4

Clint Eastwood: Don’t Kiss Up to Politicians

 

One of the more dispiriting features of the ongoing national disaster that is the Obama Presidency, is the way some of his more crazed acolytes have given him the type of adulation that should be reserved for God.  Go here to read an early example of this bilge.  And who could possibly forget the Obama kids, tools in the hands of parents who were worshipers of the South Side Messiah:

Obama is merely the latest manifestation of the disturbing trend on the Left in this country for politics to serve as a substitute religion.

Clint Eastwood’s empty chair takedown of Obama was a healthy reaction to this horse manure.  Eastwood reminded us that politicians are hired hands, our servants, and not little tin gods to bow down to.  Eastwood got to the heart of what he wanted to accomplish in a speech yesterday:

“People don’t have to kiss it up with politicians, no matter what party they’re in,” he added. “You should evaluate their work and make your judgments accordingly. That’s the way you do in life in every other subject. But sometimes in America we get gaga, you know, we look at the wrong values.” Continue Reading

6

Obamanomics: Trillions for Nothing

 

 

Another fine, and timely, econ 101 video from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity.  When future historians write the history of the Obama administration, and what a sad farce that tale will consist of, I think they will stand aghast at all the borrowed money poured out by the Federal government with virtually zero positive impact on the economy.  In regard to Keynsian economics, the Obama administration is proof that one of Karl Marx’s maxims has proven to be a largely accurate observation on human affairs:  Hegel remarks somewhere that all facts and personages of great importance in world history occur, as it were, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce. Continue Reading

11

Obama, Can You Spare a Dime?

Something for a weekend.  A variant on the song of the First Great Depression, Buddy Can You Spare a Dime.  It seemed timely in regard to the terrible economic news that came out this week:

1.  AA- -Credit rating firm reduced the United States Credit Rating to AA-.  Here is why

Egan-Jones said it believes the Fed’s third round of quantitative easing,  which sent stock prices surging on Thursday, “will hurt the U.S. economy and, by  extension, credit quality.”

The firm said that while the program should boost equity markets, issuing  additional currency and depressing interest rates through purchasing  mortgage-backed securities will hurt the value of the U.S. dollar and cause a  painful increase in commodity prices.

“In our opinion, QE3 will be detrimental to credit quality for the U.S.,” Egan-Jones said.

At the same time, Egan-Jones warned that the cost to finance U.S. debt will “slowly rise” as the global economy rebounds and the Fed scales back on its  purchases of Treasury securities.

The ratio of U.S. debt to gross domestic product soared to 104% in recent  months from 66% in 2006 and will likely increase to 110% in a year, the firm  said. By comparison, Spain’s debt-to-GDP stands at 68.5%.

2.  Median IncomeUnder Obama Median income per household has fallen to $50,054.00.   When adjusted for inflation this is the lowest median income per household since 1995.

3.  Industrial Production-Down-US industrial production fell 1.2% in August pointing to a slowing economy.

4.  Unemployment-Fed analysts estimate that unemployment will not reach 7% until 2014. Continue Reading

18

Waging War Against the Catholic Church While Appeasing Islam

 

Newt Gingrich in a great article sums up the surreal world we now inhabit thanks to the Obama Administration:

The policies of Obama have made our intellectual incoherence and strategic  incompetence even worse.

It is no accident that the embassy in Cairo issued a groveling statement,  apologizing to the haters for having inconvenienced them with American freedom  of speech.

The embassy was simply following Clinton’s lead, set months earlier in her  meetings with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

The OIC has a long- term campaign to manipulate the U.S. government into  defining any criticism or improper reference to Islam as unacceptable.

No one should be confused by this. As Andy McCarthy wrote yesterday, the Islamist definition of heresy would  destroy American free speech.

The Obama administration is waging war on the Catholic Church while appeasing  the most extreme elements of Islam.

This is the bizarre situation we now find ourselves in. Continue Reading

3

William Saletan, Meet Christopher Johnson!

 

William Saletan is a Leftist who writes a political column for Slate.  His prescience at predicting the future was amply demonstrated on September 14, 2000 when, based on then current polls, he stated that the election was over and Gore was a sure winner.  Go here to read that masterpiece of prognostication.  Now he has a piece attacking Romney for standing up for American freedom of speech as opposed to the craven apology for our freedom issued by the Cairo embassy.  Christopher Johnson, a Protestant who has taken up the cudgels so frequently for the Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith, gives Saletan a fisking to remember at Midwest Conservative Journal:

to Slate’s William Saletan, freely expressing your opinion can be an abuse of your right to freely express your opinion:

Mitt Romney says the U.S. Embassy in Cairo has betrayed “American values.” He’s wrong. The embassy is standing for American values. It’s Romney who’s betraying them.

How’s that, Sally?

The fight began brewing Tuesday morning as Egyptian protesters gathered outside the embassy. They were furious at a sophomoric American-made movie that ridiculed the prophet Mohammed. In response, the embassy issued a statement saying that it “condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims—as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.” The statement added: “We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.”

Quick observation.  If the universal right of free speech can be “abused,” then the universal right of free speech is not universal at all but has definite limits.  Saletan most emphatically agrees.

When you read the tweets alongside the initial statement, the message is clear. Free speech is a universal right. The Muslim-baiting movie is an abuse of that right. The embassy rejects the movie but defends free speech and condemns the invasion of its compound.

You keep using the word “universal,” Sally.  I do not think that word means what you think it means.

At his press conference, Romney accused Obama of “having that embassy reiterate a statement effectively apologizing for the right of free speech.” Romney claimed that the embassy had said, in his paraphrase, “We stand by our comments that suggest that there’s something wrong with the right of free speech.” This, too, was a Romney lie. The embassy had declared five times in writing that free speech was a universal right.

In other words, everyone has, or should have, the right to free speech.  But there are some things that you shouldn’t be allowed to say.

What made Romney’s statement and press conference disturbing, however, was his repeated use of the words sympathize and apology to conflate three issues the Cairo embassy had carefully separated: bigotry, free speech, and violence. The embassy had stipulated that expressions of bigotry, while wrong, were protected by freedom of speech and didn’t warrant retaliatory violence.

Then why did the embassy grovelingly apologize for them?

Romney, by accusing the embassy of “sympathizing with those who had breached” the compound, equated moral criticism of the Mohammed movie with support for violence. In so doing, Romney embraced the illiberal Islamist mindset that led to the embassy invasion: To declare a movie offensive is to authorize its suppression.

Um..what?!!  Project much, Sally?  It was the embassy that declared that movie “offensive,” idiot.  Why else would they have apologized for it and prattled on about some alleged hurt feelings Muslims may or may not have actually had?

“The Embassy of the United States issued what appeared to be an apology for American principles,” Romney asserted at the press conference. “It’s a terrible course for America to stand in apology for our values. … An apology for America’s values is never the right course.” Lest anyone miss his buzzwords, Romney called the embassy’s comments “a disgraceful statement on the part of our administration to apologize for American values.”

One of the foremost of which is basically unrestricted freedom of speech.

What, exactly, does Romney mean by “American values”? The embassy never apologized for free speech or diplomatic sovereignty. The only American offense it criticized was the movie’s “bigotry” and “efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.” Does Romney regard this criticism as an “apology for American values”? Is bigotry an American value? Is it weak or un-American to repudiate slurs against Muslims?

National Review will have none of “yes, but” attitudes like Sally’s.

Nobody in the U.S. government, least of all the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff acting in his official capacity, should be calling Terry Jones or any other American citizen about the Mohammed spoof. Not only does that elevate Jones to some sort of semi-official status, but spoofs of deities are entirely within our rights and absolutely no business of the government’s. The U.S. government should not be taking an official position on the Mohammed spoof.  It is entirely outside the official competence of United States military to be calling private citizens asking them be quiet, especially when they are exercising a constitutional right. Offending people is not an incitement to violence. Otherwise I could get everyone who wears a Che Guevara t-shirt brought up on charges of incitement.

Do I enjoy it when some work of “art,” some movie or some television show blasphemes Jesus Christ or insults and belittles Christians?  Of course not.  But unlike adherents of the Islamic religion, I’ve figured out a civilized way to deal with it.  I simply don’t patronize or stop patronizing those businesses who produce or support such works.

Conversely, if a work of art exalts Christ or displays Christians as they truly are, that work of art, whatever it is, will receive whatever support I can give it.  So what William Saletan is essentially saying here is that speech should be suppressed if someone anywhere is angry enough about that speech to kill people and burn things.

Saletan’s mindset basiclly gives the savages editorial control over all forms of expression everywhere which means that my opinions must perfectly accord with theirs or my expression of my opinion is an “abuse” of free speech.  I don’t know if Saletan realizes this or not but that is precisely why so many of us made a point of patronizing Chick-fil-A’s during that recent controversy. Continue Reading

13

Libyan Questions

 

If we had a mainstream media that consisted of journalists instead of consisting largely of unpaid Obama press agents, reporters would be asking the following questions to the Obama administration about the Benghazi disaster:

1.  Why were there no Marine guards at the Benghazi consulate?

2.  Why was security dependent upon Libyan mercenaries at the Benghazi consulate?

3.  Is it true that the attackers had assistance from some of the Libyan mercenaries at the Benghazi consulate?

4.  Did the State Department receive credible evidence that embassies would be attacked in the Middle East 48 hours prior to the attack and failed to give any warning?

5.  Since Libya in general, and Benghazi in particular, has been chaotic since the civil war, why were no precautions taken to give special protection to American diplomatic staff? Continue Reading

26

Free Speech For Me, But Not For Thee

For if Men are to be precluded from offering their Sentiments on a matter, which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences, that can invite the consideration of Mankind, reason is of no use to us; the freedom of Speech may be taken away, and dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the Slaughter.

George Washington

 

One of the interesting fall outs of the rampages in Cairo and Benghazi is the calls by some on the Left for jailing people for exercising freedom of speech.  Eugene Volokh of The Volokh Conspiracy blog pointed this out yesterday:

That’s what MSBNC contributors Mike Barnicle and Donny Deutsch, the University of Pennsylvania’s Prof. Anthea Butler (Religious Studies), and of course the Egyptian government argue with regard to the movie that mocks Mohammed:

Prof. Butler: “Good Morning. How soon is Sam Bacile going to be in jail folks? I need him to go now.When Americans die because you are stupid…” “And yes, I know we have First Amendment rights,but if you don’t understand the Religion you hate, STFU about it. Yes, I am ticked off.” “And people do go to jail for speech. First Amendment doesn’t cover EVERYTHING a PERSON says.” “[T]he murder of the Ambassador and the employees is wrong, wrong. But Bacile will have to face his actions which he had freedom[.]”

Mike Barnicle: “Given this supposed minister’s role in last year’s riots in Afghanistan, where people died, and given his apparent or his alleged role in this film, where, not yet nailed down, but at least one American, perhaps the American ambassador is dead, it might be time for the Department of Justice to start viewing his role as an accessory before or after the fact.”

Donny Deutsch: “I was thinking the same thing, yeah.”

In a way this is an unsurprising development.  The Left in this country, with honorable exceptions, has not been overly fond of the concept of free speech for some time.  Speech codes seeking to hamper the free speech rights of conservatives and Christians have been a staple at many colleges and universities for the past twenty years.  Conservative speakers are routinely shouted down when they speak on campuses.  The recent attack on Chik-Fil-A by the Mayors of Boston and Chicago was merely the latest manifestation of the willingness of many on the Left to use government power to suppress views they hate. Continue Reading

6

Democrat Nostalgia?

Further evidence as to how detached most Democrat elites are from the United States military was given at the Democrat Convention last week:

On the last night of the Democratic National Convention, a retired Navy four-star took the stage to pay tribute to veterans. Behind him, on a giant screen, the image of four hulking warships reinforced his patriotic message.

But there was a big mistake in the stirring backdrop: those are Russian warships.

While retired Adm. John Nathman, a former commander of Fleet Forces Command, honored vets as America’s best, the ships from the Russian Federation Navy were arrayed like sentinels on the big screen above.

These were the very Soviet-era combatants that Nathman and Cold Warriors like him had once squared off against.

“The ships are definitely Russian,” said noted naval author Norman Polmar after reviewing hi-resolution photos from the event. “There’s no question of that in my mind.” Continue Reading

9

Can the Private Sector Support What the Public Sector Claims To? (Part III)

This is the third part in a three-part series.  Part I can be found here, and Part II can be found here.

The Philosophy

Once the numbers are put to rest, the rest of the argument in favor of private giving over compulsory giving via a system of taxation is easy.  The philosophical argument can be broken down into two parts: one based on human teleology and the second based on a phenomenology of gift.

First, all being is in the process of becoming.  That is, all being has a certain perfection, a telos, towards which it tends.  A chair has the natural tendency to tend towards being that perfect chair after which it was designed.  Aristotle called this the final cause, and noted its place of prominence among the four causes of being, the other three being the material, the formal, and the efficient.  Humans, however, are unique in the material universe in that we can actively choose whether or not to tend towards that perfection of being fully human.  This is the gift of freedom that we are endowed with.  Of course, this freedom is not to be seen as merely the ability to choose between contraries, but rather as a freedom for excellence, as the ability to choose the good.  One might say that the ability to choose the good is part and parcel of what it means to be human.

When a human person acts charitably he is acting in a way fully consistent with that call to freedom.  It is the virtues that perfect the human person, and charity is among the most important of the virtues.  The curious thing about the virtues is that the only way to acquire them is to practice them.  They are habits.  The only way to become courageous is to act courageously, and the only way to become charitable is to perform acts of charity.  Thus, when a person acts freely in performing an act of charity, he is not only helping out his fellow members of the human race, but he is also serving to become a better person himself.  Further, the free act of giving has an impact on the recipient that extends past the offered resources.  The recipient recognizes the act of charity for what it is, and that act in turn becomes a model of charity in his own life.

In contrast to this, compulsory giving has nothing of the benefits shared by a voluntary act.  The agent, being forced to offer the money or service, is not acting in freedom, and thus it has no impact on his life of virtue.  Similarly, beyond the actual dollars and cents, the recipient of the tax dollars comes to see the funding as an entitlement rather than a freely offered act of charity.  Obligation replaces virtue, and the obligatory acts freezes both parties at the level of obligation, not allowing them to advance in virtue.  It should come as no surprise that modernity find these ideas difficult to understand.  Ever since William Ockham and his fellow Nominalists, even general morality has focussed exclusively on obligation rather than virtue.

Yet the perfection towards which a human person must strive is experienced in the human heart as a call to gift.  The deepest desire of the human condition is to give one’s self away and to receive another who is called to do the same.  In a paradoxical manner, we find our fulfillment by emptying ourselves to one another.  This call to become gift explains a myriad of human experiences like falling in love, risking one’s life for a person in danger, and acts of selflessness that seem to come naturally.  It explains the natural institution of marriage, the begetting of children, and dying for a cause.  We seek forever to give ourself away.

This is precisely why crowd our rates are not dollar for dollar.  Economists may refer to this as the “warm glow” effect, suggesting that people give because they receive some psychological benefit, an injection of happiness if you will, from the act of giving.  While there is a grain of truth to this, it is not the whole picture.  People give because they were made to give.  They become fully human in the very act of giving.  Private charitable giving is completely consistent with this call to be gift to one another, both for the giver and the recipient.  It is also why compulsory giving in the form of taxation never settles well with the one being taxed.  Deep down, people want to give – they don’t want to forced into virtue.

 

The Theology

The call to charitable acts is prevalent throughout the Gospels, and indeed the entire collection of Scriptures.  As a member of the Universal Church, one cannot dispense with the obligation to assist those less fortunate among us.  Yet the call to charity can never be disassociated from the call to spread the Gospel to the four corners of the earth.  Pope Benedict XVI tells us in Deus caritas est:

“The increase in diversified organizations engaged in meeting various human needs is ultimately due to the fact that the command of love of neighbour is inscribed by the Creator in man’s very nature. It is also a result of the presence of Christianity in the world, since Christianity constantly revives and acts out this imperative, so often profoundly obscured in the course of time … For this reason, it is very important that the Church’s charitable activity maintains all of its splendour and does not become just another form of social assistance …

“We are dealing with human beings, and human beings always need something more than technically proper care. They need humanity. They need heartfelt concern. Those who work for the Church’s charitable organizations must be distinguished by the fact that they do not merely meet the needs of the moment, but they dedicate themselves to others with heartfelt concern, enabling them to experience the richness of their humanity …

“[C]haritable activity must [not] leave God and Christ aside. For it is always concerned with the whole man. Often the deepest cause of suffering is the very absence of God. Those who practise charity in the Church’s name will never seek to impose the Church’s faith upon others. They realize that a pure and generous love is the best witness to the God in whom we believe and by whom we are driven to love. A Christian knows when it is time to speak of God and when it is better to say nothing and to let love alone speak. He knows that God is love (cf. 1 Jn 4:8) and that God’s presence is felt at the very time when the only thing we do is to love. He knows—to return to the questions raised earlier—that disdain for love is disdain for God and man alike; it is an attempt to do without God” (paragraph 31).

Private giving is free to be an act rooted in the call to follow Christ and preach His word.  This also raises the practical problem of government funds applied to social causes.  When giving becomes compulsory, there enters the possibility, and perhaps even the inevitability, of the funds being used in a manner contradictory to the consciences of individual taxpayers.  Herein lies the debate about tax dollars being used to fund abortion and contraception.  Yet these two issues are not the only ones on the table.  Nearly everyone has a list of causes that would be objectionable to their conscience, and natural outrage would be expressed if they were to be forced to donate to these causes through the tax system.  This reality is often used as an argument for taxation: if we left it to the individual giver, would there not be causes that would go unsupported?  It is an illusion to think that taxes ensure a baseline of morality.  Instead, they merely reflect the opinions of those in power, those elected officials tasked with budgeting the tax dollars.

Yet it remains true that the purpose of politics is justice as well as charity.  Is not the function of government to maintain some level of fairness and equality?  True, but it would be a mistake to think that this comes in a manner contradictory to charity.  The virtues are never in conflict, but rather support and strengthen one another.  Blind redistribution of wealth through compulsory giving, i.e. taxes, fails to incorporate man’s call to charity.  Even if it would lead to a more just economic reality, the picture would be incomplete at best, for as St. Paul reminds us, without charity, we are nothing.  Yet this takes us full circle to the mathematical argument in the first section that suggests that the monies available to a social cause are not increased by government subsidies, but all things considered, they are actually decreased.  It is really a loose-loose situation.  On the other hand, if we keep charity first and allow private giving to do its thing, justice follows as well.  This flip side is a win-win situation.

Finally, to echo the philosophical argument of person-as-gift, Pope Benedict offers the following:

“Saint Paul, in his hymn to charity (cf. 1 Cor 13), teaches us that it is always more than activity alone: ‘If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, I gain nothing’ (v. 3). This hymn must be the Magna Carta of all ecclesial service … Practical activity will always be insufficient, unless it visibly expresses a love for man, a love nourished by an encounter with Christ. My deep personal sharing in the needs and sufferings of others becomes a sharing of my very self with them: if my gift is not to prove a source of humiliation, I must give to others not only something that is my own, but my very self; I must be personally present in my gift” (34).

Conclusion

The philosophical and theological arguments are clear: the world and mankind are better off if social causes such as poverty are funded through voluntary private giving.  Man is made to be gift, and he fulfills his destiny insofar as he gives of himself freely.  The only argument that could stand up against this is the practical argument that private giving would be unable to fund social causes: mankind, poisoned as he is by original sin, would fail to selflessly give what is necessary to solve the problem.  Whether or not a cause can be completely funded is not the issue.  There are many social causes that will never be solved this side of heaven.  The issue is whether or not government taxation has an actual positive effect on the particular social cause – this is where the mathematical arguments from part one become so important.  It seems that compulsory giving through taxation actually serves to decrease the amount of funds actually available to a cause.  Once the economic argument falls, it seems that there is nothing left to justify government involvement in social programs.

26

Spitting in the Face of Uncle Sam: Part II

 

Yesterday I wrote a post, which may be read here, detailing how an Egyptian mob, inflamed by allegations about a movie attacking Mohammed, stormed our embassy.  The embassy issued a truly craven statement apologizing for the fact that Americans in this country still enjoy freedom of speech:

The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.

When it became obvious that many Americans found this cowardly in the extreme, the embassy initially stood behind its statement with these tweets:

This morning’s condemnation (issued before protest began) still stands. As does our condemnation of unjustified breach of the Embassy.

We condemn the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims— US Embassy Cairo (@USEmbassyCairo) September 11, 2012

The embassy has since deleted these tweets, not realizing what a futile action this is in the age of the internet.

Mitt Romney has responded:

 “I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi.  It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”

After remaining silent throughout the day, the Obama administration finally responded….to Mitt Romney: Continue Reading

39

Spitting in the Face of Uncle Sam

 

Today on the eleventh anniversary of 9-11 an Egyptian mob stormed our embassy in Cairo and burned our flag.  The rioters were offended by a film that they allege is insulting to Mohammed.  The ringing response of our embassy to this insult to this country on today of all days?  An announcement perhaps that the US will no longer waste sending billions of dollars a year in foreign aid to a people who obviously despise us?   A recall of our ambassador?  A warning to the Egyptian government that repetitions of this type of behavior will lead to a severing of diplomatic relations?

No, after getting down on their hands and knees presumably, this is what the officials at our embassy said: Continue Reading

Tribute in Light – A Picture From a Reader

A reader sent me this shot of a test run of the Tribute in Lights. As he and a friend finished dinner and walked out of the Fraunces Tavern at the corner of Broad Street and Pearl Street last night, they noticed the lights were on for a moment, jumped into the car, and drove over to West Street to get this shot. It is taken from the sun roof of the car, paused at a lightd right next to the Battery Garage where the lights are set up.

Courtesy of Mr. Steve Tirone, Senior Business Analyst at TIAA-CREF. Thank you Steve! Continue Reading

Can the Private Sector Support What the Public Sector Claims To? (Part II)

This is the second part in a three-part series.  Part I can be found here.  Part III can be found here.

_________________________________________

Crowding out on its own can never make a case for the privatization of social services.  Even with government crowd out, the total amount of money raised for a particular cause is higher with government involvement (or equal in the case of total crowd out).  For instance, if a cause is funded entirely by the private sector, say at $100, and the government steps in with a $50 subsidy.  Supposing the crowd out rate is 60%, the private donations drop by $30 because of the $50 government “donation.”  However, the total gift to the charity is now $120 (the government’s $50 plus the private sector’s $70), which is higher than the purely private $100.

However, this doesn’t take into account the efficiency contrast between the private and public sector.  Here is where my model begins to take shape.  For starters, suppose that the government operates with a 30/70 split and the private sector operates with a 70/30 split and a modest crowd out rate of 60%.  Let’s follow that tax dollar collect by the government.  Suppose that the government collects and budgets $1 in taxes for a social cause.  The amount of money actually going to the cause, after the deduction for administrative expenses, is $0.30.  However, that tax dollar also causes a crowd out of 60%, or $0.60 in private giving.  No, in fairness, the private giving also has its administrative expenses, so the actual causes experiences only 70% of the $0.60 in decreased funding, which amounts to $0.42.  The end result is that the extra $0.30 injected by the government is more than counteracted by a drop in $0.42.  Thus, the government involvement actually causes a drop in funding for the actual cause.

One is free to play with the numbers, of course.  We were conservative in our estimates of private giving efficiencies and crowd out rate.  If we continue to hold the private efficiency rate at 70/30, it turns out that the crowd out rate can drop to around 43% before we hit the break even point.  This is a comfortably low number by all accounts in the literature.  Yet even this assumes a modest 70/30 private giving efficiency.  If we adjust this to the median, which is closer to 90/10 (10% administrative costs), we find that the crowd out rate can fall as low as 33% before we hit the break even point.  What this tells us is that for more than half the charities, there is a substantial decrease in actual available funds when the government raises taxes to subsidize the programs.  Were such a reality to be understood and made public, it would cause a fiscal scandal greater than any experience by the few immoral and manipulative bad apples in the world of private charitable organizations.

Now, we should admit that this is based on a definition of “crowd out” that can be unclear in the literature.  Many authors use the term without defining whether the crowd out percentage is a function of the taxed dollar ($1) or the final injection after administrative costs are factored out ($0.30).  We assumed the later because in the two mathematical models (Krause and Andreoni) we were able to follow actual variables, and it was the taxed dollar that resulted in the crowd out.  However, is a subsequent paper, Andreoni himself seems to be leaning towards the later definition.  If that is true, the situation changes*.  It turns out that total available post-administrative funds is increased by government involvement in all cases (and only breaks even if private giving is perfectly efficient and crowd out is 100%), but the increase is such a small percentage of the total taxes collected (between 10% and 13% using the same efficiency and crowd our assumptions), that the expenditures become difficult to defend from any reasonable moral perspective.  Such a reality, even in this case, would cause a public scandal if it were explained to the average voter.

If their are economists among us who can clarify this definition with a solid reference, I would be more than grateful to hear an answer.  I have at least ten papers from economics journals on my desk, none of which are specific enough on the definition of crowd out to decide this point.

______________________________________

 * In the case that crowd out is defined as a function of the money spent on the actual cause by the government rather than the taxed dollar, the mathematical exercise is a bit more complicated.Out of the dollar collected via taxation, only $0.30 of it is going to make it through the bureaucratic structures of the government.  When the $0.30 is injected into the cause, it results it a decrease of $0.18 (60% of of $0.30) of private giving due to crowd out.  Of course, this is a decrease in $0.18 of giving, not of actual money to the cause.  In fairness, even the private charity has its administrative costs.  Thus, the decrease is private funding is only 70% of the $0.18, or $0.126.  Nevertheless, the total difference made by the government $1 is the $0.30 decreased by the crowded out $0.126, which comes to $0.174.  Therefore, it is a mistake to think that he government gets even its 30% of the dollar for the social cause.  The net gain experienced by the cause is only 12.6%.  Think about this on a larger scale.  In order for the government to make a $1,000,000 difference in a cause, it must collect $5.75 million in tax money.

One is free to play with the numbers to see the impact of combining efficiency and crowd out rates.  Our experiment was based on a conservative 70% private giving efficiency and a modest 60% crowd out.  If we assume the median private giving efficiency of 90% and Andreoni’s 70% crowd out rate, the net government difference on the tax dollar falls to 11.1%.  So to raise that $1,000,000, the government would have to collect over $9 million in taxes.

Notice that the cause is still “technically” better off.  Even in the more extreme case, the cause still gets its additional $1,000,000 in funding.  In fact, this will always be the case.  While the combined rate falls as private efficiency and crowd out rise, even with a private efficiency of 100% and a crowd out of 100%, the government simply replaces every dollar in the social cause.  Yet the replacement come at quite a cost to the taxpayer.  If a private charitable organization were to operate on these dismal percentages, it would make the front page of the New York Times in the most scandalous of manners.

 Read Part III here.
2

The White House and Sexualityism

While I understand the USCCB’s commitment to framing the HSS Mandate exclusively in terms of religious liberty, I have been, since the beginning, reminding people that it is in fact a contraception issue. Politically it may make sense to focus on religious liberty, but morally, the two are inseparable. Well-known law professor Helen Alvaré has a very well-written piece at the Witherspoon Institute:

It should be noted that sexualityism is no more than a theory about a claimed cause of women’s happiness—i.e., that its growth is directly proportional to women’s ability to express themselves sexually without commitment and without the possibility of children. The HHS mandate stands on this theory. In a world of easy availability of birth control and abortion, the only reason for a federal mandate for a “free” and universal supply is to try to send the sexualityism message. The White House has all but come out and said: “women of America, vote for the incumbent this presidential election year because he supports women’s equality and freedom, which he understands to include at the very least nonmarital and nonprocreative sexual expression.” Why else choose Sandra Fluke—an affluent, single, female law student, who demands a taxpayer-subsidized, 365-day supply of birth control as the price of female equality—as your spokeswoman? While every savvy media outlet understands the political theater going on here with the whole “war on women,” anti-Republicans message, still when the White House uses its powerful bully pulpit to send such a message, cultural damage is done.

Read the rest here.

10

Unforgettable Flight 93

When they got up that morning eleven years ago the very last thing that the 33 passengers and the seven crew of United Flight 93 expected was to be engaged in a life and death struggle to retake an airliner that was headed to Washington DC as a terrorist missile.    All they expected the day to bring was a hum drum flight from Newark to San Francisco.  Just ordinary people living their lives.  Their occupations included pilot, first officer, flight attendant, an environmental lawyer, the owner of a public relations firm,  university students, a senior vice president of a medical development company, a sales representative for Good Housekeeping magazine, a manager of a US Wildlife animal refuge, an arborist, an account manager for a corporation, an ironworker, retirees, a computer programmer, a computer engineer, a lobbyist for the disabled, a real estate agent,  an executive vice president of a corporation and a free lance medical writer.  They were wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters, all with unique histories and lives, with little in common except that they happened to be on board Flight 93 when the world changed.

The plane took off at 8:42 AM Eastern Time.  Four terrorists had boarded amidst the other 33 passengers.  The terrorists began to hijack the plane at 9:28 AM, soon after both the hijacked airliners had struck the Twin Towers in New York City, and just brief minutes before a fourth airliner was hijacked in Washington and slammed into the Pentagon.  At 9:28:17 AM a member of the cockpit crew shouted “Mayday! Mayday!” over the radio, with sounds of violence in the background.  35 seconds later someone in the cockpit shouted over the radio, “Mayday!  Get out of here!  Get out of here!” Continue Reading

14

Can the Private Sector Support What the Public Sector Claims To?

This is the first part in a three-part series.  It raises an issue that I have been thinking about for over three years, and I have finally nailed down some sources and drawn the whole argument together.  I will issue the next two parts over the course of the week.

 

The Problem

With the pending election there has been a resurgence of discussion about privatizing certain industries, e.g. health care, education, etc.  Further, the Democratic Convention suggests that the Democratic party is the party that cares about a shared responsibility for the collective mankind, establishing a suggested radical individualism present among Republican.  More simply put, the Democrats are often portrayed as the party that cares about the poor, while the Republicans are the party that cares only about themselves.  Paul Ryan has maintained that he is fiscally conservative in part because he does care about the poor.  His prudential judgement has led him to believe that the best way to help the poor is through fiscal monetary policies.

However, when the proposal to privatize any government service arises, alongside we find a familiar, and seemingly difficult to overcome, argument.  Just as an example, let’s take education.  Were we to privatize our education system completely, would that not leave several individuals in a position of not being able to afford tuition.  There are, after all, people in tax brackets that pay less in education taxes than it costs for the government to educate their children, just as there are those who pay more in education taxes than the cost of education.  This is the point of taxes for social services: a redistribution of wealth.  It is misunderstood that those who would defend a privatized system are selfishly attached to “my money” and somehow prioritize the individual over the community.  This is a red herring, though; the discussion is not about the priority of the individual or the community, but rather about the best way to serve the community, through tax dollars or private charitable giving.  Those who cannot afford tuition would be helped in the same way that many are now helped who cannot afford other necessities: through freely offered private charitable giving.  Typically, the next objection is that this is overly optimistic about human generosity.  In other words, the amount of freely offered charity will not be able to sustain the need, and hence compulsory giving, i.e. taxes, is necessary.  My aim is to defend that in most cases a privatized system will out-give compulsory giving  via taxation and that freely offered charity enjoys philosophical and theological advantages over dollars extracted through a tax system.

 

The Numbers

My thesis is that private funds will be able to account for the drop in funding by eliminating the taxes that current fund the social service.  To see this, we need to discuss two economic realities.

The first is the efficiency with which the government, and by contrast the private sector, provides social services.  Robert Woodson (1989), in Breaking the Poverty Cycle: Private Sector Alternatives to the Welfare State, has calculated that, on average, 70% of the funds collected through taxes dedicated to social services goes not to the social service itself, but instead to administrative bureaucracy.  This means that for every dollar collected by the government, only 30 cents actually goes towards the service.  Michael Tanner corroborates this 70/30 split through several regional studies in The End of Welfare (1998).  In contrast to this, the same administrative/service split in the private sector is reversed.  Only one-third of privately collected monies goes towards administrative services, and two-third goes towards the actual cause.  According to Edwards (“The Cost of Public Income Redistribution, 2007), 70 percent of newer charities, as rated by Charity Navigator, spend at least 75% of their budgets on the programs and services they exist to provide.  90% spend at least 65%, and the median among all charities in the sample was 90.7%.

The reason for this is basic competition.  Private sector charities are under strong pressure to operate efficiently because donors want to know that a large percentage of their gifts go to support the appointed cause.  Programs that operate inefficiently will cease to attract donors and eventually cease to exist.  True, there are some very unethical charities out there that take advantage of donors’ money, but over time and with adequate exposure, competition solves this problem.  In contrast, government lacks the motivation experienced by private charitable organizations to operate at efficient levels.  There is an ironic turn of events in this: according to Edwards,

“Those operating at levels of inefficiency comparable to the average government agency are often prosecuted – by the government (which never applies the same standards or threat to its own agencies – for fraud.  Pressure on private charities to avoid such prosecution, and the bad publicity and loss of public trust resulting, is strong.”

The contrasting levels of efficiency between the public and private sectors means that the government has to raise over twice as much money in taxes as the private sector would have to raise in donations in order to provide the same service (assuming the private sector operates at a 70% efficiency level).  In other words, if a social service costs 21 million dollars, the government would have to extract 70 million dollars in taxes in order to cover the cost.  The private sector would have to raise only 30 million dollars.  This assumes a generous 70/30 split in the private sector.  As stated earlier, the median is closer to a 90/10 split, and in this case the private sector would only have to raise 23.3 million dollars, only a third what the government requires.

The second economic reality is what is known as “crowding out.”  The idea is that, as the government collects tax money and budgets it towards a social cause, private donors become less likely to donate their own funds.  In other words, the government support “crowds out” private donations.  Arthur Brooks in “Is There a Dark Side to Government Support for Nonprofits?” (2000) lists four reasons why crowding out occurs.  The most obvious is that a cause that already receives funding from a third source (government or otherwise) is unlikely to appear as “in need” and therefore unlikely to attract additions donations.  Second, “subsidies to non-profit firms may make them appear to private donors ‘non-mainstream’ and, hence, in need of non-market support.”  Third, private donors often want to know they have some control over the organization they choose to support.  Finally, since government support is taxed-based, it decreases the amount of disposable income that private donors can direct towards charitable causes.  (This last effect is compounded by the relative inefficiency with which government social programs operates.)

Crowd out rates are measured as percentages of a dollar that are “crowded out” for every government dollar added.  For instance, a 70% crowd out rate means that for every tax dollar the government collects for a cause, the private donations are reduced by 70 cents.  “Total crowd out” is a dollar-for-dollar exchange, so for every dollar injected by the federal government, exactly one dollar of private donations is eliminated.  Anything less is considered “partial crowd out.”

The literature that measures crowd out rates falls generally into three categories: real world data, theoretical models, and theoretical controlled experiments.  Unfortunately, crowd out rates based on real world data are across the board.  Brooks summarizes some of the studies which quote real world rates anywhere from 1.8% to 66%.

The theoretical models depend in part on the assumptions made about givers.  In one model, charity is determined exclusively by the need of a particular cause, in which case crowd out rates are total (dollar-for-dollar).  The idea is that a cause only needs a finite amount of money and people are willing to pay to see that finite amount met.  If the government steps in and meets part of the requirement, the private donors, sensing the need has been decreased, will decrease their donations dollar for dollar.  If the government decreases their support, private donations step back in and pick up the slack, again dollar-for-dollar.  The crowd out rate in such cases is 100%.  Other models suggest that people give not simply to satisfy a social need, but also for personal satisfaction, a “warm glow” effect.  James Andreoni is a leading expert in this area, and his models predict a minimum of 71.5% crowd out rate (“An Experimental Test of the Public-Goods Crowding-Out Hypothesis,” 1993).  A third model attempts to consider the effect of giving competition.  The idea is that donors are more likely to give at a particular level based on what their peers are giving.  In this case, Alan Krause (“On the Crowding-Out Effects of Tax-Financed Charitable Contributions by the Government,” 2011) predicts that crowding out may be attenuated by such competition, but the situation is highly unstable.  If even a single person has some motivation to drop their giving, others will follow suit in the face of government subsidies and crowding out rate approaches total.

The third category in the literature is controlled theoretical experiments.  Generally this falls into the mathematical area of Game Theory.  Andreoni is again an expert in this field, and his experiments have corroborated his theoretical rates, in one case 71.5% and in another up to 84%.  Another experiment (“An Experimental test of the crowding out hypothesis,” C. Eckel, et. al., 2003) attempted to separate groups into those who knew that third party funds were coming from tax dollars (“no fiscal illusion”) and those who were unaware of the source of the new funds (“fiscal illusion”).  In the case of fiscal illusion, the authors found no evidence of crowding out, but in the case where donors were aware that tax dollars were subsidizing the cause, crowding was almost total.

In the face of these three categories of results, we are forced to ask: which ones are “better”.  In other words, if were are going after actual crowd out rates, would it not make sense to trust those that are data driven?  No, says Andreoni.  The problem with the data-driven results is that they are incapable of separating out a vast range of influences.  In other words, it is nearly impossible to have a “control” in the real economic world.  For instance, “it is impossible to know whether the incomplete crowding-out found [in the literature] is the result of certain institutional features not captured by the model, or whether it is due to individual preferences that are different than those assumed in public-goods models.”  The purpose of the laboratory experiments is to provide such a control.  Keep in mind that the laboratory experiments are not entirely mathematical – they involve real people making real decisions.  It is also telling that the lab experiments are consistent with the theoretical models developed elsewhere in the literature.

All told, the present author is comfortable in making the assumption that average crowd out rates are at least at the 60% level, that is, for every dollar injected by the government into a social cause, 60 cents is taken out in private donations.  Given the theoretical models and the laboratory experiments, which typically come in around 70%, I feel that this is a generous assumption for my purposes.

_____________________________
Part II can be found here.
Part III can be found here.
16

Obama Picked Up: What’s Wrong With This Picture?

(Photo credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

The story goes like this (emphasis not mine):

In Florida for his bus tour on Sunday, President Barack Obama made an unannounced stop at Big Apple Pizza and Pasta in Ft. Pierce. There, the shop’s owner, Scott Van Duzer, lifted the president off the ground”

Obama entered the shop saying, “Scott, let me tell you, you are like the biggest pizza shop owner I’ve ever seen,” according to a White House pool report.

Van Duzer, 46, is a big guy: He is 6′ 3″ tall and weighs 260 pounds.

After Obama was lifted up, he said “Look at that!” Man are you a powerlifter or what?”

He continued, according to the pool, talking about Van Duzer’s big muscles.

“Everybody look at these guns,” he said. “If I eat your pizza will I look like that?”

Van Duzer, by the way, is a registered Republican who voted for Obama in 2008 and says he will do so again in November.

“I don’t vote party line, I vote who I feel comfortable with, and I do feel extremely comfortable with him,” he told the press pool.

Usually I don’t write about just politics, but as a matter of principle, I found this incident deeply disturbing. It’s dishonest; it’s propaganda, and propaganda can be dangerous. I may not be a specialist in matters of security, but any average citizen can see that this is totally staged.

When the President is in public, the Secret Service agents wear him like cologne (sorry, my husband’s descriptor). This is standard procedure, not just for Obama, but for any president, especially since the assassination of President Kennedy. Do you see a Secret Service agent anywhere in the shot? Nope.

Continue Reading

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Sixteen Trillion Reasons to Vote Against Obama

The national debt is now north of sixteen trillion dollars,  5.4 trillion of the debt having been incurred under President Obama.  Go here to view a real time debt clock.  Our gross national product for this year is estimated to be 15.84 trillion dollars.  Anyone who cannot see the financial precipice that we are at is a blithering idiot, and Obama is counting on his or her vote.

12

Father Barron Reviews For Greater Glory

The Blu Ray and DVD releases of For Greater Glory are coming out on September 11, 2012For Greater Glory tells the story of the Cristeros who bravely fought for religious freedom and the Church in the 1920s in Mexico.  I heartily recommend this film.  The above video is Father Robert Barron’s insightful review of the film.   (I believe he is too sanguine as to the effectiveness of purely non-violent movements in the face of regimes who don’t care how many people they kill, but that is a debate for another day.)   The below video has additional remarks by Father Barron on the film.  Go here for my review of the film. Continue Reading

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September 9, 1942: Lookout Air Raid

One of the more daring air raids of World War II, on September 9, 1942 a Japanese float plane piloted by Warrant Office Nobou Fujita took off from the I-25 , a Japanese submarine, that was off Cape Blanco on the southwestern Oregon coast. The intention was to drop two incendiary bombs to start forest fires.    Fujita dropped both bombs, one of which exploded, in the Siskiyou National Forest.  The ensuing forest fire was minor and easily put out, the forest being damp from recent rains, and Howard “Razz” Gardner manning a fire lookout tower having spotted the plane as it conducted the bombing.  Fujita flew back to the I-25.  On September 29 Fujita made a second attack which caused only negligible damage.

Although one has to appreciate the daring of the Japanese involved, this operation barely deserves footnote status as the only time the continental United States has been bombed by an enemy power.  What is more interesting, and encouraging in what it says about human nature, is that twenty years after the bombings, in 1962, Fujita was invited to Brookings, the town nearest the bombings.  After the Japanese government ascertained that there was no intention of attempting to try Fujita as a war criminal, Fujita went.  He was made Grand Marshal of the local Azalea Festival.  Fujita gave the town a 400 year old samurai sword from his family as a token of regret.  ( He had intended to commit seppuku with it if his reception had been unfriendly.) Continue Reading

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Liberal Reaction to Cardinal Dolan’s Benediction at the Democrat Convention

 

In his benediction at the close of the Democrat Convention last week, Timothy Cardinal Dolan mentioned the unborn.  Here is the text of his prayer:

With a “firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence,” let us close this convention by praying for this land that we so cherish and love:

 

Let us Pray.

Almighty God, father of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, revealed to us so powerfully in your Son, Jesus Christ, we thank you for showering your blessings upon this our beloved nation.  Bless all here present, and all across this great land, who work hard for the day when a greater portion of your justice, and a more ample measure of your care for the poor and suffering, may prevail in these United States.  Help us to see that a society’s greatness is found above all in the respect it shows for the weakest and neediest among us.
We beseech you, almighty God to shed your grace on this noble experiment in ordered liberty, which began with the confident assertion of inalienable rights bestowed upon us by you:  life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Thus do we praise you for the gift of life. Grant us the courage to defend it, life, without which no other rights are secure.  We ask your benediction on those waiting to be born, that they may be welcomed and protected.  Strengthen our sick and our elders waiting to see your holy face at life’s end, that they may be accompanied by true compassion and cherished with the dignity due those who are infirm and fragile.

We praise and thank you for the gift of liberty.  May this land of the free never lack those brave enough to defend our basic freedoms.  Renew in all our people a profound respect for religious liberty:  the first, most cherished freedom bequeathed upon us at our Founding. May our liberty be in harmony with truth; freedom ordered in goodness and justice.  Help us live our freedom in faith, hope, and love.  Make us ever-grateful for those who, for over two centuries, have given their lives in freedom’s defense; we commend their noble souls to your eternal care, as even now we beg the protection of your mighty arm upon our men and women in uniform.

We praise and thank you for granting us the life and the liberty by which we can pursue happiness.  Show us anew that happiness is found only in respecting the laws of nature and of nature’s God.  Empower us with your grace so that we might resist the temptation to replace the moral law with idols of our own making, or to remake those institutions you have given us for the nurturing of life and community.  May we welcome those who yearn to breathe free and to pursue happiness in this land of freedom, adding their gifts to those whose families have lived here for centuries.

We praise and thank you for the American genius of government of the people, by the people and for the people.  Oh God of wisdom, justice, and might, we ask your guidance for those who govern us:  President Barack Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden, Congress, the Supreme Court, and all those, including Governor Mitt Romney and Congressman Paul Ryan, who seek to serve the common good by seeking public office.  Make them all worthy to serve you by serving our country.  Help them remember that the only just government is the government that serves its citizens rather than itself. With your grace, may all Americans choose wisely as we consider the future course of public policy.

And finally Lord, we beseech your benediction on all of us who depart from here this evening, and on all those, in every land, who yearn to conduct their lives in freedom and justice.  We beg you to remember, as we pledge to remember, those who are not free; those who suffer for freedom’s cause; those who are poor, out of work, needy, sick, or alone; those who are persecuted for their religious convictions, those still ravaged by war.

And most of all, God Almighty, we thank you for the great gift of our beloved country.

For we are indeed “one nation under God,” and “in God we trust.”

So dear God, bless America.  You who live and reign forever and ever. 

Amen! Continue Reading

1

Gangsters

 

 

The Obama administration promised hope and change.  Hope is certainly in short supply in this country but change they certainly have  brought about.  A current example:

In April, Axelrod tweeted that a poll showing Mitt Romney with a 48-43 percent lead over Obama was “saddled with some methodological problems,” directing his Twitter followers to read a National Journal story criticizing Gallup polls showing a Romney lead.

In that National Journal piece, Ron Brownstein wrote that the polls showing Romney leading the president had “a sample that looks much more like the electorate in 2010 than the voting population that is likely to turn out in 2012.”

Internally, Gallup officials discussed via email how to respond Axelrod’s accusations. One suggested that it “seems like a pretty good time for a blog response,” and named a potential writer.

In response to that suggestion, another senior Gallup official wrote — in an email chain titled “Axelrod vs. Gallup” — that the White House “has asked” a senior Gallup staffer “to come over and explain our methodology too.”

 

That Gallup official, the email continued, “has a plan that includes blogging and telling WH [the White House] he would love to have them come over here etc. This could be a very good moment for us to [show] our super rigorous methods compared to weak samples etc.”

The writer named several news organizations with their own polling methodologies, all of which resulted in numbers more favorable to President Obama at the time.

In response to that email, a third senior Gallup official said he thought Axelrod’s pressure “sounds a little like a Godfather situation.”

“Imagine Axel[rod] with Brando’s voice: ‘[Name redacted], I’d like you to come over and explain your methodology… You got a nice poll there… would be a shame if anything happened to it…’”

 In a second email chain titled “slanderous link about Gallup methodology,” another senior Gallup official noted that a Washington Examiner story on Axelrod’s anti-Gallup tweet was “on [the] Drudge [Report] right now,” before writing that the episode was “[s]o politically motivated, it’s laughable.”

 “As they say in b-ball: he’s trying to work the refs,” that official wrote to other senior Gallup staffers. “What a joke. Axel’s had a bad week. He got in the middle of the Ann Romney thing. Then said the country is going in the wrong direction. (Oops!) Now he’s swinging at us.”

The emails directly contradict what Axelrod’s fellow Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs told The Washington Times’ Kerry Picket this week about the campaign’s dealings with Gallup. Picket reported that Gibbs said he was unaware of any communications between the Obama campaign and Gallup. Continue Reading

14

You Racist Republicans!

 

I know it may come as a shock to many of our readers but Time magazine, that traditional mainstay of dentist waiting rooms throughout the country, is still being published.  It has a piece by an author who aspires to one name status:  Toure.

In his article Toure explains how Republicans, no doubt while chortling evilly, are engaged in using racist code words, while the Democrats are paragons of racial enlightenment:

Another classic code word — that hasn’t cropped up in this election yet — is “crime.” Like welfare, even though more whites commit crimes than blacks, the word is more associated with blacks who have historically been stereotyped as wild, violent, animalistic and immoral. As Michelle Alexander writes in The New Jim Crow, “What it means to be criminal in our collective consciousness has become conflated with what it means to be black, so the term white criminal is confounding, while the term black criminal is nearly redundant.” The classic example is President George H. W. Bush’s famous ad using inmate Willie Horton as a way to portray Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis as soft on crime and thus unable to protect us from wild black criminals.

There’s also the cornucopia of terms and concepts created to de-Americanize Barack Obama, from calling him “Muslim” or “Socialist” to Romney surrogates like John Sununu saying things like, “I wish this President would learn how to be an American.”  There is also a return to birtherism, with Romney recently joking, “Nobody’s ever asked to see my birth certificate.” The subtext of all this is: Obama, like other blacks, is not one of “us.” He is other.

Do Democrats use racial code? No. The Democratic party is a racially diverse coalition. There would be no value to playing this game. In fact, the party has risked alienating white working class voters by fighting for people of color, a tightrope perhaps best symbolized by President Johnson signing the 1964 Voting Rights Act and then famously, and presciently, saying to an aide, “We have lost the South for a generation.” Continue Reading

2

Tippecanoe and Tyler Too!

Something for the weekend.  After a fortnight of political conventions I thought it was appropriate to have one of the more popular campaign songs in American political history featured for our weekend song, Tippecanoe and Tyler Too, written by Alexander Coffman Ross, and sung endlessly by the Whigs during the 140 presidential campaign.  Perhaps one of the more vacuous campaigns in our nation’s history, the Whig’s rode to victory on William Henry Harrison’s status as a war hero at the battle of Tippecanoe in 1811 and during the War of 1812, and the poor economy presided over by Democrat Martin Van Buren.  Ironically John Tyler, who was as much an afterthought on the ticket as he is in the song, would serve out the term of Harrison after Harrison died after only 32 days in office.  John Tyler was a Democrat who had only recently converted to the Whig party.  As president he returned to his Democrat roots and had dreadful relations with the Whigs, who would certainly have impeached him but for their losing control of the House in the 1842 elections.  Astoundingly Tyler still has two living grandchildren.

Here is a rock version of the song: Continue Reading

14

Sandra Fluke and Our Broketastically Brokey-Broke Nation

At his best, there’s simply no one who writes like Mark Steyn.

So this is America’s best and brightest – or, at any rate, most expensively credentialed. Sandra Fluke has been blessed with a quarter-million dollars of elite education, and, on the evidence of Wednesday night, is entirely incapable of making a coherent argument. She has enjoyed the leisurely decade-long varsity once reserved for the minor sons of Mitteleuropean grand dukes, and she has concluded that the most urgent need facing the Brokest Nation in History is for someone else to pay for the contraception of 30-year-old children. She says the choice facing America is whether to be “a country where we mean it when we talk about personal freedom, or one where that freedom doesn’t apply to our bodies and our voices” – and, even as the words fall leaden from her lips, she doesn’t seem to comprehend that Catholic institutions think their “voices” ought to have freedom, too, or that Obamacare seizes jurisdiction over “our bodies” and has 16,000 new IRS agents ready to fine us for not making arrangements for “our” pancreases and “our” bladders that meet the approval of the commissars. Sexual liberty, even as every other liberty withers, is all that matters: A middle-school girl is free to get an abortion without parental consent, but if she puts a lemonade stand on her lawn she’ll be fined. What a bleak and reductive concept of “personal freedom.”

America is so broketastically brokey-broke that one day, in the grim future that could be, society may even be forced to consider whether there is any meaningful return on investment for paying a quarter-million bucks to send the scions of wealth and privilege to school till early middle-age to study Reproductive Justice. But, as it stands right now, a Cornell and Georgetown graduate doesn’t understand the central reality of the future her elders have bequeathed her. There’s no “choice” in the matter. It’s showing up whatever happens in November. All the election will decide is whether America wants to address that reality, or continue to live in delusion – like a nation staggering around with a giant condom rolled over its collective head.

As funny as it is, it almost makes one want to weep.

Read the rest.

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Timely New Report on Catholic Women and Contraception

After a good long tirade around the kitchen last night during Caroline Kennedy’s “as a Catholic woman” speech, I tried to think of what will come next in the following weeks and months. There’s a report I’ve been promoting this week, and the timing is undoubtedly providential.

One thing I’ve noticed about controversy: It’s a process by which things can change. People are listening now, it’s our turn to take the stage.

Mary Rice Hasson, J.D., a woman I am proud to call a friend, is a Fellow in the Catholic Studies Program at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington D.C. She is also the director of the Women, Faith, and Culture project together with Michele M. Hill who has been active in apostolates within the Archdiocese of Baltimore. These ladies have issued a preliminary report, What Catholic Women Think About Faith, Conscience, and Contraception, in which 824 Church-going Catholic women ages 18-54 were surveyed. (*Be sure to note how that is defined in the report.)

While the data indicates that most Catholic women do not fully support the Church’s teachings on contraception, the results also do not show the sweeping rejection of Church teaching the media portrays either. The picture is more nuanced. From the website, Women, Faith and Culture: Exploring What Catholic Women Think:

Catholic Women and Faith
90% say faith is important to daily life
72% rely on homilies to learn the faith
28% have gone to Confession within the year

Catholic Women and Contraception
33% think the Church says “yes” to contraception
13% say “yes” to Church teaching
37% say “no” to Church teaching
44% say “no, but maybe …” to Church teaching

The report shows that about one-third of Church-going Catholic women incorrectly believe that couples have the right to decide for themselves the moral acceptability of contraception – regardless of Church teaching. When Church teaching was explained, 44% were receptive to learning more. These results suggest the problem is in part catechetical, and that women want more instruction.

Church-going Catholic women fall into three groups, the researchers found: 1) “the faithful” who say “yes” to Church teaching, 2) “the dissenters” who say “no” to it, and 3) the “soft middle” who are reluctant, but receptive to more information.

Continue Reading

5

Clint Eastwood: Mission Accomplished!

 

Clint Eastwood gives a fascinating interview on his empty chair lambasting of Obama at last week’s Republican convention:

For five days after he thrilled or horrified the nation by talking to an empty chair representing Obama on the night Mitt Romney accepted the Republican nomination for president, Eastwood remained silent while pundits and critics debated whether his remarks, and the rambling way he made them, had helped or hurt Romney’s chances of winning in November.

But in a wide-ranging interview with The Pine Cone Tuesday from his home in Pebble Beach, he said he had conveyed the messages he wanted to convey, and that the spontaneous nature of his presentation was intentional, too.

“I had three points I wanted to make,” Eastwood said. “That not everybody in Hollywood is on the left, that Obama has broken a lot of the promises he made when he took office, and that the people should feel free to get rid of any politician who’s not doing a good job. But I didn’t make up my mind exactly what I was going to say until I said it.”

Eastwood’s appearance at the convention came after a personal request from Romney in August, soon after Eastwood endorsed the former Massachusetts governor at a fundraiser in?Sun Valley, Idaho. But it was finalized only in the last week before the convention, along with an agreement to build suspense by keeping it secret until the last moment.

Meanwhile, Romney’s campaign aides asked for details about what Eastwood would say to the convention.

“They vett most of the people, but I told them, ‘You can’t do that with me, because I don’t know what I’m going to say,’” Eastwood recalled.

And while the Hollywood superstar has plenty of experience being adored by crowds, he said he hasn’t given a lot of speeches and admitted that, “I really don’t know how to.” He also hates using a teleprompter, so it was settled in his mind that when he spoke to the 10,000 people in the convention hall, and the millions more watching on television, he would do it extemporaneously.
“It was supposed to be a contrast with all the scripted speeches, because I’m Joe Citizen,” Eastwood said. “I’m a movie maker, but I have the same feelings as the average guy out there. Continue Reading

9

Two Memorable Events From Last Night

 

Two events from last night stand out.  First, Timothy Cardinal Dolan praying for the unborn at the Democrat Convention in his closing prayer.  Just such an eventuality is why the Democrat powers that be didn’t want the Cardinal to be there to begin with.  Good for the Cardinal.

Second, Jennifer Granholm, former Democrat governor of Michigan, doing the best Howard Dean parody I have ever seen.  ( The impact is somewhat blemished when one recalls that GM is facing bankruptcy again.  Oh well.)

And that was that, nothing else of note.  Bye Democrats. Continue Reading

81

As a Catholic Pro-Abort Woman

Bravo to Bill O’Reilly for taking note of Caroline Kennedy’s phrase “as a Catholic woman” before she attacked pro-life laws passed around the country in legislatures controlled by Republicans.  O’Reilly recognized this as a direct attack on the Catholic Church.  Of course this is all part of the Democrat party’s attempt to promote a de facto schism in the Church in America for political advantage.  As I have noted many times this isn’t merely an election year for American Catholics.  This is an Elijah on Mount Carmel year.  A time of choosing is upon us. Continue Reading

17

Democrat Party Chairman for Palm Beach Hates Christians.

 

Mark Alan Siegel, the Palm Beach County Party Chairman for the Democrat Party, forgets one of the fundamental rules of life:  If you are going to say something stupid and bigoted make sure you are not on video!

Here is his apology after he realized his words were going viral on the net:

“I apologize to all Democrats and Floridians for my ill chosen words last night.  After watching the interview I realize that what I said did not accurately make  the point I was trying to establish. More importantly I apologize to all  Christians, Jews and other people of faith for any embarrassment or anger my  remarks may have caused. Throughout my life I have practiced religious tolerance  among all people of faith. I am sincerely sorry for any remarks I made that may  have diminished that record. I alone am responsible for my remarks and I pray  that they are not taken as the position of the Palm Beach County Democratic  Party.”
Here is the statement of Yael Hershfield, interim director of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League in Florida:

“The Anti-Defamation League is glad to see that  Mr. Siegel has issued a  sincere apology for his offensive  comments about Christians, and that he  made it clear he was solely responsible for them.  Religious bigotry has no  place in politics and civil society.” Continue Reading

4

A Flukey Speech

 

 

 

Sandra Fluke’s speech last night at the Democrat convention is the worst I have ever heard at a national convention, and I have heard many very bad ones.  Whiny and petulant (Why didn’t Romney stand up to Limbaugh when he insulted me!), self-obsessed and grating, I think even some pro-aborts watching in television land were probably thinking by the end, “This 30 year old spoiled brat isn’t helping us!”.   Liberal columnist Kirsten Powers tweeted during Fluke’s screed:   “I find this speech so offensive as a woman. The idea that women are silenced victims.”

Of course, Fluke was invited when it was thought by the Democrats that the War on Women meme was going to be their magical pathway to victory.  I doubt if many Democrat strategists still believe that as the polls indicate that even for Democrats the abortion/contraception “holy war” being preached by Fluke is at the bottom of their priorities.  I can understand that once she was invited the Democrats had to allow her to speak, but why such a prized time slot?  Continue Reading

20

Using Prayer as a Rhetorical Weapon

We all need prayers. Every soul praying for our soul is a net positive. As Catholics, it’s one of the main reasons we ask the Saints for their prayers. Yet there are times when the phrase “I will be praying for you” sounds more like spite than a genuine offering up to God.

I’ve noticed this more and more in Catholic blog comment boxes, and it has happened here on more than one occasion. A person of a more leftist orientation disagrees with a post written by one of our regulars, and after a semi-heated exchange, goes off in a huff, but not before saying that they will be praying for the person they’ve been debating. Instead of coming off as a “I’ll be praying for you so that God may provide his abundant mercy,” it sounds more like the person is saying, “I will be praying for your poor soul to recognize the merits of a higher tax rate for the wealthy.” The underlying tone is, I am a better person than you, so God better hear from me to save you from the hellfire.

I suppose we all do this from time to time. It was common while Christopher Hitchens was alive to hear Catholics declaring that they were praying for his conversion, or simply for his soul. Now there’s not necessarily anything wrong with that, and all people truly need our prayers. Yet there is a very fine line, and we can all run into the danger of using prayer almost as a rhetorical bludgeon. It might be a good idea to stop and ask yourself, am I offering to pray for this person because I am truly moved by the Holy Spirit to do so, or am I doing this to subtly indicate my own self-righteousness? Then again – and this is for the theological philosophers to muddle over – is prayer offered up even with bad motivation better than no prayer at all?

15

God Returns to Democrat Platform Chicago Style

 

Over the protests of their delegates, the Democrat powers that be have reinserted God and pro Israel language back into their platform.  The voice votes in the video above clearly indicate that the Democrats did not get the two-thirds votes necessary to amend their platform.  An example of why I refer to the Democrat Party and not the Democratic Party.  Interesting that the top Dems thought it necessary to make these changes.  No doubt they feared that they were being killed in the blogs and the new media over this, and they could just see the GOP ads talking about the Godless Democrat platform and the Democrats taking an anti-Israeli stance.  The fact that they did not have the two-thirds vote necessary to amend their platform was of small moment.  Simply keep voting and then finally just declare that your side won!   Democracy Democrat style in action. Continue Reading

7

And Now Idiots

Hey, remember when those evil Dutch overlords refused to free all their slaves in Brooklyn? No? Because Representative Yvette Clarke (D-NY) sure does.

Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) appeared to botch American and Brooklyn political history during an appearance on “The Colbert Report” that aired Tuesday night, saying that slavery in the United States persisted under the Dutch as late as 1898.

Colbert was quizzing Clarke on the history of her borough.

“Some have called Brooklyn’s decision to become part of New York City ‘The Great Mistake of 1898,’ ” Colbert said. “If you could get in a time machine and go back to 1898, what would you say to those Brooklynites?”

”I would say to them, ‘Set me free,’ ” Clarke said.

Pressed by Colbert what she would be free from, the black congresswoman responded, “Slavery.”

“Slavery. Really? I didn’t realize there was slavery in Brooklyn in 1898,” Colbert responded, seemingly looking to give the lawmaker a chance to catch her error.

“I’m pretty sure there was,” Clarke responded.

“It sounds like a horrible part of the United States that kept slavery going until 1898,” the late-night comedian then quipped.

Colbert pressed on, asking, “Who would be enslaving you in 1898 in New York?”

At that point, Clarke responded, “The Dutch.”

Yes, that was surely a dark period of American history. Fortunately, a contingent of troops who had been training in Central Park under Joe Pepitone finally managed to free the poor, oppressed Brooklynites from the clutches of the Dutch, who were rounded up and sent back to their home country of Dutchland on a series of trans-Atlantic flights, all piloted by Howard Hughes.

40

Michelle Obama and Unconditional Love

 

I stayed up last night to watch the First Lady’s speech. It intrigues me to study how people think, especially people I disagree with. Sometimes it is possible to follow a logical path and clarify where disagreement begins and ends, sometimes I just want to know how bad it is, which is usually when I need my husband to put his hand over my mouth before I…never mind.

So, I sat there propped up in the bed with a glass of Rex-Goliath Giant 47 Pound Rooster Free Range Red and a sleeping toddler next to me to see what the First Lady of the Free World had to say as I waited for my husband to finish up his end-of-the day rituals. Here’s one particular smashery of logic and language that just gets my goat every single time.

She used that lovely phrase unconditional love. I — a Catholic mother who scrubs, chases, sweats, lectures, and pleads for mercy when the truckload of kids and piles of laundry finally break me each day — take that term seriously. In the abortion debate no one who thinks abortion is acceptable is allowed to use that term. In this day and age of political correctness, is it too much to insist on verbal correctness too? Words mean things.

But when Barack started telling me about his family – that’s when I knew I had found a kindred spirit, someone whose values and upbringing were so much like mine.

You see, Barack and I were both raised by families who didn’t have much in the way of money or material possessions but who had given us something far more valuable – their unconditional love, their unflinching sacrifice and the chance to go places they had never imagined for themselves.

Her family gave her unconditional love? Really? It’s true, children are incapable of earning the love of their parents, and love should be given to them without limit, without being subject to any conditions or stipulations. It should be absolute and complete. That term demands no compromise. To place a condition on being loved, is to destroy the notion of unconditional love altogether. It is impossible for a parent to say, “I love my children unconditionally, but only if I want them.” Being wanted is a condition.

If she’s so grateful for the unflinching sacrifice and the chance to go places she never imagined that her family gave her, why then, does she think that mothers in America today shouldn’t do the same for their children? That is exactly what abortion advocate after dissonant abortion advocate stands for – the denial of unflinching sacrifice and unconditional love. Dismembering the tiniest and most defenseless of the children you deem unworthy of life is not an act of love.

Continue Reading

6

Abortion, More Abortion, Yet More Abortion

 

 

Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.  William H. Seward, Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln, once described a series of sermons he attended as “Hell, More Hell, Yet More Hell”.  Sustitute Abortion for Hell, and how fitting that is, and it is an apt description for the Democrat convention yesterday, prior to the convention reaching the prime time viewing hours of 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM Central Time.  The affection for slaying kids in the womb was so extreme that even the pro-abort David Brooks of The New York Times noticed it:

“You know, you’re electing someone — we’re going to spend four more years with these people — and after this speech, I think a lot of people will say, ‘Yeah, I think I kind of do,’” Brooks said.

“The one cavil I will have … is this speech has — [it] reinforces something we’ve heard all night, which was how much the crowd goes crazy and how passionate they are about abortion and gay marriage and the social issues. And tonight has been about that.

“And to me it should have been a lot more about economics, growth, and debt. And that better be the job of day two and day three because they did not do it here.” Continue Reading

1

Obama Can Count on Kmiec!

 

 

My good friend Jay Anderson is being brilliant again at his blog Pro Ecclesia.  He brings us up to date as to the activities of the former ambassador to Malta Richard Rich Douglas Kmiec:

The Daily Beast is running a story about some of the prominent “conservatives” who crossed over to support Obama in 2008 (i.e. the “Obamacons”), noting that many of them are remaining steadfast in their support for The One. I find it interesting that, with one or two exceptions, most of the folks can no longer be described as “conservative” in their viewpoints, assuming they ever were actually conservatives (a number of them pan Romney, for example, for – of all things – being too conservative). But I’d like to focus in particular on one of the figures profiled in this story – our old “friend” Doug Kmiec.
When last we saw Kmiec, it was shortly after he had penned a break-up letter to his beloved over the HHS Mandate, but after Obama’s feigned “compromise”, he was taken strongly in the arms again of the The One, and he did not remember that he had ever felt the pain of betrayal and separation.
And, so, we fast-forward several months to today, and we find Kmiec quoted in the pages of The Daily Beast clarifying for us, in no uncertain terms, that he is firmly in the camp of the ObamaCaths – nay, the DemoCaths – for whom Catholic teaching is generally an afterthought in relation to the overall Democrat agenda, except insofar as said teaching can be twisted to push said agenda. Continue Reading

4

Mary Jo Kopechne Was Unavailable for Comment

Well, the above tribute video to Ted Kennedy shown last night at the Democrat Convention certainly fit into the War on Women meme that the Democrats have been pushing!  The video failed to mention that Kennedy had a great sense of humor, especially about Chappaquiddick!  What a guy!

 

 

12

Why I Am Friends With “Moderation” and “Ban”

Walter Russell Meade at Via Meadia, a blog I frequently read, is ending comments and here is his explanation why:

 

We apologize to the readers who participated in or valued the comments section on the blog, and especially to the well mannered and thoughtful contributors who never tried to hog the microphone, launch flame wars, smuggle hate speech into the comment page, rant about personal pet peeves repeatedly and predictably, let partisan or ideological animus run wild or otherwise abuse what at its best was a forum for reflection and thoughtful debate. To such belongs the Kingdom of Heaven, and your insights were appreciated, your praise cherished and your thoughtful censure was a cause for reflection. You know who you are, and this would be a much poorer world without you.

For the rest, we wish you well, and are confident that you will find many opportunities both in cyberspace and in the meat world for the kind of exchanges and conversations you seek. Thankfully this remains a free country where all of us can pursue happiness along whatever paths look promising; enjoy the pursuit and may we all find our heart’s deepest desire at the end of the road.

I believe that comments add a lot to the blog.  They turn a monologue into hopefully an entertaining give and take;  thoughtful criticism can improve most posts;  the blogger gets immediate feedback on what he or she has written, etc.  I have found for the past few years however, that in order for comments to be useful, it is necessary for a blogger to be quite familiar with the terms “moderation” and “ban”. Continue Reading

12

Why Life Matters

I am heartened to see that abortion has become a central issue in the 2012 presidential campaign. I am even more happy to see that the Democratic Party is spending far more time discussing it this time around than the GOP. While I certainly hope the Romney-Ryan ticket steps up and delivers a strong pro-life message in the final months before the election, the fact that the Democrats are now making such a big stink about it demonstrates that even they must acknowledge the awesome power of the pro-life movement.

This movement, of which I consider myself a small and rather insignificant (but eternal) member, is more than political lobby. Unlike the various lobbies that represent the special interest groups and key demographics that prop up both the Democrats and the GOP, the pro-life movement represents a group that can’t vote, can’t contribute to campaigns, and can’t even speak for itself, the truly least among us.

Given this new-found interest in abortion, the sort of things people are likely to hear as the DNC continues to unfold this week, and the fact that I believe basic refreshers are good from time to time, I want to discuss the pro-life point of view a bit. I cannot be comprehensive here, but I will raise some of the issues I think are fundamentally important in this debate.

Many of our opponents do not really understand what it is that motivates us and drives us. To them, to quote one pro-choice radical feminist I recently witnessed on a news program, we pro-lifers apparently believe that “a fetus has more rights than a pregnant woman.” Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth. We believe in accordance with the Declaration of Independence, that all men (males and females) are endowed with inalienable rights at the moment of their creation. The life inside the pregnant woman is not more valuable than the pregnant woman; they have the same value and are worthy of the same protection under the laws of a just, civilized, and humane society.

Continue Reading

5

We Belong to the Government

Some people think that Democrats have become too statist. How could they possibly have come to that conclusion?

I guess Democrats were worried that Republicans had already gotten too much mileage out of “you didn’t build that,” so they helpfully offered up another tasty soundbite that Republicans will be able to use in ads for the next nine weeks.

It’s shaping up to be a fine convention as Democrats let go of any pretension of not being governed by the far left of the party. Don’s already highlighted one odious aspect of their platform, and Ace details some more juicy nuggets.

 Small businesses employ half of all working Americans, and, over the last two decades, have created two out of three net new jobs. Democrats believe that small businesses are the engine of job growth in America. President Obama signed 18 small-business tax cuts to encourage with a tax credit to help pay for the cost of coverage. In 2014, the tax credit will grow and small businesses will be able to pool their purchasing power together to get affordable coverage.

We recognize the importance of small business to women, people of color, tribes, and rural America and will work to help nurture entrepreneurship.

It’s very helpful that the Democrats emphasized the importance of small business to people of color and tribes, though they left out several other key interest groups. I really wish someone had filmed the meeting or meetings where the platform was put together. They could have captured a great debate over which special interest groups to cover in that sentence.

“It should say we recognize the importance of small business to women, people of color, recovering meth addicts, and violinists.”

“That’s absurd. We need to mention gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered, transmutated, and former NFL players diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome.”

“I agree that we should include the transmutated, but what about urban hipsters and people who still use Myspace?”

“I think it goes without saying that Democrats recognize the importance of small businesses for people who still use Myspace, but we risk alienating space aliens.”

“That’s offensive! You know that we are not permitted to use that word.”

“Oh. Right. Sorry. Undocumented interstellar travelers.”

Break out the beer and popcorn, because this is going to be an entertaining couple of days.

 

22

Compare and Contrast, or Reason Number One Why I Am A Republican

 

 

The Democrat platform on abortion:

The President and the Democratic Party believe that women have a right to control their reproductive choices. Democrats support access to affordable family planning services, and President Obama and Democrats will continue to stand up to Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood health centers. The Affordable Care Act ensures that women have access to contraception in their health insurance plans, and the President has respected the principle of religious liberty. Democrats support evidence-based and age-appropriate sex education.

The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay. We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right. Abortion is an intensely personal decision between a woman, her family, her doctor, and her clergy; there is no place for politicians or government to get in the way. We also recognize that health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions. We strongly and unequivocally support a woman’s decision to have a child by providing affordable health care and ensuring the availability of and access to programs that help women during pregnancy and after the birth of a child, including caring adoption programs.

President Obama and the Democratic Party are committed to supporting family planning around the globe to help women care for their families, support their communities, and lead their countries to be healthier and more productive. That’s why, in his first month in office, President Obama overturned the “global gag rule,” a ban on federal funds to foreign family planning organizations that provided information about, counseling on, or offered abortions. And that is why the administration has supported lifesaving family planning health information and services.

The Republican party platform on abortion: Continue Reading

8

Never Give Up

 

If anyone doubts the power of prayer, please read this story by a mother who prayed unceasingly for her wayward son:

My prayers were unceasing now.  Not a half an hour went by that I did not talk to God about my son and ask His Blessed Mother to keep praying for Donnie. He returned home at nineteen. If nothing else, at least he was home with us, I thought.  Shortly thereafter, my husband was transferred  to Virginia.  Donnie came with us.   

 
     Matthew settled into fourth grade at a Catholic school, Don was sent out to sea on a six-month tour, I kept up my never-ending conversations with God and the Blessed Mother, and Donnie returned to his destructive lifestyle.  Then, suddenly everything changed overnight.  “Mom,” Donnie said as I passed by his bedroom early one morning. “I want to talk to a priest.” Continue Reading
3

A preview of what’s to come in U.S. jurisprudence?

 

It isn’t often that The Motley Monk finds himself agreen with an Archbishop of Canterbury.  But, in this instance, the former and 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, hit the nail on the head when he challenged the “reigning orthodoxy of diversity and equality.”

Why?

This orthodoxy allows for neither diversity nor equality.

According to the BBC News, four British Christians were discriminated against in the workplace because of their Christian values.

The cases aren’t new, going back seven years:

  • Two lost their jobs because they believe that homosexual relationships are contrary to God’s law.  In addition, they believe that homosexual relationships are incompatible with their religion and it’s immoral to do anything that condones homosexuality.  One, a registrar, objected to officiating at civil partnership ceremonies between homosexuals.  The other, a therapist, did not wish to provide counselling to homosexual couples.
  • The other two, one worked for British Airways and the other was a nurse, wore necklaces with crosses at work.  Both lost their jobs, they believe, because of wearing those necklaces.

In what is nothing other than hypocritical reasoning, British employment tribunals and the British Supreme Court ruled against the four.

Why hypocritical?

In Britain—where there is an “Equality Law”—no workplace restrictions are placed upon other religious symbols, including the Sikh turban or the Muslim hijab.

According to AFP, Carey thought the four should “have earned widespread respect” for their witness.  Now, their cases have prompted him to “question whether…faith is a bar to public service.”  He added:

In the past, there was space for negotiation between individuals and their employers, but the burden of ever-increasing regulation has meant that questions of conscience and freedom are neglected in favour of conformity.

The lawyer representing the UK government, James Eadie, argued that expressions of belief “were not absolute rights, or rights without limits.”  He added:

Employers cannot be forced to accommodate (the) religious beliefs of employees who do not wish to provide services to the public or a section of a public.

Carey called the four the “new heretics,” adding:

Indeed, it seems the secular equivalent of the Inquisition will brook no dissent from the reigning orthodoxy of diversity and equality.

The Motley Monk is wondering if this is a preview of what’s soon to come in U.S. jurisprudence?

 

 

To read the BBC News article, click on the following link:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-19472438

To read the AFP article, click on the following link:
http://uk.news.yahoo.com/british-christians-case-european-court-114646467.html

8

Gingrich vs. the Abortion Extremists

 

 

Newt Gingrich was a very flawed candidate in the Republican primary race, but no one is better than he is at pointing out blatant media bias.  He did so on Sunday on Meet the Press, pointing out the extreme media bias on abortion.  Tom Friedman, who amazingly gets good money to write columns for the New York Times, then, hilariously, underlined by his pro-abort response that Gingrich’s criticism was completely on target:

DAVID GREGORY: Understanding, Mr. Speaker, the difference between Todd Akin talking about rape versus the abortion plank of the platform, I understand there is that distinction. Nevertheless, the question, social issues versus economic issues as being a big motivator for women, is a question.
NEWT GINGRICH: Let me just take a second to disagree with Carly [Fiorina]. I think Todd Akin was the choice of the people of Missouri. I think Todd Akin has publicly apologized, and the last poll shows he’s beating the Democratic senator. I think that we ought to go on from that. Karl Rove said some terrible things on Friday for which he has apologized, which should remind us, people make mistakes.
GREGORY: He was joking about if he shows up murdered somewhere–
GINGRICH: In the age of Gabby Giffords, it is not a joke to say that a member of Congress ought to get murdered. And I’m frankly fed up with the one-sided bias, OK? Let me give you two examples. Vice president of the United States goes to a black audience and says, ‘If the Republicans win, you will be in chains.’ How can Biden remain as vice president? Where’s the outrage over overt, deliberate racism? We talk about people saying things, they ought to get off tickets. How come Biden shouldn’t get off the ticket?
Second example: The Democratic Party plank on abortion is the most extreme plank in the United States. The president of the United States voted three times to protect the right of doctors to kill babies who came out of an abortion still alive. That plank says tax-paid abortion at any moment, meaning partial-birth abortion. That’s a 20 percent issue. The vast majority of women do not believe that taxpayers should pay to abort a child in the eighth or ninth month. Now why isn’t it shocking that the Democrats on the social issue of abortion have taken the most extreme position in this country, and they couldn’t defend that position for a day if it was made clear and vivid, as vivid as all the effort is made to paint Republicans.
THOMAS FRIEDMAN: I’m a Planned Parenthood Democrat on the issue of choice, and I think that that is where the country should be, that is where many, many women in this country are, and I am glad there are people running for the presidency who will defend that position. Period, paragraph, end it.
GREGORY: Newt, I guess the question too is whether you’re seeking, even in the Akin example, to seek an equivalency between that and, say, Biden, who was using language that Republicans have used about the regulatory shackles as opposed to making an overt racial–
GINGRICH: Biden was not talking to a black audience about regulatory shackles, OK? Let me go back to Tom’s point. So, you think it’s acceptable to have a party committed to tax-paid abortion in the eighth and ninth month? And you think that’s a sustainable position in the United States? If the news media spent as much time on the extremism of the Democrats as they spend trying to attack us, they would not be able to adopt that plank this week.
FRIEDMAN: I do believe that’s a defensible position, but I also believe I’m here as a journalist. I’ll let the Democratic Party defend it. Continue Reading

3

Are You Better Off Than You Were Four Years Ago?

The Obama campaign has been having a hard time with Reagan’s immortal question from the 1980 campaign:  “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”  Governor Martin O’Malley (D.Md.) reversed himself within twenty-four hours after initially stating that people were not better off than they were four years ago. Back in 2008 Obama thought Reagan’s question was highly pertinent:

Continue Reading