Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Another Bushism

US President George W. Bush said in an interview Tuesday he was forced to sacrifice free market principles to save the economy from "collapse."

"I've abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system," Bush told CNN television, saying he had made the decision "to make sure the economy doesn't collapse."

Utter nonsense! Seriously, does this apologia make any economic sense? It was the wholesale abandonment of free-market principles, in favor of Keynesian bilge, central banks and the decimation of the US dollar, that led to this mess. Bush should know better. It's high time for him to go. Problem is, with Obama, we're going from bad to worse, far worse. A consolation prize is that, at least when Obama screws things up, as he is certain to, we can blame them and not our own.

Click here for the story

Monday, December 15, 2008

Another Kennedy in the Senate?

Kennedy, like millions of Americans, fawning over The One.

Caroline Kennedy is making a run for Hillary Clinton's vacated NY senate seat. The daughter of JFK and Jackie-O, Kennedy seems like a genuinely nice person who has, for most of her life, bucked family tradition by assiduously avoiding the limelight in favor of a quiet family life. But does America (let alone the Catholic Church) need another self-described "Catholic" bearing the name "Kennedy" meddling in political office, advocating every moral abomination under the sun; i.e., abortion, human embryonic stem-cell "research," cloning, etc.? It's a rhetorical question. No doubt Kennedy will get the seat. Expect her to hold on to it for the next 30 years. A Kennedy running in New York is not likely to lose, ever. One can only hope the US bishops will wise up and be more pastoral in dealing with her voting indiscretions than they have been with her bloviating uncle Ted.

Gov. Jindal

From Newsweek:
Together, Jindal's adaptive instincts and intellectual drive fueled his conversion to Catholicism. At 12, an evangelical friend named Kent gave him a paperback Bible for Christmas. Raised in a "strong Hindu culture," Jindal considered himself "anti-Christian" and stashed it in a closet. But a crush, Kathy, soon convinced him to read the book "from cover to cover." Jindal gradually warmed to the Scriptures, and while watching a Passion film at Kent's church, he was suddenly "convicted" of his "sinfulness and [his] need for a savior." Most conversion narratives end there. But Jindal's doesn't. Ever the A student, he studied Kent's Bible "by flashlight" and even "learned bits of Latin, Greek and Hebrew." After a long stretch of soul searching, Jindal concluded that Protestantism lacked "scriptural cogency" and decided to become a strict Catholic instead. ("Bobby said he trusted God to put his own house in order," recalls Ahsanuddin.) Although critics have questioned the governor's motives—Hindu activist Ramesh Rao recently wrote that "Jindal knew well that [conversion] was the only way, as an Indian-American Hindu, he could achieve his political ambitions"—his deeply Catholic views, including a "100 percent" opposition to abortion "with no exceptions" for rape, incest or health of the mother, undoubtedly anger more voters than they attract. "If I wanted the aesthetics without the inconvenient morality," he wrote in 1998, "I could become Episcopalian."

Love that last line.

The Mind of a Liberal

"This is the Katrina nation: Our inclination is to ignore the warnings, wait for it to happen, and then blame the government for not doing more." -Mark Steyn
Shortly after assuming the presidency, Obama plans to give a "major address" in a Muslim capital. On that point, here's an excerpt from a great piece by Amir Taheri:
Most Muslims still regard him as one of their own: His father, grandfather and great-grandfather were Muslims, as was his stepfather - so he is deemed a Muslim by birth and thus a member of the ummah (the community of the faithful), unless and until he formally disowns his male ancestors' faith. If he were truly a convert to Christianity, he would have replaced his Arabic and Islamic first and middle names - Barack (blessing) and Hussein (beautiful) - with baptismal Christian names.

The president-elect should have better advice on religion with international politics. America faces groups and states that divide mankind into religious blocs and seek domination for their own Islamic camp. Obama shouldn't endorse that division but instead make it clear that his nation will fight any force that tries to impose its hegemony in the name of any faith or creed.

Finally, Obama should know that Islam is torn by several interconnected theological and political conflicts: Sunnis vs. Shiites, modernists vs. traditionalists, despots vs. democrats, moderates vs. radicals. There is, in fact, no such thing as "the Muslim world" that he can address as a single unit (let alone seduce into adopting America as a friend).

Click here for to read the entire piece

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


POZNAN, Poland - The UN global warming conference currently underway in Poland is about to face a serious challenge from over 650 dissenting scientists from around the globe who are criticizing the climate claims made by the UN IPCC and former Vice President Al Gore. Set for release this week, a newly updated U.S. Senate Minority Report features the dissenting voices of over 650 international scientists, many current and former UN IPCC scientists, who have now turned against the UN. The report has added about 250 scientists (and growing) in 2008 to the over 400 scientists who spoke out in 2007. The over 650 dissenting scientists are more than 12 times the number of UN scientists (52) who authored the media hyped IPCC 2007 Summary for Policymakers.

Click Here for article

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

On Liturgy

Have I posted this pithy observation already? If so, it bears repeating; that is, until I see a long overdue return to sanity in liturgical observance across the country, starting first in Milwaukee.
As a Catholic, I have abandoned hope for the liturgy, which, in the typical American church, is as ugly and as maladroit as if it had been composed by Robert Ingersoll and H.L. Mencken for the purpose of driving people away.

Incidentally, the modern liturgists are doing a remarkably good job, attendance at Catholic Mass on Sunday having dropped sharply in the 10 years since a few well-meaning cretins got hold of the power to vernacularize the Mass, and the money to scour the earth in search of the most unmusical men and women to preside over the translation.

The next liturgical ceremony conducted primarily for my benefit, since I have no plans to be beatified or remarried, will be my own funeral; and it is a source of great consolation to me that, at my funeral, I shall be quite dead, and will not need to listen to the accepted replacement for the noble old Latin liturgy. Meanwhile, I am practicing Yoga, so that, at church on Sundays, I can develop the power to tune out everything I hear, while attempting, athwart the general calisthenics, to commune with my Maker, and ask Him first to forgive me my own sins, and implore him, second, not to forgive the people who ruined the Mass
. -William F. Buckley Jr.

Here's to the extraordinary form of the Mass! Given what one is most likely to come upon at a typical American parish, with the de rigueur Sesame Street variety of Catholicism, who can blame individuals like the late WFB for having jilted commonplace liturgies in preference for the timeless liturgy of our ancestors, offered in Latin?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Looking Back on Solemnities in Rome

One of the many things I miss about life in Rome is the strong sense of a Solemnity like today being something important within the life of the city and its inhabitants. Whether it is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception or Corpus Christi, life in Italian cities reflects a subtle awareness of the special day without the occasionally strained Catholicism found at places like my alma mater, Christendom College. After Mass, I'd always do something a little extra with friends to commemorate the day, like go to lunch at a nicer restaurant, visit an art gallery or take a train for a short day trip. More shops in the center were closed in observance of the day and in those cafes or restaurants that were open, visitors would frequently part with a "buona festa" to the barista or waiter. Despite the advances of secularism, the culture is still stubbornly Catholic in countries like Italy, Spain, Poland, etc. In US cities, this awareness is notably absent outside the walls of churches. Something to take note of when meditating on culture.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Responding to a Letter from a Pro-Obama Religious

Inured to high drama and ample displays of liberal eccentricities in their backyard, or sanctuary, battle weary Milwaukee Catholics received an earful from one Sister Arlene Welding, SSSF in the freewheeling editorial pages of their local archdiocesan newspaper, The Catholic Herald. (November 27, 2008) Sr. Arlene’s aim was, as far as I can tell, to set the US bishops straight by offering an impassioned defense of President-Elect Barack Obama. How did this bold apologia pro Obama begin? Well, by reminding the bishops of the hearty number of their flock, some fifty-four percent to be precise, who voted for the former Illinois Senator. “It is time they [the bishops] begin to realize that 54% of Catholics who voted for him [Obama] do not agree with the bishops telling people how to vote.”

Sr. Arlene though, was not finished by any measure. After scribbling off the hackneyed and utterly banal line about the annoyance of bishops “telling people how to vote,” she meandered into the realm of the astonishing and unbelievable. Are you ready for a real zinger? Said the sister: "Obama may be pro-choice, but so is God. God gave everyone a free will and he does not pressure people into using that free will to do what is right.” Now, given the importance our society places on emotions, good intentions, glitz and bling and the corollary beaten-down state of rational argument and logic, Sr. Arlene’s screed shouldn’t epater the reason-inclined reader too much. More than anything else, Obama’s election is proof that style often trumps substance when reason would have otherwise. But the theological, let alone philosophical, reckonings offered here by Sr. Arlene elevate inanity to a level heretofore thought impossible, even in the age of Obama. So let’s knock down each fallacy, one by one.

Sister Arlene states unambiguously that, like Barack Obama, “God is pro-choice.” She stumbles upon this novel idea by asserting the truth (yes, there’s one in there) that man possesses a free will from God. Free will then, according to creative minds like Sr. Arlene, means that anything goes as far as morality is concerned, including the participation in an act that is intrinsically evil, i.e., the murder of an innocent human being. But the free will that Sister Arlene so vociferously aims to defend is given to man with the clear expectation that he use it well by choosing the objective good. To do otherwise would be immoral and hence wrong. So should every immoral act be verboten by the powers of state and therefore subject to penalty? No. As students of ethics know, there are certain evils that unfortunately roam free in society because efforts to snuff them out by the government would likely result in the emergence of police states, much like those in certain countries in the Middle East where “morality police” go door to door in search of every alleged violation of this or that code of conduct. However, when the evil is so egregious, as in the case of abortion, the state must, as a matter of natural law, step in and rely on the force of law to ensure justice by protecting the threatened party. Contrary to the contrivances of Sr. Arlene, free will is not a carte blanche to commit every atrocity conceivable, even if someone out there views this or that act as good “for him.” It is true that one cannot be forced to do the right thing, but it requires some impressive logical gymnastics to contort that claim to argue seriously that certain intrinsically evil acts cannot be outlawed by the state, just because man has a free will to commit them if he so chooses. Based on her own skewered line of reasoning, logic would have to guide Sr. Arlene to the embarrassing conclusion that any law enacted by a state restricting a serious evil, as in let’s say murder, fraud, stealing from nice old ladies, etc., is an unjust “imposition” by an external entity on the plenipotentiary free will of the individual.

There’s more to the story of Sr. Arlene and her novel interpretation of Catholicism and morality. Determined to outdo herself in exhibitions of malarkey, she continued in her tiresome screed: “Yes, abortion is the killing of an innocent life. So is war and violent killing on the street. I have often seen many starving babies in hospitals in Honduras and witnessed their pain. In these cases, abortion might have been the lesser of two evils, and even the most merciful alternative.” Where to even begin here? There’s just too much material. Well, we’ve unearthed another true assertion made by Sr. Arlene. (Sorry, this may be the last one.) The sister gets it right when she says, “Yes, abortion is the killing of an innocent life.” But once again, she sets fire to any gains made with that statement by following it up with yet another worn-out talking point, dragged right out of the 1960’s, when she morally equates abortion to war. Ah, the war/abortion, seamless garment bilge resurfaces. Not again! Once again, abortion, since it is an intrinsically evil act, can never be morally justified. Period. As anyone who has thumbed through St. Augustine or St. Thomas instantly knows, war is another shade in the field of ethics and requires a more nuanced approach than what Sr. Arlene offers the reader. As the Church has taught for almost two-thousand years (whether theological neophytes like Sr. Arlene care to admit it or not), war can, in certain well defined conditions, be morally justifiable. The successful martial exertion of the Allied Forces during World War II represents the most conspicuous example of a just war, most rational minds would agree. And there are certainly others, before and after. War per se is not an intrinsic evil, no matter how hard innovative yet wrongheaded individuals like Sr. Arlene may try to construct it.

Then, after a litany of low points that demonstrate marvelously Sr. Arlene’s discombobulated value-ranking system, she strikes the lowest of low points when she suggests, astonishingly, that abortion may be “the most merciful alternative” with regard to children likely to be born into poverty. Among some tough competition, this last puff takes the prize for most sad, most confused and most wrong of all Sr. Arlene’s sordid utterances. A study in comparisons would be appropriate here. Everyone remembers Mother Teresa’s impassioned plea to any woman considering abortion. Rather than abort the child, the Blessed would offer that he or she could be left with Mother Teresa or with one of her Missionaries of Charity. “Give me the baby. I will take him.” Unfortunately Sr. Arlene, in stark contrast to Blessed Mother Teresa, takes the polar opposite approach with her chilling embrace of “mercy” killing. Who doubts that no one in modern times better understood the pains of material poverty like Mother Teresa? Yet the utter poverty and destitution witnessed by this Blessed never justified in her mind the kind of cruel recourse proffered by Sr. Arlene in her letter.

Finally, for her curtain call, Sr. Arlene presumes in a tone dripping with arrogance to lecture the bishops, and the rest of us to be sure, on the need to reassess our priorities when it comes to singling out moral causes to take up. “I challenge our bishops to dwell more on unjust economic issues that both create and perpetuate the need for children to die of starvation, and for women to choose abortion. It would be better to aim at eliminating poverty rather than focus only on abortion. Poverty in our country and the world at large is a disgrace that cries to heaven for vengeance.” Once again we can turn to Blessed Mother Teresa for some much needed clarity and illumination. Had she read Sr. Arlene's letter, Mother Teresa would have no doubt kindly reminded her that spiritual poverty and not material poverty, is the greatest scourge of the modern world and that abortion, par excellence, represents the apotheosis of society’s waltz macabre with evil and the culture of death.

The decision by Brian Olszewski, the editor of the Catholic Herald, to publish such an error-laden, reason impoverished letter is yet another deeply troubling aspect to this unfortunate story. No doubt, the reply to a query calling into question the editor’s judgment would go something like this: The Catholic Herald does not endorse every view that is expressed in its letters to the editor. While we certainly don’t agree with Sr. Arlene’s viewpoint we nonetheless believe it is helpful to give voice to both sides of a position as controversial as this one. Default relativism emanating from a journalist, a kind of thesis-antithesis Hegelian-esque dialectic approach toward discerning the truth, might fly with a secular paper but it certainly should not be the guiding standard of a one that claims to be Catholic; at least, not one that is worth the paper on which it is printed. As a Catholic newspaper, certain commitments to basic principles must be assumed sacrosanct and the commitment to these principles should regularly be reinforced by the various articles that appear in its pages. Mr. Olszewski’s scandalous decision, whether arrived at through laziness or willful intent, to provide a forum to a religious like Sister Arlene to spout her poisonous view that God is pro-choice should be met by the collective outrage of all committed Catholics around the country. Just where is the editorial oversight when it comes to supervising the content of this ostensibly Catholic paper, so as to ensure its theological integrity and conformity to the Magisterium? Serious Catholics who subscribe to the Catholic Herald, if indeed there are any left given its precipitous drop in circulation, deserve much better than what is being offered by the current Herald staff under the direction of Mr. Olszewski.

Serious Catholics concerned about the future of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee can contact Mr. Olszewski at the following address:

Brian T. Olszewski 

The Catholic Herald

3501 S. Lake Dr.
Milwaukee, WI 53235-0913

The phone number is (414) 769-3466 

Mr. Olszewski's e-mail address is olszewskib@archmil.org.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Strength with a Smile

Ever since Archbishop Raymond Burke left St. Louis to take up his post at the Apostolic Signatura in Rome, the archdiocese has been under the care of the archdiocesan administrator, Bishop Robert Hermann, until a new ordinary is named in the near future. The son of fourteen children and a St. Louis native, Bishop Herman has marvelously demonstrated the kind of resolute leadership that committed Catholics across the nation are so desperately seeking. (As an aside: I've had the privilege of having dinner with Bishop Hermann on several occasions; on one of which, he was enthusiastically showing off the slick features of his new iphone. Snapping a picture of the food on the table, he said, "When you turn the phone this way, the photo adjusts to the new position of the screen!")

While perhaps lacking the star power of archbishops Burke or Chaput, the perennially cheerful Hermann nevertheless raised more than a few eyebrows with his forceful preaching on the priority of voting pro-life in the run-up to the Nov. 4 election. In his homilies, letters and, most recently, at the US Bishop's Conference in Washington, Hermann relentlessly hammered home the fundamental moral issue facing our nation in the debate over abortion. Evoking the courage of our soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, Hermann passionately challenged his brother bishops to take seriously the moral imperative to boldly lead Catholics in confronting the unparalleled evil of legalized abortion. Many Catholics I've spoken to in St. Louis are pleasantly surprised, not by Hermann's uncompromisingly pro-life tone, which everyone expected, but at the degree to which he has risen to the occasion after the departure of Archbishop Burke and the forcefulness of his message to the US bishops. Speaking to his fellow bishops, Hermann delivered the following stern challenge:

"We have lost 50 times as many children in the last 35 years as we have lost soldiers in all the wars since the Revolution. I think any bishop here would consider it a privilege to die tomorrow to bring about an end to abortion. If we are willing to die tomorrow, then we should be willing to, until the end of our lives, to take all kinds of criticism for opposing this horrible infanticide."

Asked to elaborate in an interview given after the conference to the St. Louis Review, the archdiocese's Catholic weekly, Hermann said the following:
We have campaigned to save baby whales, and yet we vote in pro-abortion politicians-which doesn't make any sense whatsoever...There should be 50 million more Americans in our midst, and anyone under 35 can look around and say, "Where are they?" And, "I'm very lucky to be alive."

We are grateful for all the soldiers who have died to defend our freedom. But at the same time, we aren't making similar efforts to protect the unborn.

If American youth are willing to go to war and lay their life down to defend our freedoms, then every bishop should be willing to give up his life, it it meant putting an end to abortion. And if we're willing to do that, then we should be totally fearless of promoting this cause without being concerned about political correctness, without trying to build coalitions with pro-choice people.


On Obama's pro-abortion stance: "When he promotes abortion, he is, whether he knows it or not, targeting blacks, because they have been targeted by Planned Parenthood with abortion information and facilities in their neighborhoods. So he and Planned Parenthood are helping to reduce the African-American population in this country."

Where else, among our leaders, are we hearing this kind of clear instruction?

Three cheers for Bishop Hermann!

Bailouts and Faux Capitalism

Here's a good piece by Reihan Salam, from Forbes.com:
Bailout capitalism is crony capitalism: the marriage of the socialization of risk and the privatization of profit. In this upside-down world, the taxpayer bears the brunt of failed decisions while crony capitalists make billions when times are flush. Notice what has happened since the bailout of the financial sector. While some have condemned it as a massive giveaway, others have decided that they too are deserving of federal largess. This is a mentality that will sap our economic vitality and, as melodramatic as this might sound, undermine our democracy. We badly need politicians who are willing to apply the same set of rules to big guys and to little guys. If Republicans are ever going to make a comeback, they need to make the case against never-ending bailouts of the rich and connected.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

What an 11-Year Old Can Teach the World

I gather Brenden said he saw angels come for him just before he died last Friday. Certainly they did.

Brenden Foster, 1997 - 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Public Officials Flunk Basic Civics Quiz

This study, coupled with the video a few posts down of dimwitted Obama supporters, helps explain November 4, and so much more.
WASHINGTON (AFP) – US elected officials scored abysmally on a test measuring their civic knowledge, with an average grade of just 44 percent, the group that organized the exam said Thursday.

Ordinary citizens did not fare much better, scoring just 49 percent correct on the 33 exam questions compiled by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI).

"It is disturbing enough that the general public failed ISI's civic literacy test, but when you consider the even more dismal scores of elected officials, you have to be concerned," said Josiah Bunting, chairman of the National Civic Literacy Board at ISI.

"How can political leaders make informed decisions if they don't understand the American experience?" he added.
The exam questions covered American history, the workings of the US government and economics.

Among the questions asked of some 2,500 people who were randomly selected to take the test, including "self-identified elected officials," was one which asked respondents to "name two countries that were our enemies during World War II."
Sixty-nine percent of respondents correctly identified Germany and Japan. Among the incorrect answers were Britain, China, Russia, Canada, Mexico and Spain.

Forty percent of respondents, meanwhile, incorrectly believed that the US president has the power to declare war, while 54 percent correctly answered that that power rests with Congress.

Asked about the electoral college, 20 percent of elected officials incorrectly said it was established to "supervise the first televised presidential debates."

In fact, the system of choosing the US president via an indirect electoral college vote dates back some 220 years, to the US Constitution.

The question that received the fewest correct responses, just 16 percent, tested respondents' basic understanding of economic principles, asking why "free markets typically secure more economic prosperity than government's centralized planning?"

Activities that dull Americans' civic knowledge include talking on the phone and watching movies or television -- even news shows and documentaries, ISI said.

Meanwhile, civic knowledge is enhanced by discussing public affairs, taking part in civic activities and reading about current events and history, the group said.

Reading history? Substantive discussions? Following current events? The cultivation of these activities is unfortunately disgracefully lacking in contemporary society. Parents don't engage in them, so it's not surprising that the youth follow suit.

Bob Woodward on Clinton as Sec. of State

Bob finally got something right.
Being president is about control, and tell me who ever controlled Bill or Hillary Clinton. They can't control each other. ... I think it's because Warren Buffett and Paul Volcker and others have convinced Obama, 'You're going to have to focus like a laser on the economy. That's issue Number One. And give Hillary and Bill the world.' ... I think people are fantasizing or smoking something if they think Joe Biden's going to call Hillary Clinton up and say, 'This is what we want you to do.'

Friday, November 21, 2008

High Hopes

Louisiana Gov. Bobbly Jindal tops The Washington Post's top-ten list of Republicans to watch over the next couple years. A 100% pro-life Catholic, Rhodes Scholar and political wiz, Jindal could be just the antidote to rid the nation of the Obama virus once and for all come 2012.
1. Bobby Jindal: There is NO hotter commodity in the Republican party these days than Jindal. Jindal is the rare candidate who both reformers and establishment types find appealing, and as a 37-year-old Indian American he is -- literally and figuratively -- the sort of new face the party is pining for. While Jindal is hot right now, it's important to remember that he is the governor of a state with a complex political scene -- meaning there will be myriad opportunities for Jindal to falter over the next few months and years.

On that final sentence: The exact same thing could be said of Obama, only that more eyes will be on him.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Liberalism: Act IV

Let's review: So far, Obama has called forth from the political graveyard of the 1990's such retreads as Hillary Clinton, Tom Daschle and Eric Holder for prominent roles in his administration. (Lest we forget, the sempiternal liberal Joe Biden is his VP.) And it looks like he's just getting warmed up. By doing so, Obama confirms what conservatives had been loudly proclaiming from the rooftops prior to the election that, beneath the thin veneer of garish rhetoric and talk of "change," Obama represents a mere repackaging of tried-and-failed, stifling liberalism. He will not set out on a new course but will simply follow the policies of archliberals like FDR, LBJ and Bill Clinton.

Judicial Totalitarianism Revisited

Why am I not surprised? From the AP:
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - California's highest court has agreed to hear legal challenges to a new ban on gay marriage, but is refusing to allow gay couples to resume marrying until it rules.

The California Supreme Court on Wednesday accepted three lawsuits seeking to overturn Proposition 8. The amendment passed this month with 52 percent of the vote. The court did not elaborate on its decision.

All three cases claim the ban abridges the civil rights of a vulnerable minority group. They argue that voters alone did not have the authority to enact such a significant constitutional change.

Utter nonsense! To say, as the gay rights movement does, that a particular group (in this case the voters) lacks "the authority to enact such a significant constitutional change" represents the height of hutzpah that is unfortunately all too characteristic of the intolerant bigots on the left. Isn't it this group, after all, that is aiming to enact the most sweeping historical, cultural and societal change in history by demolishing, via judicial fiat, the immutable definition of humanity's oldest natural institution? And they have the temerity to lecture us about lacking due authority?

As for abridging "the civil rights of a vulnerable minority group," I think the one bunch that actually fits the bill for a beleaguered "vulnerable minority group," relentlessly harassed, routinely insulted and caricatured is faithful Catholics! Further, who doubts that, had Prop. 8 failed on Nov. 4, the sybaritic gay rights crowd would today be extolling the tolerance and wisdom of the enlightened Californian voter over the baleful forces of the antediluvian religious right? If they thought that there were such grave legal violations with the original referendum, they should have boycotted the vote and taken it up in court later. Doesn't their mass participation in the referendum process evince at least some tacit consent to abide by the final verdict of the voters?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Note to Obama: How about a government bailout for post-grads. grappling with student loans?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cell Phone Etiquette

I found this useful list of cell phone commandments online and I think it is worthwhile to review. Solecisms with the cell phone rank near the top of my list of pet peeves and while, de temps en temps, I am not as faithful a follower of these norms as I ought to be, this is one area where I really do try to adhere scrupulously to the rules. Brought to you by Dan Broidy:

1. Thou shalt not subject defenseless others to cell phone conversations. When people cannot escape the banality of your conversation, such as on the bus, in a cab, on a grounded airplane, or at the dinner table, you should spare them. People around you should have the option of not listening. If they don't, you shouldn't be babbling.

2. Thou shalt not set thy ringer to play La Cucaracha every time thy phone rings. Or Beethoven's Fifth, or the Bee Gees, or any other annoying melody. Is it not enough that phones go off every other second? Now we have to listen to synthesized nonsense?

3. Thou shalt turn thy cell phone off during public performances. I'm not even sure this one needs to be said, but given the repeated violations of this heretofore unwritten law, I felt compelled to include it.

4. Thou shalt not wear more than two wireless devices on thy belt. This hasn't become a big problem yet. But with plenty of techno-jockeys sporting pagers and phones, Batman-esque utility belts are sure to follow. Let's nip this one in the bud.

5. Thou shalt not dial while driving. In all seriousness, this madness has to stop. There are enough people in the world who have problems mastering vehicles and phones individually. Put them together and we have a serious health hazard on our hands.

6. Thou shalt not wear thy earpiece when thou art not on thy phone. This is not unlike being on the phone and carrying on another conversation with someone who is physically in your presence. No one knows if you are here or there. Very disturbing.

7. Thou shalt not speak louder on thy cell phone than thou would on any other phone. These things have incredibly sensitive microphones, and it's gotten to the point where I can tell if someone is calling me from a cell because of the way they are talking, not how it sounds. If your signal cuts out, speaking louder won't help, unless the person is actually within earshot.

8. Thou shalt not grow too attached to thy cell phone. For obvious reasons, a dependency on constant communication is not healthy. At work, go nuts. At home, give it a rest.

9. Thou shalt not attempt to impress with thy cell phone. Not only is using a cell phone no longer impressive in any way (unless it's one of those really cool new phones with the space age design), when it is used for that reason, said user can be immediately identified as a neophyte and a poseur.

10. Thou shalt not slam thy cell phone down on a restaurant table just in case it rings. This is not the Old West, and you are not a gunslinger sitting down to a game of poker in the saloon. Could you please be a little less conspicuous? If it rings, you'll hear it just as well if it's in your coat pocket or clipped on your belt.

Dumb and Dumber Democrats

This short video is incredible. Depicted here is a sampling of Obama supporters immediately after they pulled the lever (or connected the line) for Obama on Nov. 4. The clip is on a study conducted by John Ziegler that aimed to uncover how the media kept the public in the dark about Obama, while at the same time inundating them with negative and exaggerated stories about McCain and Palin. I believe it's the combination of that and, frankly, the rank stupidity of the booboisie that brought us to this point.

Obama and Jefferson?

There is a particular clique of conservatives who are expressing the hope that Obama, despite his liberal creds., will govern as a moderate. Chris Buckley comes to mind as one of the more conspicuous doyens on the right articulating such an expectation. How realistic is this? Call me cynical but I'm not too inclined to believe that Obama will govern from the center. This may be his m.o. for the first term, but if reelected (God forbid) he would most likely push his left-wing agenda to the hilt, without quibbling about causing offense to the Right. But we'll cross that bridge when we reach it. (Hopefully, Obama will be derailed in '12 by Gov. Jindal.)

But what about the first term? Just how will President Obama govern? After the election that witnessed the elevation of Thomas Jefferson to the office of the presidency in 1800, his most ardent Federalist foes predicted utter disaster for the nation at the very least, the collapse of the nation at worst. But upon taking office, Jefferson shirked certain vestiges of his radical ideology, as articulated in earlier letters to James Madison written in the 1790's, and governed with a surprisingly moderate hand. To be sure, there was much of the Federalist agenda that carried over into Jefferson's presidency, like the national debt and the central bank. Jefferson loathed both things but he recognized that there was little he could do as president in terms of getting rid of them completely. His Treasury Secretary, Albert Gallatin, actually ended up following through with many of Alexander Hamilton's policies. Jefferson, who throughout the presidency of Washington claimed that Hamilton was a crypto-monarchist, himself exercised the greatest display of executive power when he signed off on the Louisiana Purchase, an act that no one seriously doubted was grossly unconstitutional. For this is why John Quincy Adams opposed the measure. The opportunity was simply too good to let slip away so Jefferson, with a blush, bent the rules a bit and with the stroke of a pen, more than doubled the size of the nation. Understandably, Hamilton took note of his nemesis' executive solecism with a bit of mirth. Upon taking office, Jefferson promised to "sink Federalism into an abyss from which there shall be no resurrection of it." But he soon learned that he couldn't rejigger everything and that pragmatism had its proper place. Federalism as a political Party was on its way to extinction but for better or worse many of its fundamental policies remained, thanks to Chief Justice John Marshall, as various bits and pieces were assimilated by subsequent Parties.

Ok, back to Obama. So there may be precedent for a politician like Obama to assume the office of the president with somewhat tempered ambitions. We are already starting to see this with his team's assessment of the prisoners held at Guantanamo. He campaigned vigorously on the promise that he would close it, lickety-split. But he now seems to be equivocating a bit. Time will tell. Another interesting item on the agenda will be the fate of the terrorist surveillance system employed by the government since 9-11. There was much hue and cry among liberal hacks prior to the election, alleging the violation of civil liberties and Democrats like Obama dutifully promised to revise the way information is harvested so as to better protect Americans from having their privacy violated. (Please, spare me.) It will be noteworthy to follow how consistent President Obama will be with his campaign pledges to oppose initiatives like the Patriot Act, now that he bears unique responsibility for securing the nation. Open homosexuals in the military will be another hot-button issue which will force Obama to square his campaign rhetoric up against the recommendations and preferences of the military's top brass. On other social issues, I predict Obama will govern as a doctrinaire liberal. He has a comfortable majority in Congress and only on the extremely controversial issues, like the Freedom of Choice Act, will an effective resistance in the form of a Republican filibuster likely hold up in the Senate.

Obama's past experience as legislature, however paltry, also bolsters my pessimism. Despite his soaring panegyrics on the virtues of Republicans and Democrats coming together, Obama has always preferred to eschew bipartisanship in favor of liberal purity. It is true that Obama's constituency in Illinois demanded liberal policies from him. With that in mind, there may be some chance that Obama, realizing that the majority of Americans are not carbon copies of south side Chicago Democrats, may position himself somewhat to the center. But lest we forget, this is a man of immense ego. Obama believes that his mandate for "change" is strong. Last week he said that, upon taking office, he plans to "hit the ground running." Interpret that as you wish. In so many ways, Obama is no Jefferson. I expect little from the former in terms of moderation, good judgement and balance. But maybe he'll surprise me.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Just Say "No!" to More Bailouts

Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute offers his commentary:
To hear the bailout people talk, you would think that taking a firm to bankruptcy is akin to sending it to the mortuary. That is false. Bankruptcy is more like intensive care. It's where we have always sent our sickest companies.

Sending taxpayer money to GM will not help it in the long run. Our economy will be saddled with tossing resources at a struggling company indefinitely. The sooner GM reorganizes and becomes more efficient, the sooner our economy will begin heading in the right direction.


Sears and the Troops

At a time when piling on big corporations and the top executives running them is very much in vogue among the apparatchiks in New York and Washington, the following anecdote, relayed to me via email, offers a breath of fresh air.
How does Sears treat its employees who are called up for military duty? By law, they are required to hold their jobs open and available, but nothing more. Usually, people take a big pay cut and lose benefits as a result of being called up.

Sears is voluntarily paying the difference in salaries and maintaining all benefits, including medical insurance and bonus programs, for all called up reservist employees for up to two years.

I submit that Sears is an exemplary corporate citizen and should be recognized for its contribution. I suggest we all shop at Sears, and be sure to find a manager to tell them why we are there so the company gets the positive reinforcement it well deserves.

On Credit Bubbles, Central Banks and the Gold Standard

Perhaps not the most interesting subject for readers but Gerald P. O'Driscoll Jr. offers some advice on salvaging the economy and on putting into place policies that would avoid the fiscal disasters we've witnessed of late. Unfortunately, it seems as though neither political Party is serious about the addressing the root causes of the problem; i.e., the leviathan entity of the Federal Reserve, the explosion of "free" credit, the abolition of a commodity standard such as gold which would confer actual value on the dollar, etc. Driscoll's advice being scholarly, sound and prudent, Obama is unlikely to take heed.
Mr. Obama needs to stop the next asset bubble from being inflated by imposing a commodity standard on the Fed. A commodity standard (such as a gold standard) imposes discipline on a central bank because it forces it to acquire commodity reserves in order to increase the money supply. Today the government can inflate asset bubbles without paying a cost for it because the currency isn't linked to the price of a commodity.

With a commodity standard in place, the government would also have price signals that would alert it to the formation of a bubble. Why? Because the price of the commodity would be continuously traded in spot and futures markets. Excessive easing by the Fed would be signaled by rising prices for the commodity. In recent years, Fed officials have claimed that they cannot know when an asset bubble is developing. With a commodity standard in place, it would be clear to anyone watching spot markets whether a bubble is forming. What's more, if Fed officials ignored price signals, outflows of commodity reserves would force them to act against the bubble.

The point is not to deflate asset bubbles, but to avoid them in the first place. Imposing a commodity standard is a practical response to the repeated failures of central banks to maintain sound money and financial stability. What would be impractical is to believe that the next time central banks will get it right on their own.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Three-Ring Circus Photo-Op.

Send in the Clowns

Serious observers will agree: the mise en scène in Washington, ostensibly arranged to "fix" the economy, is a charade through and through; a shallow gimmick put on by world leaders to demonstrate to the masses that they care about the economic plight afflicting us, which, lest we forget has come to us singularly via their own screwy Keynesian at best, socialist at worst policies. If we're lucky, our leaders may cut taxes (good) yet they invariably ratchet up spending a hundred-fold (very bad). Our currency is devalued per diem by a Treasury run by unelected, shadowy potentates whose bills print out with the fluidity of water gushing from a mighty river, and we're supposed to believe that these folks in Washington will rise to the occasion and set everything right?

I can no longer take these people seriously. What substantive results, beyond the obligatory photo-ops. intended to convince us that they care (they don't), are we supposed to anticipate from a group as ideologically heterogeneous as this: Our George Bush to Spain's useless Zapatero, Italy's cheeky Burlusconi to leftist celeb. Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (Who? That is, Argentina's gaudyily vested president). As ideologically opposed as this bunch may be, one one thing do their minds converge: all share a belief that the government should "do something." Well, if they had done nothing at the very beginning, we wouldn't be at the present juncture of financial confusion. It's precisely because the doyens constantly feel the urge to "do something" that things have gotten so wonky. Try doing NOTHING, just once, please!

While somewhat ironic, it is also deeply vexing that this group of ne'er-do-wells view themselves as uniquely qualified to clean up the huge mess they themselves left in the middle of the floor. It pains me to include a good man like President Bush in this group but I must. He too shares a healthy portion of blame. Just the other day and with a straight face, he warned against excessive government intervention in the economy. This, only a month or so after he signed into law the scandalous eight-hundred billion dollar "rescue package," which amounts to the most far-reaching display of government meddling in the economy since the days of the Great Depression. And this, from a Republican president who campaigned as a conservative and enjoyed six years of a Republican congressional majority, whose spending bills, mind you, he vetoed not once. Well, I remind myself, Bush ran as a "compassionate" conservative, and it is in this seemingly benign adjective, that we uncover the root source of his fatal deviation which has brought our Party to the bitter nadir of political exile. As for Obama, the closet socialist-with-a-smile, he will only further sink the economy (not to mention the entire nation) into the smothering abyss of the big government nanny state. Our hope is that real conservatives will rise from the smoldering heap of ashes of the now-defunct and discredited crop of current Republican leaders.

Bush and co., exit stage right.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Prop 8 Opponents Attack Elderly Woman

This video pretty much sums it up, revealing the nation's most conspicuous advocates of "tolerance" to be nothing more than totalitarian, anti-Christian goons. 69-year-old Phyllis Burgess appeared at an anti-prop 8 rally in Palm Springs holding up a large cross, only to be immediately set upon by a hyper-aggressive band of splenetic libertines. Burgess was immediately accosted by the tightly wound group and, in an act chock-full of symbolism, the cross was ripped from her hands and stomped into the ground. A reporter present attempted to get Burgess' side of the story but the interview had to be aborted as a result of the heated shouting.

So revealing, this vignette is. Again, where's the tolerance on the other side? One wonders what these dyspeptic miscreants would have done to the poor woman were there no cameras present to document the events. Then again, Burgess is obviously a tough old lady. I'm sure she could have handled herself just fine against this foppish group.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Google Earth Does Rome

This is pretty neat.

Battle Stations

Statistically, the same number of Americans describe themselves today as "conservative" as they did in 1984 at the apogee of the American conservative movement. Therein lies the hope, and the challenge. From Tony Blankley, appearing today in The Washington Times:
Consider that in 1980, when Ronald Reagan won his first presidential election, the public was self-identified as 46 percent moderate, 28 percent conservative and 17 percent liberal. But by the 1984 Reagan re-election the public had shifted to 42 percent moderate, 33 percent conservative and 16 percent liberal - a statistically significant shift to the right. In those four years Mr. Reagan had convinced 5 percent of the electorate to move largely from moderate to conservative. And that 5 percent have stayed conservative for 24 years, right through the 2008 election. It is that 5 percent that has made America a center-right country, rather than a centrist country - allowing a fairly conservative Republican Party to win both congressional and presidential elections most of the time.

That is why it is so vital for both the Republican Party and a newly aroused conservative movement to work feverishly to make the case to the broadest possible public for our right-of-center views over the next four years. Mr. Obama has not made his case yet. Just as Mr. Reagan won in 1980 in part because a lot of moderates were tired of Jimmy Carter - double digit interest rates, stagflation, Soviets in Afghanistan, Iranian hostage crisis - so a lot of moderates voted for Mr. Obama because of housing market crash, financial crisis, drop in 401(k) account values, and two wars.

Mr. Obama will try to convert those temporary moderate and conservative votes of his into permanent liberal and moderate voters, just as Mr. Reagan did in reverse between 1981-1984. If we conservatives can make our case, the election of 2008 will be a blip, just a kick-the-bums-out election. If Mr. Obama makes his case, he may have moved the center of political gravity to the left for a generation. Every conservative man and woman to battle stations.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Bishops Caucus

Catholic Bishops are meeting to hash out, among other things, a more uniform approach in dealing with pro-abortion Catholic politicians. There have been many positive signs over the past several months on that front, indications of a growing sense of fed-upness, with a good number of bishops issuing substantive and forceful denunciations of Catholic politicos like Nancy Pelosi and good ol' Joe Biden. No doubt, some are realizing that they face a new sort of beast in the soon-to-be minted Obama Administration and the enlarged Democratic congressional majority, with their firmly anchored pro-abortion platform and pretty much pro-everything-that-is reprehensible-and-abominable-to-the-dignity-of-the-person social policies.

Pat Buchanan said it nicely the other night when he predicted that the cocksure Obama will, without a doubt, govern from the far left but that he will gloss over the ugly shades of extremism with a sunny veneer of moderation. This m.o. is exactly how Obama has managed to reach the pinnacle of power. History demonstrates that Obama's voting record, whether in Chicago or in DC, has been one of undiluted, doctrinaire liberalism and that he succeeds remarkably in wrapping up (and thereby concealing) his radical agenda in warm, innocuous language that clouds the true danger of the actual policy. He says, for instance, that he wants to reduce the number of abortions and that "this is something we can all agree on regardless of our stance on abortion." Well, by airbrushing out every law that restricts abortion, as he firmly intends on doing asap, how on earth does it compute that we should expect to see a drop in the number of abortions performed? What Obama says is one thing, what he does is quite another. He's been able to maneuver himself up the ladder of power thanks to a combination of verbal dexterity (put more truthfully, chicanery) and the simultaneous inability of people to discern the record from the rhetoric. Thus disarmed, they slowly nod their heads in agreement and think, "Well, that seems to make sense." Game. Set. Match. Mr. Obama.

How will the bishops respond to all of this? Well, incredibly some are cautioning that the "tone" of the message ought be massaged so as to not cause too much offense among the faithful. This is so tiring. Let's try this again: The bishops need to speak with one voice, clearly, unequivocally and forcefully, now more than ever before, that it is totally unacceptable for a soi-disant Catholic to support, in any way, a politician who advocates the illusory "right" to an abortion.

Enough with the nuanced prayers that blend together in one broad sentence our uniform opposition to abortion, to war and to capital punishment, as though we are incapable of making moral distinctions between acts that are intrinsically evil and those that are not. Enough of the "we can agree to disagree" insouciance and stalemate that seem to be the habitual end result of the stand-off between bishops and liberal Catholic politicians, election after election. Enough of parish priests thinking that there is no need to thunder from the pulpit from time to time in the run-up to an election on the moral imperative incumbent on every Catholic to vote, first and foremost, in opposition to abortion and in favor of life. And finally, enough of the gushing river of impunity with regard to pro-abortion Catholic politicians who unleash their scandalous malarkey on national television regarding the Church's stance on abortion.

Bishops should know that there are legions of faithful Catholics who are chomping at the bit to back them up in the public square. All we're looking for is some leadership and backbone.

The Totalitarianism of the Left

Governor Schwarzenegger, of the peculiar state of California, is encouraging the high court to overturn the perfectly legitimate amendment to the state constitution, passed last week, that defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. This is absurd. If Proposition 8 would have gone down in flames, who doubts that the gay rights lobby would be celebrating the triumph of the will of the people? However, when the end result disappoints them, they demur and cry, "Unconstitutional!" The totalitarian strain in the homosexual movement, and the left in general, rears its ugly head. Ignoring the fact that such basic things shouldn't be up for a vote in the first place, if Schwarzenegger and his allies in the homosexual lobby think that overruling the will of the people is a worthy testament to the spirit of democracy, why don't we convince the Supreme Court to overrule the presidential election as well and put McCain (or better yet Gov. Palin) in the Oval Office?

Monday, November 10, 2008

A brief exchange between Margaret Thatcher and Mikhail Gorbachev saw the latter attempting to convince the former of the superiority of Communism, to which the Iron Lady huffed, "Don't be silly, Mr. Gorbachev. You can't even feed your own people."

Political Excommunication

From Deroy Merdock:
While much of Bush’s spending has funded defense and the War on Terror, most of it vanished into the furnaces of No Child Left Behind, the 2002 Farm Bill, the 2003 Medicare drug entitlement, the 2005 highway bill, the 2006 ethanol mandate, at least 69,341 earmarks, and much, much more. In 2001, Bush launched federal embryonic stem-cell research. By 2008, he added the word “nationalization” to the American vocabulary, and underscored it with nearly $1 trillion in bailouts and Third World—-style government ownership stakes in banks and financial houses.

Bush has kept America safe from terror attacks since September 11. The liberations of Afghanistan from bin Ladenism and Iraq from Ba’athism were vital victories for national security and human rights. Until this year’s mortgage meltdown, his tax cuts fueled robust growth. Good work.

Nevertheless, Bush is the GOP’s Jimmy Carter, a weak bumbler who embarrassed his constituents, betrayed his philosophical movement, sank his party, and eventually surrendered the White House to the opposition, this time led by the Senate’s Number One liberal, still in his first term. Bush should retire quietly to Texas, where he can drive his truck, chop wood, and avoid the limelight for the balance of his natural existence.

Out with the old, as they say. The current GOP leadership should be swept aside. There are plenty of promising young conservative stars on the horizon who should be given the reigns of control; Governors Palin of Alaska and Jindal of Louisiana come to mind. In the House, I've been impressed with Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who boasts shrewd economic knowhow. Here, Ryan discusses the future of the Republican Party.

Here is the link to Paul's website: http://americanroadmap.org/

Sunday, November 09, 2008

On Change and Revolution

Verb Sap. to Obama & co.
Every eschatological promise within history fails to liberate us; rather, it disappoints and therefore enslaves us. That is why the mythological glamor that has been added onto such concepts as change and revolution has to be demythologized. Change is not good in itself. Whether it is good or bad depends on its particular content and how it relates to other things. The opinion that the main task in the struggle for freedom is that of changing the world is, I repeat, a myth. -Pope Benedict XVI, taken from Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions

The Only Way Forward: Conservatism

"How many times do we have to run this experiment before Republican primary voters learn that 'moderate,' 'independent,' 'maverick' Republicans never win, and right-wing Republicans never lose? -Ann Coulter

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Left's Simulacrum

Obama fancies himself as the liberal counterpoise to the conservative Ronald Reagan. It is hoped that "Obama Republicans" will emerge as a reliable voting block for the left in the wake of the '08 election just as "Reagan Democrats" carried the Gipper to victory in the elections of 1980 and '84. True, Obama's victory was not as ringing and thorough as was Reagan's, to be sure, but conservatives cannot afford to be passive to Obama's political machinations and designs for our nation. Put simply, Obama seeks piecemeal motions with the end goal of a permanent realignment of our nation's policies to fit the agenda of the far left. His November 4 inroads forged in the sanctum of the Republican south demonstrate the potency of his threat and the perils of his appeal. His weapon lies in his remarkable deftness at inoculating the American people from the foul stench of his leftist radicalism. Masquerading as a unifier and a post-partisan, all the while hypnotizing half the nation with his soaring rhetorical wizardry, Obama hopes to advance his agenda under the auspice of "change." The remarkable thing is the spectacle of half the nation seeing right through it while the other half falling completely for it.

As president conservatives wish him and his family health and safety. That said, the great conservative hope is that the mighty rigors of the Oval Office will draw back the curtain, expose Obama for the callow vulgarian he is and render him defenseless to the swift boot of the American people on Nov. 4, 2012.

Secularism and Jihadism: United Against the West

The Ottoman Siege of Vienna

From a fine review of Herb London's latest book: America's Secular Challenge: The Rise of a New National Religion
Militant Muslims, for their part, perceive that the fissures now visible in the foundation of Western resolve — due in part to the corrosive effects of radical secularism — present opportunities they can exploit, cracks they can pry open. During a recent seminar on his book in New York City, London made a perceptive comment in reply to a question on what might be fueling the rise of extremist Islam at this historical juncture: “Perhaps it is because radical Islam recognizes a cultural weakness in the West,” he said. As he puts it in his book, “[c]ertainly part of the reason for the recent tumult is the belief circulating in the Islamic world that a secular West no longer has the will to resist Islamic jihad.”


Friday, November 07, 2008

Nota Bene

From the The Wall Street Journal:
Democrats won big on Tuesday but not big enough. The voters' rebuke of the GOP was brutal, though not so cruel as to hand Mr. Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid the 60 votes they needed to grease a sweeping agenda. The GOP still owns a filibuster, and that is as big a factor in this new "era" as is our president-elect.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Some Rough Thoughts on the Election

As I look over the wreckage of election '08, I cannot say that I am totally surprised. Rather disappointed? Yes. Angry? Yes. Frustrated by the self-centeredness of millions of my fellow citizens at having elected a socialist for president? Yes. But surprised? No. Nevertheless, hope for our Party's long term future blends with the requisite melancholy of defeat.

Not long before he passed away, William F. Buckley Jr. remarked on how Republicans, having grown "slothful", needed to undergo a "re-pristinification". In other words, the Republican Party needed to cleanse itself from the accretions that are all too often concomitant with political complacency. Would I have preferred to have won the election? You bet. But this loss, if we are shrewd enough to learn from it, can serve as a means of purgation in order to return to the principles forged and advanced so successfuly by Reagan in the last century. Catholics know from theology that purgation is a painful yet necessary experience on the path to perfection and, no doubt, the purgation we are about to undergo as a Party in exile will cause some strain.

For whatever reason, John McCain and George W. Bush, while honorable men and infinitely better qualified than Mr. Obama to guide the nation forward, chose not to lead as conservative visionaries. Again to quote Buckley, in reference to President Bush: "He's conservative but not a conservative." McCain, to an even greater degree, ran as a "maverick", which is to say, a scattershot and unreliable conservative. The effect this had on the base was fatal. He tried to shave off some conservative essentials (as in his loathsome spearheading of "comprehensive immigration reform" last year) in the hope of picking up support from Latinos, independents and moderates. Well, we can see from the exit polls how errant that strategy was; all the aforementioned groups broke for Obama by significant margins. By all means, go after these targets, but do so as a conservative, relying on the powers of reason and persuasion.

A final observation: Sarah Palin was not an albatross on the McCain campaign. This is a myth advanced by liberals and conservative-lite Republicans who were embarrassed by Palin's down-to-earth, folksy appeal. The excitement she brought to the campaign was remarkable. At times was she a little rough around the edges in the face of a hostile and smug media? Sure. At times she was a little unprepared but that is not the same as being unqualified. In a few years, she'll be even better suited to run nationally. Here's to Palin-Jindal in 2012!

On Obama

The two parts of his past and his future proposals that I deplore spring from the fact of his being the most extreme proponent of abortion in the U.S. Congress. Given the fact that 35 percent of all abortions in the United States are sought by African-American women, it is surprising that Senator Obama has been such a great defender of the institution of abortion, which since 1973 has taken the lives of more than 43 million infants in the womb. For many of us, abortion is an even more grievous abuse of power over others than slavery, and to argue for “choice” to abort another human being is no more morally plausible than to defend the right to choose to enslave another.
-Michael Novak

Initial Thought

Well, if they survived Communism in Poland...

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Who Knows Obama?

Here's a remarkable montage, put together by Mr. Limbaugh, of admissions from New York media doyens Tom Brokaw and Charlie Rose on how little they actually know about Barack Obama. It comes from a recent interview with Brokaw on The Charlie Rose Show

ROSE: I don't know what Barack Obama's worldview is.

BROKAW: No, I don't, either.

ROSE: I don't know how he really sees where China is.

BROKAW: We don't know a lot about Barack Obama and the universe of his thinking about foreign policy.

ROSE: I don't really know. And do we know anything about the people who are advising him?

BROKAW: Yeah, it's an interesting question.

ROSE: He is principally known through his autobiography and through very aspirational (sic) speeches.

BROKAW: Two of them! I don't know what books he's read.

ROSE: What do we know about the heroes of Barack Obama?

BROKAW: There's a lot about him we don't know.

You'd think that as journalists they'd consider it their responsibility to uncover these mysteries. It's unbelievable.

Prelates and the Free Market

Professor Luckey offers some words of wisdom in his latest post:
According to a report from the Zenit News Service, Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace, recently insisted that the "logic" of the market be changed. He said that the logic “was till (sic) now that of maximum gain, and therefore the most investments possible directed toward obtaining maximum benefit. And this, according to the social doctrine of the Church, is immoral.” This is because, according to the Cardinal, the market “should be able to benefit not just those who invest capital, but those who participate in the step of making it grow, that is, those who work. ...

Aside for the fact that some of the terms he used are too vague to make any judgment about, like “maximum benefit,” the economics in his statement would be more appropriate of a kid, rather than a Cardinal...I have long argued in my writings that churchmen who have no real economic training or understanding prescind from making remarks like this which mislead the faithful, and portray the sui generis (self-generating) free market economy as an operation run from the top by a few greedy people constantly plotting to withhold wealth from the ordinary folks.

With comments like Martino's, it comes as no surprise when traditional Catholics, similarly uninformed on economics, parrot such clichéd malarkey. The free market creates/has created more prosperity and wealth for more people on earth than any other economic arrangement in history. As Luckey intimates, intelligent observers should tune out Democratic talking points and detach abuses of the system, which are brought about externally through government tinkering, from the actual system.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Crowds and Populism

Here's a thought provoking piece by Fouad Ajami appearing in the Wall Street Journal on the logic behind Obama's crowd appeal.
As the late Nobel laureate Elias Canetti observes in his great book, "Crowds and Power" (first published in 1960), the crowd is based on an illusion of equality: Its quest is for that moment when "distinctions are thrown off and all become equal. It is for the sake of this blessed moment, when no one is greater or better than another, that people become a crowd." These crowds, in the tens of thousands, who have been turning out for the Democratic standard-bearer in St. Louis and Denver and Portland, are a measure of American distress.


Iraqis Choose McCain

Maybe overseas aid wouldn't be such a bad thing after all.
"The Iranians believe that if Obama is elected he will not take action against them despite their nuclear ambitions. That worries me," said Ali, sitting on an old bench in Al-Zahawi coffee shop.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Overseas Aid

From the AP:

Palestinian Ibrahim Abu Jayab, 24, is seen next to his computer, in his family house in Nusayrat refugee camp, central Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008. A young Palestinian in a Gaza refugee camp is doing his part to get out the vote for Barack Obama. With a little help from the Internet, 24-year-old Ibrahim Abu Jayab is cold calling random American families from his parent's home imploring them to vote Obama.



Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Funny 24-Seconds with Bob Hope

Taking It a Step Further

As if the ever-present band of contumacious Catholic politicos in favor of abortion was not bad enough, now we are seeing, with Pelosi and Biden, vocal Catholic politicians in favor of abortion who claim that the Church herself has "wrestled" with the issue for a long time. These people are out-scandalizing themselves by the day. Catholic friends of the unborn await a more severe response from the bishops this time around to answer this outrage.


Monday, October 27, 2008

The UN-Obama Love Affair

For any undecided voters out there, here's a little UN political advice to ponder. From the Washington Post:

"It would be hard to find anybody, I think, at the U.N. who would not believe that Obama would be a considerable improvement over any other alternative," said William H. Luers, executive director of the United Nations Association.

That pretty much sums it up. McCain could receive no better praise than the blithering derision of such UN blatherskites as Mr. Luers.


Obama Favors Redistribution of Wealth

In this radio interview from 2001, Barack Obama laments the failure of the Supreme Court to enact policies favoring the redistribution of wealth. In retrospect, he thinks the civil rights movement provided a great opportunity to push, via the courts, policies that would have "spread the wealth around." He sees that it's now up to the legislative branch of government to pursue such policies. Call it whatever you like but this is not constitutional.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Here are a couple striking images I found online. The first is, obviously, a view inside St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. The other is an interior shot of the Protestant Crystal "Cathedral" in California. The images say enough with regard to Catholic and Protestant uses for sacred art in expressing theological realities.

As I studied the images, I began thinking about how easily words lose their original meaning when carelessly tossed around without respect to their etymology. As learned Catholics and Orthodox know, "Cathedral" implies an episcopal authority, literally, a bishop's "seat" from which he oversees and guides the Church. But most all Protestants reject that idea as contrived popery. Yet, a word like "cathedral", loaded with historical and ecclesial significance is latched on to the thoroughly bishop-less Crystal "Cathedral" and no one seems to notice the glaring discrepancy. Other examples of sloppy word usage abound: Love, marriage, church, to mention a few, are stripped of their intrinsic meaning and molded to fit the trends of the day. "Love", or luv, is just a warm, fuzzy feeling, where more often than not eros is confused for caritas. "Marriage" is reduced to a fancy arrangement between two people who luv each other. "Church" is just any organized body of believers who come together to pray.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Military Overwhelmingly Backs McCain

Voters should consider the reasons why our military, by a 3-1 margin, prefer John McCain to Obama. God bless them. What do they get that 49% of Americans don't? Perhaps experience has taught them something.

I say, let's place the decisions of leadership solely in the rugged, calloused hands of those charged with the heavy responsibility of actually fighting for the freedoms adumbrated in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution...of course I say this tongue in cheek, but the statistic serves as a sober reminder: It's easy to sit back and blog, watch tv, whine, pettifog, welcome obesity and other less attractive symptoms of leisure and affluence ... basically reaping the benefits of our "rights" while letting others do the heavy lifting when it comes to defending them.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Obama's Abortion Extremism

Robert George, a highly respected scholar and author, discusses the depths of Obama's extremism on life issues, abortion in particular. Comparing Senator McCain with Obama, George offers some thoughts:
But on abortion and the industrial creation of embryos for destructive research, there is a profound difference of moral principle, not just prudence. These questions reveal the character and judgment of each man. Barack Obama is deeply committed to the belief that members of an entire class of human beings have no rights that others must respect.

"...members of an entire class of human beings have no rights that others must respect." A somewhat ironic position for an African American to champion.

Here is the link to the piece in its entirety:

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Liberal Endorses Obama, And We're Surprised?

The endorsement heard round the world: Today on Meet the Press, Colin Powell, the liberal, pro-abortion former Secretary of State, has thrown his weight behind the candidacy of Barack Obama. The media is covering this with the kind of jubilation that accompanied V-Day. Powell is a "Republican" in the way that I'm a liberal Catholic. He's not, really and I'm not, really. It is well known that ever since he bolted from the Bush Cabinet he has been a disgruntled statesman in exile. The Bush Administration, in Powell's narrow and self-centered oculus, failed to fully appreciate the greatness that is Colin Powell. Throughout his tenure as Secretary of State, Powell was overshadowed by Cheney, Rumsfeld and, to a certain extent, Rice. Ever since, his bruised pride has been trolling to get even and rehabilitate his marginalized reputation. So here we are. Said a prominent Republican: "Powell cares a lot about his reputation with Washington elites and he thinks he was badly damaged by his relationship with the Bush administration. So this is a way to make up for what he regarded as not being treated well by the Bush administration, not being given the due deferenece he thinks he deserves."

Powell criticized what he considers to be unfair Republican attacks on Obama, especially those questioning the extent of his relationship with 1970's terrorist William Ayers (or, as the media refers to him, "a former radical"). In the same litany of predictable plaints, Powell questioned McCain's judgement in having selected Gov. Sarah Palin as his candidate for vice president. So we should consider the capacity for sound judgement, or lack thereof as Powell sees it, when speaking about McCain's decisions but we dare not do so when studying the reasons behind Obama's numerous radical acquaintances stretching back decades? Judgement, it seems, is a one-way street for Mr. Powell. Plowing through his belabored apologia pro Obama Powell foamed that Palin is not ready to be president, whereas Joe Biden is. "But at the same, now that we have had a chance to watch her for some seven weeks, I don't believe she's ready to be president of the United States, which is the job of the vice president. And so that raised some question in my mind as to the judgment that Senator McCain made." The interlocutor, not surprisingly, failed to follow-up with a reasonable question to ascertain what, according to Powell, makes Obama ready to be president over Gov. Palin, who has spent more time in public office, possesses executive experience (which Obama lacks) a list of significant achievements (which Obama lacks) and an eighty-percent approval rating from her constituents (which Obama lacks). And to top off the list of favorite Democratic talking-points, Powell echoed the belief that the United States needs a president who cares about what "the world" thinks; someone who is occupied with “conveying a new image of American leadership, a new image of America’s role in the world.” How trite. A "world" to be sure, that marches many a step to the left on every issue, whether economic, geopolitical or social.

Don't be fooled. Powell is a liberal to the core and he was irked, frightened even, by the unabashed conservatism of Sarah Palin and the likelihood that she will veer the GOP to the right, regardless of the outcome of the election. Again, Powell: "And I look at these kinds of approaches to the campaign, and they trouble me. And the party has moved even further to the right, and Governor Palin has indicated a further rightward shift." Powell seeks as his desideratum a liberal brand of Republicanism or he'll have none of it. That is how to read this yawn-inducing endorsement.

And as for poor judgement, not to mention bad taste and gaucherie: Powell likes hip-hop. Need we say more?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Archbishop Chaput on Obama

From the AP:
Denver Roman Catholic Archbishop Charles Chaput labeled Barack Obama the "most committed" abortion-rights candidate from a major party in 35 years while accusing a Catholic Obama ally and other Democratic-friendly Catholic groups of doing a "disservice to the church."

"To suggest — as some Catholics do — that Senator Obama is this year's 'real' pro-life candidate requires a peculiar kind of self-hypnosis, or moral confusion, or worse."


In Chaput's own words:

Three Simple Questions

From Live Science:

The survey, conducted between April 30 and June 1 by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, measured the political knowledge of 3,612 U.S. adults. Participants were asked to name the controlling party of the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. secretary of state and Great Britain's prime minister.

Overall, just 18 percent of participants answered all three questions correctly.

Pathetic. Less than a few weeks from the election, a revelation of American ignorance this severe is less than encouraging.


Friday, October 17, 2008

Lewis on the Greatness of Friendship

It always benefits me to revisit passages in anything penned by C.S. Lewis. One of my favorites is his timeless work, The Four Loves. The sources and objects of affection, friendship, eros and charity are explained with striking clarity and brilliance. Lewis' section on friendship enlightened me greatly when I first came upon it and returning to his observations is a task I dutifully and gladly take up from time to time. That friendship exists not only between persons, both human and angelic, but between man and God Himself is something to ponder. Lewis traces the divine origins and destiny of true friendship in the passage that follows:
True friendship is the least jealous of loves. Two friends delight to be joined by a third, and three by a fourth, if only the newcomer is qualified to become a real friend. They can say, as the blessed souls in Dante, "Here comes one who will augment our loves." For in this "to love is not to take away." ... we possess each friend not less but more as the number of those with whom we share him increases. In this, Friendship exhibits a glorious "nearness by resemblance" to Heaven itself where the very multitude of the blessed increases the fruition which each has of God. For every soul, seeing Him in her own way, doubtless communicates that unique vision to all the rest. That, says an old author, is why the Seraphim in Isaiah's vision are crying "Holy, Holy, Holy" to one another (Isaiah VI, 3.) The more we share the Heavenly Bread between us, the more we shall all have. -C.S. Lewis

Joe the Plumber Brings Back Reagan

Amity Shlaes discusses how an Ohio plumber named Joe Wurzelbacher reignited conservative passion. Wurzelbacher stood up to Obama by questioning his redistributist economic plan that would, despite his protestations to the contrary, heavily burden small business owners.


Here's a clip of the Joe/Barack exchange: