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Friday, September 09, 2005

On This Rock
The Catholic Church is the only institution in human history that has continually survived its own problems and failures. As G.K. Chesterton once said, this is true, "because it has a God Who knew His way out of the grave." Jesus assures us of His continual presence and protection: "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Mt 16:18).

Rather than becoming discouraged, angry, or even rebellious during a difficult time of trial, we must stand fast through prayer and fidelity. We must always pray for our Church, and always trust that God will deliver us from all evil.

Unity in the Catholic Church is damaged when Catholics, be they clergy or lay people, deviate from the deposit of faith, either through an unhealthy attachment to the past or a detrimental deviation, in the name of progress, from authentic Church teaching and discipline. Both postures tear away at the garment of unity.

The Wimpification of Conservatism
All right: I know. There is no such word as “wimpification.” But you know what I mean. I am talking about the bizarre insecurity of the Republican Party spokesmen when the Democrats scowl and express their “concerns” about the possibility that John Roberts may be a pro-life Catholic.

The way they are acting, you would think that was on a par with being a member of an organized crime family.

The Soft Underbelly
Did you notice how many of the stranded helpless were women with children? Women with children and a not a man in sight. This is the soft underbelly of our country. I’m going to hazard a guess that if you could catch the looters — I don’t mean the sensible people who took water and food off grocery shelves, but the guys toting the electric toys — that you’d find almost none of them had a real dad.

Quote of the Day
"How could a readiness for war in time of peace be safely prohibited, unless we could could prohibit, in like manner, the preparations and establishments of every hostile nation?"

-- James Madison (Federalist No. 41, 1788)

Thursday, September 08, 2005

To apply for FEMA aid online, Katrina survivors will need IE 6 - Computerworld
Hurricane Katrina survivors looking to apply online to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for assistance better make sure they're running Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system and using Internet Explorer Version 6 or higher. Internet Explorer 6 is required for the aid applications, according to information on FEMA's Web site.

That means people using Macintosh or Linux computers are unable to file a claim online -- although they can do so by calling the emergency agency by phone.
I tend to look kindly on FEMA's efforts in an emergency and so are in situations where quick decisions are required, which can easily lead to mistakes. After all, they're responding to an unknown situation. But this is dumb. This decision was made (I assume) calmly and rationally and completely wrong. The first rule of web development for the general public is browser compatibility. (One of the sites I develop is an Intranet, so that rule is somewhat lessened, since I'm working in a known environment.)

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

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

"There are two races of men in this world...the 'race' of the decent man and the 'race' of the indecent man." —Victor Frankl

"The shortest and surest way to live with honor in the world is to be in reality what we would appear to be." —Socrates

"The only good bureaucrat is one with a pistol at his head. Put it in his hand and it's good-bye to the Bill of Rights." —H. L. Mencken

"[The situation in New Orleans is] the best commercial for owning a gun I've ever seen." Hugh Hewitt

"This is what we do best, as Americans. We see a need and we do something about it. Decade after decade after decade, anywhere on the planet." —Rich Galen

"Those who called early on for shooting looters on sight should have been listened to—not because property is more valuable than human life, but because when property isn't safe from marauders, human life isn't, either." —Jeff Jacoby

"The physical devastation caused by hurricane Katrina has painfully revealed the moral devastation of our times." —Thomas Sowell

"It is only a matter of hours now that, after any catastrophe anywhere in the world—a tsunami, a hurricane, a terrorist bombing on the London tube—Bush haters find ways to blame President Bush. Hurricane Katrina? Bush haters have pointed their fingers at global warming, the war on terror, the Bush tax cuts, the national dependence on oil—and in every category, Bush is the root of the evil. Forget nature. George W. Bush is more powerful." —Debra Saunders

"No tragedy is so horrific, no calamity so sad, that somebody can't reduce it to politics. Hurricane Katrina was a tragedy for most of us, but a gift of the gods to the kingdom of the left, where everyone gets up every morning eager to count the ways to despise George W. Bush." —Wesley Pruden

"In the past, when I've talked to audiences like this, I've often started off with a lawyer joke, a complete caricature of a lawyer who's been nasty, greedy and unethical. But I've stopped that practice. I gradually realized that the lawyers in the audience didn't think the jokes were funny and the non-lawyers didn't know they were jokes." —Chief Justice William Rehnquist addressing a University of Virginia Law School ceremony years ago

"The New Yorker's Malcolm Gladwell explains how good teeth go bad: 'People without health insurance have bad teeth because, if you're paying for everything out of your own pocket, going to the dentist for a checkup seems like a luxury.' The British, of course, have socialized medicine, which we guess explains why they have such great teeth." —James Taranto

"Is there any problem in the world that is not Mr. Bush's fault, or have we reverted to a belief in a sort of witchcraft where we credit a mortal man with the ability to create terrifying storms and every other kind of ill wind?" —Ben Stein

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

George Will - Leviathan in Louisiana
In 1651, in "Leviathan," Hobbes said that in "the state of nature," meaning in the absence of a civil society sustained by government, mankind's natural sociability, if any, is so tenuous that life is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short." Thoughtful conservatives—meaning those whose conservatism arises from reflections deeper than an aversion to high marginal tax rates—are conservative because they understand how thin and perishable is the crust of civilization, and hence how always near society's surface are the molten passions that must be checked by force when they cannot be tamed by socialization.
So Katrina has provided a teaching moment. This is a liberal hour in that it illustrates the indispensability, and dignity, of the public sector. It also is a conservative hour, dramatizing the prudence of pessimism, and the fact that the first business of government, on which everything depends, is security.
This is part of why conservatives take a kinder eye to dictatorships of the "right" than liberals do. We understand that some societies are not ready for civil government. A dictator can "teach" (often unintentionally) the people the necessary behavior appropriate to and necessary for a liberal democracy. Most dictatorships of the right, tend not be economically oppressive, and so allow the people to develop economic self-sufficiency, which can serve as a prelude to democracy.

Dictatorships of the left (communists, socialists, etc), however, tend to have less of a teaching capability. They're not really interested in individual liberty as much as government planning and economic control and therefore don't "teach" the independence and self-reliance that a democracy and free economy require.

Neither form of dictatorship is good, but a dictatorship of the right can be beneficial in the short to medium term. (I read once it takes two generations to teach democracy, so forty years would seem to be the limit on any dictatorship.) Dictatorships of the left can only lead a nation to ruin.

George Washington Carver
While searching Amazon.com for George Washington, one of the results returned was George Washington Carver's autobiography. This reminded me of a great Simpsons scene:
Mrs. Krabappel: Bart, who was George Washington Carver?
Bart: Uh, the man killed George Washington?

More about the man who did not kill George Washington.

My current Reading
1776 by David McCullough. Overview of the first full year of the American Revolution. I'm a little over halfway through it now. (I'd like to be done by now, but I couldn't resist that Law and order Marathon on TNT yesterday.) The biggest surprise to me so far is how much time was spent by each side preparing and waiting, even while knowing the enemy was very close. Another big surprise was how often Washington's military plans were overruled by his War Council (and how often the War Council was right).

It's common nowadays to belittle Washington's military command abilities, but I think it might do us well to remember who was chosen to lead D-Day. It's commonly accepted (I believe) that Eisenhower couldn't hold a candle to Patton's abilities as a General, but Eisenhower was the correct choice to lead the D-Day invasion since his political skills would enable him to run such a large operation that required so much co-operation with different personalities much better than Patton ever could.

Similarly, Washington may not have been the best choice for Commander-in-chief of the Continental Army (or he may have been, since most experienced military commanders seemed to stick Mother England), but could anyone else have commanded such respect and loyalty from both his underlings and the common soldier? Probably not.

George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens
I went to Mount Vernon Saturday. Very much worth the trip (even with current gas prices).

I'm a Friend of Mount Vernon, so admission was free and I got 10% off at the goft shop and bookstore. I probably made a good bit of my money back. (Especially since my father paid for all the purchases, including the George Washington bobblehead doll!)

We also stopped by the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. I'd never been there before, but it was nice. I will need to go again since there wasn't enough time to see everything. (Especially since the confession line took so long. Someone tied up one of the priests for over half an hour.)

Also, the Mount Vernon Lady's Association, who maintains the estate, doesn't take government money, God bless them, so it's even more worthy of your support!

Which Saint Are you?
You are Athanasius! You are willing to fight a
losing battle, just to make sure that the truth
is told. But don't get discouraged; sometimes
it takes more than one lifetime for truth to

Which Saint Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Some of the answers made me laugh:
If you could write a book, what book would it be?
   The Big Book of Truth: Don't Read It, Just Bash Your Enemies With It Until They Agree With You

Which musical instrument would you play?
   Augh! No music, no music!

What do you demand of your enemies before you can reconcile with them?
   Get out of my country!

Via Dappled Things.

"Faith declares what the senses do not see, but not the contrary of what they see. It is above them, not contrary to them." —Blaise Pascal

"How often do Americans use guns for defensive purposes? We know that in 2003, 12,548 people died through non-suicide gun violence, including homicides, accidents and cases of undetermined intent... Criminologist and researcher Gary Kleck, using his own commissioned phone surveys and number extrapolation, estimates that 2.5 million Americans use guns for defensive purposes each year. He further found that of those who had used guns defensively, one in six believed someone would have been dead if they had not resorted to their defensive use of firearms. That corresponds to approximately 400,000 of Kleck's estimated 2.5 million defensive gun uses. Kleck points out that if only one-tenth of the people were right about saving a life, the number of people saved annually by guns would still be at least 40,000... A gunned-down bleeding guy creates news. A man who spared his family by brandishing a handgun, well, that's just water-cooler chat."—Larry Elder

"On this Labor Day, I proudly join my fellow citizens in saluting our Nation's working men and women. As we celebrate the historic role of our nation's free labor movement, we are reminded that workers have contributed as much to America's social greatness as they have to our economic strength... Because of the quality of the goods and services they produce, we enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the world... By shaping a better future for our workers, we can and will assure continued progress and even greater opportunity for all Americans."—Ronald Reagan

"I don't believe an individual's commitment to helping the less fortunate can be measured by the amount of money one thinks the government should take from others. Having money taken from you does not make you charitable. Conversely, believing the government should leave people's hard-earned money alone does not make one uncharitable. Rather, the charity is in the giving... I believe private charity could assuage most of the problems the government purports to solve with programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start, and welfare. And it can conquer Katrina, too... Federal and local government programs, of course, are making huge efforts and progress as well. The military and police, needless to say, are always invaluable in search and rescue efforts. I don't mean to diminish the good work those public servants have done and will continue to do saving and rebuilding lives. What I do say is that private charity allows the generosity and ingenuity of Americans to meet the unpredictability of life head-on in a way a staid government program never could."—Mary Katharine Ham

Second Quote of the Day
"The establishment of Civil and Religious Liberty was the Motive which induced me to the Field -- the object is attained -- and it now remains to be my earnest wish & prayer, that the Citizens of the United States could make a wise and virtuous use of the blessings placed before them."

-- George Washington (letter to the Reformed German Congregation of New York City, 27 November 1783)

Quote of the Day
"Work as if you were to live 100 Years, Pray as if you were to die To-morrow."

-- Benjamin Franklin (Poor Richard's Almanack, 1757)

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