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Friday, September 02, 2005

Remembrance At Arlington
Washington Post
August 31, 2005
Pg. 22
Remembrance At Arlington

The Associated Press account of gravestone inscriptions that appeared in The Post Aug. 24 suggested that the government is inscribing "Operation Iraqi Freedom" on the headstones of service members for political purposes.

The Department of Veterans Affairs, which is responsible for providing headstones for veterans, always has inscribed the names of wars on the headstones of veterans. "Operation Iraqi Freedom" is the official name for the current conflict in Iraq. Inscriptions are requested in writing by families and signed by their representative. The families decide what is on their loved one's headstone, not the government.

No doubt, if the government refused to inscribe "Operation Iraqi Freedom" on those headstones, we would be charged with trying to cover up casualties. Let's be fair. And let's end silly reporting.

Scott Hogenson, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, Department of Veterans Affairs, Washington

Quote of the Day
"Laws that forbid the carrying of arms... disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man."

-- Cesare Beccaria (On Crimes and Punishment, quoted by Thomas Jefferson in Commonplace Book)

Reference: The Commonplace Book, Jefferson (298-316)

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Don't follow the news
It'll only disgust you. Reading about roving bands of armed looters, men pointing guns at doctors demanding to be in the next group of those rescued, threatening to kill people trying to prevent looting, shooting at volunteers and helicopters coming to help people. It's disgusting.

I'm reminded of a quote from Men in Black: "A *person* is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it." Unfortunately, some residents of New Orleans are proving the truth of that statement. It's unfortunate, but the only thing that may stop this is some well-placed bullets.

Hopefully, I can follow my own advice.

JIMMY AKIN.ORG: Price Gouging
Jimmy Akin present a good summary of the economic situation following a disaster, and why raising prices following during a crisis is not necessarily immoral. A must read.
To sum up:
  • While the Church doesn't seem to use the term "price gouging," it does recognize that one can immorally force up prices to take advantage of others' hardship.
  • This is not the same thing, though, as having the natural price point of a resource change due to a disaster.
  • It is not greedy to charge the new natural price of a thing, but it is generous to charge less.
  • Doing so may help some but may not help the right ones since it may prevent those who need the resource more from getting it since others may fail to conserve the resource if prices are kept artifically low.
  • In certain and extreme circumstances (which we haven't fully explored) one can simply take what one needs without it being stealing.
  • The government has a right to regulate the exercise of private property rights, but there must be caution in this area because the government usually isn't as efficient as the market.

Jay Nordlinger's Impromptus on National Review Online
You have to remember this: George W. Bush can do no right. You've learned this lesson, haven't you? It's the first principle of much of our political discourse.

Consider the case of the Iraqi constitution: For years we heard, "George W. Bush is trying to impose American democracy and American values on Middle Easterners. That's cultural and political imperialism. It will never work." Bush et al. always responded, "No, we're not. We are trying to allow Middle Easterners themselves to enjoy self-government." So, the Iraqis — after much arduous and noble work — draft their constitution: and then all the critics say, "It's not American enough, it's not liberal enough, it's too Islamic! Why are we not imposing our values?" (They don't say that last part — but they imply it.)

Don't forget: George W. Bush can do no right. Cannot be seen to have done any right.
I had a memory the other day: In March 1983, President Reagan announced the Strategic Defense Initiative — a program to build a kind of shield against nuclear missiles. I was in college at the time, surrounded by anti-nuke leftists. And all of a sudden — the day after — these same anti-nuke leftists were defending and praising "MAD," Mutual Assured Destruction.

I have often thought: What if someone other than Ronald Reagan, whom they hated, had proposed an anti-missile defense? Would they not have embraced it? What is the morality of responding to a nuclear attack by lobbing nuclear missiles at the other side, killing millions of innocents? That's what Reagan didn't want to do — wouldn't do. Hence, the pursuit of a defense system.

But no, the presence of Reagan in the Oval Office made these anti-nuke leftists apologists for, and rationalizers of, MAD. And because George W. Bush is in the Oval Office, truculent or murderous Sunni Arabs are the Left's best friends.


You didn't find any of us opposing welfare reform or NAFTA, just because President Clinton had endorsed them, did you? Then again, these were Republican initiatives — opposed by a majority of congressional Democrats. So I suppose they don't count!
In his column yesterday, WFB says, "And it was the chief executive — President Ronald Reagan — who in 1981 fired the [air-traffic] controllers who struck illegally, barring them from reemployment."

Remember what Reagan used to say? "I didn't fire them — they quit!" He'd say so because their contract said — if you strike, you're terminated, period. Reagan interpreted that to mean, if you're striking, you're quitting.

Priceless Gipper.
I hope conservatives on the Senate Judiciary Committee will question John Roberts, hard. It should not be their primary concern — certainly their sole concern — to protect him from liberal attacks.

When Roberts was at Hogan & Hartson, he coached the plaintiffs in the Colorado "gay rights" case. First of all, does Roberts believe the voters of Colorado acted unconstitutionally when they passed the referendum they did? Second, what did he tell his mentees about Bowers v. Hardwick, the Georgia sodomy case? Apparently, they were concerned about what to say if some justice asked, "Will ruling for you require our overturning Bowers?" Did Roberts advise them to say no? If so, does he believe that was an honest answer? Third, why did he not mention this work in his Senate questionnaire?

Look, for all I know, Roberts is as pure as the driven snow. I hope he is. But liberal concerns should not be the only concerns that get aired about him. The committee's conservatives should not be "potted plants," to use Brendan Sullivan's immortal phrase. Neither should they be nominee protectors, solely.

I realize that Roberts was a true-bluer when he was a lad in the Reagan administration. But sometimes they do "grow," you know. That's something that keeps us up nights.
"Dear Jay: I see that, in Louisiana, Wal-Mart is trying to give away supplies. And people — even cops and firemen — are looting them. But never forget that Wal-Mart is a heartless, inhuman organization."

I never will.

By the way, Paul Johnson — in the current NR — writes that hating America is the equivalent of hating humanity. He makes a good case. He notes — as I have noted — that those who hate this country tend to hate people at large. I would make a similar observation about those who hate Wal-Mart. The people who shop there, and work there, are just so icky — you know, the shorts, the tank tops, the accents, the guts. Icky, icky, icky.

My comments on American anti-Americanism in Tuesday's Impromptus occasioned many letters, of which I would like to share this gem:
I'm in the Army and do a fair amount of traveling to all parts of Asia. We were in Starbucks in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand and two stinky hippies walked into the place and ordered. Of course they left no tip. (It would have been so American.) They sit down and start commenting on how the rest of us white folks don't get a true "Thai experience." They go on to compare the beauty of everything Thai with the ugliness of everything American. I mean, they put down our healthcare system, our public-transportation system — everything.

Finally, this one well-dressed older Thai man (maybe sixties or seventies) asks the girls when they moved to Thailand. They looked perplexed, then told him they hadn't, but were there on vacation and would return home in a week. The whole time he had a smile on his face until the end when he got up to leave. He says, "Why are you in such a hurry to return to a place that treats its people so bad?" Then he walked away without waiting for an answer.

Turns out this guy worked as an interpreter for some Special Forces guys during the Vietnam War and has loved everything American ever since.:
That letter is manna from heaven.
Godd collection today.

Quote of the Day
"The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse."

-- James Madison (speech in the Virginia constitutional convention, 2 December 1829)

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Walter E. Williams: Gasoline prices
With the recent spike in gas prices, the government has chosen not to pursue stupid policies of the past. As a result, we haven't seen shortages. We haven't seen long lines. We haven't seen gasoline station fights and riots. Why? Because price has been allowed to perform its valuable function -- that of equating demand with supply.

"By pursuing his own interest [every individual] frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good." —Adam Smith

"In Paris they simply stared when I spoke to them in French; I never did succeed in making those idiots understand their own language." —Mark Twain

"Restoring the American Republic needs to be a central part of the next conservatism." —Paul M. Weyrich

"Much of today's security measures are little more than a panicked response to terrorism and not likely to ever go away because Americans are coming to accept it as normal." —Walter Williams

"Bean-counting government bureaucrats are free to take race, ethnicity and gender into account when doling out public funds to non-white-male contractors. But God help law enforcement officers, air marshals and border agents who try to use those same factors to combat terrorism and protect American lives." —Michelle Malkin

"All those who support the American war in Iraq should make a deal with anyone opposed to the war. Offer to answer any 20 questions the opponents wish to ask if they will answer just one: Do you believe we are fighting evil people in Iraq?" —Dennis Prager

"The U.S. intelligence community is palsied by lawyers. When we were going to capture Osama bin Laden, for example, the lawyers were more concerned with bin Laden's safety and his comfort than they were with the officers charged with capturing him. We had to build an ergonomically designed chair to put him in, special comfort in terms of how he was shackled into the chair. They even worried about what kind of tape to gag him with so it wouldn't irritate his beard. The lawyers are the bane of the intelligence community." —Michael Scheuer, a former terrorism analyst for the CIA

"Once the justices depart, as most of them have, from the original understanding of the principles of the Constitution, they lack any guidance other than their own attempts at moral philosophy, a task for which they have not even minimal skills. Yet when it rules in the name of the Constitution, whether it rules truly or not, the Court is the most powerful branch of government in domestic policy. The combination of absolute power, disdain for the historic Constitution, and philosophical incompetence is lethal." —Robert Bork

"The New York Times brings us this hilarious item about Jonathan Klein, president of CNN's domestic operations: 'Mr. Klein said CNN is looking at the long term and trying to set itself apart as a news organization that wants to reach the serious news viewer, one who watches less TV news over all, and is younger than the steady audience for more tabloid news fare.' 'CNN: The network serious viewers don't watch when they're not watching TV'." —James Taranto

"People for the American Way said they will oppose Supreme Court nominee John Roberts. They said he tried to narrow civil rights and women's rights and environmental rights. These rights can be found in the U.S. Constitution only if Ouija is in the mood to talk." —Argus Hamilton

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The More Things Change . . .: Parallels Between the Old and New Covenants
Worth reading.

Stop Your Sobbing
In an article urging the Washington Nationals, not to give up on the wild card chase yet, Thomas Boswell make s a point about one of the (many) reasons the wild card sucks:
In this era of interleague play, regional rivalries and an excessive number of games against division foes, baseball has a dirty secret. Some teams start with a huge, undeserved advantage. This year, Houston won this schedule lottery.

If the final standings ended as they are now, the Nationals would play an astronomical 100 games this season against winning teams. At least other NL East clubs have had a similar burden: the Mets would meet 103 winners, Philadelphia 93, Florida 90.

But what about Houston? As matters now stand, the Astros would play only 55 games against winning teams this year.

The Mets 103. The Nats 100. The Astros 55. Okay, sure, that's fair. On Mars.

JIMMY AKIN.ORG: The Economics Of Star Trek 1
Jimmy Akin discusses something that had always bothered me as well: the lack of money in Star Trek. It's not that once we've evolved beyond greed and what-have-you (which we won't thanks to our fallen nature); it's that money makes things easier!

But he explains it much better than I'm going to, so just go there.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Thank You, and Good Night.
Steve & I did our last show on Tuesday night (8/23), though we didn't realize it at the time.

WILM has decided to drop NewsTalkPM in favor of the nationally-syndicated Michael Savage ("Savage Nation") . He makes Rush Limbaugh look like a bleeding-heart liberal, so most listeners may not notice the change at first.

St. Maximos' Hut -
A new blog devoted to the intersection of religion and economics. Should be a good read.

Here's an interesting start:
....I was reminded of a radio show I heard many years ago, while driving across West Texas. One minister recounted how another minister had told him how God had answered his prayers and healed a headache the second minister had before a major sermon. The first minister commented on how arrogant the second minister was, to demand a miracle to cure his headache when God had already provided aspirin. Surely it is arrogant for us to pray for miracles to relieve drought and poverty when God has already handed us the means to do so - markets. Again, however, we rarely hear moral criticism of those who refuse the miracle of the market and insist that God (or someone) perform the far greater miracle of making economic planning work.

"If we take the generally accepted definition of bravery as a quality which knows not fear, I have never seen a brave man. All men are frightened. The more intelligent they are, the more they are frightened. The courageous man is the man who forces himself, in spite of his fear, to carry on." —General George Patton

"If physical things please you, then praise God for them, but turn back your love to Him who created them, lest in the things that please you, you displease Him. If souls please you, love them in God; for in themselves they are changeable, but in Him they are firmly established. Without Him they pass away and perish. In Him, then, let them be loved, and carry along with you to Him as many souls as you can, and say to them, 'Let us love Him, let us love Him; He made the world and is not far from it. He did not make all things and then leave them, but they are of Him and in Him'." —Saint Augustine

"Cultural Marxism is a particularly nasty ideology, as we see all around us in its products (just turn on the television; the cultural Marxists took over Hollywood decades ago). But all ideology is wrong, because the concept of ideology is wrong in itself. Society cannot be made to fit some abstract scheme dreamed up by this or that thinker, and attempts to make it do so always result in disaster. To see the truth, all we need to do is compare most aspects of life in America in the 1950s, our last non-ideological decade, with life now. The next conservatism should work to get our old country back." —Paul Weyrich

"[T]he welfare state...not only encourages the poor to stay dependent, it kills individuals' desire to help them." —John Stossel

"I once thought there was too much poverty for private charity to make much of a difference. Now I realize that private charity would do much more—if government hadn't crowded it out. In the 1920s—the last decade before the Roosevelt administration launched its campaign to federalize nearly everything—30 percent of American men belonged to mutual aid societies, groups of people with similar backgrounds who banded together to help members in trouble. They were especially common among minorities. Mutual aid societies paid for doctors, built orphanages and cooked for the poor. Neighbors knew best what neighbors needed. They were better at making judgments about who needs a handout and who needed a kick in the rear. They helped the helpless, but administered tough love to the rest. They taught self-sufficiency. Mutual aid didn't solve every problem, so government stepped in. But government didn't solve every problem either. Instead, it caused more problems by driving private charity out. Today, there are fewer mutual-aid societies, because people say, 'We already pay taxes for HUD, HHS. Let the professionals do it.' Big Government tells both the poor and those who would help them, 'Don't try.'... When you rely on the government to help those who need it, you don't practice benevolence yourself. You don't take responsibility for deciding whom to help. Just as public assistance discourages the poor from becoming independent by rewarding them with fixed handouts, it discourages the rest of us from being benevolent. This may be the greatest irony of the welfare state: It not only encourages the poor to stay dependent, it kills individuals' desire to help them." —John Stossel

"We all share the love of peace, but our sons and daughters must learn two lessons men everywhere and in every time have had to learn; that the price of freedom is dear but not nearly so costly as the loss of freedom—and that the advance and continuation of civilization depend on those values for which men have always been willing to die." —Ronald Reagan

"The stated reason for going to war with Iraq is that our intelligence agencies surmised Saddam Hussein had, or was near having, nuclear, biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction. Intelligence is never perfect. During World War II, our intelligence agencies thought that Germany was close to having an atomic bomb. That intelligence was later found to be flawed, but it played an important role in the conduct of the war. Since intelligence is always less than perfect, we're forced to decide which error is least costly. Leading up to our war with Iraq, the potential errors confronting us were: Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and we incorrectly assumed he didn't. Or, he didn't have weapons of mass destruction and we incorrectly assumed he did. Both errors are costly, but which is more costly? It's my guess that it would have been more costly for us to make the first error: Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and we incorrectly assumed he didn't." —Walter Williams

Away from Me, Satan
As Christians, we need to be willing to embrace suffering. We do not go looking for it; we are not masochists. However, we must be willing to embrace it when it is sent by God as a means to a greater good. Just as we suffer when exercising our bodies for our physical and emotional health, so we suffer when exercising our soul for our emotional and spiritual health. When we say no to our sinful desires, we build virtue and avoid spiritual diseases. When we fight laziness or fatigue in order to pray, we nourish our relationships with God and give Him fitting worship. When we sacrifice making purchases in order to give money to the poor, we suffer for the sake of the Kingdom.

But Jesus is here to help us. He invites us to unite our suffering with His on the Cross. St. Paul reminds us of this beautiful reality of our faith when he says: "I beg you...offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, your living worship."

Where's the mystery?
Everyone seems to be wondering why Muslim terrorists are so quick to commit suicide.

Let's see now:

No Jesus.
No Wal-Mart.
No television.
No cheerleaders.
No baseball.
No football.
No basketball.
No hockey.
No golf.
No Auto Racing.
No tailgate parties.
No Home Depot.
No pork BBQ.
No hot dogs.
No burgers.
No lobster.
No shellfish, or even frozen fish sticks.
No gumbo.
No jambalaya.
More than one wife. (HELLO, ARE YOU CRAZY?)
Rags for clothes and towels for hats.
Constant wailing from the guy next-door because he's sick and there are no doctors.
Constant wailing from the guy in the tower.
No chocolate chip cookies.
No Girl Scout cookies.
No Christmas.
You can't shave.
Your wives can't shave.
You can't shower to wash off the smell of donkey cooked over burning camel dung.
The women have to wear baggy dresses and veils at all times.
Your bride is picked by someone else.
She smells just like your donkey, but your donkey has a better disposition.

Then they tell you that when you die it all gets better!


Quote of the Day
"Why haven't [high gasoline prices] hurt more? First, the U.S. has been making dramatically more efficient use of energy for the past 30 years. Each American uses roughly the same amount of energy he used in 1973, but the nation's economic output has risen 74 percent in real terms. Second... very simply, we're spending twice as much on oil, but our incomes are three times greater. Also, with much higher incomes, we meet our basic needs more easily, so we have the cash to pay the higher oil prices" -- James Glassman, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

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