Thursday, August 30, 2012

2016: Obama's America

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Lent, After Pentecost

I  began this post on notes taken during a Lenten retreat but never completed it.  Browsing through unfinished work I saw it and thought it sufficient to stand on its own, even after Pentecost.  Thank you  Father John W., and all the profound, eloquent priests whose wisdom I have benefitted from over the years.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Privilege is All Mine, Mrs. Terry

The grieving woman with AZ Governor Jan Brewer is Mrs. Josephine Terry.  Her son, border-patrol agent Brian Terry of the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), a division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), was killed by Mexican drug thugs in December 2010 with weapons they'd obtained through a merdicious ATF program entitled Fast and Furious.

The idea of the program, we're told, was to allow straw purchasers in border states, e.g. Arizona, to walk guns across the Mexican border where they would be traced back to drug lords' nests.  To that end, resistant gun sellers were induced by ATF agents to make illegal sales of assault weapons, e.g., AK 47's.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Germany v. Greece

The Euro Cup has provided superb relief against the dramatic backdrop of a collapsing Euro and decaying social-welfare model--the kind we're rapidly emulating in the US.  This article from the NY Times--a decidedly Greek-friendly paper under these circumstances--concerns the recent match between Germany and Greece won by the Germans 4-2.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Procrustean Constitution

Justice Anthony Kennedy has reminded me yet again of the Court's default setting in culture-war cases since the 1960's.  His legal reasoning can be summed up as heads-the-Left-wins, tails-the-Right-loses.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Phrenology for the Smug

Andrew Ferguson has authored a penetrating and very funny analysis entitled "The New Phrenology" regarding Democrats tendency to denigrate conservatives from behind the pretense of science--social psychology mainly though not exclusively.  That's a field absolutely stuffed with people on the margins with issues.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Chile's Cautionary Lesson for the US


Mary Anastasia O'Grady writes about communist stirrings in prosperous Chile, the poster child for Chicago-style liberalism.  That's university-of-Chicago style, not Mayor-Daly-like-Chicago style.

Chile's Presdident, Sebastian Pinera (pictured above), is channeling his inner compassionate conservative much to his country's detriment.  He saps the nation's moral and material resources while failing to placate his insatiable critics.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Mambo Gallego

Pictured above are Armand Assante, Antonio Banderas, and Desi Arnaz, Jr. from the 1992 film "The Mambo Kings."  I loved the movie for its music, scenes of the Palladium, fine acting, tortured love triangle and sheer stylishness, but had to fast forward through too many pointless skin scenes to recommend it.

It nevertheless features my favorite movie dance.  Set to Tito Puente's "Mambo Gallego" (Galician Mambo) it is sultry without being trashy, and dynamic without being flashy.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Impressions of Miami

Years ago, I thought I'd discovered paradise on earth in Locarno and Lugano, Switzerland, which enjoyed the benefits of Italian culture and Swiss efficiency.  Beautiful people rode trains that ran on time.

I experienced something similar last week in Miami, which is considered the capitol of Latin America.  Happily, it is in the United States where things mostly work correctly, and opportunity (traditionally) abounds.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

In Praise of Statism

You'll never here it from me.  I fall on the liberty side of the private-public divide--the private side, which includes civil society to care for those who fall through the cracks through misfortune, injudicious use of liberty or any other reason.

The title is merely a pretext for sharing an amusing video that's gone viral.  It is a Reagan-Obama encounter that teaches a lesson delivered often, but evidently never enough.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Faust Visits the Insurance Lobby

Insurers are concerned that the Supreme Court will strike down ObamaCare's individual mandate, which provides them with a steady new supply of mandated and subsidized customers.  Without it, ObamaCare gives them less than they bargained for: new rules to comply with, profit caps and price controls with no corresponding advantage.

Those who place more trust in free markets than in government omniscience, and who despise crony capitalism for the self-serving hypocrisy it is, can be forgiven for thinking that it serves them right.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Obama's Campaign Will Take the Low Road

Karl Rove underscores one of President Obama's least attractive features, one which explains why he so roils the nation's anger, provokes its consternation and deepens its divides.  The multitudes who find his unprecedented push towards Statism and government hegemony objectionable, and moreover who don't want to pay taxes or interest on burgeoning debt to support it, oppose his aggressive overreaching because....  they intend evil.

Demolishing Paul Ryan

Daniel Henninger writes about the Left's warning to any who might challenge its ideological fortress, e.g., the Supreme Court, should it overturn ObamaCare.  Other shots are presently being fired across House GOP Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's bow.

You may have heard of his cruelty and black heart.  He's the one that Democrats and the President accuse (this week) of social Darwinism, Trojan-horse deception and historical anachronism.

Mr. Ryan justifies the GOP's proposed budget--which increases this year's federal outlays of $3.6 trillion (yes, you read that correctly) to a mere $4.9 trillion in 2022 rather than the President's proposed $5.8 trillion (yes, you read that correctly, too)--on rather different grounds than the President alleges: Catholic Social Doctrine.

Mother of Five Boys Has Never Worked A Day In Her Life!

“Guess what, (Romney’s) wife has actually never worked a day in her life," said Democratic strategist and CNN contributor Hilary Rosen.  Thankfully, she has experienced fierce blowback from all quarters including President Obama, and has since apologized.

As the clip below illustrates, Rosen was in the middle of deprecating Ann Romney's bona fides as a woman in touch with the economic concerns of less wealthy women. What she revealed is that Democratic Party apparatchiks don't consider child-raising and home-making real work.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Exploitation of Trayvon Martin

Shelby Steele wades into the Trayvon Martin quagmire to opine that agitators for justice--vigilante, if not kangaroo--are appealing to poetic truth, a deviation from actual truth.

Rather than correspond to reality, poetic truth is crafted to preserve an effect.  The poetic truth at stake is that white America is ferociously bigoted.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

So, Where Have You Been?

Taking care of business, thank you for asking.  It just so happens that business took me to New York City briefly, which is always ... different.

There's a lot I could say about the city, or nothing at all.  Suffice it to say that NYC is sui generis.

I'll restrict myself to commenting on a few of my favorite things, and one of my least.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Raquel Welch Meets Lysistrata

I don't know what to make of the coincidence.  Neither am I certain there's any connection between (1) Raquel Welch's recent lamentations about society's sexual addiction, especially men's to digital sex, and (2) Liberal Ladies' Who Lunch declaration of a sex strike (April 28-May 5) over supposed threats to their reproductive choices.

The two stories nevertheless strike me as being related via men's libidos.  First, the Liberal Ladies:

Santorum's Southern Double

What began as a seemingly Quixotic run for the Republican nomination is not looking so hopelessly romantic tonight.  Rick Santorum has taken both the Alabama and Mississippi primaries.

In doing so, he prevailed over Mitt Romney's money in Newt Gingrich's backyard.  This, after capturing 51% of the vote in Kansas last weekend, is startling.

The man may not have money and organization, but he has traction.  Can he really win the nomination, however, over the howls of angst from Dorothy Rabinowitz (whose man is Newt Gingrich) and the Upper East Side Republican set?

Monday, March 12, 2012

What Public Employee Unions are Doing to Our Country

William McGurn's speech to the 2012 Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar is published in the March issue of Imprimis, Hillsdale's monthly contribution to public discourse.  If you don't receive it yet, it's worth reading, and you can subscribe for free by following the links at the appended issue.

McGurn's topic is public employees unions, specifically those at the state and local level.  His thesis is that "public sector unions have successfully redefined key relationships in our economic and civic life."

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Bishop Dolan and Our Phony Contraception Debate

The Wall Street Journal's editorial section is doing its best to keep the public focused on the Obama administration's usurpation of constitutional liberties despite the rest of the mainstream media's following the administration's lead and burying the matter of Kathleen Sibelius's ObamaCare mandate in the file.

In an editorial entitled "Bishop Dolan's Liberty Letter" they bring his studiously ignored correspondence to light.

The 'Jewish' President

Brett Stephens is not reassured by President Obama's assurances that he "has Israel's back."
Here is a president who fought tooth-and-nail against the very sanctions on Iran for which he now seeks to reap political credit. He inherited from the Bush administration the security assistance to Israel he now advertises as proof of his "unprecedented" commitment to the Jewish state. His defense secretary has repeatedly cast doubt on the efficacy of a U.S. military option against Iran even as the president insists it remains "on the table." His top national security advisers keep warning Israel not to attack Iran even as he claims not to "presume to tell [Israeli leaders] what is best for them."
I was surprised when I heard the audio clip of his proclamation of support (from the rear) should Israel decide to lead where America fails to.   It wasn't that he would claim it, but rather that he would do so in such a common, colloquial, and idiomatic way.

Reagan Was A Sure Loser Too

William McGurn is his usual magnificent self today.
Not since Herbert Hoover has a party out of power had such an opportunity to run against everything that troubles the American family—prices, interest rates, unemployment, taxes, or the fear for the future of their old age or the future of their children—than is now presented to the Republican Party. 
The Republicans, however, haven't figured this out. This is their basic problem. They have no strategy for defeating an Obama administration that is highly vulnerable on both domestic and foreign policy.
Those words were written by Scotty Reston in the New York Times on February 29, 1980 about President Jimmy Carter's good fortune, rather than President Obama's, to be facing such a pack of stumblebums.  We all know how Reston's prognostications turned out.

Nothing has changed.  To listen to the media, the Republicans are always stupid and confused, bumbling and inept, obtuse and alarming, extreme and unelectable.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Parable of the Kosher Deli

Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport CT testified before the House Committee of Oversight and Government Reform on the ObamaCare mandate forcing Catholic institutions to materially cooperate with evil.  His testimony illustrated various ways in which the Obama Administration is full of baloney.
For my testimony today, I would like to tell a story. Let’s call it, “The Parable of the Kosher Deli.” 
Once upon a time, a new law is proposed, so that any business that serves food must serve pork. There is a narrow exception for kosher catering halls attached to synagogues, since they serve mostly members of that synagogue, but kosher delicatessens are still subject to the mandate.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Yes You Will!

We know that the President is a formidable fundraiser, the best ever.  "President Obama says a campaign is like an investment." 

Solyndra honcho and Obama bundler, George Kaiser certainly wouldn't dispute that.  Neither could Warren Buffet, George Soros or Jeff Immelt.
[H]aving raked in $750 million in 2008 and potentially on track to surpass that amount in 2012. His campaign and the Democratic Party raised $224 million in 2011 alone, more than the Republican field combined.

In a flagging economy, it may be hard to fathom not only where that money is coming from but also what it could buy if it were diverted elsewhere.
Who says that the Republicans are the party of the big wigs, the 1%?  Somebody not in the know, evidently.

I've got a guess as to where all that unfathomable "money is coming from": beneficiaries of 2009's near-trillion dollar stimulus, and four-year recipients of big government largesse.

As I say, it's just a guess.  Given the general lack of media interest in the identities and interconnectedness of Democratic donors, not having gotten any of the loot myself, and having been saddled with higher debt and taxes to pay for the giveaways, I'm in no position to know. 

It occurred to me that if the President wanted to be both frugal and green friendly, he could recycle his 2008 campaign posters and use them again with slight modifications.  Let me suggest a modest change in slogans from "Yes We Can" to "Yes You Will!"

That would nicely fit his second term platform, which is to hang onto the legislative and regulatory impositions he foisted onto a howling and resistant public in his first two years in office.  It would be much more convenient to keep ramrodding away from a power position than it would be to fight a rear guard action with only the judicial branch of government and the media--the traditional Democratic Party bulwarks--to fend off the savages.

Insourcing at GE

Buried on page B7 of today's Wall Street Journal (but highlighted by different editors in the front page "What's News" section, is an item entitled "GE's Work Force Rose in 2011 First Time in Years."  The real story is that all of GE's employment growth was overseas.

That might be embarrassing for a company whose CEO serves as President Obama's cheerleader to the Fortune 500, and business-bona-fides fig leaf to the public.  The President hopes to draw attention to GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's outsourcing to save dying companies at Bain Capital.  

You may recall the President's recent jab at Romney--his announcement of an "insourcing" initiative to bring jobs home.  Perhaps Immelt wasn't in on the strategy loop, or is switching his allegiance to bird-of-a-capitalist-feather Romney.
The overall uptick marks the first job growth for GE in four years. The number of GE workers has been on the wane since 2007, when the Fairfield, Conn., company employed 327,000 people world-wide. At the time, GE employed 155,000 people in the U.S.
GE's U.S. work force is something of a sensitive issue for Chief Executive Jeff Immelt, who serves as chairman of President Barack Obama's jobs and competitiveness council and has urged business leaders to do more to spur domestic job growth. 
The company employed 131,000 people in the U.S. at the end of last year, down 1.5% from 133,000 at the end of 2010.
GE's overseas employment--outsourced jobs that aren't in the US because they are in other, less-costly, non-union countries--grew by 10%, or 17,000 jobs, to 170,000 employees.

The company explained that US employment shrunk due to GE's sale of NBC, which reduced its US workforce by 12,000 people.  It didn't comment on why it is beefing up operations in foreign countries rather than in the US.

Back on the political front:
Mr. Obama has tried to brand himself as a crusader for the middle class and touched on that theme Wednesday as he praised companies for bringing jobs back from abroad. 
He’s not spending much to advance the goal. Mr. Obama said his fiscal 2013 budget will include a request for $12 million in new resources to increase a federal program that promotes business investment in the U.S.
Twelve million here; twelve million there; pretty soon you're talking about real money.

On the public relations front, GE also announced that it is hiring 5,000 military veterans over the next five years.  Given that it will likely be angering domestic job watchers by hiring many more people in foreign countries, one might view GE's gesture as a novel use of the military to extend an olive branch.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Fallen Creation

Man abused his creation in the beginning at the behest of the tempter.  Mankind lost out on a good deal, original justice, in which we had full reign over our bodies, innocence, complete satisfaction of our material needs, and life in the garden of eden.  The evil one was able to persuade us to turn our backs on it all.

Paradoxically, we were able to sin because we were created in the image and likeness of God: free.  Sin demonstrates our likeness to God as it demonstrates our freedom to choose good or evil.  Ironically, this likeness to God--free choice, but of evil rather than good--becomes our negation of God as the Creator.

Man wants not only freedom to choose good and evil, but to "be like god knowing good and evil," meaning to determine it.  That is neither our prerogative nor the basis of our relation to God.  Sin is thus a negation of our relationship with him.

What would happen if men lost the sense of sin, which many Popes and philosophers have warned of?  Frankly, we live in a society that doesn't know what a sin is.

Who can believe in it, we ask ourselves?  How can something be a sin if it doesn't hurt anyone?  How can anything between consenting adults be a sin?  How can anything I do in the privacy of my own home be a sin?

Fr. John wryly noted of California that the only mortal sin left there was smoking, but only of tobacco.  (BTW, he's having a good time at the expense of the once Golden State.)  Personally, I think there's another: downloading copyrighted material.

How can missing Sunday mass, for instance, be a mortal sin.  Many get nothing from it, find it boring and irrelevant.  The cost-benefit analysis they apply to it yields the conclusion to ignore it.

Not assisting at mass is easy to rationalize.  It can't be as grave as shooting someone we say to ourselves; they can't both be mortal sins.

Or, the weekly requirement is just an arbitrary rule made by people in power to control our lives.  Indeed, maybe that's true of all morality.

The only way out of this morass is to focus on relationships.  Imagine that I had a girlfriend who professed deep love for me, but because we were both so busy with work, hobbies, friends, activities or even sleeping in, she'd like to limit our time together to just once per month.

I would conclude that her deeds spoke louder than her sweet words, and that she did not love me as much as she loved those other things.  It would kill our relationship.  In other words, it would be mortal.

It's the same way with God.  We can kill our relationship with him by our indifference.  That's why the matter in question is rightly called a mortal sin.

With regard to sexual morality, society considers Catholic teaching--which promulgates the sinfulness of even impure thoughts and glances--neurotic, unhealthy.  But, consider them in the context of a young couple's relationship.

If every, or any, salacious looking woman turned his head when he was with her, she wouldn't like it.  His protests that he wasn't doing anything to hurt her would likely fall on deaf ears.

Every glance would say "You have competition.  And, right now, you're losing."

Our imagination says the same thing to God.  "You're losing the competition right now.  Something else beats you, hands down."  It's a mortal sin because it kills the relationship with God.

The pharisee and the publican are instructive in this regard.  "The Pharisee stood up and prayed, 'God, I thank you that I'm not like other people! I'm not a robber or a dishonest person. I haven't committed adultery. I'm not even like this tax collector."

"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'

Some have identified the pharisee with ethics and the publican with grace.  That doesn't capture the story's significance.

Rather, the pharisee looks to himself, without relation.  He is self sufficient.  The publican on the other hand knows that he draws life from being in relation with God, the font of goodness, forgiveness, mercy and love.

Grace doesn't dispense with ethics.  It liberates it and sets in relation to God.

Conquering sin is not simply a matter of avoiding negatives.  Actually, the positive aspect is primary for relations.

Imagine that our hypothetical boyfriend doesn't look at the attractive woman passing by.  Rather, he turns instead to his beloved and looks her in the eyes.  The message will be clear: he loves me; he only has eyes for me.

God sees these things, too.  He knows how we handle temptation, and what it means to our relationships with them.

One can even learn to view temptation with anticipation, which makes it possible to show love for God with deeds.  Nobody, however, has to look for temptation, which will find us without our help.  But, one can seize it when it arises.

We know the remedy for sinfulness, confession, which we can take frequent and full advantage of.  Proportionality should be our guide.

Mass-on-Sunday Catholics should probably confess monthly for the sake of their relationships with God.  Daily mass goers will want to confess weekly or bi-weekly.

It's a matter of spiritual hygiene rather than of mortal sin.  We bathe and brush our teeth before offending anyone with our odor.  Why wait until the relationship with our Lord is damaged?  We don't want to repulse him.

We cannot be afraid to confront sin, as doing so is the way to our Lord.  By facing it, we overcome barriers and gain greater intimacy with him than we enjoyed before sinning.

We can ask our lady, refuge of sinners, to help us make a concise, concrete, clear and complete confession.  With contrition and reparation for our sins, and those of others, we can rekindle this most important relationship with Jesus Christ.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Retreat to Emmaus

I am on retreat this weekend, and will be sharing meditations and talks with you.  It is not a moment too soon to take this break from the daily grind, and I hope not many moments too late.

St Luke tells us about the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Lk. 24:13-35).  They were walking along, talking about everything that had happened concerning the death and resurrection of Jesus.  He walks with us, too and, like them, we don't always recognize him.

"What words are these that you are exchanging as you walk and are sad?"  He asks this of us, too, and desires that we talk with him about what troubles us.

Cleophas answered him, "Art thou the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?"  Of course Jesus knew about the events in which he was the protagonist, just as he knows what is troubling us.  But, he wanted them to express themselves from their hearts, like he wants us to.

"We were hoping that it was him who should redeem Israel." Perhaps they'd put their hope in politics, thinking that Jesus would free Israel from the yoke of a foreign oppressor.  Perhaps we, too, place our hope in politics, and his ability to redeem the country and free it from oppressors who attack people of faith.
"Moreover, certain women of our company, who were at the tomb before it was light, astounded us, and not finding his body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels, who said that he is alive.  So some of our company went to the tomb, and found it even as the women had said, but him they did not see."
Like them, there are signs in our lives that we don't see.  What is Jesus's response?
"O foolish ones and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!... And beginning then with Moses and with all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things referring to himself." 
He spoke to them through scripture, just like he speaks to us.  Fr. John gave us a practical tip regarding how to read scripture.

Think of it as a collection of love letters.  If my wife sent me a love letter, I would drop everything as soon as possible, go to a private place, open and devour every word of it, absorb it, and then save it in a special place where only I could get at it.  I would take it out periodically to reread it, to experience it anew, maybe even years or decades after I received it.

A retreat is like a second honeymoon.  What with children, pressures, responsibilities, stress and the like, a couple can get so absorbed in their roles that they become like strangers living with each other.  It is good periodically to get reacquainted with one's spouse, to revisit the original vision of what life together in marriage would be.

We are on retreat to reacquaint ourselves with Our Lord, and his plans for our lives.  We are here for an encounter, just like the one that happened on the road to Emmaus.

I would be upset with my wife if she used our second honeymoon time on the beach together to network socially, or keep abreast of newsworthy events.  It wouldn't be a very good second honeymoon, nothing like the first one when our world was a unity.

Similarly, it's good to get away from the social and regular media periodically, and refocus on unity with Our Lord.

It is good to rekindle one's eucharistic amazement, which is analogous to Gary Smalley's "wow factor" in marriage.  I know the experience of seeing my wife and thinking "Wow! Here is someone who loves me despite all these years of living with me, despite knowing nearly everything about me."

I may experience the same amazement with my children.  "Wow! This is an incarnation of my wife's and my love."

Whether I say it aloud, or not, she and they can tell I think it.  They feel it; they see it on my face or in my eyes.

The same is true of the Eucharist.  "Wow! Here is Our Lord who is waiting for me, staying here so that I can spend time with him, who loves me despite my defects.

Jesus opened the disciples' eyes in the breaking of the bread.  "Was not our heart burning within us while he was speaking on the road and explaining to us the Scriptures?"

He did this to Karol Wojtyla in the first mass he celebrated as a priest on 11/2/46.  His eyes were opened to the sacrifice of the mass at his hands, and he saw it as the place where time and space merge into the drama of Golgotha.

Many if not most of us have experienced moments of closeness to Our Lord.   We all get caught up in things, and tend to forget.

It is important to get reacquainted periodically with the one who loves each and every one of us madly.  It is a good time to ask him about the goals he would like us to strive towards.

Mary can also tell us many things about him if we turn to her, just as she did to St. Luke whose gospel is filled with details about the birth of Jesus that only she would have known.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Climate Theft

Recent leaks about a think tank's attempt to combat global warming orthodoxy in science education were the result of skullduggery.  Peter Gleick, part of the man-made climate change establishment, has confessed to pretexting.
In his blog on the Huffington Post, Gleick publicly confessed to deceitful tactics that he described as a serious ethical slip.

My judgment was blinded by my frustration with the ongoing efforts ... to attack climate science and scientists.
You might be forgiven for thinking that the attacks mostly go in the opposite direction.  In 2009, leaked emails from East Anglia University revealed collusive efforts to hide and falsify data, and blacklist skeptical climate scientists.
“In a serious lapse of my own and professional judgment and ethics, I solicited and received additional materials directly from the Heartland Institute under someone else’s name,” Gleick wrote. “My judgment was blinded by my frustration ... I deeply regret my own actions in this case.”
A pretexting scandal in 2006 at tech giant HP resulted in the resignation of board member George Keyworth, non-executive chairwoman Patricia Dunne and general counsel Ann Baskins.  Today's revelations resulted in Gleick's resignation from the National Center for Science Education.

The admission may not be Gleick's final word on the subject, however, as there is some question as to the authorship of a crucial leaked document.  He may be guilty of forgery as well as deceit in his effort to champion the end of climate orthodoxy by any means.
The Heartland Institute calls [the memo entitled “Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy”] a forgery -- and [Heartland Institute president Joseph L.]Bast says he believes Gleick may have written it. 
"Gleick also claims he did not write the forged memo, but only stole the documents to confirm the content of the memo he received from an anonymous source,” Bast said. “This too is unbelievable. Many independent commentators already have concluded the memo was most likely written by Gleick.” 
"We hope Gleick will make a more complete confession in the next few days,” Bast wrote.
Even if the memo were legitimate, I'm at a loss as to what the Heartland Institute's effrontery is.  The memo "describes plans to create an anti-global warming science campaign for grade schools that will 'dissuad[e] teachers from teaching science.'"

The implication is that challenges to global warming orthodoxy are not science.  Scientists listed in a Wikipedia article about climate skeptics may beg to differ.

In response to criticism of their Wall Street Journal op-ed piece entitled "No Need to Panic About Global Warming," the original authors raise the salient point with regards to scientific inquiry:
[W]hat is being disputed is the size and nature of the human contribution to global warming. To claim, as the Trenberth letter apparently does, that disputing this constitutes "extreme views that are out of step with nearly every other climate expert" is peculiar indeed. 
One might infer from the Trenberth letter that scientific facts are determined by majority vote. Some postmodern philosophers have made such claims. But scientific facts come from observations, experiments and careful analysis, not from the near-unanimous vote of some group of people. 
The continued efforts of the climate establishment to eliminate "extreme views" can acquire a seriously threatening nature when efforts are directed at silencing scientific opposition. In our op-ed we mentioned the campaign circa 2003 to have Dr. Chris de Freitas removed not only from his position as editor of the journal Climate Research, but from his university job as well. Much of that campaign is documented in Climategate emails, where one of the signatories of the Trenberth et al. letter writes: "I believe that a boycott against publishing, reviewing for, or even citing articles from Climate Research [then edited by Dr. de Freitas] is certainly warranted, but perhaps the minimum action that should be taken."
If climate scientists are so certain of their position, why must they resort to fraud, deceit, intimidation and reprisals in order to make their case?

Rather conveniently--too conveniently--for those of a Leftist persuasion, climate science advocates solutions congenial to traditional Statist beliefs, e.g., control of the population and the economy.  It reminds me of what ecologists like Gleick have in common with watermelons: both are green on the outside and red on the inside.

That's a joke about commies in the event you're too young to remember.  At bottom, as with the purveyors of communist utopia, the forfeiture of freedom advocated by the Climate lobby in the name of the greater good is too expensive a price to pay.

Give me liberty, or give me death.  I can say that breezily because, unlike when Patrick Henry originally made the pronouncement, the present danger--doomsday scenarios based on spurious models and falsified data--is imaginary. 

In "After America," Mark Steyn expresses incredulity at people who are precise about the year that climate armageddon will befall us but cannot predict this week's weather with accuracy.  The Gleick episode, like the East Anglia revelations before it, does nothing to relieve my incredulity.

Attempts by the status quo to maintain its prerogatives have not fared well in most fields over the past century.  This battle is a test of whether the 60's-70's counter culture, which has been so successful in overturning the received order, is subject to criticism now that it is the status quo in the climate science community, as elsewhere.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Always Your Fault, Never Mine

Presidential spokesman Jay Carney explains how the President's killing of the Keystone Pipeline was actually the Republican's fault.  They were playing politics, which the President doesn't do.
"In terms of Keystone, as you all know, the history here is pretty clear. And the fact is because Republicans decided to play political with Keystone, their action essentially forced the administration to deny the permit process because they insisted on a time frame in which it was impossible to completely approve the pipeline"... 
Alas, the President who is unbound by contrary public opinion, the Constitution, congressional opposition, press scrutiny, scruples or consideration for those he disagrees with--the enemy, to his mind--had his hands tied by John Boehner.  It makes me weep.

Is this the same president who proclaimed "I don't quit" when pushing ObamaCare, Dodd-Frank, cap & trade (which, by the way, he is now pursuing surreptitiously through the executive branch) and an end to don't-ask-don't-tell?  You remember, the president who has been touting for months that "where Congress is not willing to act, we're going to go ahead and do it ourselves"?

Is this the same person who is considering "We Don't Quit" as his 2012 re-election campaign slogan?  Couldn't be.

President Obama's decision assuredly had nothing to do with his own environmentalist beliefs--which consider oil and gas to be poison rather than life giving blood to the economy--or with environmentalists' professed desires to raise the price of oil and gas in order to make costly green technology competitive.  You can take Jay Carney's word for it.

How apposite the White House spokesman's name is.  Carney: a carnival barker.  And the White House press corp plays the rube in order to sucker us into believing that President Obama's government is the greatest show on earth.

The President's motto is apparently semper culpa tua est, numquam mea: It is always your fault, never mine.  It's certainly his excuse for everything that afflicts the country from its poor economy, to international chaos, to the contentious political climate in DC and throughout the nation, to the skyrocketing price of oil and gas, and killing of the Keystone Pipeline.

Now that I think of it, his motto might be Verba mea sunt calidum aerum (my words are hot air), or perhaps Ego sum ​​mendax mus (I am a lying mouse).

Only Republican presidents are denied the excuse that it's not their fault.  Even Bill Clinton let his attorney general take heat for the Waco massacre rather than accept responsibility himself.  He could have blamed Ronald Reagan and gotten away with it.

Every malady under a Republican president is his fault, whether it be a hurricane in cities and states run by Democratic administrations, or the collapse of markets blown into grotesque proportions by Democrat's affordable housing policies.  It's still George Bush's fault.

Rather than face a rabid press corp eager to quarrel and rip his every answer along with his throat to shreds, Jay Carney addresses a body of fellow travelers who are eager to cover up and retard criticism. Even follow-up questions to mildly posed challenges are deferent.

"Always your fault, never mine."  Doesn't that fill you with hope about the country's direction, and future?

Fifty Percent Tax Bracket Failing to Boost Tax Revenues

The Telegraph reports that Britain's new higher taxes on the rich aren't producing any revenue for the government.  It appears that people are changing their behavior to avoid the levy.
Senior sources said that the first official figures indicated that there had been “manoeuvring” by well-off Britons to avoid the new higher rate. The figures will add to pressure on the Coalition to drop the levy amid fears it is forcing entrepreneurs to relocate abroad.
Not only did revenues to the UK Treasury not go up.  They went down by £509 million, or roughly 5%.

The dynamics of human aversion to punishment as it relates to tax policy are well explained and documented by Arthur Laffer, et al in "The End of Prosperity" (2008).  His ideas are summarized in my post "How to Fight Black Unemployment" (9/13/11).

There's a lesson here about tax policy and populist demagoguery, one that the White House and the national media will studiously avoid learning or disseminating.  That doesn't mean that We the people are obliged to bury our heads in the sand and follow their lead.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Holy Ritmo

Whoever desecrated the picture above by tastelessly printing "Pope Robot" across it was wrong as well as wicked, and worse, inelegant; "Pobot" would have been much better.  In any event, the Pope and his entourage were actually swaying to el son Cubano.

How can I tell?  Just look at that motion, the movement in the hips and back as well as head and hands!  The photo absolutely pulsates with ritmo.

In truth I guessed it from an article announcing Pope Benedict's desire to see Fidel Castro on his upcoming trip to the Pearl of the Antilles.  The meeting will depend on el dictador's fragile health.  The more fragile, the more urgent it would be for him to receive the Pope, one might think.
At present, the pope is only scheduled to meet Fidel Castro's younger brother, President Raul Castro, 80, whose formal title is president of the Council of State and president of the Council of Ministers.   
Raul Castro is due to welcome the pope at Santiago de Cuba on March 26, hold private talks with him in Havana on March 27, and see the pontiff off when he leaves Havana for Rome on March 28.  There is no mention of Fidel Castro on the official program.
Fidel Castro, 85, ruled Cuba for 49 years before his brother succeeded him in 2008.
How's that for lifetime employment?  And, he only had to redistribute his people's freedom away in order to secure it.

It was the mention of Santiago de Cuba (St. James the Apostle) that tipped me off to the Pope's predilection for Cuban rhythms.  Listen to this, take a look at the picture again, and tell me you don't see it.

The great Benny MoréEl Bárbaro del Ritmo (The Rhythm Barbarian) and his Banda Gigante (Big Band) ruled the Cuban roost between 1953 and 1959.  You know what happened that year!  If you need a hint, it begins with "R" and rhymes with "devolution."

What would have happened to Cuban, and the world's, music had Fidel's quest for justice  without mercy--cruelty, according to Thomas Aquinas--been thwarted?  Would the British invasion have happened?  Would "I Saw Her Standing There" have become "Look at that Mulata Dance"?

One interested observer had this to say about Cuban music after the revolution:
The oldest musicians in Santiago told me that, before the Cuban Revolution in 1959, there had been a lot of musical contact between Santiago and the rest of the Caribbean. For instance, calypso was very popular in Cuba in the 1940's and early 1950's and a lot of Cuban artists (including my friend, the late great Compay Segundo) had made calypso records. After the Revolution, Cuba had other priorities and the level of interaction reduced dramatically. As a result, Caribbean musical developments from 1959 onwards mostly didn't reach Cuba.
"After the Revolution, Cuba had other priorities."  That's cute: priorities like survival, staying out of Fidel's concentration camps, and getting your children to the safety of Florida even at the cost of your life, which, you may recall, Elian Gonzalez's mother paid.  (By the way, I'd have prayed that Cuban music would not evolve into Ska, which sounds like Reggae infused with Buggle-Gum!)

One thing that did happen to Cuban music is it moved to New York, fused with Puerto Rican rhythms, the Boogaloo and the Shingaling, and became Salsa.  Oh happy tyranny!

By the way, check out this movie clip if you'd like to know how shoulders and hips are meant to move.

As you can tell by now, this post has almost nothing to do with the holy father, and everything to do with pre-revolutionary Cuban music, which is no less compelling for the passage of time.  Fossilization is one of communism's specialties.  But even without it, this music would be timeless.

Time is one thing that stands still in Cuba--economic development is another, which remains arrested in a state of 1950's development.  That's only fitting.  Fidel's Russian masters were frozen in the feudal era for centuries, well into the 20th.

Cuban friends in law school told me that I'd love Miami, where I'd be considered a Lefty in comparison to Cuban Americans, the most conservative people on the planet.  That reminds me of the old joke about Fidel's converting Cuba into the largest country in the world, with its land in the Caribbean, its capitol in Russia, and its population in the US.

It's been a long time since I viewed "The Buena Vista Social Club,"  which was sad to me then, especially when the old-timers travelled to NYC and didn't even know who JFK was.  I think I'll enjoy it more now.

Long live Benny Moré and the rhythm that flows in Cuban blood.  May the Pope's mission be successful, so that the land of Guajira Guantanamera can rejoin the Western Hemisphere and commune with all of its cultures, not just the ones dominated by Leftist strongmen.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Audacity of Power

Charles Kadlec writes in Forbes Magazine about last week's governmental overreach into Americans' lives and liberties.  If you don't know by now that the State has ordered the Church to violate its principles, and religious believers to violate their consciences by complying with an ObamaCare diktat to actively cooperate with evil, you are asleep on watch at the wall of separation.

To be fair, the President has only overreached into traditional Americans' lives and liberties, on behalf of Left-wing, revolutionary Americans and their radical feminist ideology.  It's not as if he's acting the tyrant without someone's support and encouragement.

Revolutionary Lefties don't worry about there being nobody around to speak for them when their time comes--Martin Niemöller, and all that--because they don't see themselves as aggressors, and they intend to force everyone into compliance with their monist obsessions.  They don't suspect that anyone will come for them because they don't expect to leave anyone with a different mind hanging around.

They're like a cross between Don Ciccio and Sauron.  That's my view, incidentally, not necessarily Kadlec's.

Kadlec ends his fine piece, thus:
[T]he Catholic Church can [make] a humble statement of principal that in the matters of religious practices and conscience, there is a higher authority than government Who it chooses to obey. If President Obama prevails and unleashes the full force of the federal government against the Church, the cost will be the closing of Catholic schools, hospitals and the loss of social services that play a vital part in communities across the nation. Such a stand would make clear to the American people that the alternative to religious freedom would be a mortal wound to our civil liberties and a complete disruption of civil society. 
I am not a Catholic, nor do I believe in the Church’s opposition to contraception. But I pray that the leadership of the Catholic Church will have the faith and courage to stand for its core beliefs and use all of its moral power and political influence to defeat the President’s edict. I pray they will reach out across the political spectrum to people of all faiths, agnostics and atheists in the name of religious freedom and individual liberty. By so doing, they, and the institution of the Catholic Church, will have my love and respect for the rest of my life.
With respect to the first paragraph, if the Church vacates the helping space in civil society, it will abandon its divinely conferred mission.  That is less likely to happen than its paying the fines, or Bishops going to jail for non-compliance.

It would also be contrary to what America needs especially at this perilous moment.  Civil society, of which the Church is a crucial element, must increase; the government and its totalistic impulses, not to mention its outrageous cost, must decrease.  Leaving the field would perversely accomplish just the opposite.

The preferable outcome is for the various groups mentioned in the second paragraph to join forces with the Catholic Church to raise such a ruckus that even emperor Obama hiding behind his Praetorian Press doesn't feel politically safe.

If "President Obama unleashes the full force of the federal government against the Church," then he should be removed from power by impeachment even before the election.  He's already unleashed enough of it to warrant his defeat in November.

Conceptually, this firestorm has been provoked on behalf of a shibboleth and a fraud. The former is that women's healthcare mandates contraception coverage (paid for by somebody else, yet); that contraception is "[health]care she needs" rather than a service she requires by choosing to subject her natural, healthy physiology to her actions, rather than conform her actions to her physiology.

The fraudulent premise is that healthcare needs to be paid for by one's employer. Why?  Why not by oneself, which would turn competitive market forces loose on escalating costs?

The most beneficial result from this social ordeal would be the public's conscious identification of what passes for women's rights in feminist circles as "a mortal wound to our civil liberties and complete disruption of civil society."  Feminists of either sex are totalitarians and cannot be trusted with power.

Satism + Feminism = Culture of Death!

The strident march of tolerance--for sexual rights, but not for those who consider them sinful--has left a shambles of American governance from the Supreme Court to the White House, not sparing the Capitol.  Can we stop thinking with our pelvises now?

I am heartened that a non-catholic proponent of contraception can see that the Catholic Church stands on moral and American ground, while the government that deigns to impose sexual beliefs more congenial to him on resistant religious adherents is neither moral, nor American.  As Mike Huckabee said the other day, we are all Catholics now.

Some of us were proud to be Catholic before being singled out to carry this cross for American liberty.  Personally, I have not experienced this kind of solicitude from unlikely quarters since receiving condolences from around the world on 9/11.

I am encouraged by the Bishops stalwart defense of the Church's, and religious citizens' rights guaranteed under the US Constitution, and by the mobilization of resources in the lay Catholic world to fight the government's abuse, e.g., Ave Maria Radio's "STOP HHS MANDATE" Facebook page.  I'd feel better for America's chances if the ACLU and other civil liberties lefties raised their voices in defense of real liberty, rather than license for a change.

President Obama is deaf in the right ear.  Maybe he would relent if the organs of Leftist piety spoke up.  Now that I think of it, that's probably why they haven't.

This is a perilous, but transcendent moment for American culture.  Evangelicals are casting suspicions aside to unite behind a Catholic contender for the Republican presidential nomination.  "People of all faiths, agnostics and atheists" are reaching out to find common ground and join hands with faithful Catholics, not with people they have been heretofore content to let beat on the Church.

They're speaking out for us, even though they aren't Catholics and may not even like the Catholic Church, before Moloch comes for them.  We'll be there to speak out for them then, as they are for us now.

These are historic shifts in posture and alliance.  We have nothing to fear from cooperation but fear itself.

God bless America by preserving its freedoms for believers of all stripes, and non-believers alike.  Ad arguendo, if there is no God, we can still wish for peace on earth to men of goodwill.

The only people turned away--by their own choice to rest faith in power rather than peaceable co-existence--are the monist obsessives.  President Obama, Kathleen Sibelius, and the Democratic Congress that imposed ObamaCare on an unwilling populace have shown us which direction their banner in America flies: Leftwards, always Leftwards.

Kadlec begins, and I end, with the words of the first Jewish Supreme Court Justice, Louis D. Brandeis:

“Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government’s purposes are beneficent.”