The Washington Post reported Sunday here, hattip to Instapundit, that the White House is getting nervous about the political fallout from the unprecedented spend-and-borrow binge upon which Obama has placed the country.
“Results from a Gallup survey released last week show that although more than six in 10 Americans approve of Obama’s overall job performance, fewer than half say they approve of how he is handling the deficit and controlling federal spending. The poll also shows a decline from the previous month in the percentage of Americans who approve of Obama’s handling of the economy, although a majority still does.”
I have been a First Things subscriber for years and therefore I was quite interested when I noticed their First Thoughts section where they have assembled some of best bloggers from Saint Blogs in a group blog. Our own Christopher Blosser is there, along with Jay Anderson from Pro Ecclesia, Paul Zummo, The Cranky Conservative and Steve Dillard of Southern Appeal, just to name a few. I have added First Thoughts to my daily blog browsing list and, after you have read The American Catholic each day (We must keep our priorities straight!) I would encourage you to check them out each day.
For my sins, perhaps, I have spent my career as an attorney. Over the past 27 years I’ve done a fair number of trials, both bench and jury, and I am always on the lookout for good depictions of trials in films, and one of the best is The Caine Mutiny. Based on the novel of the same name by Herman Wouk, who served in the Navy as an officer in the Pacific during World War II, the movie addresses the question of what should, and should not, be done in a military organization when the man at the top of the chain of command is no longer in his right mind.
The cast is top notch. Humphrey Bogart, an enlisted man in the Navy during WWI and a member of the Naval Reserve, he tried to enlist again in the Navy after Pearl Harbor but was turned down because of his age, gives the performance of his career as Lieutenant Commander Philip Francis Queeg, the captain of the Caine. In the hands of a lesser actor Queeg could easily have become merely a two-dimensional madman. Bogart instead infuses Queeg with pathos and demonstrates to the audience that this is a good man who sadly is no longer responsible mentally for his actions. Van Johnson delivers his usual workmanlike job as Lieutenant Stephen Maryk, the “exec” of the Caine, a career officer who does his best to remain loyal to an obviously disturbed CO, while also attempting to protect the crew of the Cainefrom Queeg’s increasingly erratic behavior. Robert Francis, as Ensign Willis Seward Keith, is the viewpoint character, too young and inexperienced to make his own judgment he relies on Maryk and Lieutenant Keefer. Fred MacMurray is slime incarnate as Lieutenant Thomas Keefer, a reservist who hates the Navy, spends all his time writing a novel, and eggs Maryk on to take command away from Queeg. Finally, in a typhoon, reluctantly and only, as he perceives it, to save the ship, Maryk, with the support of Keith, relieves Queeg from command.
In the ensuing court-martial of Maryk and Keith, lawyer Lieutenant Barney Greenwald, portrayed with panache by Jose Ferrer, reluctantly agrees to defend them.
What I admire most about the film is the realistic way that the defense is depicted. A legal case consists of the facts, the law and people.
Something for the weekend. Go here to listen to the song Painted Black by the Rolling Stones played during the intro to the tv series Tour of Duty, a show whch chronicled an American infantry platoon in Vietnam beginning in 1967. CBS failed to purchase the rights to Painted Black for reruns or DVDs, so replacement music is used instead, which is a great shame. I have seen few videos more evocative of time and place than the intro to Tour of Duty with Painted Black. The second and third seasons of Tour of Duty added soap opera and adventure elements which detracted from the realism of the show, but the first season is highly recommended by me for anyone wishing to see a realistic depiction of what life was like for the men who fought one of America’s more unpopular wars and who usually served their country far better than their country served them.
“But as bad as the fiscal picture is, panic-driven monetary policies portend to have even more dire consequences. We can expect rapidly rising prices and much, much higher interest rates over the next four or five years, and a concomitant deleterious impact on output and employment not unlike the late 1970s.
About eight months ago, starting in early September 2008, the Bernanke Fed did an abrupt about-face and radically increased the monetary base — which is comprised of currency in circulation, member bank reserves held at the Fed, and vault cash — by a little less than $1 trillion. The Fed controls the monetary base 100% and does so by purchasing and selling assets in the open market. By such a radical move, the Fed signaled a 180-degree shift in its focus from an anti-inflation position to an anti-deflation position.
I love Shakespeare and I love history, so I naturally glommed on to Shakespeare’s An Age of Kings (Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI and Richard III) after it was released by the BBC in this country. The plays are divided into 15 episodes, a total of 947 minutes. First broadcast in 1960, the plays present a galaxy of British actors and actresses who later went on to build outstanding careers. The two standouts are Sean Connery as Harry Hotspur, and Robert Hardy as Juvenile Delinquent turned Hero King Henry V. It should be remembered however that these were originally broadcast in 1960 and the visual quality is often not of the best. Nonetheless, mediocre black and white visuals detract not a whit from the superb performances. This would be a good set for homeschooling parents who wish to introduce their kids to Shakespeare.
Another segment in my series on the follies of modern Jesuits, with no slight intended to the orthodox Jesuits who soldier on under often grim circumstances. America, the Jesuit publication, has an article by Thomas G. Casey, SJ, an associate professor at the Gregorian University in Rome in which he suggests dumping Latin as the official language of the Church for English. Rather convenient for English speaking Jesuits, and also rather convenient for people who would like to ram down the memory hole the history of the Church up to Vatican II. Father Z does an effective fisking of the article here. The only addition I have is that Father Z is correct as to the Roman soldiers in Palestine speaking Latin at the time of Christ. Wherever recruited, Latin was the language of command in the Roman Legions and auxilliary units. The recruits, if they did not speak Latin, quickly picked up what was often referred to as soldier Latin. That was the language they spoke while on duty. It was a rather meaningless aside in Casey’s article, but he was wrong on that point.
The LA Times, desperately applying as much lipstick as possible on a pig of an economy, wrote an article here about the up side of unemployment under Obama. The sombre and always serious Iowahawk gives this article the drubbing it screams out for here.
Maureen Dowd wrote a column last month in which she compared, tongue in cheek, Obama to Mr. Spock from Star Trek. Jeff Greenwald of Salon also sees a resemblance between Chicago’s “gift” to the country and the first officer of the Enterprise. Bill Whittle of Pajamas Media, takes great joy in informing us in a very entertaining video here why having an intellectual in the mode of Mr. Spock as president is very bad for the nation.
Considerable controversy erupted over the weekend in the blogosphere as to the outing of bloggers who blog using a pseudonym. The details of what initiated this controversy are discussed in detail here at Southern Appeal, Ed Morrissey at Hot Air comments here, Jay Anderson has a thoughtful post here at Pro Ecclesia, as does Paul Zummo here at the Cranky Conservative. My observations are as follows:
The men of the 5th Ranger Battalion could barely keep from laughing when they first saw their chaplain, Lieutenant Joe Lacy, a week before D-Day. These were young men, in peak physical condition. Father Joe Lacy was old by Ranger standards, knocking on 40, overweight by at least 30 pounds, wearing thick glasses and short, 5 foot, six inches. He was described by one Ranger as “a small, fat old Irishman.” No way would he be able to keep up when they invaded France.
Hattip to Daniel Indiviglio at the Atlantic. USA Today is reporting that the share of the Federal debt for each American household is $546, 668 with private average debt of 121, 953. Of course these numbers do not include the average household share of liabilities incurred by states and local levels of government. Does anyone believe that we will ever climb out of this debt abyss except through the terrible remedies of hyper-inflation or debt repudiation? As I have often stated on this blog the debt that we are amassing is fiscal lunacy and our economy will soon smash into a brick wall of government debt.
The fifth installment of my series pointing out the follies of some Jesuits in this country. Father John O’Malley, SJ, of the theology department of Georgetown has a piece in America, where else?, in which he hails Obama as a President who embodies something called “the Spirit of Vatican II”. Actually I think Obama really embodies “the Spirit of Jesuits Trapped in ’68”. Father Z does the necessary fisking of the article here. Carl Olsen has some pointed comments on the same subject here. Rich Leonardi of Ten Reasons points us to thoughts about the meaning of Vatican II by the late, and very great, Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ, which appeared in America in 2003.