Monthly Archives: September 2012

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!” →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

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.

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.

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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.

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. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

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.) →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

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! ']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

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. ']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

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.” ']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

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: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

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.

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.

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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. ']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

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. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

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