Monday, July 30, 2007

Thou Shalt Breed

The Russians are putting out for the greater good:

Remember the mammoths, say the clean-cut organisers at the youth camp's mass wedding. "They became extinct because they did not have enough sex. That must not happen to Russia".

Obediently, couples move to a special section of dormitory tents arranged in a heart-shape and called the Love Oasis, where they can start procreating for the motherland.

With its relentlessly upbeat tone, bizarre ideas and tight control, it sounds like a weird indoctrination session for a phoney religious cult.

But this organisation - known as "Nashi", meaning "Ours" - is youth movement run by Vladimir Putin's Kremlin that has become a central part of Russian political life....

Attendance is monitored via compulsory electronic badges and anyone who misses three events is expelled. So are drinkers; alcohol is banned. But sex is encouraged, and condoms are nowhere on sale.

I'm not going to defend widespread procreation, but this is only because of my moral outlook which is shaped by my Roman Catholicism. From an amoral governmental perspective, this isn't a terrible idea. It would make more sense to make abortion illegal, and probably contraception as well, and, though it irks my libertarian nature to say so, pay couples who have more than one child, as they do in parts of Europe such as France.

It would be a mistake to chalk up these antics as the works of a crazy person. Putin, whatever his faults, sees the writing on the wall. Post-Christian Europe is dying. Whether or not the remnants of Christendom merit saving, I am likely to think that they do, it is undebateable that without a drastic increase in rates of procreation, the civilization is doomed. Less than six hundred years ago, Queen Isabel of Spain finally sent the Moors back whence they came; but a new generation of the disciples of Muhammad are more than ready to occupy large parts of Europe as their ancestors did. Nor are the six centuries necessarily important given that the Reconquest lasted almost eight centuries. But more importantly, an even passingly militant Islam will have little trouble carving up pieces from the dying continent. The fact that Bush's stupid little war has increased the fervor of the Muslims will only serve to increase the likelihood of the prediction--and the speed of the conquest.

While it was certainly not the best book I have ever read, Pat Buchanan's The Death of the West opened my eyes in ways few other books have. He certainly wasn't the first person to note the decline in western civilization, but he was the first person I had read who had said it. It would be a mistake to underestimate my propensity to see things along Buchanan-esque lines, especially as it pertains to our dying civilization. In fact, Mr. Buchanan is almost surely more optimistic than I am. Perhaps it is because he likely has less time to live.

After being received less than enthusiastically in Nazareth, Jesus Christ remarked that a prophet is not without honor except in his native place. So it has been with Buchanan. But whether or not he is ever given the honor in this earthly life, and even whether I shall ever see my fellow Roman Catholic in paradise, it is difficult to see how Pat has been wrong. Encouraging young people to have children is not necessarily crazy, even as it may be unwise, but it is assuredly the act of a desperate nation. In the Brave New World of America, we may tune out the bad, if only for a time, but the reality of their civilization's almost inevitable ensuing death looms much larger in the minds of those who live in the lands to the east. When MTV gets in on the action, the tipping point will have been reached. But by then it may be too late.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Evil Emperor Lincoln

People seem genuinely surprised, if not offended, when I note that I am no fan of Lincoln. Libertarians would consider a screed on Lincoln preaching to the choir, even if such a sermon were enjoyed. But republicans and democrats alike seem to find the fellow to be, if not the nation's best president--shouldn't that title belong exclusively to Washington?--then certainly one of the best. We libertarians, on the other hand, tend to rank him dead last.

The adoration of Lincoln can be partly explained. After all, the winners write the history. Thus Lincoln is credited with freeing the slaves; this despite the fact that he didn't give a damn about doing so in waging his pernicious little war until very near the end, and the fact that the Emancipation Proclamation was a political ploy meant to further injure the south. Getting shot by John Wilkes Boothe didn't hurt matters; the most surefire way to save one's legacy in American politics is by taking a bullet to the head.

Republicans like them because he was their first president. It goes to prove, somehow, that republicans care more about black people than the holier-than-thou Democrats. Maybe. It's really beside the point. Democrats like Lincoln because he freed the slaves, and they do like black people, more than the republicans. That's why so many blacks vote for the democrats. Again, maybe, but not really the issue.

A pertinent point, on the other hand, is made by L. Neil Smith:

Lincoln brought secret police to America, along with the traditional midnight "knock on the door", illegally suspending the Bill of Rights and, like the Latin America dictators he anticipated, "disappearing" thousands in the north whose only crime was that they disagreed with him. To finance his crimes against humanity, Lincoln allowed the printing of worthless paper money in unprecedented volumes, ultimately plunging America into a long, grim depression -- in the south, it lasted half a century -- he didn't have to live through, himself.

Lincoln then, is all that democrats see and fear in Bush, only more so. Both presidents cared little for Habeas Corpus. Both presidents tried to dismiss political enemies, only it appears that Lincoln was actually successful. And though it is unlikely that years hence people will quote Bush as extensively as they quote Lincoln, alone on the matter of public speaking could a case be made that Lincoln was the better man. Bush may be just as evil as was Lincoln, but the formers incompetency precluded him from enacting as much harm as the latter.

Bush has largely gotten his comeuppance during his presidency. One day, Lincoln may get his. I close as does Smith:

The troubling truth is that, more than anybody else's, Abraham Lincoln's career resembles and foreshadows that of V.I. Lenin, who, with somewhat better technology at his disposal, slaughtered millions of innocents -- rather than mere hundreds of thousands -- to enforce an impossibly stupid idea which, in the end, like forced association, was proven by history to be a resounding failure. Abraham Lincoln was America's Lenin, and when America has finally absorbed that painful but illuminating truth, it will finally have begun to recover from the War between the States.

The Superiority of Christendom

I think this worthwhile, especially given the bizarre idealization of primitive peoples in the Americas and the outright castigation of those who, while not without sin, were bearers of a higher culture and a not altogether unsubstantiated claim to truth, which I was certainly not the only one to endure in high school history classes.

It has recently become fashionable to decry the expansion of the West to the Orient and Africa and the New World, and to assert or imply that it would have been better if these regions and peoples had never encountered the West. The conflicts, misunderstandings, and bloody wars which arose out of this encounter, and especially the immense evil of black slavery to Europeans, seem at first to support this view... The Christian faith provided the spiritual resources to defeat the evils that arose from Christendom's contact with new cultures during the Age of Discovery. Slavery was eventually abolished in Christendom; thee is not the slightest indication that, outside of Christendom and without the Christian example, its abolition would ever have been thought of anywhere else... It it not considered polite to mention these things today, but in justice they must be spoken of: the million victims of the Thug strangler cult and the millions of innocent widows burned on their husbands' funeral pyres in India--the most painful of all deaths; the mutilated parade of the court eunuchs and the bound-footed women in China; the vicious female circumcision practiced in much of black Africa; the 80,000 human sacrifices a fifteen seconds per man during the dedication of the temple of Huitzilopochtli in Mexico City in 1487 and the island populations literally devoured by the Caribs in the New World sea that still bears their name. These vast and ancient evils Christendom would destroy, and for their destruction the Church of Christ has the right to ask thanks, not condemnation, from the people she delivered from them. - Warren Carroll, The Glory of Christendom, pp. 575-6

Saturday, July 21, 2007

That Was Worth It

Remember poor Nancy Holloway:

"The Factor has learned from sources we have to protect that Natalee Holloway, the 18-year-old Alabama woman who disappeared two years ago in Aruba, died from cardiac arrest brought on by an overdose of cocaine," Bill O'Reilly said on his Thursday program.

I loath
O'Reilly and his stupid show, but this seems likely to be true. I'm sure Greta is regretting all those wasted months covering this stupid non-story. Then again, she had catapulted ahead of O'Reilly when she was talking about the little drug fiend, proving once again that FoxNEWS and its viewers are just as shallow as the rest of their "liberal" compatriots, both on the tube and off it.

Yes, it's tragic that she died, but that can happen when you take cocaine; ask any Celtics fan about Len Bias. We might want to reconsider taking kids to foreign countries to allow them to engage in dangerous activities. It just doesn't seem like a great idea, especially for bright young things right out of high school. Did we really expect to be completely free of instances of this sort?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Free Abortions For All

The three leading Democrats speak on abortion, and Edwards and Obama dig themselves a nice little hole in the process:

Elizabeth Edwards said Tuesday that her husband's health-care plan would provide insurance coverage of abortion.

Speaking on behalf of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards before the family planning and abortion-rights group Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Edwards lauded her husband's health-care proposal as "a true universal health-care plan" that would cover "all reproductive health services, including pregnancy termination," referring to abortion...

Asked about his proposal for expanded access to health insurance, Obama said it would cover "reproductive-health services." Contacted afterward, an Obama spokesman said that included abortions.

Clinton has not yet released her health-care proposal... She criticized cuts in contraception services for low-income women, lengthy delays in approving over-the-counter sales of the "morning-after" contraceptive pill and redirection of sex education funds to abstinence-only programs that do not include information on contraceptive use or condoms toto prevent the spread of AIDS.

For those of you who don't think Hillary is guaranteed to win, you need to pay closer attention. Liberalism is not appealing to the masses. Large government supporters capture certain niche markets: government workers, the poor, African Americans and most other non-Aisan minorities, and illegal immigrants, who are usually non-Aisian minorities.

They also tend to do well with women, but this conglomeration is seldom sufficient to win elections. Liberals do not win by being liberal; they win by preaching moderation. It should be added that a conservative splinter group helps liberals as well. Remember Ross Perot? You can bet your bottom dollar that Hillary does.

Democrats are seldom that bright, but they're not complete morons either. They know, deep down, that most of their little crusades aren't all that popular. Take abortion for instance. Most Americans will tolerate abortion, but they would like it to be restricted. Partial birth abortion is too close to infanticide; allowing minors to abort without informing their parents reeks of perniciousness; in cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother, abortion should be allowed, and most early term abortion are alright, but it's a necessary evil, not a good.

Understand that I am not an apologist for abortion. I think abortion is the worst evil ever concocted by man, and it should be altogether eliminated, with staunch penalties for those who procure it. This may run counter to my libertarian principles, but I am a Catholic first, a libertarian second.

But the facts are against me, as they usually are in cases of public opinion. But they are also against Edwards and Obama. While the base loves that their candidates are supportive of free abortions for all, the average American finds it disgusting. Funding abortion is not a way to win moderate votes, and even a worthless hack like Guiliani might win an election against those who would revive the ancient sacrifices to Moloch on the public dime. There is no way the Democrats are going to be so stupid as to run Edwards or Obama so long as they stick to their guns on this one.

As ridiculous as it sounds, Hillary is actually the most moderate of the Democratic
candidates. This, coupled with the seething mediocrity from the Republican camp, is why she will win, not only the nomination, but the Presidency.

Obama, the Brilliant

Yet another reason to homeschool:

ABC News' Teddy Davis and Lindsey Ellerson Report: Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., told Planned Parenthood Tuesday that sex education for kindergarteners, as long as it is "age-appropriate," is "the right thing to do."...

When Obama's campaign was asked by ABC News to explain what kind of sex education Obama considers "age appropriate" for kindergarteners, the Obama campaign pointed to an Oct. 6, 2004 story from the Daily Herald in which Obama had "moved to clarify" in his Senate campaign that he "does not support teaching explicit sex education to children in kindergarten. . . The legislation in question was a state Senate measure last year that aimed to update Illinois' sex education standards with 'medically accurate' information . . . 'Nobody's suggesting that kindergartners are going to be getting information about sex in the way that we think about it,' Obama said. 'If they ask a teacher 'where do babies come from,' that providing information that the fact is that it's not a stork is probably not an unhealthy thing. Although again, that's going to be determined on a case by case basis by local communities and local school boards.'"

I don't know what's most frightening about the Magic Negro, his indefensibly inane positions, his consistent reliance on platitudes in lieu of any real details about said positions, or the fact that liberals drool over someone whose only good characteristics include being charismatic and not too terribly black.

I went to kindergarten less than two decades ago. We learned about the alphabet, how to count, how to tie our shoes, and how to get along with other little munchkins. We hadn't the time or the desire to worry about sex.

And as for babies, I knew full well whence they came because my mother had had a few since I
was born. This strikes me as an intriguing point. Do none of these children have adults in their lives who are occasionally pregnant? Even if one did not grow up in a house full of children as I did--I have seven younger brothers and sisters--surely one assuredly knew a family where the wife had a child on the way.

I know the birth rate is falling, but have we really reached a stage where a pregnant woman is an aberration? You'd think we were a part of Europe or something.

Then there's this tidbit:

"Keep in mind: I honor and respect young people who choose to delay sexual activity," Obama continued. "I’ve got two daughters, and I want them to understand that sex is not something casual. That's something that we definitely want to communicate and should be part of any curriculum. But we also know that when the statistics tell us that nearly half of 15 to 19 year olds are engaging in sexual activity, that for us to leave them in ignorance is potentially consigning them to illness, pregnancy, poverty, and in some cases, death."

Notice the propensity to accept the lower standard of the not-quite-majority. Yes, children rebel, and yes, children will have sex outside of marriage, but children also react to challenges. If you tell kids that you expect them to refrain from having sex, it's quite possible they will do so. Near as I can figure, it is feasible to survive high school without losing one's virginity; one can similarly endure college. Ostensibly, the austere monks of the Middle Ages, alas, to an extent a dying breed in our enlightened age, abstained their entire lives.

If you leave little in the way of expectations, you will seldom be disappointed, but we need to ask ourselves if we couldn't raise the bar and deal with the occasional disappointment rather than simply embrace the status quo.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Strength of the Faith

A year or so ago, I stumbled onto Warren Carroll's book The Founding of Christendom. It was a delightful find. Carroll is a fellow Catholic, and writes history which is accessible--in comparison to say, Gibbon, whose prose can be very difficult to endure--though far from overly simplistic.

Recently I received the next three volumes in the series: The Building of Christendom, The Glory of Christendom and The Cleaving of Christendom. I quote from page 159 of the third volume:

One of the greatest paradoxes of the spiritual condition of humanity--and an essential element in the mystery of the Cross--is that prosperity of any kind tends to draw men away from God. The poor keep the Faith when the rich apostatize. The dark ages are ages of faith, while progress brings doubt and even scorn toward the truth which is God's and the God Who is Truth. Martyrdom builds the Faith, oppression strengthens it, while to be "at ease in Zion" opens the gates to every kind of temptation. The graces of the Redemption which came from crucifixion flowed at their fullest during the persecutions of Diocletian, when the barbarians sacked Rome, when the Vikings scourged the coasts, when the Moors hammered Pelayo and his tiny band back to their last mountain from which they still proclaimed the the salvation of Spain would come. Never in modern history did men so love the Mass as in Ireland during the eighteenth century when it was a capital offense to say it. These times, these persecutions produced saints innumerable. But it may well be that the greatest saints of all are those sent in times of progress and prosperity, to recall men from sloth and greed and moral corruption, and call them back to their duty as children of God. For in those ages it is easiest for a man to lose his soul, and hardest of all to be a saint.

In all likelihood a similar sentiment will be echoed by Carroll in the still to be completed sixth volume. Dark times again lie ahead, but if history is consulted, the future looks good for Christendom. It somehow always does.

Yeah, I Live There

In which my home away from home gets a shout out in National Review:

In Michigan's remote Upper Peninsula...

Hey now! Wait, I guess that's fair.

a group of 50 people paid $300 apiece to search for Bigfoot with the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, according to the Detroit News. These crypto-zoologist wannabes even claim to have heard a "low-pitched howl" in the woods. The president of the BFRO says that there are thousands of shy and nocturnal Bigfeet—up to 11' tall and weighing 2000 lbs.—roaming around North America.

I hope they find him. Living in a town where the new Applebees makes front page news, I don't think it's possible to understate the impact such an event would have--though of course the very prospect is absolutely ridiculous. Still, I bet the big fellow is quite fond of pasties.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Blame the Bush

Ilana Mercer calls a spade a spade:

Bush is destroying the country (national debt: $9 trillion; national identity: Babel). But try and saddle him with that responsibility and you come up against reams of rationalizations, none of which includes the possibility that Bush is … well, bad. The neocons are blamed for the war; big business and Felipe Calderón (and before that Vicente Fox) for the bleeding borders. And Bush's "commendable" fealty to friends is to "blame" for the nomination of stumblebums Miers, Gonzales, and "Brownie" of FEMA.

I liked Bush when he started out. Libertarians were generally hopeful about a president who promised a humble foreign policy and less taxation. I still liked Bush when he chased bin Laden in Afghanistan. But soon after, the real Bush revealed himself to anyone willing to see: A man with a megalomaniacal glint in the eyes and an unstoppable will to wage war on a backward, secular, harmless Arab state, hobbled by sanctions.

One of the more interesting spectacles of the second Bush's administration, and especially its latter half, has been the inability of conservatives to lay the blame for their problems where they most belong: at the feet of President Bush. It will take time for history to pronounce judgment on the latter Bush, but he will undoubtedly go down as one of the most corrupt presidents of all time. And whereas Nixon wore the crown of ignobility without really deserving to do so, and while other corrupt presidents, such as Kennedy, have escaped a similar fate, Bush II's will be well-deserved.

Perhaps most importantly, he cannot help but go down as one of the least conservative presidents in the history of the office. His willful violation of civil liberties is on par with Lincoln's imprisoning of journalists who portrayed him and his senseless war in a bad light and with FDR's internment of the Japanese--though Bush has failed to intern as many as FDR did, our perpetual war on terror will no doubt give impetus to future uses of the evil Patriot Act. His irresponsible expansion of federal government is Johnsonian. And his war-mongering puts him on par with almost every Democratic President since Wilson, excluding the woefully incompetent Carter.

Bush has been an absolutely unmitigated disaster for the Republican Party. Whether the party learns its lesson remains to be seen, but as long as conservatives refuse to condemn a man who has, time and again, defecated on the very things they hold dear, conservatives do not deserve to march under the banner of one of their own.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Cindy Vs. Nancy

Jason Raimondo quotes a changed Cindy Sheehan:

"I was a lifelong Democrat only because the choices were limited. The Democrats are the party of slavery and were the party that started every war in the 20th century except the other Bush debacle. The Federal Reserve, permanent federal (and unconstitutional) income taxes, Japanese concentration camps and, not one, but two atom bombs dropped on the innocent citizens of Japan were brought to us via the Democrats. Don't tell me the Democrats are our 'Saviors,' because I am not buying it, especially after they bought and purchased more caskets and more devastating pain when they financed and co-facilitated more of George's abysmal occupation and they are allowing a melt down of our representative Republic by allowing the evils of the executive branch to continue unrestrained by their silent complicity."

Good points all, and ones which are largely forgotten by most Americans, Democrats especially. Raimondo then remarks:

I know Sheehan is supposed to be a leftist icon, and her biggest fans no doubt consider themselves liberals with a Greenish tinge, but it turns out she's more like a female Ron Paul. Liberals, especially of the establishment variety – of which there are plenty in Baghdad-by-the-Bay – are going to hate that stuff about the Federal Reserve and the income tax, but she's right, of course. Without the Fed, the inflationary policies that fund our wars of conquest couldn't be implemented; with no income tax, the empire our rulers envision would only be a megalomaniac's fantasy.

Or, as Alexis de Tocqueville once noted, and I have previously mentioned:

War does not always give over democratic communities to military government, but it must invariably and immeasurably increase the powers of civil government; it must almost compulsorily concentrate the direction of all men and the management of all things in the hands of the administration. If it does not lead to despotism by sudden violence, it prepares men for it more gently by their habits. All those who seek to destroy the liberties of a democratic nation ought to know that war is the surest and the shortest means to accomplish it. This is the first axiom of the science.

Looking back in the archives, I noticed that I was once hostile to Sheehan. I reckon I have several more years of bad judgments in me, so my apologies to her. I wish her well, especially as she is facing the supremely unprincipled Nancy Pelosi. And, just because I like to entertain strange thoughts, what about a Vice President Cindy to go along with a President Paul?

A Sensless Distinction

Andrew McCarthy of NRO makes a good, but largely irrelevant point:

Senator Clinton has joined her Democratic colleague, Senator Robert Byrd, in penning an extraordinary op-ed, published in Tuesday’s New York Daily News. The excuse du jour for not taking on al Qaeda in Iraq, where it is massed? Iraq is not about al Qaeda. Iraq is “a civil war nobody voted for.”...

Iraq is a civil war? Why, because Sunnis are killing Shiites? Sectarian infighting there is not a civil war; it’s a strategy. The Sunnis orchestrating the killing are not Iraqis. They are al Qaeda.

He then goes on to cite evidence of his claim. I don't follow the goings-on in Iraq terribly closely, but his thesis seems credible. The only problem is that it's entirely beside the point.

Even if the Sunnis and Shiites are killing each other because al Qaeda is compelling them to--which they've been doing on and off since 670 anyway--this still doesn't explain how our mission, to get them to play nice, can possibly succeed. Nor does it consider the fact that if we can get the Sunnis and Shiites to stop killing each other and unite in a lovely democracy, this may still not be in our best interests. History says that Muslims don't ever really stop fighting. It's either each other or the infidel, and, being a proud infidel, I'd just as soon have them fight each other.

Hillary is going anti-war at about the right time to deceive enough of the electorate to become Queen. That other candidates, notably Ron Paul, have been anti-war since the get go is, unfortunately, beside the point. But if the Lizard Queen has it figured out, the NRO staffers don't. Staying the course isn't going to improve our lot, no matter how long we stay. It'd be best to get those troops home on the morrow.

Not One of Her Finer Moments

More from Camille Paglia. A certain reader writes in:

What happened at Virginia Tech was despicable and outrageous. To think that to prevent it or anything like it means that moral women and men should give up their ability to resist these horrible acts, in some false hope that the lack of materiel changes the evil in some men's hearts, is equally despicable and outrageous. - Scott Pacer

To which Paglia replies:

Surely you don't suggest, in reviewing the Virginia victims' options, that all college students should be armed? For every rare instance where an assassin was foiled, there would be a thousand accidents or hothead duels, from the jostling cafeteria line to brawling keg parties. Ideally, college campuses should be gun-free zones, but as a non-gun-owning supporter of the Second Amendment, I also see the injustice in denying students their basic rights as citizens.

I'm a bit ashamed to see Paglia hoist this canard, but we can't all be right about everything. Only the Catholic Church can.

The problem with Paglia's assertion is that it is purely emotional. There has been, I believe, one case of a man using his concealed permit to commit a crime, an extraordinary statistic. My home state of Minnesota recently made it easier to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Despite the cries of despair from the liberals in the media, there were no wild-west bloodbaths after the law went into affect.

Robert Heinlein said it best: "An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life."

There is the additional note that aside from being unconstitutional, banning, or even greatly reducing the ability to carry, guns gives the government a monopoly on force. That should never sit well with a libertarian. Despite her affiliation and her brilliance, Paglia is actually further proof of why women shouldn't be given the right to vote. Even the self described libertarian has little trouble giving away liberty for the prospect of safety.

The Pope Speaks

...making this Catholic pleased:

The Vatican said on Tuesday Christian denominations outside Roman Catholicism were not full churches of Jesus Christ.

Protestant leaders said this was offensive and would hurt inter-denominational dialogue.

I certainly hope so. Pope John Paul II was an excellent Pope; he was also, almost certainly a Saint. But even Saints are not perfect, and one of the flaws of JPII's Papacy was his emphasis on ecumenism. He also seldom stressed that the Roman Catholic Church was the source and keeper of all Truth. This is not to say that the Church has it all figured out, nor that individual Catholics, even Popes, occasionally err. But the institution itself is impregnable; the very gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

One is free to believe otherwise, of course, but not if one wishes to remain Catholic, and the negative reactions from Protestants reek of failure to understand the obvious. To wit, one would not belong to a Church which one felt to be wrong about important matters. Are Protestants secretly adhering to a church with which they are at odds? It seems curious to me.

As usual, when it comes to the media's coverage of all things Catholic, this is much ado about very little. Pope Benedict is affirming something Catholics profess at every mass. His vocalization should be applauded, but the reactions to it are almost more important for demonstrating the increased relativism in which much of the world presently believes.

This comes on the heels of another proclamation from the Pope. Pat Buchanan notes:

Elevated to the papacy at 78, Benedict XVI will take no action greater in significance for the Catholic Church than his motu proprio declaring that the Latin Mass must be said in every diocese – on the request of the faithful. Dissenting bishops must comply.

"What earlier generations held as sacred remains sacred and great for us, too," said the Holy Father in his apostolic letter, as he authorized the universal use of the sole official version of the mass allowed in the four centuries between the Council of Trent and Vatican II.

To which many Catholics will respond: "Alleluia! Alleluia!"

I have been reading Warren Carroll's wonderful History of Christendom series--I am presently midway through volume two of an expected six. One of the reoccurring themes is how the Catholic Church seems dead, and then, to everyone's surprise, bursts back into the scene, as a new, yet traditional power, and one to be reckoned with.

We may be seeing this happen again, though something tells me the Church has lower to sink before she makes another comeback. I'm envisioning the Muslim hordes destroying most of Europe first.

Still, this has been a good month for Catholics thus far. In an election cycle that is looking especially glum, good news on more important fronts is always to be welcomed.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Heart Over Head

It's not that every idea that comes from a Democrat is inherently stupid, it's just that it's much easier to win the battle at an emotional level than deign to fight it out intellectually:

Drew Westen, a genial 48-year-old psychologist and brain researcher, was talking to a rapt liberal audience about the role of emotion in politics, how to talk back aggressively to Republicans, and why going negative is not to be feared...

He writes that when Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts let a Swift-boat veterans group drag his reputation through the mud (2004), when Al Gore put a nation to sleep with his talk of lockboxes and Medicare actuaries (2000), and when Michael S. Dukakis said he didn't believe in the death penalty even in the event of his wife's rape and murder (1988), Democrats were exhibiting their single worst tendency: intellectual dispassion.

That style is ballot-box poison, said Westen. "The political brain is an emotional brain," he said. "It prefers conclusions that are emotionally satisfying rather than conclusions that match the data."

Two quick points, then its back to find out about Charlemagne. First, human beings are not rational creatures; they are rationalizing ones. There are exceptions, but intellectual honesty is very rare. Most human beings cherry-pick their sources to support their conclusions which are primarily supported by emotions. Thus evolutionists will claim that evolution is settled science, ignoring the rather large holes in their side of the story. Simultaneously creationists will refuse to look at evolution seriously believing that their book has all the answers.

Tangentially, I find the debate between evolutionist and creationists to be horribly uninteresting. And while the Book has all the answers, it is all but useless unless one reads it correctly. This is but one reason for my identity as a Catholic.

Second, the emotional responses are extremely important to the average, that is to say unprincipled, swing-voter. If government is but a necessary evil, which it is, it's not hard to decide for whom one must vote--assuming one votes at all. Likewise, if one naively believes government to be capable of solving problems, voting is a simple manner. But if one cannot discern whether government be good or bad, one will be forced to vote for the prettier candidate, the one who sounds most presidential.

I just realized I referred to Kathryn Jean Lopez. My apologies. I guess Republicans tend to rationalize, too.

But not libertarians. Just kidding. Sort of.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

"Pro-Life" Fred

Maybe I meant "pro-choice":

Fred Thompson, who is weighing a Republican presidential bid as a social conservative, "has no recollection" of performing lobbying work in 1991 for a family planning group that was seeking to relax an abortion counseling rule, a spokesman said Friday.

In his defense, Fred was drinking like a fish back then, which explains the lack of recollection; and the only reason he was lobbying for the group in the first place was so that he could get laid by pro-choice gals--they being notoriously easy, especially in comparison to the pro-life crowd. I kid, of course.

This strikes me as a non-issue. There are any number of pro-lifers who started out as pro-choicers. Then they spent thirty seconds thinking about the issue, as opposed to merely gaging their feelings, and became pro-life. The pro-life movement has no qualms with converts; this is best typified by the case of Norma McCorvey. So a stint doing time for the abortion crowd in the early 90's doesn't disqualify Fred from the Presidency.

What does disqualify him is that there is no evidence of a McCorvey-like conversion. If he became pro-life sometime in the last fifteen years, we should be able to have proof. Did he write letters condemning abortion? Did he propose, or at least support, bills designed to restrict the so-called right to an abortion? Did he work with pro-life lobbyists? Did he at least attend a prayer vigil aimed at ending the abortion holocaust?

He may have done these things. But if he did, I'm having trouble finding the evidence. In truth, part of it is because I'm not too interested about this issue. I'd rather be reading about the late seventh century.

I wouldn't vote for Fred even if he ran, but pro-lifers need to demand answers from him before they march to the ballot box simply to (try to) prevent a Hillary victory.

Christmas in July

While this should probably wait for five months hence, I will have no doubt forgotten about it by then. This may be well known, but I have only just now heard of it, and it would be most unkind of me to avoid sharing.

A Christmas Wish - New York World, 1890
To the Editor of The World: It is my heart-warm and world-embracing
Christmas hope and aspiration that all of us--the high, the low, the
rich, the poor, the admired, the despised, the loved, the hated, the
civilized, the savage--may eventually be gathered together in a heaven
of everlasting rest and peace and bliss--except the inventor of the

- Mark Twain.

I confess I've read to little of Mr. Twain. In fact I have only read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. There are many books which "everyone must read", but that is assuredly one of them.

In any event, I wonder what the curmudgeonly Twain would have to say about modern society. I rather doubt he would have been wowed by the iPhones.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Bill Barker

As long as we're still looking for a replacement:

CLEAR LAKE, Iowa, July 4 — As thousands of people cheered along the Fourth of July parade route here, it was the tall man with the familiar white hair who made the crowd go truly gaga.

“Bob Barker! It’s Bob Barker!” two women shrieked upon seeing the former president, Bill Clinton in the distance, as he and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York marched hand-in-hand.

The crazy thing is that the other day, during frisbee practice, I noted that Bill would be the perfect fill-in for Bob. You can take my word for it or not, but I must ask one question: Would Bill be capable of more mischief as First Lady or as the next Bob Barker? Keep in mind that the latter host had a scandal or two following him. Bill may not know how to play Plinko--he'll learn--but he's got sexual harassment down pat. And, like Bob, he's charming in that creepy sort of way.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Silly Suffrage

I find joy when women, in this case Ann Coulter, admit that giving their half of the species the right to vote was a bad idea:

Just in time for the Fourth of July, John Lott, author of the groundbreaking 1998 book "More Guns, Less Crime," has released another amazing book: "Freedomnomics: Why the Free Market Works and Other Half-Baked Theories Don't." This book provides studies and analysis proving that your every right-wing instinct is based on sound economic analysis.

To wit:

  • Women shouldn't vote: "What changed ... that explains the growth of government? The answer is women's suffrage."
I have been a personal fan of Lott since my days as a talk radio junkie; I heard him interviewed
on one of the local programs and proceeded to read both of his books, both of which make cases for the right to bear arms, one of which I actually own. I'm tepidly adding his next tome to my list, though I hope I'll be able to find a used copy.

Anyway, Lott and Coulter are correct. Granting women the suffrage was a disastrous idea. However, it's important to recognize that there is no moral precept which would preclude women from voting. It just so happens that women value security over liberty; allowing women to dictate public policy ensures a growth in government and a decrease in freedom. It is not surprising, or anyway it should not be, that the first plank of the Fascist Manifesto proclaims a need for universal suffrage. John Adams was not being sexist when he refused women the vote in order to prevent "the tyranny of the petticoat".

On occasion women emerge who do esteem liberty. It's hard to fault Margret Thatcher for her sisters actions; nor would I have a problem with allowing Ayn Rand, Camile Paglia, Ilana Mercer and the aforesaid Coulter a say in the way government is run. But these are big exceptions, and Lott's point holds true: For the sake of liberty, women should not be allowed to vote.

It's a wonder I'm still single.

The Wonders of Universal Medicine

...are not in the least limited to an increase in health risks:

An al-Qaeda leader in Iraq boasted before last week’s failed bombings in London and Glasgow that his group was planning to attack British targets and that “those who cure you will kill you”, The Times has learnt.

The warning was delivered to Canon Andrew White, a senior British cleric working in Baghdad, and could be highly significant as the eight Muslims arrested in the wake of the failed plot are all members of the medical profession.

It's too bad this occurred too late for Michael Moore's new movie. The intellectually honest individual that he is, he no doubt would have used this to demonstrate that, if universal healthcare is an overall good, it nonetheless poses some serious problems. Instead, he went to a third-world country, Cuba, to show how good the Commies are when it comes to treating illness. Tangentially, they also tend to be really good at massacring people.

And its also worth noting that hundreds of thousands of American refugees aren't braving the mighty ocean to make it to Castro's little paradise. Bush may very well be the most corrupt president we've had, but he's still much better than Castro. Or, to more properly, despite Bush's many, many, flaws, the American system is so superior to that of Cuba as to render any comparison trite.

Nor is this simply a spiteful attack on the ridiculous Moore. That he is an idiot is almost offset by his ability to make a riveting, if never accurate, documentary. Those whose ideology is primarily determined by emotional responses should have no trouble coming to the side of universal healthcare. But those of us who know a little bit more than Moore instinctively distrust any large government program, which invariably raises costs and exacerbates problems.

It's bound to happen any time you have an overarching bureaucratic arm trying to manage too much. Little things slip through the giant cracks in the system. You know, little things like letting terrorists into the medical profession.