21 Responses to Movie Priests

  • With one exception, your list is trash – made up almost exclusively of americanist propaganda. I’ll grudgingly concede that #10 on your list, although full of the syrupy sentimentalism that plagued the pre-conciliar Church, at least has some redeeming qualities (for example, although the time period depicted was oppressive and patriarchal, at least it was a period in history in which the united states had not yet desecrated the world with its existence). Interesting that you placed that movie LAST on your list, almost as if you threw it in as an afterthought so as not to completely give away your ideological predelictions.

    How about setting aside your fervor for the americanist heresy for once and coming up with a list of films that reflects the full range of Catholic Social Teaching? The film reviewer for the USCCB doesn’t seem to have any problems identifying movies that move beyond your preconceived (and inherently americanist) notions of what makes a movie “Catholic”, as this review ably illustrates:

    http://www.usccb.org/movies/b/brokebackmountain.shtml

    (or at least the version of the review that existed before the reviewer was ambushed by the heterosexist rethuglican “catholic” mob and forced against his will to change his rating to “morally offensive”)

    Of course, you were probably among the dissidents who mercilessly attacked the bishops by dissenting from this particular exercise of their authority under the ordinary and universal Magisterium.

  • Exactly, i.

    This list is more reflective of the Calvinist/dualist mindset that afflicts most American Catholics (or at least those who are likely to read Neuhaus, Novak, or Weigel) than it is reflective of the mindset of the Church. In European countries, for example, you would never see these movies appear on anyone’s “top 10” list.

  • i.,

    I must say I’m puzzled by this line of comments. They confuse people who don’t know it’s a parody, and aren’t terribly constructive for those who do (at least, that’s my personal opinion). One of the goals of TAC is civil discourse. True, the individual you are parodying is often an impediment to that goal, but, then, so is uncharitable (if not entirely undeserved) mockery.

  • What should be on that list – and certainly in the top 30 or better – is the Hounds of Notre Dame. A Canadian film about a great Canadian priest, Athol Murray. Think of an extremely rugged, hard-drinking and smoking version of Fr. Flanagan. Not the flashiest of productions, but I really enjoyed it.

  • I don’t know, but several of the films seem to be about non-Americans. That may be Americanist propaganda but I don’t know how that will work.

    Also compiling a list of top movies might not be European, but it certainly is Catholic. Take a look at the Vatican’s top 45 list of movies:

    http://www.usccb.org/movies/vaticanfilms.shtml

    But I guess since such list making is Catholic, it really isn’t European.

  • “Keys of the Kingdom” I nominate, this may well not be on the list because it is Gregory Peck’s 1943 effort, coming a bit on the heels of “Song of Bernadette” a big success. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0036983/

    Also not that well known and a movie that could possibly have some “not so sacred moments” is “We’re no angels” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0098625/ with Sean Penn and Robert DeNiro. This movie really does effect me deeply and watching it the first few dozen times, I always saw as spiritually renewing and it still is. It seems so spot on in what it says and since it takes place sometime I’d say in the ’20s/’30s, it Pre-Vatican II with lots of Latin and other facets of Catholic Traditionalism.

    I would also give an honorable mention to the one man play, “Maximilian, St. of Auschwitz” which is definitely out of the scope of Hollywood movies but very well done with Leonardo DeFillipis.

    I am sure there are other movies, I enjoyed the Catholic Theater presentation with Father Pro.

    Now, that I see a Pat O’Brien movie mentioned above, though mainly a gangster movie, “Angels with dirty faces” is certainly one of the best movies ever with O’Brien playing the Priest to his boyhood friend James Cagney’s gangster. It’s just not a movie that is centralized on the Priest.

  • I did not visit National Catholic Register before writing my post.

    Everyone should see “Monsieur Vincent” and in fact, SVDP are his initials. Monsieur Vincent is easily one of the best.

  • Did you consider Cesar Romero as Father Dugan in The Runaway? An underrated movie which showed how a caring priest can help a kid heading for trouble. Then again, some of the posters here may feel that would be too much of an Americanist choice since the actor who played the little runaway boy, Felipe, grew up to be a Green Beret in Vietnam.

  • Rick, I will have to put down Hounds of Notre Dame on my to see list.

    Tom, Monsieur Vincent is a magnificent movie. I will have to see Maximilian Saint of Aushwitz. I have a personal devote to Saint Maximilian because of the way he brought Christian charity and love into the abyss of human cruelty at Aushwitz. As for Angels With Dirty Faces, what Catholic can ever forget this film clip which states powerfully our belief that as long as there is life there is hope for any sinner.

  • Sophie Scholl. One of the best movies ever.

  • largebill, I have always been an admirer of the late Cesar Romero’s work since I saw him when I was a child play Hernando Cortez in Captain from Castile. I will put the film The Runaway down on my to see list. I hope other commenters will also indicate their suggestions as to other good priest portrayals in films.

  • Philip, I haven’t seen Sophie Scholl yet, but judging from the trailer below it looks like a magnificent tribute to the White Rose resistance group against Hitler.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Rose

  • There are a few on that list I still need to catch.

    Perhaps cheating a bit, here are two nun movies featuring wonderful priests: Faustyna (1994) with soon-to-be-beatified Fr. Michael Sopocko (I’m sorry, I do not know the actor’s name), and Hildegard of Bingen (also 1994) with Fr. Volmar, played by Michael Byrne.

    These are both short films, hardly movie-length, but with fine performances and beautiful scores. Household favorites.

    As an aside, Padre on Horseback (the Father Kino story) is also popular with my family, in a sort of good-hearted Mystery Science Theater 3000 fashion…

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  • Thank you Suz! Two more films to add to my growing “to be seen” list!

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  • Donald,

    I know its not about priests but it is an inspiring movie. (Spoiler alert!!!!!!!!!) From what I’ve heard both Sophie and her brother wished to convert to Catholicism but were executed before they could.

    Its one of the few movies I think I could buy (remember, I told you I was cheap.)

  • I can’t make it through Christmas without seeing “The Bishop’s Wife” at least once.

  • Cary Grant was superb as an angel, and David Niven made a surprisingly good bishop!

  • Hands down, actor Piotr Adamczyk who demonstrated a remarkable (almost to the letter) portrayal of Karol Wojtyla in the film “Karol: A Man Who Became Pope” and the following sequel “Karol: The Pope, The Man”.

    Too bad these films have gone under the radar by both the general public and, regrettably, the Catholic community.

  • As much as I like how “Miracle of Marcellino” involves a bunch of Monks… the ending doesn’t quite seem Christian to my interpretation of the faith. It’s quite a unique movie and it being in black and white and showing the Spanish countryside and in fact, desert makes it appealing to me.

    I’ll say that even as a secondary player, “The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima” works for me.

You Mean Running Up Trillions in New Debt May Not Be Good Politics?

Tuesday, June 16, AD 2009

Obama Broke

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.”

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15 Responses to You Mean Running Up Trillions in New Debt May Not Be Good Politics?

  • There you go again. Donald, do you understand the difference between a cyclical and a structural deficit? Are you aware that the vast majority of the increase in the deficit right now is cyclical?

    Let me ask you: how much of the fiscal turnarond since the last surplus is due to Obama’s discretionary spending? I’m talking from 2001 to 2012, so it captures the medium-term fiscal plans of the Obama administration. Well, 37 percent is the business cycle. 33 percent is discretionary policy under Bush – chiefly tax cuts and war spending. 11 percent comes from the continuing cost of Bush era programs that Obama has kept up (there’s your war again). Obama’s stimulus bill accounts for only 7 percent, and his proposed spending health, education, and energy account for a another 3 percent. [http://vox-nova.com/2009/06/10/blame-bush-and-the-recession/]

    As fiscal expert (and hawk) Alan Auerbach notes, the worst charge you can levy against Obama is that he is not making a concerted effort to fix the sustainability problems left by the Bush administration.

    And these numbers may actually over-estimate the impact of Obama on the budget. As TNR’s Jonathan Chait points out, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities crunched the numbers, and found that Obama’s budget would reduce the budget by $900 billion over ten years compared with keeping current policies in place [http://blogs.tnr.com/tnr/blogs/the_plank/archive/2009/06/11/the-truth-about-obama-and-the-deficit.aspx]

    But you are right about one thing, Donald– Obama is getting blamed for this because people like you (and I include most political pundits here) simply do not understand the basic fiscal math.

  • Tony, your frantic efforts to provide cover for the completely insane spending policies of the Obama administration indicates to me that the Left in this country will soon be in full melt-down mode by the Fall as the country fully awakens to the disaster of the course on which Obama has embarked the nation. As Robert Samuelson has noted:

    “Let’s see. From 2010 to 2019, Obama projects annual deficits totaling $7.1 trillion; that’s atop the $1.8 trillion deficit for 2009. By 2019, the ratio of publicly held federal debt to gross domestic product (GDP, or the economy) would reach 70 percent, up from 41 percent in 2008. That would be the highest since 1950 (80 percent). The Congressional Budget Office, using less optimistic economic forecasts, raises these estimates. The 2010-19 deficits would total $9.3 trillion; the debt-to-GDP ratio in 2019 would be 82 percent.

    But wait: Even these totals may be understated. By various estimates, Obama’s health plan might cost $1.2 trillion over a decade; Obama has budgeted only $635 billion. Next, the huge deficits occur despite a pronounced squeeze of defense spending. From 2008 to 2019, total federal spending would rise 75 percent, but defense spending would increase only 17 percent. Unless foreign threats recede, military spending and deficits might both grow.

    Except from crabby Republicans, these astonishing numbers have received little attention — a tribute to Obama’s Zen-like capacity to discourage serious criticism. Everyone’s fixated on the present economic crisis, which explains and justifies big deficits (lost revenue, anti-recession spending) for a few years. Hardly anyone notes that huge deficits continue indefinitely.”

    http://www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2009/05/barack_obamas_risky_deficit_sp.html

    Contrary to your final statement, people are beginning to understand the basic fiscal math. That is Obama’s problem and yours.

  • the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities crunched the numbers

    That is a small advocacy group which is an auxilliary of the Democratic Congressional Caucus. Their number should not be cited as authoritative.

  • Donald,

    Answer this question: how much of the increase in the deficit over these years is caused by (i) the economy; (ii) the inherited legacy of the Bush years (tax cuts, war, medicare part D); (iii) new policies of the Obama administration? Tell me.

    There’s something else. One reason why the deficit look so high going out is that Obama has gotten rid of all the fiscal gimmicry that made the deficit look artificially low under Bush.

    Here’s Chait: “In recent years, Congress and the president have relied on a series of budget gimmicks to mask the size of the deficit. For instance, they would assume that certain tax breaks would expire starting a year in the future, but routinely extend them a year at a time. According to the Congressional Budget Office’s numbers, Obama’s budget–compared to continuing current policies–would make the deficit $900 billion lower over the next decade.”

    Another issue — you do understand that high deficits does not mean unsustainable deficits, right?

  • Tony, the matterhorn of new debt is all a deliberate policy choice of Obama and all completely unnecessary. He could still attempt to change course. A good start would be to repeal the stimulus package.

  • According to the Congressional Budget Office’s numbers, Obama’s budget–compared to continuing current policies–would make the deficit $900 billion lower over the next decade.”

    So the gimmick-ditching explains $90bn per year. And the rest?

    The stimulus wouldn’t have been remotely as bad had more than 20% of it actually been devoted to infrastructure improvements. Instead, it was an election lottery splurge.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/graphic/2009/02/01/GR2009020100154.html

  • IT is a scandal. THe real scandal is that both Republicans democrats did not heed Bush’s call to so something about Social Security. I think it is the height of folly not to take care of that first.

    What is driving the future deficts is not really Bush Spending that in many ways were a samll structural deficit. And it is not Medicare D. It is going to to be the other parts of medicare and such.

    Heck balming anyone for that is ort of silly unless we want to blame Johnson.

  • Not to fear, Obama’s soon to be on Rushmore. (Okay, at least near there.) So all is well.

    http://www.blackhillsportal.com/npps/story.cfm?ID=3078

  • Answer this question: how much of the increase in the deficit over these years is caused by (i) the economy; (ii) the inherited legacy of the Bush years (tax cuts, war, medicare part D); (iii) new policies of the Obama administration? Tell me.

    You may be correct on the factual point. The trouble with your discussion is that the numbers your citing are derived from projections for which the methodology employed is very much a black box. Jonathan Chait is an opinion journalist making use of the product of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities appears to have bulked up considerably in the last 25 years (I believe they once employed about 15 people) and unlike other such agencies (e.g. The Century Foundation) does generally employ properly credentialed individuals. Have a look at their site. I think you will look in vain for a refereed academic paper or for a working paper composed in a similar format and idiom. It is a cottage manufactory of press releases and Congressional testimony. Most of their fellows have been recruited from the Democratic legislative staff either of the U.S. Congress or of one or another state legislature. Others were hired off the research staffs of public employee unions. Asking these characters who is responsible for what is very much like asking Democratic members of Congress. That does not mean that they are wrong; however, consulting this source is not an optimal use of your time (or Mr. McClarey’s).

    One problem he only alludes to tangentially and you do not allude to has been the determination of Mr. Geithner (and Mr. Paulson, and various other rogues) to socialize as much as possible the cost of righting the banking system and to effect industrial restructurings so as to serve the interests of Democratic constituency groups. The higher the ratio of public debt to domestic product the more we are in danger of a currency crisis. Given that the propensity to public expenditure tends to explode during banking crises, it is simply awful timing to be attempting to effect what will without a doubt be a notable increase in the baseline of economic activity accounted for by the government’s purchase of goods and services. However, in Washington, in Albany, and in Sacramento, our politicians seem incapable of putting aside for even eighteen months their rancid ambitions and crappy little games to address a national crisis. Joseph Nocera is right, “worst political class, ever”.

  • THe real scandal is that both Republicans democrats did not heed Bush’s call to so something about Social Security.

    Adjusting tax rates, benefit levels, and the retirement age will right Social Security. It is not that difficult; it is that they are too irresponsible and poltroonish to do it.

    More salient, given our current circumstances, is the failure of Congress to heed the recommendations of Gregory Mankiw (the Chairman of Mr. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisors) to address the dodgy accounting practices and undercapitalization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The individual most responsible for this resistance was Barney Frank.

  • A number of points:

    * There is indeed a long-term fiscal sustainbility problem, but it has nothing to do with social secuity. The beltway talking heads just don’t get this — social security is fine, nearly all of the sustainablity comes from medicare.

    * Medicare is unsustainable because of escalating costs. See Peter Orczag’s editorical in today’s Financial Times. But here’s the rub: medicare costs are out of control because healthcare costs in general are out of control. In fact, medicare does a better than of keeping costs down than its private alternatives, but it’s still not enough. A great fallacy here is that because it’s on the government balance sheet, the sky is falling, but when it’s on the household balance sheet, we don’t have to worry about it. Much of the reason for stagnating median wages is the huge rise in healthcare costs – workers are sacrificing wages for this. So this has nothing to do with Johnson and medicare specifically, it has to do with costs.

    * Yes, the governance problems that led to the undercapitalization of the GSEs was a problem, but it had nothing to do with the financial crisis, which erupted in the private securitization markets. That’s where the vast majority of the credit losses lie, and for a very good reason — subprime loans (those things that triggered the crisis) were nearly all in the private sector.

    * I actually don’t know much about the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, but their analysis certainly raises no red flags. And if you don’t believe them, then you are at the baase-case scenario whereby Obama contributyed about 10 percent of the deficit, instead of actually reducing it on net. Jon Chait tried to delve into the differing methodologies – it’s all rather technical– one big issue is whetther the tax credits that get renewed pretty much every year, long before Obama, should get pinned on Obama.

  • Yes, the governance problems that led to the undercapitalization of the GSEs was a problem, but it had nothing to do with the financial crisis, which erupted in the private securitization markets. That’s where the vast majority of the credit losses lie, and for a very good reason — subprime loans (those things that triggered the crisis) were nearly all in the private sector.

    Rubbish. The mortgage portfolios of Fannie and Freddie constituted half of the secondary mortgage market and their bond issues constituted about two-thirds of all securitized receivables. The threat to the solvency of institutions comes not merely from subprime and alt-A loans (16% of the total) but from the prime loans of borrowers under water and out of work. It was not until August of 2008 that the national economy began to contract and a disagreeable condition in credit markets turned into a crisis precisely at the time a conservatorship had to be imposed on Fannie and Freddie. A trillion dollars worth of illiquid Fannie and Freddie issues are on the books of depository institutions in this country, and a trillion dollars worth of Fannie and Freddie issues were sold abroad, much of it ending up in the portfolios of sovereign wealth funds in the Far East. It is Fannie and Freddie issues that will (alas) be added to the national debt. It is Fannie and Freddie’s deficits that are being financed to the tune of tens of billions of dollars every quarter.

    Once more with feeling: it is a suboptimal use of your time to consult the work product of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, whether you believe them or not. There is so much literature out there from more credible venues, though it might not be sufficiently topical for your purposes. I cannot figure how Jonathan Chait is supposed to produce a ‘rather technical’ discussion when his source is not producing much in the way of technical discussions.

  • Much of the reason for stagnating median wages is the huge rise in healthcare costs – workers are sacrificing wages for this. So this has nothing to do with Johnson and medicare specifically, it has to do with costs.

    You mean the escalation of costs has nothing to do with the socialization of costs. Okey doke.

  • Art Deco — I’m sorry, but your analysis of the subprime crisis could not be more off. The GSEs had a major balance sheet expansion in the 1990s, but this had largely stopped during the “subprime years” of 2004-07. If you look at data from the Fed:

    More than 84 percent of the subprime mortgages in 2006 were issued by private lending institutions.

    Private firms made nearly 83 percent of the subprime loans to low- and moderate-income borrowers that year.

    Only one of the top 25 subprime lenders in 2006 was directly subject to the housing law that’s being lambasted by conservative critics.

    (http://www.mcclatchydc.com/251/story/53802.html)

    During those years, it was the private investment banks gobbling up securitzied subprime loans, not the GSEs — the GSEs held only a quarter of subprime loans sold on the secondary market.

    Another way to look at it is to see where the bodies are buried – the GSEs account for a tiny proportion (certainly less than 10 percent) of estimated credit losses out there.

    Today, of course, it’s a different story — the private securization market is dead, and the GSEs basically are the market.

  • Subprime loans constituted about 8% of all outstanding mortgage debt as of 2007. It has been a modest part of the overall problem.

First Things-First Thoughts

Monday, June 15, AD 2009

Bloggers are Dangerous

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.

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3 Responses to First Things-First Thoughts

  • Behold how good and pleasant it is when bloggers type as one. The maturing of Orthodox Catholic writing outside of dead tree journals is wonderous site to behold. Mad props to our brethren for popping up elsewhere and spouting off. Mindful that the convulsions of post-election Iran- devote your prayer time to these poor oppressed folk- is being chronicled by Twitter, cell phones, et al. Saw real cool video shown on Fox News over the weekend- protestors flooding a Teheran street, clearing taken by cell phone. Thus the weapons of the laity- attention reverend clergy it is largely a lay phenomenon so get with the program- are utilized to disseminate current events in the flashlight of Holy Mama Church. Yay technology. Deo Gratias.

  • Yes, and Vox-Nova’s Jonathan Jones at Postmodern Conservative too.

  • Yes, Jonathan should probably have been mentioned in the post (although he joined Postmodern Conservative about six weeks ago, and Jay, Chris, Steve and Paul just started last week at First Thoughts, I believe).

The Caine Mutiny: A Review

Sunday, June 14, AD 2009

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 Caine  from 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.

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Painted Black

Saturday, June 13, AD 2009

tour of duty

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.

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2 Responses to Painted Black

  • I think the first season of Tour of Duty was well done too. To the best of my recollection, if I am correct, even though Carl Weathers who played Apollo Creed in Rocky was brought into the show to play a commanding officer later on, I thought the show had a real honest feel before then without the big name actors and pumping it up. Paint it black http://www.lyricsfreak.com/r/rolling+stones/paint+it+black_20117875.html or Painted black would be the same song. CBS once had an answer to the old ABC show Happy Days that was a more honest realistic depiction of life in the 1950s rather than being a comedy. That show did not last but it seems to be a similar attempt at the subject matter like Tour of Duty.

    After Tour of Duty, I think China Beach came along which definitely was a whole different take on the war, more romantic, I barely ever watched it. However, one of the main actors was the same guy who was Motown in the movie Hamburger Hill.

  • A great show, I really liked watching the first season.

More Biden Merriment

Friday, June 12, AD 2009

Biden 

Joe Biden, Veep-in-charge-of-public-amusement , continues his one man war against national gloom Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. In regard to a question about the new Hudson river rail tunnel on June 8, Joe said, ““Look, this is designed, this totally new tunnel, is designed to provide for automobile traffic.  It’s something, as you know, up your way, that’s been in the works and people have been clamoring for for a long time.”  The tunnel is solely for trains.

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Stagflation or Hyperinflation?

Friday, June 12, AD 2009

laffer-monetarybase

Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air .  Economist Arthur Laffer, he of the Laffer Curve, sounds the tocsin regarding the incredible expanision of the money supply.

“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.

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75 Responses to Stagflation or Hyperinflation?

  • I think that significant inflation is a realistic possibility and have made some investment decisions to take account of that fact. I’m less confident than I used to be, however, that we will see any serious inflation.

  • I agree with Blackladder. Recessionary times introduce deflationary presssures that can greatly intensify the severity of a recession. In fact, that is largely what happened in the 1930s. Milton Friedman and other so-called monetarists have long pointed out that the Fed’s failure to counter the deflationary pressures by keeping a stable money supply (in a deflationary environment the maintenance of a stable money supply requires undertaking actions that in normal times would greatly increase money supply, i.e., be inflationary) via liberalized bank lending practices was what made what should have been an ordinary contraction into the prolonged Great Depression. Of course, economists agree that there is no perfect measure of money suppply (with velocity of money being a related issue), so how much to prime the pump is always a matter of imperfect judgment. Bernanke is rightly being aggressive, knowing that deflationary risks are generally worse than inflationary risks. That by no means suggests that he is estimating correctly; it is possible that inflation will ensue. But I don’t fault him for his prudential judgments on this score.
    I am more worried about the production of structural deficits. Keynes is certainly correct that fiscal policy can counteract economic contractions via the multiplier effect. The problem is timing. History indicates that the intended effects of fiscal stimulus often occur only after the economy has already started to recover, and then operates as a drag on that recovery by virtue of the government borrowing crowding out private borrowers and thereby increasing the cost of investment capital. And if such deficits are structural rather than a one-time shot in the arm the drag can be more than temporary. Well see.

  • Donald, your armchair economic analysis is embarrassing. Yes, of course inflation is a risk. But right now, there is no evidence of inflation on the horizon. There are a number of ways to gauge inflation expectations, the best being the breakeven inflation rates derived from TIPs — this is what financial markets think rates will be in the future. Right now, the 10-year breakeven rate is around 2 percent. That’s not high. But it has risen from zero and deflation risks fade. You can also look at long bond yields — while they have risen lately, they are still at spectacularly low levels, which suggests low growth and low inflation in the future.

    Bernanke is doing the right thing. Yes, its never been done before, but Bernanke — in his own research — has thought about these things long before he had his current job. You are aware of the zero bound and why unconventional quantitative and credit easing are needed, right?

    As for your stagflation theory– do you understand what you are saying? The 1970s stagflation resulted from an adverse supply shock, leading to less growth and higher inflation. What we have to today is a major negative demand shock, which leads to lower growth and lower inflation — and we have that. What would likely drive higher inflation in the future? Well, a rebound in growth before the Fed has had time to unwind liquidity.

    You’ve also ben harping a lot about the deficit, failing to acknowledge that the high deficit today is nearly all the result of the economy plus the inheritance of Bush. See the numbers in this post: http://vox-nova.com/2009/06/10/blame-bush-and-the-recession/. You may agree or disagree with the efficacy of the stimulus, but it’s not a main driver of the deficit. You might want to focus your attention instead on the big one – the fact that military spending accounts for almost a quarter of the federal budget and that the Iraq war will cost about $3 trillion, far exceeding anything Obama will spend. Welcome back to the reality-based community, Donald, the Bush years are over.

  • Thank you Tony for bringing Ms. Rosy Scenario to the combox. I stand by my prediction of stagflation, unless Obama manages to ignite hyper-inflation with his inane fiscal policies.

  • This article contends that we are already beginning to see signs of stagflation and I tend to agree:

    http://seekingalpha.com/article/142370-why-stagflation-has-already-begun?source=feed

  • Oh, and Tony, although I think Bush deserves a huge amount of blame for the Bailout Swindle of 2008, even the New York Times realizes that blaming Bush as a tactic to avert criticism of the Obama policies on the economy has just about reached its shelf life.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/12/us/politics/12memo.html?_r=2&ref=todayspaper

    Your guy got elected last year and it’s his economy now. I believe his policies have made a bad situation much worse. Time will tell. Ultimately however, he will will be the one to take the credit or the blame.

  • MM,

    I think the thing the analysis you are linking to is missing is how much Obama had racked up in increasing the deficit in just one year. One can point to the likely overall cost of Iraq over the course of the 8+ total years we’ll be spending on it, but Obama has put through some very hefty price tags in just one year, which leaves one to wonder what it will look like by the time he’s done ending health care as we know it and such.

    Obama pushed through even more “tax cuts” (balanced by an increase on the rich that will do little when the incomes of the rich are going down a great deal) and a 1 Trillion+ “stimulus” package which amounted to a retroactive partisan wish list. So far, the cost per year of having Obama is much higher than of having Bush — and Bush himself spent like a drunken sailor. Your argument would be reassuring if we could be assured that Obama would resign after a year in office, but as things stand, not so much.

  • There’s nothing particularly rosy about what MM is saying here. The markets aren’t forecasting much inflation right now (see here and here).

  • After the last year BA, I am somewhat sceptical as to the predictive ability of the markets, but your point is well taken that there is a division of opinion as to whether a bout of inflation is inevitable, and how much will result if we do experience it. Here is a good article by Paul Kasriel of Northern Trust as to why he sees inflation in our future.

    http://web-xp2a-pws.ntrs.com/content//media/attachment/data/econ_research/0906/document/ec060109.pdf

  • Nassim Taleb’s hedge fund — which made more than 100% in the past year due to correct forecasting — is betting heavily on inflation now. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124380234786770027.html

    What’s your track record of prediction, MM?

  • Donald,

    This is simply embarrassing. You don’t know what you are talking about. Randimly quoting other sources is no substitute for knowledge.

  • Darwin,

    Actually, that’s not true at all. First, Leonhart’s numbers (attributing only 7 percent of the fiscal worsening to Obama’s stimulus) is from 2009-12. He points out that extending the analysis a few years beyond this makes Obama look only a tiny bit worse.

    Others have argued that Leonhart is even overstating Obama’s contribution. AS Jonathan Chait points out, an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities thinks that the deficit under Obama will actually be $900 billion than under current policies (a standard fiscal policy benchmark).

    People who simply look at the deficit often fail to distinguish cyclical and structural factors, and within nstructural factors, dynamics from pre-existing programs. Let me give you an example from the UK, which is even more extreme. In a year, the deficit jumped from about 6 perent to over 12 percent of GDP. Of that, Brown’s fiscal stimulus accounts for 1.5 percent, the rest is the economy. It’s not so serious in the US (the UK relied a lot more onm sensitive asset-based taxes), but you had the downturn right as Bush’s previous measures (Iraq, tax cuts etc) were having a large dynamic impact.

    And by the way, nobody has yet answered by question: would you be willing to cut the deficit by cutting spending on the item that accounts for almost a quarter of spending, the single largest, discretionary spending porgram — the military? I would. Can we achieve common ground here?

  • Tony when you have something more of substance to say about this post, get back to me. I can understand however why people who have all their political hopes and fortunes tied in with this current administration might be a wee bit touchy right now, with a plurality of the public in some polls calling for the cancellation of the rest of the stimulus,
    http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/business/economic_stimulus_package/45_say_cancel_rest_of_stimulus_spending, and only 26% of the public supporting the GM bailout, http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/business/auto_industry/26_applaud_gm_bailout_but_17_favor_boycott, it might be a longer four years than was originally thought for those who signed on for Hope and Change. Feel free to relieve stress whenever you wish by coming over here and venting.

  • Ah, some substance while I was responding to your earlier post. You want to slash spending on the military Tony? What a surprise. Tell you what. You help organize a movement to slash spending on the military and I’ll continue my efforts to get the Republicans in Congress to slash useless domestic spending and to trim military spending by closing useless bases and unnecessary weapon systems, both of which are not wanted by the Pentagon but are wanted by politicians eager to protect jobs in their districts, and maybe something will be accomplished. Question: what domestic spending, if any, would you be willing to have cut? Additional question, since you want socialized health care, how in the world can you pretend to have any concern about government spending?

  • Guys, unlike Vox Nova, your blog is doing a good job keeping commenters from flat-out lying about other people. Thus, just as you delete iafrate’s juvenile obscenities, you should delete MM’s insane remark above. Arguing with someone in a comments section is simply not “stalking.”

  • Agreed SB. I’ve deleted both Morning’s Minion’s comment and your response. Morning’s Minion proffered no evidence to support his contention, and, in any event, his contention was not germane to the discussion.

  • Thanks! That was really weird. Outside of a couple of emails literally a year ago, I’ve had absolutely nothing to do with MM in any way outside of blog comment boxes.

  • Actually, that’s not true at all. First, Leonhart’s numbers (attributing only 7 percent of the fiscal worsening to Obama’s stimulus) is from 2009-12. He points out that extending the analysis a few years beyond this makes Obama look only a tiny bit worse.

    I’m aware if that — my point is rather that this only takes one year of Obama’s decisions, and extrapolates the impact out over four years. If one had taken Bush’s 2001 decisions and extrapolated them out over four years, it wouldn’t have looked very bad either.

    Now, if your assumption is that Obama won’t be making additional decisions that will widen the deficit in the future, that is perhaps legitimate. But it doesn’t seem assured by any extent.

    And by the way, nobody has yet answered by question: would you be willing to cut the deficit by cutting spending on the item that accounts for almost a quarter of spending, the single largest, discretionary spending porgram — the military? I would. Can we achieve common ground here?

    Well, first off, like any responsible adult (including the candidate you supported) I think it would be grossly irresponsible, indeed inhumane and immoral, for the US to pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan so quickly that unnecessary chaos and bloodshed resulted. As I recall, the Vatican has made much the same observation.

    As for how unreasonable it is for the US to spend roughly 20% of it’s budget on the military — I tend to think it’s a pretty small price to pay for most of the rest of the world agreeing to step out of the military business. A disproportionate share of world military spending is one of the plights of a hegemonic power. So I do not, of course, think that slashing US military expenditures the level of Germany or Italy would be a good thing for the world as a whole. But there is certainly money that’s wasted in the overall military budget, and I’d have no problem at all slashing that. Weren’t you the one who was so scornful of cutting “pork” as a means of helping the budget, though?

  • I note that Darwin is the only one addressing the argument. Sorry, Donald, but petulence is no substitute for knowledge. As I have shown, you don’t know what you are talking about. Take your stagflation argument — if we get inflation (unexpected inflation, because it is not priced in), it is because the rebound will have caught everybody by surprise. And that’s not exactly a bad thing. You don’t seem to know the difference between demand and supply shocks — that’s pretty basic, my friend.

    And the reason why I keep mentioning military spending is because (i) you seem to think spending iof far too high, leading to fiscal sustainability problem; (b) the military accounts for 20-25 percent of total spending and so is an obvious point to cut. There’s also that little thing about Christians seeking to turn swords into ploughshares.

  • Darwin:

    Obama supports reinstituting PAYGO, which means that any spending increase or tax cut would have to be financed by a tax hike or spending cut. That’s pretty good budget discipline (if only Bush had not thrown it out the window). But the real point of my comment here is to challenge Donald’s ridculous assertion that Obama’s decisions are behind the deficit number we see today.

    On the military issue, your answer basically says you place a very high value on this mind of spending. Well, I place a very high value on universal health care, on education, on income support for families. We all have our priorities — when so-called budget hawks like Donald seek to cut spending, what they really want to do is cut the spending they don’t like. So let’s be honest here. I would merely conclude by offering the point that spending on healthcare and education is more in tune withe gospel values, and with Catholic social teaching, than is such large spending on the military.

  • “Sorry, Donald, but petulence is no substitute for knowledge.”

    Indeed, Tony and yet you keep posting here anyway.
    Get a grip on yourself. The man you helped to elect to office is bankrupting the nation. His ludicrous appeal for paygo is akin to the man in Lincoln’s story who slays his mother and father and then throws himself on the mercy of the court as a poor orphan. Of course it is a complete sham.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124467627264104053.html

    In a few months only the true believers like you will be able to swallow the idea that Obama’s mad spending has done the nation any good.

  • Minion never got back on the question of the Mexico City Policy, Reagan and Bush at least asserted it, Obama and Clinton reversed it. I guess he/she took leave on the issue, doesn’t leave much room to act high and mighty. Reversing Mexico City policy is really shameful stuff, exporting funds for abortions overseas from some guy who has the Birth Certificate issue which I admit could be from extremists, still, it doesn’t change the fact, that many of his personal records are not for the general public to see including his long certificate of birth. What hypocrisy, what callousness. http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/International/story?id=6716958&page=1 ABC news story. Seems she/he took a leave of absence on that one. That’s not to mention all of the other issues in this area like the Born Again Infant Protection Act.

    Not much room for the fancy words, petulance as far as I can see. Why take such a point of view serious in the first place, as if this person feels the rights to criticize others? Consider the source.

    I don’t mean that to be stern or offensive to anyone. There is no other way to put it when we are seeing how humane Obamanomics is supposed to be with money for healthcare, education and all that lala happy story. If my tone is serious, I would gladly tone it down.

  • Obama supports reinstituting PAYGO, which means that any spending increase or tax cut would have to be financed by a tax hike or spending cut.

    Well, first off, promises are one thing, actions are another. Thus far what we have to judge Obama on is a massive stimulus package — most of which hasn’t even gone out the door and thus isn’t even “stimulating” the economy yet. And we have a budget no smaller than Bush’s most modest. Frankly, with that foundation, even if he doesn’t raise spending even higher without tax increases, that’s very little help. I agree with you that Bush’s spending was out of control, but that means one has to cut it down directly, not freeze the status quo with PAYGO.

    On the military issue, your answer basically says you place a very high value on this mind of spending. Well, I place a very high value on universal health care, on education, on income support for families. We all have our priorities — when so-called budget hawks like Donald seek to cut spending, what they really want to do is cut the spending they don’t like. So let’s be honest here. I would merely conclude by offering the point that spending on healthcare and education is more in tune withe gospel values, and with Catholic social teaching, than is such large spending on the military.

    You’re certainly entitled to your opinion, but thus far the track record of US military spending keeping the rest of the world fairly demilitarized is pretty good. Did you figure that the common good was better served in the first half of this century when US military spending was fairly small (though still a major percentage of the national budget — we just spent much less overall)? As I say, I’m all in favor of cutting military spending where it’s not actually conducive to the common good — but I tend to consider relative world peace to be conducive to the common good. And to be blunt — keeping Europe fairly demilitarized seems fairly essential to that goal.

    However, I would imagine that there are some things we could agree on on the number one area of spending: entitlements. Would you join me in supporting means testing for Social Security such that social security pay outs are phased out for people with higher incomes up to a max income (say, around 60k, very nice for a stage in life when you should own your home outright) above which no Social Security benefits at all would be paid out?

    Would you join me in supporting means testing medicare such that people with income over 40k pay for some of it and those over 60k pay for all of it? (I know you’re enthusiastic about MediCare’s cost savings, so clearly that would be a good deal for everyone.)

    Would you join me in supporting an end to farm subsidies?

    I’m sure there’s lots we can agree on without turning the world back into a powder keg.

  • Darwin:

    You still have not refuted the basic point that esimates of Obama’s contribution to the budget deficits how (depending on the assumptions used) either a tiny increase, or a vast improvement over the no-policy-change scenario. I think that’s pretty good fiscal discipline, especially in the midst of a recession where procylical fiscal tightening is exactly the wrong medicine. People seem simply to not understand the difference between overall and cyclically-adjusted budgets.

    And as for the stimulus not working, well, I’m not sure about that. Remember where we stand. In the last quarter of 2008, we came close to financial market meltdown. And first quarter GDP numbers were unaminously awful, big negative numbers from the US to Europe to Asia. But, now, the worst seems to have passed. Financial market stress is dramatically lower — look at LIBOR-OIS spreads and other indicators. Forward-looking indicators are turning up. Confidence is returning. Deflation risks seem to have passed. I think one reason for this is the huge fiscal and monetary stimulus in the system, not just here, but all over the world.

  • On Darwin’s other points: I don’t buy the American exceptionalist argument about keeping the world safe. WW2 is a long time ago. Since then we’ve have Mossadeq, Lumumba, Vietnam, the dictators in Latin America, nuclear weapons spreading, right to up Iraq and torture.

    Social security? That’s barely a problem! A little tinkering with the social security contribution can fix it. So I’m not quite sure I understand your proposal — whie social security has a big redistributive element (and should have), if you do what you propose, the social contract would end. Then again, that’s what many people want.

    Medicare is a problem. It’s costs are rising at an astronomical level, but what people don’t tell you is that private health care costs are rising faster. From that perspective, medicare is a good deal — relatively of course, as it wil still become unsustainable down the road. You can’t fix medicare wuitrhout fixing the entire health care system — and you know my views on that!

    Ending farm subscidies? In a heartbeat!

  • You still have not refuted the basic point that esimates of Obama’s contribution to the budget deficits how (depending on the assumptions used) either a tiny increase, or a vast improvement over the no-policy-change scenario.

    Actually, that’s pretty easy. Bush had not proposed anything nearly on the level of a 1.3 trillion dollar stimulus bill. If for some reason we’d had another term of Bush rather than a change in administration this year, total spending would almost certainly have been lower than it has been. As for whether the stimulus worked — I agree with you that things are starting to turn around, but I don’t see how one can lay that on Obama’s mat when most of the stimulus currently remains unspent. Really, the only thing that Obama has to recommend him at this point is that he hasn’t got around to enacting most of his agenda yet — other than the retroactive wish list bonanza of the stimulus, that is.

    I don’t buy the American exceptionalist argument about keeping the world safe. WW2 is a long time ago. Since then we’ve have Mossadeq, Lumumba, Vietnam, the dictators in Latin America, nuclear weapons spreading, right to up Iraq and torture.

    To be clear: It’s got nothing to do with American exceptionalism per se — other than to the extent that America happens to be better situated to be a hegemonic power than most of the other major powers on the world stage at the moment (for instance, because it doesn’t have regional enemies near it that would see it as a threat to see the US reach hegemonic levels of power.) Rather, it’s that I think having a hegemonic power which is not bent on conquest is much more conducive to world peace and well being than having a number of roughly balanced world powers. This difference is fairly clear if one looks at the difference between the last sixty years (even with occasional regional flair ups like Korea, Vietnam and Iraq) and the previous 150.

    Social security? That’s barely a problem! A little tinkering with the social security contribution can fix it. So I’m not quite sure I understand your proposal — whie social security has a big redistributive element (and should have), if you do what you propose, the social contract would end. Then again, that’s what many people want.

    The problem? Well, there’s “hardly a problem” with military spending either, if it’s function that you’re complaining about. But if you want to go after the largest areas of the budget, the real target is entitlements, which gives you two big targets.

    Social contract? Come now, my dear Rousseau, few people think of Social Security as a retirement account at this point. Everyone knows its a welfare program for the old, which for reasons passing understanding pays out even to the rich. If people want to save, they get an IRA or 401k. If saving money is truly of interest to you, you should have no problem with ending the charade that Social Security is anything other than a safety net program, and be happy to turn it into something which gives preferential option only to the poor.

  • Again, the stimulus bill is actually quite minor, as it is paid for in the later years (revsersing the Bush tax cuts etc). You should have a look at Jonathan Chait’s short piece: http://blogs.tnr.com/tnr/blogs/the_plank/archive/2009/06/11/the-truth-about-obama-and-the-deficit.aspx

  • So MM finally does realize, contra his post on Bartels a year ago, that much of what happens economically during a President’s 4 or 8 years in office is affected (if not determined) by a previous President.

    As I said in that thread — and it looks remarkably prescient, if I say so myself:

    Look at it this way: In 2009 or 2010, the US economy may experience a serious recession, as lots of people are predicting. This may be due to a thousand different factors — the collapse of the housing bubble, the price of oil, the collapse of the American honeybee population (driving up the price of food), decisions by foreign investors, etc., etc., etc.

    If such a recession does happen, it will be fundamentally stupid (for the same reasons that Rodrik and MM are fundamentally stupid here) to say, “Obama is President; therefore Democrats cause recessions.” I certainly wouldn’t say such an idiotic thing, and I’d eagerly condemn any Republican who did.

  • And as for the stimulus not working, well, I’m not sure about that. Remember where we stand. In the last quarter of 2008, we came close to financial market meltdown. And first quarter GDP numbers were unaminously awful, big negative numbers from the US to Europe to Asia. But, now, the worst seems to have passed.

    Given that the overwhelming majority of the stimulus money hasn’t and won’t be spent until the next couple of years, this is quite a magical effect. Just pass a bill without doing anything yet, and everything gets better.

    If the claim is that the economic movers are just inspired by the thought of all that money being spent two years from now, why can’t we just pass a bill that pretends to spend borrowed money in 2010 and 2011, but then just secretly waits to see whether it’s actually necessary at that point?

  • While projected spending can stimulate the private economy when vendors ramp up, the spending in this stimulus is primarily in the public sector (teachers, entitlement programs etc.), not in the private sector (infrastructure). Until those new public jobs come on line there is no new jobs (as evidenced by the unemployment numbers).

    No, whatever is going on in the economy is not from stimulus.

  • By the way, MM, shouldn’t you take a break from defending Obama for a moment, and saunter over to VN to amend your comments: 1) accusing a Jewish guy of not being “Catholic” enough, and 2) falsely accusing Joseph Bottum of “idolizing Ronald Reagan” and engaging in “Reagan worship”?

    Number 1 is was a jaw-hits-the-floor moment. Of course, Calvinists (I here refer to actual Calvinists, i.e., followers of John Calvin) have quite a better record of toleration towards Jews than the Catholic Church did up till just recently (for reasons that can be traced to John Calvin himself). Thus, perhaps you think it’s too Calvinist that First Things even lets a Jewish guy near the place.

  • S.B.,

    This isn’t my thread, but is it really necessary to comment here on another thread on an unrelated topic on another blog? (btw, I am sympathetic to your criticisms of the other post, I just don’t think it’s helpful to bring it up here.)

  • Sorry, it’s just that since Henry banned me from Vox Nova, there’s no other convenient outlet for tweaking MM on his absurdities. 🙂

  • I didn’t ban you from any of mys posts, SB, but I do try to ignore you. 10 percent of the time you say something interesting, while the other 90 percent consists in a barrage of harassment, over months and even years, off topic or on topic. And I want to respect John Henry’s wishes (this is his turf, not mine), but I will point out that discerning right from wrong is what the natural law is all about, and Jews are no different from Catholics is this regard.

    Well, SB, I guess this is one of the 10 percent of posts, because your link to Justin Wolfers (a really good economist) does manage to shed some light on the issue. For me, the key is the level of inflation expectations — from an unbelievably low 0.9 percent to 2.25 percent. If financial markets expect inflation of 2.25 percent in 10 years, then we really don’t have much to worry about. Of course, the speed of the correction could be an issue. I’ll repeat the point from earlier — if inflation gets out of control, it will most likely come from a recovery that comes sooner and stronger than most people now anticpate, before the Fed has a chance to properly drain excess liquidity from the system.

    I would also draw attention to Paul Krugman today, as he discusses this very topic:

    “On one side, the inflation worriers are harassing the Fed. The latest example: Arthur Laffer, he of the curve, warns that the Fed’s policies will cause devastating inflation. He recommends, among other things, possibly raising banks’ reserve requirements, which happens to be exactly what the Fed did in 1936 and 1937 — a move that none other than Milton Friedman condemned as helping to strangle economic recovery.

    What about the claim that the Fed is risking inflation? It isn’t. Mr. Laffer seems panicked by a rapid rise in the monetary base, the sum of currency in circulation and the reserves of banks. But a rising monetary base isn’t inflationary when you’re in a liquidity trap. America’s monetary base doubled between 1929 and 1939; prices fell 19 percent. Japan’s monetary base rose 85 percent between 1997 and 2003; deflation continued apace.”

    I would point out that Krugman was one of the first people to correct diagnose Japan in the 1990s.

  • Krugman on the stimulus:

    “And Republicans, providing a bit of comic relief, are saying that the stimulus has failed, because the enabling legislation was passed four months ago — wow, four whole months! — yet unemployment is still rising. This suggests an interesting comparison with the economic record of Ronald Reagan, whose 1981 tax cut was followed by no less than 16 months of rising unemployment.

    Well then, what about all that government borrowing? All it’s doing is offsetting a plunge in private borrowing — total borrowing is down, not up. Indeed, if the government weren’t running a big deficit right now, the economy would probably be well on its way to a full-fledged depression.

    Oh, and investors’ growing confidence that we’ll manage to avoid a full-fledged depression — not the pressure of government borrowing — explains the recent rise in long-term interest rates. These rates, by the way, are still low by historical standards. They’re just not as low as they were at the peak of the panic, earlier this year.”

    Sensible, as always. I guess one can make the point that the effectiveness of the stimulus has yet to be seen, and that monetary policy alone might be enough to do the job. That’s a valid point, but I’m with Krugman on the pessimism. There’s another point that he doesn’t raise — we have seen other cases where the stimulus really worked, especially in countries with various constraints on monetary policy. In China, for example, domestic demand is booming, and has already outweighed the collapsing exports, and this can be traced to the fiscal stimulus delivered through infrastructure projects. China was faster off the mark than was the US on that one.

  • fiscal stimulus delivered through infrastructure projects.

    If only that was what we had done. Our “spendulus” was just a big expansion of the federal government.

  • I didn’t ban you from any of mys posts, SB, but I do try to ignore you. 10 percent of the time you say something interesting, while the other 90 percent consists in a barrage of harassment, over months and even years, off topic or on topic.

    From what I was told, Henry banned me from all posts, for what reason only he knows.

    Your 90% figure is surely an exaggeration . . . perhaps you have in mind the fact that I have occasionally (not 90% of the time) referred back to an old instance of dishonesty or inanity that had never been corrected (e.g., your old post doing a simple regression on abortion and poverty as if this proved a causal relationship, or Gerald Campbell’s defense of the “pro-choice position” as normatively “justified by subsidiarity”). And what’s wrong with this? You seem to be aware that it’s fair game to criticize people for things that happened before this morning, as shown by the fact that you yourself refer back to your old posts all the time, i.e., on Joseph Bottum or Michael Novak or whoever.

  • Krugman is fairly persuasive on the inflation issue. On the stimulus less so. Obama’s economic team said that unemployment would peak at 9% in 2010 if the stimulus bill wasn’t passed, and that it would stay below 8% with the stimulus. Krugman himself worried back in January that people would call the stimulus a failure if unemployment reached 8.1% by year’s end. Well, we’re still less than halfway through 2009 and unemployment is already at 9.4%.

    Of course, one can always say that people were being overly optimistic back in January (though it’s hard for me to even write that sentence with a straight face). But if we grant that we’re basically granting there’s no way to ever prove that the stimulus was a failure. No matter how bad things get, you can always say that they would have been worse without the stimulus.

  • perhaps you have in mind the fact that I have occasionally (not 90% of the time) referred back to an old instance of dishonesty or inanity that had never been corrected (e.g., your old post doing a simple regression on abortion and poverty as if this proved a causal relationship, or Gerald Campbell’s defense of the “pro-choice position” as normatively “justified by subsidiarity”). And what’s wrong with this?

    It gets old.

  • Well, it gets old that certain bloggers do anything to justify and defend such dissent. If they had said, a year ago, “Oh, that’s obviously not what subsidiarity is about, Gerald is wrong,” the subject would have been dropped then and there.

    It also gets old that those same bloggers always want to be Inquisitors sitting in judge of everyone else’s orthodoxy for saying the wrong thing about capitalism, health care, or some other much less clear-cut issue.

    And in any event, it is an absolute falsehood for anyone to suggest that “90%” of my comments are in that vein. Just not true.

  • Reading S.B. re: Gerald Campbell never gets old to me. But that’s just me, I’m sure.

  • It gets old.

    So does inserting the charge of Calvinism into every post. But I guess we all have our peccadilloes.

  • So does inserting the charge of Calvinism into every post.

    Yes, that gets old too.

  • You just say that because you’re secretly a Calvinist. 🙂

  • Shhhhhh. Ixnay on the alvinist-Cay.

  • It is old. And I’m not taking the bait. Stick to the subject.

  • And pretending that right-wing liberalism (free markets, big government in military affairs, small government in everythinge else, individualism, nationalism etc.) is really conservatism also gets old! Sorry, couldn’t resist that, but no more!

  • And pretending that right-wing liberalism (free markets, big government in military affairs, small government in everythinge else, individualism, nationalism etc.) is really conservatism also gets old!

    That’s right. By golly, in the good old days there were never any problems with nationalism. And did soveriegns spend a significant portion of their budgets on their militaries? No, no. Back in those days it was all technocratic social programs from dawn till dusk. It was just when these bloody liberals came along (freemasons all of them, I tell you) that people started cutting out all the generous lord-to-serf benefit plans like universal health care and pouring all their resources into capitalism and militarism instead. Back to good old days is what I say, what ho!

  • Why would it be “taking the bait” to agree that the Catholic doctrine of subsidiarity does not in fact require or even imply the pro-choice position? It’s such a simple and indisputable truth. Indeed, you have it within your power to avoid further criticism, and even to win plaudits for courageously abandoning the intellectually corrupt “no enemies to the left” principle, by simply saying “yes, that’s right.”

    But you won’t do it. Odd.

    Well, I won’t mention it again. Gets “old,” you see. At least not until you once again take the Inquisitor role regarding economic issues that are much less binding and clear-cut than this. Then, much as I might try to restrain myself, I might just mention the fact that you don’t object to dissent except where as you see an occasion for beating up on your political enemies.

  • I think the difficulty the Federal Reserve faces is that the propensity of people to hold cash balances has been quite unstable in recent months and for that reason no one has a good handle on the likely effects of the recent expansion in the monetary base on prices over the next few years.

    One might also note that a ‘liquidity trap’ is a theoretical construct and economists dispute whether it is a real-world phenomena. It has been a long time, but as I recall, the ineffectuality of monetary policy in a supposed liquidity trap is a function of the interchangeability of cash for the usual sort of securities the central bankers will purchase in order to expand the monetary base. Critics of the notion of a real-world liquidity trap contend that if the Federal Reserve purchases a security with a significantly positive interest rate, the conditions of the trap do not obtain. The Federal Reserve has in fact been doing this in recent months. (I think implicit in other critiques is that public demand for real balances is never totally elastic, which it is in the theoretical liquidity trap).

    We can look it up, but as I recall, Japan had stable, not declining, prices during the period running from 1989 through 2002. Dr. Krugman also fails to note that the price level in the United States increased considerably after March 1933 (and after the dollar was taken off the gold standard). The deflation was entirely concentrated in the period running from September 1929 to March 1933, when monetary policy was quite conventional.

    It ought be noted that economists with little time for Dr. Krugman’s macroeconomic nostrums (e.g. Casey Mulligan of the University of Chicago) argue that inflation would be beneficial to the American economy by vitiating the real value of our overhang of mortgage debt. Of course, it it provokes a currency crisis….

  • The 1970s stagflation resulted from an adverse supply shock, leading to less growth and higher inflation.

    It has been years, but as I recall, econometric studies of the inflation experienced during the period running from 1973 to 1981 attribute only small portions of it to exogenous shocks in commodity markets; it was ultimately a monetary phenomenon.

  • Yes — policymakers in the 1970s made the mistake of treating a negative supply shock as a negative demand shock and thus loosening monetary policy. All you get in this scenario is higher inflation (there are some technical distinctions between the short-term and the long-term, and how inflationary expectations become embedded in the system, but that’s the jist of it).

  • OK, SB, for the last time. I’ll probably regret this. Of course subsidiarity cannot be invoked to justify the “pro-choice position”. As you phrase it, that statement is almost absurd in its fallacy. I said as you phrase it — I’m not in the game of talking about what a third party (who is not here to defend himself) did or did not mean.

    But what do you mean by the pro-choice position? There are many shades that you gloss over. There is the argument that abortion is a right, something good, or at least morally neutral. That is a wicked opinion.

    On the other end of the spectrum are those who claim it is murder, and seek appropriate penalties. Well, it is indeed murder in the natural law, but that does not mean it gets treated as murder in positive law — I do not believe any jurisdiction has ever treated it as such. So one argument that it should not be permitted by law, but that the penalties would be trivial or even non-existent (this was the South Dakota proposal).

    Moving further along the spectrum, there is the position that since getting the required legal protection is impossible unless we change the culture, we should seek to reduce abortion by other means, all the while seeking the change the culture. I am personally sympathetic to this position, and the Declation on Procured Abortion lists that as the most important objective. Note this does not mean any support for the laws in question, and it does not make one “pro-choice”.

    As I’ve said a million times with these kinds of attacks, the real problem is not any deviation from Church teaching, it’s deviation from “Republicath orthodoxy”. Tactics are elevated to the point of principle. It’s a little ironic, since the Roe-centered position is indeed based on subsidiarity – that the federal courts are not the place for these decisions to be made.

    I wish you would bring your same zeal to those who actively dissent on other areas of Catholic moral teaching, including those who support torture and unjust war — and to people who share blogs or publications with them. Go for it.

  • I am on vacation this week with my family and my blogging opportunities are somewhat limited as a result. Good to see that this thread is still running strong.

    Tony, I’m sure you can explain how your voting for a pro-abort for President ties in with this section of the catechism:

    “2273 The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation:

    “The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being’s right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death.”80

    “The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined. . . . As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child’s rights.”81

    I would have much more respect for you Tony if you would simply admit the obvious. You are a committed Leftist. You voted for Obama because you want him to transform this nation into a clone of a European socialist state. As to the fight against abortion, that is low enough on your list of political priorities that a politician being a complete pro-abort would never cause you to vote against him or her on that basis alone. All the “Republicath” blather in your comment above and in endless other comments and posts you have made over the years can’t conceal these facts that any one with any familiarity with your internet writings will grasp.

  • I wish you would bring your same zeal to those who actively dissent on other areas of Catholic moral teaching,

    You are undeniably one of the most hypocritical individuals I have ever encountered. You share a blog with people who dissent openly on matters of Church teaching on matters such as abortion, homosexuality, and female ordination, and you have the temerity to criticize anyone else about the manner in which they challenge others who dissent from Church teaching.

    As your comment indicates the fact of the matter is you don’t give a damn about abortion. It is an inconvenient distraction away from the glories of your one true Church – the Democratic party.

  • Thanks, MM, for that clear statement about subsidiarity.

  • the real problem is not any deviation from Church teaching, it’s deviation from “Republicath orthodoxy”. Tactics are elevated to the point of principle.

    these kinds of statements crack me up. The principle is clearly enunciated by the magisterium, as Donald has cited.

  • Donald, I am in the tradition of European Christian Democrats, who recognized well the problems of both collectivism and individualism. I support the social market state, which conforms to Catholic social teaching. I’m a Pius XI-style socialist. You on the other hand, are an American liberal individualist.

    And on the life issue, I oppose abortion and euthansia, but I also oppose war and guns and violence in popular culture. You claim to care about abortion and yet you ingest an economic philosopy that flies directly against the injunction in the Declaration on Procured Abortion to takle first and foremost the underlying causes of abortion. You claim to be pro-life and I see you every day glorifying war.

  • That should read “Pius XI-style corporatist” not “socialist”.

  • MM,

    Freudian slip?

    That should read “Pius XI-style corporatist” not “socialist”.

    bet you wish you could take that one back, eh?

    Declaration on Procured Abortion to takle first and foremost the underlying causes of abortion

    Actually, I think it says that first and formost, the laws of a nation must respect the unborn. Nevertheless, it does NOT say that we must accept your worldview that the root cause is free market capitalism.

  • Moving further along the spectrum, there is the position that since getting the required legal protection is impossible unless we change the culture, we should seek to reduce abortion by other means, all the while seeking the change the culture. I am personally sympathetic to this position, and the Declation on Procured Abortion lists that as the most important objective. Note this does not mean any support for the laws in question, and it does not make one “pro-choice”.

    Since you mention torture later:

    The required legal prohibition on torture is impossible unless we change the culture (I’m quite confident that there are many fewer Americans who oppose waterboarding a couple of top al Qaeda members than who oppose abortion). Thus, we should seek to reduce torture by other means, all the while seeking to change the culture.

    Personally, my best plan for accomplishing that objective is this: Campaign and agitate for a presidential candidate who openly brags about his support for torture, and who, as a quite charismatic fellow, can be sure to win over converts to his views.

    How will this accomplish my asserted end of changing the culture, you ask? Well, now: my candidate will be so successful in fighting terrorism that he will ultimately reduce the societal NEED for torture. Voila, the culture will change, just like that.

    I leave it to the reader to guess whether such an argument is believable or sincere.

  • SB,

    that is HILARIOUS!

  • I have never glorified war Tony. I have celebrated courage, faith and decency demonstrated by men fighting in war, as the Church has throughout the centuries.

  • And don’t forget two more critical points:

    1. The charismatic candidate has never even hinted that he is personally opposed to torture or suggested that it is a tragedy even when “necessary”; and

    2. the campaigns’s own torture partisans, when talking with anti-torture advocates, are quick to emphasize that they have no desire to reduce the *number* of acts of torture, but simply to reduce the *need* for it. Anything that suggests torture itself is an illegitimate act is right out.

  • You clearly know more than I do about these people, Paul. I think what you say is rubbish, but again, I’m not going to speak about third parties who are not here to defend themselves. But this much I will say: you share blogs with dissenters on the death penalty (the author of this post himself). You share blogs with people who support unjust war and the recent war crimes committed by Israel. And do you want to take responsibility for all the opinions of your new friends at First Things? I wouldn’t go pointing fingers when the culture of death is right at your doorstep.

    But hold on: I’m merely drawing a comparison with the rhetoric of those who point to selective dissent. I actually think the whole “guilt by association” game is rather pointless, and more than a little stupid — of course you are not responsible for any of these opinions I listed above. What I want is some consistency, and I will keep pointing out the lack of consistency.

    Me a Democrat? Funny, coming from the guy whose underlying philosophy is the hodge-podge set of beliefs that thinks it is somehow related to “conservatism”, something that is unique to the latter-day American Republican party!! If you want me to choose between two parties, neither of which has an anthropology aligned with the Catholic worldview, then I certainly pick the one that is not completely and utterly insane.

    One more thing: you guys discuss Republican tactics and politics as insiders, as “we”. I can assure you, I do not feel such affinity for the Democrats. There is no “we”. And yet I am held up as a partisan in your circles!! I can also assure you that if I did write from such an insider perspective, you people would be the first to go on the offensive, showing yet again the clear existence of double standards.

  • I know you are all smart enough to understand the distinction between when the acting moral agent is the government versus when the acting moral agent is a private person. But don’t let that fine distinction spoil your fun! Good night!

  • An earlier post perusing what the Declaration on Procured Abortion calls for (in the context of Obama’s proposals): http://vox-nova.com/2009/04/30/obama-addresses-abortion/#more-7168

  • I know you are all smart enough to understand the distinction between when the acting moral agent is the government versus when the acting moral agent is a private person. But don’t let that fine distinction spoil your fun! Good night!

    When danger reared its ugly head/
    Sir Robin bravely turned and fled/
    Brave brave brave brave Sir Robin…

    As an aside, I’d never pegged you for a libertarian, but that’s as dogmatic an argument for limited government and unrestrained personal liberty as I’ve seen in some time.

  • you guys discuss Republican tactics and politics as insiders, as “we”. I can assure you, I do not feel such affinity for the Democrats.

    You realize that this is not how you come across, right?

  • But this much I will say: you share blogs with dissenters on the death penalty

    I know that in your pretend world the Catholic Church holds an absolutely prohibitionist stance on the death penalty, but the fact of the matter is, Tony, that it is not a sign of dissent to support the death penalty.

    You share blogs with people who support unjust war and the recent war crimes committed by Israel.

    Absolute rubbish that once again shows more about your penchant for hyperbolic comments that simply caricature your opponents’ thoughts.

    And yet I am held up as a partisan in your circles!!

    Gee, Tony, why could that be? It couldn’t possibly have to do with the fact that you rarely ever criticize the Democratic party or the leftists who make up the lion’s share of its membership? And in the rare times that you kind of subtly criticize the party you quickly point out that the GOP is worse? Nah, couldn’t be.

    If one goes through my archives you will see quite a few posts that are extremely critical of the GOP. In fact, there are probably periods where a significant majority of my political posts are ones excoriating Republicans. The same cannot be said of you. That is why you are singled out for the rabid partisan that you are.

  • I do not feel such affinity for the Democrats. There is no “we”. And yet I am held up as a partisan in your circles!!

    The relevant question isn’t whether you ‘feel’ such affinity; it’s whether your writing is partisan. And the answer to that question is yes, and occasionally in ways that imo substantially weaken your credibility.

    By the way, it is gracious of you to respond to the criticisms in this forum MM (even if all of your responses have not been similarly gracious).

  • I know you are all smart enough to understand the distinction between when the acting moral agent is the government versus when the acting moral agent is a private person. But don’t let that fine distinction spoil your fun

    Why is that distinction all that relevant? The moral culpability of the government agents is different, yes, but that isn’t the issue. The issue is whether it’s legitimate to say that your approach to fighting an evil is to vote for a guy who is actively campaigning on behalf of that evil. And in any event, it still remains the case that most people aren’t that upset over smacking criminals and terrorists around. So until we change the culture to really oppose torture, the best way to prevent torture will be to elect someone who works at reducing the need for torture, by capturing as many al Qaeda terrorists as possible.

  • Seemingly, people keep on forgetting that many of the Democrats favored an invasion of Iraq as well. Getting Blair on to our side delayed the invasion. We have the satellite photography of trucks transporting something to Syria previous to the invasion. They say, Al Qaeda had no connection to Saddam, but why have they been in Iraq en masse once we got there? And years and years of sanctions previously took their toll on the Iraqui people, said on these forums before implemented in part during the Clinton administration.

Age of Kings?

Thursday, June 11, AD 2009

  

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.

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5 Responses to Age of Kings?

  • Got another Brit series for the older younguns- I, Claudius from the mid 70s. Actually shown on CBS along with the public teevee stations. Seriously fine. Perhaps the best ensemble series about sociopaths before The Sopranos. Fun to see Patrick Stewart- later as benevolent Captain Picard and wise Professor Xavier- as a Roman thug. And John Hurt with a masterful over-the-top performance as Caligula. Five stars.

  • I loved I, Claudius.

  • Visual quality?

    I hope you’re aware of the fact that most classic films are predominantly of the black/white variety and by far engagingly more magnificent than any of the deplorable refuse that is produced these days, even with the high-tech, high-definition regalia.

  • I am aware of the silver screen e., and that period had quite a few masterpieces and quite a few clunkers. BBC TV broadcasts in the early sixties lend new depth to the phrase “muddy image”. I enjoy the series but prospective buyers need to know what they are getting.

  • “…and quite a few clunkers.”

    True, but there seems several hundreds more today than yesteryears.

    “…lend new depth to the phrase ‘muddy image’.”

    Thanks for the fair warning.

    About BBC broadcasts in its early years, is it just me or has their programming suffered tremendous decadance over the decades?

    I can’t recall watching a decent program on the Beeb since Jakobi’s Cadfael days.

Jesuitical 6: Latin is so pre-Vatican II.

Wednesday, June 10, AD 2009

Thomas G. Casey

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.

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52 Responses to Jesuitical 6: Latin is so pre-Vatican II.

  • Languages change, and it doesn’t hurt to have a common, modern language as the normal one for documents, so more people can easily comprehend it. This is why Latin was chosen at one point. And English is the most universal language today, so it does make sense. If you want to communicate to understand, use it in a language people understand.

  • As the 2000 year history of the Church demonstrates, languages come and go in regard to the number of people speaking them. Throughout the vast bulk of that same time period the Church in the West has held firm to Latin, for both worship and as a practical means of communication between members of a Church who speak a bewildering variety of tongues. Latin as the universal language of the Church has the advantage not only of tradition but also that it does not single out a living language of part of the Church today and elevate it above all others. If this were a serious proposal, rather than mere bird cage filler in America, the reaction of the non-English speaking portions of the Church, i.e., the vast majority, would be swift and negative.

  • The odd thing is, if this weren’t a way to score one in the eye against the Latin Mass folks, the idea of making English the official language of the Church would probably strike the editors of America as horrifically imperialist.

  • There’s a word for what Fr. Casey is proposing here. Hmmm, could it be . . . Americanist?

  • With apologies to the Aussies, Canadians, and Brits who may be reading. Something tells me Fr. Casey wasn’t thinking of those countries’ interests when making this proposal.

  • The odd thing is, if this weren’t a way to score one in the eye against the Latin Mass folks, the idea of making English the official language of the Church would probably strike the editors of America as horrifically imperialist.

    Never underestimate the power of a grudge.

  • DC

    That’s not true. There are many reasons why one might think English is best. Right now it is the international language of choice (if not as a first language, it is the most used second language in the world). It helps for documents to have a language people use in common.

    Don’t get me wrong. I like Latin. I like how it works, and the kinds of emphasis involved in it. However, it just doesn’t really work for modern documents anymore. Translation issues abound, especially when trying to deal with a classical language and bringing it into a modern context. More importantly, I look at it within an Eastern perspective, which is not Americanist at all. It is the perspective that the language of the people is most effective. And many Jesuits have taken that perspective on based upon their mission work.

  • I respectfully disagree.

    Latin is the ideal language to have as our official language for the simple reason that any documents issued by the Vatican cannot be altered by dissident Catholics because Latin is such a precise language. It doesn’t change from age to age.

    Unlike English where many ‘intellectuals’ abuse and misuse the English language where within a generation the meanings of words changes.

    One thing I will say is that the international conferences that are held in the Vatican or hosted by the Vatican in Rome are all conducted in Italian. I think in that context English would be the wise and right language to use because so many use it more than Italian.

  • Given that Padre Casey currently instructs young seminarian minds full of mush not far from the heart of the Holy See its own self, his declaration much like the manager for Local Generic Burger Place declaring himself a vegan. Not the best location to work out one’s true beliefs. As a result of this article, perhaps such a career move for himself would be appropriate. No sense in staying unhappy in a bad job.

  • “Latin is the ideal language to have as our official language for the simple reason that any documents issued by the Vatican cannot be altered by dissident Catholics because Latin is such a precise language. It doesn’t change from age to age.”

    Wrong on all accounts. 1) Latin does change from age to age, a great deal at times. Look to More’s Latin vs, say, Augustine. Quite different. And modern Latin even moreso than More’s. 2) There is considerable hermeneutical questions involved with Latin. Just look at arguments over the Latin of VII documents. It isn’t as precise as you claim (perhaps if you learned it, you would know).

    “Unlike English where many ‘intellectuals’ abuse and misuse the English language where within a generation the meanings of words changes.”

    Study the history of Latin. Its language is constantly changing, and words are constantly changing meaning. Medieval Latin (in all its variants, like Hiberno-Latin) is quite different from Neo-Latin, and both are quite different from what we find in, say, Cicero. Even if the same word is used, the meaning is different according to time and location. All languages evolve. Why do you think there is Italian, for example?

    “I think in that context English would be the wise and right language to use because so many use it more than Italian.” We can agree there, but it still is true, also for official documents. It would help if we have a language most people can read. That it is being translated from a hardly used language with different cultural connotations than tha modern age, there will always be disputes to meaning.

  • Henry,

    I disagree with your assessments.

    Latin doesn’t change at all.

  • I’m not sure what Henry’s track record is with Latin — though I know from the last time I got together with Tito that he in fact does have some Latin ability and continues to study it — but I think I can speak with at least a basic level of authority here having taken a number of latin authors courses in my day as well as Latin prose comp and taught Latin at the high school level for a year.

    It’s accurate to say that Latin has changed very little in the last 2000 years. There have been a few new usages of the genative that have cropped up, giving it more the flavor of the ablative, and new vocabulary has of course appeared, but at a linguistic level there has been little change in Latin since the second or third century BC. There has, however, been a lot of change in Latin style and usage. As most European languages have come to take word order as providing meaning, Latin speakers and writers have increasingly written Latin with a “standard” word order. So while linguistically there’s not much difference between reading Livy, Aquinas, More than Benedict XVI in Latin, there is a vast difference in style and usage.

    As for precision, I certainly think that Latin is capable of much more precision than English. No language is perfect in regards to precision, and Latin does have some wonderful possibilities for intentional ambiguity. (Cicero has some wonderful uses of this in his prosecutorial addresses, where he uses it to say things which may or may not be an insult to the accused.) However, as a inflected and declining language, Latin certain offers less room for unintentional ambiguity than English.

    Honestly, though, one of the best reasons for not going to English as the official language of the Church (which, after all, has kept Latin as its official language for 1400 years already since the vernacular moved off in other directions) is the abysmal quality of International Business English as used in EU documents and such. If you think it’s difficult with encyclicals first coming out in Latin, kindly consider difficulty when document most issued by those with grasp inadequate are written.

  • Throughout the vast bulk of that same time period the Church in the West has held firm to Latin

    Indeed, in the West.

    Latin as the universal language of the Church has the advantage…

    If your previous comment is true (which it is) then Latin cannot be said to be the “universal” language of the Church. Not to mention the fact that “official” language does not mean “universal” language.

    There’s a word for what Fr. Casey is proposing here. Hmmm, could it be . . . Americanist?

    Yes!

    Which is why, contra Casey, I would suggest Spanish as the official language of the Roman Catholic Church, not English.

  • “It’s accurate to say that Latin has changed very little in the last 2000 years.”

    No, it is not accurate. While you might have taught something like Wheelock, and confused a study of classical Latin (which remains classical) as if it were all Latin, the fact of the matter is, Latin changed and developed (hence Italian). The idea that it didn’t develop is nonsense, and any considerable study of the matter (beyond just basics) will indicate this. And yes, I’ve explored the matter. I’ve studied the matter. And I’ve worked with Latin from different eras. It has changed. It is not universal. Where the Latin text comes from will change context. The words do change meaning. This is basic — very, very basic. And to tell me Neo-Latin is the same as Cicero is nonsense.

    Yes, there will be elements of the language which doesn’t change. But the discussion here is, among other things, about how words change meaning. And this is basic. They do. Linguistics shows this. And the words did change meaning through the centuries. And the localities would help determine this.

    http://www.orbilat.com/Languages/Latin_Medieval/Dag_Norberg/07.html

    Gives some info.

    And if you want Neo-Latin, trust me, it’s a bugbear. It was even more fluid (surprisingly enough).

  • Oh, and btw, St Thomas More (and Luther) wrote in Neo-Latin. It’s not like Cicero. It’s quite, quite different.

  • Michael

    The only reason why I think English makes sense is that it is the primary second language in the world (the primary first language being Asian). Spanish, as a whole, is used less around the world, than English. It wouldn’t help those in Asia or Africa, while English would.

  • And if Latin didn’t change, then this would make no sense:

    “Latin was the native language of the Romans, who spread it petty much throughout their empire. After the collapse of Rome, the language “died.” Actually, Latin didn’t really die, it just turned into Italian, French, Spanish, and several other languages. Or, more accurately, it turned into dozens of local dialects, which gradually merged to form those more familiar languages. This dialect formation had been going on for centuries. Indeed, educated Romans had often bemoaned the increasinly incomprehensible versions of Latin which were developing in the provinces. The dialects evolved through the absorbtion by the local Latin speakers of words and grammar from the conquered peoples. Although the barbarians who overran the empire were mostly unable to impose their own language on the, by then, romanized locals, they did effect numerous changes in the local form of Latin. As a result, by Charlemagne ‘s day (c. 800), the changes had become so great that in much of Europe the common people could no longer understand sermons in Church, albeit that they were being delivered in what was once Vulgar (low class) Latin As a result, the Emperor decreed that henceforth sermons were to be in the “lingua latina rustica” (the country-people’s Latin). In other words, preach to the people in the language spoken in the area. It is durng this period that the first writings genuinely identifiable as French, and later Spanish, and still later Italian are to be found. Of the Romance (literally “the Roman’s”) languages of Western Europe, French moved furthest from Latin, Italian the least.”

    http://www.hyw.com/Books/History/Latin_La.htm

    Or we wouldn’t have Italian. But we do. And this is a page about that:

    http://www.italian-language-study.com/latin-romance/grammar.htm

    So oops to DC. Latin did change. And we do have Italian.

    Now would books like this make sense: http://books.google.com/books?id=o8oqAAAAMAAJ&lpg=PA37&ots=xjH9YI_24h&dq=changes%20to%20latin%20language&pg=PR7&output=text

    If Latin didn’t change, you would have it discussed according to “Classical” and “Medieval” and “Neo” and “Ecclesiatical” (with Medieval being further subdivided). It’s all pure nonsense to suggest it doesn’t change.

  • To round it out, I’ll be the francophile of the bunch. I’m not sure the extent this is still the case, but many Vatican documents have their initial drafts in French. The CCC, IIRC, had French as the base translation.

  • MZ

    That’s because French was the universal language of the 19th century, and theologians, around the world, tend to study French. Then it was German, but German is just not as nice as French. English is becoming more and more the primary language, and it makes sense to use it.

  • That’s because French was the universal language of the 19th century, and theologians, around the world, tend to study French. Then it was German, but German is just not as nice as French. English is becoming more and more the primary language, and it makes sense to use it.

    Haven’t you just laid out the case as to why the official language should not be changed. Today English is the lingua franca of the world, tomorrow what, Mandarin?

  • Ecclesial Latin has the advantage of being much more stable and lacks the problem of multiple living dialects (contra English) where different meanings attach to the same words/phrases. Spanish is even worse in that respect.

    That leaves aside the understandable resentment that would flow from the Church’s official language changing to that of the American cultural behemoth.

    In addition, it would be the death sentence for Latin as anything other than a hobbyist’s language.

  • Henry,

    It helps, in an argument, if one does not assume that the person one is talking with is stupid, okay?

    Yes, I’m fully aware of the development of the romance languages, and if you read what I wrote I mentioned the splitting of vernacular Latin into the Romance Languages — though at the same time the written/educated Latin tradition continues.

    Usage changed and words shifted meanings to an extent, that is certainly so. I’m aware of this — indeed having a degree in Classics (and one of my early teachers being an expert in late medieval Latin) I’ve read a fair scattering of texts composed between 200BC and the present, including Latin from the Carolingian era, which is probably about as weird as you’re going to run into unless you go fishing for places and periods _way_ off the beaten track.

    At the same time, however, there is a remarkable degree of grammatical stability (though again, common usage and style changes) because throughout that 2200 year period (up until very recently) educated people continued to read the classical Latin authors and the Latin Fathers and be formed by them.

    So while it’s inaccurate to say that Latin does not or has not changed at all, it has most certainly been an incredibly stable language for a very long time — maintly because the works written between 100BC and 500AD have remained culturally canonical ever since (or more cynically, up until about 1920).

  • Paul

    No, I have not. There are many reasons for this. One, the internet changes how languages work and develop. Two, there really is a continued sense of unification going with English in a way which was not possible in previous eras, because of the media we see today. Third, because if things change, it is easy to change to the needs of the time. That’s the whole point. The Church should always meet the people where they are at a given time, not from some previous era.

  • DC

    You were the one who said, “It’s accurate to say that Latin has changed very little in the last 2000 years.”

    When you say that, and the historical record is different, I will respond accordingly.

  • Yes, I said that. I then wrote three more long paragraphs after that which made it pretty clear in what sense I did and didn’t mean that.

    If you read all that and got the idea that I didn’t know that Italian, French, Spanish, Romanian, etc. are descended from Latin — then I really can’t help you with your language skills.

    Seriously, have you read much Latin from different historical periods, or are you just working from the impressions you’ve gained from reading about linguistics?

  • Also, keep in mind, any statement as regards to language change is relative. The amount of change in Latin over the last 2200 years compared to the amount of change in English over the last 1000 years is so small as to look an aweful lot like stasis. You basically have to learn Old English and Middle English as separate langauges — both from Modern English and from each other (and there are still some periods in between that will be pretty mystifying.

    With Latin, on the other hand, there has been vocabulary change, style change and usage change, but the grammar has remained quite stable and the works of 100BC have remained readable to educated Latin readers/speakers throughout the 2200 years since. It’s a world of difference between the two situations.

  • DC

    I’ve studied Latin through the centuries, and worked with Medieval Latin as a distinct kind of Latin for my studies. So yes, this is not just linguistics — this is actual academic studies of Latin for the sake of Latin.

  • Henry,

    Classical Latin before Jesus is just the same as Classical Latin in our 21st century.

    I know you want to argue and confuse the laity, but it doesn’t work. Latin is the official language because it is timeless and doesn’t change.

  • I know you want to argue and confuse the laity, but it doesn’t work.

    THE LAITY CANNOT BE CONFUSED!!

  • Tito

    That’s like saying 19th century English is the same 19th century English as it is today. Clearly classical Latin (a construction) doesn’t change. But Latin is not “classical Latin.” And what the Church uses today is not “classical Latin.”

    Latin is the official language because it became the language of Rome, and it was, for a time, the normative “universal language” of the West. But then when it no longer was, Latin continued to be used. It really should not have been. After all, the West had discarded Greek when it no longer was universal.

  • Oh, and Tito, the laity don’t know Latin. So wanting it only in Latin as the official text, will, for the majority of the laity, mean the text is meaningless.

  • Henry,

    I understand where you’re coming from.

    Michael,

    Welcome back.

  • Philosophia me vocat

  • THE LAITY CANNOT BE CONFUSED!!

    Maybe the laity cannot be confused but I sure can be. Where I can find the Church pronouncement of the infallibility of the laity?

  • The laity cannot be confused. Well that is certainly a statement amply refuted by history.

  • Actually I agree. That’s why I can say Micheal’s wrong.

  • Good grief, Michael, Donald, and Phillip. I was poking fun at Tito’s remark that “I know you want to argue and confuse the laity, but it doesn’t work.”

    It is clear that the laity can be confused. One needs look no further than this blog.

  • See, you’re wrong!

  • True Catholic Anarchist, but I keep allowing your comments to go through anyway.

  • Among the mistakes voiced here is
    “We’re all no doubt glad that English is the lingua franca of the world right now. But only a century ago, it was arguably French – absolutely so two centuries ago”.

    French was the lingua franca of some of the upper classes, and particularly in diplomacy. It was certainly not spoken throughout Europe. It is an exceedingly difficult language.

    But Fr. Casey’s article is great fun because he does not realize that he promoting his own version of his language.

    I am reminded of an article on translation in an issue of AMERICA in Sept. 1997. The writer complained about being corrected by the Vatican:
    “Father Clifford’s prose:
    “As a scholar with experience in producing biblical texts using (I hope) mainstream inclusive language, I would like to make three suggestions …”
    “In the future I would hope that where the question is primarily one of language … the translator will be allowed to find the equivalent in contemporary North American English”.

    Consider:
    “producing biblical texts”. (I think the texts have been “produced” and the canon closed. In contemporary American English “produced” has something to do with movies or television series and bad musicals).

    “I would like to make …”. (Why not make them?).

    “In the future, I would hope …”. (When will he begin hoping?).

    “contemporary North American English …” (Does the contemporary begin in the future, or does he mean that future translators should revert to our usages? What exactly is “North American” English? Who will determine it?).

    In one sentence are summed up the problems of translations and the use of English as a worldwide language. What is meant is the use of bureaucratic English, aka Gobbledegook.

  • “In the future, I would hope …”. (When will he begin hoping?).

    That one had me laughing out loud.

  • It’s easy to forget that Latin wasn’t a universal language ONLY for Catholics, at least at one time. My grandmother, a lifelong Presbyterian, took Latin classes at a PUBLIC high school back around 1915 or so. The idea was that learning Latin helped you better understand the roots of many English terms, enabled you to understand classic literature and philosophy, and also made it easier to learn the so-called Romance languages (French, Spanish, Italian, Portugese). Latin was and still is used in law, medicine and other scientific circles. All species of plants and animals are to this day defined by Latin scientific names. So Latin does have many uses beyond just liturgy.

    A commenter over at Fr. Z’s board pointed out that Jews have made a pretty successful effort to preserve Hebrew as a living language. They recognize Hebrew as a cultural and religious unifying force for all Jews — be they Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Hasidic, or whatever. Ideally Latin would serve the same purpose for Catholics.

  • nice little straw man here:

    Oh, and Tito, the laity don’t know Latin. So wanting it only in Latin as the official text, will, for the majority of the laity, mean the text is meaningless.

    Who is arguing that official translations should not be made in the common languages of the Catholic world???

    Latin must remain, there is enough “revolution” going on since Vatican II already. Time to restore order and get rid of the heresy before moving on.

    Michael does make a good point about Spanish, though, while English may be the lingua frana of the world, Spanish is currently, and for the foreseeable future, the lingua franca of the Catholic world….. next may be an African language if trends continue.

  • …it is an exceedingly difficult language.

    Ce n’est pas vrai. Cette une langue belle.

  • une langue belle? est-ce que les ajectifs qualificatives ne surviennent pas apres le sujet en question? And it is “C’est” not “cette”!

  • Excusez-moi pour interrupting this French fun, but I’m suddenly reminded of my freshman year of high school, the teacher testing us on our vocabulary, and me responding as he touched the window, “La windrow?”

    My French improved thereafter, lentement, ma preferisco l’italiano.

  • (Guest comment from Don’s wife Cathy): About a decade ago, I was tutoring our oldest child in Latin after school, and switched him from an Ecclesiastical Latin curriculum to one using Reformed Classical pronunciation (which was better suited to young children) with no problem. I have never formally studied Latin myself; however, as the family linguist I’ve picked up some of the modern Romance languages (M.A. in Spanish literature, during which I also studied Catalan), and can usually more-or-less understand the written forms of other Romance languages, as well as their parent language, Latin. (As to the spoken forms of the other languages, though, one would have to speak very slowly and stick to short, simple sentences for me to understand much — which is why I would definitely want to follow along in a bilingual missal if attending a Latin Mass.)

  • I le no le speako le franche le muy le bieno.

  • Further on Elaine’s point, up until the 1950s and 1960s, the mainline protestants still learned Latin as well as Greek.

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3 Responses to The Stimulus Bill and Jobs

  • For a country with the current living standards of the USA the stimulus programme is misguided. During the Depression working men and women were desperate for any kind of work to keep hunger at bay, some of them even left for the Soviet Union in their search for a living wage. (Their fate was a terrible one.) It made sense in those days to finance road building and similar projects. On the one hand the roads and dams would pay for themselves by stimulating demand for cars and electrical products, on the other the expectations of the workers were quite low. This is the reason why countries well within the boundaries of technical posibilities such as India and China can get substantial returns on their infrastructure investments. But such is not the case for the mature economies already operating at the frontiers of production curves. For such economies it is better to cut business taxes and provide a direct subsidy to companies to retain their workers till the business climate improves. Given his luck, I expect Obama to get a boost from a purely secular turn of the business cycle which he’ll claim is due to his spending binge.

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4 Responses to Under Obama It's Funemployment Not Unemployment

  • And I guess your not partisan, right? The economy collapsed last year under the watch of the previous president and under the weight of the Reagan legacy.

  • An Piobaire, the shelf life of blame the other guys is wearing very thin. It is your man who is saddling this country with a debt now that your grandkids will be lucky to pay off:

    http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2009/05/obamas_debt_tsu.html

  • It’s becoming progressively more difficult not to hate my country…

  • An Piobaired,

    I think the first error is in thinking a President has that much to do with the economy. Even if it is a large amount I think one also has to look at the role Democrats, who were in control on Congress for two years prior to the recession, had in this problem. I think the failure of Democrats to reign in problems like Fannie Mae (which McCain and Bush tried to address) is a significant contributor.

If Obama Is Spock We Are Doomed!!!

Tuesday, June 9, AD 2009

Spobama

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.

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10 Responses to If Obama Is Spock We Are Doomed!!!

  • well, most of ’em are true anyway

  • It’s a fun video, but I don’t think Spock qualifies as an intellectual (he’s very intelligent, but that’s not the same thing). Also, the problem Spock had in the series as a leader was that he couldn’t connect with people emotionally, and therefore they didn’t trust him. This, I’m afraid, is not Obama’s problem.

  • 0.o

    Want… to defend… Spock…..

    On a side note, I thought Spock had a pretty good sense of humor: very, very, VERY dry. Heavy use of irony.

    Spock is also very good at subtle, polite insults. ^.^

    I object to intellect without discipline; I object to power without constructive purpose. -Spock

    http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/148307/best_quotes_from_mr_spock_of_star_trek.html?cat=38
    http://www.pithypedia.com/?author=Spock

  • Foxfier, I will concede that Spock often got off a good bon mot. However, what made it humorous was the assumption on the part of the audience that Spock was not trying to be funny and would have been aghast at the suggestion that he was attempting to be funny.

  • Asperger’s.

  • I’d have to draw a distinction between “trying to be funny” and having a sense of humor; I’d further have to submit that any Vulcan dealing with humans will either have to be able to find some amusement in their actions, or go mad from the sheer irrationality.

  • Of course we also have to bear in mind that Spock was only half Vulcan. I always assumed that he massively repressed his sense of humor in order to be 100% Vulcan which was obviously his goal, at least in the original series. The Enterprise series portrayed Vulcans as being far more openly emotional, at least by the standards of the original series.

  • If I remember the bits of Enterprise I read, coupled with the history of the Romulans,

    *SPOILER*

    *SPOILER*

    *SPOILER*

    (maybe)

    in the Enterprise time-frame, Vulcans had fallen away from the logical teachings of Surak (googles to get the name right) and it was toward the end of that when the teachings made a resurgence; historically, the Vulcans nearly wiped themselves out before Surak’s teachings took hold.

    Several waves of refugees or those who didn’t wish to reject their (highly overpowering) emotions included the ancestors of the Romulans. (They seem to have found a way to control their overwhelming emotions by being cold-blooded, back-stabbing, manipulative politicians.)

    That would make Sarek a child soon after a big wave of religion sweeps over, so Spock might be modeling himself on some real hard-liners, logically speaking.

    Add in the way that someone who is halfway between cultures tends to choose one and be more Catholic than the Pope for that one, and it explains why Spock would be a Vulcan’s Vulcan. (Spock’s fiancé’s actions in that pon farr ep come to mind.)

    Side note: I am utterly geeking out that my spell check had “Spock” in it already.

  • While it is true that Obama has developed a reputation for being rather “geeky,” I seriously question whether he has Asperger’s, since most Aspies are socially extremely awkward and probably couldn’t win an election if their lives depended on it. I do not mean that as an insult, by the way, just a statement of fact.

    Probably the most famous Aspie in the world right now is Bill Gates; he is famous and very successful but charisma is not exactly his strong point. In general, Aspies have little or no interest in purely social friendship (it has to be about a common interest), or in the relentless social maneuvering that would be required to become a successful politician.

    A lot of Aspies do identify with characters like Spock and Next Generation’s Data because of their focus on pure logic and inability to deal with emotions and body language. As I said earlier, many Aspies (I strongly suspect myself to be one) prefer e-mail and blogging to in-person communication because it allows you to communicate pure words and ideas, without having to worry about eye contact, etc.

  • nope, obama cannot be an aspie because he is too full of shi* to be. as a rule, aspies are very honest, do what they say they are gonna do, and say what they mean and mean what they say. obama, on the other hand, is from the senate, and as a rule, people from the senate and the house are so full of shi* that they cannot tell the difference between truth and a lie – to congressmen and seantors – truth and a lie are the same thing. 😛

Outing Bloggers

Monday, June 8, AD 2009

Blogging in Disguise

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:

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33 Responses to Outing Bloggers

  • Donald,

    Did you just out the Cranky Con?

    😉

  • Paul is rather like the Human Torch of the Fantastic Four Tito, everyone knows his secret identity! 🙂

  • Donald, if you do not take this post down, I will be forced to bring litigation against you. You will owe me at least one soda pop when I’m through with you.

  • Soda pop, article, soda pop, article—hmmm.

  • people usually are more reluctant to act like total jerks when they are using their real names.

    I don’t think this is right. People do tend to be more rude on the Internet than in real life, but from what I’ve found, this tendency is no more pronounced in the case of people who blog under pseudonyms than for people who do not. The chances of ever encountering someone in “real life” that you’ve badly treated on the Internet are vanishingly small, whereas the Internet reputational effects of boorish behavior are the same for someone who uses a consistent pseudonym as for someone using their real name.

    I also don’t think doing something that could potentially destroy a man’s livelihood should be described as “merely a matter of good manners” but I suppose our perspectives differ on this.

  • “I also don’t think doing something that could potentially destroy a man’s livelihood should be described as “merely a matter of good manners” but I suppose our perspectives differ on this.”

    They do indeed BA. No one drafts people to comment on the internet, and there is no “Code of the Internet” that guarantees anonymity. If a man or woman’s livelihood is truly threatened by what they post on the internet, I am not entirely unsympathetic to their plight, but perhaps it would be time for them to take up another hobby or to restrict themselves to non-controversial topics.

    As to bad behavior being fostered by anonymity, I would merely point to anonymous comments and compare and contrast them with comments where people attach their real names to them. I believe, in general, there is a significant difference.

  • I”m kind of torn on this one. I believe wholeheartedly in always being civil while blogging and I do not say anything on a blog that I feel would be indefensible or insulting. However, I also prefer not to use my full real name either.

    On this blog (and this one alone) I use my maiden name, partly because my married name is extremely common and I would prefer not to be mistaken for someone else. Also, I used to be a journalist, and it is common in media circles for women who become well-known or establish a following under their maiden names to keep using their maiden names professionally after marriage. It also provides a measure of privacy for their husbands and children since the general public may not connect their last name with hers.

    Personally I prefer the use of a consistent pseudonym that gives you a specific identity. I have used the pseudonyms “Bookworm” and “Secret Square” on other blogs, mostly local newspaper blogs, regional/national political blogs, and some Catholic blogs. I didn’t go with a pseudonym here because most of you use your real names, also, I did want readers to know that AC was not an exclusively all-male preserve 🙂

  • I hope Elaine we can make it even less of an all-male preserve in the future. 🙂

    I have no particular problem with people using consistent pseudonyms on a blog, but I just do not think that it entitles them to an expectation of privacy as to their true identity when they do. I will honor their implicit request to keep their identity a secret as a matter of manners, but I cannot get too upset when others do not follow my course of action.

  • As to bad behavior being fostered by anonymity, I would merely point to anonymous comments and compare and contrast them with comments where people attach their real names to them. I believe, in general, there is a significant difference.

    There is a significant difference, this is true. But there is also a significant difference between anonymous comments and comments by people who use a consistent pseudonym. If you compare people who use pseudonyms to people who use real names, I don’t see much of a difference.

    No one drafts people to comment on the internet, and there is no “Code of the Internet” that guarantees anonymity.

    Morality isn’t a matter of subscribing to some “Code of the Internet.” If revealing a blogger’s identity could cost them their job, then one shouldn’t do so absent a compelling reason. That’s not a matter of etiquette; it is matter of basic decency. The fact that they wouldn’t be vulnerable to such action if they didn’t blog at all is not much of an excuse here (I happen to think that the Internet would be a much poorer place if everyone who knows blogs under a pseudonym were to leave, but regardless of how one comes down on that question, the fact is that people who choose to blog under a pseudonym).

  • As someone who has remained more-or-less pseudonymous for the last four years, this strikes me as fairly spiteful, but I do have a certain sympathy for this “if it’s so essential people don’t know who you are, don’t blog” argument.

    Several years ago, I did delete comments from someone who had done the research to out my name and parish on my blog — though as much because I found it disturbing someone would do the fifteen minutes research necessary to connect me with name and parish as because I was horrified to have my identity revealed. (At this point, it’s a pretty open secret, since it’s right on our contributors page.)

    The smallest offense can be an evil if done strictly with the intent to hurt, and in that regard this sounds to me like it was done in anger and out of spite. However, at the same time, if you really believe that being “outed” could result in the destruction of your livelihood, it strikes me as seriously irresponsible to run a well known blog.

  • BA, in regard to those who consistently use the same pseudonym I would concede that there is less of a difference between them and people who blog under their own name as to blog behavior as compared to people who post anonymously and those who post under their real name. People who have been using the same pseudonym for years generally do not wish, I assume, to have it tarnished by bad behavior.

    As to the job loss of a blogger whose identity is revealed being a question of morality rather than manners, I just don’t see it. All of us in our “real” life are constantly held accountable for our words and our actions. Someone blogging under a pseudonym is asking for an exemption from this general rule of life. As a matter of manners and good sportsmanship, I am personally willing to grant this exemption, but I do not see it as a question of morality when the general rule of life as to acccountability is applied to a blogger or a commenter.

  • Since most everyone works in an at-will State, I think it is prudent to not allow people to make casual associations. I would never, ever, want to have a boss tell me I was fired for writing on a blog.

    I have gone full circle. I used my first and last name originally, but found my namesake had a reputation. At that point I adopted my first two initials and my last name. That is the name most of you have known me under. I dropped my last name this past year, since I didn’t want people making casual associations. Today, I write comments under a psuedonym at most places. If that lowers my blog rep, then good bye blog rep. I never blogged for money, finding that distasteful, so it ain’t like the blog rep is worth anything.

    As far as nastiness, I have had plenty from people using their own names. I have given plenty of it under my own name.

  • If someone becomes abusive with their comments, I think it fair to make the person responsible. A person whould be. Also goes for those who grossly misrepresent their expertise and deceive others. Out their lies.

  • That should read “should be” and not whould.

  • I think Ed Whelan first off looks like a first class idiot.

    What was the purpose of this? Also it think it is important to note that JOB SECURITY was just one of the reasons that he wanted to remain private.

    I can veyr much understand why a Law Prof and those ona legal blog would want to be private. THey like to throw stuff out there to get reaction and input. SOrt of like a LAW Class calssroom. The problem is the general public I fear does not understand this distinction. Thus they think every word is the deep hearted beliefs of that person

  • An example of a phony military vet used by one internet site, votevets.org:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/08/us/08phony.html?_r=1

  • I abandoned a pseudonym in favor of my real name a long time ago precisely because I wanted to discipline my commentary. The temptation to post intemperate cheap shots is just too great from the perch of anonymnity.

    I also agree with Darwin that if making statements on a blog would jeopardize one’s livelihood or otherwise hurt one’s friends or family, it is irresponsible to rely on anonymity in the case of running a well-known blog. It is one reason it takes a certain amount of charity to accept Plubius’s objections and explanations at face value. Either he rather enjoyed the unaccountabilty of anonymity (and his expressed reasons are pretexts) or he was astonishingly imprudent in operating a well-known blog and expecting his identity to remain unknown.

    None of this excuses Whelan’s actions, of course. But he has been beat up enough and I have nothing to add to that.

  • I’m of the same mind with Donald.

    When I decided to come out with my full name I thought long and hard about this. It certainly makes you think twice before sending a nasty comment, plus it makes you more humble when you think twice about retaliating to someone who may have given it to you good.

    With that said, shouldn’t we as Catholics do our best to not slander, attack someones good name, and be more charitable towards one another?

    Being on the Internet does not absolve us from behaving as Christians towards each other.

  • Consider anonymous “bloggers” of previous times, i.e., pamphleteers: Cardinal Newman wrote many of his Oxford Tracts under a pseudonym. Hamilton, Madison and Jay wrote the Federalist Papers under a common pseudonym. Paine published Common Sense under a pseudonym.

    Should they have found another hobby? Are they cowards for not wanting to be held accountable for their words?

  • Nope. But if they were abusive or lying and they were exposed, good.

  • “Consider anonymous “bloggers” of previous times, i.e., pamphleteers: Cardinal Newman wrote many of his Oxford Tracts under a pseudonym. Hamilton, Madison and Jay wrote the Federalist Papers under a common pseudonym. Paine published Common Sense under a pseudonym.

    Should they have found another hobby? Are they cowards for not wanting to be held accountable for their words?”

    Not at all, but neither was anyone else under any moral duty to protect their identities. As a matter of fact, I believe in each case you cite guessing as to who the author was, was a popular activity.

  • What I have quarrels with is when sock puppets enter into matters. We have our respectable ways and then, someone might say something. We think “I don’t want to address the crudity as “Moi””, so then… hopefully, we can get by the situation. Perhaps, the internet has a lot of nonsense to it to. I shiver to read some things on it. Those dark corners I do not go to but we might have a curiosity to have looked at least once.

  • When I decided to come out with my full name I thought long and hard about this.

    I am the only one who finds it humorous to read stories about Catholic bloggers like Tito “coming out.” 😉

    I put my real name to try to curtail my own actions, but honestly I wish I had used a pseudonym now. In fact, I’m strongly considering deleting my blog and starting s fresh one under a pseudonym for when I go to law school, as I’d rather not my full views be all that Google accessible.

  • Cajun Catholic,

    Yep, I came out alright! 😉

    That might not be a bad idea to go incognito Miguel.

  • UGGG Michael. If you delete your blog I think I will scream. 🙂

    I hate when I want to go back and see soemthing interesting that someone said and I find (BLOG DELETED) which is one reason why I often block quote passages

    Anyway you blog would still show up in google cache or something

  • I think there are two questions here

    One is there some profound moral duty that was violated here. Well maybe not. But maybe just basic decency and a part of the social contract was in a way.

    This goes way beyond slandering people. As we have see via the prop 8 controversy and google maps speech and though can be chilled.

    One can lets say be a worker in a workplace that has an abudnace of gay workers. Should a Catholic be exposed and suffer intimidation because he gives passing mention to the teaching fo the Church. I think it all sets bad precedent

  • Don is right that no one was under any moral obligation to keep the names of the authors of the Federalist Papers under wraps. If Madison, Hamilton, and Jay were afraid of being “found out” for the views they expressed pseudonymously, then, absolutely, they should’ve found a different line of business.

    Fortunately, they weren’t and they didn’t.

  • Also, I believe the Founders used pseudonyms partially because they were so well known. They didn’t want their audience to pre-judge the message by associating it with a certain writer that they had fully formed opinions of, one way or the other. It was a way of divorcing the message from the messenger.

  • While blog anonymity does seem to give some people “permission” to be hateful jerks, it might also give otherwise timid souls or people who don’t express themselves well, or have much of a chance to express themselves at all, a chance to say good things that need to be said. That is the way I look at my pseudonymous blogging.

    You see, I write better than I talk, and I don’t always express myself well in person. Plus, I’m really chicken when it comes to expressing my personal views in front of people who might not agree with them. I may not have the opportunity or the gumption to discuss or launch a defense of Church teaching at work or at family gatherings, but I can do it via blogging, and maybe plant some good arguments or ideas in some reader’s mind.

    It is also my understanding that blogging and e-mail are favored and effective forms of communication for people who have autism spectrum disorders, since it doesn’t require them to worry about eye contact, body language, facial expression and all those other details that are difficult for them to handle.

  • All good points Elaine. I sometimes forget that not everyone is blessed\cursed with the hide of a rhinoceros when it comes to self-expression.

  • It was a way of divorcing the message from the messenger.

    Bingo.

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Father Ranger

Saturday, June 6, AD 2009

Monsignor Joseph R. Lacy

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.

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6 Responses to Father Ranger

  • Later Monsignor Joe Lacy was a priest of the Archdiocese of Hartford CT. I believe he is mentioned in “The Longest Day.” Until this article, I did not know that he had received the Distinguished Service Cross. I do not doubt that few in our diocese did.

  • I am President of 5th Rangers Reenacted, a historical reenactment group that portrays 5th Rangers at various public events. I am privileged to portray Fr. Lacy.

    When Fr. Lacy reported to the Rangers a few days before D-Day, the commander of the Rangers looked at him and said, “Padre, you’re old and you’re fat. You’ll never keep up with us.”

    Fr. Lacy looked at him and replied, “You don’t worry about about that, I’ll do my job. You tell me where you’ll be at the end of the day and I’ll be there.”

    I have been fortunate to visit Omaha Beach twice and walk the area these brave men contested on June 6, 1944. Every man who landed there was a hero, some of their deeds were recognized, many are only marked by a simple marble Roman cross.

    The following is the citation for his Distinguished Service Cross.

    Headquarters
    First United States Army
    APO 230

    General orders No. 28
    20 June 1944

    Section I–Award of Distinguished Service Cross–Under the provisions of AR 600-45, 22 September 1943, and pursuant to authority contained in paragraph 30, Section I, Circular No. 32, Hq ETOUSA, 20 March 1944, as amended, the Distinguished Service Cross is awarded to the following officers and enlisted men:

    E * X * T * R * A * C * T

    First Lieutenant Joseph R. LACY, 0525094, Chaplain Corps, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in action on 6 June 1944 at *******, France. In the invasion of France, Chaplain LACY landed on the beach with one of the leading assault units. Numerous casualties had been inflicted by the heavy rifle, mortar, artillery and rocket fire of the enemy. With complete disregard for his own safety, he moved about the beach, continually exposed to enemy fire, and assisted wounded men from the water’s edge to the comparative safety of a nearby seawall, and at the same time inspired the men to a similar disregard for the enemy fire. Chaplain LACY’s heroic and dauntless action is in keeping wit the highest traditions of the service. Entered military service from Connecticut.

  • Thank you for the info Ed! Men like Chaplain Lacy and the other Rangers who landed on the beach that day are torches who light the way for the rest of us.

  • I have read this article with great interest as like Ed Lane I belong to a Rangers Reenactment group- this time based in the UK. I am just beginning to resarch Fr Lacy with a view to portryaing him this side of the Pond. I find his story inspiring as I spent several years studying for the priesthood.

    I would like to ensure that the bravery of Fr Lacy and all the chaplains in WW2 is also remebered along with all those young men who gave their lives for our generation

    Fr Ranger- Lead the Way!

  • Indeed Rich! You might like this post on the original Ranger.

    http://almostchosenpeople.wordpress.com/2010/01/10/rogers-rangers/

  • http://5thrib.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=logout

    Please contact us at our web site. Hit the “Help” button to navigate.

    We will be glad to share information with you.

    I am a Postulant in the Holy Order of Deacons in the Anglican Communion.

2 Responses to There's A Place For Us

$668,621

Friday, June 5, AD 2009

Household Debt

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.

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3 Responses to $668,621

  • It certainly is insanity Don.

    I can’t for the life of me believe that the administration thinks it can create this debt and then unload it 4-8 years later on Obama’s successor to pick up the pieces. A debt of this size I imagine would come to roost within a few years.

    Unless this is exactly what he wants… everyone and everything indebted, thereby creating a nation where the average citizen is completely dependent upon government for his sustenance.

    Bankruptcies in every sector of the economy would be much preferable. This debt load needs to be liquidated with real assets sold off. Monetizing the debt via money creation will carry a real and dreadful hyperinflation.

    This is why I lean in favor of commodity standards in currencies. None of this would be possible if money were pegged to real things. As long as we are on a fiat currency we’ll be stuck in the boom-bust fantasy land.

    If only I had enough fiat money to buy gold!

  • Read the history of Weimar Germany.

  • I think the fellow at USA Today misplaced a decimal point. There are (I think) around 114 million households in the United States. If I am not mistaken, the ratio of the federal public debt (a stock datum) to annual domestic product (a flow datum) stood at 1.19 in 1945. I do not believe it has as yet ever been higher. That would translate to $17 trillion at the present time, or about $150,000 per person.

    One question of interest is the effect of structural surpluses on economic performance over periods of time exceeding one business cycle. Fiscal stimulus through tax rebates, tax cuts, or public expenditure has been a policy tool for containing economic contractions. In said circumstance, you would be speaking of manipulating aggregate demand over a time frame of a year or two. There would certainly be transition costs in making the necessary adjustments in baseline of taxation and expenditure in order to run budget surpluses as a matter of course, but would economic performance thereafter be diminished as against a hypothetical situation where the budget was balanced over the course of the business cycle as against the reality of the last five decades, where we run a deficit nine years out of ten?

    Consider the following parameters: population stasis, complete price stability, and rates of improvement in real income near historical means (about 1.3% per annum). Recall also that the United States government paid off the whole of the national debt during the period running from 1792 to 1835. A commitment to run a budget surplus of 2% of domestic product per annum (2.4% during years of expansion and balanced during recession years) would allow for the liquidation of a debt of 119% of domestic product over that sort of time frame. Of course it would require that our politicians be very different sorts than in fact they are.

Jesuitical 5: Obama as "the Spirit of Vatican II" President

Thursday, June 4, AD 2009

John O'Malley

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.

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12 Responses to Jesuitical 5: Obama as "the Spirit of Vatican II" President

  • This is amusing, while the article is based on “style” as substance in which there are legitimate comparisons between the Council language Obama’s rhetoric at times, it wholly ignores Obama’s rhetoric at other times which is entirely different.

    While Obama gives some speeches that are “civil” he gives many others in which he demonizes the opposition in sometimes insidious but often openly contempt fashion. That is not civility. To speak one way about pro-lifers in a Catholic college, but in an opposite way at a DNC rally, or even to the mainstream media, that is the height of contempt, not only for the opposition, but for everyone, treating us as the proles of Communist countries were.

  • No institution is doing a better job of spreading the post-Christian virus than GTown. No Catholic religious order is more zealous in this mission than our Society of Jesus. Thus the Theology Dept. of this once fine institution is a host body. As I value my daily time only the fisking from Mr. Olsen was worth my view and a worthy one it is. Confirms my belief that when folks unhinge themselves to One True God, they hook up with other gods, the most popular one being Gummint. As O’Malley chooses to make a strange god of Dear Leader, he only expresses what many of his D.C.-based libs believe in their heart of hearts. But perhaps his words of worship are already stale. This past weekend, read something from noted lib Ted Rall already calling for Dear Leader to step down from the throne. Gitmo Angst and other stuff made him unhinged. Perhaps Theology Professor O’Malley should read this essay and update his theories. False gods often have limited shelf-lives.

  • Today the Commonweal blog is casting Obama as St. Francis of Assisi. Better than making him Jesus, I guess. But these people have a sad awakening coming.

  • This article was the most silly thing I have read ever in America magazine. WHich is saying a lot

    These line floored me

    “Is it not ironic that not a bishop but the President of the United States should today be the most effective spokesperson for that spirit”

    Breathtaking just Breathraking. Can one imagine the yelling and wailing if a conservative journal implied that Bush was a better spokeman for American Catholic than the U.S. Bishops

  • “But these people have a sad awakening coming.”

    Quite true Ron. No politician could possibly live up to the type of adulation that has been bestowed on Obama.

  • Isn’t “The Spirit of Vatican II” that anti-orthodox priest in Japan?

  • Yes, foxfier, that would be Fr. O’Leary. (An “O'” usually denotes the bearer of a fine Irish name, but I’m beginning to be wary of “O’s” with an S. J. after their Celtic monikers.)The last I saw of O’Leary, aka “The Spirit of VII,” he was telling the VN posters that abortion, including late-term abortion, is justifiable in some circumstances. He got that pearl of wisdom from Andrew Sullivan’s blog. O’Leary, like O’Malley, delights in telling us we should really forget all that stodgy old Vatican stuff and just get cool with the progressive program.

  • In August 2004 I saw first hand modern Jesuit thinking and its hideous anti Catholicism. Taking my daughter to freshman orientation at the University of San Francisco, the openning convocation was full of self (false) praise of the value of Jesuit education. What it lacked was single prayer for hope, encouragement, or thanks to our Lord. As I told the assistant Dean of Students while leaving, that I a lay person and the product of a good Marian education would have gladly offered one if the Jesuits were too embarassed to offer even one. But the next days Mass for students and family was even more hurtfull by these non-catholic humanists. During the homily, a young woman just graduated actually gave a speech on how she lost her faith and possibly her eternal happiness with Jesus as she was inspired by her Jesuitg education to convert from Catholicism to Islam. I am not afraid of the truth, those are facts and that is what is tolerated in the Jesuit community under the guise of being secular and seeking justice.
    I always thought that seeking Jesus, the way, the truth, and the light was what we humans were about.

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