably being unfair to Oprah here, since I don’t watch her show.

    But I also think that there is the greater issue of how this all plays out within the context of a Catholic marriage. So, the question of submission would come into play with a question like, “I want to have another baby, but my husband feels like our financial situation is so messed up that we have grave reasons to avoid pregnancy. Should we abstain during the fertile part of my cycle?” And the Moralistic Therapeutic Deist response would be something like, “what the hell are you talking about? He can just go get himself fixed and then you don’t have to worry about it.”

  • Oh, sorry, Harper! I’m the same – I hate it when social gatherings are segregated by gender. I think I owe you a sisterhood fist-bump or something.

  • Dorian,

    I dunno, but for whatever reason TAC tends to have a pretty heavily male audience (with honorable exceptions!) while DarwinCatholic seems to have a pretty even mix — perhaps because of our moderately unique format as a co-written husband and wife blog.

    Though when MrsD and I have had big gatherings, it seems like everyone ends up in the kitchen except the children who wander the house and yard like a pack of wild something-or-others.

  • Ok, here’s my distaff take on this. Men have a particularly strong need to feel respected for both their brains (decision making ability) and brawn (physical/emotional strength). They need their wives to trust and respect them. Hence the injunction to wives to “submit” to husbands — not in a groveling or “I don’t want you to get mad at me” sense, but in an “I trust you to do the right thing” sense.

    In fact I would extend this beyond marriage — in the workplace and in social relationships, men need to be respected; they especially hate it when a woman in a position of authority treats them like bumbling or rebellious children. That doesn’t mean you can’t tell a guy he’s wrong — but you have to do so in a way that conveys basic respect — “You need to know that isn’t right,” not “You idiot, don’t you know any better?”

    The greatest need women have is a bit different — they need to be appreciated, to be told that what they are doing is helpful and valuable, even if it’s not completely perfect. Now we all know (some) men who have trouble with this — they assume that as long as they are keeping a roof over the family’s head and food on the table, that is sufficient proof of their love. For most women, it isn’t. They need to be told “You’re beautiful and I want you to be happy” in words and actions. Hence the injunction to husbands to love their wives.

    Now here is yet another subject on which I like to quote C.S. Lewis. In “The Four Loves” he says (I’m paraphrasing here) that the headship conferred upon the husband in the Christian faith means that he wears a crown of thorns just like Christ did.

    The most “perfect” kind of husbandly headship, he says, exists not necessarily in a good and harmonious marriage, but in a marriage where the husband heroically bears “the sickness and sufferings of a good wife, or the faults of a bad one; in his unwearying (never paraded) care or inexhaustible forgiveness; forgiveness, not acquiescence.”

    Lewis goes on to say that, of course, this does not excuse deliberately or carelessly entering a bad marriage, any more than Christians are supposed to deliberately go looking for unneccesary persecution or martyrdom. Still, it is in the “martyred” husband giving his all for a wife who may not always appreciate it, that the figure of Christ giving Himself for his (not always spotless) Bride can be seen.

    Finally he says: “The sternest feminist need not grudge my sex the crown offered to it in either the Pagan or Christian mystery.” (The “Pagan mystery” to which he refers is the natural dominance of the man in sexual pursuits.) “For the one is of paper, and the other of thorns. The real danger is not that men will grasp it too eagerly, but that they will allow or compel their wives to usurp it.”

  • A very insightful comment Elaine. I have always been surrounded by strong women: my mother, my wife, my secretary of 25 years and now my teen-age daughter. I think one of the things that drives a lot of women crazy is if they perceive a man as not listening to them. If a man does listen to the women in his life, it is amazing how much smoother everything goes for everyone. The man may not do what the women suggests, but the give and take of listening and responding can often lead to improved situations. It sounds simple, but it is amazing how many men never seem to grasp this fact in my opinion. The converse of course are women who will never let the men in their lives get a word in edgewise!

  • Mr. McClarey,

    Well said! That’s precisely it—as a woman, it does absolutely drive me nuts when I feel as though men don’t listen to me, or that I’m not respected (just because I am female). Marriage should be a give and take relationship, with each partner listening to the other, and giving due respect to the other’s thoughts.

  • Aaron B makes some good points.

    With modern feminism, and man rarely knows where he stands.

    Are we to “lead”, to be bold and assertive, and run the risk of being labeled a sexist, a patriarchal scumbag who loves to oppress and dominate women?

    Or are we to cower, to defer, to beg and to plead for the dubious benefit of being accepted by politically correct opinion?

    Unfortunately we may not have a choice. I know at least one person who was denied a promotion – a man – by a corporation because he spoken openly of this very topic of wifely submission in his place of work, in response to a question about his faith. Undoubtedly if the man were a Muslim, he would have been given a promotion and a bonus, but since he was a white Christian male, he was read the riot act and told that he couldn’t be trusted because he held these view. A black Christian male just might have gotten a more condescending talking to without sanctions.

    Feminism and hysterical anti-racism are about punishing those seen as the historically “dominant” group for their past sins. Many within the group openly accept this and submit to politically correct thought tyranny.

    What feminism really leads to is repression, as surely as Puritanism does. Men learn to suppress and destroy their natural instincts out of fear of being socially ostracized. So they get channeled into unhealthy fantasies and ideas that are kept private until they explode. This is why we have an epidemic of pornography addiction. This is why the pornography becomes increasingly violent.

    This also happens when men have no social restraints in the opposite direction – when instead of being raised to be competent leaders, they are raised to become absolute tyrants over the lives of their wives and treat them as chattel. That isn’t proper leadership; we know it in politics and it is evident in the household as well. All feminism did was swing to the opposite extreme and make the man a total coward instead of a total tyrant.

    But on the whole, men and women do have real differences that a healthy society must respect. There are always exception to the general trend, with some women more than capable of leadership and some men who are probably better off submitting. Someone has to lead, and someone has to follow. I can’t rationally say that it must ALWAYS be the husband, but I can rationally say that it usually ought to be. Whoever is more rational ought to lead. If a husband makes consistently bad decisions, a wife cannot be expected to silently submit to them. But a husband ought to be given the benefit of the doubt until such time.

  • “Are we to “lead”, to be bold and assertive, and run the risk of being labeled a sexist, a patriarchal scumbag who loves to oppress and dominate women?
    Or are we to cower, to defer, to beg and to plead for the dubious benefit of being accepted by politically correct opinion?”

    Of course men should find a happy medium between being macho jerks and being wimps. In my personal opinion, the BIGGEST reason many men can’t, is because they grew up without fathers or other stable male role models who could show them what it means to be a “real” man. Even in the animal kingdom, young males need older males around to guide them or else they literally run wild.

    If the radical feminists were right, one would think that removing the “oppressive” and “patriarchal” influence of fathers from the home would make young men less prone to crime and violence. Actually, it has done just the opposite.

Justice Breyer, the Second Amendment and Federalist 46

Tuesday, December 14, AD 2010

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...

11 Responses to Justice Breyer, the Second Amendment and Federalist 46

Federal Judge Rules Individual Mandate Unconstitutional.

Monday, December 13, AD 2010

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.

Continue reading...

12 Responses to Federal Judge Rules Individual Mandate Unconstitutional.

  • Why the Democrats didn’t do this is a mystery to me.

    With that statement you seem to assume that the objective of the Democrats was to draft sound legislation to produce a beneficial and sustainable system. I didn’t get that sense about it at any point in the process. Perhaps your remark was rhetorical and excessively charitable. 🙂

  • ObamaCare has not only been a disaster politically, but also is a perfect example of an ill-thought out and extremely poorly crafted piece of legislation. It is hilarious to recall that one of the themes of the Obama campaign in 2008 was competence.


  • I don’t see that solving the death spiral problem. It’ll help but the healthy will still tend to opt-out.

  • RR,

    If five years isn’t a sufficient amount of time to stop the death spiral then it can be increased until it is.

  • Perhaps the provision was left out of the bill because our Congresspersons did not [could not – were not permitted to] read it.

  • The obvious problem is: what happens when someone signs the 5-year opt-out, and then gets cancer a year later? Then we’re back to the same old problem: someone needs health care and is being denied can’t afford it. Europeans may be okay with that, because they’ve learned that there are trade-offs in universal care, like having to sit on waiting lists. If Americans were hard-hearted enough to leave that guy’s care up to his family and private charity, we would never have gotten anywhere near passing ObamaCare in the first place.

    Most Americans today believe every person should be able to get whatever health care he needs, on demand, regardless of his ability to pay — and we’ve convinced ourselves this is actually possible, and not at all a square circle. Any sort of opt-out that has actual consequences would be like admitting otherwise.

  • Who would have thought . . .

    That’s what happens when you elect nitwits who can neither read nor understand the bills they enact.

    Worse yet, we have given them unlimited power to botch the whole enchillada.

    NO WAIT! they are sufficiently SMART to exempt themselves from socialist hell care.

  • Most people think they’ll be healthier than others so I don’t see any time-out period working. There is still a backstop in the form of Medicare when people hit 65. Also, the longer the penalty period, the earlier you’d have to sign up to avoid the penalty. The earlier you make people sign up, the less educated and less financially able they’d be and therefore less likely to sign up. The longer penalty would be at least partially, if not wholly, counteracted by these effects. Finally, there’s the politically unpalatable effects that Aaron mentioned.

  • The obvious problem is: what happens when someone signs the 5-year opt-out, and then gets cancer a year later?

    Same thing that happens now.

  • “Same thing that happens now.”

    Yes, including sob stories about people being “denied” health care, and grandiose schemes to “fix” the problem.

  • That’s what happens when you elect nitwits who can neither read nor understand the bills they enact.

    1. Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 (definitively concluding post-crash banking crises and erecting a legal architecture which stood for 47 years):
    53 pages long.

    2. Social Security Act of 1965 (erecting Medicare and Medicaid):
    137 pages long.

    3. Dodd Frank financial ‘reform’:
    848 pages long.

    4. Affordable blah blah act of 2009 (Obamacare):
    1,990 pages long.

  • Our government has just gotten too large.

    Did you know that the Virginia Attorney General is Catholic? I read it here http://catholicamericanpatriot.blogspot.com/

So many books! So little time!

Monday, December 13, AD 2010

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...

3 Responses to So many books! So little time!

Catholicism and College Football

Monday, December 13, AD 2010

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...

18 Responses to Catholicism and College Football

  • Check our “Mary’s Aggies” @ Texas A&M …

  • At least it’s not yet another defense of Notre Dame as the only Catholic football team. . .

  • I say we should cheer for the team all the others use to devalue their apponent’s capabilities. A team immortalized for it’s willingness to take on anyone knowing they have no chance in h… of ever winning. The team that has for years absorbed more abuse than all the others combined and still comes out fighting for truth and goodness with every ounce of their energy. Demonized but also idolized in spirit on all “opponent” schedules yet more Catholic any of them…The Little Sisters of the Poor.

  • Scholarship athletes are purported to be amateurs, yet are given payment in the form of tuition. This is a lie, an affront against God, Who is Truth. Therefore it is only permissible for Catholics to root for college teams which give no scholarships.

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Catholicism and College Football | The American Catholic -- Topsy.com
  • Yes, Gordon Gee of OSU told us so. What a jerk!

  • “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.”

    Brilliant, absolutely brilliant!

  • I think God is clearly showing His dislike of our team’s rubbing Howard’s Rock, as we came nowhere near an ACC Championship like we did last year.

    It’s also curious that the two football teams that Catholics should root for are from Louisiana.

  • Bill, Sr., I was talking about Michael’s post, not your comment.

    And I agree that Gee acted like a jerk (although he offered a fairly solid apology for his graceless comments):


  • For one, I’ve never understood the neo-pagan culture of Louisiana with its voo-doo tendencies. Someone asked “Who Dat?” Lemme tell you… it’s Dat Nguyen.

    More over, your analysis of Texas A&M and the 12th Man is weak. VERY weak. Let me direct you to the Church’s teaching on the Mystical Body of Christ. The team on the field is analogous to the Church Militant. The Church Suffering would be analogous to those Aggie fans unable to get tickets to the game. The 12th Man is analogous to the Church Victorious.

    Aggies have a good model on and off the field.

    there is no basis for any Catholic to be an Aggie fan

  • LSU has more than 10k-11k Catholics?

  • Big Tex:

    Voodoo is anything but neo. There are more people practicing voodoo on film than in New Orleans.

    And I’ll take up your Mystical Body analogy. Most fans cheer for the team on the field. However, by claiming to be the 12th man the Aggies want to be on the field. Now, if the Aggies are the Church Victorious and the team is the Church Militant, that means that Aggies fan want to leave the Church Victorious to rejoin the Church Militant. In other words, they want to reject the heaven & glory of God. Rejecting the beatific vision? How more un-Catholic can you get?

  • Weak.

    Four words in response:

    Legends. Leaders. Epic fail.

    It’s also curious that the two football teams that Catholics should root for are from Louisiana.LSU has more than 10k-11k Catholics?

    Almost assuredly. LSU has a population of 30,000+ and more than a third of that is going to be Catholic considering the very high Catholic population in the Southern part of the state (the main drawing ground for LSU).

  • So . . .

    It seems a Catholic cannot (in good conscience) root for either ND or MU in their bowl game. Could one, legitimately, prefer a devastating storm to a gang of heretics? Here’s how: the storm is harmful to the physical body. The heretic is dangerous for the soul.

    I totally don’t understand how anyone (I have friends, lovely people, with season tix) could be a fan of the NJ Devils, or the Duke Blue Devils!

  • A&M is 49k students… @25% Catholic.

  • And I’ll take up your Mystical Body analogy. Most fans cheer for the team on the field. However, by claiming to be the 12th man the Aggies want to be on the field. Now, if the Aggies are the Church Victorious and the team is the Church Militant, that means that Aggies fan want to leave the Church Victorious to rejoin the Church Militant. In other words, they want to reject the heaven & glory of God. Rejecting the beatific vision? How more un-Catholic can you get?

    The voo-doo king speaks falsity, yet again. 😉 You completely misinterpret the role of the 12th Man (i.e. the Church Victorious) and falsely assume a desire to be on the field. The yells are the “prayers” for the team on the field (i.e. the Church Militant). Did you learn about A&M from some t-sip?

  • Pingback: WEDNESDAY MORNING EDITION | ThePulp.it

Advent: God So Loved The World

Sunday, December 12, AD 2010

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...

3 Responses to Advent: God So Loved The World

  • Nice post Don.
    I’ll have to plagiarise it for my next practice homily. 😉

  • Thank you Don! I have always been intrigued by the concept that many men spend their lives hiding from the love of God. Francis Thompson touched on this in his unforgettable The Hound of Heaven:

    I fled Him down the nights and down the days
    I fled Him down the arches of the years
    I fled Him down the labyrinthine ways
    Of my own mind, and in the midst of tears
    I hid from him, and under running laughter.
    Up vistaed hopes I sped and shot precipitated
    Adown titanic glooms of chasme d hears
    From those strong feet that followed, followed after
    But with unhurrying chase and unperturbe d pace,
    Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
    They beat, and a Voice beat,
    More instant than the feet:
    All things betray thee who betrayest me.

    I pleaded, outlaw–wise by many a hearted casement,
    curtained red, trellised with inter-twining charities,
    For though I knew His love who followe d,
    Yet was I sore adread, lest having Him,
    I should have nought beside.
    But if one little casement parted wide,
    The gust of his approach would clash it to.
    Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue.
    Across the margent of the world I fled,
    And troubled the gold gateways of the stars,
    Smiting for shelter on their clange d bars,
    Fretted to dulcet jars and silvern chatter
    The pale ports of the moon.


  • Pingback: MONDAY MORNING EDITION | ThePulp.it

Meet the New Boss, Same As the Old Boss

Saturday, December 11, AD 2010

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.

Continue reading...

18 Responses to Meet the New Boss, Same As the Old Boss

  • I never liked Bill Clinton, but somehow find it refreshing to see him up there instead Obama. Shoot me. I don’t know if I should respect Obama for seeking help where his ability is insufficient or if I should cringe at the thought of the POTUS needs assistance from a previous president to talk to a core policy issue. This is really scary when you think about it.

  • Every word is a lie.

    Clinton said, “As a child of the Depression . . .” LIE: he was born in 1946 (the year FDR’s generational depression finally ended) and grew up in the 1950’s, when the US per capital GDP was highest in the world and the American was the most prosperous citizen on the planet.

    The US is now in 8th place in per capita GDP, and will not be in the top 20 once Obama finishes deconstructing the private sector.

    There must be 20,000,000 persons more qualified than either fake, phony and fraud.

  • “This is really scary when you think about it”

    If Obama turns over a future press conference to Jimmy Carter — and I wouldn’t put it past him to do so — then we’ll REALLY be in trouble.

  • I really think Obama is tired of the whole Presidency gig. Too much work and too much dealing with people who are not bowled over by his awesomeness. He is ready to move on to the final stage in his career: world-celebrity-for-life.

  • If nothing else, BC, like JFK, exuded charm. Even though they lied like every other President, they did so gracefully and with a touch of self-deprecation. By contrast, TelePrompted-Obama comes across wooden, didactic and austere. No warmth whatsoever. I’d like to see him loosen up once in awhile, play with the pooch, like Putin, and add a touch of humor to his pressers.

  • “I really think Obama is tired of the whole Presidency gig”

    Does that mean you have just issued your first prediction for 2011 (or maybe 2012?)

  • To Donald’s point, I read a comment last night on either Hot Air or Ace of Spades to the effect that Obama was interested in being president, not so much doing president.

  • “Does that mean you have just issued your first prediction for 2011 (or maybe 2012?)”

    I’m not sure Elaine and I doubt if Obama is at this point. I don’t think it would take much for him to decide that four years was enough. I have never seen a President before who gives signal after signal that he really isn’t interested in doing the job.

  • LOL!

    Next, the Won will call in George W. Bush (I MISS him!!) to “sell” his stuff to his despicable party.

  • I really think Obama is tired of the whole Presidency gig.

    I voted against Clinton twice and yet, if Obama wishes to step down and work on his basketball game full-time, I’d much rather that that old silver-tongued (and now silver-haired) devil Billy Jeff take over the job rather than having a *gulp* President Biden.

    But really, the whole presser was surrealistic. Good Lord, the libs made Bush’s choking on a pretzel proof of stupidity and bad moral character.Imagine if Dubya had led his dad in to talk about Iraq at a press conference because Dubya had to go to a Christmas Party (because otherwise Laura would have been mad. Sheesh, Don posted that extremely funny video about men put in the doghouse by aggrieved wives. We already know that the doghouse is Clinton’s permanent address, although he frequently escapes. How often do you think Michelle has tossed Barack in the D.H. for a spell?)

  • Talk of Obama not running in 2012 is wishing thinking.

  • Maybe Joe, or maybe Obama will get up one morning and decide the nation isn’t worthy of his continued efforts. Obama is a very proud man and the Presidency has given him an experience new to him: failure.

  • One other possibility is that Obama did not think he’d actually win in 2008. Perhaps he, like most of the rest of the population, thought Hillary had it in the bag, and thought of the 2008 campaign as a way to put his name in the spotlight and end up as something of a Congressional leader until 2016.

  • If I had to pick bewtween the two, I’d rather have BC. Maybe the O is a big fan of outsourcing?

  • Obama is a very proud man and the Presidency has given him an experience new to him: failure.

    He does not strike me as proud.

    Demonstrated accomplishment would be a novelty for him too, though. (Or, accomplishment at something other than winning elections). A contemporary of his at Harvard Law School said he thought that B.O. was always more interested in being the president of the law review than in doing anything while occupying the position. With everything he has done with his life since 1988, the same phenomenon appears to manifest itself. It’s odd.

  • Anyone his age Art who has written two autobiographies, before he accomplished much to speak of, is by definition proud. Everything Obama has wanted he has gotten in life, although perhaps he simply does not want to succeed as President, as odd as that may seem.

  • I think there is a distinction between being ‘proud’ and being vain or self-aggrandizing.

    I think you have to be skeptical of those (one thinks of Steven Sailer) who fancy they can have an intricate grasp of someone unknown to them in the most salient respects. Personally, I do not have any insight into what he did or did not want in life at any given point therein. He seems far more a set of guises and poses than most men his age.

  • Vain works for me Art as a description of Obama. In any case he has never been called upon in any of his prior positions to perform substantively, but has rather succeeded through glibness and a strong desire of many of his supporters to view him as some sort of political second coming. To go from secular Messiah to a failed President must be disconcerting to even the most narcissistic of personalities.

O Holy Night

Saturday, December 11, AD 2010

Something for the weekend.  O Holy Night.  The rendition above is done by Celtic Woman.  The hymn was written in 1847 by Placide Cappeau at the request of his parish priest.  The English version was written by John Sullivan Dwight, a Unitarian Minister in 1855.  Judging from the lyrics, it is amazing how orthodox this Unitarian Minister was:

Continue reading...

2 Responses to Fr. Robert Barron on “Leaving The Church”

  • I very much enjoyed this short talk. Allow me to share my own experience: In my late 20’s, I had a crisis. For a number of reasons, mostly experiences of rejection, I began to feel that there was no place for me in the Church, that if my own gifts were to be rejected, just because I was a woman, surely the Lord had not made a mistake by giving me those gifts, therefore maybe the Catholic church was not for me. Luckily, at the time those thoughts began to bother me, I had already booked a trip in order to attend a 6-day retreat in France, and I did not want to change my vacation plans. Of course, during the retreat, I was helped to realize that there was a difference between the Church which is the body of Christ, and the human beings that Jesus has entrusted to oversee the Church. And I stayed…

  • Thanks for posting this Christopher.


Friday, December 10, AD 2010

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.

Continue reading...

8 Responses to GDI v. GDP

  • A beautiful chick discussing macroeconomics. I doubt I could properly define nerd porn, but I know it when I see it; and this video is definitely that!


  • Son of a gun, she is attractive! Before you pointed that out RL, I hadn’t noticed! 🙂

  • Ha! Nice save, Don! That may have appeased Mrs. McClarey, but I’m wise to you. You’re just another Larry Flynt. You’re perpetuating the demand for this exploitation. What if it is was your daughter fresh out of grad school, in despair over her debt, alone, afraid; then someone reaches out to her, makes her feel comfortable and wanted. He charms her with talk about the virtues of justice, temperance, fortitude, and even love. He tells her an economic system can incorporate those things too, and that it will help government and individuals posses those virtues too.

    What young girl can resist that, Don? That’s when he says, “hey, we can make a little movie in order to save the world.” We all know how how this sad story plays out from here…

  • Yeah, she eventually ends up running the Fed. At least that is what would happen if it were my daughter!

  • Next thing you know she’ll be hanging around some seedy Washington think tank.

  • No wait!


    She’s being exploited by one of them evil, secret conspiracies to steal money from indigent, undocumented immigrants and single parents’ children.

    Next she’ll sell out to FOXNEWS . . .

  • Even though I have an econ degree, if I see the letters GDI I think of the Global Defense Initiative from Command and Conquer…

  • Thanks to my son’s interest, I have all the games in the Command and Conquer series.

New biography of Avery Cardinal Dulles

Thursday, December 9, AD 2010

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

Continue reading...

One Response to New biography of Avery Cardinal Dulles

Elections Have Consequences – Tax Cut Edition

Thursday, December 9, AD 2010

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...

4 Responses to Elections Have Consequences – Tax Cut Edition

  • Actually, I do have one idea: Bring ALL the troops home, cut military spending in half, close 700 bases around the world and raise the draw bridges.

    Without getting into the merits of this idea, do you really believe that this would save $5 trillion?

  • Paul, “compromise” may be de riguer in politics and “another example of the Constitution in action,” as you put it, but in other spheres of life it is an ugly word.

    The Irish poet Yates once wrote, “You know what the Englishman’s idea of compromise is? He says, Some people say there is a God. Some people say there is no God. The truth probably lies somewhere between these two statements.”

    And, from George Jean Nathan: “A man’s wife is his compromise with the illusion of his first sweetheart.”

  • Well Joe, we can go on pretending that the President of the United States is not a Democrat, and therefore the GOP would be free to push whatever policies it so chooses, or we can wake up and smell reality. The tax cuts are going to expire in 21 days, and do you have another means by which to convince a President I’m willing to bet you’d consider a socialist to allow the tax cuts to continue?

  • I am apolitical, Paul. I have no love for either party. These fiscal bookkeeping games are beyond my ability to grasp, nor anyone else’s. Administrations for decades have been fine-tuning tax policy and the result is always the same: the haves get more, the have-nots less. I have no solution, of course, and I don’t think it lies in any one philosophy, left or right. As a collector of Social Security solely, it has no effect on me either way and I have no inheritance to leave upon my demise.

    Actually, I do have one idea: Bring ALL the troops home, cut military spending in half, close 700 bases around the world and raise the draw bridges. We’d save $5 trillion and could have universal health care, buy a new car for everyone who didn’t get one from Oprah and still have enough left over for a pretty good weekend in Vegas.

Tight Money is a Tax on the Unemployed

Thursday, December 9, AD 2010

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.

Continue reading...

6 Responses to Tight Money is a Tax on the Unemployed

  • No, no, no.

    Tight money is not a tax on the unemployed in the same sense that inflation can act as a tax. Inflation is a tactic to the extent that it takes what a person currently has or currently earns. This is particularly the case when inflation and debt monitization go together, since then you are losing value while the government gains it.

    Now it is true that tight money can at times have a negative impact on employement. However, that is not a tax on the unemployed.

    Further, the conditions under which the money supply will be the restrictor on employement are I think very often over stated.

    Finally, the unemployed are almost universally living on either fixed incomes or savings, and thus price increases for essential goods and services will be particularly difficult to handle.

    Official inflation is not up, but most of the social security recipients I know are seeing considerable increases in many of the things they buy. The method used for calculating general inflation is not a good indicator of the cost of living for a retired person, particularly one living a modest lifestyle.

  • Disinflation is not necessarily lower than expected inflation. Disinflation is a falling inflation rate. It is possible people would expect inflation to fall, but it still would be disinflation.

  • BA: An economist you are not. That would be inflation tax, not tight money tax.

    And, how is money tight? Near zero % short term interest rates; reserve requirments were not raised; $3 trillion in cash is in banks and corporations; M1 and M2 not declining; etc.

    One problem is low loan demand, another is dire uncertainty caused by the anti-private-sector regime’s hideous anti-jobs/anti-growth legislations, policies, burgeoning regulations, and daily threats against productive people, er, right-wing extremists.

  • Maybe I’m missing something here – if we have deflation then the cost of basic necessities goes down; that works out as a tax break for the poor.

    Inflation is good for two sorts of people:

    1. Big government spenders who want to get out of paying their debts.

    2. Financial sharks who make money by manipulating markets rather than engaging in long term investing.

    We’ve had inflation since we create the Federal Reserve in 1913 and between that day and this, what sorts of institutions have flourished? Big government and “investment” banks which manipulate markets.

  • Mark,

    If you have deflation prices will fall, so that the same nominal wage translates into a higher real wage. On the other hand, it means that employers won’t have enough money to pay these higher real wages. If wages also fell this wouldn’t be a problem. However, it is difficult for nominal wages to fall, both because of long term contracts, and because people have a particular aversion to nominal wage cuts (even when they don’t translate into real wage cuts, as prices have also fallen). The result is that instead of cutting wages employers tend to cut employment. So the people who still have jobs benefit (they get the advantage of lower prices with the same nominal wage), but those who are unemployed do not (they get the benefit of lower prices too, but the fact they have lost their job more than outweighs this).

  • blackadder,

    That is a good point – minimum wage laws also make deflation difficult. Out here in Nevada, the minimum wage is $8.25 and hour. Quite simply, that is too much money for a burger-flipping job in 2010…thought if Bernanke gets his way, $8.25 might soon become the equivalent of 50 cents.

Leave it to Mel, the Beaver and the Shark

Thursday, December 9, AD 2010

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...

5 Responses to Leave it to Mel, the Beaver and the Shark

  • I’ve long thought that his character in “Conspiracy Theory” probably didn’t involve much acting on his part.

  • Hollywood elites have the cures for all your ills.

    Quick! Someone send one of them hand puppets to the White House.


  • As Leslie Nielsen would have said, “Nice beaver!” Poor Mel, descending from Passion of the Christ to this tripe. Looks like another paycheck movie for Jodie, too.

  • I stopped reading biographies of my favorite writers and artists many years ago, although I loved reading biographies when I was a teen. All too often I found out that the men and women whose work I so admired were complete jerks. I will always honor James Joyce for the final paragraphs of “The Dead” which are the among the loveliest sentences ever penned in English. When I read them in high school, I was simply swept away by their beauty. But Joyce himself? A sponger who was cruel to his mother and had a way of using his friends as doormats. (He certainly also had his good and generous moments.) But then, Paul Johnson recently wrote that the reason Chesterton does not attract biographers is because he seemed to have no shadows. Much more fun to write about Byron….

    Perhaps the reason those with artistic talent are so frequently glaringly imperfect when it comes to their personal lives is because if they were all tremendously gifted and paragons of virtue as well, they’d appear the rest of us to be almost god-like. As it is, they create – and sometimes create amazingly beautiful things – but are clearly not the Creator.

  • Joe, a film about a man struggling with mental illness isn’t tripe.