The Home Mortgage Deduction

Tuesday, October 25, AD 2011

There’s some consternation in conservative (and other) circles about tax reform proposals that would eliminate the home mortgage interest deduction.  The deduction is eliminated in most flat tax proposals, though it is not eliminated in the plan Governor Perry laid out today.

It seems to me that, at least in the abstract, a tax reform measure that lowered rates and eliminated such deductions would be fair.  To me all these credits are just a form of social engineering through the tax code.  Believe me, I benefit from these credits and so it would probably be against my self interest to see them go.  On the other hand, my overall rate would decline, so it wouldn’t be a catastrophic change for me.

At any rate, opponents of eliminating this deduction categorically state that it would depress home sales and force others into bankruptcy.  This seems . . .  overstated.  The deduction certainly had no influence on my decision to buy a home, and even if I lost the deduction without a concurrent rate decrease it would hardly force me out onto the streets.  Believe me, I like getting that extra money back, but it isn’t that much money.

Maybe I’m missing something here and the deduction has a much greater influence on people’s decisions to buy or rent than I know.  And maybe I’m just one of those “fat cats” Mitt Romney thinks are the ones who would be the sole beneficiaries under Perry’s plan.  But I fail to see how this simple credit or deduction is that much of a factor in home buying decisions.

I would love feedback on this one.

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7 Responses to The Home Mortgage Deduction

  • I suspect folks don’t think much about the actual economics involved; all the folks who sell houses insist that it’s a big problem, so they trust that those folks know what they’re talking about.
    (Me, I’m not dumb enough to buy property that the county will keep charging me a couple of hundred bucks a year on for eternity, especially not since the local folks decided they can charge retroactive taxes, and charge plots at maximum market value, even if that means it would be subdivided to the max. So we never got to the point of figuring out if we should believe folks who are trying to sell us stuff.)

  • Paul, I agree in the abstract. But I would be reluctant to do away with the deductions now when real estate values are already under such distress.

  • But I guess that gets to the heart of my question about the issue – leaving the world of abstraction, would there actually be an impact in the housing market, and if so, why when the credit is ultimately not that significant as a percent of overall salary, even for a middle income family?

  • These sorts of “gut feeling” economic policymaking are more commonly found on the left and are usually wrong.

    Even if just 5% of distressed homeowners change their behavior that’s at least half a million people.

    Lord, get rid of the mortgage deduction, but not yet.

  • The economic cost of home ownership increases if interest is not deductible. This depresses demand, which will depress price. It is inevitable.
    That said, once pricing stabilizes, it would be good tax policy to phase out mortgage interest deductions over time.

  • I would see two effects –

    1. Anything increasing the cost of home ownership will have some depressing effect on the demand;

    2. Land ownership will be more beneficial for those who can rent out their property because the interest would still be deductible as an operating expense. Seems this would increase the likelihood of fewer people owning the property in which they live. Whether that’s good or bad, I don’t know. Our communities are becoming fairly rootless as it is, my guess is this would only increase the phenomenon (home ownership being a pretty big community root for most people).

  • The home purchase decision is driven by the monthly payment in relation to available income. The mortgage interest deduction affects that.

    Tax policy solely should be implemented to efficiently raising revenues to fund the government’s legitimate needs.

    The money you earn (by the Grace of God) is the fruit of your labor and it is your money. Too many people have the belief that it’s the government’s money and the regime allows you to keep more or less or its money based on tax policies like the personal exemption, deductions, credits, the Alternative Minimum Tax, etc.

    The personal exemption (PE) is my tax bugaboo. I view it as the gov’s determination of the maximum amount, per taxpayer and per each of his/her dependents, of your fruits of labor that the rulers allow you to keep. If the PE had been indexed (from the 1930’s) to inflation, it would be about $10,000 (I may be exaggerating) per family member. But, that is anathema. It absolutely would place family ahead of the government money needed to finance Obama’s, Pelosi’s and Reid’s re-elections.

That’s What the Bully Pulpit Is For

Tuesday, October 25, AD 2011

Peter Wehner’s getting all nervous because certain Republican candidates are saying things that he disapproves of:

One of the GOP presidential candidates (Ron Paul) believes the United States is responsible for triggering the 9/11 attacks. Another (Rick Santorum) has said he would use the presidential bully pulpit to speak out against the dangers of contraception and its role in the moral decline of America (“One of the things that I will talk about that no president has talked about before is I think the dangers of contraception in this country, the sexual liberty idea and many in the Christian faith have said, you know contraception is OK. It’s not OK because it’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”)

Yet another (Herman Cain), has dramatically shifted his positions on negotiating with terrorists and legalizing abortion within a matter of hours, after having said he would (contra the Constitution) impose a religious test on Muslim Americans. And nowGovernor Rick Perry has indicated he’s not quite sure whether Barack Obama was born in the USA, citing Donald Trump as an authority.

Some of this is correct, but the rest is a mess.  For instance, Perry’s comments seem almost totally aimed at tweaking Obama and nothing more.  Even Paul’s 9/11 theories are a bit more nuanced than Wehner suggests.  As for Rick Santorum, I say good for him.  As Mike Potemera points out, it’s rather unlikely that any conservative president will be “calling for the hiring of millions of contraception cops as a solution to joblessness.”  Santorum would be using the office of president to discuss an important cultural issue.  It’s nothing more than what Michelle Obama has done to encourage efforts to fight against obesity.  There’s nothing wrong with using the bully pulpit to discuss social issues and raise awareness so long as you are not actually calling for legislation that impedes personal liberty.

Santorum continues to be one of the few candidates who gets it, in that he understands the nexus between social and economic issues.  While others have concentrated on narrow technocratic solutions, Santorum has really been the only one to explain how the breakdown of the family is one of the contributing causes of our economic rot.  That’s not to say, by the way, that certain tax and fiscal policies are wrong.  In the end, you can’t quite dictate improved sexual mores through executive fiat , so we do need purely economic solutions to the current mess we’re in.  But at least Santorum is willing to engage in conversation about social issues.  Okay, so perhaps he does so in a manner that comes off as just a bit whiny, but that doesn’t dilute the importance of his message.

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2 Responses to That’s What the Bully Pulpit Is For

  • Thank you for saying this! I will take a winy president who understands his country and its root problems over a professional public speaker who thinks everything is about racism any day! I still say, Santorum 2012!

  • Santorum is at least getting the message out there. Myriads of folks have never even considered that contraception may not be healthy, physically, spiritually or emotionally. At least, as long as he lasts, there is no denying his passion and he speaks the truth.

T. Coddington Van Voorhees VII: Because Romney Just Isn’t Enough of a Rino

Tuesday, October 25, AD 2011


Why settle for Romney when we can have a Rino’s Rino? Iowahawk announces that  T. Coddington Van Voorhees VII has thrown  his elegant top hat into the ring and is running for the Republican nomination.

Who, you may ask, is T. Coddington Van Voorhees VII?

Simply put, a man born to the conservative saddle. The only scion of the legendary swashbuckling conservative editor / author / bon vivant T. Coddington Van Voorhees VI, I have since my earliest days honed a conservatism forged in the fires of intellectual combat, stoked by the bellows of classic education, and tempered in the cooling waters of good breeding. Even before matriculating at East Hampton Country Daycare, I was thrust headlong into heady intellectual debates of postwar American politics. Oh, how I cherish those moments, bouncing astride my father’s knee, as he held postprandial court on the patio with Long Island Sound’s most scrupulous Republicans – like Newport GOP chairman Z. Pilastor Fennewick, Greenwich GOP legend Boylston McInernery, and East Hampton’s “hostess with the mostest,” Modesty Crabwater. And although Dad had his differences with each, I admired the elegant grace with which these Republicans could command an Adirondack chair or accept electoral defeat. It is that very same grace I shall endeavor to bring back to the Grand Old Party.

But such early confabulations with political luminaries do not mean my boyhood was spent in anemic bookishness. Quite to the contrary. As an aide-de-camp of Teddy Roosevelt, Great Granddad T. Coddington IV spent an entire summer sabbatical from the Harvard crew team ensuring that TR’s accoutrements would be gleaming in the Caribbean sun as he charged up San Juan Hill, and subsequent generations of Van Voorheeses would likewise be hewn to the Roughrider spirit. As a growing lad I was expertly tutored in the manly arts of sailing, badminton, and, most pointedly, horsemanship. Among my teammates on the Montauk Crimsoneers Little League Polo squad, I quickly earned a reputation as a player who would never be thrown by the same horse twice – no matter how many trips to the stable for a better-behaved horse it might take.

In my adolescence I developed a fierce precocious spirit of political independence, earning me a spot at the prestigious Alpenhaus Finishing School in Zurich following a series of contretemps with my father while he was in the throes of his Goldwater madness. It was there I would prove my foreign policy mettle by networking with lads who would go on to become Europe’s most influential policy makers, such as my former Chalet-mate and current EU Barley Pricing Minister, Viscount Kloonkie Von Wallensheim. Thanks to those school ties and my natural gift for languages, you can rest assured that when as president I am called on to negotiate a trade or currency support agreement with a Continental leader it will be in the spirit of bonhomie – and in his mother tongue. 

After a brief mind-expanding hiatus at a Punjabi ashram in the waning days of the tumultuous Sixties, I returned to my beloved Les Etats Unis to claim my Harvard birthright and matriculate in the rough-and-tumble of conservative political punditry. Through luck, pluck, and talent, I soon secured a position at my father’s journal, the National Topsider, advancing quickly from assistant Opera Critic to Subscription Complaint Manager and finally to Columnist-at-Large. I soon found myself in great demand as a public intellectual, serving as a frequent spokesmen and apologist for the conservative cause on public television. This in turn led to two appointments in Republican administrations, where I proudly served as deputy speechwriter for John Dean and chief menu editor for Mrs. Reagan’s chef.

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Drone Killings and the Slippery Slope

Monday, October 24, AD 2011

There have been worries expressed on both sides of the political spectrum about the use of drone killings against Al Qaeda, and more especially so as it’s come out that the Obama Administration has a secret “kill list” which even includes American citizens who are working with Al Qaeda overseas (as was the recently killed Anwar al-Awlaki).

It seems to be that there is a legitimate worry here. In a sense, drones are the modern American equivalent of pillars of the Victorian British Empire such as Charles “Chinese” Gordon — gallivanting about the world to put down disturbances wherever they occur. However, they’re also relative unobtrusive and cheap. Thus, I would imagine that there is more danger of them being used to embroil us in conflicts that we really don’t want to be in. (Which, come to that, is more or less what Gordon managed to do for the British Empire on an occasion or two.) While I think that US hegemonic power, like that of others such as the British and Romans in the past, is generally a positive force in the world, power is often a temptation to over reaching. Putting international intervention only a joystick away, without any need for congressional approval or oversight, seems to put just a bit too much power in the hands of an already imperial presidency.

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5 Responses to Drone Killings and the Slippery Slope

  • I would have to agree. After all, political assassination has been around a lot longer than drones, and assassination (at least in the literal sense) of political opponents has not been a regular feature of American domestic politics. I don’t see how drones, which would be very easily traceable to the occupant of the White House as he is the only one with access to them, would make assassinating political opponents more attractive.

  • Now for the brighter side. I’m amazed that some defense corporation has not come up with an armed mini helicopter ( based on the toys one sees e.g. at Brookstone stores) that could enter a building prior to infantry doing so and do room to room fighting before humans risked ambush. Cost per shot down mini drones is probably the reason in battle. But such could be used by police in high crime areas with stun gun technology attached. The precinct sees a mugging or rape….they swoop in remotely. The prescence of surveilling mini helicopters itself would reduce crime due to photos stored of faces and cars involved. Imagine such a cop copter buzzing a heavy drug corner.

  • Sabelius says she is @ war with the pro-lifers. I don’t know…perhaps she has the president’s ear when it comes to sidewalk counselors.

  • Oh the irony. John Walker Lindh is one lucky dude that he was captured during Bush’s tenure.

How to Lose Blog Readership

Monday, October 24, AD 2011

There are plenty of tips on the internet on how to build a blog audience.  Here are some tips on how to lose a blog audience:

10.  Be nitpicky-If someone deigns to leave a comment on your blog, make certain to correct their grammar, pick apart their argument ruthlessly over minor points and never, absolutely never, address the main point they are making.

9.    Never explain-If you want to post on the Albigensian Crusade, jump right into the subject and give no explanatory background.  If your readers are ignorant on the subject, tough.

8.     Ignorance Doesn’t Matter-Just because you are bone ignorant on a subject doesn’t mean you can’t have an opinion!   Write what you want to, no matter how factually deprived it is, and let your readers sort things out.  Life is too short for research and fact checking.

7.      Use your blog as a substitute for therapy-Scream at your readers if you are feeling miserable, and lose your temper over small matters with your commenters.  You will feel better and that is all that counts.  If no one reads your blog, that is a small price to pay.

6.      Spellcheck?-Spellcheck and concerns about grammar are for dweebs.  If your readers worry about such things, who needs them!

5.     Humor is verboten!-Blogging is a deadly serious business and if what you write causes one of your readers to crack even the teeniest of smiles you have failed.

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5 Responses to How to Lose Blog Readership

  • #2 is possible? I have to force myself not to respond to absolutely everything, even when I have nothing to say….

  • As the cowboy said when asked if he believed in infant baptism Foxfier, “Believe in it? I seen it done!” Sadly there are plenty of examples of blogs where there is very little give and take between the poster and the commenters. Now, often times I cannot respond quickly in my threads due to being in court or otherwise snowed under at the office, but it is a rare thread where I do not eventually try to respond to most of the comments.

  • I’m pretty bad at number 2. The problem is if I see a comment and I don’t have time to respond at the time I see it, I tend to forget about it. Sometimes a commenter says something that I just don’t have anything to add to. That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the feedback, but I have less and less time to engage people the way that I would like.

  • Don’t just invoke #9 for difficult or obscure topics. Use it for blog references, too. Start every article with something like, “Al’s response to Barbara’s analysis of Charles’s article misses the point as usual.” Don’t let people know who Al and Barbara are, and NEVER link back to Charles. Remember, it’s every reader’s obligation not just to read your blog, but to read every blog that you read.

  • Paul, I think you normally do a first rate job of responding to comments, certainly better than I do on my more arduous day at the law mines. 🙂

    Pinky, that is very true. Some blogs become unreadable over time because they become concentrated on inside blog baseball, and consumed with personalities. In small does that is not fatal to a blog, but when it takes up most blog posts it becomes intensely boring expcept for the blog regulars. Not giving links to articles under discussion is anathema to me, and is a guarantee that I will not finish reading a blog post.

Teach One Day And Get A Pension

Sunday, October 23, AD 2011

2 Responses to Teach One Day And Get A Pension

Shooting the Messenger

Sunday, October 23, AD 2011



As intensely frustrated as I get at the idiocy frequently shown by government here in the US, for truly high handed over the top governmental lunacy we can rarely compete with the Europeans:

This week alone has seen a ratings downgrade for Spain as well as a threat by agencies to review France’s AAA status — and the markets have taken notice. Once again, it would seem, ratings agencies are making things difficult for European countries.

Now, the European Union is considering doing something about it.

European Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier is considering a move to ban the agencies from publishing outlook reports on EU countries entangled in a crisis, according to a report in Thursday’s issue of the Financial Times Deutschland newspaper.

In an internal draft of a reform to an EU law applying to ratings agencies obtained by the paper, Barnier proposes providing the new EU securities authority, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), with the right to “temporarily prohibit” the publication of forecasts of a country’s liquidity.

The European Commission is particularly concerned about countries that are negotiating financial aid — for example from the euro rescue backstop fund, the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), or the International Monetary Fund (IMF). A ban could prevent a rating from coming at an “inopportune moment” and having “negative consequences for the financial stability of a country and a possible destabilizing effect on the global economy,” the draft states.

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A Second Review of the Grand Army

Sunday, October 23, AD 2011





Recently I have been reading of the Grand Review of the Armies which occurred in Washington DC on May 23 and May 24, 1865.  This was a victory parade of Grant’s Army of the Potomac and Sherman’s Army.  I was struck by a banner that was spread on the capitol dome those two days: “The Only National Debt We Can Never Pay, Is The Debt We Owe To Our Victorious Soldiers.”   Indeed.    So the boys in blue enjoyed two days of being cheered as heroes and saviors of their country, before they were demobilized and went back to their homes, the War left behind to fading memories and imperishable history.

However, there were silent victors who could not march in the Grand Review, and humorist Bret Harte remembered them in this poem:

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Mercury the Winged Messenger

Saturday, October 22, AD 2011


Something for the weekend.  Gustav Holst’s Mercury, the winged messenger, part of The Planets.  Some things become so popular that we tend to take them for granted.  I am afraid that is what has happened to some degree with The Planets.  It is a magnificent piece of music and places Holst in the top ten list of composers of all time in my estimation.

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8 Responses to Mercury the Winged Messenger

  • Of course you have a right to your taste and listening to bad music is no sin, but it’s unfortunate that so many solidly orthodox Catholic commentators and so many genuinely conservative political commentators fail to see the power of modernism in the arts. Can’t you see how destructive Picasso and Duchamp have been in the visual arts? These formless orchestral composers are the same. “Formlessness” we have been told, is heretical. Likewise are rebellions against form.
    I’m not saying never listen to the Beatles (it’d be like saying never play bridge), but don’t try to tell me these cerebral, commercialized constructs from the minds of modern composers are worthy of my attention as art representing truth.

  • Noted and rejected. Arguments over taste in music are as barren as arguments over whether chocolate ice cream is superior to vanilla ice cream. I have never subscribed to the idea that trends in art usually have much impact on political developments or developments in popular morality. Contra Plato I think the relationship is ordinarily the other way around. I do wish to thank you however for making a negative comment about Holst’s The Planets. It does reassure me that no matter what the subject is, someone in blogland will take a contrarian view.

  • I have never subscribed to the idea that trends in art usually have much impact on political developments or developments in popular morality.

    I’ll take a slightly more middle route, and say that art grows on what’s going on, and can slightly sway it; kind of like a climbing vine on a tree. If the tree is really young, the vine can make it turn, if the tree is weak, it might kill off bits, and if the vine is in the right place and strong enough it can defend the tree from bad influences. It’s not so much the art doing it, as the things the art is about and that the being around art fosters having an effect.

    I wouldn’t call this “formless” by any means! It’s not directly narrative, but it’s still got a beautiful flow to it– if I had to think of a visual version, it’s like those lovely fractal images.

    What’s the purpose of art? I’d say it’s mainly to feed our God-given hunger for beauty, with a secondary purpose of conveying information, and probably some others in there. A still life isn’t superior to a portrait from memory isn’t superior to a non-fantastic scene from imagination isn’t superior to paintings of angels simply because of what the subject matter is.

  • *laughs* As usual, my mom put it shorter:
    “the way you play is the way you live.”

  • Yeah, I’m confused. If one is going to go after “formlessness” in art, Holst doesn’t seem like the guy to go after. For mid-20th century composers, he’s pretty conservative. Maybe not quite as much so as Ralph Vaughn-Williams (my own favorite modern composer) but really pretty darn conservative.

  • Hmmm. Browsing around through Holst on YouTube I stumbled across a piece I remember listening to numerous times as a kid, from my dad’s music collection, but had forgotten about.

    Ain’t no formlessness there…

  • While we’re on the topic of modern, not-really-art, there’s a reason that my husband has a day or two’s worth of game music:

  • When railing about modern music, Holst is probably not the guy I’d latch onto. Besides I can say as a clarinet player that the Holst First Suite for Band is one of the most fun band pieces to play. We are actually treated as a worthy instrument and not a violin substitute.

What inspires much of the practice of Catholic social justice in the United States?

Friday, October 21, AD 2011

The focus of many U.S. Catholic social justice advocates is directed at atrocities being perpetrated in African nations like Darfur and Somalia. At the same time, their disproportionate lack of attention to the actual atrocities that Muslims are perpetrating upon Catholics in nations like Egypt, Nigeria, and Afghanistan is puzzling.

This lack of attention raises the question: What is the advocates’ true inspiration?

Is it Catholic social justice inspired by the virtue of charity, as Pope Benedict XVI discussed in Deus caritas est?  Or, a Marxist socio-political-economic critique of capitalism?

Consider the fact that the U.S. State Department has announced in its latest International Religious Freedom Report (IRFR) that not one public Christian church is left in Afghanistan, the last public Christian church being razed in March 2010. IRFR also reports that “there were no Christian schools in the country.”


Muslim Taliban reading the charge that
led to the beheading an Afghan Christian,
Abdul Latif

That’s one decade after the United States first invaded and overthrew the Islamist Taliban regime in Afghanistan. That’s also after $440B of taxpayers’ money has been spent to support Afghanistan’s new government. And that’s to say nothing about the more than 1.7k U.S. military personnel who have died serving in Afghanistan.

According to IRFR:

There is no longer a public Christian church; the courts have not upheld the church’s claim to its 99-year lease, and the landowner destroyed the building in March [2010]….The government’s level of respect for religious freedom in law and in practice declined during the reporting period, particularly for Christian groups and individuals. Negative societal opinions and suspicion of Christian activities led to targeting of Christian groups and individuals, including Muslim converts to Christianity. The lack of government responsiveness and protection for these groups and individuals contributed to the deterioration of religious freedom.

The religious situation in Afghanistan is such that most Christians in that nation now “refuse to state their beliefs or gather openly to worship.”

In addition, Christian aid from the international community is being redirected to aid the “[cash] strapped government budget.”  According to IRFR:

There were no explicit restrictions for religious minority groups to establish places of worship and training of clergy to serve their communities, however, very few public places of worship exist for minorities due to a strapped government budget.

The burning of a Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt

No doubt, these atrocities represent a violation of the United Nations’ Declaration on Human Rights, an issue that should be of especial concern to Catholic social justice advocates. Yet, they remain stunningly silent about much of this Muslim-inspired atrocity against Christians, in general, and Catholics, in particular.


Could it be that their intent is purely secular—social, political, and economic in its inspiration—what they call “systemic injustice” that is anti-capitalistic?

To read the State Department’s latest International Religious Freedom Report concerning Afghanistan, click on the following link:

To learn more about the atrocities begin perpetrated by Muslims upon Christians and Catholics, click on the following link:

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5 Responses to What inspires much of the practice of Catholic social justice in the United States?

  • Pingback: What inspires much of the practice of Catholic social justice in the … | Harp and Bowl Worship
  • Afghanistan is a country suffering considerable internal disorder and its domestic Christian population is miniscule. Regrettable though their situation is, it is but one tile in that unhappy mosaic. The situation in Egypt is qualitatively different. It has an obtrusive and antique Christian minority that has been subject in recent decades to a persecution that is (if not novel) something not seen in centuries.

  • Please provide proof for the statement: “The focus of many U.S. Catholic social justice advocates is directed at atrocities being perpetrated in African nations like Darfur and Somalia. At the same time, their disproportionate lack of attention to the actual atrocities that Muslims are perpetrating upon Catholics in nations like Egypt, Nigeria, and Afghanistan is puzzling.”

  • “Please provide proof….”

    That’s pretty simple. Just do what I did. Search U.S. Catholic social justice websites, especially those “peace and justice centers” located on the campuses of the nation’s Catholic universities and colleges. Then, make a tally of the “causes” they are advocating and the service projects in which they are involved.

    That’s the proof.

“You’re Headed For A One Term Presidency”

Friday, October 21, AD 2011

5 Responses to “You’re Headed For A One Term Presidency”

  • I don’t know that opening schools for longer periods is teh solution – it’s not that enough time isn’t spent in school, it’s that the quality of education sucks. Schools are just too political, too much time spent on foolish subjects, many textbooks are simplypoorly written, etc. That has nothing to do with the amount of time spent.

  • I think longer school hours are a good idea in certain communities. They have worked well in places where kids don’t have any supervision after school like poorer inner cities. Kids can get into a lot of trouble between 3 and 6. I don’t see a one size fits all answer to our education problems. I agree whole heartedly about empowering principals.

  • If the problem is a diminishing ability to produce a globally competitive labor force, longer school days/years is part of the solution.

    As for quality, putting aside the family variable which is a much larger social problem, the biggest factor is teachers. Schools need to attract highly qualified and highly motivated teachers. Jobs is right again here that the ability to fire bad teachers is important. I would also like to see more variability in classroom sizes. At risk students should be in small classrooms. Self-motivated students should have no trouble learning in a lecture hall. This, it seems to me, would be a better way to allocate resources.

  • I heard this weekend that there is an app for iPhones that make Steve Jobs a saint. It’s called iBA fi.

ObamaCare and That Silly Constitution

Friday, October 21, AD 2011

Thus far the 6th Judicial Circuit has ruled that ObamaCare is constitutional and the Eleventh Judicial Ciruit has ruled that ObamaCare is unconstitutional.  The issue is headed to the US Supreme Court, with the ruling probably being handed down next year in the midst of what promises to be one of the bitterest Presidential contests in our nation’s history.  How was a measure of such dubious constitutionality passed by Congress?  Former Representative Phil Hare (D. Ill.) explains:

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19 Responses to ObamaCare and That Silly Constitution

  • I think ObamaCare is unconstitutional but to deflate some of the partisan rhetoric:

    1. An individual mandate may be unconstitutional but single-payer Medicare-style universal health care is not. Neither is an employer mandate. The Constitution isn’t as limiting of federal power as many opponents of ObamaCare make it out to be.

    2. Most Republicans supported an individual mandate in the 90’s and didn’t think it unconstitutional. Perry, Romney, Newt, and Huntsman supported it. To Santorum’s credit, he opposed the mandate even back then. As did Ron Paul, and presumably Gary Johnson. I doubt Bachmann has any record of a position from back then. Cain opposed Clinton’s employer mandate but I don’t think he took any position on an individual mandate.

    3. So raising taxes is bad, in part, because more tax revenue makes government bigger. But lowering taxes increases tax revenue which makes government bigger. Am I getting that right?

  • Raising tax rates almost always has a negative impact on the economy, just as slashing rates almost always has a positive impact on the economy. As the Obama debacle illustrates, you can have a government growing by leaps and bounds with a poor economy. Best to slash rates, grow the economy, and elect people who understand that growing the government is bad for the economy and almost everyone else, except for those who get a paycheck from Leviathan.

  • Yes, Leviathan from federal to state to municipal and the social ‘welfare’ beneficiaries.
    I have hope for the objectivity of the U. S. Supreme Court because they have read the U.S. Constitution and have sworn to uphold it, unlike the sworn in politicians whose party politics replace their objectivity, common sense, reason, and dangerously shorten attention spans.

  • RR

    Ref your #3

    The amount of money a tax raises is determined by the rate times how often the taxable event occurs.

    Revenue received = tax rate x taxable events
    It makes no difference what the tax rate zero taxable events produces zero revenue.

    If a one thousand Whatits are sold a year at 1 one dollar each , and people will only spend one thousand dollars on whatits, and we decide to impose a tax of 10 cents per whatist we do not receive $100 dollars in taxes we receive about $91.00 in revenue. A second hike of 10 cents will produce an addition 83.30 in additional revenue. Eventually additional increments of increase will result in a actual decrease in income as the number of whatsits being taxed are so few.

    Of course in the there are complications like tax evasion, changing behavior to avoid the tax. etc which speed up the process. The citizens may buy untaxed black market whatits or they buy a substitute or just stop using whatits.

    Don’s point, and I think he is correct, that we are past the equlibrium point – most of our tax rates are at the point where an i8ncrease will produce declining revenue – they suppress to much taxable economic activity. Lowering the tax rates will produce more taxable economic activity thus raising revenues.

    Of course lowering enough would pass the equilibrium point in the other direction and revenues would start to go down, which brings up whole different set of issues.

    Basically Obamacare will make the government bigger with no hope of producing the revenues to pay for it.

    Hank’s Eclectic Meanderings

  • Don’s point, and I think he is correct, that we are past the equlibrium point – most of our tax rates are at the point where an i8ncrease will produce declining revenue

    Marginal tax rates were not at that point 30 years ago and they are lower today.

  • About 30 years Presidnt Reagan lowered the Income tax rates. For the next several years income tax revenues increase far larger than anybody expected.

    This is what one would expect if the tax rate was set above equilibrium. (SInce Congress increased the budget even more the deficit went up, but that is a different number.)

    Listen to the news, the ways governemntal bodies are trying to figure out new ways to get revenue is symptomatic of a situation where they no a simple increase of existing taxes will not produce the increased funds necessary.

    I could be wrong, but when the politicians with good budget experts working for them act like the existing structure is past equilibrium, it probably is.

    Hank’s Eclectic Meanderings

  • Hank, literally every economist disagrees with you. But that wasn’t even my point. If we accept the word of some Republicans that we are on the wrong side of the Laffer Curve, lowering tax rates will increase the size of government and raising taxes will shrink government. That isn’t to say that they should support higher taxes but they cannot simultaneous preach that we’re on the wrong side of the Laffer Curve and that lowering taxes will shrink government.

  • Long before Dr Laffer became famous and popularized the concept, of which the oldest surviving descriptions date from the 1400’s, I took the courses on government budgeting and finance. One fo the prof’s wore his left leaning ideas on his sleeve the other the his righ leaning ideas. But on this they both taught the same thing.

    Dr. Laffer applied the the theory to income tastes and produced results that gored a lot of sacred cows.

    Of course the equilibrium point varies with tax and over time but our political leaders, not wanting to cut spending, are acting like they know, public statements aside, that they know they cannot produce significant revenue from the existing tax structure and are looking for new sources.

    Hank’s Eclectic Meanderings

  • There just are not enough bullets.

  • “Hank, literally every economist disagrees with you.”

    The more important point is there are no credible economists who disagree with him.

    “That isn’t to say that they should support higher taxes but they cannot simultaneous preach that we’re on the wrong side of the Laffer Curve and that lowering taxes will shrink government.”

    While there is a correlation between the size of the fed gov and its gross revenues they are not one in the same. Equivocating on this issue will cause all kinds of errors in logic as conveniently demonstrated by the post.

  • The more important point is there are no credible economists who disagree with him.

    Disagree with him on what point? Dr. Laffer contended that the marginal tax rates at which revenue collections would be maximized was lower than was generally assumed, ergo reductions in marginal rates would lead to higher revenue collections. He was wrong with regard to the marginal rates in effect in 1980 and he would be wrong if he advanced a similar thesis with today’s much lower marginal rates.

    About 30 years Presidnt Reagan lowered the Income tax rates. For the next several years income tax revenues increase far larger than anybody expected.

    For the record, the ratio of nominal federal revenue collections (from personal taxes) to nominal personal income was as follows:

    1973 9.87%
    1974 10.35%
    1975 9.04%
    1976 9.57%
    1977 9.94%
    1978 10.28%
    1979 10.91%
    1980 10.86%
    1981 11.25%
    1982 10.66%
    1983 9.69%
    1984 9.22%
    1985 9.61%
    1986 9.47%
    1987 10.00%
    1988 9.52%
    1989 9.91%
    1990 9.70%
    1991 11.66%
    1992 11.42%
    1993 11.61%
    1994 11.75%
    1995 12.00%
    1996 12.62%
    1997 13.23%
    1998 13.64%
    1999 14.00%

    Revenue collections as a share of personal income declined each year Mr. Reagan’s preferred legislation was being implemented and the pro-cyclical aspect of revenue collections was noticeably weaker during the period running from 1985-90 than was the case during the analogous periods the business cycles preceding and succeeding. Please note that revenue collections as a share of personal income did not decline after the tax increases enacted in 1990 and 1993.

  • Laffer was right that the Laffer Curve exists. I’m not aware of any economist, on the left or the right, who thinks we’re currently on the wrong side of the curve.

  • Art Decco

    The question is about actual cash recieved, not the ratio of nominal federal revenue collections (from personal taxes) to nominal personal income. If you haave it it would be intersting to see.

  • “Revenue collections as a share of personal income declined”


    Of what significance is this ratio when total federal revenues increased?

  • “I’m not aware of any economist…who thinks we’re currently on the wrong side of the curve”

    That’s because there is no report which asks and documents the results of asking economists their perception of where federal income falls on the Laffer Curve.

    Of course their are plenty who think taxes should increase/decrease but that still doesn’t address the question.

  • 1. The Federal Reserve was successful during the period running from 1979 to 1982 in re-stabilizing prices. However, we still had considerable inflation. The GDP deflator increased at a rate of 5.2% per annum during the period running from 1980 to 1985. It increased at a rate of 2.1% per annum in the last five years. In times of high inflation (or, indeed, any inflation) you expect nominal values to increase on a year-to-year basis, so nominal tax revenues are not instructive.

    2. You could make use of real tax revenues as an indicator. However, tax rates are not the only factors which affect the value of real revenues. The economy fell into two recessions over the period running from March of 1980 to November of 1982. You ordinarily expect expect real revenues to decline in times of declining production. Income taxes tend to be procyclical, with peaks and valleys in revenue collection exceeding those in production or personal income, so you would actually expect smaller shares of personal income to be captured in taxes during recessions. The decline is more marked during the 1981-82 recession than during previous and subsequent recessions and the recovery in revenue capture also more muted.

    3. Here is the index of real federal revenues collected from personal income taxes. The base year is 1973:

    1973 100.00
    1974 101.83
    1975 90.44
    1976 99.77
    1977 106.42
    1978 115.29
    1979 121.03
    1980 120.96
    1981 126.77
    1982 113.22
    1983 110.87
    1984 115.55
    1985 121.38
    1986 123.65
    1987 136.45
    1988 137.40
    1989 121.03
    1990 144.57
    1991 256.56
    1992 263.32
    1993 273.88
    1994 290.18
    1995 302.41
    1996 321.19
    1997 342.23
    1998 363.28
    1999 381.43

    Some portion of the decline in real revenue observed in 1980 and 1983 can be attributed to the reduction in income tax rates and some portion to the recession. It is your contention that all of it and then some is attributable to the recession, because tax rates were so high that we were beyond that for maximal revenue collection. I think the descriptive statistics on revenue capture are inconsistent with that thesis.

    I cannot help but notice that there is no observed decline in real revenues during the period running from 1990 to 1994 (quite the contrary), in spite of two tax increases. I think that suggests we were not on ‘the wrong side of the Laffer curve’ then. (And we are not now).


    Your implicit thesis is that a legislated tax increase (say, through excision of special deductions, exemptions, and credits) will place the federal revenue stream on a lower trajectory due to its effects on economic activity and thus exacerbate the deficit. The foregoing strongly suggests it will not (in part because federal income taxes are not the only factor influencing the level of economic activity).

  • That’s because there is no report which asks and documents the results of asking economists their perception of where federal income falls on the Laffer Curve.

    I believe it was Ezra Klein who polled economists of his acquaintance on just this issue. There were a variety of answers offered. (I think Bradford deLong’s was an ultimate marginal rate of 70%). I am not sure there was one who suggested that an ultimate federal rate of 33% was superoptimal.

  • I should note that year-to-year improvements in real personal income and real domestic product during the period running from 1980 to 1990 were about the same as those from 1990 to 2000 (and metrics during both periods somewhat higher than they were during the period running from 1973 to 1980). Permanent tax reductions may be helpful, but that is not the only factor which influences economic dynamism.

  • While far short of a study/report this article does ask that very question as Art pointed out:

    For further discussion of the issue:

Herman Cain’s Muddled Abortion Logic (Updated)

Thursday, October 20, AD 2011

Presidential candidate Herman Cain appeared on the Piers Morgan show last night, and the conversation turned to the topic of abortion.  It’s a fascinating read because at first Cain appears to be giving an absolutist pro-life position – opposition to abortion in all circumstances.  Yet Cain then gives a response that seems to suggest that while he’s personally pro-life, well, you know how this ends:

MORGAN: By expressing the view that you expressed, you are effectively — you might be president. You can’t hide behind now the mask, if you don’t mind me saying, of being the pizza guy. You might be the president of United States of America. So your views on these things become exponentially massively more important. They become a directive to the nation.

CAIN: No they don’t. I can have an opinion on an issue without it being a directive on the nation. The government shouldn’t be trying to tell people everything to do, especially when it comes to social decisions that they need to make.

Hmmmm.  In the interests of fairness, here is the entire abortion discussion in context:

Continue reading...

56 Responses to Herman Cain’s Muddled Abortion Logic (Updated)

  • The man is making it up as he goes along and is definitely not ready for prime time.

  • I agree, Don. It is very difficult to read that transcript without concluding that Cain is passionately pro-life, but believes that government should not enact or enforce laws prohibiting abortion. That is a pro-choice position akin to saying I think slavery is horribly immoral and I could never own one, but it is not the government’s business if my neighbor wants to own one. Sadly, I’m not sure Cain is sophisticated enough to appreciate that this position is pro-choice.

  • I don’t understand the logic that the government should stay out of social decisions. By definition, social decisions are those that affect society. If the government is not for protecting and promoting the good of society, what the h*ll is it for? Perhaps this was a slip and he meant personal decisions. But even personal decisions can affect society.

    One other charitable interpretation may be that he was referring to the decision to raise the child as opposed to give him up for adoption. The question to which he responded was “would you honestly want her to bring that baby up as her own?” That would suggest he was responding to the decision whether or not to put up for adoption (the family/mother’s choice), not whether or not to have an abortion.

  • In fact, Cain’s comment that the questioner was “mixing two things” makes it more likely Cain was referring to the decision regarding adoption. The questioner indeed seemed to be mixing to things (1) whether they should ahve a choise to abort (which Cain appears to be against) and (2) whether the mother/family should be forced to raise the child – which Cain states is a choice for the mother/family to make, not the President or government.

  • Morning typing is really not my forte.

  • That would suggest he was responding to the decision whether or not to put up for adoption (the family/mother’s choice), not whether or not to have an abortion.

    It’s possible, but if you look at his entire answer to the question it seems pretty clear he’s talking about the gamut of options available, presumably including abortion.

    In fact, the more I look at that response, the more convinced I am he’s not just talking about the decision to adopt.

  • The man is making it up as he goes along and is definitely not ready for prime time.

    That seems obvious to me, but I’m puzzled by the polls showing him in the lead. Are these people not watching the debates, or are they watching them but not understanding the issues?

  • Agree with Donald. Herman Cain doesn’t seem to have thought much about abortion-related policy and what, as president, he would do regarding it. His positions are incoherent and detached from any reference to what the policy currently is and what it should be.

  • Donald is correct – Herman Cain is making things up as he goes along. Nevertheless, if it comes down to a choice between imperfect Herman Cain and the man of sin currently in the Oval Office, I shall proudly vote for Herman Cain.

  • Are these people not watching the debates, or are they watching them but not understanding the issues?

    One of the problems with these debates is that it seems people are so focused on the style, or how candidates answer the questions that they’re ignoring the substance of what is being said. It drives me batty.

  • “Are these people not watching the debates, or are they watching them but not understanding the issues?”

    The conservative base of the Republican party do not want Romney as the nominee which is why he can’t get above 25%. They rally around the name of the month in order to attempt to come up with a viable alternative. Hence the boomlets for Bachmann, Perry and now Cain. Next month I predict Santorum or Gingrich will have a moment in the sun.

  • “I’m puzzled by the polls showing him in the lead. Are these people not watching the debates, or are they watching them but not understanding the issues?”

    I doubt most of the people who watched the last debate knew what the VAT candidates were referring to is. Most Americans cannot begin to comprehend tax policy. They just know they don’t like taxes. So they hear what sounds like a pizza special and like it. This goes for other issues too. Simple-sounding solutions well presented, however stupid, can get a good deal of support.

  • Herman Cain tweets:

    “I’m 100% pro-life. End of story.”

    Well that certainly settles that. Good to know that Cain is really working to clarify his positions in such fine detail.

    Here’s a challenge for the Cain campaign: try to make it through a week without making a statement that you have to later backtrack from.

  • The reason Cain has as much traction as he does is simple: he’s the Not-Romney of the Month. If the putative front-runner didn’t cause hives in the base, Cain would be a footnote figure on the same polling level of Santorum or Bachmann.

    And I heartily concur with the not-ready-for-primetime assessment. Hell, I don’t know if he’s ready for public access. A cringe-inducing trainwreck in motion.

  • Excuse me, but those of you who are Republicans, tell me something. (I’m not a Democrat either, by the way.)

    How can the Republican Party field a candidate, in this cycle of all cycles, that alienates the base!? The old saw is that the Republican party caters to their base while the Democratic party abhors theirs, but my sense is that there is a split between elites (for Romney?) and the base (Cain?), and Donald and others seem to agree. Don’t you people have better candidates? Really?! I mean, does it really come down to Romney or some unprepared wacko who doesn’t know what he/she thinks about major issues?

  • Huh?

    In context, it seems very clear that he’s clarifying the “mixing two things” part– he already answered the point where the kid’s a kid from conception, and is saying that it’s not the gov’ts place to comment on ” If one of your female children, grand children was raped, you would honestly want her to bring up that baby as her own?”

    He’s not a politician. He hasn’t had anyone beat into his head the “tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them” thing. (Part of why I can’t stand to listen to most pols, actually….) He explained his position, the guy tried to say that it had a secondary requirement–raising the child– and he objected, pointing out that the host’s assumption was none of the gov’ts business.

    Why isn’t anyone throwing a fit about the host talking about “as if” the baby was the woman’s? The child is her own– even if his father is a horrible person. My ex-brother-in-law is a horrible person, but I still love my nephew.

  • Sorry Foxfier, but I strongly disagree with your assessment. In context it’s clear he’s talking about the general role of government when it comes to the whole range of options. Especially look at the last part of this exchange – they’re no longer talking about just rape/incest and adoption. Morgan had broadened the question to one about abortion in general, and Cain made the comment about government not interfering in social issues.

    He’s not a politician.

    This is a weak excuse, and I keep hearing it from Cain defenders. I’m not a politician either, but I’m pretty sure that if I were in Cain’s place nobody would be confused as to where I stood. Again, this is a repeated pattern of the man simply not being clear.

    And as to him not being a politician, the man was a radio talk show host for years. He should be familiar enough with the issues for him not to sound like he doesn’t know what he’s talking about anytime he’s taken out of his comfort zone (economics). This is also not his first rodeo, and he’s run for public office before. He is woefully unprepared.

  • I mean, does it really come down to Romney or some unprepared wacko who doesn’t know what he/she thinks about major issues?

    I’m afraid it does. As someone who supports the GOP only in that I find them less rotten and wrongheaded as the Democrats, I find their inablity to put forth someone of true character, ability, and electability disheartening. Santorum is the only one who has the type of world view that I would trust to make sound and moral judgments, but I’m afraid he lacks in ability and electability.

    On the flip side, it’s not like the Dems have much of track record putting forth someone of ability, let alone of sound and moral judgment (the later being the antithesis to their platform and base).

  • Cain was more than ready for primetime in the 90’s:

    The lesson I take from that is that just because you’re good at one thing (e.g., running a business) does not mean you’re good at everything (e.g., tax policy, foreign policy, social policy).

    I see parallels to Sarah Palin. By most accounts, she was a good governor but she proved to know absolutely nothing about most things. Maybe, like Palin, Cain should start playing the victim and blaming the media.

  • From Donald: “Next month I predict Santorum or Gingrich will have a moment in the sun.”

    I think that Gingrich is primed for his move up the polls. My dad and little brother – independent of each other – both told me that they were very impressed with Gingrich after the debate. This is after they both went gung-ho on Cain.

    I don’t agree with them on Gingrich for a couple of reasons.

    As for Santorum, he’s still my preference at this point – but not a strong preference. On the issues, I like almost everything. I’ve got a bit of an isolationist streak, so his foreign policy is just a little off for me.

    As for demeanor, he comes off as too intense, too eager. He needs to look more relaxed and secure.

  • “Don’t you people have better candidates?”

    Yes. Off the top of my head we have Bob McConnell, Governor of Virginia, Marco Rubio, Senator from Florida, Scott Walker, Governor of Wisconsin, Jim Demint, Senator from South Carolina, and quite a few others, none of whom have given the slightest inclination to run for the Presidency. A conservative dark horse who got into the race could have a huge groundswell of support, but the last time the Republican Party nominated a dark horse was in 1940 with Wendell Wilkie. I would not discount the possibility this time however.

  • . I’m not a politician either, but I’m pretty sure that if I were in Cain’s place nobody would be confused as to where I stood.

    Of course they would– you’re a blogger! You expect some folks to be busily twisting your words. (I suspect that, even without being a blogger, few would doubt where you stand. Just a guess, though.)

    And Cain supporters keep pointing out he’s not a politician because folks keep acting as if they think he is– someone’s actions come across differently if you assume he’s use to selling his image, as opposed to selling a product as opposed to just doing something. (probably more aspects that don’t come to mind instantly)

  • The problem with Gingrich and Santorum is that they aren’t personable. You need to meet some minimum threshold of likeability to get above 5%.

  • (Is anyone else not getting any email updates? I checked my spam file– it’s not there….)

  • Nope, haven’t been getting email updates for a while.

  • Here is another recent Cain interview on the subject of abortion where he says the same sorts of things. I’m not sure that any of your charitable interpretations work with this one.

  • I don’t need to be charitable on that one:
    “No, abortion should not be legal.”
    “If it’s her choice, that means it should be legal.”
    “I do not believe in abortion in ANY instance.”
    “What about rape and incest?”
    “There are other options.”

    He doesn’t seem to be using “choice” the way most politicians do– to mean “ability to kill the inconvenient human.” If he hadn’t flat out said “Abortion should not be legal,” I’d think he’s more of the standard double-speak politician than I’ve been assuming; since he flatly said “abortion should not be legal,” then I must assume he’s either using “choice” in a way other than the usual life-rights jargon one, or he’s not in his right mind. Lacking any other evidence that he’s not in his right mind, and looking at the other instances where he simply doesn’t know the jargon, I’m going with “he’s not even a political junkie, let alone a politician.”

  • I will miss Herman Cain when he withdraws from the race. I expect though that he will resurface with his own show shortly after the election.

  • For comparison’s sake, I just called my mom, a young boomer who doesn’t do politics but is familiar enough with being anti-abortion to be able to have a conversation about embryonic vs adult stem cells; she didn’t know what the right of return was, had never heard of “neoconservative,” and defined “pro-choice” as “right to kill your baby.”

    To my mind, this supports the impression that jargon is getting in the way.

  • Shorter Herman Cain: I am pro-life but it’s a woman’s choice if she’s raped but I don’t think it should be legal to abort but I don’t think the government should tell her what to do.

    Yeah, how can anyone possibly be confused by such clear, concise thinking?

    Sorry, this isn’t about him being confused by “jargon,” this is a man being confused by the English language.

  • Sorry, this isn’t about him being confused by “jargon,” this is a man being confused by the English language.

    Given that he’s had amazing success in three different careers, I don’t think the assumption that he doesn’t understand English very well makes much sense. So, the old rule of “what I’m hearing may not be what he’s saying” comes in.

    Going off the Lifenews story, it looks like he draws a distinction between laws and “telling someone what to do.” A sensible thing to do, now that I see it, seeing as how the gov’t issues a LOT of non-binding instructions.
    He’s also aware of the limitations of the position he’s running for, which is dang near a selling point for me.

  • I don’t like the fact that he had to issue a clarification on his abortion views, but it’s good enough to assuage my concerns as a pro-life voter.

    Per NRO:

    UPDATE: Here is a statement Cain issued today that clarifies a little more what he meant:

    “Yesterday in an interview with Piers Morgan on CNN, I was asked questions about abortion policy and the role of the President.

    I understood the thrust of the question to ask whether that I, as president, would simply “order” people to not seek an abortion.

    My answer was focused on the role of the President. The President has no constitutional authority to order any such action by anyone. That was the point I was trying to convey.

    As to my political policy view on abortion, I am 100 percent pro-life. End of story.

    I will appoint judges who understand the original intent of the Constitution. Judges who are committed to the rule of law know that the Constitution contains no right to take the life of unborn children.

    I will oppose government funding of abortion. I will veto any legislation that contains funds for Planned Parenthood. I will do everything that a President can do, consistent with his constitutional role, to advance the culture of life.”

  • I will veto any legislation that contains funds for Planned Parenthood.

    …How the blazes did I not notice THAT line before?!?!

  • So, the old rule of “what I’m hearing may not be what he’s saying” comes in.

    Again, the fact that the man can’t even make a statement about something as important as abortion with clarifying it later is a concern, as is this repeated pattern of making confusing statements about practically everything. Heck, he can’t even get the details of his own signature plan correct. This is not a selling point for me.

  • Going off the Lifenews story, it looks like he draws a distinction between laws and “telling someone what to do.”

    Q: Any cases where [abortion] should be legal?

    Cain: I don’t think government should make that decision.

  • Blackadder-
    and when asked to explain, he says there’s no case where it should be legal. Makes sense if he’s saying gov’t shouldn’t be able to say “OK, this medical method to kill those people is illegal” or if he misheard the question.

  • I don’t think Cain knows what his own position is. Ellis Henican’s react is great.

  • Herman Cain can’t “hold a candle to” the glib, policy genius presiding over America’s ruin . . .

    All I need to know: President Cain will veto guv $$$ for abortion and Planned Parenthood. Only other pledge wanted: to nominate solid, pro-life fed judges and fight for them in the face of dem/abort senate filibusters.

    Having built a grand career in the private sector, Mr. Cain probably has never seen his words twisted by evil people to make a trap for hate-filled people.

  • Perhaps, ladies and gentlemen, I am reflecting my own desires onto Mr. Cain, I’ll admit of that.

    But it seems to me that we are doing to Mr. Cain what has been done to every candidate, ever (with the exception, perhaps, of the incumbent, who can speak no wrong and do no evil). What is the foundation of Mr. Cain’s approach to governance? Following the Constitution. Why do we have the ubiquitous evil of abortion plaguing every state in our nation? a Lack Of Attention To The Tenth Amendment, and a federal government that wants to insinuate itself into every aspect of every person’s life, with no boundaries.

    I take all that has gone before as prelude when I hear him talk about abortion. I won’t parse his words. Frankly, it should not MATTER to us where a President stands on the issue of abortion, if he is a Constitutionalist (as opposed to a Constitutional Law Professor), and wants to return the power to determine policy on things like, oh ABORTION, to the States where it belongs, and where we can effectively fight for legislation to eventually outlaw it.

    It is no more Constitutionally correct for the Federal Government to legislate abortion as illegal than it is for the Federal judiciary to have ruled it LEGAL, without exception.

    So, when a man who believes that teh Tenth Amendment actually limits the authority of the Federal government says what was said here, I am not sure it concerns me. He’s committed to appoint judges in the style of Clarence Thomas (check!); he’s committed to defund Planned Parenthood (Check!); and most importantly, he has agreed to make the Federal Government play by Constitutional rules! Voila! We get teh Federal government out of abortion completely, and then Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, New York, Califormnia, and the rest of the States can determine the law for themselves! I likes that!

  • As much as I agree on your other points– including wondering if I’m projecting on Mr. Cain!– on this:
    It is no more Constitutionally correct for the Federal Government to legislate abortion as illegal than it is for the Federal judiciary to have ruled it LEGAL, without exception.

    I have to disagree; the Constitution touched on who was fully human (going off of what rights they had) when it was written, and since then it’s been understood to apply to some basic things– just try making a law that men are not fully human and thus can be killed by their wives or mothers. Won’t work, same way that a 10th amendment attempt to bring back slavery, or impose Sharia, won’t work.

  • The problem with Gingrich and Santorum is that they aren’t personable. You need to meet some minimum threshold of likeability to get above 5%.

    I guess the careers of Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Gary Hart, Michael Dukakis, Albert Gore, Jr., and Sprio Agnew, Spiro Agnew, Spiro Agnew were all just collective hallucinations.

  • Musn’t forget Robert Dole, either.

  • Good list Art, except for Goldwater who came across pretty avuncular. As for the rest, that truly would be the dinner party from Hell!

  • Art, your list kind of proves my point. Nixon and Carter were the only ones who won. Nixon after losing once before and Carter was a one-termer. Gore won the Democratic nomination virtually unopposed, Hart never won the nomination, and Agnew never ran. Surprised you didn’t include John Kerry which would’ve been the best case against my theory. But Kerry was a bore, not unlikeable. Gingrich and Santorum are running on anger and they make people cringe.

  • And Carter was pretty likeable, especially when facing Ford. Dole too.

  • And Carter was pretty likeable, especially when facing Ford. Dole too.

    Ya think? I doubt anyone found Ford inspiring, but I have the impression most people found him reasonably likable and generally a decent human being, even in spite of the Nixon thing.

  • “And Carter was pretty likeable”

    Thanks for the laugh RR. Naw, Carter always came across as a mean-spirited little twerp with a phony smile pasted on his mug, which is why he blew a thirty-four point lead against Ford in 1976, just barely winning a race by a hair that any Democrat, after the Nixon fiasco, should have won going away. (I think Ford would have won if Ford hadn’t claimed that Poland wasn’t under Soviet domination in a debate, and then was too proud, and foolish, to admit for several days that he had mispoke.) Here is a video of a truly likeable politician:

  • Art, your list kind of proves my point.

    If you recall, your point was that someone had to have a baseline of ‘likability’ to garner more than 5% of the primary and caucus vote. Everyone on that list garnered the nomination bar Messrs. Agnew and Hart. Agnew most assuredly would have been a contender had his sideline of shaking down contractors not come to the attention of the U.S. Attorney. As for Hart, fully 38% of those attending caucuses and voting in primaries cast a ballot for him. 38% > 5%.

    Chaqu’un a son gout. Sen. Goldwater was given to bouts of tactlessness. Would not bother me, but a large portion of the electorate seems to recoil from that for whatever reason. As for Mr. Carter, there is a reason his preferred recreations (tennis, fly fishing, running, and hunting swamp rabbits) involve a minimum of conversation and teamwork. Ditto John Kerry, another ‘likable’ nominee.

  • “Muddled” more fits the activities of current office holders, but Mr. Morgan isn’t muddling around with them, although, in so doing, he would be ever so able to increase his ratings.

  • Mr. Cain was just on Fox explaining that he mis-spoke. He said the reporter was trying to pigeon hole him on what if it was your child, life and death etc. He said what he responding to was, that at that point, no family is thinking about what the law says, they are thinking about their own child, family member, the baby etc. He said, there is no debate for him, he is pro-life. Life begins at conception thru natural death. He also said, he would strengthen laws that keep the govt out of supporting or paying for abortion and push for new ones to keep the govt out of it altogether.

    I for one, prefer a man who will say, I mis-spoke or I made a mistake than some others who are arrogant in their ‘conservatism’ or downright prejudice (Catholics aren’t Christian…see his pastor’s remarks about we Catholics) or who flip on the subject and you really do not know if it is sincere or not. While Mormons espouse and many fight for the prolife movement, in practice, abortion for all kinds of reasons are sanctioned.

    Herman Cain is being attacked because he is Black and ahead in the polls, that’s it. The MSM is afraid of him. Whether he could win the national election is questionable, the majority of independents are not ultra conservative.

    The question is, are people so fed up with Obama they will vote for whomever runs against him? While I hope so, I do not want to shoot ourselves in the foot by rushing in the the MSM to attack a solid human being like Cain.

  • Sorry the arrogant conservative is Perry and I am not so certain how conservative he is. I like Romney but he has flip flopped on abortion and while minds and hearts can change, we don’t know if it is a real metanoia or not do we. Would I vote for him as the Republican candidate in national election? You bet I would.

    I am quite happy that Perry slid in the polls. I would have to vote for him if he were the candidate but I would be so unhappy putting someone who puts his pastor up as his shill…that is not a man who deserves the presidency either.

    We need to pray daily for this country and for a leader we can trust to steer us through what looks to be some very tough times ahead.

  • but I would be so unhappy putting someone who puts his pastor up as his shill…

    If you’re going to bash Perry, then at least have your facts straight, as I assume you are referring to the Jeffress situation. He is not Perry’s pastor, and Perry didn’t even ask him to speak.

    Herman Cain is being attacked because he is Black and ahead in the polls, that’s it.

    Congrats, conservatives, we’ve allowed ourselves to become Democrats. Any critique of Herman Cain is now to be chalked up to racism. Let’s not actually examine the candidate or demand that he be mildly coherent when responding to straightforward, if hostile questions.

  • Cain’s being attacked because he’s conservative (or Republican) and ahead in the polls– thus becoming a threat. *shrug* Doesn’t much matter, the best defense is to focus on the objection.

    Amusingly, the “middle of the road” talk show I listen to was bashing him for being “against women’s healthcare rights.” They think he’s pro-life!

  • “There are several charitable interpretations available for Cain’s remark.” Paul Zummo

    I don’t think “charity” is needed here.

    Cain’s answers to Stossel in the video clip cleared it up for me. I thought I understood Cain’s answer in the back and forth with Piers Morgan who started this being talked about by his peppering Cain with questions, not letting him complete a thought. See below:

    MORGAN: Are you honestly saying — again, it’s a tricky question, I know.

    CAIN: Ask the tricky question.

    MORGAN: But you’ve had children, grandchildren. If one of your female children, grand children was raped, you would honestly want her to bring up that baby as her own?

    CAIN: You’re mixing two things here, Piers?

    Cain’s answer was to the specific question, “…you would honestly want her to bring up that baby as her own?” To which he then said to Morgan, “You’re mixing two things here, Piers.” Morgan had been talking about rape, incest, pregnancy and abortrion.

    Cain was right, Morgan was “mixing two things, having an abortion or be forced to “raise that baby.” Cain was saying government should not be telling the girl she has to “raise that baby.”

    His comments towards the end of the Stossel clip clarified for certain what Cain was saying when he said to Stossel about that situation, “there are other options.” That’s what Cain meant when he told Morgan you’re “mixing two things.” He was saying to Morgan, it isn’t a matter of having an abortion OR being forced to raise that baby…there is having the baby and giving the baby up for adoption (and I would add, as Steve Jobs was).

    Now as far as Cain’s following comments: “So what I’m saying is it ultimately gets down to a choice that that family or that mother has to make.

    “Not me as president, not some politician, not a bureaucrat. It gets down to that family. And whatever they decide, they decide. I shouldn’t have to tell them what decision to make for such a sensitive issue.” Again the issue was the question, and the question dealt with being “forced” to raise a baby from rape or incest.

    Cain’s position here, and please forgive me if this sounds a bit presumptive, doesn’t seem to be much different than that of God’s; He allows them to make a decision they will have to live with. That is also similar to the U.S. bishops’ position as far as what can be done to make someone do what the Church wants them to do. In that sense, it’s not much different than how the bishops deal with Catholic politicians who vote pro-abortion and present themselves for Communion.

  • Pingback: A number of readers want to know why I won’t vote for Cain | Catholic and Enjoying It!

The Candidate of Wall Street

Thursday, October 20, AD 2011

2 Responses to The Candidate of Wall Street

  • Obama’s approval rating among OWSers is in line with the general public. A majority disapprove. Of course, OWS isn’t happy with him because they don’t think he’s radical enough. Next year, most of them will vote for Obama but a very large minority will vote third-party. But I’m surprised by the influence these hippies are having already. They’ve already moderated the GOP field. Cain had to backtrack somewhat, Romney backtracked completely, and Ron Paul actually defended OWS. This is a good thing. It puts Romney in a good position after the nomination when he has to appear more pro-middle-class than Obama.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Obama’s link to Bain Capital becomes a line of attack against him. It makes Romney look like the grassroots candidate of the people.

  • Occupy Wall Street minions RR, according to Democrat pollster Douglas Schoen, overwhelmingly supported Obama in 08 and 48% currently support him for re-election in 2012. When the actual election arrives, I am sure that figure will be north of 80%.

Was the Declaration of Independence Legal?

Wednesday, October 19, AD 2011

American and British lawyers squared off recently in a discussion over whether the Declaration of Independence was legal. The BBC reports as follows:

On Tuesday night, while Republican candidates in Nevada were debating such American issues as nuclear waste disposal and the immigration status of Mitt Romney’s gardener, American and British lawyers in Philadelphia were taking on a far more fundamental topic.

Namely, just what did Thomas Jefferson think he was doing?

Some background: during the hot and sweltering summer of 1776, members of the second Continental Congress travelled to Philadelphia to discuss their frustration with royal rule.

By 4 July, America’s founding fathers approved a simple document penned by Jefferson that enumerated their grievances and announced themselves a sovereign nation.

Called the Declaration of Independence, it was a blow for freedom, a call to war, and the founding of a new empire.

It was also totally illegitimate and illegal.

At least, that was what lawyers from the UK argued during a debate at Philadelphia’s Ben Franklin Hall.

(The rest of the article can be read here.)

It strikes me that this misses a crucial distinction: The Declaration was essentially an announcement that if certain demands were not met, the colonists would fight a war for their independence. Such things are not intended to be legal. No sane country is going to provide legal basis for its sub-regions to secede at will — and as the British lawyers point out further on in the article, the US certainly didn’t give it’s Southern half that right under Lincoln. Instead, the colonists were making a last ditch appeal and (more realistically) an appeal for public and international sympathy as they prepared to fight a war of independence. If the British had won, the signers would probably have been hung as traitors. Given that they won, they are considered to be founders of the republic.

Rather than trying to put forward some theory under which the document was legal within the context of the British Empire, it seems to me that the correct answer is that the Declaration was legal by right of conquest — an aged yet still apt concept. This also, of course, answers the question of the why the South was not allowed to secede: Because they lost the Civil War.

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19 Responses to Was the Declaration of Independence Legal?

  • Of course it was legal! We won! The pettifogging nonsense of this approach to the Declaration illustrates one of the absurdities of our present time: the treatment as legal questions of things which clearly are not legal questions. I think this is done because too many people are uncomfortable making moral arguments, but quite comfortable telling other people what to do if a legal case, no matter how strained, can be made.

    English history had been replete with rebellions and revolutions, some of which succeeded and some of which had not. The sides in those contests always attempted to make the case that their cause was moral and just, the same sort of case Mr. Jefferson made in the Declaration. To attempt to address this as a legal question is to completely miss the point. Darn lawyers, they have much to answer for! 🙂

  • I did think it was nicely clever of the American lawyers to cite the “Glorious Revolution” as creating a precedent for overthrowing the legitimate government:

    “The English had used their own Declaration of Rights to depose James II and these acts were deemed completely lawful and justified,” they say in their summary.

    But that’s really just another variant on the “because we won” justification.

  • I had deleted my order post because Don said basically the same thing, only better. I still think the DoI and the War of Independence are a bit different. The founders knew what they were doing was illegal by English law, but the DoI was only meant to be a “legal” document in that it was a formal notice from one political body to another, even if the former was illicit. They were making a case on based on natural law and morality (which even the Church recognizes a difference between legal and lawful.

    It could be judged that their demands were or were not justified or even that their grounds weren’t sufficiently rooted in necessity (there have been a lot worse occasions of injustice by rulers before and since). It could be argued that even if just, the harm caused would outweigh the benefit. Aside from being grateful for having born in this time and place as a Catholic looking back I tend to sympathize with the founders’ cause. I don’t necessarily think they were as terribly oppressed as they acted, but I appreciate that they were quite unique in that they were full British subjects, but in some ways were being exploited, and were having whatever benefits from their status being eroded. I view it as justified because:

    1.) they did NOT really overthrow the king (think of the evil in France).

    2.) They were subjects of George, but that’s all they had in common with the English. They had their own culture and society by that time and the common good would be best served if they governed themselves.

    3.) We always ask if they were justified in declaring their independence, but it can just as easily be asked if George was justified maintaining such an empire – especially since it was capable of being self-sufficient. [I actually enjoy thinking about this last one. It seems the most antagonist people to the founders usually rail on about the evils of jingoism. The irony escapes them.]

  • I swear, I get sloppier and sloppier in my writing by the day. I really need to proofread before hitting the send button. Sorry for my horrible grammar and typos.

  • Of course, the American revolutionists stood in a different relationship vis-a-vis England than the South did to the Federal Union: The Colonies were just that: politically subordinate units of the empire of England.

    The individual states, on the other hand, were sovereign prior to entering into the federal union. Having ceded only so much sovereignty as they deemed needful to effectuate the purposes of a federal union, they retained all other aspects of sovereignty, and did not become mere colonies of the federal government.

    Moreover, the federal Constitution, which is one of only expressly enumerated powers, did not include the power forcibly to compel membership in what was designed to be a voluntary union of sovereign states.

    That the federal government militarily conquered the seceding states does not establish the principle that there is no right to withdraw from the Union, it merely establishes that the north was militarily more powerful than the south.

  • The patriots contended that their legislatures stood in relationship to the King in each colony as Parliament stood in relationship to the King in the United Kingdom. The fact that they were living in their colonies did not abrogate in the slightest their traditional rights. When the King attempted to rule them against their wishes, and paid not the slightest heed to their legislatures, they revolted, as did the majority of Parliament in similar circumstances in 1642.

    In regard to the Civil War, the states had no political existence except as part of the United States. They went straight one day from being colonies to being states, a fact that was recognized by Great Britain at the conclusion of the American Revolution when there was one peace treaty signed rather than 13. The Articles of Confederation, approved by each of the states during the Revolution, spoke of perpetual union. The Union pre-dates the Constitution and dates from the Declaration. A new nation was then created, not a mere temporary alliance. The states of the Confederacy had no right to withdraw from the Union without the consent of the people of the Union as a whole. A majority of the people of the United States opposed secession, and their wishes were brought to fruition through the successful outcome of the Civil War.

  • The individual states, on the other hand, were sovereign prior to entering into the federal union.

    Would point out that 35 of the 50 states were artifacts of Congress.

  • In regard to the Civil War, the states had no political existence except as part of the United States. They went straight one day from being colonies to being states

    Well, for the original 13 perhaps, but Texas was its own sovereign state prior to joining the union. Also, would that mean if the EU signed some treaty with a hypothetical Arab state to end a war of conquest over Europe, that the individual european countries are not sovereign states? Not an expert on the EU, but it seems that would not be correct. Perhaps the EU charter (or whatever it’s called) has some sort of exit clause.

  • Regardless, there are few debates that could be as academic as whether the DoI was legal or not. Might may not necessarily make right, but it often makes rights (that is, obligations or conditions that can be enforced).

  • The states had to ratify the Constitution; if they were not independently sovereign, it would be a useless exercize to engage in ratification, which necessarily implies the choice of NOT ratifying, and hence, remaining outside the union.

    The Articles of Confederation, likewise, implicitly by their consensual nature recognized the primordial sovereignty of the states.

    I’m not aware that nationwide polling was conducted to establish that most Americans wanted enforced union. Certainly the majority of southerners did not, realizing that it is indeed not much of a union that has to be imposed by the slaughter of 600,000 souls.

  • The Articles of Confederation and the Constitution were governing instruments for the pre-existing Union Tom, they did not create the Union. In regard to the South, I would assume that almost all Black slaves and free Blacks were against the experiment in Rebellion to continue to hold them in bondage. Every state in the Confederacy, except for South Carolina, eventually raised white regiments to fight for the Union. Kentucky and Maryland elected legislatures that were strongly Unionist. Delaware was completely Unionist in the War. Even in the slave holding states taken as a whole I doubt if a solid majority existed for secession. Add in almost all the people of the North except for some renegade Copperheads, and the people of the Union were clearly opposed to secession. Of course this is why secessionists did not simply go to Congress in 1861 and raise the issue of secession there for the whole country to debate and vote on.

  • Although George III was technically still head of the executive, Britain by the 1770s had Cabinet government. A hundred years previously Charles II had responded to the jibe that “he never said a foolish thing, nor ever did a wise one” by remarking “true, since my words are my own, and my actions are my ministers’ “. It is worth remembering that George was the first of the Hanoverians to enjoy genuine popularity. Unlike his grandfather and great-grandfather he ‘gloried in the name of Briton’ and referred to Hanover as a ‘despicable electorate’. Nor did he lack the common touch, and his interest in agricultural improvement earned him the sobriquet ‘Farmer George’. It was the high-handedness of the Westminster parliament, rather than that of the King, which precpitated the revolt (this is not to say that the King was without influence, but the relationship of Crown, ministers and parliament had changed greatly since 1642).

    A Declaration of Independence is an act of defiance, a manifesto and a call to arms. As such it is bound to be illegal in the strict sense of the word. Had England succeeded in bringing the rebellious colonists to heel, it would still have stood as a symbol of nationhood. In 1916 Pearse proclaimed the Irish Republic from the General Post Office in Dublin at the start of the Easter Rising. Lacking public support and with no chance of foreign intervention, the rebellion was doomed to failure, and the leaders knew it. As a devout Catholic and a lawyer Pearse would also have known that it contravened the ‘just war’ principle. In the event the rising was crushed in six days. But the 1916 Declaration is the key document in the emergence of Ireland as an independent nation.

  • .

    “As such it is bound to be illegal in the strict sense of the word.”

    “A rebellion is always legal in the first person, such as “our rebellion.” It is only in the third person – “their rebellion” – that it becomes illegal.” Ben Franklin, 1776

  • Who cares if anyone from Great Britain thinks the Declaration of Independence was illegal?

    Was England’s centuries-old occupation of and its suppression of the Catholic Church throughout the British Isles legal just because might made right?

    Was England’s privateers who harassed Spanish shipping legal? Not to Spain, it wasn’t.

    England has a lot to answer for in its own history without judging that of the US – including establishing slavery in its colonies who told King George to take a flying leap.

  • Obama has been cow-towing to most leaders throughout the world.

    Surely, he could go cap in hand to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and humbly submit himself and the Unired States of America to British suzerainty, and all the citizens of the USA would happily join hands and sing “God Save the Queen” and “Rule Brittania” and go Morris Dancing.

    Imagine the money you’d save on not having presidential elections?

    And best of all, you could all be called British subjects along with the Canucks and Aussies and Kiwis.
    Now wouldn’t that just make for a wonderful world 🙂

  • Don, I think the Texans toyed with the idea of joining the British Empire but were cold-shouldered by Palmerston. To reverse your scenario, when the UK joined the then Common Market some wag suggested it might be better to apply to become the 51st state and have the Duke of Edinburgh run for President. Unlike continental Europe the USA has a legal system based on Common Law and we speak (almost) the same language.

    Penguins Fan, you certainly have a point; there are good laws and bad laws, and just when we thought the bad ones had all been repealed, a raft of equality laws, badly drafted and threatening both freedom of speech and freedom of conscience is being foisted upon us. Privateering was legally dubious even in the 16th century, but the Elizabethan government did not recognize the Treaty of Tordesillas which established a Spanish-Portuguese monopoly in the New World. Drake could never be sure that on his return from a voyage of plunder he would not be executed as a pirate, but then as now money talks.

    A few lawyers holding an academic discussion is hardly going to change the balance of power. The general tenor of your remarks about English history betrays a strange inferiority complex which I have noticed before and which is very unusual in a superpower. Don’t forget that England was a Catholic country for a thousand years (the evidence is all around us) and no serious historians now buy into the Whig interpretation of the protestant ‘Reformation’. Say what you like about the British Empire, but its most enduring legacy remains the United States of America.

  • The Texans were never serious about joining the Empire John. They feinted towards England in order to overcome anti-annexation sentiment in Congress that had been blocking their admission, and the stratagem worked.

  • Donald,

    Count on Ben Franklin to sum it up pithily.

    Don the Kiwi,

    But then we wouldn’t get to come in late to every war…

  • Although we would still be oversexed, hopefully overpaid, and over there no doubt! 🙂

    “Fowler: Pushy Americans, always showing up late for every war. Overpaid, oversexed, and over here.”

Father Francis P. Duffy: War and Humor

Wednesday, October 19, AD 2011

“If you want an example of how you ought to worship God, go over to the 69th.  You’ll see hundreds of sturdy men kneeling on the ground hearing mass.”

Father Francis P. Duffy in a letter to Cardinal Farley

A recent National Guard video on Father Francis P. Duffy.  I have written about Father Duffy here.  His courage as a chaplain with the Fighting 69th made him a legend in his own time.  However, courage was only one of his virtues.  Just as appreciated by the young soldiers he helped shepherd through the hell of trench warfare in World War I France was his sense of humor.  Here are a few samples:

Amongst the sturdiest and brightest of our recruits were two young men who had recently been Jesuit Novices. I amused one Jesuit friend and, I am afraid, shocked another by saying that they were exercising a traditional religious privilege of seeking a higher state of perfection by quitting the Jesuits and joining the 69th.

The newcomers are not yet accustomed to the special church regulations relieving soldiers of the obligation of Friday abstinence. Last Friday the men came back from a hard morning’s drill to find on the table a generous meal of ham and cabbage. The old-timers from the Border pitched into this, to the scandal of many of the newer men who refused to eat it, thus leaving all the more for the graceless veterans. After dinner a number of them came to me to ask if it were true that it was all right. I said it was, because there was a dispensation for soldiers. “Dispensation,” said a Jewish boy, “what good is a dispensation for Friday to me. I can’t eat ham any day of the week. Say, Father, that waiter guy, with one turn of his wrist, bust two religions.”

I asked one of the men how he liked the idea of going to confession to a priest who cannot speak English. “Fine, Father,” he said with a grin,  “All he could do was give me a penance, but you’d have given me hell.”

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6 Responses to Father Francis P. Duffy: War and Humor