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Saturday, June 17, 2006

Cafeteria Catholics?
The term “cafeteria Catholics” has been used over the years by Catholics on the Right to criticize those who pick and choose among the Church’s teachings on issues such as abortion, birth control, divorce, women priests and homosexuality.

But I have noticed a new trend: Catholics on the political Left are now using the term as well. They apply it to conservative Catholics who refuse to toe the line with the hierarchy on capital punishment, the war in Iraq, immigration and the social programs favored by the Democratic Party.

Is this a case of turnabout being fair play? I say no. There is a difference. Catholics who dissent on abortion, birth control, divorce, homosexuality and women priests contend that the Church is in error on these teachings. Those who dissent on capital punishment, immigration, the war in Iraq and the welfare state do not take that position. Their disagreement centers on how the Church’s teachings, which they accept, should be applied in particular circumstances.
There's another difference as well: the issues some conservatives disagree on are usual not defined domga of the Church. Issues such as those lsited above as liberal disagreements are settled teachings. Even the death penlty is up for discussion since the Catechism says that it can be used when there's no other way to protect society. While it goes on to say those situations are "very rare, if not practically nonexistent." (2267) There's a strong statement against it, but there's a little wiggle room. No such wiggle room exists on the issues where liberals dissent.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Batter's Box Interactive Magazine - Franchising, Part 1
Interesting review of national league franchises historical performance and their overall record. Some surprises. Would you believe the Cubs and Pirates have winning records through their history, and the Braves a losing record (they were awful when they were in Boston)?

The Phillies? Well, they've historically phloundered, being the most games under .500 of any major league team:
Philadelphia Phillies (8679-9878) - Losers since May 15, 1922
The Phillies are one of the Ancient teams - their record goes back to 1883, and once upon a time it was a fine record indeed. They had a pretty good team in the 1890s, and a very good team in the mid 1910s. By 1917, the franchise record was 138 games above .500 - and that is the best it would ever be. That December, they dumped Pete Alexander for a couple of nondescript players and a big whack of cash. They were punished... lordy, but they were punished. In 1921, they went 51-103 and went into the 1922 season with their all-time record just one game above .500. After a bit of see-sawing above and below .500, they gave up the ghost on May 15, 1922, when they were hammered 19-7 by St. Louis. It dropped their season mark to 11-13, and their all-time record to 2728-2729. It was also the first game of a 12 losing streak en route to a 57-96 record. They've had a losing record ever since. The farthest they've fallen was just a few years ago - by the end of the 2000 season, the team lost 1242 games more than they had won. So they fired Terry Francona, and have begun the log slow crawl upwards... and it's probable that none of us will live to see them make it. They come into this season 1199 games under - the worst mark in all the majors.

The Federalist Papers
This is cool. The Federalist Papers online. Maybe now I'll finally get back to reading them again.

Greatest Campaign Ad of All Time
This guy's either nuts or got a great sense of humor. (I'm betting it's the latter.) Either way, I want him in Congress.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Democracy Versus Liberalism
Jonah Goldberg had a good post on why democracy should not necessarily be our goal in Iraq. As he points out, democracy does not necessarily mean freedom. History is full of examples of democracies gone bad, Germany prior to Hitler's ascension being the most prominent example.

He argues instead for liberalism, in the classic sense of the word, not the modern perverted meaning. How we mean liberalism? As he puts it: "rule of law, individual liberty, free markets, free expression, etc etc." or what we call conservatism nowadays since the unfortunate shift in the meaning of liberalism. Conservatism, as a non-ideological philosophy, does not demand a particular form of government, depending rather on the cultural and political heritage of each nation or people to determine what form of government is best in that time and place.

Democracy would not have worked in 9th Century England, for example, because they didn't have a history of the ideals that democracy would require. In a similar vein, almost any form of government other than democracy would have failed in England in the 19th Century because by then their culture and society presupposed democratic institutions.

So what does this mean for Iraq? There is no significant history of democratic/republican institutions, or even their precursors, in Iraq. If we hadn't imposed decolonization on the British Empire following World War II, perhaps they could have passed the concept of freedom on to the Iraqi people, but unfortunately they didn't have time.

While it may be true that all people have the yearning in their heart to be free and make their own decisions in a democracy, if they haven't developed the good habits necessary to sustain such a vision, the democracy will inevitably decline. People will choose security over freedom, attempt to vote themselves money out of public funding, and attempt to turn the democratic government to their own advantage rather than seeking the common good. It's for that reason, democracies can only flourish in areas that have the necessary precursors that Goldberg details.

For example, rule of law is a must for a stable democracy. Now, by rule of law, we don't mean just that laws are enforced evenly and in an unbiased manner. Perhaps even more importantly, it means that laws are predictable from day to day and aren't subject to sudden changes. If people can't make plans because they don't know what will be illegal tomorrow, then a stable yet growing society is impossible. I think American often don't realize how important this is; it's so ingrained in our society that we can't take it for granted because we don't even notice it.

A free market can be an excellent way to learn democracy. It teaches people self-reliance, so they to not to rely on outside (such as governmental) assistance, while also teaching the importance of community, since all free economic transactions require agreement and cooperation. Government can have a role to play here, especially at the beginning of a free market: making sure the transactions are done fairly, ie full disclosure laws, verifying measurements are done properly, etc.

Unfortunately, we don't really see these traditions existing in Iraq, or other Middle Eastern countries, for that matter. Turkey is working towards it, but even there, we're probably not ready for full-blown democracy since the instincts of the extremists in society are frequently kept in check by the understanding of impending military takeovers of the government. Iran is theoretically a democracy, but there the clerics have so much power, they're really in many ways more of theocracy.

Back when the invasion of Iraq was first undertaken, I stated it would take at least two generations until democracy really took hold there. (I hadn't started blogging yet, so I can't prove that to you, but I promise I said it.) I still believe that. As I said above, these traits take time to instill, but it can be done. India at one time had no real democratic traditions, but they are now the world's largest democracy. There's no reason, with time and patience (that last attribute sorely lacking in America today), the same can't be true in Iraq. But trying to do it too fast could destroy the whole project, and I fear that may be the result.

Eve Tushnet on "Ex-Gay" Ministries on National Review Online
I think this a good look at "ex-gay" ministries: they can help some people, but they're definitely not for everybody. The author is a pretty popular blogger among Cathlic. (I personally don't enjoy her site, but I think it's a style thing. She's very artistic, and that's not me. Hube might like some of her stuff since she's into comic books.)

Good read.

UPDATE (3:43 PM): Dappled Things has some links to good blog posts Tushnet has written about the speakers at the conference she discusses at the link above, how homosexuality and Catholicism intersect,("If I had grown up heterosexual, I don't know if I would be Catholic today."), and how to be happy and holy as a homosexual without changing your orientation. Although that's not a cross I have to deal with, it was still interesting reading.

Today in Delaware History
1776 Separation Day: according to the dictates of the Continental Congress, Delaware officially declared itself free of King George III and British control.

Once again, Delaware's ahead of the curve. The rest of the country joined us a month later.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Economics 101
DelaThought posts about an attempt to raise the minimum in Congress. I recall reading about a similar effort here in Delaware, but can't find it right now.

When do-gooders were concerned that too many people were enjoying themselves by smoking cigarettes, what was one of their tactics to reduce smoking? Raising the price of cigarettes through special tax increases. Why did they do that? Because people buy less of something when it's more expensive.

How are people reacting to the recent increases in gas prices? They're trying to save on gas money by driving less. Why? Because people buy less of something when it's more expensive.

Now, we're told we must raise the minimum wage to help the poor. But, as we know, people buy less of something when it's more expensive. So how will having fewer jobs help the poor?

I read an article a few weeks ago about how politicnas aren't really in the business of helping people. Rather, they're in the business of appearing to help people. Helping people won't get them re-elected if they don't get the credit, so it's more important to them to look like they are rather than actually help them. If people get helped, so much better, but that's just a happy coincidence.

The minimum wage is an example of this. It appears to help people by giving them more money. What we don't see is the people who don't get jobs, or even lose them, as a result. A low-paying job is still better than none at all, because it gives you the work experience you need to get a better one.

A simple rule government should borrow from doctors: first of all, do no harm. Raising the minimum wage will harm those who can least afford to be hurt: the poor.

Quote-a-palooza - Flag Day Edition
"Patriotism is as much a virtue as justice, and is as necessary for the support of societies as natural affection is for the support of families." —Benjamin Rush

"This flag, which we honor and under which we serve, is the emblem of our unity, our power, our thought and purpose as a nation. It has no other character than that which we give it from generation to generation... Though silent, it speaks to us—speaks to us of the past, of the men and women who went before us, and of the records they wrote upon it." —Woodrow Wilson

"I want the people of all the earth to see in the American flag the symbol of a Government which intends no oppression at home and no aggression abroad, which in the spirit of a common brotherhood provides assistance in time of distress." —Calvin Coolidge

"It was leadership here at home that gave us strong American influence abroad, and the collapse of imperial Communism. Great nations have responsibilities to lead, and we should always be cautious of those who would lower our profile, because they might just wind up lowering our flag." —Ronald Reagan

"No other military force in history has been so tightly limited in its defensive actions. And probably no other military force has been sufficiently disciplined to maintain such restrictive rules in the heat of combat. God bless our troops." —Tony Blankley

"Property rights form the heart of liberty. For without such protection, the line between what belongs to you, what belongs to your neighbor and what belongs to the government blurs hopelessly, usually according to the whims of the latter." —David Keene

"To describe as 'radical' those who wish to preserve the man-woman-based definition of marriage known to every civilization is to stand the word on its head. It is beyond intellectually dishonest—it is mendacity—to describe those who favor preserving the definition of marriage as 'radical' rather than to so describe those who wish to change the gender-based definition of marriage for the first time in history." —Dennis Prager

"In Canada, the retreat into denial was instantaneous... [O]fficials said the alleged plotters came from 'a variety of backgrounds' and the 'broad strata' of Canadian society because 'some are students, some are employed, some are unemployed.' They might as well have said the accused plotters were diverse because they all liked different ice cream. The relevant fact was that they were all Muslim and nearly all attended a single radical mosque. But it would be rude to mention that." —Jonah Goldberg

"Remember sin? Sinful is what we were before we became 'dysfunctional'." —Cal Thomas

Jay Leno: Hey, remember how President Bush promised to create jobs? He recently announced the latest job opening he created: head of al-Qa'ida in Iraq. Of course, the question now, is who will be the next al-Qa'ida leader? Sounds like a bad reality show on Al Jazeera. ... The Air Force got Zarqawi by dropping two 500 pond bombs on his safe house. 500 pounds? Do they even have to go off at that point? ... According to a recent study, Massachusetts has some of the worst drivers in the nation, but in fairness, they do have the Kennedys. That throws the curve way off. ... Congressman Patrick Kennedy was released from rehab this week. In fact, they took precautions in Washington. They placed concrete barriers in front of the concrete barriers. ... Actually, Kennedy wasn't cured, the doctors made him leave. They said, "Cure a Kennedy? We're doctors not miracle workers." ... Vice President Dick Cheney gave the commencement speech at his old high school in Casper, Wyoming last weekend. He told the graduating seniors to aim high because if they didn't they might shoot someone in the face. ... Al Gore's movie is a pretty sobering film. Critics are calling it a wake-up call, which is pretty amazing. Who ever thought Al Gore would be giving people a wake-up call? ... They also said if global warming continues, tropical countries to the south will become too hot to live in and their desperate citizens will flee north, which means millions of Mexicans could sneak into the United States. Oh like that would ever happen.

It's Flag Day!
I Pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Take some time at 7 PM tonight to remember our flag and join in the 27th Annual Pause for the Pledge of Allegiance.

Hube got linked to on the Corner!
For this post. K-Lo's a sucker for 80s music.

Congrats, Hube!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Townhall.com :: Columns :: Random thoughts by Thomas Sowell - Jun 13, 2006
The beauty of doing nothing is that you can do it perfectly. Only when you do something is it almost impossible to do it without mistakes. Therefore people who are contributing nothing to society except their constant criticisms can feel both intellectually and morally superior.

"We are a nation of immigrants," we are constantly reminded. We are also a nation of people with ten fingers and ten toes. Does that mean that anyone who has ten fingers and ten toes should be welcomed and given American citizenship?

Equal treatment of individuals does not mean equal treatment of behavior. That is why a polygamist is on the FBI's "most wanted" list. He is not allowed to redefine marriage to suit himself any more than the advocates of "gay marriage" are.

If politics were like baseball, the Republicans would be smart to trade Senator John McCain to the Democrats for Senator Joseph Lieberman, even if they had to throw in a future draft choice. [NOTE: In baseball, draft picks aren't tradeable.]

At least half of the popular fallacies about economics come from assuming that economic activity is a zero-sum game, in which what is gained by someone is lost by someone else. But transactions would not continue unless both sides gained, whether in international trade, employment, or renting an apartment.

A headline in the San Francisco Chronicle offered this prescription for California's problems: "The Golden State needs big, bold ideas to solve the puzzle its future presents." But big bold ideas have been behind many -- if not most -- of California's problems, as well as disasters in countries around the world.

The idea that other people don't have the same rights that you do was once the mark of the ignorant. But today it is the mark of too many of our elite universities, where those who disagree with the prevailing political correctness are either silenced by speech codes or shouted down if they are speakers invited on campus to present a different viewpoint.

More than half of all people filing income tax forms use someone else to prepare the forms for them. Then they have to sign under penalty of perjury that these forms are correct. But if they were competent to determine that, why would they have to pay someone else to do their taxes for them in the first place?
I always enjoy his "Random thoughts" columns.

2006 Fundraiser on National Review Online
“NRO is a frequent stop on my daily news/opinion surf. Its contributors are often linked by other sites I read, from Prof. Reynolds to TPMcafe. Also, I need my Mark Levin, and I read Mark Steyn wherever I find him. Hey, thanks for including BÖC in the Conservative Top 50 and the second tier, and my well wishes to the entire NRO crew.”

— Buck Dharma, Blue Öyster Cult
He's got a fever, and the only prescription is more National eview Online!

Monday, June 12, 2006

"Let the American youth never forget, that they possess a noble inheritance, bought by the toils, and sufferings, and blood of their ancestors." —Joseph Story

"That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinions of others, to do so would be wise, or even right. These are good reasons for remonstrating with him, or reasoning with him, or persuading him, or entreating him, but not for compelling him, or visiting him with any evil, in case he do otherwise." —John Stuart Mill

"Most Americans intuitively understand that mothers and fathers are different, and that kids need both. Claiming that same sex couples can be married is claiming that sex is irrelevant to parenting. No one outside of a university really believes that. But an intuitive understanding is not good enough to sustain us through the arguments that are coming our way in the Culture Wars. We have to articulate what we believe and why. We have to understand that the very concept of gender and sex is under attack." —Jennifer Roback Morse

"Our government has no power except that granted it by the people. It is time to check and reverse the growth of government, which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed. It is my intention to curb the size and influence of the Federal establishment and to demand recognition of the distinction between the powers granted to the Federal Government and those reserved to the States or to the people. All of us need to be reminded that the Federal Government did not create the States; the States created the Federal Government. Now, so there will be no misunderstanding, it's not my intention to do away with government. It is rather to make it work—work with us, not over us; to stand by our side, not ride on our back. Government can and must provide opportunity, not smother it; foster productivity, not stifle it." —Ronald Reagan

"Reaganite conservatives have been the mainstay of the GOP for more than 20 years, and many of them are disgusted with the abandonment of Reaganite principles at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. If they had wanted skyrocketing budgets, new federal bureaucracies, more regulation of political speech, and stalemates on immigration, energy, and Social Security, they say, they would have voted for Democrats. Instead they voted for Republicans—and what did they get? Skyrocketing budgets, new federal bureaucracies, more regulation of political speech, and stalemates on immigration, energy, and Social Security. Though the conservatives' exasperation isn't new, it was muted after Sept. 11 to preserve a common front in the war on terrorism. But now the pot is boiling over. Conservatives are shifting into Howard Beale mode: They're mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. Many may simply sit out the election this November, even if that means letting Democrats take over Congress." —Jeff Jacoby

Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty
Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee.
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty,
God in three persons, blessed Trinity!

Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore thee,
casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
cherubim and seraphim falling down before thee,
which wert, and art, and evermore shalt be.

Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide thee,
though the eye of sinful man thy glory may not see,
only thou art holy; there is none beside thee,
perfect in power, in love and purity.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All thy works shall praise thy name, in earth and sky and sea.
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty,
God in three persons, blessed Trinity.
This is what a hymn should be. It was Morning Prayer's hymn yesterday for the feast of the Holy Trinity. I sang that one loud and proud.

Warning: link automatically plays a music file. I hate that.

We're Number One!! We're Number One!!
Althought not for a good thing....

Richard Brookhiser writes about his book tour:
So far the prize for the kookiest state goes to Delaware, where I got one Anti-Masonic question, and one Anti-Catholic question (if those two people had been at the same event, they could have mauled each other). The Founders took it in their stride.
I mentioned the anti-Catholic question in my review of that event. I was even not rude to the questioner when I bumped into him again later that evening. I'm sorry I missed the anti-Masonic question. I'm not as down on them as some are. (I don't believe they're a Satanic conspiracy to thwart the return of Christ.) It just would have been amusing.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Stephen Barr: Truth of Science and Revelation
University of Delaware Professor Stephen Barr (bio) has an article in this month's issue of Columbia magazine, published by the Knights of Columbus, that deals with the relationship between science and religion. (It's not available online.) To summarize, he points out that there is no conflict between evolution and religion: science tells us how the human body developed (i.e., how God chose to have it develop) and religion tells us the origin of the soul. The Catholic Church has long supported the theory of evolution. (One of our priests, Gregor Mendel, is the father of genetics, as Barr reminds us in a separate interview.) He points out that evolution in no way denies the dignity of men:
...[O]ur dignity does not come from our physical origins. In fact, the Bible reminds us over and over that "we are dust." Rather, our dignity comes from being made "in the image of God," having a spiritual nature that in some way resembles his own.
Barr continues on to discuss intelligent design, saying:
The fact is, it's far from proven that natural selection is enough to account for the complexity of living things. If some biologists were more humble and textbooks more honest, they would simply admit this.

The intelligent design movement goes even further, however. Proponents of intelligent design believe that Darwinism cannot explain life's complexity, and that therefore one can prove scientifically that there is an "intelligent designer" of living things.

Must Catholics agree with them? Well, yes and no. Obviously, God is infinitely intelligent and he designed the world and all it contains. In that sense, all Catholics believe in "intelligent design." However, believing God designed the world doesn't mean you have to reject Darwinism or any other natural scientific explanation, whether in biology, chemistry, physics, geology or astronomy.
We have to remember that all scientific explanations are based on the idea that the universe is an orderly place where things follow certain rules, which we call the "laws of nature." Those laws are God's laws - Psalm 148 tells us that God "gave laws to heaven and earth."
Properly understood, there

My Current Reading
Well, not so much current as I finished it earlier today. I just completed "In the Best Interests of Baseball? The Revolutionary Reign of Bud Selig" by Amdrew Zimbalist, an economics professor at Smith College. (No relation.) Honestly, I was a little disappointed. Despite the title focusing on Bug Selig, he really doesn't enter into the picture until half way through. The first half of the book was devoted to a history of the governance of baseball including profiles of past commissioners. While this was interesting, I already knew much of it.

He does provide an interesting analysis, however, of the 2002 Collective Bargaining Agreement between the players' union and the owners. Essentially, while the payroll tax and revenue sharing that players consented to in the agreement were sold as an attempt to increase competitive balance in the game, the economic structure of those arrangements will actually serve to increase imbalance. The tax structure actually has a regressive tax structure that punishes low-income teams for increasing revenue. It also fails by sharing revenue based of team income rather than market size so that Phillies, who were in the 4th largest media market and largest unshared media market were receiving money through revenue sharing because their team was so poorly managed.

He does have good things to say overall about Selig's work to improve baseball financial bottomline and amrketing efforts, the latter of which were essentially nonexistent before his ascension to the throne. He does quote anonymous owners who have problems with Selig accusing him of talking out of both sides of his mouth, managing through sweet talk, sweetheart deals, and threats. I still think he's the Devil: interleague play and the wild card are abominations.

It's an interesting read. Nothing too earth-shattering. I'd definitely recommend waiting for it to come out in paperback or borrowing it from somebody.

I should also finish up the Compendium of the Social Doctine of the Catholic Church later today, which I've been reading off and on for the past few weeks. While there are issues that will cause disagreement from both sides of the political spectrum, overall, it's a fairly conservative piece of work, despite what many people who supposedly teach the Church's social doctrine would like you to believe. A strong preference for democratic forms of government with plenty of local control and involvement from the private sector, especially charities. A strong and healthy respect for the free market, encouraging the reduction of barriers to trade and freedom of entry, as long as it doesn't become and end in itself, always taking care to remember it's there to serve man, not the other way around. Nothing you couldn't find in Russell Kirk's writings.

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