Monthly Archives: December 2010

TAC Bowl Pick’Em Contest

The bowl selections are out, and it will be Auburn v. Oregon in the BCS Title game. This is irrelevant, because the two biggest fan bases on this site will be meeting in Jerryworld on January 7th (that long. Seriously?) in the Cotton Bowl. I would talk trash about the Aggies, but there’s no need. Any school willing to be bought off by their biggest rival really isn’t worth the effort.

Ok, so in order to continue the college discussion at TAC, we’re doing a bowl pick’em game. There would be a prize but we have no money (unless you’d like to chip in…). You will get honor and glory…and perhaps the right to write a guest post on any college football topic of the winner’s choosing (I’ll work out the details and let you know if that’s happening).

The method is simple. We’re picking every bowl. The bowl begin on December 18th and to be consider you must have turned in your entry by the beginning of the New Mexico bowl, which is at 1 pm on the 18th. The list of all the bowls can be found here. Next week (hopefully on Monday), all the rankers here at TAC will put out their picks with their reasons.

So how do you turn in your picks? You can post them here in the comment section or you can post it on the wall of our facebook group (look for The American Catholic if you haven’t liked us yet). I suppose you could theoretically tweet it to TheAmCatholic, but that would probably be annoying. And by probably I mean definitely.

I’ll allow changes up until the the New Mexico Bowl, but if you do it in a different forum make sure I can identify you.

So send in your picks, and we’ll start the discussions and debates right away!

Google eBookstore

You are all probably aware of Google Books, but were you aware that the Google eBookstore has finally launched this week!

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Read seamlessly on your device – Access all your ebooks wirelessly, no matter where you go. Google eBooks stores your library in the digital cloud, so you can read all of your favorite books using just about any device with an Internet connection. Google eBooks is compatible with Android phones, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, web browsers and many supported eReaders. Whenever you open one of your books, we’ll pick up right where you left off.

Cost, flexibility & freedom are just a few of the reasons why Google will dominate the ebook market starting now. Amazon Kindle domination of the ebook market is over. The epic battle is between Apple vs. Google. Google will win. Google is a software based platform versus Apple which is a fixed/locked hardware one. Amazon Kindle and Apple are similar in this regard. They are both trying to capture and hold their market(s), but this attempt to do so will fail. People will always choose freedom if given the choice to do so. Various computer manufactures and book publishers prefer the open format of Google as well.

Google (and Sony) are linked into the national public library system where you can get ebooks and audiobooks for free…

Inside the Belly of the Beast

I have managed to come upon a fund-raising letter sent out by Planned Parenthood.  It is a fascinating look inside an insidious organization, and it’s quite revealing.  It is a paper copy, so I unfortunately can’t link to it (if only my PDF-making and linking skills were superior).  The intro is quite unintentionally hilarious in its over-the-top rhetoric.

Dear Friend,

Let’s be clear about what we’re facing in America today.  Over the past year, the divisions in this country have grown sharper, uglier, and increasingly dangerous.

Anti-choice, anti-women rhetoric that once was considered wildly extreme has seeped into the mainstream.  And, following the November 2nd elections, the national anti-choice movement is not just a potent lobbying force on Capitol Hill – anti-choice members have increased their ranks in Congress itself – a Congress soon to be led by a virulently anti-choice Speaker of the House.

Already, some of the Congressional opponents of women’s health [ed: I simply love this part.  We’ve managed to go from anti-choice to anti-woman, and now, anti- women’s health.  I wonder if this includes female opponents of abortion – whoops, I said the a-word.  But more on that in a moment.] are organizing to defund Planned Parenthood.  Their goal: make it virtually impossible for Planned Parenthood to play the critical role we have in millions of women’s lives.  [Of course we’re talking about federal funding of Planned Parenthood.  How many other organizations get to enjoy the comforts of tax-payer subsidies?  I mean if what they do is so critical and vital to women’s “health,” I’m sure they’d be able to survive solely off of the generosity of their millions of supporters, not to mention the fees paid by its victims clients.]

These developments threaten to undermine the work we do every day.  And they make it absolutely essential that you make Planned Parenthood a high priority in your personal year-end giving.  [Yes, certainly Planned Parenthood has got to be at the top of anyone’s list for Holiday-season giving.  Tricycle for little Bernadette?  Check.  Gifts for all my nieces and nephews?  Check.  A little extra for the Church?  Check.  Money to fund the murder of unborn children?  Triple check!!!]

And it goes on and on and on.  It’s actually quite predictable that Planned Parenthood would rely on scare-mongering to rally the base and solicit funds for . . . what exactly is it soliciting funds for?  Let’s look at some of the language used in the remainder of this lovely letter.

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Quote of the Week

So I’ve been reading Fintan O’Toole’s Enough is Enough: How to Build a New Republic on my Kindle recently. I know what you’re thinking: why would someone read a book about how to make Irish politics more left-wing when he is neither 1) Irish nor 2) left-wing? And it’s true, I have a problem; I need help.

But leave that aside for now. I’m currently on a section in which O’Toole rails against the large place the Catholic Church has in providing health care in Ireland. It seems that the Irish bishops have actually had the temerity to oppose increased government involvement in health care, as this would interfere with the Church’s role. For example, in 1948 the Bishops opposed a government plan to provide free health care to children and new mothers. O’Toole quotes Bishop Cornelius Lucey of Cork laying out the Church’s view on the part the state should play in health care:

What should we expect from the State? Help to enable us to help ourselves. Thus, instead of providing directly through its own agencies free housing for all, free health services for all, free school meals for all, etc., it should rather see to it that these are available and that people can afford to pay for them. Thus the real answer to the problem of the man who cannot afford medical care for his wife and children is not a free mother and child service for all, but a rise in wages – or cut in taxes – sufficient to enable him to pay.

Milton Friedman couldn’t have said it better himself.

I note this because you sometimes hear it said that American political culture is fundamentally protestant, and that Catholics who believe in limited government are somehow buying into protestant individualist notions. Correct me if I’m wrong, though, but my impression is that Ireland circa 1948 was pretty Catholic.

69 Years Ago

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My sainted father was 8 years old on December 7, 1941.  He told me how the next day men and older boys, ranging in age from 60-16, gathered in long lines in front of the recruiting offices in Paris, Illinois to sign up to fight.  I think those of us who weren’t alive at that time have difficulty grasping the impact Pearl Harbor had on the nation, as it launched the country on a crusade to break the power of the Empire of Japan and Nazi Germany. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

At The Dawn of 2011, Despite Bumps In the Road Catholic Orthodoxy Marches Onward

It seems every time a kerfuffle pops up in the Catholic Church, many in engage in hand wringing and doom and gloom scenarios. The latest occurred with Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks on condoms, which were wildly taken out of context in his interview with Peter Seewald turned book Light of the World. Following these remarks, some of us have probably been peppered with questions from family and friends as to what this means, and if the Church has changed her teachings in the arena of birth control. Those of us who have welcomed the new orthodoxy taking place within in the Church during the last ten or twenty years, probably have wished this latest kerfuffle had never taken place. However, this in no way shape of form means the orthodoxy movement has stalled. Oddly, I received some gleeful e-mails from some who surprisingly seemed ecstatic to point out that my book; The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism couldn’t possibly be correct. Hopefully, this article will point out that Catholic orthodoxy is alive, well and here to stay.

Church liberals who had long pilloried Pope Benedict XVI even before he was a cardinal, a simple university professor in the famed German town of Tubingen, seemed perplexed on how to treat the latest uproar. Some felt that he was moving in the right (or in their case left direction.) However, the more cynical among them knew that the Holy Father hadn’t changed a thing. They in turn left posts at the National Catholic Reporter decrying the German pontiff’s lack of pastoral ministry. Though I don’t know which saint said it, I am sure someone who was canonized uttered something along these lines; “God please save your Church from these overly pastoral pastors.”

The Holy Father was merely engaging in an abstract theological conversation much like a bunch of guys at a sports bar might conjecture what would happen if modern team x played historical team y for a mythical championship. Yet, the mainstream media along with some in the Catholic media went into a frenzy. The Holy Father was changing nothing in the Church’s teachings concerning birth control. The fault lie with those in the Vatican’s Public Relations Department in making sure the ubiquitous editor Giovanni Vian didn’t somehow put the Holy Father’s abstract scenarios into an excerpt for the L’Osservatore Romano. The comedy of errors in the Vatican could make one’s hair fallout.

Yet, I remember the words of a priest who once spent a considerable amount of time at the Holy See. He told me that the amount of miracles and jaw dropping examples of God’s Grace, that he personally witnessed behind the Vatican’s walls, still amazes him to this day. However, on the flip side the amount of sinister almost demonic style attacks amazes him to this day as well. The evil one knows where his primary target is located and he does his best to cause mayhem. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

A Nation Turns Its Lonely Eyes to You

In yet another effort to remain relevant to our political discourse, David Frum is partnering with William Galston to launch a new project that is sure to to revolutionize politics in much the same way the New Majority Frum Forum has.  It’s called “No Labels,” and I’ll let Frum describe it:

On Dec. 13, more than 1,000 citizens from the 50 states will convene in New York to change the odds. They are founding a movement – No Labels. Among them will be Democrats, Republicans and independents who are proud of their political affiliations and have no intention of abandoning them. A single concern brings them together: the hyper-polarization of our politics that thwarts an adult conversation about our common future. A single goal unites them: to expand the space within which citizens and elected officials can conduct that conversation without fear of social or political retribution.

Their movement rests on the belief that the real American majority wishes to reassert control over a political system mired in brain-dead partisanship. Those traveling to New York are going at their own expense. No Labels is gaining a thousand fans on Facebook each day. Citizens across the country are asking how they can get involved.

Frum is discouraged by our current political discourse and wants to turn things around:

Our political system does not work if politicians treat the process as a war in which the overriding goal is to thwart the adversary. At a time of national economic emergency, when Americans are clamoring for positive action, our government is routinely paralyzed by petty politics. Through the summer, as the economy teetered between recovery and stagnation, the Federal Reserve lacked a quorum because a single Republican senator took it upon himself to block Obama’s appointments. Republicans were only doing unto the Democrats as the Democrats had done unto them: In January 2008, as the country geared up for an epoch-making election, the Federal Election Commission lacked a quorum because one Democrat had put holds on President George W. Bush’s nominees.

Nor does the political system work if politicians treat members of the other party as enemies to be destroyed. Labeling legitimate policy differences as “socialist” or “racist” undermines democratic discourse.

Frum is understandably concerned.  →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Is Inflation Hiding?

There’s an old saying, which I’ve seen attributed to every from Daniel Patrick Moynihan, to the effect that while a man is entitled to his own opinion he is not entitled to his own facts. This saying would seem to be particularly relevant to current arguments about the Federal Reserve and monetary stimulus. As I noted in my last post, some commentators have been warning for years that the Fed’s actions would cause a return to the high inflation of the 1970s, if not to 1920s Germany. Yet more than two years on, this inflation has failed to materialize.

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Avoid the Doghouse

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My friend Rick Lugari brought this to my attention, and I pass it along each year to our male readers as an act of Christian charity.

Captain Blood and History

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I love history.  To me it is endlessly fascinating, the never ending chronicle of the triumphs and tragedies of mankind, filled with adventure, courage, cowardice, wisdom, folly and all those elements that make great novels.  I therefore find it  distressing that so many people think history is dull and are indifferent or even hostile to it.  Distressing but understandable.  Too many historians seem to write with the unstated desire to make their subject matter as dull and dreary as they can manage.  A useful corrective to this are good historical novels, which can often awake  in readers a love of history.  One of the great practioners of the craft was Rafael Sabatini.

Writing at the end of the Nineteenth and the first half of the Twentieth, Sabatini wrote with color and verve and his historical novels, the best known of which is Captain Blood, were historically accurate as well as being vastly entertaining. Children can often come to love history if it is demonstrated to them that it does not have to be dull, and a great historical novel can help accomplish this. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Weekend Fun Vids

Some fun stuff for the weekend.

The internet is truly a wonderful invention.  Without it, we’d be deprived of clips like these that make us weep for our civilization.

The first clip is a cover of the great Pink Floyd song “Comfortably Numb.”  If you can make it through without weeping, you are truly made of sterner stuff than me. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Veni Veni Emmanuel

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Something for the weekend.  Veni, Veni Emmanuel.  The words of this magnificent hymn are from the 9th century and the melody is from 15th century France. 

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It is Advent, so we are all hearing a lot of O Come, O Come Emmanuel, usually in English, at Mass, a song I have always loved.  The version above is from Casting Crowns, a Christian Rock group that my daughter is fond of.  I was stunned last year when I came across this, as I like it, and I usually refer to the music she enjoys as “animal killing music”! →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Can Assisting A Just Action Be Unjust?

One of the things which has always confused me a bit in regards to discussions of just war is when people seem to imply that while it might be just for Country A to resist the attack of Country B, it is unjust for Country C to assist Country A against Country B. It seems to me that thi effectly amounts to arguing that assisting someone in performing a just action is itself unjust, which seems hard to credit at a principled level, though there certainly might be ways you could attempt to assist which would be unjust.

So, for instance, I’ve heard it argued at times that while it might have been just for the South Vietnamese to resist the invasion of the North Vietnamese, it was clearly unjust for the US to get involved in the Vietnam War.

Now, I could see it as being arguable that it was highly unwise for the US to get involved in the war, but it seems hard to understand how it would be unjust, in principle, to assist South Vietnam in defending itself against North Vietnam’s attack.

Is there a principled fashion in which one can argue that it is unjust to assist a country engaged in a just war? If so, what is the argument?

If so, is this a principle which only applies to countries, or are there also examples of personal interactions in which it is just for someone to perform an action, but unjust for another person to assist in that action?

What Faith Was That, Governor?

 

Pat Quinn is the Governor of the State of Illinois.  He was Lieutenant Governor under Rod Blagojevich and took over after Blago was impeached and convicted by the State Legislature.  Quinn bucked the Republican tide this year and won election to a four year term, narrowly defeating pro-life Republican Bill Brady.  In that campaign Quinn emphasized that he is a pro-abort.

Pat Quinn claims to be a Roman Catholic.  The State Legislature this week passed a civil unions (pretend marriage) bill for homosexuals.  Quinn has vowed to sign it.

Gov. Pat Quinn – who campaigned on the issue, lobbied members and was on the floor of the House for much of Tuesday’s debate – lauded the House’s action. Quinn said he would sign the bill if it passes the Senate, where a vote is expected today.

“My religious faith animates me to support this bill,” Quinn, a Catholic, told reporters after the vote. “I think, as a matter of conscience, this was the right vote.”

 

The Bishop of Springfield, Thomas Paprocki, wasted no time correcting the Governor:

After the Illinois House of Representatives approved legislation that would require the state to recognize same-sex unions, Governor Pat Quinn was quoted as saying, “My religious faith animates me to support this bill.” He did not say what religious faith that would be, but it certainly is not the Catholic faith. If the Governor wishes to pursue a secular agenda for political purposes, that is his prerogative for which he is accountable to the voters. But if he wishes to speak as a Catholic, then he is accountable to Catholic authority, and the Catholic Church does not support civil unions or other measures that are contrary to the natural moral law.

The Governor met the Bishop’s rebuke with a shrug of indifference:  Asked about the bishop’s statement, Quinn said, “I follow my conscience. My conscience is not kicking me in the shins today.” ']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

More Money, Less Problems

If the case for increased monetary stimulus could be summed up in one picture, it would be the above chart. For the last several decades, nominal spending in the U.S. has increased at a fairly steady rate, and businesses and individuals acted in the expectation that this trend would continue. Contracts were written, debts undertaken, and business ventures began under the assumption that there would be roughly 2% inflation per year. The lower total spending means that there is not enough money flowing through the system to fulfill these contracts and pay back these debts, which the result that you get lots of defaults, unemployment, and less economic growth. Monetary stimulus, such as the Fed’s QEII program, is aimed at returning nominal spending to trend, leading to lower unemployment, fewer defaults, and higher economic growth. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

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