The Dead Hand of the Sixties

Friday, December 7, AD 2012

 

This ties in with Paul’s post today on culture and its political impact.  Jonah Goldberg is usually worth reading at National Review Online, but today he was brilliant:

The bowel-stewing hypocrisy notwithstanding, what’s amazing is how the same dreck is recycled as new, fresh, and courageous. Charles Beard’s An Economic Interpretation of the U.S. Constitution will be 100 years old next year. Its attack on the Founders as greedy white men was wrong then, but at least it was relatively original. Today, college kids regurgitate the same nonsense — and professors applaud their rebelliousness. Except what or whom are they rebelling against? Not the faculty or the administration.

Hackneyed left-wingery is not only treated with respect on campuses (though most mainstream academics aren’t as left-wing as Zinn or Stone), it is repackaged daily by Hollywood and celebrated by the mainstream media.

The self-styled rebels of Occupy Wall Street received overwhelmingly positive coverage in the mainstream media in no small part because the liberal press thinks authentic political expression for young people must be left-wing. The regurgitation of hackneyed ’60s slogans pleasing to the ears of aging, nostalgia-besotted baby boomers elicits squeals of delight. Meanwhile, tea-party protests were greeted as dangerous, odd, and deserving of hostile journalistic scrutiny.

And yet the kitsch of leftism still works its magic. In huge numbers, young people think they’re rebelling when all they’re doing is playing their assigned part and lending energy and, often, votes to a stale, regimented form of statist liberalism that often disappoints and never satisfies.

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33 Responses to The Dead Hand of the Sixties

  • Peer pressure and brainwashing . . . the power off massive numbers of stupid people.

    I (as much as physically possible) plan to thank each one at the end of the World as we know it.

  • I think I get the point and I agree, at least in some aspects, but this doesn’t help much.

    Pop Culture is a toxic brew of sensuality, irresponsibility, self-indulgence, and self-loathing. When we talk about it in terms of harnessing and using it, I think it is fair to ask “how” and whether doing so will destroy us.

    Appearing on talk shows and such is good. Late-night comedy may be better. We can do the traditional stuff – the first pitch of the season, horning in on sports and entertainment victories, taking advantage of social occasions and such; but that really isn’t a change. We could choose more photogenic persons I suppose but that is adopting the substance-less candidate selection of the Left that gave us the self-aggrandizing dolt we have.

    One way to look at the problem is that we are looking for a bullet proof candidate and that means honestly discussing race and gender. Is the GOP willing to do that, even internally? The Dems have a long history of finding minority lackeys to hold up as tokens. We’ve avoided that as beneath us. The GOP seems to say “come one, come all but we aren’t coming out to drag you in. Come on your own terms or don’t come but we aren’t going to demean you or us by pandering.”

    There is a gulf between popular culture and conservatives. It has always been so. To win, the Majority has to believe that what was is better than what is. This is to say that conaervativism looks back by nature because the new is often not better. Conservatives are “conservatives” because we reject unproven change.

    How then do we harness the tools of our opposition? That is the question not addressed in the video or the post.

  • The gaming culture G-Veg provides many opportunities for conservatives. I have noticed that many people who play games like Civilization, or military oriented games, the mega hit Call to Duty for example, express fairly conservative views. Movies like the Passion of the Christ indicate that mass audiences are there for films with traditional values as long as they are well made. Tom Clancy has been producing best selling pot boilers with conservative viewpoints for over a quarter of a century now.

    Too often well meaning drek gives entertainment produced from a Conservative Christian perspective a bad name. Conservatives can play well in the cultural arena if we do not cede it a priori to our adversaries, which has been the case for the past four decades, and if we produce work that can attract a mass audience.

  • A play based upon the Screwtape Letters has been entertaining audiences up and down the country, and I believe a movie is in the works:

  • I do agree that conservative ideas need to meet people where they are. Not everyone is able and willing to read publications from Heritage and AEI. Many Americans, and a number of my friends and relatives, come home each day watch a few tv shows and maybe the news. That’s it. If we completely disappear from popular movies, TV, pop music, etc., we won’t be reaching huge chunks of America. My first reaction to what I see in popular culture is to disengage. Mr. Z and I have a running joke about becoming Amish and checking out completely. I don’t know how we can really fight in these arenas. Maybe we need to invest in film production companies, cable tv channels etc. that are committed to offering conservative content. If I had George Soros’ pockets, that’s what I’d do. This effort of reclaiming the culture is going to take many individuals in many industries committed to promoting conservatism and old western culture in general. This is not the work of a single politician or the Republican party.

  • Donald, agree completely. We saw Screwtape last year. Excellent all the way around. That is exactly the sort of thing we need much more of.

  • Having reached my majority in 1972, just a bit passed the “Summer of Love” and “Woodstock”, I do recall those days. I actually enjoyed many of them but was frightened by some too. I do see the death spiral America is in as an extension of those days and know that I came through it, without being swept along in it, by virtue of my choosing to be Catholic and somehow burrowing into the orthodox Catholicism which I found attractive, even as a Charismatic in the “earlier days of my walk”.

    Yet, I am amazed how those who call themselves Catholic can do so, as they are, like cancers, eating away at the body. These men and women, actually believe, their destruction is building up the body. Rather than leaving the Church to fester somewhere else, they are choosing to remain and destroy the
    very body which gave them life. It is heartbreaking to have grown up when I did and to see how awful
    things have become.

    Amen, Don.

  • “Donald, agree completely. We saw Screwtape last year. Excellent all the way around. That is exactly the sort of thing we need much more of.”

    I was a freshman in college in 1975 when I first read the Screwtape Letters Mrs. Z and I was stunned at the spiritual insights it contained and wittingly conveyed. I think a well made movie on the book could have quite an impact.

  • “Imagine how strange it would have been if back in the Sixties young people had been aping the fashions, music and political beliefs of the Roaring Twenties.”

    Well, in some ways, that’s just what they were doing! Short skirts on women, beads, headbands (worn by “flappers”), loud and raucous music, and the first explicit public promotions of what was then called “free love” go back to the ’20s. People like Margaret Sanger and Bertrand Russell were hard at work in the ’20s laying the foundation for the sexual revolution and other things we now associate with the ’60s. Also, the popular culture of celebrity that we know today really got its start with the rise of the film industry and radio in the ’20s. If you read the book “Only Yesterday” by Frederick Lewis Allen you might be surprised to discover the parallels. Perhaps a case could be made that the Depression and World War II, and the desire to return to normalcy that followed both (expressed in the early Baby Boom) delayed until the 1960s social changes that otherwise would have occurred much earlier.

  • Superficially there is some resemblance in female styles Elaine as to the length of skirts, but I find it hard to think of two eras farther apart politically than the Free Market Twenties under Harding and Coolidge and the Sixties during which a radical expansion of the welfare state occurred. Free love goes back to the nineteenth century. The celebrity culture goes back to the mass press of the nineteenth century. A far more wide spread phenomenon in the Twenties was the taking off of fundamentalism and revivalism.

  • Just to point out that Mary Pickford was already an established celebrity prior to World War I and Biograph Studios made a point of not publishing the names of their star actors due to anxiety about the effect of that sort of publicity on the salary scale of stars. The phenomenon of celebrity was understood by those making a living in the entertainment industry prior to the 1920s.

  • If I understand correctly, reading Frederick Lewis Allen on the history of the 1920s is rather like reading Barbara Ehrenreich on the history of the 1980s: not something to be done in isolation.

  • “I find it hard to think of two eras farther apart politically than the Free Market Twenties under Harding and Coolidge and the Sixties during which a radical expansion of the welfare state occurred.”

    Then perhaps the POLITICAL decade most parallel to the Sixties would have actually been the Thirties, when the New Deal got rolling and when, in some circles, it was acceptable if not fashionable to be a socialist or communist. That’s when many of the people who got busted during the Mc Carthy era blacklist first came into contact with leftist ideas. So perhaps the political shift ran slightly behind the social/moral shift in this case.

    “Reading Frederick Lewis Allen on the history of the 1920s is rather like reading Barbara Ehrenreich on the history of the 1980s”

    Allen, I am sure, had his biases and blind spots, but he wrote his decade histories immediately after the decade they summarized, when all the events and their impact were still fresh — “Only Yesterday” was published in 1930 or ’31 and “Since Yesterday,” his history of the ’30s, was published in 1940. Perhaps that deprives them of some long-term perspective, but on the other hand, at least he didn’t wait 10 or 20 years and then filter everything through the revisionist views of later decades.

  • I doubt if war time trauma had anything to do with it. The main culprits:
    1. Unprecedented prosperity.
    2. A radicalization caused by the Civil Rights Movement, Feminism and the war in Vietnam.
    3. The combined impact of the sexual revolution, drugs and rock. (Yeah, the old college chant of sex, drugs and rock and roll.)
    4. Members of the Old Left, many in academia, able to create a New Left.
    5. The expansion of the welfare state in the Sixties.

    The Sixties presented a perfect storm of factors that aided in the growth of the Left in this country. Paradoxically, the Sixties also saw a growth of conservatism, partially as a reaction to the excesses of the Sixties, but also as a movement that was beginning to mature politically.

    In spite of the gloom of the last election, the Republican party has never been stronger accross the nation and this battle is far from over.

  • The effects of the sixties generation proves the adage cited by Reagan that freedom is only one generation from extinction. This begs another question, “Why did things go so bad so quickly? Why was the WWII generation incapable of effectively communicating the values they sacrificed so much for to their immediate posterity ?” Affluence and academia, while a factor, do not come close to accounting for the full reason. Another reason I believe is that WWII combat vets were so traumatized by their experiences they couldn’t even begin to communicate to their young why our values are what they are. This made that generation vulnerable to the brainwashing of left wing, communist academics.

    Something we orthodox Catholics often refuse to recognixe when lamanting popular culture is that we are a part of that popular culture and bear some responsibility for its woes as well as its goods. As to the former, we have seen orthodox Catholic commentators act like the MSM with a Rosary. They look the other way when members of some of their own cliques engage in behavior they are only too ready to lambast the New York Times and other MSM outlets for. They also look the other way when their favorite bishops engage in Obama-like race baiting and distort Church teaching on subjects like capital punishment, illegl immigration, and other issues of this nature.

  • Donald,
    But why did they let 2, 3, and 4 happen? My issue with the “Greatest Generation” is that they put off doing what they knew needed to be done until it got so bad they had to fight a world war and then let their kids run amuck which we suffer from today. I am not saying they did not sacrifice and pay a horrible cost but I am saying that much of the problems of today could have been averted or at least lessoned if they did a better job.

  • Most of them had zero power over two and four. Over three they had power until their kids left for college and then precious little after that. Many of the kids raised by WW2 vets turned out fine, but a hard core migrated to the New Left, and they have been a malign influence on the country ever since.

  • A bit off-topic: mor-tmain, a “dead hand” controlling property in perpetuity, may provide a solution to the “fiscal cliff.”

    There are $$$ trillions in cash and securities in dead, white men’s foundations. The government could confiscate, er, tax, all of it (for the public good!) to cover the disastrous deficit and resolve medicare/social security insolvency.

    That would be doubly beneficial – the government could balance its books and anti-Catholic gangs, like “Catholics for Choice”, would be financially (they are morally) bankrupt.

    Plus, Obama and Geithner won’t be “forced” to steal your 401k and IRA pension money.

  • CatholicLawyer – I wouldn’t say that the Greatest Generation were the ones who let the world lapse into war. They were the kids who had to fight it. But they definitely dropped the ball with raising their children.

    Prosperity softens people. It softens institutions, including religious ones. Parents were permissive toward their baby-boomer children, being told to be so by the latest parenting books. The WWII generation had grown up during the Depression, and they were happy to be able to spoil their kids. They didn’t spoil them completely, though: they knew the importance of education, and sent their kids to college. Unfortunately, this was right about the time that college stopped being a place that fostered maturity. So, spoiled kids arrive at college and are told that sex and drugs are good – and let’s be honest, at that age you’re just looking for someone to tell you that. You’ve been trying to tell women to loosen up for the past five years, and now society is telling them the same thing? Yay! (Not really yay, but that’s what you’re thinking if you’re a freshman in 1967.)

    And religion has gotten soft too. If you grew up with something strict, you’re looking for a reason to rebel. If you grew up with mass-produced tacky religious art and a well-meaning but ineffective Irish Catholic priest, you don’t have the grounding you’d need to fight temptation. The smart people are reading Salinger and Kerouac and dabbling in Eastern mysticism. You don’t stand a chance.

  • If I had to pick one dominant factor, it would be the sexual revolution. Once the West abandoned its traditional understanding of interdependence among sex, children and marriage, all bets were off. It is no secret that US poverty is highly concentrated in single parent households, yet our “elites” seem not to care that the US illegitimacy rate is now over 40%. The atrophy of marriage has generated enormous social costs. America’s ruling class believes that these costs can addressed by a smart and expensive government. They are dead wrong.

    Emblematic of this phenomenon is our evoving legal understanding of marriage. Traditionally, the marital contract was of higher dignity than a commercial contract. The latter could be unwound if all parties so desired, whereas a marital contract could not be even with the consent of both parties — precisely because society understood that God and the community were also parties (or at least 3rd party beneficiaries). Today a marital contract can usually be extinguished as long as one party so desires, meaning that society regards it as lacking the dignity of even a commercial contract.

  • Mike – I’d only add to that, “love, sex, children, and marriage”.

  • ‘If I had to pick one dominant factor, it would be the sexual revolution. ‘

    I concur Mike. Societies can recover from most things because they always have the family to fall back upon. The rise of easy divorce and illegitimacy make certain that for a substantial portion of our society family relationships are threadbare at best. The weakening of family ties helps explain why more and more of our policies seem to involve complete indifference to long term consequences.

  • Dunno, Pinky. I do not recall my parents’ contemporaries as being notably permissive with young children. I think perhaps we might look to Paul Gottfried’s interpretation of the era or the observations incorporated into mass entertainment products like Rebel without a Cause or Blackboard Jungle. What emerged in the post-war era was a post-pubescent population without regular and year-round work or apprenticeships but difficult to manage due to their size and to the loss of diligence and self-confidence on the part of a critical mass of the adult population. The result of that was a toxic peer culture.

  • Don’t underestimate the impact of Dr. Spock, Art. His book, published in 1946, was the second most popular book in the latter-20th century. He had some legitimate criticisms of the overly-disciplined approach to child care of the time, but promoted a permissiveness that became the American standard for raising baby-boomers.

  • My parents who were kids during World War 2 never read Dr. Spock and would have laughed their heads off it they had. My brother and I both had chores around the house and realized if we got out of line there would be swift consequences from Mom. Dad was reserved for major transgressions which were very, very rare. I think widespread permissive parenting was something that came after the rearing of my generation.

  • Breitbart is dead wrong when he says we live in Simon Cowell’s universe. If only there were more people like Simon Cowell who had the guts to tell young skulls full of mush who have no talent who think they can succeed in a difficult business like the music business that they…well… have no talent, America would be a better place.

    I also think he is mistaken about Sarah Palin and her daughter. Palin’s TLC reality show bombed and I think her daughter looked like a tramp on Dancing with teh Stars.

    But I do agree with teh larger point I think he is trying to make and that is that teh cult of celebrity is a problem. And as i alluded to above, it is a problem even in the Church when we look the other way at the bad behavior of some of our own celebs. Something we need to take a hard look at.

  • My mother was given a copy of Dr. Spock’s book in 1954. She said she got to the part where he advised never to hit your child in anger and threw it away. She said she wasn’t going to hit any of her children unless she were angry with them.

  • Something the sociologist Paul Hollander pointed out the bourgeois youth born after the war had that the pre-war generation lacked and (in a more esoteric way) their juniors lacked: a sense of security borne of their upbringing. It was his hypothesis that the collegian population in 1965 encountered something to which they were unaccustomed (threat) and reacted with rage.

    Again, repairing to Paul Gottfried. He pointed out that the disposable income and physical mobility of the post-war generation was without precedent most particularly given their work responsibilities (vis a vis what had been normal 40 years earlier). This, per Gottfried, disrupted maturation: “they were children and behaving in ways normal for children, but they had learned elaborate rationalizations for their behavior”.

  • Frederica Matthews Green offered a different hypothesis. She pointed out that women of her cohort (b. 1947) saw a dearth of men in the cohorts they would ordinary look to for husbands (1944 +/- 3 years) due to the gyrations in the birth rate experienced between 1929 and 1947. The result was that the resistance of her contemporaries to non-marital sex and transgression against the marriage vows of other women broke down. You saw these rationalizations of that in period literature like Sex and the Single Girl.

  • “She said she wasn’t going to hit any of her children unless she were angry with them.”

    Back in ’67 my maternal grandmother called my Mom a savage when she slapped me (a slap I had well earned). My Mom responded that if she didn’t discipline me now, I would be the savage after I grew up. Wise woman my Mom.

  • AD, all good and insightful comments.
    In particular, it the admonition that parents should never strike in anger always struck me as vaguely sociopathic insomuch as it implied that it is more acceptable to strike sans emotion.
    Also, to Ms. Green’s theory — one of my more insightful law partners once commented: “For centuries men tried to pressure women for sex before marriage and mostly women said no. Sometime around 1970 women stopped saying no, and society has had hell to pay ever since.”

  • “For centuries men tried to pressure women for sex before marriage and mostly women said no. Sometime around 1970 women stopped saying no, and society has had hell to pay ever since.”

    True words Mike, and the loss of much of the mutual respect between the sexes.

Cultural Multiple Personality Disorder

Friday, March 4, AD 2011

Michael Potemera muses on the survival of two very different cultural institutions – Playboy and National Review:

I just caught the last couple of minutes of a cable-TV documentary about Playboy magazine, which featured a clip of Hugh Hefner opining about the huge cultural impact the magazine has had in its 50-plus years of existence. And it struck me as an illustration that, even in the realm of culture and ideas, it’s the supply side that makes the greatest difference. Two young men in the mid-1950s had vastly different ideas of what the American audience really wanted and needed, and ventured forth to create magazines that reflected these views. Hugh Hefner, convinced that America was too sexually conservative and really needed to let its hair down, founded Playboy in 1953. Bill Buckley, convinced that America was too politically liberal and needed to restore its older, small-r republican virtues that had been eroded in the Progressive and New Deal eras, founded National Review in 1955.

Now, think about how these ventures must have appeared at the time. Playboy was an outrage to conventional pieties about sexuality. National Review was an outrage to conventional pieties about politics. How much money would you have bet, at the time, that either one would survive for very long? “A dirty magazine? Won’t people be embarrassed to buy it?” “A magazine that’s to the right of Eisenhower and Nixon? Are there that many real fringies out there?” But the supply side takes a chance. And, quite amazingly, both ventures succeeded beyond imagining. Playboy bore fruit in the Sexual Revolution, which may already have reached its high point but shows little sign of receding. And from National Review emerged Reaganism, and conservatism as the broadly dominant system of political thought in recent years.

An extraordinarily prescient person, writing in the mid-1950s, might have predicted one of these triumphs. But anyone who predicted that both of the magazines, simultaneously, would have a massive, culturally transformative impact on our country, would have been dismissed as, at best, an extremely confused thinker.

But the truth is, we are a confusing country. We contain, in Walt Whitman’s sense, multitudes. Even as we prize national unity, we resist homogeneity; even as we embrace populist fads, we remain suspicious of conformism. It makes me wonder: Which two implausible — and apparently mutually contradictory — cultural ventures of our time will end up shaping the American life of the next half century?

Certainly fodder for further thought.  There is a superficial explanation to this seeming contradiction.  In a country that at the time both publications were launched numbered 200 million citizens, and where now north of 300 million live, it’s not unreasonable for disparate publications to attract very large audiences.  If you draw, say, 100,000 subscribers (and I have no idea if this is anywhere close to how many people subscribe to either publication, now or ever), that’s barely more than .o1% of the population.  So it’s easy to see why the same country can pack arena-sized mega Churches on Sunday while also making pornographic sites the biggest profit makers on the Internet.  To put it simply, there are a lot of people, and they’re going to like very different things.

But of course that really is Potomera’s main point.   We are a culture deeply divided, and that division seems to be getting more intense.  While the pron industry is doing quite well, conservative (traditional, Orthodox, whatever adjective you prefer) religious institutions are also faring quite well.  Gay marriage is gaining some traction while at the same time larger and larger families are filling the pews every Sunday.  Admittedly, there is some overlap as some of the commenters observe (not to mention that William F. Buckley wrote articles for Playboy at one time), but by and large we’re talking about – dare I say it? – two Americas.

In the comments section I wrote the following, and it’s hopefully worth repeating here.  One of the things to consider is the standing of both magazines within the movements that they helped launch. Playboy is considered tame nowadays, what, with the explosion of raunchier magazines like Hustler, and even more so with the easy availability of hard core pornography on the Web.

As for National Review, while there has been an explosion of other conservative magazines, institutions, and other media, NR remains one of the most influential journals of conservative opinion. Sure some might think it has gone “soft” in its own right (including yours truly, at least on occasion), but it is still no doubt more influential within its own sphere than Playboy is nowadays.

What that says about our society, and where it is trending, is perhaps more troublesome.

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6 Responses to Cultural Multiple Personality Disorder

  • Come again?

    Playboy in its day was a profitable commercial venture and its circulation was at its peak ca. 1971 around about 9,000,000. The circulation of the paper edition of National Review has scarcely exceeded 160,000 and it has ever been a philanthropic enterprise. Other than the New York Review of Books, magazines like National Review have not been commercially viable in forty years or some, and some have never been.

    I hate to break it to Mr. Lowry’s employees, but the Republican Party had within it a component given to vigorous opposition to the regnant liberalism of that age. Mr. Buckley was not the progenitor of that. Robert Taft was nearly the Republican nominee for President in 1952. I suspect you would also discover, were there any surviving survey research, that the liberal arts faculty of 1955 was far more variegated in its political profile than is the case today. Newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune continued to reflect in their coverage the priorities of their (commonly Republican) owners. Time-Life was not exactly a liberal concern. What William F. Buckley provided was a discussion forum for the general reader of a sort that had been present a generation earlier but had subsequently disappeared. What the nascent American Enterprise Institute provided was a mediator between academics and policy-makers.

  • “Newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune continued to reflect in their coverage the priorities of their (commonly Republican) owners. ”

    That may be true Art, but they endorsed Obama in 2008 and lost a huge chunk of their Downstate readership, including me.

    As to Taft, he had his points, but he was also illustrative of not only how impotent conservatism then was on the national scale, but even within the Republican party.

    Buckley in his salad days in the Fifties and Sixties was always more important than National Review, as he gave a young and articulate face to American conservatism that was badly needed.

  • The reach of National Review went well beyond its mere subscription numbers. Granted we sometimes tend to exaggerate the influence of this or that institution, but as Donald mentioned Mr. Buckley certainly was one of the key sparks of the conservative revival during the Cold War period. Also, a lot of magazines come and go, so the fact that NR has survived for nearly 60 years is a remarkable sign of vitality.

  • The reaction to National Review initially from a liberal journal was that America could use a good conservative magazine but that National Review wasn’t it. Liberals tend to be all in favor of conservatism, except for all and any current manifestations.

  • Potemra is making a point that can only be made in retrospect. Both magazines had a huge cultural impact that has little to do with their actual readership. Whether we liked it or not, both changed the world we lived in and that was true even for people who never read an issue of either. That’s a claim that neither Time nor Newsweek, both of which were vastly more successful in those years, can make.

    What I wonder is whether the two are nearly as contradictory as they seem. I don’t know if William f Buckley ever went to the Playboy mansion in the 1960s but it wouldn’t surprise to learn that he had. The two men had a lot in common.

  • The reach of National Review went well beyond its mere subscription numbers.

    Agreed. These publications are helpful, just as agencies like AEI are helpful.

    That may be true Art, but they endorsed Obama in 2008 and lost a huge chunk of their Downstate readership, including me.

    I was referring to the situation prior to 1955. What appears to have happened to metropolitan newspapers in the post-war period is that the lenses through which they viewed the world came to be ground and selected by their employees. One of the curios of the last two generations is that our political life came to reflect a social and cultural struggle between salaried employees who earn their living by manipulating words and images and salaried employees in just about every other trade, with wage-earners lining up on one side or another according to cultural affiliations.

    I think the same deal happened in academe. Tenure shifted the balance of power between the faculty and their superordinates and (like the newspaper owners) the trustees voluntarily ceded control with regard to all issues save budgetry and athletics. In 1940, the President of the College of William and Mary was a Southern Jeffersonian and the President of Colgate University was a trenchant opponent of the New Deal. You would be hard put (I am sure) to find anyone on the faculty of either institution who would hold to either view nowadays.

Scouting in a Fractured American Culture

Tuesday, August 3, AD 2010

The New York Times runs an article about how the national leaders of the Boy Scouts of America are seeking to address concerns about shrinking membership as they celebrate 100 years of boy scouting in the US. The number of boy scouts has declined 42% since it’s peak in 1978, with 2.8 million boys currently in the Scouts.

To judge from the commentariat at the Times, you would think this is entirely the result of the BSA remaining firm in their ban of gay scout leaders and statement that “homosexual conduct is inconsistent with obligations in the Scout Oath.” Not to mention saying that boys who refuse to recite the Scout Oath because of its references to God and reverence may simply not have a place in the program. Commenters claiming to be Eagle Scouts line up one after another in the comments to announce that no son of theirs will ever be a member of the Scouts while it remains homophobic and theocratic.

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6 Responses to Scouting in a Fractured American Culture

  • After a year in scouts, I allowed my son to walk away. My girl is still in scouts. There are many, many factors involved. A lot of it is the parental leaders. The pool is small for those able to do it, and they are volunteers after all. Another factor is other activities. There is a lot more for children to do, and of course those activities are also run by adult volunteers. Then there are the not so good reasons like there being more entertainment available at home through electronics.

    I always find the political explanations somewhat entertaining. In neither scouting group was their a vast amount of ideological diversity. For a den we’re talking 8-12 children. Politics and political issues don’t come up all that often and were it ever to come up, whatever instruction the kid had from the parent would generally be respected. Most people when they are off the Internet don’t look for excuses to beat other people over the head.

  • My sons are currently in scouting. My oldest son is 12 and in Scouts. My 8yr old is in Cubscouts. I am a den leader for the Cubscouts. I have been a leader for 6 years and being that I have a 2 year old will probably end up being a leader for about 15 years. I have found that in Cubscouts the focus is learning morals and some responsibility but also to have alot of fun with friends in your den and Pack but also to foster fun within the family. Parents are a key component to the success of the Scouts. The more you involve the parents the better chance that the boys will remain in Scouts and the better chance that they will get more out of the program.

    My goal has always been to get the boys to have fun at the den meetings, pack meetings and at home with the family. I enjoy seeing the boys mature in there confidence and there relationships with other members of the Pack and especially with there family. For me there is nothing more satisfying then getting the Cubscouts into Boyscouts where they will fully mature and learn life skills that are not taught today in the culture in general.

    Along with the factors you talked about another factor contributing to the loss of members in Scouting is the idea of sacrifice. I think that a culture that loses its connection with Christianity loses the idea of sacrifice. I think sometimes People are a little selfish with there time. They seem to feel that it is there time and they don’t have to share it with anyone. Now this is a small percentage that I am talking about but just wanted to add to the things that are affecting attendace.

    Scouts is one of the greatest organizations for boys to be involved with. Of course that is second to the Church.

  • “The number of boy scouts has declined 42% since it’s peak in 1978….”

    Umm, there’s an even easier and more straightforward reason for this decline. The Baby Boom. The number of boys born between 1946 and 1964 accounts for the peak number in 1978.

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

  • Good point. Maybe simplier is more correct.

  • The population went through a sudden period of growth with the baby boom, but the population has continued to grow since that time. The absolute number of boys 8-18 is higher now than it was in 1978.

  • My husband is the scoutmaster of my son’s troop at our parish church. My son-15 is the oldest scout in the troop and hopefully will complete his Eagle project within the next year and a half. That being said, my son has told me repeatedly that it’s not “cool” to be in Scouts. He likes Scouts but doesn’t want it mentioned to anyone. I embarrassed him once by mentioning he was in Scouts to two girls he liked. In our troop, once the boys make Eagle or turn driving age, they drop out of the troop, leaving the troop pretty leaderless(as the troop is supposed to be self-led. we do have adult volunteers). Being a clean cut Scout is no longer appealing to a lot of teenage boys.

Michael Scott Resigns From Dunder Mifflin

Sunday, July 4, AD 2010

Michael Scott, the head sales manager of Dunder Mifflin is calling it quits at the end of the 2011 television season.

The Office is one of the few shows that I enjoy watching because the comedy and writing are top-notch and just as importantly, it isn’t as depraved as most shows on television.

Viewing The Office is like watching elementary school cliques try to behave as adults.  It’s entertaining and sometimes difficult to watch, especially when the Michael Scott character embarrasses himself to the point that I cringe at the tv set.

Regardless, the show will definitely be different without him if they choose to continue, which I hope they do.

Continue reading...

Bye Bye Big XII, Hello Pac-16!

Saturday, June 5, AD 2010

The college football 2010 expansion scramble is on!

The Pac-10 is flexing their muscle for the first time in many years and I’m not talking about winning championships, I’m talking about dinero, mullah, the almighty dollar!

As I have mentioned previously, the Pac-10 will not expand unless it includes Texas or Colorado.  Not Utah or BYU.

Colorado brings in the Denver metropolitan T.V. market and Texas brings in… the entire state of Texas with a nationwide following that is only eclipsed by the University of Notre Shame Dame.

So what has happened since then?

To summarize all the rumors these past three days, the Pac-10 will take Texas, Colorado, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State.

But the Pac-10 needs to hear from those schools, specifically Texas, before the end of 2010 in order to be in a position to negotiate a new television contract for their college football programs.

Wow!

This is beyond what I expected but it certainly is intriguing and prudent.

It’s prudent because Texas wants Texas A&M in ANY scenario available.  The Big-10 didn’t bring Texas A&M to the table in prior rumors and that is why those rumors died down.

How did this all come about?

There were various variables that occurred simultaneously to bring us to this point.

Continue reading...

61 Responses to Bye Bye Big XII, Hello Pac-16!

  • I think Texas will do what’s best for Texas. As long as they get to play each other, Texas doesn’t care where A&M goes. The TX state legislaure simply wants to make sure A&M and Tech don’t get left out in the cold. So if Texas can make a lot of money in the Pac-10 and A&M wants to go to the SEC, I think that’ll happen.

    As for the SEC invites, I think Maryland and NC State are ridiculous; those schools give nothing to the SEC (well, Maryland gives the TV market of Baltimore, but the SEC doesn’t care about tv markets but rather the product. Neither school has a good football program). I doubt UNC would ever leave Duke and Duke isn’t coming to the SEC (b/c those two want the conference games in basketball).

    I doubt TCU leaves the Mountain West for the SEC, especially with Boise now going there and under your scenario them picking up the Kansases.

    The virginias are an intriguing possibility. I think VT is more likely than Virginia: VT is a football school whereas Virginia cares more about the better academics found in the ACC (nice way of saying their football team isn’t very good). WV is really interesting, b/c I don’t think the Big East in both football and basketball is very appealing. The problem is that they’re a little north but it’s an option.

    I don’t buy your arguments about the no-invites. The question is money, not recruiting. I think Georgia Tech, FSU, and Miami are very much on the table, as they add to the quality of the SEC’s product, which has been the main drive behind the SEC’s success. We don’t need a tv network b/c our teams have been good enough to make money by winning BCS games and titles; those schools add to that quality. It also should be said that some schools may have more than a say than others: LSU, Bama, Florida, Georgia, and Tenn get says. South Carolina is just thankful to be at the party, and will get laughed at if it tries to stop Clemson. That said, Houston, Memphis, and Louisville won’t get invites b/c they’re not good enough, especially in football, to merit invites. There are too many better teams to invite first before spots trickle down (unless the SEC started booting Vandy and Miss. St.).

    While I hate the expansions, the “what if” scenarios and guessing games are a lot of fun.

  • Michael,

    I love “what if” scenarios as well.

    As of this comment, the scenarios have changed again.

    Before I get into that I want to address the SEC and your insightful comments.

    I agree, the SEC doesn’t care much about anything (why did they invite South Carolina in the first place?).

    They want proximity and rivalry.

    But if I were to guess where the SEC wants to go it is with Miami and FSU. The problem lies with Florida.

    Do they want to share the Florida recruiting pools by legitimizing their two in-state rivals?

    Ever wondered why TCU, SMU, Houston and Rice never got invited to the Big-12? It’s because Texas wanted to protect their recruiting areas of Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston. Do you think Waco and Lubbock add anything to the table? C’mon!

    Same for Florida. I could see FSU coming in… maybe. Only because they are in a small market but they are a powerhouse.

    Miami I find difficult to join. First of all they aren’t ‘southern’.

    Second of all Miami is way-off the beaten track.

    I lived in the deep south (Alabama) and I enjoyed watching SEC fans criss-cross the state with their school banners waving from their car windows.

    Miss, LSU, Miss State, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, etc. All those schools are within a 4-8 hour driving distance. Heck even Florida and Georgia play in a neutral site just to cut down on driving!

    Hence why Miami is the longest shot of them all.

    North Carolina and NC State would be tough. Yes, they don’t want to part from Duke, but Duke brings nothing to the SEC table (football wise). VoTech won’t go unless UVA comes along. Especially when UVA alumni worked over time to bring VoTech into the ACC. VoTech should return the favor.

    W.Virginia, Maryland, and TCU are the last bunch to get in.

    I don’t think TCU would hesitate for a second to leave the MWC. Yes, the MWC is a very good conference, but TCU wants BIG TIME and SEC is that.

    The TCU alum are still smarting from being left out of the Big 12 (they can thank Texas) so they want to return to big time football.

    Remember, TCU has won a national championship before.

    I think Maryland would be a natural fit bringing in Washington DC-Baltimore into the mix.

    West Virginia has the SEC spirit in fan enthusiasm, but they are far as you mentioned.

    Now to the breaking news.

    The Pac-10 commissioner, Larry Scott has been given full authority by the university presidents to pursue expansion under any model as of this Sunday (June 6).

    So hello Big XII!

    Baylor seems to have Texas legislators working over time to ensure that Baylor gets in when the Pac-10 invitations come around. Which means that Colorado gets bumped.

    Ironically, this all hinges on Nebraska.

    The Big XII has given Nebraska (and Mizzu) until this Friday to commit to the Big XII or leave (for the Big 10).

    So if Nebraska leaves, the Pac-10 will be issuing invitations to UT, TA&M, TT, UO, OSU, and Colorado/Baylor.

    The Big 10, Delany, doesn’t want to be a spectator in all this.

    So with the Pac-10 giving the go-ahead to Larry Scott to expand, he’s not going to sit on the fence.

    Expect Delany (Big 10) to invite Nebraska (and possibly Mizzu) before Friday of this week.

    Which would trigger the Pac-10 invitations.

    Which would spell the end of the Big XII.

    Phew!

  • Which legislators have been clamouring for BU? we should have cut that bear carcass years ago. I would much prefer Colorado, but I could see them following Nebraska to maybe revmp their rivalry.

  • On second thought of Baylor bumping Colorado…

    If BYU can’t get into the Pac-10 I find it hard to believe the they would ask Baylor.

    Texas is happy that Tech and A&M will be getting their invitations (if they come) to come join them along with Oklahoma.

    As far as Baylor alumni saying they just bumped Colorado, I find it hard to believe considering the rich athletic tradition of CU AND the large metropolitan area of Denver matching up with Baylors rich tradition of ??? and the greater metropolitan area of Waco.

    Maybe Oklahoma State may be bumped, but Colorado?

  • C Matt,

    Baylor regent Buddy Jones. He is the one lobbying the Texas legislature of pushing Baylor to be the sixth invitee.

    http://www.sportingnews.com/college-football/article/2010-06-08/baylor-booster-reportedly-lobbying-get-bears-included-expansion

    They are really worried down there in Waco!

  • Hot off the presses:

    The Mizzu board of regents meet this Thursday and Friday.

    Nebraska has an emergency meeting this Friday with their board that was requested by AD Tom Osborne a little over a month ago. The email request was sent the day after Ohio State head coach visited Tom Osborne.

    This Friday afternoon could be the most tense moment in Big XII history.

    Phew!

  • Rich athletic tradition of CU?

    C’mon! What a frickin’ joke! They have one National Championship in football that was a complete fluke after being given an extra down to score a TD. Otherwise a 10-1-1 season is a shaky 9-2-1 season. No way an undefeated Georgia Tech (11-0-1) should’ve had to share a national title with the Fluffaloes. What else do they have besides a bunch of hippies and flakes in Boulder? Admittedly, that bunch would fit in better with the Pac-10 weirdos than the straight-laced folks down in Waco.

    As for Baylor’s rich athletic traditions, y’all don’t know squat about what you’re talking about. Baylor’s football program has fallen on hard times over the last decade (so has Colorado’s, by the way), but had a proud history before then. Baylor’s basketball program (men’s and women’s) have been quite successful lately, including a women’s National Championship. And they’ve been solid in baseball, track and field (Michael Johnson? Jeremy Wariner? Ring a bell?), tennis, etc., for decades.

    Colorado brings nothing to the table athletically that Baylor doesn’t also bring. All they have to offer is the Denver market.

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  • Fluffaloes… Ha! I expected Jay to chime in as it pertains to Baylor. Frankly, I (a proud Texas Aggie) would rather have Baylor than CU. There is tradition between Baylor and the other schools in Texas. CU strikes me as a school that, well, would do well to join their in-state rival, if that were ever an option. In the same vein, I don’t expect Okie Light to get bumped. Intrastate rivalries in conference are a big deal. Why do you think t.u. wanted A&M and Tech to come along for the ride? They are big games, with high attendance and viewership, which translates to more revenue.

  • Jay,

    If it helps any I was using Colorado’s “rich tradition” relative to Baylor’s.

    And yes, I also don’t agree that Colorado deserved that Fifth-Touchdown Mythical National Championship.

    Fluffaloes!

    Hilarious!

    Colorado’s campus and academic culture mirrors that of UCLA, secular, hedonistic, and shallow. Hence why Colorado is more of a “wine-and-cheese” football watching crowd as opposed to Texas A&M’s “beer-and-bratz” football watching crowd.

    Plus the Denver market. The Waco market falls a bit short in delivering a large television market.

  • I don’t even buy that Colorado has a richer athletic history relative to Baylor’s, at least not across ALL sports.

    MAYBE in football with the single fluke of a National Championship. But, even then, I struggle to name more than 1 or 2 Colorado players that had any success in the NFL, whereas Baylor has a history of players that went on to excel at the next level. Let’s take, for example, arguably the best player to come out of Baylor – Mike Singletary. One of the top 2 or 3 middle linebackers to EVER play the game, captain of a Super Bowl championship team, and current NFL head coach.

    The best player to come out of Colorado? His NFL team couldn’t even decide which position to put him at – thus the “Slash”, and he wasn’t all that good at either one of them.

  • Jay,

    I’d be happy to default to your point because you grew up in this part of the country and probably know more than I do about the comparisons.

    Which brings us back to whom the Pac-10 will choose.

    This just in:

    Colorado has already received an invitation.

    The Pac-10 (allegedly) will extend invitations to TX, TXA&M, TT, OSU, and OU soon.

    Those remaining five invites will be extended the moment the Big-10 invites and Nebraska accepts an invite (no word on Missouri).

    So all the late breaking politicking that Baylor has done has come to nought.

    Read it and weep poor Baylor students, alumni, fans, and staff: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncaa/news/story?id=5270048

    Remember, both Nebraska and Missouri are meeting with their Board of Regents tomorrow (Thursday and Friday). So expect it to be quite hectic in the sporting world tomorrow morning!!!

    Bear Down!

    …and…

    WHOOOOOP!

  • OK, I’m gathering information on all these news updates, but I’ll post them here as I get them…

    It is being reported that an invite has been extended and will be accepted tomorrow, Thursday (June 10).

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/budwithers/2012073711_withers10.html

    It’s all but a formality now.

    The Big XII will be on life support for two more years.

    It’s interesting to note that Missouri is not mentioned anywhere (at least I haven’t found it among the Internet or my network of AD officials).

  • This writer claims the SEC is pursuing A&M. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/andy_staples/06/10/aggies.options/index.html

    Not sure where that’ll go; still looks most likely that a&m follows Texas to the Pac-16 but we’ll see.

    If this all happens as expected, the questions then shift: is the Big 10 done now that it has its prize of Nebraska? Where does Kansas & co go? Did the MWC hold off including Boise b/c it expected to snap up the Big 12 leftovers? And what does Notre Dame and the SEC, who both claimed they wouldn’t change unless something big happened do? Was this big enough for them to start considering losing independence and start raiding the ACC/Big East?

    And of course, does this push us closer to making a playoff an unfortunate reality?

    And also, how awesome is it that USC won’t be in a bowl game for 2 years? haha!

  • The whole thing is a travesty for college football, and who knows how it will all shake out.

    But my despair is definitely tempered by seeing the Trojans (and their little boy coach) get their comeuppance.

  • Looks like Nebraska will formally accept the invitation on Friday.

    The Big 10’s next step is either Notre Dame or Rutgers if they decide to add more schools. And after those two, surprisingly, Maryland!

    Late last night (Wednesday, June 9) it has been reported that Texas AD gathered all the TX coaches and told them they tried their best in keeping Nebraska and the Big XII together.

    Which means that in all likelihood that they and TXA&M, TT, OU, and OSU will be headed to the Pac-10.

    Colorado also met last night and will jump to the Pac-10.

    Funny that Missouri, that started all this, is thus far snubbed.

    Big East is interested in Kansas and Kansas State.

    Texas A&M has spoken with the SEC, but will opt for the more superior conference the Pac-10.

    If the Big XII does stay together, in whatever format, there is a strong possibility that Missouri will be kicked out of the conference due to the obvious reasons.

    There are no strong reports that the Big 10 will add anymore teams beyond Nebraska, which isn’t good news for Missouri. Especially if the Big 10 adds more teams Missouri is not in any rumors thus far.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/ncaa/news/story?id=5268408

    Phew!

  • I think the SEC is actually a MUCH better fit for A&M from a tradition standpoint. Alabama (with the Bear Bryant ties) and LSU would be natural rivalries for the Ags.

    Besides, East Texas, including Bryan-College Station, is far more Southern than it is Western.

    I wonder if the Big 10 would be willing to take a chance on Baylor or Tech just to get their feet into the Texas market. Waco may not be much of a market, but it is fairly centrally located between the Dallas and Houston markets. The Big 10 network could possibly find a lucrative spot on cable networks in those cities.

    Heck, if the Big 10 ever entices Notre Dame to join, that’d create a natural rivalry between the wayward Catholics of ND and the wayward Baptists of BU.

  • You know, after reading Big Tex’s article, a move by Texas A&M to the SEC is almost a no-brainer.

    Get out of UT’s shadow into a great conference. Travel would be less and the potential rivalries enormous.

    Plus the opportunity to catch up and pass UT in AD dollars and prestige.

    Good one Big Tex.

  • Moreover, the Ags and ‘sips keep their T-Day rivalry going with a super cross-conference clash… imagine the revenues for something like that. I’m leaning towards the SEC for my beloved Aggies, albeit a tough conference in which to stand out. Yet, I’m not opposed to them joining the PAC-10/16 since I currently reside north of Seattle. Oh to see them play football and basketball again without the need of an airplane!

    And if A&M does happen to bolt for the SEC, this leaves an additional spot for Baylor to grab in the PAC-10/16. And just my opinion here, but I’ve always thought the SEC to be a better conference than the PAC-10.

  • My heart wants us (the Aggies) in the SEC, but my head says Pac-10. We would excel in all sports in the SEC, except for the revenue one. It’s the best football conference – they know it, we know it, and I’m a bit afraid of it.

    There’s been some Big 10 talk, but I think it’s smoke. texags.com forums is the place for legit, informed gossip (amid all the bs).

    Fun times…..

  • It’s official:

    Colorado is now the Pac-10’s 11th member.

    http://content.usatoday.com/communities/campusrivalry/post/2010/06/report-colorado-to-announce-move-to-pac-10-on-friday/1

    Announcement at 12:30pm Central time.

    If Nebraska doesn’t jump to the Big-10 and the Big-XII remains intact, Utah would be invited to the Pac-10 to become the 12th member.

  • Pac-10 Announcement on Colorado being the 12th member:

    http://www.pac-10.org/genrel/061010aaa.html

    Missouri nervous about lack of Big-10 invite. If Big-XII remains alive, Missouri may be voted out.

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iBQ8Ljv0E13bWTamJThLwN-gAg6AD9G8H7BO1

  • You beat me to the punch Big Tex (and thanks by the way 🙂

    If I were TX and A&M I would leverage the Pac-10 offer to the hilt.

    From their perspective, the SEC is a logical choice.

    But apparently they want the Big-10 considering that Notre Dame has been in weeklong discussions (this past weekend) about joining the Big-10 on condition it remains at 14. Which would contradict “rumors” of TX and A&M possibly joining (and throw in Rutgers to boot).

    Apparently to the links you provided, the situation is “fluid”… which is an understatement.

  • With Nebraska departing the Big 10 the likelihood of the mass exodus of the South is near certainty. I hope the remaining Big 12 North schools negotiate a deal with the Big East.

  • Nebraska officially now a Big-10 school.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/college/ct-spt-0612-big-ten-expansion–20100611,0,5652144.story

    Boise State jumps to Mountain West.

    Missouri has no invite, Big-XII remaining members not happy with a new Big-XII with Missouri, may vote out.

    Texas to make decision on Tuesday.

    TX A&M pursuing SEC.

    OU & OSU rumors are they will join Pac-10.

    TX Tech will go wherever Texas goes.

    KU, KSU, IS, and Baylor left out of any expansion plans.

    Rumor is Big East interested in KU and KSU. As well as Mountain West.

    Iowa State and Baylor left out to dry.

  • Last update until Saturday.

    If Texas A&M goes to the SEC, which has been confirmed that A&M AND the SEC are in talks, then Kansas and not Utah would replace A&M as the part of the “five” Big-XII schools to go to the Pac-10.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/college/ct-spt-0612-pac-10-big-ten-expansion-20100611,0,2447618.story

    Phew!

  • Nebraska can’t stand the heat (Texas) so they are getting out of the ktichen. Too bad Ohio State, Michigan, and Iowa will also beat them. I wonder where the Cornhuskers will go next in search of the elusive championship season.

  • I think it would be great if the Big 2 didn’t give up rights to the name forcing the Big 10 to stay the Big 10 with 12 schools

  • If Texas A&M jumps to the SEC, Texas has said they WILL NOT schedule anymore games with the Aggies.

    A direct response to the rumblings of A&M wanting the SEC. Sources say they have the votes on their Board of Regents to jump to the SEC.

    Wow, talk about political arm-twisting.

    It’s official, Texas has turned down the SEC. They are leaning heavily towards the Pac-10 over the Big-10. No decisions will be made until this coming Tuesday at the earliest.

    Oklahoma wants to go the SEC, and the SEC is interested, but the SEC won’t take Oklahoma State. OU needs OK legislature approval where OSU grads outnumber OU grads, so Pac-10 here the Cowboys and Sooners come! Plus OU has stated they will go where TX goes. Same for Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, they will go where Texas goes.

    TCU has vetoed all talk of the Mountain West extending an invitation to Baylor. Sore feelings after getting snubbed by the Big-XII in favor of Baylor.

    Sources confirmed that Kansas has jumped ahead of Utah to enter the Pac-10 if A&M goes to the SEC.

    http://texas.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=1093756

    This is interesting: IF the Pac-10 became the Pac-16, the league would split into two divisions, BUT have NO championship game. Instead they would opt the BCS for a second AQ BCS spot (I’m assuming they think they will inherit the Big-XII spot– MWC may be a bit upset about this).

  • Sick and tired of the waiting. Wish Texas would just make their desicion public and get this all over with.

  • Texas seems to be playing their hand close the their chest right now. The remaining Big 12 South schools will go wherever they go (except A&M might join SEC) and poor Baylor is shut out in the cold. For their sakes (and Iowa State in the North) I hope Texas decides to remain a big 12 member

  • Some interesting speculation on the whole drama… the why’s behind it all. Texas (UT) doesn’t come out looking pretty.

    http://tamu.rivals.com/showmsg.asp?fid=15&tid=144013790&mid=144013790&sid=893&style=2

  • This is interesting. I forgot how much money the remaining schools could make from the penatly fees. The remaining 5 schools could try to broker a football alliance with the Big East but remain the Big 12 in name.
    Officials from five Big 12 schools — Kansas, Missouri, Kansas State, Iowa State and Baylor — held a conference call on Saturday, The Kansas City Star reported. The schools agreed they would like to continue as members of the Big 12.
    The five potential teams that could be left in the Big 12 if the exodus of five others continues to the Pac-10 would be wise to remain together, a conference commissioner with experience dealing with expansion told ESPN.com’s Andy Katz.
    The reason is simple: The five remaining schools would be due a huge payday and ultimately could salvage automatic berths to the NCAA tournament and possibly the BCS through expansion themselves.
    The commissioner, who didn’t want to be identified because he’s involved in the ongoing realignment of college athletics, told Katz it would be critical for Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Baylor and Iowa State to maintain the Big 12 as an entity or corporation.
    “The assets, the amount of money that they would be due by exit fees back to the corporation would be huge,” said the commissioner. “Rather than dissolve the Big 12, they are better off as a Big 12 entity then moving to the Mountain West.”
    Taken from:
    http://sports.espn.go.com/ncaa/news/story?id=5282178

  • Thanks Big Tex!

    Breaking (rumors) News:

    Big-XII Commish Beebe seems to have convinced UT to stay with the Big-XII. Gene Stallins (A&M) Regent is of the same mind of staying with the Big-XII.

    Of course this is all rumor, but personally (I’m a HUGE Pac-10 fan), I like this outcome.

    Arizona gets to stay with the LA schools instead of being shipped out to the Texas boondocks and away from their prime recruiting areas.

    Funny, the Big-10 has 12 teams and the Big-XII has 10 teams.

    So if the Big-XII remains as is (10 teams), Kansas and A&M staying, then Utah jumps again to the forefront of getting an invitation.

    Remember the Pac-10 wants only Colorado and UT. No UT (packaged deal with Utah), no Utah.

    But stranger things have happened.

    Phew!

    http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/spt/stories/061510dnspoblogcoll.a2975b0c.html

  • Big Tex,

    What kind of self-respecting Aggie refers to Texas as “UT”? You should be ashamed of yourself.

    (Note: the 3 or 4 people in my vast extended family who didn’t attend Baylor are/were Aggies.)

  • Jay,

    My bad as well.

    I normally refer to “them” at TU-Austin.

  • I think the Big 12 should take TCU and Houston and call themselves the … “Southwest Conference”.

    😉

  • Ah, hell, throw in SMU just for old times’ sake.

  • I want TCU. And toss in SMU. Ship OU and Okie Lite to the North.

    Jay, it was a lapse in judgment. UT is in Tennessee. t.u. is in Texas.

  • I admit to having started liking the idea of playing Texas A&M every year. I’m going miss that idea. I also feel like I just wasted a week for nothing. I think Texas A&M is stupid for not joining the SEC and continuing to dwell in Texas’s shadow.

    That said, I am very glad that college football will remain regional and not move towards these hideous mega-conferences that would have destroyed the close-knit nature of the game. In that, I guess I’ll take the sacrifice of not having another SEC West rival. Hopefully LSU will indulge us and schedule a home & home with the Aggies as that would be a lot of fun.

  • Jay & Big Tex,

    Considering now that 4 of the remaining ten are the original SWC and by adding TCU, SMU, and Houston, the old SWC members would outnumber the leftover Big-8 6.

    Now the fun of speculation.

    BYU was the original “12th” member until Baylor cried like the annoying little brother wanting in on the new Big-XII in ’96.

    What two teams could you all see entering the Big-XII.

    BYU? TCU? Arkansas? Utah?

    TCU seems like a natural fit.

    There has been speculation of Arkansas wanting into the Big-12 in the past and Utah seems on the verge of being the next BCS powerhouse if they keep crashing the BCS as they do each year.

  • Michael, not sure what your affiliation is, but as an Aggie, I was hoping to join the SEC. It’s a natural fit, culturally speaking. Heck, we even had a list of a few “demands” going in:

    1. NASCAR? Not so much. Come check out a rodeo.

    2. BBQ – beef brisket, not pork. We’ll let you put slaw on your slow cooking, but don’t expect us to like it.

    3. We like our tea sweetened to individual taste after brewing. Its ice tea, not sweet tea. Don’t worry, all of our restaurants have sugar and sweet ‘n low at the table

    4. The Alamo – some of your state’s settlers probably died there. You better remember it!

    5. As much as I don’t like Austin, their country music is much better than Nashville. Pat Green’s older stuff, Corey Morrow, Roger Creager, the Derailers, etc… You should broaden your horizons, throw out that Faith Hill crap, and get some of the good stuff.

    6. On April 21, don’t bother calling on your Aggie friends. We’re busy that day.

    7. Absolutely NO bonfire jokes! I am unaware of anything off limits, so please feel free to inform us. But the only time I have ever punched an adult is when a t-sip made a joke about it. (To be fair, we dont joke about the tower sniper either.)

  • So, if the Big XII goes back to twelve or so members, the conference MUST court TCU. They’ve had tremendous success in football lately. SMU would probably be another ho-hum game. Not sure that they have fully recovered from the death penalty yet. Houston? Cougar High? Sure, what the heck!

  • Big Tex,

    Michael is an alum of LSU.

    I call it graduating from 3rd grade.

    😉

  • I prefer my “sweet tea” with the sugar brewed along with the tea.

    That is Southern!

  • Learn something new everyday.

    That makes sense.

    When I moved from Alabama to Houston I had the hardest time finding Southern sweet tea. Now I understand why, it ain’t Texan.

  • And now I’m going to have to issue another “shame on you” to Big Tex for failing to list his fellow Aggie alums Robert Earl Keen and Lyle Lovett among the Texas music artists who kick the crap out of anything that comes out of Trashville.

  • Hey now… that was a copy and paste job. I didn’t want to corrupt the original source. But Roger Creager is an Aggie.

  • Just got chills watchin’ that.

  • Hey Big Tex,

    REK’s playing in Cincy tonight and then in Columbus next Tuesday.

    Unfortunately, he’s opening for the Dave Matthews Band on both nights, and I can’t afford the $80 ticket (plus travel expenses) to then have to suffer through getting a 2nd-hand high off the doobies of a bunch of hippies.

    I could get probably get roughly the same qualitative experience for a lot less money by buying some pot and accompanying paraphernalia, scrounging up some smelly socks to replicate the smell of unshowered, hairy-pitted flower children, and putting “Live at the Ryman” into the CD player.

  • He comes out to the Seattle area later this year. 🙂

  • Cool. Hope you get to go.

    I saw him at the Jefferson Theater in Charlottesville when we were visiting my wife’s family at Easter. It was even better than the show I saw down at Floore’s Country Store last summer.

  • Big Tex:

    I think Texas A&M would have been a great cultural fit for the SEC. I enjoyed reading some about our previous rivalry (A&M v. LSU) and I hope the interest shown by a lot of LSU fans towards a&m will spur a series between the two schools in the future.

    As far as courting SMU or TCU, I think it’s out of the question. The Big 12 is banking on smaller being better i.e. that by having smaller slices of pie to make, each school can make more money. If TCU or SMU come in, there is less money for Texas to make. So no SMU/TCU for the Big 12.

    Of course, this theory of the Big 12 is apparently based on estimates of TV revenue. If those estimates are too high (which I would imagine they probably are) then we’ll be right back here.

    Jay:

    I love that blog you quoted, by the way.

    Tito:

    I would have hoped that between Arizona and ASU, one of them would have taught you the creativity necessary to come up with insults more original than “graduating from 3rd grade.” Sadly, it appears those vaunted Pac-10 academics aren’t quite up to the billing outside of California.

    😉

  • Pac-10 has invited Utah.

    Utah will have a board of trustee meeting tomorrow (Thursday, June 17) to vote on the move, which should be a formality. But then again similar minds said the same about Texas up until this past Sunday.

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jkSC-Hr5K5POevi80q5i_F9KP7GgD9GCKVEO1

    Michael,

    I wanted to make sure you understood the joke considering where you graduated from.

    😉

  • Rumors abound on the makeup of the Pac-10 assuming Utah accepts.

    The latest is a North-South division format.

    Arizona, ASU, USC, UCLA, Colorado, and Utah in the South.

    Washington, Oregon, California, Stanford, Oregon State, and Washington State in the North.

    I like the setup better than the Pac-16 format.

    Arizona and ASU remain with USC and UCLA, plus we get to kick around lightweights Colorado and Utah.

    Thanks for the Denver and Salt Lake City markets boys!

    http://espn.go.com/blog/pac10/post/_/id/10542/its-looking-like-pac-10-will-split-north-south

College Football, Pac 10 Wants Texas and Colorado

Saturday, February 13, AD 2010

The Pac-10 is seeking to expand for the first time in 33 years when they last added my two alma maters, the University of Arizona and Arizona State University (sometimes referred to as Temple Normal Women’s Teacher College).

Speculation has been rampant with initial reports announcing the the University of Utah had accepted and will become the 11th member, but those were quickly shot down (sort of).

Not since the Texas legislature blackmailed both the University of Texas and Texas A&M University into retracting their acceptance into the Pac-10 in 1994 have rumors been so rampant as to possible candidates.

The Pac-10 is the premiere all-sports conference in the country, more importantly, they have the most athletic and superior football programs as well.  No conference comes close with NFL-level talent to that of the Pac-10’s.

Why the expansion?

Continue reading...

19 Responses to College Football, Pac 10 Wants Texas and Colorado

  • I’m surprised it’s taken as long as it has for the PAC-10 and Big Ten to get their big-revenue championship game. Tradition is one thing, but tv money you take to the bank… I mean investments… I m ean bigger athletic facilities and fat coaching contracts.

  • “[M]ost athletic and superior football programs”? Heh. I think the SEC would have something to say about that. Top to bottom just no contest. And no, I’m not an SEC fan at all. I’m a Dukie and it is ACC all the way for me.

    That said, these conference re-alignments are indeed driven by dough, but they do fatigue fans who are care more about tradition and rivalries.

    The 12-Pac is a great name, though. Won’t happen of course for obvious reasons, but too bad.

  • Todd,

    You have a point.

    But when you have the Rose Bowl locked in, at the time, you are at the top, so why change?

    I hope the new commissioner is able to change the minds of Pac-10 presidents. They accepted a men’s basketball tournament, so things can change.

  • Mike,

    If you’ve ever watched Pac-10 football, you’ll see what I mean.

    Especially if you grew up in Pac-10 country, nothing compares.

  • Tito,
    You need to head to GA, ALA, FLA, LSU, etc. You’ll change your tune. And if you think that head to head the Pac 10 could beat the SEC from top to bottom we’ll just have to disagree. But just know you are in a small and not very well-informed group if you think that.

  • Mike,

    I foresaw all of these arguments hence why I provided the link embedded into my article.

    I have lived in many southern cities.

    The passion passes those of Pac-10 fans, but the product on the field can not be measured up against those on the Pac-10.

  • Well, then Tito, the NFL apparently disagrees, don’t they?

  • Mike,

    I appreciate your passion and resolve.

    In the end, it’s just a game.

    🙂

  • Indeed, Tito. And for the record, the SEC lead over the the PAC-10 in NFL players is not as dramatic as my link might suggest at first glance, because the SEC has 2 more teams. The SEC has about 22 players per team playing in the NFL (more than any other conference) compared to the PAC-10’s 18. While significant, that is hardly dramatic. Somewhat surprisingly, the Big Ten is second with 21, with the ACC close behind at 20. One might argue that this suggests that PAC-10 coaching is superior to Big Ten coaching (i.e., they get more out of their talent), though that is probably taking unfair inferential liberties. The truth, I think, is that overall quality among conferences is probably pretty doggone close.

  • Sorry, Tito, but as a proud Gator, I have to side w/ Mike Petrik on this one! 😉

    At least wrt football, there’s genuinely no comparison about pure talent among athletes or pure enthusiasm among supporters when comparing the SEC and the PAC-10. But then again living in Texas as I do, I’m unlikely to travel to the Left Coast and support any of those PAC-10 teams by buying a gameday ticket, either, so take my viewpoint only for the $.02 that it’s worth!

  • Let me toss a bomb in here, possibly slightly off-topic.

    I think these conferences have to accept a national tournament. Eventually. Automatic bids for every conference champion, plus at-large slots to fill the field to 16.

    I would love to see all the bowls moved to August through Labor Day weekend. I know it kicks against the Rose Bowl tradition, but why not hold a second Rose Bowl each year as a semi-final? The first might always be last year’s Big-11/Pac-10 champs. Same for any other big bowl willing to take random playoff teams.

    Holding bowl games in August maximizes the possibility for a nice weather game anywhere–and you can always play a Fiesta Bowl at night, eh? And you could get good college cities like Boston hosting a nice game.

    I would suggest limiting any 12-school conference team to 10 games, plus one August bowl, plus a poetntial league championship, plus a potential four playoff games. Schools in leagues without that December playoff get eleven games. Schools that don’t qualify for an August bowl can opt for an 11th game.

  • The Big 12 south has a three way rivalry – Texas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M (the Good, the Bad and the Ugly, respectively). It would be difficult to split the rivalry, although the UT-OU rivalry survived many years as non-conference. They would have to figure some way to keep that in place.

    August bowl games, are you kidding?!?! In 100+ weather – no thanks.

  • You are all on crack. 😉 The money is in the Big Ten. The Big Ten Network has changed the game. Also, the Big Ten is an academic conference mostly made up of large land grant research intitutions. Texas is a perfect fit. Can you imagine a football conference with historical heavyweights like Texas, Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State? The mind boggles.

  • Nick,

    The Pac-10 and Big Ten, or more correctly, the Big-14, are both fine academic and athletic institutions.

    😉

  • “August bowl games, are you kidding?!?! In 100+ weather – no thanks.”

    Good to see one less in the ranks of climate change truthers.

    That said, what makes you think evenings are going to be 100 degrees-plus? August bowl games would spread out over the whole month, and most of those games, as they are now in December and January, will be played at night.

    College football in August would get the jump on baseball pennant races, the NFL, and the start of school. It would be almost like an exhibition game, only it would count when BCS emerges from a rock in October.

  • Well, I miss the Big 8, I liked playingthe same teams every year, and you could actually drive to a lot of the away games.

    I don’t want to be a part of the Pac 10.

    -CU alumnus

  • Pingback: Bye Bye Big XII, Hello Pac-16! « The American Catholic
  • Assuming the Big 12 South bolts (which is going to happen with Nebraska’s anouncement) I would like to see the remaining North teams make a bid to join the Mountain West. It could be pretty sweet. Mt West Conf – West division – Boise St, BYU, Utah, Air Force, Wyoming, UNLV, San Diego St, New Mexico. East Division – Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Mizzou (If they don’t bail to Big 10 given the chance), Baylor, TCU, Colorado St, Houston, UTEP, or somebody like that.

Thomas The Right Wing Tank Engine

Saturday, December 12, AD 2009

Hattip to the ever vigilant Christopher Johnson at Midwest Conservative Journal.  My kids loved Thomas the Tank Engine videos when they were little back in the nineties.  Memories of those times still brings a smile to my face when I see some Thomas the Tank Engine trinket for sale in a store.  Now I learn that I was not only entertaining them, I was also indoctrinating them in my political views.

A Canadian academic, surprise!, Shauna Wilson, has disclosed the political subtext underlying the Tank Engine stories:

The show’s right-wing politics shows the colourful steam engines punished if they show initiative or oppose change, the researcher found.

She also highlighted the class divide which sees the downtrodden workers in the form of Thomas and his friends at the bottom of the social ladder and the wealthy Fat Controller, Sir Topham Hatt, at the top.

Continue reading...

12 Responses to Thomas The Right Wing Tank Engine

  • Thomas the Tank Engine is right winged. I am a big fan & this would explain how I went from a cradle Democrat to a radical right winged pro-life Catholic who upholds Church teaching.

    PS Speaking of the military-industrial-cartoon complex, don’t forget the 3rd narrator, Alec Baldwin, who was in even better standing than Ringo or George Carlin.

  • PS: Thomas wasn’t a cartoon, it was made using 3D models.

  • Way back in the 60s some academic type wrote an extensive analysis of how “The Wizard of Oz” was really an allegory of the 1890s Populist movement in the U.S.

    Cecil Adams, author of the Straight Dope colums and books, wrote this in response to a reader who thought it was a satire of the French Revolution (!):

    http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/362/is-em-the-wizard-of-oz-em-a-satire-of-the-french-revolution

    And here is a later fisking of the “populist parable” theory:

    http://www.halcyon.com/piglet/Populism.htm

    “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”

  • The show’s right-wing politics shows the colourful steam engines punished if they show initiative or oppose change, the researcher found.

    I’ve read this sentence half a dozen times now, and I just can’t make it make sense. Is there something particularly conservative about punishing people for opposing change?

  • Ha! Actually, Barbie is the toy which strikes me as being clearly materialist and capitalist, with generations of little girls longing for more Barbie outfits, houses, cars, etc.

    Attitudes toward Barbie also clearly demonstrate sex differences, since most of the little boys of my acquaintance were heartless when it came to Barbies. They delighted in hurling their sisters’ Barbies from bedroom windows. Barbies were also loaded in slingshots and sent flying across the yard. I remember a very funny episode of the Bernie Mac show. Bernie very quickly grew tired of “playing Barbies” with the little girl (he said in an aside “This has to be the most boring game ever!”) He caused distress when he suggested that throwing the Barbies across the room would be more entertaining than changing their clothes for the upteenth time.

  • I didn’t know there was another person in the world besides Iafrate quite as monomaniacal about pushing insane politicizations of perfectly harmless things.

  • Actually I’ve always thought that the emphasis on ‘usefulness’ in that show was softening up the next generation to accept euthanasia.

  • LOL brettsalkeld! Good one!

  • I was charmed by episodes of Thomas and Friends during my grandson’s toddler years, even though somewhat bored. Had I known that he was being brainwashed by a right-wing political conspiracy, I would have paid more appreciative attention. Now that he has advanced in age and dexterity, LEGOs have become his much-loved and most-wanted toy. I’ve recently become aware that in addition to the cool sets of pirate ships, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, and Space Police, LEGOs is contemplating offering new products, such as windmills, electric cars, and ECO-themed houses, all made of recycled products. I’m annoyed and feel that this Denmark-based firm is attempting to instill its political position on our children and at the same time undercutting a parent’s particular ideology. Next thing you know, they’ll be including the spotted owl and three-toed maned sloth figures with environmentally-friendly sets.

  • My kids (the oldest now in their 20’s) used to watch Thomas; it’s funny but I still remember having the “Thomas the Tank Engine as a representation of English society” discussion with a friend whose youngsters also watched he show: “We engines may have our differences, but we never speak of them in front of the cars.”

    Since then, I’ve tended to think of the show as a sort of “Upstairs, Downstairs” with toy trains.

  • Priceless cminor! I always enjoyed the “veddy” English ambiance of the show, at least before England became overrun with soccer and non-soccer drunken hooligans.

89 Responses to The Conservative Bible

  • Now you’ve done it, you intolerant fascist!

    ::braces for the anarch-attack::

    This was funny 🙂

  • Hilarious! I’d pay to see Jon Voigt in a spoof of the Da Vinci Code!

  • I find no condemnation in what Conservapedia is doing:

    http://conservapedia.com/Conservative_Bible_Project

    If you don’t like their Bible translation, then don’t read it.

    BTW, the NRSV is decidedly liberal with its inclusive language. Why does no one make fun of their translators?

  • This Colbert interview with Andy Schafly, who is in charge of the ‘Conservative Bible,’ is amazing. An actual quote: “Most of the parables of Jesus are free market parables.”

    http://www.hulu.com/watch/113891/the-colbert-report-andy-schlafly

  • The Red State guys’ riff on the Conservative vs. Liberal Jesus was a hoot. Which got me to thinking about Conservative vs Liberal Mary…

    I guess Our Lady of Fatima would be the “conservative” Mary because of her anti-Communism while Our Lady of Guadalupe would be the “liberal” Mary because of her association with all those illegal aliens…

  • Or maybe Our Lady of Lourdes would have to be the Liberal Mary because her devotion to healing the sick proves she’s in favor of universal health care!

  • I find no condemnation in what Conservapedia is doing

    Then you aren’t very perceptive. They aren’t simply doing a translation. Look at their principles one more time. They are deleting parts of the Bible. Even the supposed “liberal” Bible translations do not do that.

  • Free market parables? That’s unbelievably ridiculous.

  • Paul, just to elaborate, here is #8 of their principles:

    8. Exclude Later-Inserted Inauthentic Passages: excluding the interpolated passages that liberals commonly put their own spin on, such as the adulteress story

    You see no problem with this? Seriously?

  • Our Lady of Guadalupe would be the “liberal” Mary because of her association with all those illegal aliens…

    Yeah, but the Spanish were there to stay.

  • Something like the “Conservative Bible Project” can most certainly use a good mocking.

  • Something like the “Conservative Bible Project” can most certainly use a good mocking.

    We agree on something.

    So the question is this: if we all agree that although Jesus’ parables and ultimate message were thoroughly economic, but that they are not “free market” messages, why the unwavering defense of the free market in your circles? Clearly the economic dimensions of the scriptures are more in line with the ideas of socialism. What is it that makes you all free market types, defenders of capitalism, etc. then?

  • Jesus’ parables didn’t touch on matters of civil government at all.

  • I don’t agree that Jesus’s parables and ultimate message were thoroughly economic. I find that kind of reductionism repulsive, actually.

    As to individual property v. state-controlled property, I think there are fruitful tensions running throughout the New Testament, and, not surprisingly, Caritas in Veritate and the other papal encyclicals on the subject.

  • S.B. – What I said was economics, but your claim is false as well.

    I find that kind of reductionism repulsive, actually.

    Well, it order to call talk of “free market parables” “reductionistic,” there would have to be at least a little talk of the “free market” in the parables. Or else you could not “reduce” their meaning to promotion of the free market at all. There is NOTHING about the “free market” in the parables at all. That would be anarchronistic.

    As to individual property v. state-controlled property, I think there are fruitful tensions running throughout the New Testament, and, not surprisingly, Caritas in Veritate and the other papal encyclicals on the subject.

    Again, anarchronistic. Especially the notion of “individual property” which is an Enlightenment idea. It’s not present in the scriptures. Modern papal encyclicals, certainly, but we are talking about scripture.

  • I think that the idea of the “conservative bible” is mockable for roughly the same reason that I think that extreme left leaning re-interpretations of the Bible (say, the Book-of-Ruth-as-inspiring-Lesbian-incest-parable reading) should be mocked: because trying to shove your own interests and agendas into God’s Word rather than actually reading God’s Word to see what it tells you rather than what you want to tell it is something which should be rejected, and if necessary mocked.

    I don’t agree that Jesus’ parables and ultimate message are primarily (or even much) about economics, free market or otherwise. And I don’t think that the economic dimensions of the scriptures are even remotely in line with the ideas of socialism. (Indeed, socialism was explicitly rejected by the popes in their social encyclicals.)

  • Well, clearly there are some parables you could “reduce” to an economic message if you looked only at their surface meaning: The parable of the talents, the treasure in the, the pearl of great price. However, if you took those as being primarily about how to succeed in business (or, indeed, at all about how to succeed in business, except to the extent that Jesus was drawing on the everyday economic instincts of his listeners to make a point through analogy), you’d clearly be missing the boat.

    As for whether or not the concept of individual property existed at the time of Christ — there may not have been a formal theory of individual property as was developed in the Enlightenment by Locke and others, but that doesn’t mean that the concept was not in use in an everyday form. Clearly, the fact that people are at least practically in control of their property is implicit in the everyday interactions which Jesus uses in the telling of several of the parables. That doesn’t mean that the parables are about individual property, but it would be mistaken to suggest that those before the Enlightenment didn’t have any concept of individual property (or the communal obligations which over-rule one’s ability to decide how to dispose of one’s property.)

  • Individual property was an Enlightenment idea?

    I beg to differ. Aristotle had quite a bit to say about private property, as well as common property.

    Many of the thinkers of the Enlightenment, though certainly not all, based at least some of their ideas on the thinkers of antiquity.

  • As for the parables, I’ve heard that the parable of the talents is supposed to be a “free market parable”, which is nonsense – it is an analogy, not an endorsement of any economic system. We may as well conclude that the parable of the vineyard was an endorsement of total equalization of wages regardless of the amount of work done by the individual laborers.

    That isn’t to say that I think Jesus had nothing at all to say about economics – but I don’t believe any of it is to be found in his parables, which are meant to illustrate much different things.

  • Private property has been around since Cronk chased away the fellow who got too close to his club.

  • There’s an awful lot packed into the seventh commandment about private property. I can’t even believe it’s become a talking point.

    The conservative bible is worthy of profound contempt, but as others have pointed out, so are other ideological attempts at conforming God’s word to their pet ideologies.

  • if we all agree that although Jesus’ parables and ultimate message were thoroughly economic

    Why would we all agree on one of the dumbest ideas ever?

    Check out Exodus 20:17 “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that [is] thy neighbour’s.”

    You think that came from the Enlightenment?

  • And I don’t think that the economic dimensions of the scriptures are even remotely in line with the ideas of socialism. (Indeed, socialism was explicitly rejected by the popes in their social encyclicals.)

    Not even remotely? Are you kidding? You have read the Bible, right? Not the Book of Mormon, but the Bible?

    And what does the fact that many popes rejected various forms of socialism have to do with what the Bible says?

    Clearly, the fact that people are at least practically in control of their property is implicit in the everyday interactions which Jesus uses in the telling of several of the parables.

    Oh, you mean the parables about absentee landlords and landless day laborers? What was that you said about reading your own politics into the scriptures?

    Well, clearly there are some parables you could “reduce” to an economic message if you looked only at their surface meaning.

    The so-called “surface meaning” would certainly not be in conflict with the imposed “spiritualized” meaning, right?

    For all the Enlightened pro-capitalist liberals on this site, I’m kind of surprised that you think “private property” as described by capitalists is in the Bible. That’s simply anarchronistic. Actually I’m not surprised. The confusion of the definition of “private property” is precisely what free market types do to keep less intelligent people supporting capitalism: “You mean those socialists want to take away my flat screen TV?!? I’d have to share my DVDs with the neighborhood?!?”

  • Uh, Michael, check out S.B.’s post above. “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, wife, etc.” In other words, keep your mitts off other people’s property. It’s a rather irksome Commandment for socialists, I would say. If capitalists must be wary of greed, the besetting sin of socialism is envy.

  • Donna – Sounds like you’re one of the people I referred to in my previous comment. Socialists like myself have no problem with that commandment.

  • Socialists like myself…

    Not that I think being a socialist is a good thing, but at least you’ve landed on a term that aligns with your ideology. The whole anarchism can mean supporting an all powerful state which owns and controls all capital was never really convincing.

  • Rick – Perhaps you are not aware that anarchism is a subset of socialism?

  • State ownership of the means of production is “a subset of socialism”? Ha ha. Just try to stay clear on the concept of anarchism while rolling the phrase “state ownership” around in your mind. Doublethink nirvana, that’s what you’ll have.

  • I don’t think the parables are about economics. However, if you were to treat them as if they were about economics, a number of them would take on a distinctly free market flair.

  • Btw, if my word were law, I’d probably banish the words ‘socialism’ ‘capitalism’ and ‘anarchism’ from political discourse. All three terms have so many confusing connotations associated with them that it can be quite difficult to reach understanding when they are invoked. Michael, for example, uses all three terms with a meaning that is different than what I suspect is the meaning associated with the terms by most people here (Michael’s not wrong, it’s just not the popular understanding). If people understood what he was saying, I suspect they would find it less objectionable, though I think they still would not be close to agreeing with him (admittedly, it is hard to disentangle how much of the difference is due to differences in the speaker’s values or perceptions of fact, and how much is just a matter of language).

  • Not even remotely? Are you kidding? You have read the Bible, right? Not the Book of Mormon, but the Bible?

    Sigh… Yes. I’ve read the Bible. All of it at least once, parts like the Gospels dozens of times. (Actually, I never read more than the first two chapters of the Book of Mormon — but don’t tell those nice Mormon missionaries who come to the door that.)

    Rhetorical questions work better when they’re not unlikely and sarcastic.

    And what does the fact that many popes rejected various forms of socialism have to do with what the Bible says?

    Well, perhaps if Christ had preached socialism then the popes would not have condemned it as incompatible with Christianity…?

    “Clearly, the fact that people are at least practically in control of their property is implicit in the everyday interactions which Jesus uses in the telling of several of the parables.”

    Oh, you mean the parables about absentee landlords and landless day laborers? What was that you said about reading your own politics into the scriptures?

    Um, well, yes, at a strictly historical/sociological level, it would certainly seem that the parables involving land owners and laborers and parables such as that of the Talents (which involves a master demanding to see return on his investments) would suggest that Jesus’s audience assumed that capital was usually controlled by private ownership, not collective ownership.

    Now, I certainly wouldn’t say that this means that Jesus was telling people that capital/means of production should be privately owned (or, indeed, that they shouldn’t) it’s just that in seeking to tell stories that illustrate a point, Jesus talks about situations which would have been familiar to his audience, and those situations clearly imply that private ownership of capital was common enough as to be assumed by his audience. Now does Jesus condemn this, rather he condemns the failure of those with food, shelter, clothing, etc. to share it with those who do not have it.

    So now that you bring it up, you have me curious: Obviously, the parable of the bad tenants (Matthew 21:33-46) is primarily about the relationship between God and Israel, but if you think it says or implies anything about Christ’s message on economics, what do you think it tells us?

    “Well, clearly there are some parables you could “reduce” to an economic message if you looked only at their surface meaning.”

    The so-called “surface meaning” would certainly not be in conflict with the imposed “spiritualized” meaning, right?

    I must admit, I’m a little confused by this reply. Let me take a very specific example, the parable of the treasure in the field. I would describe the “surface meaning” (which, yes, I’m aware is not a technical term in exegesis) or perhaps more precisely, the surface story as being one of sharp dealing. A man finds out that there’s a treasure buried in a field which the owner doesn’t know about. In what Adam Smith’s charming 18th century prose would describe as “sharp dealing” he sells everything that he has and buys the field, so that he can then claim ownership to the treasure, which we will then assumedly dig up and turn a massive profit on his deal since he bought field and treasure for the price of just the field.

    Now, is the idea that one should stake all one’s wealth to turn a huge profit based on inside information the point of the parable? Absolutely not! Christ is making an analogy between something everyone in his audience understands (the desire to turn a big profit on a sharp deal) and what they should really be willing to stake all that they have on: achieving the eternal kingdom.

    This is not a “free market parable” because Christ is not urging his listeners to stake all their possessions on a sharp business deal — rather it’s a parable which draws on the existing business sense in the audience to point out to them that the returns they are pursuing in this world are inconsequential in eternity, and that rather than staking everything to get rich, they should stake everything to achieve salvation.

    For all the Enlightened pro-capitalist liberals on this site, I’m kind of surprised that you think “private property” as described by capitalists is in the Bible. That’s simply anarchronistic. Actually I’m not surprised. The confusion of the definition of “private property” is precisely what free market types do to keep less intelligent people supporting capitalism: “You mean those socialists want to take away my flat screen TV?!? I’d have to share my DVDs with the neighborhood?!?”

    This is an arbitrary distinction. There is no clear difference between saying, “you’re still in charge of the flat screen TV that you bought” and “you’re still in charge of the business that you bought” or “you’re still in charge of the production of the farm you bought”.

    Different attempts at socialism and communism have drawn up different rules as far as how far one’s ability to have “private property” goes, but it’s always an essentially arbitrary distinction and at root a selfish and materialist one: you can own “personal” property which you use strictly for your own purposes within set limits, but you can’t actually own a business or other productive asset which you work to provide value both to your customers, your employees, and your dependents.

    And, indeed, it’s the attempt to ignore human nature and demand that people work only for the betterment of the abstract “society” rather than directly to provide for their family and loved ones which has caused socialist experiments to fail again and again.

  • Darwin,

    I have to say that I don’t find your logic sound.

    “Well, perhaps if Christ had preached socialism then the popes would not have condemned it as incompatible with Christianity…?”

    The Popes condemnations of socialism are not based on any parables of Christ, or any sort of direct condemnation of any sort of even quasi-socialistic idea. It’s just not in the Gospels.

    While I don’t think Jesus preached, or would have preached, any sort of state socialism or collectivism (if we’re going to speculate), I have a hard time imagining him preaching the gospel of economic growth too.

    If we look at some of the economic practices of the Old Testament, for instance – the jubilee year of debt forgiveness, the restoration of property (see, there’s private property in the Torah too, clearly), the ban on usury, on financial parasitism, on God’s commands throughout the entire Bible to be mindful of the orphan and the widow – we see an economic philosophy that is mindful of private property but absolutely insistent upon a social obligation as well.

    I don’t see any reason to believe that God, as Jesus, would depart from the economic structure He set up in the Torah or Pentateuch. It looks like the early Christians tried to preserve it to some extent as well.

  • I don’t see any reason to believe that God, as Jesus, would depart from the economic structure He set up in the Torah or Pentateuch.

    I don’t think we can take the economic regulations found in the Torah or Pentateuch to represent any sort of ideal. Several of the prominent regulations (e.g. debt forgiveness and usury) turned out to have some significant negative unintended consequences, which is why both Christian and Jewish law ultimately found ways to render them a nullity.

  • Negative from what standpoint?

    Our first consideration is the state of our souls, not the level of ‘economic growth.’

    At no point did God say, “stop doing that debt forgiveness and open up a debtor’s prison instead.”

    It was once every seven years, a way to wipe the slate clean as an act of goodness. What economy ever collapsed because of debt forgiveness or prohibitions on usury? On the other hand an excess of usury is arguably why this economy has collapsed. Greed is not good. It is a sin for a reason.

    Of course the economic regulations in the Torah are an ideal – they correspond to ideal moral behavior, they correspond to an ideal disposition which regards moral goodness and purity as the top priority. That being said, I see no reason to believe that they destroy economies either.

  • I will add that I think the Catholic Encyclopedia has a good overview of the subject. There seems to be room for interpretation on usury, though the exploitation of the poor through it (or through any other means) is explicitly and severely condemned. And I think this was the spirit of the original law – usury is evil when it is used to take advantage of a person’s misfortune.

    Unfortunately, in our society, people who excel at just that are hailed as “smart” and “inventive.”

  • Joe,

    …George Soros comes to mind as someone as “smart” and “inventive” when he took advantage of the poor.

  • Joe,

    The seven year debt forgiveness was modified not because it impeded ‘economic growth’ but because it was found to be harming the poor, i.e. the people the law was (presumably) intended to help. The problem with negating all debts every seven years is that creditors know that it is going to happen, and so won’t lend unless the loan will be repaid before the next debt forgiveness. That means, for example, that if you are in the latter part of the sixth year, it is going to be impossible to find anyone who will lend you money.

    It was this sort of problem that led rabbis such as Hillel to create the prosbul, which allowed loans to avoid the seven year cancellation.

  • So basically what you’re saying is, God instituted a bad law that human wisdom had to make better. God is an incompetent economic bungler.

    The law didn’t hurt the poor – people who sought to circumvent the law hurt the poor. Human greed hurt and continues to hurt the poor – not the economic precepts of the Bible or the Church.

  • Joe,

    Obviously the law wasn’t intended to hurt the poor. At the same time, the poor were made worse off by the existence of the law than they would have been otherwise. You can say this is because of the dastardly actions of lenders. Fine. Still, the fact that lenders will respond to the law in a dastardly way means that the law is a bad idea. I don’t think that makes God an “incompetent economic bungler” anymore than the various laws about cleansing make God a medical and scientific illiterate. What it does mean, however, is that we can’t take the Old Testament law as being some sort of ideal legal code, rather than something that served a purpose only in a particular time and place.

  • “Still, the fact that lenders will respond to the law in a dastardly way means that the law is a bad idea.”

    I don’t see at all how one follows from the other. People respond to all sorts of laws in “dastardly” ways; that is not an adequate justification for their abrogation!

    I’m not convinced that this law meant that the “poor were worse off.” It can be argued, but I doubt it could be proven.

    As for the comparison to laws about cleansing, they have no relevance. There isn’t that much of a difference between lending money today, and lending money 3000 years ago. The same could not be said of medical advances. I’ll grant that some OT laws must be updated given our technological advancements – but I will maintain that the Biblical economic laws do not fall into that category. This is not about adapting to a new situation which did not previous exist, but rather circumventing a law that one finds inconvenient.

  • And on further thought, I have to point out that you are arguing that the law was faulty from the beginning – so I’m not sure what historical context has to do with it. If people “reacted badly” to it as soon as it was instituted, then it was bad then as it is bad now, in your view at least.

    How does this not make God, in your view, an incompetent bungler?

    Better to say that is we who fail to live up to the “ideal”, in reality, the law, that God established.

  • There isn’t that much of a difference between lending money today, and lending money 3000 years ago.

    One is occurring in the context of regular year-to-year improvements in real income drawn from technological applications and more deft division of labor. The extension of credit can commonly be a capital investment. The opportunity for that is fairly uncertain and constrained in an economic context where secular improvements in living standards are at a very low rate and often succeeded by periods of secular decline in living standards.

    With regard to lending for purposes of consumption, if I am not mistaken there are differences in practical effects seen when this is done in agricultural economies where specie is comparatively scarce. It has been so long I have forgotten the analysis, though.

    I am not sure why it is ‘dastardly’ to limit your extension of credit to contracts of a limited term of years.

    And I think this was the spirit of the original law – usury is evil when it is used to take advantage of a person’s misfortune.

    That sounds like a critique of loan sharks or payday lenders or (perhaps) pawn brokers. Auto finance companies? Not so sure.

  • Joe,

    I think I might have been less than clear, or perhaps we mis-understood each other a bit: I certainly don’t think that the Church has set down a ruling on the sort of economic system endorsed by the parables of Christ — I don’t think that any economic system is endorsed by them. My point was more that if Christ clearly endorsed a socialist economic system in his parables (which is what I thought Michael had suggested — rather to my surprise) that the Church would not have turned around and condemned socialism when it became a political issue. Given the fact that the Church _has_ condemned socialism, I would assume that (unless the Church is false) socialism is not a system which Christ peached.

    Indeed, I would agree exactly with your point that to the extent that we see any economic philosophy in Christ’s teaching (and I don’t think that economics, as I would use the term, was at all a major facet of his message to humanity) it is one which in which private property is implicit, yet our obligations to our brothers and sisters are emphasized most of all.

    My only point about private property and “free market” surface values in the parables is that it seems to me that several of the parables are clearly addressed to an audience which is indeed with capital and the means of production being privately owned. I don’t think Christ says anything particularly for or against that, it just seems to be the way that people assumed things often worked in first century Palestine.

  • People respond to all sorts of laws in “dastardly” ways; that is not an adequate justification for their abrogation!

    It depends on whether such dastardly behavior defeats the purpose of the law. If the purpose of a law is to help the poor, and people react to the law in a way that leaves the poor worse off, then yes, that justifies getting rid of the law.

    I’m not convinced that this law meant that the “poor were worse off.”

    What is the source of your skepticism here? Is it that you don’t think lenders would refuse to lend money that wasn’t to be repaid before the jubilee? Or is it that you do think they would do this, but you aren’t sure poor people being denied loans would make them worse off?

    There isn’t that much of a difference between lending money today, and lending money 3000 years ago.

    Did the ancient Israelites have credit cards? Adjustable rate mortgages (or any kind of mortgage, for that matter)? Venture capital? Was there a bond market? Was there even a banking system?

    Even aside from technical advances, the difference between a largely poor, agriculture based society like ancient Israel and today’s society is going to be enormous just based on the amount of lending involved. The Ancient Israelites didn’t have a whole lot of surplus capital, so there wasn’t going to be a huge amount of lending (particularly long term lending) in any event. So the rule may not have actually had much of an effect at the time, and served a mainly symbolic purpose, which is what you would have to say about some of the cleansing rituals as well (sprinkling a man with dove’s blood is not just a less effective method of treating a man with leprosy than what we can do with modern medicine; it’s not an effective treatment at all).

  • First of all, I’m not convinced that the law was established merely to help the poor. People at all levels of society lend and borrow money. The purpose, if I am going to make an educated guess, was to encourage solidarity and forgiveness among the people, as well as to demonstrate that there things of much greater importance than money. In addition I believe the purpose was God’s benevolence towards His people.

    Secondly, the argument still doesn’t hold up. People argue that the illegality of prostitution or narcotics makes things more dangerous for all parties involved – in Europe they have “sex workers unions”, in some places, legalized prostitution. The theory is that “people will do it anyway, so let’s make it safe.” This extends to sex education, where children are given condoms because they’re supposedly incapable of doing what is right.

    The logic is the same here – people are going to be tight-fisted with their money, so let’s make it easier for them to do so rather than, as a society, make a clear statement about our values by declaring this behavior illegal.

    Whatever ills befall us because of obedience to an inherently good law must certainly be more bearable, from the standpoint of our salvation, than whatever temporary benefit we derive from an inherently bad one.

    That being said, I’m willing to accept that the tradition of the Church has allowed for moderate usury in certain historical circumstances. What I am not willing to accept is that debt forgiveness or prohibitions on exploitative usury are so bad that we must essentially declare God incompetent and do things however we see fit. It is our behavior that must be modified, and our attitudes – not God’s law.

    The source of my skepticism, to answer your second point, is that I am not aware of any historical evidence that debt forgiveness or prohibitions on usury caused either the Israelites, the early Christians, or Christian society throughout the Middle Ages any serious social catastrophes. I’m open to the possibility that it may exist, but I haven’t seen it.

    Finally, I think my last point is misunderstood. We may have different financial devices, but the essence of the matter is the same – to, or to not, forgive debts and charge onerous rates of interest for profit.

    You admit that you don’t really know what effect the rule had at the time, nor do I think we can say that we know for certain what effect the rule would have today if it were applied in certain cases. I wouldn’t argue that a businesses’ debt fell into the same category as a family that took out a loan for something essential. I think the application can be selective, provided that it fulfills the purpose God originally intended, on which I speculated earlier in this reply.

  • State ownership of the means of production is “a subset of socialism”? Ha ha.

    State ownership of the means of production is one type of socialism. But socialism does not need to be statist. More generally, socialism involves communal ownership of the means of production. It includes non-statist forms such as indigenous socialisms and various forms of anarchism. Even in Marxism, the goal is a stateless, classless society, not state ownership of the means of production. Hope this clears things up for you.

    This is an arbitrary distinction. There is no clear difference between saying, “you’re still in charge of the flat screen TV that you bought” and “you’re still in charge of the business that you bought” or “you’re still in charge of the production of the farm you bought”.

    No, it’s an important distinction if the central issue is who owns the means of production, which is precisely the issue.

    …it’s always an essentially arbitrary distinction and at root a selfish and materialist one: you can own “personal” property which you use strictly for your own purposes within set limits, but you can’t actually own a business or other productive asset which you work to provide value both to your customers, your employees, and your dependents.

    Interesting use of the word “selfish,” that.

    And, indeed, it’s the attempt to ignore human nature and demand that people work only for the betterment of the abstract “society” rather than directly to provide for their family and loved ones which has caused socialist experiments to fail again and again.

    This makes no sense.

    Given the fact that the Church _has_ condemned socialism, I would assume that (unless the Church is false) socialism is not a system which Christ peached.

    Socialism is NOT a “system” at all but a tendency. There is no one form of socialism. The Church has NOT condemned “socialism.” For example, countless indigenous societies are organized according to indigenous forms of socialism. The Church obviously has not condemned these forms of socialism. The Church has not condemned the socialism of monasticism. The Church has not condemned democratic socialism. Please stop parroting the lie that the Church has “condemned socialism.” It hasn’t.

  • Correct me if I’m wrong here, but in Old Testament times, I believe the only means many “ordinary” folk had for repaying large debts was either to sell their ancestral lands (what we might call the “family farm”) or sell themselves and/or their children into slavery. The jubilee year provisions for debt forgiveness, freeing of slaves, and return of land to its original owners was a way to give affected families a fresh start, and prevent them from turning into a permanent “underclass.”

  • Did the Mosaic practice of forgiving debts every seven years persist among Christians, Joe? And even into the Middle Ages?

    I’d be curious to read about that if you have a citation on it.

    I must admit, the only context I’d heard about it in was in a talk I heard by an economist who was Jewish, who used the example of how Rabbinical teaching modified the original law (because of its bad effects on poor people wanting to borrow money) as an example of how attempts to regulate debt don’t always work as intended. I had never heard the practice was carried on into Christian times — though obviously various practices for forgiving debt of those unable to pay were supported by the Church in various times and places.

    I’m not sure that saying the seven year debt forgiveness law wouldn’t work well would necessarily suggest incompetence on God’s part. There’s a _lot_ of Old Testament Jewish law, and clearly Christ considered some of it to be sub-optimal. (Divorce, being the key example.)

    That said, clearly charity, justice, and social stability all suggest the need for some kind of debt forgiveness for those who can’t pay. Morally, I’d say we’re calling not to profit unreasonably from the need of others, and that can at times mean personally forgiving debts owed one. At a secular level, that’s what bankruptcy is for. And indeed, in that regard, the US is particularly generous, having bankruptcy laws far more favorable to debtors than one finds in Europe. (Some have observed this probably has a lot to do with the historical fact of so many people having emigrated to the US to escape their debts in Europe.)

  • I’m not convinced that the law was established merely to help the poor. People at all levels of society lend and borrow money.

    Well, it *seems* to be intended to help debtors, who will, on average, tend to be poorer than creditors (hence the need to borrow money).

    Secondly, the argument still doesn’t hold up. People argue that the illegality of prostitution or narcotics makes things more dangerous for all parties involved

    I favor the legalization of drugs and prostitution for precisely this reason. So your reductio has no effect on me.

    Let me counter with one of my own. Suppose I propose that once every seven years we let everyone out of jail, and offer a general pardon for all crimes committed. You might object to this law on the grounds that some of the murders, rapists, and thieves released will go on to murder, rape, and rob once they are released, and that as you get close to the forgiveness date people will be more likely to commit crimes, since they know the punishment will be brief at best. Is it a valid response to this objection to say that if people respond to the clemency by murdering, raping, and robbing they are to blame, not the clemency? I think not. Law has to take account of ordinary human wickedness and frailty. If it does not that is a deficiency in the law.

    I am not aware of any historical evidence that debt forgiveness or prohibitions on usury caused either the Israelites, the early Christians, or Christian society throughout the Middle Ages any serious social catastrophes.

    I don’t think the Christians used the seven year debt forgiveness idea in any substantial way, and the prosbul was created under Jewish law in the first century BC, so it’s not like these ideas were tried out in a variety of historical settings. In addition, if a modern society were to adopt a prohibition on interest taking or a seven year debt forgiveness and were to then be reduced to the economic condition of the Israelites, the early Christians, or the Middle Ages, this would count as a serious catastrophe. So the fact that a ban on usury existed in these societies is not strong evidence that it isn’t harmful.

    nor do I think we can say that we know for certain what effect the rule would have today if it were applied in certain cases.

    You don’t know what would happen if we made it mandatory today for debts to be cancelled every seven years? Seriously?

  • nor do I think we can say that we know for certain what effect the rule would have today if it were applied in certain cases.

    Let me put it this way. Remember the housing crisis last year? That happened because the rate of people not paying back their mortgages went from around 1% to around 2%. What do you think would happen if the rate were to go to 100%?

  • You don’t know what would happen if we made it mandatory today for debts to be cancelled every seven years? Seriously?

    Capitalists would lose what is rightfully “theirs” and society would obviously collapse.

  • Well, if you’re going to define socialism so broadly as to include monasteries and indigenous societies, then there’s really not much point in having a conversation. (Heck, at that point, many small businesses are probably socialist, in that many of them are owned in equal parts by several partners, who make up the sole workers at the company.)

    I do want to touch on one exchange, though, as it ties in to issues that strike me as moderately important and general:

    This is an arbitrary distinction. There is no clear difference between saying, “you’re still in charge of the flat screen TV that you bought” and “you’re still in charge of the business that you bought” or “you’re still in charge of the production of the farm you bought”.

    No, it’s an important distinction if the central issue is who owns the means of production, which is precisely the issue.

    Okay, so example: I own two large propane burners and several large pots suitable for brewing beer, as well as various fermentors, etc. These are my “private property” in the sense that I take it you’re saying socialism would have no problem with. I use them to brew up 5-10 gallon batches of beer which I bottle and then consume privately or give away to friends and family. Now, based on what you’ve said, this is fine under socialism so long as the brewing equipment is strictly for private use. However, say that times are tough and my neighbors are thirsty, so I start brewing every week and selling cases of beer to others. This goes well, and I want help, so I offer to pay my neighbor an hour to help me with brewing, sanitizing bottles, bottling, and delivery. If I offer to pay him a wage (which is a fair or even very generous wage for the work he’s doing) but want to keep the rest of the profits beyond his wages for myself, on the theory that we’re using my equipment, brewing at my house, and selling through the customer base that I built up — we now immediately have a problem where socialism is concerned. It’s not considered legitimate for me to own my equipment and my premises and be in charge of the operation. And yet, so long as I simply guzzled all the beer myself (or gave it to people I happened to like) rather than selling it to people who wanted it, and so long as I used the equipment myself rather than offering a fair wage to someone to help me out, I was fine.

    So yeah, I’d say that’s pretty arbitrary. Why should it be perfectly legitimate for me to own the same thing and do the same activity so long as I do it for strictly selfish reasons, but if I provide a service to a larger number of people in return for a fair price, and employ someone for a fair wage, now I’m not allowed to own these same items?

  • Capitalists would lose what is rightfully “theirs” and society would obviously collapse.

    Well, for example, everyone but the very richest would be stuck renting their homes, because no one would be willing to give you a loan which would last more than the length of time till the next forgiveness year. Few people can afford to pay for a house in seven years, must less two or three.

    Though, of course, that would also serve to decrease the value of land, and cause wild gyrations in property values. Land would sell for more the year after a jubilee, since potential buyers could get a six year loan, and it would be almost impossible to sell land the year before a jubilee, since any buyer would have to pay cash.

    Or perhaps something that Michael will sympathize with more: Only the very rich could go to college, since no one would be willing to issue long term loans for tuition.

  • I had no idea you favored the legalization of prostitution and drugs. Do you really find that position to be at all compatible with Church teaching?

    I don’t find your comparison to letting all the criminals out of jail very compelling. I wouldn’t object to it on the grounds you suggest, but on the grounds that the debt a criminal owes to society is of a different order than that which a borrower owns the lender. The criminal has done objective wrong to someone and must pay in full. The borrower has not wronged anyone.

    For you and Darwin both, I threw everything together for the sake convenience; I didn’t mean to say that debt forgiveness every seven years extended into the Middle Ages, but prohibitions on usury did. The point being that at no point did these practices bring ruin to any society.

    Obviously I am not proposing anything remotely close to lowering standards of living to the level of Israelites or the Middle Ages, though I don’t think we would all die if we chose to gradually live like, say, the Amish, who seem to do alright with a minimal amount of modern technology.

    But that is a separate story anyway. In our society, for reasons Elaine pointed out, we may not do it every seven years on the dot. The idea would be to capture the spirit of the law, if not the letter, and to forgive debts in those cases where it would clearly bring a person or a family or even entire third world nations out of debt bondage. And it would be a good idea to do this every so often, as a sign of good will.

    “So the fact that a ban on usury existed in these societies is not strong evidence that it isn’t harmful.”

    So where is the evidence that it is, again?

    As for the final sarcastic questions, I already made it clear that the law can be selectively applied. I don’t know if you just chose to ignore that, or if you honestly just didn’t get it. Who knows?

    The housing crisis was caused by, among other things, rampant, malignant, predatory lending. But since the government seems determined to just keep printing more money to solve every financial crisis, why not bail everyone out? Why should Wall Street get hundreds of billions of dollars when that same amount of money disbursed throughout the whole economy would probably have a much better effect? The modern equivalent of the jubilee year could be a bail out for the people instead of the parasitic, blood-sucking, unholy vampires that caused this catastrophe to begin with.

  • “society would obviously collapse.”

    He’s got that right, even if completely unwittingly.

  • I’ll add that as opposed to even trying to adhere to the spirit of that law, we’ve simply forgotten about it.

    That’s quite a big roll of the dice, if you ask me, to just assume that God doesn’t care anymore about the forgiveness of debt, and that we have no obligation to find ways in which we can do so. And if we’ve created a society that is structured such that it can only exist through permanent indebtedness and excessive usury, perhaps the foundations of that society itself are rotten.

  • And I’ll add one more thing, while I’m at it: I think adhering to the spirit of the law would not require the forgiveness of debt for commercial enterprises or conspicuous consumption or mega-mansions or anything of the sort.

    It would apply to necessities, such as medicine, transportation, etc. I don’t think anyone in ancient Israel borrowed to finance a new speedboat, and I think it would be a mockery of God to assume that such “lifestyle upgrade” purchases would be included in the deal.

    And I will repeat, so I am not twisted out of context again, though I probably will be anyway, that I still believe it can be selectively applied even if we get down to necessities. The necessity of the moment would count for more than the necessity at the time the money was first borrowed.

  • Bankruptcy is basically institutionalized debt forgiveness for those who have reached a point where debt is putting them into a state of bondage. Does that count at all?

    Clearly, it’s different from the idea of simply wiping debt at intervals, but it does seem to achieve the basic aim of allowing people who are totally unable to pay off their debts to exit their obligations — leaving the creditors, generally, to eat the loss.

  • Well, if you’re going to define socialism so broadly as to include monasteries and indigenous societies, then there’s really not much point in having a conversation.

    Baloney. You define socialism in a narrow way that socialists do not recognize. And you do so in order to exclude obviously life-giving forms of social organization from consideration in order to prolong the myth that capitalism is the best set of economic arrangements. All socialists would recognize monasticism and indigenous forms of economics as socialism. Only capitalists do not.

    “society would obviously collapse.”

    He’s got that right, even if completely unwittingly.

    If the “society” that you want to hang onto depends upon debt for its existence, then your preferred society is evil.

  • That is a point worth considering, Darwin, though is it not also true that a bankruptcy can still ruin a person’s life in other ways?

    In other news, how can one read these references to usury in the Bible in a positive light?

    http://www.drbo.org/cgi-bin/s?t=1&q=usury&b=drb

  • Well, I’ll be, MI and I sort of agree for once.

    We have to question whether or not we have built a society that God would be pleased with. If we aren’t doing that, then why do we bother with this religion? If were going to legalize prostitution and turn the entire economy into a casino, why do we bother with the Bible, the tradition of the Church or the social teaching?

    It would be easier to just invent a new religion, or have none at all.

  • This has been a very no debt evening, as I’m sitting here refreshing the thread in one tab, while reading through Megan McArdle’s profile of Dave Ramsey’s cash-only approach to personal finance in another:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/print/200912/mcardle-ramsey-debt

    And listening to the EconTalk podcast also discussing his no debt/pay in case approach.

  • Baloney. You define socialism in a narrow way that socialists do not recognize. And you do so in order to exclude obviously life-giving forms of social organization from consideration in order to prolong the myth that capitalism is the best set of economic arrangements. All socialists would recognize monasticism and indigenous forms of economics as socialism. Only capitalists do not.

    Well, I’ll make you a deal, Michael. I’ll agree to fully support the existence of voluntary or otherwise non-statist forms of socialism if these are forms that “all socialists” support. And you can support me in opposing any attempt to use the power of the state to impose social ownership of the means of production by force. I’m absolutely supportive of your desire to live in a voluntary, socialist collective — so long as you’re not intent on forcing other people to follow suit. And if you every change your mind, I’ll equally support you in leaving.

    Is it a deal?

    (Though I would be curious, since you say I have no understanding of socialism, how you’d react to my question about the brewing. Is it just fine to run a brewing business of the sort I described under socialism, rather than being forced to socialize my means of production as soon as I use them to provide a service to others rather than simply for my own benefit?)

  • That is a point worth considering, Darwin, though is it not also true that a bankruptcy can still ruin a person’s life in other ways?

    Well, bankruptcy involves forgiving some of your debts in many cases, while with others it renegotiates your debt in ways that you agree that you’re able to pay. In cases where you don’t have the ability to make any kind of payments in the long term, it can mean giving up leveraged assets (say, the house and/or car that you have loans on) which you can’t arrange to pay for even on extended payment schedules and renegotiated terms. Unsecured debts are often pretty much canceled. (And the government, predictably, watches out for itself. Tax debt and subsidized student loans can’t be forgiven in a bankruptcy.)

    It also leaves you unable to borrow money for several years — which in such a case is perhaps not a good idea anyway.

    Certainly, it’s not painless, though it’s much less painful here than in most other countries.

    I guess my point in mentioning it is: I fully agree that it would be a problem if there were no means for clearing people of unpayable debt burdens. And I think, actually, that basically all “capitalist” economists would agree with that. One of the major justifications for allowing a creditor to collect interest is that he bears the risk that he may not be repayed.

    I also agree that offering people loans under certain predatory terms is immoral (usury), though I don’t know that I’d agree that all debt is usury. However, I think some of the more arbitrary approaches to clearing debt would be pretty destructive. And I don’t think that the use of debt to allow people to own assets (homes, cars, educations, etc.) and to start and run businesses makes society “evil”, by any stretch. Properly used, debt is simply a means of getting an asset while paying for it rather than only after paying for it, and as such it can allow money to move through society more quickly and is especially helpful to those who currently don’t have money but are trying to better their condition.

  • Well, I’ll make you a deal, Michael. I’ll agree to fully support the existence of voluntary or otherwise non-statist forms of socialism if these are forms that “all socialists” support.

    You still have trouble reading, eh? I never said that all socialists support non-statist forms of socialism. I said that all socialists would recognize them as forms of socialism.

    And you can support me in opposing any attempt to use the power of the state to impose social ownership of the means of production by force.

    I am opposed to both the state and to the state’s use of force.

  • Well Darwin, I was pretty specifically referring to permanent indebtedness and excessive usury, and I don’t see how one can argue that our society not only condones but has developed a dependency upon these things.

    I don’t think there is anything arbitrary about the kind of debt forgiveness I am talking about.

  • You still have trouble reading, eh? I never said that all socialists support non-statist forms of socialism. I said that all socialists would recognize them as forms of socialism.

    Hmm. I guess socialism is something it’s easy to be confused by. So all socialists would recognize non-statist forms of socialism as socialism, but some (most?) of socialists not support those non statist forms and instead seek to impose statist socialism? It almost sounds to me like they wouldn’t recognize these non-statist forms as socialism, if they’d seem to replace them with statist socialism instead.

    I am opposed to both the state and to the state’s use of force.

    Interesting. So would you oppose, on principle, the state using its power to enforce some policy even if you considered the policy itself desireable (say, a guaranteed living wage, or the socialization — in the statist case nationalization — of the means of production)?

    Or is it more that you don’t prefer the state and its use of force, but you’ll take it if that’s the easiest way to get what you want?

    Okay, I realized now I’m just arguing to argue, and I apologize to everyone for that.

    Michael, if you do have any thoughts on a proper socialist understanding of my brewing example, I would honestly be curious. Otherwise, good evening.

  • Well Darwin, I was pretty specifically referring to permanent indebtedness and excessive usury, and I don’t see how one can argue that our society not only condones but has developed a dependency upon these things.

    I don’t think there is anything arbitrary about the kind of debt forgiveness I am talking about.

    Well, I guess it strikes me it would be arbitrary to cancel all debts every seven years regardless of whether one is capable of making them or not (though I recognize you aren’t suggesting instituting that practice). For instance, I don’t see why it would be just to cancel my mortgage, when I’m perfectly capable of paying it and it’s quite a reasonable set of terms.

    I do, however, see a point in forgiving insurmountable debt.

    As for whether our society is built on excessive usury and permanent indebtedness — that’s probably a much longer discussion…

    It sounds to me like we may well agree on the moral point, but have differences in regards to matters of fact.

  • If I remember my Bible study classes of years ago correctly, there is a difference between the “sabbatical” years which took place every 7 years, and the “jubilee” years which occurred after seven sabbatical year cycles (7 times 7 years) were completed.

    The sabbatical years were intended to be years of “rest” for the land, during which no crops were planted, comparable to the Sabbath days observed by the people. This was obviously intended to prevent exhaustion of the soil; the same effect is achieved today through crop rotation and conservation subsidies to farmers. Also persons who had sold themselves into certain forms of slavery or indentured servitude were supposed to be freed in the sabbatical years, though they could choose NOT to be freed in certain circumstances.

    Debt forgiveness and return of land to the original owner was actually more a feature of the 50-year jubilee cycle. Forgiving debts every 50 years would make more sense than doing it every 7 years; it would be long enough of a term to allow for long term investment in things like mortgages, etc. but would also provide a periodic “reset” to the economy so that, as I explained above, debts did not rise to unsustainable levels and people who had fallen into debt or slavery did not become permanently mired in poverty.

    If all debts were forgiven every 50 years, it would create problems for people trying to borrow money or buy homes in the last few years before a jubilee year, of course. But it would give most people a chance to experience one economic “do over” in their lifetimes, maybe two depending on their age.

  • Also, on a 50-year debt forgiveness cycle, the economy would probably contract or even go into recession the closer it got to the jubilee year, but would quickly rebound once it passed. How’s that for an economic “stimulus” plan 🙂

  • I had no idea you favored the legalization of prostitution and drugs. Do you really find that position to be at all compatible with Church teaching?

    Sure. My position on prostitution, for example, is the same as that held by St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine.

    “So the fact that a ban on usury existed in these societies is not strong evidence that it isn’t harmful.”

    So where is the evidence that it is, again?

    Try this, for a start.

    I will repeat, so I am not twisted out of context again, though I probably will be anyway, that I still believe it can be selectively applied even if we get down to necessities.

    I’m all for debt forgiveness where it will do more good than harm. If that’s all you meant, then we don’t disagree.

    I don’t think we would all die if we chose to gradually live like, say, the Amish, who seem to do alright with a minimal amount of modern technology.

    The population that the earth would support if we were all living at the level of the Amish is in the millions, rather than the billions. So you’re right that we wouldn’t *all* die, but most people would.

    The housing crisis was caused by, among other things, rampant, malignant, predatory lending.

    This may have been a more ultimate cause, but the proximate cause was the lack of payment due to an increase in foreclosures. If you had an increase in the lack of payments due to government imposed fiat, this would have the same effect.

  • The population that the earth would support if we were all living at the level of the Amish is in the millions, rather than the billions. So you’re right that we wouldn’t *all* die, but most people would.

    LOL!

  • All three terms have so many confusing connotations associated with them that it can be quite difficult to reach understanding when they are invoked. Michael, for example, uses all three terms with a meaning that is different than what I suspect is the meaning associated with the terms by most people here (Michael’s not wrong, it’s just not the popular understanding).

    It is interesting that the only people who contest my understandings of these terms are conservatives and/or republicans. I’ve never once had my understandings of these terms questioned by other anarchists, socialists, marxists… not even liberals.

    I’m also not sure why it would surprise folks here that my understanding of these terms, as someone sympathetic to them as a sort of “insider” is different from those here at The American Catholic who are decidedly NOT insiders and are hostile to such ideas. If you all were to ask an atheist to define Roman Catholicism would you expect to get an adequate answer? Probably not. It is uncontroversial to claim that many folks here have an inadequate, narrow, and even distorted understanding of terms like “socialism.”

    Blackadder rightly distinguishes between my understanding of these terms and the “popular” understanding of the terms, which is correct. And it should be pointed out that the context in which the “popular” understandings developed is one that has historically been hostile to these ideas, often violently so in the case of fanatical american anti-communism, and that the popular definitions have been shaped by this hostile context. The definition of “socialism” has been intentionally distorted by those hostile to various socialist ideas. It is important for folks here to break out of americanist understandings of these terms and consider how they are used by people throughout the world.

  • I think a gradual reduction of our dependence upon technology to live simpler lives is not inherently wrong, provided it is voluntary. Nor do I think the technologies that support food production or other vital things that people need have to be reduced, but I fail to see how six billion people depend directly on the proliferation of technical gadgets that most of them don’t have to begin with. The third world is well below the level of the Amish, who can and do gradually implement new technologies because they have ready access to them. It isn’t about hating technology for its own sake, but avoiding those things that destroy the social fabric.

  • Oh, and, how about debt forgiveness when it IS good? When it is simply a good thing to do in itself, even if nothing good from a pragmatic economic standpoint will occur? Is that alright with you?

  • I’ve never once had my understandings of these terms questioned by other anarchists, socialists, marxists… not even liberals.

    The old “no enemies on the left” phenomenon.

  • I must also state that the position of the Church, today, right now, is that prostitution should be illegal, that it is an intrinsically evil act.

  • S.B.,

    Huh? The left is nothing but enemies. They squabble far more than people on the right. The history of the broader socialist movement in this country alone would make your head spin with all of the party formations, splits, reformations, and splits again, and so on, and so forth. The far left, radical, revolutionary left, is comprised of a thousand self-proclaimed, would-be messiahs and their devoted cult followings.

  • That cliche arose from the fact that a lot of liberals had only muted criticisms (at most) of socialism/communism, because they felt somewhat guilty for not being willing to be more radical themselves. I’m sure that once you get out among the real weirdos, everyone hates each other.

  • I will say, however, that I think a gradual reduction of our dependence upon technology to live simpler lives is not inherently wrong, provided it is voluntary.

    Agreed.

    Nor do I think the technologies that support food production or other vital things that people need have to be reduced, but I fail to see how six billion people depend directly on the proliferation of technical gadgets that most of them don’t have to begin with. The third world is well below the level of the Amish, who can and do gradually implement new technologies because they have ready access to them.

    Around a third of the population of Africa is malnourished, and if it wasn’t for food aid starvation and malnutrition would be even more rampant. The agricultural productivity of the Amish just isn’t large enough to support a multibillion level population. Frankly, if it wasn’t for the fact that there were non-Amish who buy Amish made furniture, produce, etc., I’m not sure that even they could live as well as they currently do.

    Oh, and, how about debt forgiveness when it IS good? When it is simply a good thing to do in itself, even if nothing good from a pragmatic economic standpoint will occur? Is that alright with you?

    Sure.

  • I must also state that the position of the Church, today, right now, is that prostitution should be illegal, that it is an intrinsically evil act.

    The Church has always taught that prostitution is an intrinsically evil act. Aquinas and Augustine both believed it was intrinsically evil. It doesn’t follow that it should be illegal. There are plenty of things that are intrinsically evil but not criminal (lying, for example, or masturbation).

  • That cliche arose from the fact that a lot of liberals had only muted criticisms (at most) of socialism/communism, because they felt somewhat guilty for not being willing to be more radical themselves.

    Kind of like the muted criticism that right wing Christians in Europe and North America gave to the fascists and Nazis.

  • Darwin – You? Arguing just to argue? Perish the thought. I always thought you were constantly and consistently working in pursuit of truth? Guess not.

  • It is interesting that the only people who contest my understandings of these terms are conservatives and/or republicans. I’ve never once had my understandings of these terms questioned by other anarchists, socialists, marxists… not even liberals.

    Well, for what it’s worth, it’s always liberals (such as several of your co-bloggers) who go around insisting that American conservative thought is not “truly conservative”, or claiming that modern conservative and free market ideas never existed prior to the Enlightenment. I’ve never had conservatives or libertarians (in all their many stripes) make such an objection to me.

    That said, clearly thought in the far left cannot be fully in agreement and monolithic, since as I recall, the last time we had a long comment thread on the nature of anarchism you ended up telling us that a great number of the things said about anarchism on one of the high traffic anarchist FAQs were not actually the case. You may all acknowledge each other as being some form of roughly the same movement, but you clearly do have quite a bit of disagreement and factionalism going on.

    Probably part of the source disagreement is that we don’t see how some of your claims about anarchist/socialist thought could possibly be self consistent. For instance, you say on the one hand that you oppose the use of coercion, and yet you also support the socialization of the means of production. To a free market conservative, it’s very difficult to imagine how you could enforce socialization of the means of production without using force to do it. (And indeed, this is how it has always worked in actual socialist states.) Clearly, there are similar blind spots that you find when attempting to understand a conservative worldview.

    One thing that might help to bridge this gap, if you have a strong interest in helping people understand your worldview, even if they don’t already agree with it, would be if you made a frequent effort in posts and comments to explain how an anarchist/socialist worldview would be applied in clear and everyday situations.

    Which is a sneaky way of coming around one last time to sayind I am honestly curious as to what a proper socialist answer to my brewing equipment question would be. 🙂

  • Darwin,

    In Laborem Exercens, JP II argues that state ownership of the means of production is not its “socialization”, but rather, worker ownership (or at least participation) is how property becomes truly “socialized.”

    Socialization of the means of production can and does take place voluntarily, in everything from democratic workers cooperatives to profit-sharing companies.

  • Well, for what it’s worth, it’s always liberals (such as several of your co-bloggers) who go around insisting that American conservative thought is not “truly conservative”, or claiming that modern conservative and free market ideas never existed prior to the Enlightenment. I’ve never had conservatives or libertarians (in all their many stripes) make such an objection to me.

    I’m not sure what this has to do with me. And I’m not really intending to get into a defense of any of them in this context, but I’m not sure about which co-bloggers you mean. The ones who make claims about what is “truly conservative” are often the bloggers who are indeed attracted to various forms of conservatism and are painted as “liberals” by people who object to their voting Democrat from time to time. That doesn’t make one a “liberal.” Some of them who are called “liberals” by TAC folks/types look awfully conservative to me.

    That said, clearly thought in the far left cannot be fully in agreement and monolithic, since as I recall, the last time we had a long comment thread on the nature of anarchism you ended up telling us that a great number of the things said about anarchism on one of the high traffic anarchist FAQs were not actually the case. You may all acknowledge each other as being some form of roughly the same movement, but you clearly do have quite a bit of disagreement and factionalism going on.

    Of course it’s not monolithic. That is a fact that I have been arguing all along. It is the point I am trying to make here in this thread. “Socialism” is huge and diverse.

    Probably part of the source disagreement is that we don’t see how some of your claims about anarchist/socialist thought could possibly be self consistent. For instance, you say on the one hand that you oppose the use of coercion, and yet you also support the socialization of the means of production. To a free market conservative, it’s very difficult to imagine how you could enforce socialization of the means of production without using force to do it. (And indeed, this is how it has always worked in actual socialist states.) Clearly, there are similar blind spots that you find when attempting to understand a conservative worldview.

    The fact that you, as a conservative, find it “difficult to imagine” how a socialist society would come about except through force does not make my views inconsistent. I am in favor of the culture shifting to such a degree that non-statist socialism becomes “common sense” instead of capitalism and social and economic structures change accordingly. Just as you extended a “deal” to me, that we agree that I should be able to live in a “socialist commune” if I want so long as I do not impose my ideas on the supposed capitalist majority (which makes no sense, because that “deal” does not need to be made – that is, in fact reality right now), should society shift the other way, because of my non-coercive commitments, you would be free to set up a little selfish capitalist commune experiment if you want to. A few of you can all sit around in your compound extracting wealth from the majority. A little utopia, heaven on earth! 😉

    One thing that might help to bridge this gap, if you have a strong interest in helping people understand your worldview, even if they don’t already agree with it, would be if you made a frequent effort in posts and comments to explain how an anarchist/socialist worldview would be applied in clear and everyday situations.

    Obviously I can’t do that every time. In fact, it would be seen as “derailing” conversations I’m sure. Should you wish to have that conversation, start it. But I can’t be asked to explain in detail what I mean by certain words and statements in these kinds of conversations, just as you can’t constantly define “conservative” or “republican” or “AK-47” every time you use those words.

    Which is a sneaky way of coming around one last time to sayind I am honestly curious as to what a proper socialist answer to my brewing equipment question would be. 🙂

    I didn’t read that comment of yours and I don’t have the patience to back track and find it.

    And Darwin, Joe is right about L.E. on socialization of production.

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Fiscal Health Care Reform: The Publics Option

Friday, December 11, AD 2009

Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Barack Obama continue to spend, spend, spend away money we don’t have.  With the public option now firmly established in the current Senate version of the health care bill, Election 2010 comes to mind.

Kick the bums out.

I love democracy.

(Biretta Tip: Glenn Foden of NewsBusters)

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13 Responses to Fiscal Health Care Reform: The Publics Option

  • Give me an alternative to Republicans, and I’ll happily comply. Let’s not forget that the borrow-and-spend mantra was begun by Mr Reagan, and continued by both Bushes, especially the last one.

    Lucky thing for the GOP that in our political system, you might be in last place, but you’re never more than one election from ascendancy.

  • Borrow and spend began with Reagan Todd only if Reagan’s name is spelled Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Roosevelt’s Depression deficits, not including World War II, peaked at 5.4% of gdp. Obama’s deficit this year was 7.2% gdp. During Reagan and the first Bush the deficits averaged 4.3% gdp. Both parties have done a lousy job since the onset of the Great Depression of balancing tax receipts and spending, with the exception of Eisenhower and for a few of the Clinton years due to the dot.com bubble, and we are all going to be paying a high price for this for a very, very long time.

  • Running a deficit during a war of national mobilization, a banking crisis, or an economic depression is not unreasonable. During nearly all of Mr. Roosevelt’s tenure, the country was either producing below capacity (and had latent unemployment of such a level that public expenditure might actually be ‘stimulating’) or engaged in a war global in scope. Please note, the Roosevelt Administration did make a serious attempt to balance the federal budget in 1937.

    What has been troublesome has been the inability (since 1960) of the political class to balance the federal budget over the course of any one of the seven business cycles which have run their course since that time. We have had a few balanced budgets near business cycle peaks.

    It is not that difficult to manage. You have to fix your expenditure stream at where your revenue stream would be if the economy were producing at mean capacity. They do not do it because they just don’t feel like it.

  • Let’s not forget that the borrow-and-spend mantra was begun by Mr Reagan, and continued by both Bushes, especially the last one.

    Todd, you are of an age to recall that during a period of economic expansion lasting ten years and featuring improvements in real domestic product a mean of 4% per annum, the administration and Congress balanced the budget just once. Name the political party which had majorities in the upper and lower chamber of Congress during that entire period, and held the presidency for eight of those ten years.

  • When was the last time anyone heard of Congress raising our debt limit to aproximately 2 Trillion dollars. With our debt cost apprroaching 50% of our national income, and the new health bill
    and more stimulus spending to come..some thoughs..the
    government takes money from someone, it has none of its own, and giving money to others has to come from those who work for a living. When those who work for a living realize that if they didn’t and then the government would care for them, then what is their incentive to work and that is the begining of any nation to fail..the fact is that you can not mutiple wealth by spending it and dividing it.

  • I should have added that Medicare’s chief actuary states that Medicare under the proposed bill would spend 35.8 Trillion from 2010 to 2019. Wonder where the money is going to come from?

  • “Name the political party …”

    I would love to see national politics turned on its head, and some degree of sanity restored to foreign and economic policies.

    That either major party will effect that change is a vain hope. Given an alternative to an incompetent, lawless GOP, I’d prefer to hold my nose and take my chances with the current status quo. If nothing else, seeing the Republicans whine in defeat is more entertaining than the alternative.

    Seriously, I do think 2010 and 2012 will be an outlet for much anger if the job market doesn’t perk up. The feds borrowing money isn’t news; it’s been SOP for the last three decades. But unemployment is a crusher right now. The federal deficit? That’s just a useful tool for partisans. As of right now, it still means nothing, and either party is as much to blame as the other.

    Now let’s get back to Obama’s one-child policy.

  • I do not think it will be all that amusing if the U.S. Treasury suffers a failed bond sale. When the ratio of public debt to domestic product comes to exceed 0.9, the willingness of participants in the bond market to buy your scraps of paper diminishes considerably. And that won’t mean ‘nothing’.

    Quite a number of us have had occasion to assess what causes you to hold your nose.

    http://amywelborn.typepad.com/openbook/2005/11/settlement_in_s.html

  • Excellent research, Art. With the change in topic to Catholics behaving badly, I’ll accept your concession on my point that major party politics are bad news for economic good sense. I’m really curious about one point. Stocks are up forty-some percent and the Christmas bonuses for bankers are rolling through the economy. Just what is it that the GOP would have done differently? Mr Bush and the Fed starting the bailout to the tune of a third of a trillion last Fall. Would Mr McCain have ended all that?

    Now can we please get back to the secret Muslim/socialist takeover?

  • Stocks are up forty-some percent and the Christmas bonuses for bankers are rolling through the economy. Just what is it that the GOP would have done differently?

    I am not making any concessions, Todd.

    Counter-factual speculation is usually idle.

    Barney Frank was one of the obstacles to implementing debt-for-equity swaps to recapitalize the bulge bracket banks and in general casino bankers like Robert Rubin have more intimate relations with the elites of the Democratic Party; however, it is true that debt-for-equity swaps for these institutions and for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were also rejected for obscure reasons by Mr. Paulson and his camarilla.

    I have a suspicion a Republican Congress and Administration would have told the United Auto Workers to pound sand. They’d have had to accept a pre-packaged legislated re-organization or the corporations would have had to trudge through the standard proceedings of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, not to mention the ministrations of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. It would have been a good deal less sweet for General Motors’ legatees.

    As for the stimulus, by what accounts have appeared in the newspapers, it appears to have been an omnibus of programs Democratic members of Congress have had on their wish lists for some years. A Republican Congress and Administration would likely have preferred a legislated tax cut.

    There is quite a bit of dispute between economists as to the actual value of the multipliers associated with public expenditure in these circumstances, which is to say a dispute about the degree to which public spending crowds out private spending (one macroeconomist who has written on the subject has said recently that crowding out vitiates the effect of public spending so long as unemployment rates are below 12%). A suspension of payroll tax collections could have been implemented rapidly and would have dispensed a disproportionate share of its largesse to the segment of the population with the highest propensity to consumption, thus having the most impact toward the goal of maintaining aggregate demand. There was the anxiety that the demand for real balances was so intense last year that such would simply be added to people’s stock of cash reserves. The results of monetary policy innovation since then indicate that that concern was misplaced. I do not think the Republican caucus would have favored a payroll tax cut over an income tax cut.

    I think the Republicans, given a free hand, might have put the kibosh on scheduled increases in the minimum wage. The labor market would be in less parlous condition for a’ that.

    The Republicans likely would not have pissed away valuable time on a tar baby like Mr. Obama’s medical insurance proposal.

    I have no clue about what sort of mortgage modification plan might have been drawn up by a Republican Administration.

    So, we did not get debt-for-equity swaps, we got fleeced by the United Auto Workers, the Democratic Party got to do $787 bn in favors for their friends, we priced a good many low wage workers out of the market, we were saddled with a means-tested mortgage modification program that encouraged people to restrict their earnings, and we have had no action as yet on a revised architecture for the banking system or a general plan for working out underwater mortgages because Congress has wasted so much time debating a non-acute problem. It is possible that a Republican Congress and Administration could have done a worse job. It is also possible that I am Marie of Roumania.

  • “It is possible that a Republican Congress and Administration could have done a worse job. It is also possible that I am Marie of Roumania.”

    Ouch! Give it up Todd! You are batting way out of your league with Art. (When it comes to economics, so would I if I tangled with Art!)

  • No, president is can solve these problems. There is more going on behind the scene that we can’t see. Why don’t movie stars like Oprah and Jolie and many other people in the US try to help but stand and watch our country go down and stand before the camera with six kids from all around the world. Im sorry Oprah im black and I may just have to mail her. Why do people from out of the country get free education but not homeless vets? Or just homeless people?. And Obama is making it worse sending troops because he just gonna piss off those people and that’s the last thing we need here in America along with a race war. America is fake, why would anyone believe any presedent. Denmark, France are happy countries with healthcare but they pay a lot in taxes, not many people want to do that in America. America is not use to change. Change is easier for an eastern countries philosophy speaking.

  • “I am not making any concessions, Todd.”

    Then on the next thread we find ourselves conversing, I suggest you stick to your expertise, as Donald terms it, and set aside the desperate historical research.

You keep using that word… I do not think it means what you think it means.

Friday, November 6, AD 2009

Okay, that’s a heckuva long title for a blog post, but it also happens to be almost perfect for the subject of this particular entry at The American Catholic.

On Tuesday, the voters of the state of Maine — surprisingly — rejected same sex marriage (SSM) and reaffirmed that marriage in Maine is between a man and a woman. Naturally, SSM supporters were shocked and outraged (the Catholic Church appears to be the early target), while supporters of traditional marriage were overjoyed with the results; Maine, after all, isn’t exactly in the Bible Belt.

Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America (CWA), was typical of the latter: “Every time Americans vote on marriage, traditional marriage wins.” And she’s right: when it comes to ballot initiatives, SSM is 0-31.

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19 Responses to You keep using that word… I do not think it means what you think it means.

  • Oleson makes a lot of sense, and my own feelings of despair over the current same-sex marriage debate (despite its repeated losses at the ballot box) have a lot to do with the uncomfortable notion that we’re fighting over the hollow shell of something. If we’re fighting for what everyone else calls “marriage” but is actually the personalist-emotivist vestige of that institution, then we’re doomed to lose the debate. That ship sailed long ago, and it had contraception, divorce, and the sexual revolution stoking its boilers!

    Oleson misses a few points, however, that can be employed in a rational argument for traditional marriage. In addition to the indissoluble and procreative nature of marriage, there are other social/cultural reasons for giving heterosexual marriage preferential treatment. I quite liked the analysis by Canadian professors Katherine Young and Paul Nathanson (neither Christian, one gay) seen here:

    http://catholiceducation.org/articles/sexuality/ho0064.html

    Based on their cross-cultural/historical analysis of marriage, they conclude that the culture surrounding marriage must accomplish several things:
    (1) the bonding between men and women to ensure cooperation for the common good
    (2) the procreative aspect (plus child-rearing at least until adulthood)
    (3) bonding between men and children
    (4) a healthy form of masculine identity apart from “provider” and “protector” which have been joined gradually by women
    (5) the transformation of adolescents into sexually responsible adults.

    One of the most important things a culture can do is socialize its males; marriage (traditionally understood, with all the duties it entails) is one of the best ways to do that. If the culture fails to support heterosexual marriage by taking away the unique, ritualistic way that it encourages men to “settle down” and “grow up”, we’re in for a lot more trouble than we realize. Yet again we see that marriage has a public/social character that is poorly understood by most Americans today.

  • I have long recognized that the word marriage as it is now being debated does not mean what it has traditionally meant. It certainly does not mean what the Catholic Church means when it says the word marriage. I have somethimes wondered if the suggestions to use the word marriage for heterosexual unions and the phrase “civil union” for homosexual unions might be better replaced among Catholics by a suggestion to abandon the word marriage altogether. It has already been hijacked by the broader culture and there really isn’t much we can do about that. Let the broader culture have the word marriage and let that word refer to heterosexual “marriages” and homosexual civil unions. We on the other hand would use the prhase “sacramental unions” and its meaning would be restricted only to what has traditionally been meant by marriage. I know this isn’t the best option – but in the end it might be the most we can salvage from the wreckage that seems to be coming upon us.

  • It seems to me, however, that the grassroots resistance towards same-sex marriage might stem from the recognition of what marriage really ought to be. Though the failure rate is so high for the real, most people still cling to and hope for the the ideal. That’s not a bad thing, when one considers the alternative is a mercenary cynicism.

  • I’d love to think that you are right, cminor, but I tend to think that the resistance is from a (correct) recognition of what marriage ought *not* be, rather than what it *ought* to be… I guess it’s good that they have that, but it’s still pretty paltry.

  • Stephen Leacock summed up the matter concisely: what was once a sacrament has become a contract.

    Which incidentally reduces all children to bastards, having no claim on the progenitors.

  • I think it is true that we are not in a fight to avoid the redefinition of marriage, but that we are in a fight about whether or not to include homosexual couples in an already redefined marriage. As you point out, that is a battle that can’t be won. I do not see how one can support artificial contraception and reject same-sex marriage without at least some hint of bigotry.

    One interesting question follows: will this logic have any purchase on the large number of Christians (Catholic and Protestant) that oppose same-sex marriage but have been using contraception for at least two generations?

  • What about a faithful Catholic couple who entered into marriage with the full knowledge of sterility? Should we not consider that marriage?

  • RR: “at a fundamental level, marriage is oriented and structured towards childbearing, even if pro-creation never in fact occurs” (emphasis added).

    The same thing applies to a couple that marries beyond the age of fertility… while they will never bear children, their relationship remains fundamentally ordered towards them.

  • Can you spell that out further for me? How is a marriage where procreation is a biological impossibility, fundamentally ordered towards childbearing? And where does that leave people like Caster Semenya who have genetic or hormonal abnormalities which make their gender ambiguous?

  • Because the factors which render the act of sexual love sterile are “outside” of the action itself, as well as outside the intentions of the couple (i.e. all things being equal, they wish they *could* bear children).

    I don’t see that the infinitesimal number of people with indeterminate sexuality have any bearing on this debate.

    What’s your larger objection, RR?

  • Thanks. I don’t have a larger objection, just had questions.

  • Gotcha. Just wanted to see if there was another question “lurking” behind these or not… feel free to follow-up or ask another.

  • RestrainedRadical,

    Excellent questions!

  • I think there is some misunderstanding about the question of procreation in a marriage. The text is in Genesis: “Increase and multiply”. As the footnote in my [old] Bible comments “This is not a precept. God addressed the same words to the birds and animals who cannot receive a precept. It is a blessing”.

    Further, we use the word “procreation”. In a sense husband and wife are responsible for the body of the child [confirmed by DNA]. But it is God who creates the soul.

    For the matter of couples beyond child bearing age, consider Abraham and Sarah.

    The point is not to interfere with the conjugal act.

    Contraception [most of which methods are abortifacient] is properly defined as mutual masturbation. It is degrading to both parties, but particularly to offensive to the woman.

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  • It is ironic that the net result is that couples who do not, and never will have children, can get married – but couples who do have children, or who want to have children, will be denied marriage.

    Very directly, the argument that same-sex couples can’t get married because marriage is all about having children, means that hundreds of thousands of children across the US are being denied married parents by people who claim that marriage ought to be all about protecting children.

    Hm.

  • Jesurgislac, if marriage means an institution which is intrinsically about sexual love leading to childbirth & childrearing, and which is intrinsically indissoluble, are you interested in said institution?

  • Jesurgislac, if marriage means an institution which is intrinsically about sexual love leading to childbirth & childrearing, and which is intrinsically indissoluble, are you interested in said institution?

    When I meet the right woman. 😉

    Same-sex couples are as likely to have that kind of marriage as mixed-sex couples.

    It would be possible to deny marriage to any couple who physically/biologically couldn’t have children together – but that would mean no woman past the menopause could be allowed to marry, no man with a vasectomy, no woman with a tubal ligation.

    It’s a question of whether you really believe married parents are beneficial to children. If so, there’s no excuse for denying the children of same-sex couples married parents – but that’s what opponents of same-sex marriage do – usually justifying it by claiming that as they believe the children of same-sex couples are already in sub-standard families, those children should be further discriminated against by being denied the benefits of married parents.

  • Jesurgislac:
    Maggie Gallagher, National Organization for Marriage has done a great job of outlining the custody issues if same-same unions take place. Also, tax disadvantages of marriage now. Interesting to note her stats on how few same-sex attracted pairs actually “marry.” In other words, she completely blows you ideas about how beneficial same-sex unions are just because they call them selves married.
    You might want to consider the marriage question from the civil rights perspective. In this country our rights are alienable because we are endowed with them by a Creator. Highly doubtful the Judaeo-Christian Creator our Founding Fathers had in mind is okay with a contractual arrangment between two adults of the same gender as marriage. Marriage between a man and a woman is first and foremost a covenantual relationship -the first unit of civilization. Family, cland, tribe, nation – follw OT history and you’ll see what I mean.

No Islamic Holy Sites Destroyed in 2012 Movie, Fear of Fatwa

Thursday, November 5, AD 2009

Grand Mosque of Mecca

Due to the fear of a death threat in the form of a fatwa from Muslim scholars, movie director Roland Emmerich chose not to shoot any scenes depicting the destruction of Islamic holy sites in his new end-of-the-world film, 2012.  Though Roland Emmerich says this did not stop him when filming scenes depicting the destruction of Christian landmarks such as the Sistine Chapel, Saint Peter’s Basilica, and the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro.  He wanted to make sure his views of opposition to “organized religion” were not soft-pedaled in the movie 2012.

Of course, “organized religion” is a euphemism for the apostolic churches of the Catholic and Orthodox faiths.  Hence why you’ll see the dome of Saint Peter’s Basilica topple over in the 2012 film and not the Ka’aba inside the Grand Mosque of Mecca collapse.

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54 Responses to No Islamic Holy Sites Destroyed in 2012 Movie, Fear of Fatwa

  • They wont show any Jewish holy sites going up in smoke either.

  • I understand your frustration, but things are not exactly how you have presented. Hollywood doesn’t miss an opportunity or is hardly reluctant in its oft ill portrayal of Muslims as terrorists hell bent on destroying the world more than it does to any other organised religion.

    Hollywood as an industry works on what is normal, acceptable and what will sell. It will produce a movie like Bruno which may have offended some groups of poeple but whilst doing so, they ensure they stay just within what is acceptable by general public. Likewise, when it comes to Muslims it assesses what will sell based on what is acceptable. In the Muslim world certain things to do with thier faith are not acceptable, its not just a case of poeple being offended and rioting but potential ban on the movie by the muslim governments.

    We can’t imagine a movie showing destruction of kaba or acting the role of the Prophet being produced let alone shown anywhere in the Muslim world. Can we say the same about the Christian world? Britian and America as Christian countries have never been reluctant to or fear any backlash in what maybe called abuse of sacred religious aspects in the name of art, film, drama? The people have become desensatised and just don’t care anymore even if it is Jesus being shown as a fornicator. Surely you can’t blame the Muslims for this?

  • What caught my eye about Mr. Emmerich is that he openly admitted that he was afraid for his life and it wasn’t worth it to depict an Islamic holy site being destroyed.

    But still wimpy.

  • Salman,

    I’d have to disagree with you there.

    Christians don’t go out and destroy property and issue death threats AND carry them out.

    And no Christian government, if there existed one in the 20th or 21st century has banned a film that offended Christians.

  • Salman,

    On your point of Hollywood portraying Islam in a negative light, it has not been explicitly done. But they have done so implicitly such in the movie True Lies and in the tv miniseries 24.

    Though they were depictions of individual Muslims in general and not Islamic holy sites or Muhammad in particular.

  • Hollywood doesn’t miss an opportunity or is hardly reluctant in its oft ill portrayal of Muslims as terrorists hell bent on destroying the world more than it does to any other organised religion.

    As John McEnroe would say, you cannot be serious. No better example of the ridiculous pc atmosphere is the move version of Sum of All Fears, where the evil villains went from Muslims in the book to white skinheads in the film. The bad guys on 24 are almost always some shadowy, white-led corporation. Whenever there are Islamic bad guys, it’s usually revealed that some pucker-faced white dude is the guy pulling the strings.

  • The very real silver lining: it’s a backhanded but genuine compliment to the overwhelmingly civilized behavior of Catholics.

  • Interesting article. As for Emmerich, it took guts to say that, assuming he meant it as an accusation. If he meant it as a warning to fellow Westerners not to rock the boat, it’s pathetic.

  • I look at this as – we must be doing something right! I can care less that hollywood has a bias – it has and always will. The movies that do talk truth will be the ones I go to see. I saw th previews to this and thought 2012 and thought here we go again. I am sure the twist at the end will be that we as humans didn’t enough to stop global warming and that we should have slowed our population down enough to reduce our carbon signature. If only we ate less meat this wouldn’t have happened. Sheesh…

  • I think you are reading too much into the supposed ‘anti-Christian’ content of this movie. While scared sites do meet destruction, the movie is, after all, about the End of the World. We would expect sites like these to be destroyed, as part of the movie’s theme, and also for general ‘shock value’.

    I do agree that his declaration about Muslim holy sites is cowardly, but he, at least, admits it.

  • NauticaMongoose,

    Its under the surface.

    Their bias comes out that they can do this to Christian holy sites with impunity unlike Muslim holy sites.

  • The fact that taco stands being destroyed was not actually depicted in the movie is sheer proof that the movie maker harbors great respect, if not, great fear of Tito Taco Man, who might have issued a fatwa against him!

    Fear the Taco Man; fear Tito!

  • e.,

    I used to own and operate a taco stand.

    You know my feelings very well!

  • I really don’t understand how the dome of St. Peter’s is able to fall to its side and roll all the way out into the square to crush the masses of people gathered there… I mean, it’s a *long* way from the dome to the front of the church!

  • Maybe there’s some kind of time/space distortion in Hollywood that fundamentally alters the laws of physics there?

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  • “Calling director Emmerich a “coward,” a blogger for The American Catholic writes, “This is just another example of Hollywood picking on us Christians. ‘Us’ Christians call this behavior bigotry in the form of Christophobia. More commonly known as anti-Christian or more specifically anti-Catholicism in the case of this film.” The blogger goes on to note that Emmerich was concerned about having a fatwa (essentially a Muslim death threat) on his head.”

    Great.

    Tito Taco just expanded his taco stand.

    Congratz.

  • @ Tito :

    Brother,
    We, Muslim also accept that Jesus( Peace Be Upon Him ) was a Prophet of God and I would like to inform you that Islam equally forbids depiction of Jesus or David or Moses or any other Prophet in any form. I would also like to inform you that movies that are offending to Christians like The Da Vinci Code were not allowed to be screened in Pakistan and Iran which are Muslim States ….
    About the fact that no Christian state has banned such a movie is not our problem …. its up to the Christians to raise their voice and ask their Governments to Ban such films. If your leaders are don’t care about it, what can ‘we’ the Muslims do ??
    Just look around and see what resources the Christians have … you are a hundred times ahead then Muslims in many aspects consider Education, Electronic Media, Technology, Research and Development, etc etc …. yet with all those advantages if you cant make your point clear … its a pity ….

  • Osama,

    I understand what you are saying. Christians appreciate the fact that Pakistan and Iran banned the film as well as other Maghreb and south Asian.

    We do protest in a civilized manner via all of our resources.

    We live in a civilized society that allows for dissent in a peaceful manner. At most we will organize marches and demonstrations but we will not resort to violence.

    After those steps are procured and Hollywood still insists, and does so, in distributing such blasphemous films then we have done what we could and it is in the hands our Father after that.

    So we execute our final step of prayer, prayer, and more prayer.

    This is the mystery of iniquity that will be revealed to us in the last days. But until that happens we completely place our trust in Him with abiding joy and love.

    Thank you for engaging in this dialogue and hope you return again in the future when our paths cross again.

    After all we are sons of Abraham via Noah descended from Adam and are brothers in God.

    Tito

  • I do agree with most of the comments above.

    Hollywood is just a business. They will produce movies they think people want to see, hoping to make a profit.

    If we do not agree with what is shown ( and – or not shown) in a particular movie, we can decide not to support it. Money walks. No money, no movies.

    In the light of Emmerich’s decision to show the destruction of Holy Christian symbols in 2012, I have decided to not see this movie. I will also tell my family & friends about it so that they can decide for themselves if they will support that movie or not.

  • Hi Osama and Salman, your comments are welcomed, we need more such voices and louder to make a fruitfull and meaningfull dialaogues. After all, as Tito says, we are brothers in God.
    Regards,
    Bruce

  • As it appears some of our commenters are not accustomed to the American system I think it needs to be pointed out that although the U.S. has a majority Christian population and was founded on principles that stemmed from Christian thought, it is a secular, not a Christian state. There is no “official” faith singled out for special protection. While this may result in some extremely distasteful things being said, published, filmed, and televised, it’s necessary to recognize that the same freedom that allows Hollywood filmmakers to wallow in anti-Christian images allows Christians and everybody else to freely discuss and advocate for their beliefs. We are wary of bans even when the lack thereof allows offensive speech and images; when you start banning the communication of certain ideas it tends to become that much easier to ban all the others, your own included.

    But this isn’t about official bans or what Christians should do to get more respect from the film industry; it’s about a climate of fear that silences any discussion of Islam, reasoned or otherwise, that subjects it to the same scrutiny as any other belief system. It’s a fear that the laws that are supposed to preserve our freedom of speech are insufficient to protect us against the lawless.

    That is what is most troubling–that a filmmaker so accustomed to saying what he likes that he thinks nothing of showing images that disturb or offend the majority of his audience can be so completely cowed by a violent minority that he will not speak up even when he might have something important to say.

    Theo Van Gogh spoke up, and paid for it with his life. It appears few of his colleagues are willing to exercise that freedom if it puts their necks on the line. Give Emmerich credit for at least acknowledging that.

  • Interesting. He hates “organized religion” but for some reason makes sure that those who practice Islam survive the end of the world in his movie “2012”

    His irrational hatred of Christianity and Catholicism in particular, winds up with him making the largest pro-Islamic propaganda film in the history of mankind – despite him hating “organized religion” – the message of the movie is clear: If you wish to survive the end of the world, you got to join Islam.

    Very nice. Way to go.

    Irrational bigotry always leads to irrational consequences.

  • Osama —

    Jesus was/is not a PROPHET, he is God incarnate. I am sorry but your religion is a counterfeit that has some of the characteristics of the true faith — just twisted ever so slightly into something that is profoundly untrue. Please accept Christ for who he is and save yourself while you may still have time.

  • I saw this movie today, at hubby’s insistence. Don’t waste your time or money on it. Yeah, the special effects are great but the plot and acting are pretty lame, and laughably so at times, plus the movie goes on WAY too long.

    If this is “the largest pro-Islamic propaganda film in the history of mankind,” I hardly noticed, probably because I was too busy snickering at all the over-the-top escapes and disaster flick cliches 🙂

  • Also, it seems to me that the religion(s) to join if you want to survive the end of the world in this movie would be either Buddhism or (SPOILER ALERT) any religion practiced in Africa, which actually does have a lot of Catholics as well as Muslims and adherents of native faiths.

  • Ronald did it again. This movie, 2012, looks awesome. I don’t think I can wait until it comes out. The trailor is mind blowing. Finally a film to spark the imagination.

  • This is so pathetic. It seems to me you’re more upset that Islamic holy sites were not destroyed in the movie. The simple fact of the matter is that Hollywood is run by Jews. That’s not an uncharitable statement. I wonder why you chose not to insist that the Wailing Wall was not destroyed as well? The demonization and degradation of Christianity and Islam by Jewish fanatics is nothing new. Yet where are the Christians when it comes to making their voices heard?
    Tito also makes some atrocious fallacies in his condescending statements. Civilized? My friend, westerners have and still are amongst the most violent and genocidal people in human history. Babbling about fatwas while going around the world invading countries and slaughtering millions based on a pack of lies? Hypocrisy and bad comedy at its best.
    Pick up a history book sometime.

  • Unimpressed,

    Straw man arguments all around.

    So much straw I could start a bon fire.

    As far as your statements are concerned:

    1. I am pointing out that Hollywood remains largely anti-Christian, more specifically, anti-Catholic.

    In the context of the film and the statements made by the director it is clearly evident that his hatred for Catholicism.

    2. Genocides? You’re referring to “Westerners”, I am defending the Catholic faith.

    There is a stark difference. Remember the first genocide was done by the Turkish Muslims when they eliminated 1.5 million Armenian Christians in the late 19th and early 20th century.

    Are they “Western”?

  • “Babbling about fatwas while going around the world invading countries and slaughtering millions”

    Actually that is not a bad summary of the history of Islamic imperialism. Of course it ignores the positive aspects of Islamic culture as you ignore the positive aspects of the history of Jews and Christians.

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  • Hmmm … you mean the Ku Klux Klan does not terrorize in the name of Christ? Obviously Muslims are very serious about their faith. Perhaps Christians should be as devoted to theirs?

  • Bernice,

    Know your history or don’t say anything at all.

    The KKK equally hated Catholics as much as blacks.

    Catholic churches were bombed and Catholics were terrorized in general.

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  • you say “What? You thought it was a recent phenomenon? Muslims have been waging war against non-Muslims since Mohammad started their religion, but that’s for another day).” so you totally ignore that All non-muslims started wars against Muslims ,also at current time ,whose countries are invaded and destroyed ? Iraq,Afghanistan ,Egypt was occuppied by british christians ,Somalia by France ,Algeria was occupied for 300 year ,about 3 Million Muslims were killed there in genocide by Frensh Christians ,Italy is no Different it Invaded Lybia ,need more ?

  • Ahmed,

    The Middle East was Christian for 600 years before Muhammad arrived.

    Get your facts straight before spouting off nonsense.

  • Hi, Tito,

    To put the record straight, the part of Arabia where Muhammed(pbuh) was born, had just a sprinkling of Christians but a had a number of tribes who were Jews.
    And regarding persecution, The number of practising Coptic Christians in Middle East shows that they were allowed the freedom of choosing and practising their religion.

  • Ragsayed,

    The number of practicing Copts used to be over 90% of the population.

    Years of persecution have whittled their numbers down to 10%.

  • Hi Tito,

    U have got it wrong the practising copts were abt 15% only , the other were worshippers of different Gods like Laat, Uzza, Mannat etc. Wouldn’t it be fair to say that , each major religion had some or the other leader who perpetuated atrocities in name of religion. If u talk abt Turkey then u also have to remember that after 600 yrs of rule when the christians conquered Spain all the muslims were slain there too.

    I am not justifying any of the genocides but just want to make clear that any kind of killings in name of religion is done by the proponents not saanctioned by that religion. The same yardstick should be applied to all.

  • Some times I think Catholics, Christians, and my fellow Americans are jealous, in a silly sort a way. For the most part we have nothing serious to complain about, so they have to convince themselves they are under attack by Hollywood, of all things.

    I have to ask what was so civilized about US policy that has resulted in the deaths of Muslims, deaths that many Christians seem to feel not worth counting post WWII. By supporting the creation of the modern State of Israel in the manner it was. Propping up an Iranian monarch. Arming both Iran in Iraq in propagated by the US. Bad as it is radical Muslims kill because of they interpret their holy book, what drove US policy? Worshiping the God almighty dollar?

  • Ragsayed,

    The Muslims in Spain were expelled. Besides, it was Christian before it was Muslim.

    As for Egypt, the See of Alexandria is one of the oldest sees in the world. It was overwhelmingly Copt before the Muslims came in.

    Don,

    Relativism is your god, not ours.

  • Hi Tito,
    The muslims in Spain were not expelled, they were put to death to the last muslim by The Crusaders in the period of 21 days.

    Regarding Spain being Christian b4 Muslims conquered it, yes it is a fact. But it is also true in the 600 yrs of Muslim rule there was never a mass execution or expulsion of the christians.

    Always get ur facts right b4 commenting.

  • Rizwan,

    The Crusaders were never in Spain.

    The Muslims persecuted both Christians and Jews.

  • The only religions which you can ridicule without fear of any reaction seems to be Christianity and eastern religions.

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  • Osama and salmon,

    Thank you for your dignified responses. I am a Christian, not a Muslim, but you are showing more grace and dignity than most of the “Christians” on this site. Please don’t listen to ignorant comments that plead for you to mend your views on Islam religion. We have all found God, and He is the same. Allah, Jesus, He is the same. We should honor our similarities and celebrate our differences. No human has the right to tell another how to think, act, or feel. Jesus knows this. Some of you should learn to follow His lead.

  • I’m not sure why Emmerich had to destroy any religious landmarks or symbols in the film. I sensed a degree of derision when the senior American official on the ark made a comment about the Italian prime minister coping with the imminent disaster with ‘prayer’, then showing thousands of people getting crushed under the rubble of St Peter’s. I would have liked to have seen some casinos, adult film studios and credit card bank corporate headquarters crumble instead. It felt like the film was presenting a message that prayer is meaningless. I respect people who don’t believe in a higher power but I certainly believe that it helped my infant son many years ago when he was fighting for his life and continues to help me today. Anyway, I hope Emmerich will steer away from this type of controversy in future film projects.

  • ” Osama Says:
    Thursday, November 12, 2009 A.D. at 1:19 am
    @ Tito :

    Brother,
    We, Muslim also accept that Jesus( Peace Be Upon Him ) was a Prophet of God and I would like to inform you that Islam equally forbids depiction of Jesus or David or Moses or any other Prophet in any form. I would also like to inform you that movies that are offending to Christians like The Da Vinci Code were not allowed to be screened in Pakistan and Iran which are Muslim States ….
    About the fact that no Christian state has banned such a movie is not our problem …. its up to the Christians to raise their voice and ask their Governments to Ban such films. If your leaders are don’t care about it, what can ‘we’ the Muslims do ??
    Just look around and see what resources the Christians have … you are a hundred times ahead then Muslims in many aspects consider Education, Electronic Media, Technology, Research and Development, etc etc …. yet with all those advantages if you cant make your point clear … its a pity …. ”

    Salaam Alekum Osama. In Islam Issa ( Jesus ) PBUH is a Prophet of Allah the merciful and the compassionate that is quite true, but very many Muslims when in communication with Western audiences seem to go out of their way to omit the very important fact that in Islam, Issa is not God’s son and to claim that he is God’s son would be a major heresy in Islam, in that the Noble Koran in Islam is regarded as the exact word of God and is the final authority in Islamic law and theology. And a claim that Issa is God’s son would run slam bang in to Surah 112

    Translations of the Qur’an, Surah 112:
    AL-IKHLAS (SINCERITY)

    Total Verses: 4
    Revealed At: MAKKA
    112.001
    YUSUFALI: Say: He is Allah, the One and Only;
    PICKTHAL: Say: He is Allah, the One!
    SHAKIR: Say: He, Allah, is One.
    112.002
    YUSUFALI: Allah, the Eternal, Absolute;
    PICKTHAL: Allah, the eternally Besought of all!
    SHAKIR: Allah is He on Whom all depend.
    112.003
    YUSUFALI: He begetteth not, nor is He begotten;
    PICKTHAL: He begetteth not nor was begotten.
    SHAKIR: He begets not, nor is He begotten.
    112.004
    YUSUFALI: And there is none like unto Him.
    PICKTHAL: And there is none comparable unto Him.
    SHAKIR: And none is like Him.

    Why do Muslims act in this manner in relation to describing the position of the Prophet Issa in Islam and my view is that in many cases they assume often correctly that many Westerners will have little detailed knowledge of Christianity and know next to nothing about Islam and such Muslims conclude that they can trick Westerners in to believing that Jesus ( Issa ) holds the exact same position in Islam as he does in Christianity. Also, I would suggest to you that Pakistan and Iran are not Muslim states, they are merely countries where the majority of the population are of the Muslim religion, which is a very different thing, since a conceptual idea of Islam is to be aware of the imperfection of mankind and to show the mercy of God to the sinner and not to cast him or her adrift from the Islamic community, so for sure good and bad the majority of the population of Pakistan and Iran are Muslims. To say Pakistan and Iran are Muslim States is something seriously different. For example, the Prophet Mohammad peace be upon him, sent certain of his companions abroad to seek sanctuary and support from a Christian King in Africa thus establishing a principle that if people are legitimate and honorable they may seek the protection of just leaders. If the Prophet Mohammad should seek protection for his companions from a King who was foreign King in a foreign land, how much more so, for example should the Baha’i in Iran have a right to have the Government of Iran protect them in their own country. If a government will not protect its own people and even encourages their persecution, how could it claim to be Islamic ? As for banning films, such as the Da Vinci Code, where is the authority derived from the Koran to do this and furthermore if you wish to ban depictions of Prophets such as for example the Prophet Mohammad, why allow any films or photographs of real people or actors playing roles, since my understanding is if one wants to follow an interpretation of Islam that would ban a depiction of the Prophet Mohammad, it would also require that pictures of human-beings be banned.

  • the world wil never end that way because god said he would never flood the earth ..in he said when the world end we will see him ..wwe cant listen to men or people that said this cause people are born everyday in we will never no when time is here,

  • Hi,
    I’ll present you with a simple math. If emmerich did put in his film collapses of islamic holy places, he will loose much. 90 % of the 1 billion muslims will not watch his film, coz they are devoted fanatic muslims who will not be happy with it..On the contrary, by putting in collapses of vatican churches, his loosing risk was only made by small percentage of devoted fanatic catholics all over the world { less than 5 % }, the rest are much more tolerant. As for the question why he didnt put in the destruction of jewish holy places, most of the hollywood producers are jewish, arent them? Its only business as usual pal………..

  • Hermione,

    That is simply rubbish.

    Equating Catholic “fanatics” on the level of Muslims is part of the anti-Catholic smear campaign.

  • Tito,
    you miss the point. the point is, its business, just a business as other fictious films. by mentioning catholics majority are much more tolerant, does it mean its an ‘anti’ campaign? Or maybe the sentence could be altered this way : on the contrary, by putting in collapses of vatican churches, he will not loose much, coz catholics majority are of much more tolerant.

Charles Carroll: Our Catholic Founding Father

Saturday, July 4, AD 2009

Charles Carroll of Carrollton was a delegate to the Continental Congress and later United States Senator for Maryland. He was also the only Catholic to have signed the The Declaration of Independence. One of the wealthiest men in the colonies, it is reported that — upon fixing his signature,

a member standing near observed, “There go a few millions,” and all admitted that few risked as much, in a material sense, than the wealthy Marylander.

(The Life of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, 1737-1832, by Kate Mason Rowland).

A new biography, American Cicero: The Life of Charles Carroll (Lives of the Founders) (ISI) will be published in February 2010. (Tip of the hat to Carl Olson). The author, Dr. Bradley J. Birzer, was recently interviewed by the Washington Times:

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The Degenerate David Letterman

Saturday, June 13, AD 2009

David Letterman Degenerate

[Updates at the end of this post below]

I enjoyed viewing David Letterman when he first came out.  He was nerdy, goofy, and most importantly funny.  I eventually stopped viewing his show not because he wasn’t funny anymore, but because I was no longer in college and I needed a good nights rest for the real world, ie, a job.  Once in a while I would catch his show and remember fondly my days of cold pizza and late night study sessions.

I was well aware of his politics, but unlike most liberals, conservatives do have a sense of humor, especially at our own expense.  I was able to suspend my politics to enjoy good humor because I loved to laugh.

Sadly Mr. Letterman went too far recently in one of his jokes.  Maybe he has been doing this for awhile, but I haven’t noticed since I no longer watch his show for the reasons I mentioned above.

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40 Responses to The Degenerate David Letterman

  • I stopped watching him years ago for the same reasons. I also gave up cable and broadcast TV for similar reasons (everything I need to know news, weather, or entertainment-wise I can find online anyway).

    Why, oh why, did Letterman have to follow up the excellent fisking he did on Governor Blago — which was actually better by far than a lot of “straight news” MSM interviews that were done with him — with crap like this? I suppose it was a case of a stopped clock being right twice a day 🙂

  • Yes, I stopped watching cable. And since I haven’t gotten my digital converter box, I haven’t watched rabbit ears television since this past Thursday. And I might add that it’s a good thing.

    You are correct, all the news I need I can get online and unfiltered, ie, without the leftist bias you get from most broadcast and cable networks.

  • Although as a former (newspaper) journalist I can’t help but feel there is something not so good about people being able to pick and choose only the news they WANT to hear, ignore what they don’t agree with, and find “evidence” to confirm just about any theory no matter how ridiculous.

    Of course, I realize that in the allegedly good old days when everybody watched Big Three network news, read daily newspapers, etc. they were not getting an entirely objective point of view. I make an effort to read a variety of news and politics blogs and I even listen to (gasp!) NPR News, which, no matter how liberally biased it may be, gives you information you don’t get anywhere else.

    To me the real problem with broadcast television news is that the amount of information it can provide is severely limited and inevitably lacks perspective. Plus, the nature of the medium requires visuals and relies heavily on conflict to attract attention.

    There’s nothing like watching on TV a story you just covered for a newspaper, or actually lived through or been part of, to make you turn off TV news for good 🙂

  • You make excellent points.

    But I find that I can get more accurate information online than I can watching Katie Couric babble on about the latest liberal talking points.

  • It’s disingenuous to say Letterman made the joke about Willow Palin. He later said that wasn’t what he meant, and we have no reason to assume Letterman even knew Sarah had brought Willow to New York. I didn’t know, and I automatically understood the joke to be about Bristol Palin. Bristol is 18, so the joke didn’t involve rape. Making the joke about an 18-year-old girl is bad, but not as bad as about a 14-year-old girl. David Letterman’s degeneracy ought to be evaluated on the basis of accurate information.

  • Disingenuous?

    It was Willow that attended the game.

    Regardless if it was either one of them the joke is simply disgusting.

  • Sarah Palin looks so pathetic and desparate. IMO, It’s Palin who is embarrasing her daughter.

  • Yep Palin is the one who looks pathetic and desperate, not the aging 62 year old comedian making sex “jokes” about the teenage daughters of a politician he hates in an attempt to convince the public that he is still edgy and cutting edge and not a tired man near the end of his career, who is so out of it that he can’t be bothered to get the facts straight on a news item before making an insipid attempt at humor.

  • I didn’t know most liberals don’t have a sense of humor.

  • Dave said that his joke was in bad taste and he regrets it but that he was talking about the adult Bristol Palin. He said he agreed with Sarah Palin that sexual jokes about minors are off limits. IMO, Sarah Palin is in the wrong for assuming the worst of Dave. Dave never makes any mention of under-age girls. In fact, the joke would only make sense if they were referring to Bristol Palin.

  • A first rate post on this subject at Protein Wisdom:

    http://proteinwisdom.com/pub/?p=2844

  • Too bad a Hoosier and a maybe somewhat basketballer has gone down this road. He’s real far from his roots. I attended Mass a few times in Evansville, southern part and even down there, there were Notre Dame coats and everything, this about 12 years ago.

    I saw Gov. Palin on CNN today but wasn’t able to watch the interview. I think she did well in responding to this, a well-balanced response.

    I worked in the business office of a Middle School which had a bunch of that age girls, including a lot of those Hmong we have in St. Paul. Just no way should one say these things and if there is confusion about who Letterman meant, he shouldn’t have said it or at least clearly identified who he meant.

  • Dang, Donald–Mr. Protein is spot on.
    The Palins also have a lot more in common with my redneck neighbors than do most of the inside-the-beltway-types. And she’s popular here in Geawgia.
    (One bumper sticker I noticed on a dusty pickup during the campaign last year stated, “I’m for Palin and the white-haired guy.”)

  • He is nothing more than a degenerate human being…. Oh, and lets not forget that we do need to pray for him…

    Oh brother, Tito!

    Surely you’ve written countless blog posts about Rush Limbaugh’s sexist humor, right? I mean, that’s way more common. Can you link to some of your posts on him in which you call him a “degenerate human being”?

  • Yeah, you just have to LOVE the response of those defending Letterman and slamming Palin because “he was really talking about Bristol” and she’s “assuming the worst about poor misunderstood Dave”.

    Is that REALLY how low we’ve sunk to in this country? Since when were the kids of politicians EVER fair game for this kind of crap? It wasn’t cool when Limbaugh made fun of Chelsea Clinton’s looks and it’s not cool now when EVERYONE piles on Palin’s kids.

  • Yes. I despise double standards.

  • This response “The Palins also have a lot more in common with my redneck neighbors than do most of the inside-the-beltway-types. And she’s popular here in Geawgia.
    (One bumper sticker I noticed on a dusty pickup during the campaign last year stated, “I’m for Palin and the white-haired guy.”)”

    It absolutely baffles me as to why she gets such criticism.

  • CMinor: So, would you find Palin more tolerable and likeable if she was making jokes about mentally challenged children on National Television? Is that what you are saying??

  • Tom your last two comments seem odd to me. I am pretty certain that cminor was not criticizing Palin, and I do not believe that cminor made any comment in this thread that is applicable to your last comment.

  • I do not have a problem with political jokes. Period.

    I expect the late night shows to poke fun at the political class.

    I laughed when Clinton was beat every night with jokes. I laugh at those about Obama, and did so with the latest Palin ones.

    I do not think we need to have anyone say if a joke is over the line or not. Folks at home can make that decision with the remote. To be honest I did not hear about the jokes until Palin let the press release fly. Had I been watching I would have laughed and not been insulted.

    Bristol, is an adult. She is fair game. She goes on national TV for interviews and has now put herself out there.

    In a larger context, I think once Sarah Palin put her whole family `out there’ for political purposes in 2008, her son the warrior in Iraq, her troubled daughter who was pregnant, her husband who had worked with a group to have Alaska secede from the Union, then I think Sarah made them all fair game. Politics is a tough business. That is not news. Sarah however decided her goals were/are more important than that of her family.

    And NO ONE..execpt Sarah Palin when she tried to make a political point about Letterman by USING her family again in a press release….thought Letterman was talking about anyone except for Bristol Palin. NO ONE. And NO ONE thought there was any rape at all in the joke. NO ONE…except Sarah Palin who wanted some press……at her family’s expense.

    Sarah Palin uses her family, and then some conservatives get all excited because she gets what she wants with the media hype.

    Sarah can not have it both ways.

    So in conclusion…….

    Listen to the Letterman joke then…..

    Read the Palin press release….

    Since there was no mention of the 14 year old in the joke….

    But there was mention of the 14 year old in the press release…..

    Ask yourself who is really to blame for this whole affair.

  • “Ask yourself who is really to blame for this whole affair.”

    An idiot fading comedian who gets cheap laughs attacking the teenage daughters of a politician he despises in order to hang on to his moment in the spotlight, and people sick enough to think the hatred disguised as humor is funny.

  • I also love the comments blaming Palin for “putting her kids in the spotlight.” As if Andrew Sullivan hadn’t spent months sickly obessessing about who Trig’s “real” mother was. As if the Palin family wasn’t trashed mercilessly by the media from the second they appeared at the GOP convention. Obama and Biden had their children onstage at the conventions too, but only conservative Republicans “exploit” their children, it seems.

    Now Palin has found she can’t even take her daughter to a sports event in New York without being slimed. I’m convinced that liberal hatred of Palin’s pro-life views is at the heart of this. Palin committed the unforgivable sin of giving birth to a Downs syndrome child. Her daughter had an out-of-wedlock baby instead of an abortion. For that the Palins must be ridiculed endlessly, months after the election.

  • Having been brought up in the television days of Jack Benny and Bob Hope and such good comedians, I think I am missing a point. Was Mr. Letterman’s crude remark about an 18 year old girl a joke?

  • Willow was the one at the game, not Bristol. So the comment was directed at her. Not that the same joke leveled at an 18 year woman is somehow OK. Actually, if I were A-Rod, I’d also be offended at the insinuation that I’d molest a 14 year old if given the chance.

    In the meantime, I’ve somehow missed Letterman’s “edgy” jokes about Biden’s kid with the drug addiction. (And yes, I thought Limbaugh’s joke about Chelsea’s looks was mean and uncalled for.)

    Even NOW, an organization with little love for Palin, has criticized Letterman. But those whose partisanship has dulled their sense of decency will go on excusing that unfunny old has-been.

  • Donna V:
    I believe that you nailed it – Palin’s pro-life stand is what the libs truly hate.

  • This is just absurd. It was not a joke, it was an obscene smear. It was not political, it was personal.

    Look how far we have come from the days when insulting a young girl or a woman’s honor was completely forbidden and was likely to get the offender disgraced, discredited, lights punched out and quite often shot…. Hey, there’s an idea. Dave vs. Todd? Hah… that’s not even fair, how about Dave vs. Sarah? What’s your pleasure? Fisticuffs? Pistols at 10 paces? leg wrestling? It wouldn’t really matter…same result. Sarah Palin 1 – Dave Letterman 0.

  • Eric,

    I said “most” liberals, not “all” liberals don’t have a sense of humor.

    Deke,

    Of course you would defend a 60+ year old man in making disgusting jokes about a 14 year girl being raped. You’re part of the problem.

  • Michael,

    I don’t listen to Rush and I don’t bother with him.

    Besides, when he made those Chelsea comments this website wasn’t in existence.

  • That’s still quite a broad generalization, unfair, and I’m not even sure on what the assumption is based upon.

    I surely wouldn’t say *all* conservatives don’t care for the poor. I wouldn’t think saying *most* conservatives would make it any better.

    The problem isn’t the joke–I agree with you. I am just saddened that everything takes a liberal-conservative divide when it’s unnecessary. David Letterman may be “liberal,” but I’m not sure if that subscribes every “liberal” to his specific views or brand of humor.

    I actually use the term “conservative” to describe myself. I might add (and I frequently do) that Rush Limbaugh doesn’t speak for me.

    So instead of this being a matter solely focus on the incident–which should not have happened; it took a political spin and pit liberals against conservatives, which I find to be unnecessary.

  • Eric,

    I’ve based it on my personal experience in my engagement with my liberal friends. I have been viciously attacked for clean jokes toward liberal politicians.

    I do I understand where you are coming from, but my personal experience has shown otherwise, I leave my posting as is.

    Sadly, most liberals do not have a sense of humor.

  • Tito – I’m glad you don’t listen to Rush. You get a point for that. However, you also said you no longer watch Letterman. So why single him out for his supposedly “degenerate” humor and comments and say absolutely nothing when folks like Rush and Ann Coulter do the exact same thing and with more regularity? (I’m not only talking about “that Chelsea comment.”)

    I believe that you nailed it – Palin’s pro-life stand is what the libs truly hate.

    This is kind of a stupid comment. I’m pro-life. You would no doubt describe me as a “lib.” I appreciate that Sarah Palin is against abortion (I hesitate to call her “pro-life” in any meaningful sense). I and many other “libs” in fact dislike Palin for other reasons that don’t fit into your binary and abortion-obsessed views.

  • I can’t keep track of what everybody says.

    Plus I don’t recall them saying anything offensive about other politicians under-age daughters.

  • Michael: we know you have reasons of your own to hate Palin. She’s a Republican. Her son is serving in the U.S. Army (horrors!). The Palins hunt and own guns (man, how you must despise the people of your own home state then. WVA also has, I believe, one of the highest percentages of veterans in the country. I’m surprised you can bear to set foot there.)

    The pro-life Catholic left is dwarfed by the secular left (and would be tossed overboard by the secular left in a heartbeat, come the revolution). My point stands: Palin is hated by them because she is not only pro-life but has walked the walk.

  • Ann Althouse, a University of Wisconsin law professor who leans left, but is a fair-minded woman, chides Andrew Sullivan:

    Nearly all politicians display their families. Do they brandish them? Brandish means to shake or wave (as a weapon) menacingly/to exhibit in an ostentatious or aggressive manner. Occasionally, one reads of some criminal swinging a baby around like a cudgel, but with politicians, the displaying of the family is non-aggressive and without any weapon connotations. Obama displayed and continues to display Sasha and Malia in the conventional political way, and I’m sure Sullivan would be steamed if anyone mocked them or said anything sexual about them.

    Bristol Palin’s abstinence effort seems pretty silly to me too, but there’s no reason to view that as opening her up to all sorts of vicious mockery. She found herself in an awfully uncomfortable spot. It’s embarrassing enough for a teenager to become pregnant by accident, but to endure this in the crossfire of a political campaign had to be excruciating. But she put up with it somehow, didn’t take the out of abortion, kept smiling, and tried to turn herself into a good lesson for others. How is this sowing something that she deserves to reap?

    Or — oh — it’s Palin who reaps what she sows. Is the girl not a person worthy of any regard? What did the girl do? “Family’s off limits. You don’t talk about my family.” Obama said that. It was intended to bind his harshest opponents to a standard of behavior. Sullivan offers absolutely no reason why the same principle does not protect Palin’s family.

  • Donna V.

    I’m surprised you can bear to set foot there.

    He lives in Toronto right now, so perhaps he can’t. 😉

  • Uhhhh…TomSVDP?

    I was replying to Donald regarding the essay he linked at Protein Wisdom. That would be the one proposing that Sarah Palin’s flyover-country normality is what has her detractors in such a lather, and makes her such a hit with those of us in flyover country.

    For the record, I like and respect my redneck neighbors (husband, relatives,)very much, and would rather deal with them than with any large random sampling of inside-the-Beltway government or media types. I’m also favorably impressed with Palin.

    In any case, I would never take a permissive view of attempts at humor that demean women or the handicapped. By anyone.

    The chivalry is appreciated, Donald.

  • By the way, dekerivers,
    Do you really think that it’s funny to imply that a young woman is a slut because she imprudently succumbed to an all-too-human weakness during a time in her life not normally associated with rational judgement or long-term thinking?

    What is it about Bristol Palin’s having reached the magic age of 18 or having made a few public statements (most of which seem to have been on the theme, “Single parenting is tough, girls; don’t make the same mistake I did,”) that makes it okay to label her a scarlet woman for the purpose of humor, or any other purpose?

    You suggest that Sarah Palin “used her family” to score popularity points–did you fail to notice the Obamas trotting out their cute daughters during the campaign, or the enthusiasm of a certain McCain child for the limelight? They aren’t being ridiculed on national television.

    By your logic, no parent should run for public office, or at least no parent who holds opinions that run counter to the sacred cows of the entertainment industry.

  • Speaking of the degenerate left. Could someone PLEASE call Obama or Biden and tell them that there is a struggling democratic movement developing in Iran, and if they would only lend it moral support it may be successful. If he won’t do it for moral reasons, perhaps pragmatism. Our problems with that totalitarian regime may some day come to an end, or at least be greatly diminished if this movement were to succeed….

    so far… nothing but twiddling of thumbs from the “One”.

  • Oh know, this link below may elongate the page, I don’t like it when that happens.

    I’m forgiving but Imus got such harsh treatment and I don’t know all of the ins and outs of that.

    One advertiser is dropping Letterman’s show and a “fire Letterman” move is underway. http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/tv/2009/06/15/2009-06-15_fire_david_letterman_campaign_takes_root_protest_planned_over_comment_on_sarah_p.html

  • Pingback: Letterman Apologizes, Palin Accepts « The American Catholic

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. 😛

Overwork in the Age of Multi-tasking

Wednesday, June 3, AD 2009

The weekend’s WSJ had an interesting article about work hours — the hours that people think they work, and the hours they actually do.

Over the past two decades of rapid technological deployment and globalization, it has become an article of faith among the professional set that we work sweatshop hours. Sociologist Juliet Schor started the rumor with her 1992 book, “The Overworked American,” which featured horror stories of people checking their watches to know what day it was.

Then God created the BlackBerry and things got worse. In late 2005, Fortune’s Jody Miller claimed that “the 60-hour weeks once thought to be the path to glory are now practically considered part-time.” In late 2006, the Harvard Business Review followed up with an article on “the dangerous allure of the 70-hour workweek,” calling jobs that required such labor the new standard for professionals. The authors featured one “Sudhir,” a financial analyst who claimed to work 90-hour weeks during summertime, his “light” season. He’s got nothing on a young man I met at a party recently who told me he was working 190 hours a week to launch his new company.

It was a curious declaration; I would certainly invest in a start-up that had invented a way to augment the 168 hours that a week actually contains.

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3 Responses to Overwork in the Age of Multi-tasking

  • My guess is that in addition to the factors mentioned in this article, part of the discrepancy is due to the fact that each additional hour of work is probably more taxing than the previous hour. If you are running ten miles, the tenth mile is likely to be significantly harder (and perhaps feel longer) than the first. The same goes, I suspect, for hours worked in a day or week.

  • Once, when I was working as a paralegal, I had to get something out of the office of a young attorney who put in excessively long hours even by DC law firm standards. His office door was partly open and I tapped on it before sticking my head inside. He looked the very picture of lawyerly diligence, hunched over his desk, head resting on his hand. He appeared to be so focused on whatever he was reading that I hestitated to say anything – and then I heard a loud snore,…,hope he didn’t include the naps in his billable hours;-)

    I think that if it were possible to gauge the number of hours Americans actually spend working vs. the time spent at work, you’d see quite a discrepancy. How many goofy or inspirational emails and video clips do you get forwarded to you in the course of a day at work? Personal emails, personal calls, chit-chat with co-workers, etc. Some of that is what makes the day bearable, of course – we are not robots. But we all know people who, er, spend a wee bit more time on personal stuff and entertainment than they should(like a former boss of mine who was excellent at farming her work out and spent the better part of Friday morning doing the WSJ crossword puzzle.)

    Of course, I’m an exception, nose to the grindstone every second of the day;-).

  • This reminds me of the time when virus attacks were more frequent. Then the newspapers carried banner headlines on the billions and billions lost due to lost “productivity”, thankfully these billions of dollars were apparently made up for without much fuss in the succeeding days. I knew a Frenchman who insisted that one should not work extra hours. He claimed that work should be done in the alloted time. Anything further showed a lack of competence. incomete

A Taste of Christmas

Wednesday, December 24, AD 2008

One of the things I love most about our country is that it is not a state built to give expression to a particular “nationality” in the sense that swept the world like an plague in the 19th and 20th centuries. Our country shares a set of political ideals and cultural touchstones, but it is also a glorious mix of different traditions which we, as a nation of immigrants, have brought with us and continued to develop here.

In honor of which — and because it seemed to me that perhaps we could use a “getting to know each other” thread around here — I take the liberty of cross posting the following from my personal blog:

The feast of the nativity of Our Lord has traditionally been a time for feasting and the gathering of family and friends. And since taste and smell are powerful hooks for memory, many of us have intense connections to various Christmas foods and drinks. The other holiday here in the US which is heavily food-centric is Thanksgiving, yet with a few familial variations, the Thanksgiving food palette is pretty well defined. Christmas food traditions, however, are pretty various.

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What Is Middle Class

Saturday, November 29, AD 2008

When one reads 19th century British literature, one of the constant sources of tension is as to who is “a gentleman”. As used in this context, it was a term that applied not merely to manners and honor, but to economic status. A gentleman was not “in trade”. He did not have “a job”. He might own estates which he oversaw, though if he actively worked them his case became much weaker (“gentleman farmer” was more often a term of dismissal as approbation.) He might be a clergyman or a doctor (but not a surgeon — cutting flesh and sawing bone was not manual for a “gentleman.) He might be a military officer. But generally to be a “gentleman” one was expected to live off one’s investments and devote one’s time to either society or unpaid accomplishments. Many accomplishments in fields ranging from literature to philosophy to economics to science during the time period were the work of “gentlemen” who pursued these fields as “hobbies”.

I don’t think this was necessarily a good or healthy attitude towards work, but it’s interesting to me that in the modern US we have nearly diametrically opposed social/economic prejudices. The idle rich could not be more scorned, and it is the object of everyone to claim membership in the “middle class” and ideally to claim “working class roots” as well.

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5 Responses to What Is Middle Class

  • Came across this from a catholic web forum.

    Have you seen it?

  • I had always thought of “rich” as someone who did not *need* to work — that the individual could get by indefinitely with income from investments, savings, etc.

    When one looks at a year’s income to judge whether an individual is “rich” or “middle class” or “poor” risks a distortion if the individual has had either a very good or a very bad year. A “rich” person who has had a bad year may still be able to live quite well. A middle-class person who has one terrific year among average ones will still live a middle-class life.

    Sustained high income, or a large amount of accrued assets define “rich” to me.

  • This is an interesting topic.

    There are a few things that come to mind.

    There is no objective standard to measure, say, poverty. But we know it when we see it because we judge it in relation to circumstances, conditions etc. Obviously, poverty in America is not the same as poverty in Cambodia.

    However, I think of ‘rich’ or ‘middle class’ or ‘poor’, I think of how well, given income, a person can survive within the context of their nation’s economy and how reasonable and easy it is for that person to save money, given basic necessities — food, shelter, clothing, basic health care, minimal leisure.

    A person who is rich, in my view, earns enough to be able to joy the luxuries that the world has to offer and can save to protect their socio-economic status should they not yield as much personal profit in the future or given certain setbacks.

    A person who is in the “middle class” makes a reasonable enough salary to live comfortably and save money for a “rainy day.” However, a few things — job less, medical expenses, children in college — can lead to financial struggles.

    Given this, a person who lives in poverty, obviously lacks the financial resources to make it reasonably in their society and stretched thin on money, hardly saves money and lives pay check to pay check.

    This, of course, isn’t factoring any social pressures — instant gratification, credit card mentalities, luxury lifestyles, etc.

    I think these questions are pertinent. We have this political debate about taxes and spreading the wealth around and we’re not even clear — philosophically — on what we mean, what the consensus of what ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ is, how does one become rich or poor, or whatever. We just yell back and forth, probably using the same words to convey totally different meanings.

  • I would say that most everyone in America is rich, both by historical and by world standards.

  • As BA notes, I think there is a sense in which ending poverty in the U.S. is similar to trying to ensure that every child’s test score is above average. Even when circumstances improve dramatically (cf. U.S. and India), some people are still classified as ‘poor’ relative to the rest.

    Health care is a good example. It would be cheap for the government to provide health care at the level of care available in the 1950’s for everyone. However, because the quality of health care has improved dramatically since then, costs have risen also, and so what would have been great health care fifty years ago is considered very poor today.

    This doesn’t mean that poverty in the U.S. doesn’t cause a great deal of suffering; it does. To say it is less miserable than poverty in India is to damn with very faint praise. However, it can be useful to recognize that poverty is a relative term.

    I thought that Darwin’s (astute) observation about the importance of being middle class in the U.S. or ‘a gentleman’ in 19th century Britain is probably attributable most directly to the comparable wealth of our society (in addition to the need for politicians to pander). The middle class in our society can live fairly comfortably, and there are significant safety nets in place. To be middle class in 19th century Britain was to be one mishap away from destitution.