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Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Hallowe'en!

And to my Lutheran reader(s?), Happy Reformation Day! To help you celebrate, please enjoy this gratuitous, albeit clever, slam at us Catlicks.

95 Theses


If You Know What's Good For You...

Distinguished political scientist and military analyst Erica Jong, perky authoress of the classic 70s Bildungsroman Fear of Flying, gazes into her crystal ball:
If Obama loses it will spark the second American Civil War. Blood will run in the streets, believe me. And it's not a coincidence that President Bush recalled soldiers from Iraq for Dick Cheney to lead against American citizens in the streets.
Gee whiz, I know those on the left demur vigorously when their patriotism is questioned but just the same, I'm tempted to believe Miss Jong is issuing a threat as well as a prediction.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Efficient Market

I have been wondering whether it was only the credit crunch and bad mortgages that were pushing the market down so relentlessly these past weeks. George Newman of the Wall Street Journal suggests there is another factor: the upcoming election and its likely winner; the market is simply pricing in Barack Obama's victory. Newman asks some salient questions, including
- Have you thought of what a gradual doubling (and indexation) of the minimum wage, sailing through a veto-proof and filibuster-proof Congress, would do to inflation, unemployment and corporate profits? The market now has.

- Have you thought of how easily a Labor Department headed by a militant union boss would push through a "Transparency in Labor Relations" law that does away with secret ballots in strike votes, and what this would do to industrial peace? The market now has.

- Have you thought of how a Treasury Secretary George Soros would engineer the double taxation of the multinationals' world-wide profits, and what this would mean for investors (to say nothing of full-scale industrial flight from the U.S.)? The market now has.

- Have you thought of how an Attorney General Charles J. Ogletree would champion a trillion-dollar reparations-for-slavery project (whittled down, to be fair, to a mere $800-billion, over-10-years compromise), and what this would do to the economy? The market now has.

- Have you thought of what the virtual outlawing of arbitration -- exposing all industries to the fate of asbestos producers -- would do to corporate liability and legal bills? The market now has.
Read it all, Newman asks many more questions, some of them directed at John McCain (no stranger to populism himself), e.g. "If the rise in the price of oil from $70 to $140 was due to "greed" (the all-purpose explanation of the other side for every economic problem), was the fall from $140 to $70 due to a sudden outbreak of altruism?"

Of the two candidates, however, Obama is far more hostile to free markets, lower taxes and a friendly business climate. Since he is expected to win this election, the present Dow and S & P 500 indices could well be a a reasonable harbinger the costs of the upcoming assault on capitalism.

His Brother's Keeper

It seems the Times of London did something the American newspapers were unwilling to do: they went searching for the aunt Barack Obama writes so fondly of, Zeituni Onyango, in his apologia pro vita sua and found her living "in a disabled-access flat on a rundown public housing estate [housing project in Americanese] in South Boston." This is not quite the journalistic coup it might appear, the Times reporters probably just Googled her name, as I recently did, and her phone book listing popped right up with her address and number (no doubt it will be "disappeared" soon but it was there as of 9:26 this morning). Then again, British reporters, unlike their American counterparts, aren't beset with the all-consuming task getting the One into the White House.

In their travels, the Times also managed to find Barack's "Uncle Omar," who is also in a bad way, having once been beaten by "armed robbers with a 'sawed-off rifle' while working in a corner shop in the Dorchester area of the city. He was later evicted from his one-bedroom flat for failing to pay $2,324.20 (£1,488) arrears, according to the Boston Housing Court."

Well, so what, Obama's supporters will argue. Barack can hardly be expected to take responsibility for all the lost relatives who will, no doubt, come calling with tales of woe when he is elected president, can he? The answer, of course, is no. In the case of the two unfortunates above, however, it strikes me as more than a little galling that Obama is willing using them as props in his presidential campaign but, apparently, unwilling to use some his considerable income to ease their wretched conditions a bit; you know, to "spread the wealth around" a little. I guess, like most on the left, he feels that's the government's job.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church instructs:
The fourth commandment is addressed expressly to children in their relationship to their father and mother, because this relationship is the most universal. It likewise concerns the ties of kinship between members of the extended family. It requires honor, affection, and gratitude toward elders and ancestors.
Never let it be said Obama doesn't pay homage to his elderly kin. He just doesn't want to pay money to them, his, anyway; it's okay if it comes from the rest of us.

UPDATE: Ms. Onyango's phone listing on Google has been (quite rightly) removed.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Incongruity of it All

The media is regarding the election of Barack Obama to the presidency as a foregone conclusion and the pollsters seem to back up that conclusion. If that is indeed the case, so be it. As Ed Koch, the former mayor of New York, put it with superb prescience after losing in the primaries to his eventual successor, David Dinkens: "The people have spoken. It is now time for the people to be punished." Dinkens' spectacular ineptitude led to his being soundly defeated for re-election after only one term by a Republican(!), Rudy Giuliani (Dinkens, the mayoral equivalent of Jimmy Carter, has been bitter about it ever since). New York City flourished during Giuliani's administration. Similarly, our nation will survive an Obama administration and will surely flourish anew in time.

What I don't understand, however, is how we got to this point. Our nation has long been center-right politically and I have not sensed a great leftward shift of the political ethos unless the traditional left-wing slant of the media now accurately reflects the views of the majority of Americans. I think not so how to explain the numerous polls showing Obama over McCain, with leads ranging from a few points to well into the double-digits? The estimable Roger Kimball is scratching his head over that, as do I. Kimball writes:
If the pundits are to be believed, the American people are just about to elect as President a man who espouses in concentrated form just about every bad, discredited, and exploded social and economic idea of the last fifty years.

[snip]

In other words, Obama plans to resuscitate the welfare policies of the Great Society, but by stealth. It will be the same thing–the dole–but it will be called a “tax credit,” which has a more emollient sound than “relief,” “public charity,” “the dole.”
Yet Americans are overwhelmingly opposed to income redistribution. So what gives? It just does not seem plausible the people's dissatisfaction with John McCain, not to mention the president and Republicans in general, is so intense they would line up behind a candidate who is the re-incarnation of Eugene Debs. Is it possible so many polls could be so out of whack, that there is some fatal flaw to their design that skews the results? Is it possible the polls are wrong?

UPDATE: Others are wondering the same but I am not optimistic.

Friday, October 24, 2008

What a "Clump of Tissue" Looks Like



Edward Cardinal Egan, writing in Catholic New York (excerpts):
Just Look

The picture on this page is an untouched photograph of a being that has been within its mother for 20 weeks. Please do me the favor of looking at it carefully.

Have you any doubt that it is a human being?

[]

But you might protest that all of this is too easy. Why, you might inquire, have I not delved into the opinion of philosophers and theologians about the matter? And even worse: Why have I not raised the usual questions about what a "human being" is, what a "person" is, what it means to be "living," and such? People who write books and articles about abortion always concern themselves with these kinds of things. Even the justices of the Supreme Court who gave us "Roe v. Wade" address them. Why do I neglect philosophers and theologians? ... I looked at the photograph, and I have no doubt about what I saw and what are the duties of a civilized society if what I saw is in danger of being killed by someone who wishes to kill it or, if you prefer, someone who "chooses" to kill it...

[]

Adolf Hitler convinced himself and his subjects that Jews and homosexuals were other than human beings. Joseph Stalin did the same as regards Cossacks and Russian aristocrats. And this despite the fact that Hitler and his subjects had seen both Jews and homosexuals with their own eyes, and Stalin and his subjects had seen both Cossacks and Russian aristocrats with theirs.

[]
We [cannot] honorably cover our shame (1) by appealing to the thoughts of Aristotle or Aquinas on the subject, inasmuch as we are all well aware that their understanding of matters embryological was hopelessly mistaken, (2) by suggesting that "killing" and "choosing to kill" are somehow distinct ethically, morally or criminally, (3) by feigning ignorance of the meaning of "human being," "person," "living," and such, (4) by maintaining that among the acts covered by the right to privacy is the act of killing an innocent human being, and (5) by claiming that the being within the mother is "part" of the mother, so as to sustain the oft-repeated slogan that a mother may kill or authorize the killing of the being within her "because she is free to do as she wishes with her own body."

[]

Do me a favor. Look at the photograph again. Look and decide with honesty and decency what the Lord expects of you and me as the horror of "legalized" abortion continues to erode the honor of our nation. Look, and do not absolve yourself if you refuse to act (emphasis added).

Read it all. I wish Nancy Pelosi, Joseph Biden and Barack Obama would but am not holding my breath. And when someone claiming religious authority insists

As part of our baptismal vows we commit "to strive for justice and peace among all people" and "respect the dignity of every human being...where the weakest are protected and God’s creation safeguarded, and where each person has access to the blessings of life,"
it behooves us to ask that person if those grandly stated rights also apply to the creation seen in the picture above.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Oh, Hear Us When We Cry Today,

Dear Lord, Save Johnson's MCJ.

Christopher Johnson is experiencing fresh woes with his website, the Midwest Conservative Journal, the source to go to after hearing the latest unbelievable rumor about the Episcopal Church and wanting to know if it's true (of course it is, he will confirm). In the meanwhile, while repairs are effected, avail yourself of his backup site and while there, hit the PayPal button and send him a donation. Those repairs don't come cheap.

UPDATE: It's fixed.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Holy Nothingness

From Boston.com, news of the latest innovation in the Episcopal Organization:
Who is worthy to receive?

Open Communion trend stirs hearts, a quiet controversy

A quiet revolution is taking place at the altars of many churches - in the form of bread and wine.

Communion, the central ritual of most Christian worship services and long a members-only sacrament, is increasingly being opened to any willing participant, including the non-baptized, the nonbeliever, and the non-Christian.

The change is most dramatic in the Episcopal Church, particularly in liberal dioceses like Massachusetts. The denomination's rules are clear: "No unbaptized person shall be eligible to receive Holy Communion in this Church." Yet, a recent survey by the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts found that nearly three-quarters of local parishes are practicing "open Communion," inviting anyone to partake.
Wherefore? For the innovators it, like everything else, is a matter of civil rights. The 60s will never die.
"Who am I to say who should be at God's table?" said the Rev. Gale Davis Morris, rector of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Acton. "Most of Scripture is pretty clear about who the ultimate judge is, and it's not anybody that's human. And I would much rather err on the side of inclusion than exclusion."
Readers more knowledgeable than I please correct me but I seem to recall a time in the Episcopal Church when even non-Episcopalians were not permitted to receive communion, first having to be confirmed or received. That changed, like so much else, in the 70s when communion was opened to all Christians, in the name of Holy Inclusivity as well in hopes of drawing more people into the Episcopal Church (click here to learn just how effective that gambit proved).

The Holy Catholic Church (as do the Orthodox and some Protestants) permits only her own to receive, not because she is mean-spirited and exclusive or passing judgment (which only God can do--the priestess quoted above at least got that part right, sort of) but because the Church regards communion with such seriousness, believing the bread and wine is transubstantiated into the actual Body and Blood of Christ, to be regarded with awe.

The Church teaches, in accordance with the Apostle Paul, that anyone who dares receive the Body and Blood without being in a state of grace, "eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body" (I Corinthians 11:29). The Catholic Church's job is to get everyone into heaven so she forbids those things that get us into hell. It is all part of the program and those who who don't like it are welcome to go elsewhere, even to the Episcopal Church.

For the sake of clarity and truth in advertising, however, the Episcopal Church should jettison the word "Catholic" from the Creeds (and increasing numbers of parishes are doing just that, by dispensing with the recitation of the Creeds altogether). To expand further the administering of communion to any and all without restrictions like, say, belief in God or repentance for sin; without making even the slightest effort to make oneself fit to receive Our Lord, renders communion into a meaningless and empty act, utterly devoid of significance; nothing more than a cracker washed down with a shot of cheap wine. You can do better in a bar.

This Really Sucks

While visiting the Boston Globe's website to read an article concerning the Episcopal Church (on which more later) I noticed the most e-mailed article on that site today is this one:
THOMAS TOWNSHIP, Mich.—Police say a Michigan man has been arrested after "receiving sexual favors from a vacuum" at a car wash.

The Saginaw News reports the 29-year-old Swan Creek Township man was arrested Thursday in Saginaw County's Thomas Township, about 90 miles northwest of Detroit.

Police Sgt. Gary Breidinger says a resident called to report suspicious activity at the car wash about 6:45 a.m. An officer approached on foot and caught the man in the act.
I say the perpetrator should just suck it up and pay his fine or vice versa.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Awful Truth

Never was the veracity of Michael Kinsley's famous adage: "a gaffe is when a politician tells the truth" more vividly displayed than in the recent incident involving "Joe the Plumber" and Barack Obama. Working a rope line in Toledo, the Obama entourage came upon a fellow who, while tossing a football around with his son on his lawn, decided to pop a question to Barack on taxation, specifically on small businesses that earned over $250,000. To his credit, Obama told the truth: under his administration Joe's taxes would go up, that he believed it was good to "spread the wealth around."

Oops, bad move. "Spread the wealth around" means income redistribution, which means socialism: something most people in this center-right nation abhor; those benighted minions dwelling betwixt the coasts not quite stupid enough to be unaware of the history of Russia and post World War II Eastern Europe. The Obama campaign and adoring press had to act fast and effectively and they did, by trashing the bejeebers out of the man who so deviously got Barack Obama to come clean. Via diligent research they dug up all sorts of dirt on Joe the Plumber: he's unlicensed, has a couple of liens filed against him, belonged once to some goofball Maharishi Mahesh Yogi political party, might be (hang on to your hats!) a Republican and, no doubt, is in hock to the local public library for some overdue book fines.

The problem with all these stunning revelations about poor Joe the Plumber, as deeply satisfying as they must have been to make for Barack's disciples, is they don't alter in the slightest what was revealed in his answer to Joe's question: that he is, at the very least, a socialist sympathizer and the most left-wing presidential candidate since Henry Wallace. Whether it was Joe the Plumber or John Wayne Gacy, Richard Speck, Ghengis Khan or Bozo the Clown who asked Obama the question, the verity of his reply is not changed. And nothing makes left wingers in this country more apoplectic than having their beliefs revealed for what they are.

Worth a Thousand Words...


...is this picture in the New York Post, taken last night at the 63rd annual Alfred E. Smith Dinner, a charity fund raiser held in honor of the first Catholic to run for president (he lost, by the way) in New York. You get the feeling his Eminence, Cardinal Egan just might not see eye to eye with Obama on an issue or two.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tarsome

From the Wall Street Journal:
McCain Is ‘Getting Annihilated’ in Four Battleground States

In another piece of bad news for John McCain, rival Barack Obama has taken a solid lead in four battleground states, according to the latest round of Quinnipiac University polls conducted in conjunction with The Wall Street Journal and WashingtonPost.com.

The problem for poor John McCain is, even without being the incumbent, people are already tired of him.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fiduciaries from Hell

That the Episcopal Church breezes along unimpeded on the road to perdition, despite precipitous drops in membership due to death and desertion, owes in large part to a substantial endowment, dating from the days long ago when the rich still gave the Church money. Still, all those lawsuits don't come cheap and concern has been expressed that even the well-to-do Episcopal Church, feeling the pinch, is raiding trust funds intended for other purposes to pay the legal bills.

The financial meltdown this week has whacked just about everyone including, no doubt, the Episcopal Church and her portfolio. Real estate values are tanking. What surely is not tanking are the billable hours and fee schedules of Chancellor Beers and his crew of litigators. A time will come (maybe it has already) when the expenses wresting property from departing parishes exceeds the cumulative worth of those properties.

The Episcopal Church, in most cases, is unable to muster up worshipers to replace those who leave so properties seized from exiting parishioners are usually put up for sale. I wonder if anyone at 815 Second Avenue, in this time of financial collapse, has determined whether it makes economic sense to spend millions from dwindling endowments suing parishes for their properties, only to sell them later at a loss. Or is it, as I suspect, the powers at 815 are so blindly committed to their innovations they would sooner take down the entire institution than see one square foot of property remain in the hands of the traditionalists they so despise?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Diary of a Newly-Minted Papist

(A continuing series...maybe)

Yesterday I attended my first mass in St. Patrick's Cathedral! It is only a few blocks from my new workplace (same company, different locale) and since music was advertised I strolled over to attend a midday mass. The music took the form of three hymns (first stanzas only, alas) that happen to be favorites of mine: Old Hundredth (All people that on earth do dwell), Rendez a Dieu (Father, we thank thee who hast planted) and Nun Danket (Now thank we all our God). You can't get hymns more Protestant than those, in fact, those first two tunes first appeared in the Geneva Psalter, no less.

A woman in the sanctuary asked us each time to "please sing" but apparently was just kidding for she would then squawk out the hymns herself into a microphone, obviating the need for anyone else to bother. The organ sounded wonderful, I am happy to report, much better than the last time I last heard it years ago. It was rebuilt in the 'nineties and, I assume, re-voiced. Good job.

After the mass I went in search of a chapel in which to light a candle for a friend in need. Most them were thronged by tourists and since I didn't feel like forcing my way through them, I was pleased to eventually find a lovely chapel that was devoid of tourists, devoted to St. Rose of Lima; a saint new to me and while it was St. Monica to whom I had in mind praying, after reading about St. Rose, I decided she would do just fine.

I was surprised to see the fee for a five-cent candle was two dollars but as a firm believer in capitalism, I mentally saluted the dean (or whomever) of the Cathedral for such aggressive pricing in a popular tourist attraction and dug into my pocket, only to find $1.85. After a moment's consideration, I stuffed the bill and coins into the money box, promising God I would make up the difference next visit.

My prayer, by the way, was answered that very evening, Deo gratias. I will be pestering St. Rose of Lima again soon, no doubt (after dropping $2.15 into the box).

Friday, October 03, 2008

Culpability

UDATE 2: You'll know McCain's scoring if the Dems start insisting this crisis is too serious to be playing "politics as usual;" that we should be "putting politics aside," "coming together as a nation" etc.
UPDATE: McCain seems finally to have gotten the message.



Try as I might to resist, I get the sinking feeling Barack Obama will be our next president. The Frannie disaster is owned by the Democrats; it's theirs, they have title to it and there is plenty of damning footage to prove it. Yet, so far, the Republicans seem loathe to hammer the Democrats mercilessly on this issue, as they should, and I cannot fathom why (are they afraid of incurring the wrath of Barney Frank?).

Happily, the ad above has just been released by the GOP and it goes a long way toward establishing Democratic culpability for the financial crisis. If the Republicans air it continually, from now to Election Day, they just might stand a chance. People are furious about this fiasco and would love to punish the perpetrators if it can just be made clear who they are. This ad does that, finally.

From Moron to Genius


The consensus seems to be Sarah Palin performed at least creditably last night in the debate, holding her own on most issues and even pronouncing foreign names with reasonable aplomb (wasn't it a hoot to hear both her and Biden duking it out who could say "Ahmadinejad" the most and the fastest?). As a result of Palin's above-par performance, deeming her a retard may not cut it anymore and deranged critics may find it necessary to revise their tactics in their efforts to dispatch her.

They might consider vilification; by including Palin in the evil cabal that secretly controls the White House (known only to the millions of readers of the Daily Kos), numbering Carl Rove and Dick Cheney among its membership. Senator Biden even got the ball rolling for the loony lefties last night with his wildly over the top, evidence-free attack on Dick Cheney. Palin might actually take some pleasure should this ploy be used for she will have certainly moved along the bell curve sharply, in the eyes of the lunatic fringe, at least, to be included in the august company of those evil geniuses.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Concerning the Vice-Presidential Debate

Far better than the presidential debate. Palin won it, I think, but Biden wasn't bad at all, save for that bizarre Dick Cheney tirade. Was he touching base with the Kos Kidz?

Turning up the Heat on the Party of Death

My, this ought to gin up rage among the Catholic-hating left:
Vatican officials seldom single out political leaders who differ with the Church on issues like abortion rights or embryonic stem cell research. But now that the Vatican’s highest court is led by an American, the former St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke, we can expect things to get more explicit in Vatican City — at least when when it comes to U.S. politics.

Burke, who was named prefect of the Vatican’s Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature in June, told the Italian Catholic newspaper Avvenire that the U.S. Democratic Party risked “transforming itself definitively into a party of death for its decisions on bioethical issues.” He then attacked two of the party’s most high profile Catholics — vice presidential candidate Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — for misrepresenting Church teaching on abortion.

He said Biden and Pelosi, “while presenting themselves as good Catholics, have presented Church doctrine on abortion in a false and tendentious way.”

[snip]

Pope Benedict has been encouraging Catholic bishops to speak out more openly on public policy issues to make the Church’s voice heard. Any bets on when we’ll hear from Burke next?
Pretty soon, I should think and speaking of Joe Biden, let's hope the matter of abortion is brought up this very evening, at the vice-presidential debate. If Ms. Ifill is unwilling to bring up the icky subject with her pal Barack's running mate, I do hope the very Protestant Ms. Palin will grill Biden on it, enough to make that gaseous blatherskite squirm .

(Thanks to Ed Morrisey at Hot Air)

UPDATE: Todd Zywicki of the Volokh Conspiracy writes
I appeared on The Newshour one night with her to discuss bankruptcy reform. I found her to be eminently fair and well-prepared. She understood the key issues and asked pointed questions for both myself and the other guest.
Having watched Ms. Ifill over the years on the News Hour, I have to second Zywicki's opinion. Ms. Ifill does try (perhaps not always successfully but she does try) to be evenhanded. So here's hoping she doesn't give Biden a pass on abortion.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

How it All Began

Read this: the Democrats, especially Barney Frank and Chris Dodd, seem to be suffering from poor memory recall and are erring on certain details.

Fannie Mae Eases Credit To Aid Mortgage Lending

Published: September 30, 1999

In a move that could help increase home ownership rates among minorities and low-income consumers, the Fannie Mae Corporation is easing the credit requirements on loans that it will purchase from banks and other lenders.

The action, which will begin as a pilot program involving 24 banks in 15 markets -- including the New York metropolitan region -- will encourage those banks to extend home mortgages to individuals whose credit is generally not good enough to qualify for conventional loans. Fannie Mae officials say they hope to make it a nationwide program by next spring.

Fannie Mae, the nation's biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits.

Fannie Mae, the nation's biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits.

[snip]

In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980's.

''From the perspective of many people, including me, this is another thrift industry growing up around us,'' said Peter Wallison a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. ''If they fail, the government will have to step up and bail them out the way it stepped up and bailed out the thrift industry.''

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: This is also well worth a read. There was plenty of duplicity and stupidity in the private sector as well.