Thursday, September 30, 2010

Newman for Today

"How many are the souls, in distress, anxiety or loneliness, whose one need is to find a being to whom they can pour out their feelings unheard by the world? Tell them out they must; they cannot tell them out to those whom they see every hour. They...wish to tell them to one who is strong enough to bear them, yet not too strong to despise them; they wish to tell them to one who can at once advise and can sympathize with them; they wish to relieve themselves of a load, to gain solace...If there is a heavenly idea in the Catholic Church, surely, next after the Blessed Sacrament, Confession is such." -Blessed John Henry Newman, Lectures on the Present Position of Catholics in England

"Owned by China"

Another sobering report, this time from CNBC:
The US supremacy as the top world economy will end sooner than many people believe, so gold is a better investment than the dollar despite it hitting a new record, Tom Winnifrith, CEO at financial services firm Rivington Street Holdings, told Monday.

The US trade deficit and debt continue to grow and the authorities are reluctant to address the problem, preferring to print money, Winnifrith said.

"America is practically owned by China," he said.

He reminded of the fact that in 1900, sterling was the world's reserve currency but by 1948, that was no longer the case as the British Empire collapsed.

"America is doing what Britain did," Winnifrith said. "America spends much more than it can afford and it's not addressing the issue."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Taxes, etc.

What did the founders think about the income tax?

The present debate about tax policy is dizzying. It's not that the answer is difficult. Anyone enrolled in econ. 101 will know that raising taxes (even/especially on the job creators, i.e., the "rich") in the economy that we're in is a toxic pill. It's the accretions in the form of rehashed talking points that have been heaped onto the discussion that make the debate so much more tedious.

Dr. William Luckey gets to the bottom line and the fundamental question regarding income taxes in this fine piece, appearing on his blog:
For the sake of the conservatives, let us return to principle. The original Constitution explicitly prohibited “capitation” taxes, that is, taxes on people (caput is Latin for head). There were not supposed to be any income taxes, and all government revenue would come from the states apportioned by population. The states had to raise the money, which means that they had to hear the complaints about high taxes. Since the senators were appointed by the state legislators, the states had a direct line into Congress. If the tax bill given to the state was too high, the senators would vote against it. Note how this would strictly limit the spending of the government. It could not reach into your pocket and just take the money it wanted for whatever project it wanted, or to “regulate the economy.” ...

The principle that liberals and conservatives miss is not the pragmatic one about whether we should raise taxes during a recession, or how to close the budget gap, or should we punish the rich for their success. The principle is, “Does government have the right to tell you what to do with your income?” The founders would say, “NO.” Things like sales taxes or tariffs, aside from their economic inadvisability, are voluntary, because you can decide not to buy the product or service. Income tax is not voluntary. To test this theory, just don’t pay your taxes and see what happens.

Do we hear anyone on the political stage even approaching this argument?

Gauging Obama

A thought-provoking piece by Elieen McGann. I hope she's correct.
Comparisons of Barack Obama’s presidency to Jimmy Carter’s miss the point. Carter’s presidency did little to change the basic party construct of the nation or to influence its ideology. Reagan’s presidency accomplished both.

But Barack Obama is destroying the Democratic party. It may not recover for a long time. In this, he most closely resembles a synthesis of the failed candidacy of George McGovern and the catastrophic presidency of Herbert Hoover. The damage he is doing to his party’s image and prospects closely resembles the harm Hoover did to the Republican party, from which it did not recover for 20 years after he left office. And the extent to which Obama is discrediting the Left parallels the damage George McGovern did to his ideological confreres in 1972, when he went down to flaming defeat.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Catholics in the Dark

From the Associated Press:
A new survey of Americans' knowledge of religion found that atheists, agnostics, Jews and Mormons outperformed Protestants and Roman Catholics in answering questions about major religions, while many respondents could not correctly give the most basic tenets of their own faiths.

Forty-five percent of Roman Catholics who participated in the study didn't know that, according to church teaching, the bread and wine used in Holy Communion is not just a symbol, but becomes the body and blood of Christ.

More than half of Protestants could not identify Martin Luther as the person who inspired the Protestant Reformation. And about four in 10 Jews did not know that Maimonides, one of the greatest rabbis and intellectuals in history, was Jewish.

The survey released Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life aimed to test a broad range of religious knowledge, including understanding of the Bible, core teachings of different faiths and major figures in religious history. The U.S. is one of the most religious countries in the developed world, especially compared to largely secular Western Europe, but faith leaders and educators have long lamented that Americans still know relatively little about religion...

Atheists and agnostics scored highest, with an average of 21 correct answers [out of 32 questions], while Jews and Mormons followed with about 20 accurate responses. Protestants overall averaged 16 correct answers, while Catholics followed with a score of about 15.

In the wake of Cardinal Newman's beatification, the results of this survey are sobering, to say the least. What would this great educator and scholar say about this? Where across America have his "ideas" of a Catholic university been imbibed? We hear so much ballyhoo from the Catholic cognoscenti about the high standards and excellence of Catholic schools in America. What a complete joke! The results of this survey should (but probably won't) serve as a clarion call for bishops in this country to finally get serious about Catholic identity in schools. This is an embarrassment. And what does this survey tell us about what most pastors are preaching from the pulpit on Sundays? Surely doctrine isn't among the topics brought up.

You can read the entire survey here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mourning in America

Kind of depressing, but hardly inaccurate.

The Support Deficit

From CNN:
(CNN) – A new national poll suggests that a majority of Americans are considering voting against President Barack Obama in 2012, but the survey indicates Obama would come out on top if Sarah Palin is the Republican presidential nominee.

According to Politico/George Washington University Battleground poll, 38 percent of those questioned say Obama deserves reelection as president, with 44 percent saying they will vote to replace Obama, 13 percent saying they will consider voting for someone else, and six percent unsure.

The results of the survey are similar to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey conducted early last month, in which 45 percent of registered voters said they would back Obama for re-election with 50 percent saying they would back the Republican presidential nominee.

Rallying the Troops

From the New York Times:
On Tuesday, the president is scheduled to hold an old-fashioned campaign rally on the campus of the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Party officials said they expected thousands to cram onto Library Mall, an outside setting, to see Mr. Obama.

A senior Democratic Party strategist said the event would be the biggest political rally since the end of the campaign and is meant to recapture “some of the old excitement and energy from the 2008 campaign that was so essential to Obama’s and Democrats’ success.”

The strategist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the thinking behind the new approach, said the White House was also trying to leverage the single event with more than 200 “watch parties” across the country, much as Mr. Obama’s campaign did two years ago.

It is characteristic of Obama and his busybody team of spin doctors to have recourse to a staged parlor trick to "energize" a diminished base. Only this time, unlike during the campaign, the aura and mystique are gone. Obama will surely get a nice sized crowd for the pep rally, but those showing up are followers who would support him no matter what. The questions remains: Just what will they be celebrating at their bonanza? The near 10% unemployment rate? The fact that one in six Americans relies on government support? The fact that one in seven Americans lives in poverty? The fact that approval for Congress and Obama is at an all-time low? Or is it the nation's incomprehensibly high national debt?

Patrolling the Border

A remarkable 60 Minutes clip documenting the day to day life of soldiers stationed along the Afghan border.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Midwest Goes Red

Better late than never, I suppose.

From Politico:
From Ohio to Iowa, there’s a yawning stretch of heartland states whose citizens voted for Obama and congressional Democrats in 2008, but who have lost patience waiting for an as-yet undelivered economic revival that was first promised in 2006, and then two years later. Now, they look set to stampede toward the out-of-power party.

“There's little doubt that the Midwest is the Democrats' toughest region this year,” Democratic pollster Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling wrote on the firm’s website Friday, adding that the firm is also finding an enthusiasm gap of about 10 points down from what existed in 2008.

“If the election was today the party would almost certainly lose the Governorships it holds in Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. It's also more than likely at this point to lose the Senate seats it has in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Indiana, miss out on a once promising pick up opportunity in Ohio, and quite possibly lose their seat in Illinois as well. And there are too many House seats the party could lose in the region to count,” Jensen noted.

Plenty of Room to Grow

From the Associated Press:
MEETEETSE, Wyo. – Plans by a group of Roman Catholic hermit monks to erect an outsized monastery in northern Wyoming have pitted neighbor against neighbor and aroused debate with religious undertones.

At the center of the Wyoming controversy is a remote ranch where the Monks of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary of Mt. Carmel want to build a 144,000-square-foot French Gothic-style monastery and coffee roasting barn. The monastery will feature a church that seats 150, with one spire rising 150 feet.

The proposal triggered a clash between ranchers who live miles apart, trying to protect their quiet, rural open spaces, and the hermit monks who live a secluded, Spartan life of prayer and meditation and are looking for more room to meet their expanding order and maintain their privacy.

Learn more about these Carmelite monks here.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Boys to Men

How do you get boys to read, not just any book, but worthwhile books? In this fascinating article appearing in The Wall Street Journal, Thomas Spence recalls the classical purpose of reading, i.e., "training for freedom" and distinguishes it from the modern notion of simply transmitting information, whatever that information may be.

He laments the degree to which so many educators and publishers today have endeavored to connect with boys via boorish literature, thus stooping down to "meet them where they are" rather than elevate their minds and challenging them to be real men, in other words, to grow up and become gentlemen.

Dr. Robert Weis, a psychology professor at Denison University, confirmed this suspicion in a randomized controlled trial of the effect of video games on academic ability. Boys with video games at home, he found, spend more time playing them than reading, and their academic performance suffers substantially. Hard to believe, isn't it, but Science has spoken.

The secret to raising boys who read, I submit, is pretty simple—keep electronic media, especially video games and recreational Internet, under control (that is to say, almost completely absent). Then fill your shelves with good books...

I offer a final piece of evidence that is perhaps unanswerable: There is no literacy gap between home-schooled boys and girls. How many of these families, do you suppose, have thrown grossology parties?

The New Peasant Society

A thoughtful piece from Victor Davis Hanson, writing for National Review Online:
Traditional peasant societies believe in only a limited amount of good. The more your neighbor earns, the less someone else gets. Profits are seen as a sort of theft; they must be either hidden or redistributed. Envy, rather than admiration of success, reigns.

In contrast, Western civilization began with a very different, ancient Greek idea of an autonomous citizen, not an indentured serf or subsistence peasant. The small, independent landowner — if he was left to his own talents, and if his success was protected by, and from, government — would create new sources of wealth for everyone. The resulting greater bounty for the poor soon trumped their old jealousy of the better-off.

Citizens of ancient Greece and Italy soon proved more prosperous and free than either the tribal folk to the north and west or the imperial subjects to the south and east. The success of later Western civilization in general, and America in particular, is a testament to this legacy of the freedom of the individual in the widest political and economic sense.

We seem to be forgetting that lately — though Mao Zedong’s redistributive failures in China, or present-day bankrupt Greece, should warn us about what happens when government tries to enforce an equality of result rather than equality of opportunity.

Attempt at an Adult Conversation

Rep. Paul Ryan tries to talk seriously about the very real problems we face in this troubled, listless economy. Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, spewing out rehashed, utterly predictable talking points, clearly is not interested.

The overarching difference between conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats: adult vs. adolescent.

The Gathering Storm

"Barack Obama: the Great Unravelling of a One-Term President"

The title of this provocative piece from the Telegraph says it all.
The president can't stop blaming George W Bush for anything that goes wrong but it will be the current rather than the former president who Democrats will take to task after November...

Obama scarcely helped himself this week when he responded in a CNBC "town hall" event to a black woman who said she was "exhausted of defending you" by prefacing his answer with "as I said before" – code for "you're clearly too dumb to have understood me the first time".

In the meantime, Obama's Democratic allies on Capitol Hill are either running away as fast as they can from the president or curling up in the fetal position by postponing a congressional vote on whether to extend the Bush tax cuts – a move that makes them look both weak and cowardly.

For the first time, and despite the fact that no credible Republican candidate for 2012 has yet emerged, Obama is looking like a one-term president while one-party rule in Washington is in its death throes.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Islam and Freedom of Speech

A worthwhile story to read, from FoxNews:
The mere act of criticizing Islam has become an act of politically incorrect hate speech, a media analyst and free-speech advocate says, citing several incidents in recent weeks where people have been lambasted publicly for their remarks.

"We're living in a 'here and now' where no one's allowed to say anything bad about Islam, it seems," says Dan Gainor, vice president of business and culture at the Media Research Center.

An Explanation

Rep. Paul Ryan outlines the new Republican plan for America. No one does it better.

Cor ad cor loquitur

"Heart speaks unto heart." That is the motto chosen by Blessed John Henry Newman after having been named Cardinal by Pope Leo XIII.

In this beautiful homily, given on September 20th at Catholic University Church in Dublin, Fr. Gerard Deighan elaborates on what "heart speaks unto heart" meant for Newman, and what it should mean for us all.
God’s heart speaks to the heart of every man, and speaks to him in the depths of his heart. Newman will be remembered for many teachings, but for none more than his teaching about conscience. Of course this word is greatly misunderstood nowadays, as it was in Newman’s time. It is taken to mean a person’s own opinion. To follow your conscience is to do what you want. How different, and more profound, is Newman’s idea. For him, conscience is not the voice of man, but rather the voice of God which speaks in man’s heart. To be a man of conscience is to be someone who has learnt to recognise that voice, and listen to it, and to follow its promptings. It was by following his conscience in this sense that Newman was led to abandon his native Anglicanism and become a Catholic, despite the huge personal sacrifices this involved. How he stands as a model and inspiration for us in this regard! We must learn to be more quiet, to hush our own inner voice, our noisy thoughts, and to listen to God’s voice within us. We must seek to find the truth to which that voice directs us, setting aside all falsehoods we may have listened to before, and all mere shadows of the truth: ex umbris et imaginibus in veritatem. And we must do this no matter what the personal cost.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Republicans will unveil their plan, entitled a "Pledge to America," today in Virginia. The 21-page manifesto consists of numerous commitments to the American people by lawmakers over how Congress and this nation will be governed, should the Republicans take charge in January.

Read more about it here, from the editors of National Review Online:
All year long, conservatives have been pressuring Republicans to release a Contract with America for 2010 — an updated version of the campaign platform that the party unveiled before its 1994 sweep of Congress. Thursday morning, Republican congressmen are responding to that pressure by making a “Pledge to America.” The inevitable question will be: Is the pledge as bold as the Contract?

The answer is: The pledge is bolder. The Contract with America merely promised to hold votes on popular bills that had been bottled up during decades of Democratic control of the House. The pledge commits Republicans to working toward a broad conservative agenda that, if implemented, would make the federal government significantly smaller, Congress more accountable, and America more prosperous.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Establishment and the Tea Party

Andrew McCarthy, writing for National Review Online, does an excellent job explaining the stakes in this year's midterm election. Interestingly, his focus is not Republican vs. Democrat, but tea party America vs. establishment politicos of both parties, especially Republicans.
The “establishment” exists precisely because there is a professional political class. GOP leadership has come to accept — to revel in — the same basic conceit that animated Woodrow Wilson and FDR, and that guides Obama: Modern society is too big, too complex, and too judicialized to be hamstrung by so obsolete a notion as federalism, or to be managed by so quaint a figure as the citizen-legislator. From this perspective, government is a profession. It is a life’s calling in which wonkish mastery of how it works counts for more than what one would have it do...

Control of Congress is not what inspires them [tea party]. The Republicans had control of Congress when the seeds were sown for much of what now ails us: for the prescription-drug entitlement that begat Obamacare; for the auto-company bailout that begat Obama-motors; for the stimulus that begat the deluge; for the TARP that begat the very slush-fund antics TARP opponents warned against; for the McCain Amendment that begat the Mirandizing of terrorists; etc. At every turn, the GOP-controlled Congress — at the urging of weathervane RINOs and a punditocracy consumed by tactical politics at the expense of limited-government principle — was Big Government Lite. (And “lite” is used advisedly here, for it is lite only by comparison to the monstrosity to which it gave way). That President Obama has made a canyon of the hole we were in does not mean he’s wrong when he says Republican leadership drove us “into a ditch.”

Pushing the "Ignore" Button

From Politico:
Late last week, President Barack Obama endorsed dozens of House Democratic incumbents and candidates across the political map. The news was easy to miss, however, because so few of them sought to publicize their presidential seal of approval.

The endorsements were sent by the president’s campaign arm, Organizing for America, to lists of supporters, urging them to go “door to door” in support of vulnerable House Democrats. While the idea was to gin up enthusiasm for Democratic incumbents and candidates — rather than to generate media attention — many of the beneficiaries chose not to recognize the endorsement at all, avoiding any public reference to it. Some went so far as to make clear that they didn’t seek the endorsement.

Whitewashing Danger

Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson may have known years ago about the deadly risks of its birth control patch Ortho Evra, according to internal documents obtained by NBC News.

Patient reports between 2002 and 2004 show that Ortho Evra was 12 times more likely to cause strokes and 18 times more likely to cause blood clots than the conventional birth control pill, NBC News' TODAY show revealed Wednesday.

When Ortho Evra first hit the market in 2002, it was a big hit. "Time" magazine called it one of the best inventions of the year and doctors have written nearly 40 million prescriptions for it. But as sales surged, so did claims of injury and even death.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Reid, Gaga Thwarted

More good news today, from Washington.

From the Associated Press
WASHINGTON — A Senate bill to repeal the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy was defeated Tuesday, a major setback for gay groups that saw the vote as their last chance this year to overturn the 17-year-old ban.

Two Arkansas Democrats, Sens. Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln, voted with Republicans to block the measure, which was attached to a military spending bill.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., also voted 'no' for procedural reasons. The final vote was 56-43.

Advocates had been optimistic that the Democratic-controlled White House and Congress could overcome objections to repeal of the law barring gays from serving openly in the military. The move is unpopular among Republicans, military officers and social conservatives.

But in the end, Senate Democrats fell short of the 60 votes needed to limit debate and advance the legislation.

Feingold Falling

Russ Feingold, the arch-liberal Senator from America's dairyland, is watching his prospects for victory in November grow dimmer by the day. From National Review:
A new PPP/Daily Kos poll has Sen. Russ Feingold (D., Wis.) losing to Republican opponent Ron Johnson by eleven points. Johnson leads 52-41 among all respondents and 51-40 among independents. He is also drawing eleven percent of Democrats and 18 percent of 2008 Obama voters to his cause.

To see him exit stage right would be another cause for jubilation on November 2.

Saint Matthew, Called

Caravaggio's The Calling of Saint Matthew

I have always found this painting, like so many of Caravaggio's works, captivating: the beam of light illuminating Christ and Saint Matthew, then Christ's gracefully outstretched arm (which precisely matches the hand and finger of God the Father, as He brings life to Adam in Michelangelo's Creation on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel), Saint Peter imitating Christ as he points over to call Matthew. It's all wonderful.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Disillusioned Supporters Confront Obama

Of course, none of us who voted for McCain are surprised by the countless failures and disasters emanating from this administration. It never ceases to amaze me that so many "intelligent" people followed this totally unqualified smoke and mirrors parlor trick from Chicago.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Westminster Side-by-Side

An interesting comparison of the set-up of the Cathedral for JPII's visit and that of BXVI. I found this in the Telegraph, again from Damian Thompson:


The high altar at which Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass yesterday was actually hidden behind a curtain for the 1982 Mass, which was celebrated by Pope John Paul II at a free-standing altar (now thankfully discarded) much nearer the congregation. In those days Bentley’s high altar was thought to be a beautiful anachronism, redolent of the supposedly defunct Tridentine Mass. (Little did they know…) And note that, in 1982, there was no question of decorating the altar with the enormous candlesticks used today, let alone a large crucifix confronting the Holy Father as he consecrated the Host. I think these would have been regarded as “obstructions” 28 years ago, when there was a much greater focus on the physical presence of the Pope: hence the mocked-up throne facing the people. Benedict XVI, in contrast, views tall candles as symbols drawing attention away from the personality of the celebrant, and the crucifix as an object that orientates (alas, not usually literally) the priest towards Calvary rather than the congregation. It will be very interesting to see whether Westminster Cathedral makes the crucifix a permanent feature of Mass on its altars, in accordance with the Pope’s wishes. I hope so, because today it gave many Catholics their first taste of truly Benedictine worship.

The Visit: Epilogue

Damian Thompson, writing for the Telegraph's Blog, offers an astute appraisal of the pope's visit to the United Kingdom.
There are so many things to say about this remarkably successful papal visit that I can’t fit them into one blog post. But if I had to produce an immediate response it would be delight that Pope Benedict is no longer a stranger to the British people. They know him now; their curiosity has been aroused by his powerful message and their hearts warmed by his perfect manners and grandfatherly little grin. David Cameron has just made this clear in his speech at the airport: we have heard you, he told the Pontiff, adding that “you have challenged the whole country to sit up and think”.

Consider the failure of the “Protest the Pope” stunt yesterday. On a sunny afternoon, in a city of 10 million people, a crowd of fewer than 10,000 protestors followed the anti-Catholic bandwagon. Richard Dawkins, Johann Hari, Stephen Fry et al may regard that as a good result, but if (at most) one Londoner in a thousand takes to the streets to register disapproval at the use of their taxes to host the Pope, then I’d say the secularists have misjudged the public mood, wouldn’t you? And look at what a thin demographic sliver of the population they represented: mostly white, middle-class, metropolitan. (Needless to say, none of them could be bothered to make the trek up to Birmingham: the Pope may be the atheists’ Antichrist, but you mustn’t let your principles get in the way of a lazy Sunday morning cappuccino.)

Compare the protestors to the Catholics in Hyde Park: old Polish ladies, tweedy gents from the shires, African hospital cleaners, self-consciously cool teenagers, Filipino checkout assistants and, as one of my friends put it, “some rather tarty-looking traveller women who’d obviously had a glass or two”. They don’t call it the Catholic Church for nothing: if not a universal cross-section of humanity, it was a damn sight closer to it than the humanist smugfest.

The End of the Journey

The Telegraph featured a detailed relay of the important events of each day of the Pope's visit. Here are some that caught my attention today during the Liturgy and at the departure ceremony. Let's hope that bishops take special note of 12.19, 12.04, and 11.51.
18.41 Damian Thompson writes: "Such a gracious and enthusiastic message from David Cameron at the airport. The PM told the Pope that he made the whole nation sit up and think. Which was precisely Benedict's intention."

He adds: "Four days that changed Britain? Who knows. But these were four days that changed forever our perceptions of Pope Benedict XVI – and have immeasurably raised the spirits of Britain's Catholics."

12.19 Damian Thompson writes: "The Angelus and the final blessing in Latin – the Church in England and Wales is left in no doubt that the Pope wishes Latin to be integral to its worship from now on."

12.04 Damian Thompson writes: "The Pope asks that those who receive Holy Communion from him do so kneeling and on the tongue. That practice is regarded as antiquated by the vast majority of bishops and priests in England and Wales. Clearly the Holy Father is challenging them to reintroduce it, for in his opinion it is not antiquated but more in keeping with the humbling experience of encountering God in the Eucharist."

11.51 Damian Thompson writes: "Note that the Pope, like all priests, is reading aloud the words of the Mass, not reciting them from memory. The Church insists that the Mass is read, to preserve the text from corruption."

10.59 The Telegraph's Martin Beckford tells us: "It's worth mentioning that the rain stopped pretty much the minute that the Pope arrived in Cofton Park. There is a huge crowd considering they had to get up in middle of night to get coaches here, in grim weather, having paid £25. Stewards have to be there from midnight last night until 7pm tonight. They were searching everyone at the gates and I saw they had confiscated a can of Strongbow. Even the burger vans have closed reverentially during the Mass."

10.06 Telegraph Blogs editor Damian Thompson writes: "A non-Catholic colleague has just emailed me to say that he's fascinated by how well Benedict XVI relates to the British public. As he puts it, there's something attractive about the Pope's quiet but resolute views in an era of smooth populism and PR. Even if one disagrees with his views, his conviction is attractive."

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Major Victory for Freedom

This is very good news. From the Associated Press:
(AP) Characterizing their stalling as "politics at its worst," President Barack Obama says Republicans should quit blocking a bill to limit the amount of money corporations and unions can spend on campaign advertising.

At issue is a Supreme Court ruling in a case known as Citizens United. The court reversed a centurylong trend of limiting the power of big money in politics by saying corporations and unions may spend heavily to influence presidential and congressional elections.

"This is common sense," Mr. Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday. "In fact, this is the kind of proposal that Democrats and Republicans have agreed on for decades. Yet, the Republican leaders in Congress have so far said 'no.'"

Republicans, seen as mostly benefiting from the ruling, argue that Democrats are only trying to protect themselves with the bill.

The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives has passed legislation to scale back the ruling and require greater disclosure by donors. Senate Republicans have blocked it and it's unlikely that the Senate will act on the measure in time to affect the Nov. 2 elections, when control of the House and Senate is at stake, along with 37 governorships.

President Obama said a partisan minority in Congress wants to "ride this wave of unchecked influence all the way to victory" on Nov. 2.

Really, what Citizens United is all about is FREEDOM OF SPEECH, for individuals and for groups of individuals (liberals always use their favorite bogeyman nomenclature "corporations" to mean an association of individuals.) When you cut through all the rhetoric and histrionics from Obama, it's about the Democrats who favor controlling/limiting who can say what and when they can say it, and the majority on the Supreme Court who, along with the founding fathers, favor freedom.

The president, along with his allies in Congress, had hoped to undo the court's ruling. They failed.


In 1930, Edith Hamilton penned an extraordinary book entitled The Greek Way. She fills its pages with brilliant observations on the unrivaled contributions to Western culture by the ancient Greeks. Her reflections on Socrates are particularly inspiring.
His own mission, Socrates believed, was to open men's eyes to their ignorance and to lead them on to where they could catch a glimpse of the eternal truth and goodness beneath life's confusions and futilities, when they would inevitably, irresistibly, seek for a fuller and fuller vision of it.

Aristotle says happiness is activity of the soul. That defines precisely Socrates' way of making men happy...So he would sting into activity the souls of men to test their lives, confident that when they found them utterly unsatisfying they would be driven to seek what would satisfy.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The New Intolerance

Frank Furedi does an excellent job in revealing the real motivations behind the fanatical opposition on the part of the radical secularists to the Pope's visit to Great Britain. He's no expert in Catholicism, but he nevertheless offers a searing and fascinating critique of the bizarre fringe elements presently raising Cain over the historic visit.
Historically, religious intolerance was focused on denouncing deviant theological beliefs – for example the heresy of Pelagianism or Tritheism. Of course we still have this form of traditional intolerance today, but we now also have to contend with its younger cousin: intolerance towards religion. Increasingly, religion is indicted for taking its own doctrines too seriously – that is, for being a religion. Today’s opportunistic atheists even take it upon themselves to get stuck into the theological controversies of religions that they actually despise. So critics who claim to hate the pope go out of their way to reassure ordinary, genuine Catholics that they are only targeting Catholic leaders who force their traditional dogma on the church. Emulating the cavalier manner in which Western politicians explain to their Muslim constituents what true Islam means, anti-papal crusaders tell ordinary Catholics that they are on the same side and should all join in the battle against the forces of evil.

But of course, these secular moralisers are not really interested in the intricacies of theological disputes; they merely want to exploit them. Their mission is to call into question the moral integrity of their opponents, by depicting them as a malevolent force that violates the elementary norms of contemporary society. This is not theological criticism – instead the Catholic Church is denounced for the alleged threat that it poses to morality and health.

The Address

Standing in the same ornate room where Saint Thomas More once stood, Pope Benedict XVI addressed hundreds of the United Kingdom's political elite gathered in Westminster Hall.

Romney Unloads on Obama

The Pope's speech today at Saint Mary's University College at Twickenham:

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Assessing the State of Things

Watch this clip for a reassuring perspective.

The Homily

The Telegraph posted the text of the Holy Father's homily from the Mass he celebrated at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow, Scotland.
The evangelisation of culture is all the more important in our times, when a 'dictatorship of relativism' threatens to obscure the unchanging truth about man's nature, his destiny and his ultimate good.

There are some who now seek to exclude religious belief from public discourse, to privatise it or even to paint it as a threat to equality and liberty.

Yet religion is in fact a guarantee of authentic liberty and respect, leading us to look upon every person as a brother or sister.

For this reason I appeal in particular to you, the lay faithful, in accordance with your baptismal calling and mission, not only to be examples of faith in public, but also to put the case for the promotion of faith's wisdom and vision in the public forum.

Society today needs clear voices which propose our right to live, not in a jungle of self-destructive and arbitrary freedoms, but in a society which works for the true welfare of its citizens and offers them guidance and protection in the face of their weakness and fragility.

Do not be afraid to take up this service to your brothers and sisters, and to the future of your beloved nation.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Visit

This is an excellent piece in the Telegraph on the Holy Father's visit to the UK.

Every president and prime minister should read it.
Secularism is at the heart of Benedict's concerns. By this the Pope does not mean the delimitation of Church and State, the sacred and profane – which is intrinsic to Christian culture as well as political society since the Reformation – but the amnesiac eradication of one of the principal roots of Western civilisation and the deliberate marginalisation of all religion to the private sphere. In its stead has come a society that thinks its existential despairs can be ameliorated by limitless consumer goods, or worse, by a state that racks up fathomless amounts of debt so as to throw money at problems that may have no material resolution...

Finally, Benedict has set himself against another tenet in the liberal creed, that of relativistic multiculturalism, thereby inviting upon himself the murderous attentions of what purports to be a religion of peace. Anyone looking at the raging, bearded faces we regularly see in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Luton and Walthamstow can surely agree – as did Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah – that parts of Islam have a major problem with the synthesis of religion and reason which has become normative in the West.

There cannot be a "dialogue" with Islam until there is meaningful reciprocity of such religious freedoms as the right to open places of worship or to convert without fear of death. To underline that, Benedict used St Peter's Basilica to receive the Italian Muslim convert Magdi Allam into the faith. Let's hope that this serious man's message about the West in the world manages to come across clearly, despite all the efforts that will be made to obscure it by liberals whose ears have long been closed.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"Young Gun" Conservatives on Today

Not the best interview in my opinion, due to time constraints, but worth a watch.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


From Politico:
2010 Is ‘Gone,’ Says Big-Time Dem

“He cannot save 2010,” the big-time Democrat is saying of Barack Obama. “It is gone. He must now concentrate on saving 2012. But the biggest fear of some of those close to him is that he might not really want to go on in 2012, that he might not really care.”

In my experience, the big-time Democrat has hardly ever been wrong. He does not dislike President Obama. On the contrary, like most big-time Democrats, he worked hard for his election in 2008 and would much rather see Democrats hold onto Congress this Nov. 2 than lose.

He just doesn’t think it’s going to happen. A few months ago, he told me Democrats could win the House in a squeaker and also retain the Senate. We talked again a few days ago, and things had changed.

“There is going to be a total wipeout, and it is totally going to be in Obama’s lap,” he said. “He should drop plans for Congress and plan for Nov. 3 and what he does next.”

Monday, September 13, 2010

Throwing open the doors to...well, some people

After several years of work, the Vatican is showing off its newly refitted library for the 21st century. From the Associated Press:
VATICAN CITY – The Vatican's Apostolic Library is reopening to scholars following a three-year, euro9-million ($11.5- million) renovation to install climate-controlled rooms for its precious manuscripts and state-of-the-art security measures to prevent theft and loss.

The library, started by Pope Nicholas V in the 1450s, houses one of the world's best collections of illuminated manuscripts. It includes the oldest known complete Bible, dating from about 325 and believed to have been one of the 50 bibles commissioned by Emperor Constantine, the first Christian Roman leader.

It reopens its frescoed halls to scholars Sept. 20. Library officials took pains to note that the renovation work was completed on time — a rarity in Italy but also an acknowledgment of the inconvenience the three-year closure caused many scholars who had to suspend their research while its collections of tens of thousands of volumes were in storage...

Some 4,000 to 5,000 scholars are given permission to conduct research in the library every year; access is generally restricted to academics conducting post-graduate level research. None of the items in the library can be checked out, and rules for working inside are strict: No pens, food or even mineral water are allowed in the manuscript reading room.

Election Season 2010

Pelosi as the Wicked Witch? Kind of funny, but a little crazy. I don't know what this says about the level of discourse in our society. Actually, I do know.

The Choice this Fall

In this piece, appearing in The Wall Street Journal, Rep. Paul Ryan and Arthur Brooks outline the clear choice facing Americans this November.
Millions of Americans instinctively look to our leaders for a defense of our culture of free enterprise. Instead, we get more and more publicly funded gewgaws and shiny government novelties to distract us. For example, the administration stills touts the success of programs such as "Cash for Clunkers" in handing out borrowed money to citizens while propping up a favored industry. Yet Rasmussen found 54% of Americans opposed the program (only 35% favored it). Plenty of people may have availed themselves of that notorious boondoggle, but a large majority understand we were basically just asking our children (who will have to pay the $3 billion back) to buy us new cars—and that's not right.

More and more Americans are catching on to the scam. Every day, more see that the road to serfdom in America does not involve a knock in the night or a jack-booted thug. It starts with smooth-talking politicians offering seemingly innocuous compromises, and an opportunistic leadership that chooses not to stand up for America's enduring principles of freedom and entrepreneurship.

Talking Taxes on the Senate Floor

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell lights into the Democrats in this clip.

"Only in Washington could someone propose a tax hike as an antidote to a recession." -Mitch McConnell

Sunday, September 12, 2010

On Wisdom

An Audience in Athens During Agamemnon by Aeschylus, Sir William Blake Richmond 1884, Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery/Bridgeman Art Library.

"God, whose law it is that he who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget, falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despite, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God." -Aeschylus

Taxing the Rich

What are the real consequences of punishing the wealthy via higher taxes? It makes for a good soundbite for a populist demagogue like Obama, but for those interested in serious economic analysis, what are the implications of this sort of move?


G. Will and A. Huffington debate the economy and the mid-term elections.

Like Father, Like Son

Without a doubt, this is the best article I've come across on Barack Obama. Written by Dinesh D'Souza, it appears in Forbes. D'Souza's basic thesis is that the only way to understand the enigma of Obama's mind and his worldview is to understand the life and vision of his father.

I am reluctant to excerpt a paragraph or two because all of it deserves to be read. It is not too long, so please, read it.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fair Treatment

Virtually every article I've read in various British papers on the topic of the Holy Father's visit to the UK has been heavily saturated with negativity and suspicion, in other words, pretty much what you'd expect to find in the periodicals of a nation that had rabid anti-Catholicism on the books for centuries.

This piece, appearing in the Telegraph, and written by Eamon Duffy, is surprisingly balanced.
The young Ratzinger was a reform-minded theological liberaliser. As Pope, he is anxious in the face of a culture seemingly in the process of shedding its inherited Christian values. He has come to believe that the Church itself took a wrong turn in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, absorbing a naive secular optimism which underestimated human capacity for evil, and eroding in the process the power and distinctiveness of the Christian message. He favours a Church more sharply defined around clearer certainties, even at the price of a shrinkage in numbers and popularity. In 2007 he gave symbolic expression to these concerns by restoring the use of the old Latin Mass, to the dismay of many of the world’s bishops who were not consulted.

His Christianity is by no means all gloom: he has surprised those who thought of him as “God’s rottweiler” with two encyclicals which are profound and beautiful meditations on the virtues of love and of hope. His public utterances are subtler and more nuanced than his critics allow. But nuance translates badly into media-speak, and Benedict lacks the art of the soundbite. As a communicator of challengingly counter-cultural ideas, he has proved accident-prone.

The Pope will speak in Westminster Hall from the spot on which St Thomas More was condemned to death for his refusal to renounce the papacy and recognise Henry VIII as head of a purely English national church. The resonances of that heroic defiance are overwhelming, as is the mere fact of the Pope’s presence at the symbolic heart of a nation whose identity for centuries focussed itself round the vigorous repudiation of papal authority. The invitation to speak in Westminster Hall suggests that, five centuries after the Reformation, the Pope is perceived as having something worth hearing to say about the values that shape and bind British civil society.

Korans and Beer Summits

Victor Davis Hanson, writing for National Review Online:
We are reaching the point where the damage done to America’s image by 50 book-burners is outweighed by the damage done by hypersensitivity on the part of the United States government, which hopes to assuage the hurt feelings of those abroad who equate that tiny number with our culture at large — often in an abjectly hypocritical fashion. We know where this leads — to endless efforts to micromanage all elements of American life to protect the sensitivities of those who, by act and deed, are far more intolerant of different religions and cultures.

Already we’ve seen the omnipresent Imam Rauf suggest that, if he were not to get his selfish way, then nebulous, omnipotent radical forces abroad would be upset, and consequences for our troops would follow. His time would be far better spent either lecturing Saudi financiers to stop funding hate-filled madrassas and mosques or, even better, galvanizing world opinion over the carnage in Chechnya, where Russians used a level of violence against Muslims in Grozny that we have not seen since Mr. Assad leveled Hama.

If our leaders don’t relax, cool it, and stop these weird presidential “teachable moments” and all this stooping to editorialize about local irrelevancies (cf. the beer summit, the Tony Robbins–like escapades of the ubiqutious Imam Rauf, the line about Arizona law enforcement supposedly deporting the innocent “out to get ice cream,” etc.), we will devolve to the level of psychodrama. Indeed, this brilliantly entrepreneurial book-burning pastor has taken our government down to that level as it is.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Illusive "Recovery"

Professor William Luckey wrote an informative article on the lamentable economic situation facing the nation, and the pervasive lies spouted by politicians which have prevented so many Americans from accurately diagnosing the source of the problem. More and more though, people are catching on.

From the Catholic News Agency:
...the Keynesian-Obama solution is to pump money into the economy from deficit spending and/or money created out of nothing by the Federal Reserve Bank. The theory goes that an increase in liquidity will lower interest rates and make borrowing cheaper, so that business will be more likely to borrow and invest in capital goods, thus picking up production and employing workers again. Problem number one with this theory is that the lower the interest rate, the less people are likely to save, because their return is not worth the lower time preference. Secondly, the Keynesian-Obamaites do not understand that people learn from previous events...

So the Obama administration came up with bailouts. And what did the banks do with the money given them by the federal government? They covered the losses in their balance sheets caused by the widespread defaults, instead of what Obama thought they would do—lend the money out again.

To make matters worse, the Democratic administration has created a period of great uncertainty with the great deficits, threats of soaking the rich (that is, soaking the movers and shakers of the economy), and the massive health care "reform." So nothing in the economy is moving. Entrepreneurs are afraid to begin projects, savers are unwilling to lend, and people are unwilling to borrow for or buy even a cheap house. In Detroit (that gem of liberal politician successes), there are houses that go for a few thousand dollars—and no one will buy them.

Medal of Honor

From the Associated Press:
DES MOINES, Iowa – A 25-year-old soldier from Iowa who exposed himself to enemy gunfire to try to save two fellow soldiers will become the first living service member from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to receive the Medal of Honor, the White House announced Friday.

President Barack Obama phoned Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, on Thursday at the base in Italy where he's stationed to tell him he'd be receiving the nation's highest military honor, Giunta's father told The Associated Press. He will become the eighth service member to receive the Medal of Honor during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The seven previous medals were awarded posthumously.

"It's bittersweet for us," said Steven Giunta, of Hiawatha. "We're very proud of Sal. We can't mention that enough, but in this event, two other soldiers were killed and that weighs heavy on us. You get very happy and very proud and then you start dealing with the loss as well. You can't have one without the other."

Giunta was serving as a rifle team leader with Company B 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment when an insurgent ambush split his squad into two groups on Oct. 25, 2007, in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan, the White House said in a news release.

Giunta went above and beyond the call of duty when he exposed himself to enemy fire to pull a fellow soldier back to cover. He engaged the enemy again when he saw two insurgents carrying away a wounded soldier, 22-year-old Sgt. Joshua C. Brennan, of McFarland, Wis. Giunta killed one insurgent and wounded the other before tending to Brennan, who died the next day.

"His courage and leadership while under extreme enemy fire were integral to his platoon's ability to defeat an enemy ambush and recover a fellow American soldier from enemy hands," the White House said.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Ryan's Roadmap

Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan's star has risen significantly over the past couple years. He faced down President Obama at the phony "health care summit" and, in my opinion, bested the One in a verbal joust, leaving the tongue-tied President flustered and fuming. (As a WI native, I proudly posted that episode on this blog. The above link will take you there.) The seemingly indefatigable Ryan has of late crafted a gutsy plan called The Roadmap, with the aim of tackling the monstrous problem of the national debt and the ticking time bomb that is Social Security.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel featured a nice article on Ryan and his ideas for the future. It is well-worth a read.
Ryan's plan is audacious in at least two ways. One is that it tries to tackle with great specificity the government's long-term debt and deficits, a problem that intimidates both parties because it requires doing very painful things, such as raising taxes or cutting Medicare.

In that sense, the Roadmap has taken on symbolic significance - and won a great deal of flattering attention - as a call-to-arms about the nation's finances.

The other reason it's audacious involves the particular solutions that Ryan is offering: deeply conservative remedies that provoke genuine ideological division.

Among them:

• A total makeover of Medicare for people now under the age of 55, replacing a guaranteed benefit with a federal voucher that individuals would use to help purchase private coverage.

• The option of personal investment accounts for younger Americans in place of the traditional Social Security system.

• Reductions in traditional Social Security benefits for many future recipients.

• Tax changes whose direct benefits go overwhelmingly to wealthier Americans, including no taxes on investment income and capital gains and the replacement of the corporate income tax with a tax on consumption.

"The plan identifies all the 'third rails' of politics and makes a beeline for them. It massacres sacred cows in slaughterhouse fashion. The audacity is remarkable," observed a USA Today editorial Monday.

Wisconsinites should be proud of this man. May he ascend to even loftier heights.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Next Week, the UK

Democrat Unhinged

One Democrat is feeling the heat.

Ted Strickland Unhinged from Republican Governors Association on Vimeo.

Catholics and Economics

Inside Catholic features a thought-provoking article by Jeffrey Tucker on the difficulty many Catholics face when the discussion turns to economics.
People who live and work primarily within the Catholic milieu are dealing mainly with goods of an infinite nature. These are goods like salvation, the intercession of saints, prayers of an infinitely replicable nature, texts, images, and songs that constitute non-scarce goods, the nature of which requires no rationing, allocation, and choices regarding their distribution.

None of these goods take up physical space. One can make infinite numbers of copies of them. They can be used without displacing other instances of the good. They do not depreciate with time. Their integrity remains intact no matter how many times they are used. Thus they require no economization. For that reason, there need to be no property norms concerning their use. They need not be priced. There is no problem associated with their rational allocation. They are what economists call "free goods."

If one exists, lives, and thinks primarily in the realm of the non-scarce good, the problems associated with scarcity -- the realm that concerns economics -- will always be elusive. To be sure, it might seem strange to think of things such as grace, ideas, prayers, and images as goods, but this term merely describes something that is desired by people. There are also things we might describe as non-goods, which are things that no one wants. So it is not really a point of controversy to use this term. What really requires explanation is the description of prayers, grace, text, images, and music as non-scarce goods that require no economization.

On presidents and dogs

Fred Thompson hit the nail on the head with this one. From Politico:
Former GOP presidential candidate Fred Thompson on Tuesday compared President Barack Obama’s treatment of the American people to a dog urinating on a fire hydrant.

Thompson’s comment came in response to Obama’s contention Monday that his Republican opponents “talk about me like a dog.”

“Obama: some people in DC ‘talk about me like a dog.’” Thompson wrote on his Twitter feed (@FredThompson). “Maybe it's because he keeps treating this country like a fire hydrant.”


Andrew McCarthy has written a timely piece appearing on National Review Online:
For the better part of two decades, Americans have been murdered by Islamists and then lectured that they are to blame for what has befallen them. We have been instructed in the need for special sensitivity to the unceasing demands of Islamic culture and falsely accused of intolerance by the people who wrote the book on intolerance. Americans have sacrificed blood and bottomless treasure for Islamic peoples who despise Americans — and despise us even more as our sacrifices and gestures of self-loathing intensify. Americans have watched as apologists for terrorists and sharia were made the face of an American Muslim community that we were simultaneously assured was the very picture of pro-American moderation.

Americans have had our fill. We are willing to live many lies. This one, though, strikes too close to home, arousing our heretofore dormant sense of decency. Americans have now heard Barack Obama’s shtick enough times to know that when he talks about “our values,” he’s really talking about his values, which most of us don’t share. And after ten years of CAIR’s tired tirades, we’re immune to Feisal Rauf, too.

We look around us and we see our country unrivaled by anything in the history of human tolerance. We see thousands of thriving mosques, permitted to operate freely even though we know for a fact that mosques have been used against us, repeatedly, to urge terrorism, recruit terrorists, raise money for terrorists, store and transfer firearms, and inflame Muslims against America and the West. As Islamists rage against us, we see Islam celebrated in official Washington. As we reach out for the umpty-umpth time, we find Muslim leaders taking what we offer, but always with complaint and never with reciprocation. We’re weary, and we don’t really care if that means that Time magazine, Michael Bloomberg, Katie Couric, Fareed Zakaria, and the rest think we’re bad people — they think we’re bad people, anyway.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Reasons for Optimism

First of all, apologies are in order for the break over the past week or so. Now refreshed, it sure feels good to be back and to find all these sunny headlines in the news. Take this one for example, from Politico: "Latest polls predict a blow-out loss for Democrats in November".

Puts a little pep in your step, doesn't it? Savor that one.

Somewhat more bookish, here's a well-written editorial that appeared today in The Wall Street Journal. It deftly tracks the history of the economic rut we've been in for the past few years. (Republicans under W. deserve their fair share of blame here.)
...the real roots of Mr. Obama's economic problems are intellectual and political. The Administration rejected marginal-rate tax cuts that worked in the 1960s and 1980s because they would have helped the rich, in favor of a Keynesian spending binge that has stimulated little except government. More broadly, Democrats purposely used the recession as a political opening to redistribute income, reverse the free-market reforms of the Reagan era, and put government at the commanding heights of economic decision-making.

Mr. Obama and the Democratic Congress have succeeded in doing all of this despite the growing opposition of the American people, who are now enduring the results. The only path back to robust growth and prosperity is to stop this agenda dead in its tracks, and then by stages to reverse it. These are the economic stakes in November.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Deliberate Omissions

Many conservatives rightly took umbrage at the president's listless, depressing Oval Office address to the nation last night. Douglas Feith, writing for National Review Online, offers a good critique here.
When President Obama spoke earlier in the day on August 31 to soldiers at Ft. Bliss, he made a notable acknowledgement that the war in Iraq had contributed to the well-being not only of Iraqis, but Americans too. He said that “because of the extraordinary service that all of you have done, and so many people here at Fort Bliss have done, Iraq has an opportunity to create a better future for itself, and America is more secure.”

America is more secure — now that’s a reason to remain committed in Iraq. That explains why Americans should not want to lose what was gained.

Strangely, in his primetime Oval Office speech carried on all the television news shows, the president chose to drop the comment that the war has made America more secure. In the corresponding paragraph of that later speech, all the president said was: “Because of our troops and civilians — and because of the resilience of the Iraqi people — Iraq has the opportunity to embrace a new destiny, even though many challenges remain.”

Evidently the president is not comfortable admitting that the war has made America more secure.

And why is that? One word: Pride

Doctors Unite

Dr. Hal Scherz is a highly respected pediatric urological surgeon who decided to organize with his peers in the profession to fight back against the dangers of ObamaCare.

From The Wall Street Journal: colleagues and I at Docs4PatientCare are enlisting thousands of doctors in an unorthodox and unprecedented action. Our patients have always expected a certain standard of care from their doctors, which includes providing them with pertinent information that may affect their quality of life. Because the issue this election is so stark—literally life and death for millions of Americans in the years ahead—we are this week posting a "Dear Patient" letter in our waiting rooms.

The letter states in unambiguous language what the new law means:

"Dear Patient: Section 1311 of the new health care legislation gives the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and her appointees the power to establish care guidelines that your doctor must abide by or face penalties and fines. In making doctors answerable in the federal bureaucracy this bill effectively makes them government employees and means that you and your doctor are no longer in charge of your health care decisions. This new law politicizes medicine and in my opinion destroys the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship that makes the American health care system the best in the world."