Tuesday, July 31, 2007
I believe that as Catholics, we must be careful in finding the way to accept both faith and reason. The Catechism instructs us that science does not override morality, and it cannot conflict with our faith.
So going back to evolution, my non-Catholic friends, and many of my Catholic ones for that matter, are surprised when they learn that the Church has never taken a stand against evolution. And while the Pope unfortunately got himself briefly enmeshed into the "Intelligent Design" controversy about a year ago (mostly I think because he did not really understand how that term has become very loaded in the United States), the Church has tried to stay clear of the controversy.
The story of faith, the message of Christ is that of salvation. It is a message that each of us, no matter how humble, have worth before God. By arguing how long God contemplated the blueprints for the earthworm, we reduce God's message and we turn our back on what was truly important. By turning the Bible into a science book, we in effect reduce God and probably commit the fallacy of Deism.
The YouTube debates are merely one manifestation of this new technology.
GOP -- listen to Ann Althouse -- don't wuss out!
Sunday, July 29, 2007
This morning, Alex was not interested in Mass, so instead I brought Christian. He just turned two, so he has not been to Mass as much as he should. We spent most of Mass in the side chapel and in back, as Christian ran back and forth, pointing at the old statues of saints.
The only thing that stopped him was the music. Every time the organ began, he would turn to me and say "sing again!" and sometimes join in. At the end of Mass, he decided that the recessional deserved a liturgical dance, which consisted of him putting his arms in the air and circling me quickly. He was so pleased with his dance, that he applauded himself loudly when it was over.
In college, I can remember more "progressive" pastors trying to introduce truly dreadful liturgical dances into the Mass. Thankfully, they seem to have gone away. I wonder what Pope Benedict would think of Christian's attempt to reintroduce it?
I have been reading a lot lately about rosés of late as a nice summer wine. So while I was never a fan, I decided today to try one. It was light French rosé, Domaine de Niazas from the Languedoc. A bit sweeter than I like in a wine, but fruity. Chilled it makes a nice summer drink.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Now maybe, interest in space flight is not libertarian -- after all, so far, most space utilization has been by governments. And there is truth to that -- I recognize the fact that for now at least, governments will take the lead. Yet it does not always have to be this way. The X Prize for one is showing that private initiative can jump start the space program. Further, there will come a time, soon I believe, when the technology will catch up with the cost. We can imagine a time when mining operations on the Moon or an asteroid suddenly become worth while. If Mars becomes an option on can imagine people setting out to terraform the planet, and building new societies.
It is said that much science fiction is libertarian. I believe that to have some truth. It may be too difficult to build a libertarian (or socialist, or theocratic) paradise on Earth. There are too many preconceived notions , structures and institutions. So if the Earth is unavailable, why not Mars?
Rose Wilder Lane was the daughter of the Laura Ingalls Wilder of "Little House" fame (and if you believe some people, the real author of the "Little House" books). Her belief in freedom was forged in her hardscrabble childhood, and reinforced by what she saw of the Soviet Union as a journalist, and by the rise of fascism.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Unlike the usual Internet gathering, which consists of some posters and readers showing up in a bar to drink beer, Yearly Kos will the held at Chicago's McCormack Center. The three day conference features an impressive schedule of seminars, working groups and general sessions. Speakers include Donna Brazile, Howard Dean, Wesley Clark, Senator Dick Durbin, and you have to believe some of the Democratic candidates will make an appearance. It will be a major gathering for the Internet left, possibly rivaling CPAC's annual meeting in importance to American politics. Not bad for a site only 5 years old.
Almost as impressive is the number of sponsors lined up for the conference.
So what is the problem?
Kos won a real coup by lining up an official airline, JetBlue. Then JetBlue pulled out. Why? Because Bill O'Reilly and a host of conservative bloggers started to raise a fuss. Roger Simon has a good run down here and a defense of JetBlue here. I really cannot add much to Simon's statements. This is bad for the blogsphere as a whole, bad for the conservative and libertarian blogsphere, and bad for public discourse.
It is bad for the blogsphere as a whole because now it will cause mainstream companies to be wary of "investing" in the blogsphere. The idea of the blogsphere is to help break the stranglehold the mainstream media has on the intellectual marketplace. Companies must be able to see the blogsphere as an inexpensive and cost effective alternative to network television as a way to reach their customer base. Companies will be reluctant to invest in this new medium if every time they do, they are threatened with boycotts.
It is bad for the right side of the blogsphere as for one it looks vindictive and two anything that hurts the blogsphere as a whole, is going to hurt the right side too.
Finally, Glenn Reynolds thinks this whole thing may be Fox's payback for the "netroots," lead by Daily Kos, forcing the Nevada Democrats to cancel a debate on Fox News Channel. I think there may be something to that.
I am a minor blogger in this great and wonderful blogsphere. So while unimportant, I have no vested interest in the snipping and infighting that have marked the blogsphere since its beginning.
So how about this for a proposal -- a truce. The left got one, the right got one. Let's call it even. From now one, let's try and be civil. The Daily Kos is not the website of the anti-Christ. Let's try to win with ideas, not with overheated rhetoric.
Let's make civility the word of the day, week, month, year and decade.
While some may argue it was a silly and pointless exercise, this is further proof in my mind that technology is changing the way the country is governed. All of those complaining about the main stream media as being biased toward the left are fighting the last war. Thanks to the Internet, it is easy for anyone to create a platform to spread their ideas. Howard Dean was I believe just a precursor. Ron Paul is creating an Internet based campaign. Fred Thompson has created much buzz through smart use of the Internet.
This You Tube debate is just the beginning.
Now for a question the candidates did not answer:
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Can't guess? The postmark is dated December 23, 1990. The return address is correct, but obviously someone who owned the house long before we did. Which begs the question, has this letter been siting around a post office somewhere while postal officials tried to determine where this person lived?
Lysander Spooner, where are you?
Friday, July 20, 2007
Interestingly, the same thing happened to Reagan. While Reagan made some bad B movies, he made some good ones such as "Kings Row" (where a sadistic doctor cuts off his legs), "Knute Rockne" (go win one for the Gipper), "The Winning Team" (where he played an alcoholic Grover Cleveland Alexander) and "The Killers" (where he played a crime boss -- his only villain role). He also co-starred in a few movies with some big names such as Errol Flynn (in "Santa Fe trail").
Thompson's reruns and movies though would be a bigger help to him. He always plays authoritative, intelligent characters. Given the malaise of the GOP base, he could find himself, mostly by accident, as the nominee.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
I agree that it is difficult on its face. Catholicism requires that you believe in the Pope's authority and the Magisterium of the Church. And the social doctrine of the Church can be described as "Christian socialist." Libertarianism has as its base the belief that all humans themselves are sovereign and today at least if anti-socialist (I say today, because many protolibertarians, such as Lysander Spooner, also influenced socialism).
In addition, libertarianism grew out of classical liberalism, which was strongly anti-clerical. The Church returned the favor, rejecting "liberalism".
But Catholicism, does at its base believe that human beings are free. Paragraph 1731 of the Catechism says that:
Freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one's own responsibility. By free will one shapes one's own life. Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness; it attains its perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude.
Ultimately, the decision to do good therefore must be with the individual. If virtue is enforced, can someone truly be virtuous? These are issues I hope to further explore.
Monday, July 16, 2007
With all the nostalgia regarding the Brooklyn Dodgers, it is interesting that (i) the Mets have played more games in Shea than the Dodgers played at Ebbets and (ii) there does not seem to be any nostalgia for the NY Giants, who left the same time as the Dodgers.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Generally, I consider myself a "fusionist." I share many of the concerns of traditional conservatives. I worry that civil society is failing and that traditional values are under attack.
Where I differ from traditional conservatives is in the cause and solution. Traditional conservatives, especially in the Bush years, have begun to believe that the way to protect traditional values is through government action. I, however, believe that much of the reason for the decline in values is government intervention itself. When the government promises much, people can walk away from their individual responsibilities. And the more government promises, the more government tries to socially engineer results. And as government usually lacks flexibility, as programs become centralized in Washington, we see one size fits all solutions.
Hence, I believe that the best way is to generally let people find their own way. Government should be limited and any government action (such as what we probably will see on health care in the next administration) should provide the maximum flexibility and choices to individuals. To stick with the health care example, we should see a system that retains most of the elements of the current system, but is tailored to provide choices to those earning too much for Medicaid but not receiving employer health insurance. Single payor, under which every person in America is insured by a federal government program, would be a disaster.
(Of course, if I were a pure libertarian I would say government should have no role in health care, but if the democratic process wants it, at least I can try and push for what I believe is the best system).
Don't feel so bad, he was my governor and attorney general and I voted for him in 1997, and I still needed to look up who he was.
Then it came back to me. He was a decent conservative Republican, more conservative than the GOP as a whole (as is most of Virginia) but without the hint of Confederate nostalgia that you get from fellow Virginian George Allen. When Allen and Santorum lost their Senate races, there seemed to be an opening for a social conservative in the Republican presidential race. Gilmore and Brownback would seem to have the field to themselves, yet neither has developed any momentum or following. Romney has become by default the social conservative candidate, though he is a strange choice.
Perhaps social conservatives are too demoralized or maybe Republicans want to win. Maybe they are waiting for Fred Thompson (who is also a strange choice for a social conservative champion). In any case, the McCain is losing steam, Thompson is sort or in sort of out, and Giuliani seems a strange choice for the GOP. That leaves a big opening for Romney, but it is a long way to next summer's convention.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
A replacement Iraqi Army and police force should have been started pre invasion. At least a cadre should have been formed from the Kurdish and other opposition groups. It is telling that the best units in the post invasion army and police seem to be Kurdish units that came from the pre-invasion Kurdish forces. The oil law should have been passed three years ago, back when it still was the CPA.
Now we hear that despite the fact that the country is going to hell and has only 8 weeks to meet certain benchmarks, the Iraqi parliament is taking the month of August off.
Iraq has only a barely functioning government and army. So long as we remain, the people running the country have no incentive to clean up their act. I am not saying pull out 100% now. But the Iraqi government needs a timetable. Right now, there is no incentive to make the necessary decisions and take the necessary actions as their streets are patrolled by 19 year old American kids.
The Iraqi government is like a 28 year old slacker kid who lives in his parent’s basement and is still "working" on his masters degree (though as far as you can tell, all he does all day is hang out with his slacker friends and maybe goes to the library once a week or so). I want Iraq to have a stable and democratic government. But ultimately, that has to be their doing. Starting September, there needs to be a timetable in place. Aid must be tied to real improvement. And the Kurds need to be given more time.
So Mr. Anonymous:
I stand my my statement that at times libertarianism shades off into crazy land.
As for the Fed, I am aware of its history and the reason for its founding. There had been a push to a central bank and a sounder currency since the Second Bank of the United States lost its charter in the 1830s. We had the national bank system founded in the 1860s. But after the Panic of 1908, there was a real push for a new central bank. There was a minor panic in 1910, so that further incentivized people for a new bank.
That is a gross over simplification, I know. But good enough for this general discussion. Now I need to go look for black helicopters
As for Dr. Paul, I agree with most of what he has to say, but he does say some wacky things at times and does have some "interesting" supporters.
Long live freedom!
Friday, July 13, 2007
Britain developed their program as a way of holding onto superpower status. France developed their out of concerns that the US would tire of its NATO security obligations and leave Europe -- they wanted a force that could if not destroy the USSR, make it too expensive for the Soviets to attack. In a remark attributed to De Gaulle:
Within ten years, we shall have the means to kill 80 million Russians. I truly believe that one does not light-heartedly attack people who are able to kill 80 million Russians, even if one can kill 800 million French, that is if there were 800 million French
So the question becomes, why not remove the rest. An empty gesture maybe? Yes, but the weapons were there to protect Western Europe from the Soviet Union. Today, that enemy no longer exists and much of what was the Warsaw Pact is not part of NATO.
In any event, Europe will not truly be "nuclear free". France and Britain will continue to maintain nuclear forces, and though one could imagine Britain giving up theirs, I would find it hard to imagine France doing the same. But considering the changes in Europe since 1990, maybe this could be a coda or exclamation point noting that the times have changed.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
If nothing else, the Iraq war can at last right one very big historic wrong to the Kurdish peoples.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Why has it taken so long to change tactics?
Some say Hussein was not a threat to the US, but considering the importance of oil to the world economy, he was. I also feel that Bush was essentially saying the same thing the Clinton Administration was saying about Hussein and about his supposed WMD program.
But the WMD program was not really the reason I supported the invasion. One reason was that bin Laden was driven crazy by the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia. These troops were there to protect the Saudi oil fields from Iraq. With Hussein gone, the US troops could leave, and that point of contention would disappear or at least be reduced (for fanatics like bin Laden of course, though, he would just find something new to complain about).
The second reason was to right a wrong that began with the post-World War I settlement in the region. The Kurds were promised their own state after World War I, but the resurgence of Turkey under Mustafa Kemal ended that dream. Gertrude Bell also feared that an independent Kurdistan would be landlocked and would economically weaken the new Iraqi state, so what is now Iraqi Kurdistan (and its oil fields) were included in Iraq. If Michael Totten is to be believed, the Kurds are trying to build a society while Baghdad and the rest of Iraq burns.
So much has gone wrong, but at least for the Kurds it has gone right.
Consider Paul’s upcoming rally in the Bay Area. He has shall we say three interesting featured speakers.
G. Edward Griffin wants to abolish the Federal Reserve. OK, lots of people (like Milton Friedman) want to abolish the Fed (I just want to increase transparency). Griffin, however, believes that the Fed is part of the New World Order conspiracy and was cooked up over a long weekend in Georgia. He also was an early supporter of laetrile and has some sort of connection to the John Birch Society.
Justin Raimondo, a disciple of Murray Rothbard and later a support of Pat Buchanan (as was Rothbard), is something of an extreme libertarian combines that with paleoconservative beliefs. Raimondo ran against his Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi on a platform attacking Pelosi’s vote to send troops to the Balkans in the 1990s. He also believes that Israel has advance knowledge of 9/11 through a circle of spies in the US as art students.
Joe Bannister is a former agent in the IRS Criminal Investigation Division who believes that the income tax is unconstitutional and as the XVIth Amendment was never ratified.
Raimondo has some extreme libertarian beliefs but is innocuous. The other two though should not be sharing a podium with a presidential candidate. Because Paul does attract folks like them, I find it hard to support him.
Monday, July 9, 2007
However, having attended Mass at St. John Cantius here in Chicago, which has a general Indult to use the 1962 Missal, I was surprised to see mostly younger Catholics. There is a beauty, mystery and universality to the Tridentine Mass that is missing from the New Mass so I think we will see a large number of younger Catholic attending.
There are a few roadblocks on the way. For one, most priests will have no experience with the Mass and little faculty for Latin. I also could imagine many priests not being happy with the Latin Mass on theological grounds. Some in the media along with the ADL are also misunderstanding the Good Friday prayer claiming that the old Mass contains anti-Semitic language. The problem is that the language in question (referring to "Faithless Jews") was removed by Pope John XXIII in 1959. The current prayer is very similar to the post 1959 Latin prayer, though couched in more politically correct language.
Another problem is the physical layout of the Churches. Churches built or renovated after 1970 were designed with the New Mass in mind. They may feature a shortened nave, an open sanctuary, and a congregation seated around the altar. The Old Mass will be difficult in such circumstances.
One problem which should be easily solvable is the matter of readings. The Old Mass has two readings on an annual cycle while the New Mass three readings on a three year cycle covering a larger part of Scripture. The should look to broaden the scope of readings in teh New Mass so that the readings in both the New and Old Masses are on the same cycle. This will allow congregants easily move between the Old and New.
Finally, this should be seen as an opportunity for the Church to revisit liturgical music. The Catholic church has a rich history of Latin liturgical music that has been forgotten in the move to vernacular forms. Now might be a good time to incorporate the old Latin hymns into the New Mass.
Already, a blog devoted to the letter is up and running.
I am one who believes that climate change is not totally a fantasy, although I wonder if human factors are dwarfed by solar factors. Still, reducing carbon usage in and of itself is a good – much carbon release into the atmosphere comes from petroleum usage and reducing dependence on oil would be helpful for the world’s economy as well as the environment.
What I believe this really is all about is that the "great and good" (personified by the Gore) are looking for yet another reason to control our lives. First it was because modern civilization was too complex. Then it was because of war. Then it was because of overpopulation. Then it was because only the great and good could provide for everyone.
Now they claim that the climate requires them to control as only they know what is best for the rest of us and for Gaea. Having overthrown one type of feudalism, the old nobility is repackaging it as the way to SAVE THE PLANET.
Let’s be smart about the environment, but let’s not go down the road of feudalism again. Al Gore is a retired politician, let’s not all pay feudal homage to him as Duke of Gaea.
Sunday, July 8, 2007
McCain has never been popular with the GOP Establishment and he is not popular with the party's social conservative wing. This has hurt him in the money primary. I also think he figured he would be the "anointed one" this time (as the GOP tends to view people as having their "turn" -- 1980 was Reagan's turn, 88 was Bush Senior's turn, 96 was Dole's turn and 2000 was a make up for Bush Senior). So I do not think he took fundraising that seriously until it was too late.
Finally, do not underestimate the anger that the immigration bill has generated in the GOP (and I supported the bill). That really hurt him on fundraising. In the money primary, I do not think his support of the Iraq "surge" has hurt him that much (the polls being another matter). But I think the long series of missteps has made it look like he is unlikely to be nominated, which means that contributors are unlikely to give him more money for a losing cause. So it builds on itself.
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Who have I supported?
- 1988 -- Dole (did some volunteer work for him)
- 1996 -- Alexander (though I am not really sure why)
- 2000 -- McCain (did some volunteer work for him)
- 2008 -- McCain (was planning on doing some volunteer work for him)
Notice the trend? Every candidate I have supported has gone down in flames. In fact, had there not been a death in my girlfriend's family I would have been in South Carolina for the disastrous 2000 primary that doomed McCain.
Once McCain drops out I am considering switching parties and supporting Clinton or Obama just to ensure that they go down in flames. In fact, I am now publicly supporting a Clinton-Obama ticket. This way I can knock off the two of them in one sentence.
The attempt was amateurish. this clearly was the terrorist "D Team". The thing is, most terrorists are jokes until they succeed. Terrorists often are complete morons and losers—why else strap on a bomb vest and expect 72 virgins on the other side. Suppose the FBI National Office did not worry about CAIR and gave permission for an agent to look at Moussaoui's hard drive in the summer of 2001 and in doing so allowed the FBI to roll up the whole gang. It would have been hysterical. The dumb terrorist going to flight school to learn how to take off and fly but not land. The “last testament” of Atta asking for women not to touch his body after death (lest they touch (or really want to touch) his manliness).
But even to call terrorists morons and losers is not entirely true. As of this evening, news reports state that at least five of the suspects are medical doctors. Bin Laden himself is the son of a billionaire. Atta was the son of an educated family. this belies the idea that all terrorism is the result of desperation. Something else is at work here. Molsem anger over Iraq is part of It of course, but then again, so is Afghanistan, threats to intervene in Darfur, Israel and the Palestinians, 500 years of Western dominance and Western decadence. Perhaps no real excuse is needed, and those with some education or family advantages feel terrorism is a way to make a mark in the world. Maybe education has provided the terrorists with time to think and brood. Maybe THAT is really the genesis of terrorism.
If this ABC News report is correct, it could be a terrorist summer. As for me, I intend to take Andrew Sullivan's advice.
Considering that President Bush seems unwilling to use a veto pen, why is he in effect vetoing the conviction? To be truthful, I am not entirely sure what to think about the case. It seems to me that Libby probably did not technically violate the law by revealing Valarie Plame's identity. However, he did lie about it to a grand jury. Considering the importance of national security, I cannot see why Bush did it. While Libby MAY not have technically violated the law, the people at the CIA now think that the government will not protect them. These folks, even those technically not covert, rely on their anonymity to do their job. Libby has threatened that anonymity. In lying to a grand jury, Libby ignored the importance of the law.
Of course, National Review is pointing out that President Clinton granted clemency to Puerto Rican terrorists and that Senator Schumer called for clemency to Jonathan Pollard. None of the above deserved clemency, but that does not change the fact that the President Bush was wrong. It is also telling that Bush has rarely granted clemency, and when he has, it has been for actions that occurred long ago.
This is yet another example of President Bush's tone deafness. If there was any doubt, he is now a lame duck, and one that has stopped quacking.