Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Amy W. on The Doomsday Document, UPDATED

Amy Welborn says it all very well, commenting on the Vatican's Instruction regarding homosexual seminarians (there shall be no more of them...)

And while she's at it, she also comments very effectively on the debate in the Wisconsin Legislature regarding the "marriage amendment."

The bigger problem is that there seems to be a consistent connection between sympathy for the secular gay agenda and ethos and a disinterest or even antipathy to traditional Catholic teaching on sexuality and family, period. And we're not talking about little points of minutiae here: we're talking about the big picture, that big picture in which the relationship between male and female is an anaology for the relationship between God and humanity, and even a template for understanding creation, period. Disconnect from that, and you are slowly, but surely, disconnecting from Catholic Christianity as you depend on your own personal revelation, rather than the public revelation of Scripture and so on, to define your faith, and the faith which you are teaching, preaching, and being guided by in your pastoral ministry.

Supporters of the "marriage amendment" might wish to delete the adjective "Catholic" from the above paragraph--but they will still wind up with the essence: marriage is an analogy, and tradition going back 5,000 or so years is sufficient testimony.

As to the seminary situation: were homosexuality merely an orifice-selection dyslexia, the document may have been written differently. But it is not "merely" that. It is much larger, involving weltanschauung--the real relationship between men and women. THAT is the core.

UPDATE: As DomBet is predicting that there will be Op Eds "talking the seminarians off the ledge" from various Bishops in the next several weeks, here's an inoculation for one of the likely claims--that the Document was not signed off by Pope B-16:

That is true [that it was not issued in forma specifica, meaning the Pope has not officially invested it with his personal authority]—but the reason is important: “Instructions” do not normally promulgate new legislation (which would require the forma specifica approval of the Pope). Instructions rather provide greater specification to the way that the existing discipline of the Church is to be understood. That is what we have here: a restatement in more precise terms of the centuries old discipline of the Church.

As this document breaks no new ground legislatively, no forma specifica approval is warranted. In converse fashion, one may likewise conclude that the notions of the likes of [a prominent Log Cabin Dominican] are not only ruled out by this document, his ideas were never a part of authentic Catholic discipline (note esp., the letter of Card. Medina footnoted in this Instruction).

In other words, certain Bishops and Archbishops (and Cardinals) may wiggle, squirm, and apply Jesuitical hermeneutics--at the risk of their own souls and further damaging their credibility among the Faithful.

But don't buy their apples, Eve...

Quantas Goes Bonzo

So here in the USA we can once again take along a nail-clipper (see below.) But in Australia, you might have to change seats.

Air New Zealand and Qantas have banned men from sitting next to unaccompanied children on flights, sparking accusations of discrimination.

The airlines have come under fire for the policy that critics say is political correctness gone mad after a man revealed he was ordered to change seats during a Qantas flight because he was sitting next to a young boy travelling alone.

Auckland man Mark Worsley says an air steward approached him after take-off on the Christchurch to Auckland flight and told him to change seats with a women sitting two rows in front. The steward said it was the airline's policy that only women were allowed to sit next to unaccompanied children.

"At the time I was so gobsmacked that I moved. I was so embarrassed and just stewed on it for the entire flight," Mr Worsley said.

The 37-year-old shipping manager, who has two-year-old twins, followed the incident up with the airline and was told Qantas wanted to err on the side of caution.

"I felt that it was totally discriminatory - besides the point of what the hell was I going to do on a crowded flight."

The story does not say whether Mr. Worsley had a nail clipper, a screwdriver, or a cigarette lighter.

OK to Bring Nail-Trimmers on Planes!!

A little evidence that common sense may exist, someplace:

A new plan by the Transportation Security Administration would allow airline passengers to bring scissors and other sharp objects in their carry-on bags because the items no longer pose the greatest threat to airline security, according to sources familiar with the plans.

In a series of briefings this week, TSA Director Edmund S. "Kip" Hawley told aviation industry leaders that he plans to announce changes at airport security checkpoints that would allow scissors less than four inches long and tools, such as screwdrivers, less than seven inches long, according to people familiar with the TSA's plans. These people spoke on condition of anonymity because the TSA intends to make the plans public Friday.

Not to worry: the Common Sense germ has not struck everywhere:

"TSA needs to take a moment to reflect on why they were created in the first place -- after the world had seen how ordinary household items could create such devastation," said Corey Caldwell, spokeswoman for the Association of Flight Attendants, which has more than 46,000 members. "When weapons are allowed back on board an aircraft, the pilots will be able to land the plane safety but the aisles will be running with blood."

Actually, Corey, if ALL the passengers are "armed" with cute little scissors, the bad-guy passengers may think twice. Similarly, Corey, if law-abiding citizens were carrying concealed weapons (or even if your MEMBERSHIP were carrying concealed, Corey) the goblins would think twice.

Time to Restrict Federal Judiciary...

Maybe after the Marriage Amendment passes, our Leggies in Madistan can take up this cause, too. If nothing else, it will be fun to watch the Dimowit heads exploding as it's brought to the floor.

The Louisiana Legislature has approved a resolution urging Congress to pass the Constitution Restoration Act, a bill that would prohibit federal courts from ruling in cases involving government officials who acknowledge God "as the sovereign source of law, liberty or government."

...the resolution finds that "… the federal judiciary has overstepped its constitutional boundaries and ruled against the acknowledgement of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty and government by local and state officers and other state institutions, including state schools. …"

Touted by some supporters as one of the most important pieces of legislation in U.S. history, the bill states:

The Supreme Court shall not have jurisdiction to review, by appeal, writ of certiorari, or otherwise, any matter to the extent that relief is sought against an element of Federal, State, or local government, or against an officer of Federal, State, or local government (whether or not acting in official personal capacity), by reason of that element's or officer's acknowledgement of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government.

HR 1070, S. 520

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

American History Is History?

Fox News reports tonight that public schools are no longer teaching American history from the Founding through Reconstruction. It's unclear exactly why; one administrator vaguely alluded to "other States" and how his District comports with their instructions. He mentioned "State standards" for the testing.

Smith, on the other hand, specifically mentioned "No Child Left Behind" as the culprit.

Hmmmm. They still teach that early-American stuff in the Elmbrook District, although few of the students seem to grasp the Declaration's lines firmly--you know, like This One:

"He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance. " (EPA, DNR, Dept of Education, and BATFE)...

or this one (think Stadium Tax):

"For imposing taxes on us without our consent"

Some of that old stuff is very interesting. Maybe THAT'S why it is no longer in classrooms!

Sheboygan, Again

Belling has raised an interesting question: should the Sheboygan Board of Education members be prosecuted for mis-allocating Federal funds and be put in, say, Sandstone for about 5- to- 10?

According to Mark's story, the Board of Ed up there won passage of a $32MM referendum for repairs and upgrades on their high-school buildings. However, when all the work was done, $1MM remained un-spent.

So the Board of Ed authorized building $1MM's worth of empty space--for which the schools have no use at this time, nor in the foreseeable future.

Part of the rationale for spending the money rather than returning it to the taxpayers was (according to a former School Board President) that only part of the extra $1MM would go back to Sheboygan property-tax payers--the rest would have to be returned to the Federal Government.

Apparently it never occurred to these Community Leaders that spending Federal money not specifically authorized for the purpose might be a crime.

Let's assume that the facts are correct and that the expenditure IS a crime. Should the Board members (and let's toss in the Superintendent, too) go to Federal Prison?

Darwin vs. Intellectual Design--the Short Course

Yes, it IS metaphysics--there's no avoiding that. But in the case that one refuses to acknowledge eschatology, or insists on being a strict materialist, then the name-calling begins. It's already been stated that 'there are no credible proponents of ID,' for example, which is poppycock.

At any rate, a good brief breakdown of the discussion can be found here.

There's blame to be placed on both sides--but only the irrational can maintain that Darwinism is not a philosophy, or that there are not Higher Things.

Hot New Blog

Thanks to Charlie 'Godfadda' Sykes, I read a new blogsite.

This guy is a sharp-edged and very perceptive observer, arguably with more cynicism and downright orneriness than even I, your humble servant.

That's OK--reading him will lend to my skills.

Can't possibly agree with his anti-Gundrum rant, of course, but that simply means I will be classified as a "hater." Oh, well. Mark and I will be "haters" and that's that.

Regardless, "I AM THE FORCE" will be a daily read.

This Is Ominous

UPDATE 1) Bainbridge agrees, emphatically.

Bruce Bartlett is a true-blue conservatively-oriented guy, although we will quibble with him over economics. Nonetheless, B is hardly a Democrat bomb-thrower. So when he opines:

One of the most important political developments in America today is the creeping corruption of the Republican Party. Increasingly, there is little meaningful difference between Republicans in Congress and the Democrats they replaced a little over 10 years ago. Unless they clean up their act fast, Republicans are going to suffer major losses in next year's congressional elections.

There is no question that Democrats had become deeply corrupt during the 40 years after 1954 when they controlled the House of Representatives continuously. Everyone knew it, just as everyone knows the truth of Lord Acton's famous maxim, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." That is why the House bank scandal involving bounced checks was so politically potent -- it personified petty Democratic corruption in a way that average people could relate to.

...Although few Republicans will speak on the record about such abuses for fear of retaliation, it is a growing topic of private conversation. Earlier this year, The Washington Post quoted one leadership aide as lamenting, "It took Democrats 40 years to get as arrogant as we have become in 10."

...So when Republicans begin to ape the Democrats by proposing endless pork-barrel projects and lavish new drug benefits for the elderly, while not even pretending to care about the budget deficit, it makes rank-and-file Republicans wonder why they should remain in a party that has little meaningful difference from the Democrats. Many are going to stay home on Election Day next year, I predict.

When Republicans no longer stand for any sort of principle, it becomes a simple matter to use power just to reward your friends or those with connections. Things like the Abramoff scandal are the logical consequence. A renewed commitment to principle is the best antidote.

HT: Powerline

That "off the record for fear of retaliation" stuff is common even in Wisconsin. Look, for example, at the combox in Playground Politics following a rumination about "intelligent" members of the Wisconsin legislature. Note carefully the number of ANONYMOUS comments. Granted that Anonymous makes a disproportionate number of remarks in blog comboxes--at the same time, one wonders about the "fear factor" which drives some of the posters.


Spaceport and Spare Space

Sheboygan (!!!) may become the site of a Spaceport.

Take a minute to digest that.

And Sheboygan certainly has the space, according to Belling, who advised us yesterday that when the Sheboygan school district discovered a $1 million surplus in their checking account after completing all the repairs and upgrades the referendum allowed, they simply built $1 million worth of empty building!

Belling's take was correct--even in Wisconsin, this move is stunning. For that matter, it may be a national precedent.

Lemmeeesseeee, heah. You got your spaceport. You got your empty school space. And it seems you got a lot of vacant space in the crania of the School Board.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Calling Fr. Mich

Perhaps there's a place Fr. Mich should visit, as reported by Dom Bet:

Last week, Fr. Cuenin was in Rochester, New York, along with Fr. Bob Bowers, another infamous Boston priest, visiting Spiritus Christi Parish. Don’t be fooled: Spiritus Christi is not a Roman Catholic parish, but is a schismatic group that broke away from the Church after the Bishop of Rochester told them that they couldn’t have a woman con-celebrating the Mass (among other heresies). This is the home of the infamous Fr. Jim Callan, excommunicated, and his “co-pastor” “Rev.” Mary Ramerman. Oops sorry, their bulletin says that Jesus Christ is the pastor.

Here's what the "Spiritus Christi" "parish" bulletin had to say:

Both priests were recently removed from their parishes amid a huge uproar and protest by the people, similar to what happened at Corpus Christi seven years ago. We wanted them to experience our church and see what can happen years later if they form a new and inclusive Catholic church. Many parishioners encouraged them to start such a community. Boston is ripe for it. Please keep them in your prayers.

Dom Bet notes:

Cuenin and Bowers were in Rochester visiting a schismatic group, apparently being encouraged to set up their own schismatic pseudo-Catholic church in Boston. What other reason could they have for visiting a schismatic, heretical group? Are they working on reconciliation with the Church? Doesn’t sound like it.

This is what happens when you don’t publicly denounce the heretics in your midst, especially among your priests: You set yourself up for scandal and schism that could take down unwary and unwitting lay Catholics with the perpetrators.

Truer words were ne'er spoken, Dom!

The Wacked-Out Left

The site gets occasional attention, (emphasis on occasional) and deservedly so.

Here, the author offers a wordy laundry-list of the Left's agenda.

Sorta explains the monster of a challenge the Left has in securing an electoral majority in the next, oh, 50 years.

So go read it!

Mallard and McBride

No, Jess has not left Paul for Mallard, although the possibility remains open for some TMJ4 employee, evidently. But she does offer a very solid and useful analysis of Presidential Second Terms with an excellent conclusion.

At the same time, Mallard points out GWB's Achilles Heel. Read in light of McBride, this may be serious:

The Base is restless, George.

Self-Defense: What Works

John Lott published an interesting table based on the National Crime Victimization Survey.

The bottom line:

Taking the examples of confrontational robbery and assault shows an interesting story. After the self-protection method was employed, the rate of sustaining injury or further injury was lower in every instance than was the rate of sustaining injury when no self-protection measure was employed at all. Note that aggravated assaults are much more common than robbery. Data covering a longer period of time makes an even stronger case for defensive gun use.

"No Self-Protection Action At All" resulted in an injury rate of 23.6% for robberies and 55.2% for aggravated assaults.

However, "Any Self-Protection With a Gun" resulted in 7.7% injury rate for robberies and 3.6% for assault. "Screaming" resulted in 22% and 12.6% injuries for robberies and assaults, respectively.

Ummmnnnnhhh--if it were MY wife or daughter, looks like a Lady S&W is in the Christmas stocking. Wonder what Steve Hargarten will do for his loved ones--or Spencer Black.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Here We Go Again!

Good Shepherd Parish of Menomonee Falls has a well-earned reputation for having the most "rebellious and Proud Of It!" priests in the Archdiocese as the pastors, beginning with a shirt-tail relative of mine, Fr. Eschweiler (yes, related to the architects AND to a retired First Wisconsin banker.)

Just for fun sometime, offer $100.00 to a friend if they can find the tabernacle in the 'church' building in less than 10 minutes. Your money is safe--mazes are easier than the route to Christ's throne in that place. And yes--this gives some traction to those who say that the "show" is far more important than the "go" in some parishes--and in the "minds" of some pastors.

Courtesy of Terrence, we learn that Good Shepherd will attempt to revive its halcyon days of dissent from and disregard for the Church (hypocrisy rears its powdered face) and host a meeting of Voice of the Faithful event. The speaker will be (Sr.) Maureen Fiedler, who is associated with dissident organizations all over the country, particularly the Quixote Center. This organization is particularly entranced by formulating ways and means of legitimizing artificial birth control (aka artificial sexual relations.)

The Catholic League offers the following:

“In April, 1996, Sister Maureen Fiedler of Maryland’s Quixote Center launched a petition drive aimed at getting one-million Catholics to sign a statement calling for radical changes in the Church’s teachings on women and sexuality. The campaign was dubbed We Are Church, and was well-greased by fat cats who hate the Catholic Church: the Ford Foundation, which funnels millions to Catholics for a Free Choice, used its ‘Catholic’ group to give big bucks to Fiedler. ‘We were blessed with substantial grants,’ Fiedler admitted. ‘We had organizing kits,’ she said, ‘we had grass-roots [efforts]; we did full-page ads [in newspapers]; we had massive mailings; we did public collections in front of cathedrals, like St. Patrick’s in New York.’ They even bribed kids by giving them a dollar for every signature they got. When the year was up, the campaign was such a bomb that it was extended for six months. In the end, it netted only 37,000 signatures. It was at the Call to Action 1997 convention in Detroit that Fiedler reported the sorry results. She blew up at lay Catholics, saying that progressives overestimated their ‘theological maturity’; she concluded by sounding her death wish for the pope. [In other words, YOU STUPID PEW-SITTERS are at fault--and by the way, so is John Paul II, and I hope he dies!!]

(A digression: Sr. Maureen might try a rant which does not sound so much like a tape-recording of a 15-year-old Pout Princess...)

At the time, the Catholic population in the USA was about 50 million. Let's assume that half of that number was over the age of 21. 37K is not even 1/1000th of the over-21 Catholic group.

This Rock adds a bit to the narrative:

The petition demanded a series of changes in the Church, including women and married priests, relaxation of moral standards, gay rights, and popular election of bishops.

Sister Maureen has some other notable quotes:

"This message from Rome is the last gasp of desperate and insecure men trying to shore up a crumbling status quo. Roman Catholic women will be ordained priests-perhaps sooner than we think." Sister Maureen Fiedler, over National Public Radio.

Sister NinComPoop-Signature-Gatherer does have some admirers, however:

"Two more shining stars" was the term used by Terry Mischel to announce that John McNeill and Maureen Fiedler, SL will participate in Dignity's biennial gathering in Denver from August 5 to 8th.

"These two personalities personify the convention's theme "The Spirit of Jubilee -- A People of Hope" according to Kent Epperson. McNeill will present a workshop on his recently released autobiography Both Feet Firmly Planted in Midair. Fiedler will be the homilist at the convention's major liturgy.

McNeill, a former Jesuit and preeminent name in our movement "will enrich the convention experience ," noted Terry. Fiedler, a member of the Sisters of Loretto, is Co-Director of the Quixote Center where she manages Catholics Speak Out, a project organizing progressive Catholics who work for equality, justice and democracy in the church.

So to Good Sheperd's pastor, a Union-Organizer extraordinaire, Fr. Kenneth Mich, and to whatever THIS person is: "Pastoral Associate" Jane Clare Ishiguro, we say congratulations! You've managed to extend the reputation of Good Shepherd right into the 21st Century!

Hope you're aware of Who was born at Christmas--and that He will return--but not in the person of "Sr." Maureen Fiedler.

Too Good Not To Steal

This two-stanza poem is just too good not to re-post:

E.B. White, Youth and Age:

This is what youth must figure out:
Girls, love, and living.
The having, the not having,
The spending and giving,
And the melancholy time of not knowing.

This is what age must learn about:
The ABC of dying.
The going, yet not going,
The loving and leaving,
And the unbearable knowing and knowing

HT: Laudator Temporis Acti

Really Heinous

Disgruntled Car Salesman nominates Hildebeeste for an award, but uses the wrong picture. THIS is the right picture:

Elusive Bambi

Spent about 16 hours in the woods in the last couple of days, courtesy of family members. Very nice location, outstanding "cabin" with 3 bedrooms, fireplace, indoor plumbing--

No 16-point buck. No 300-lb. doe. Did not SEE a moving deer, despite outstanding work by my PH and son-in-law. He saw two, no good shot available. His dad saw two, took a shot with no effect.

There's a great deal to see and hear in the woods, however, so all in all it was a very pleasant weekend with excellent company, good food, and a satisfying Wisconsin football game.

There's also a reason to return: a very fat gray squirrel who was able to evade the stewpot despite his 15-yard distance in the back yard. The pellet gun goes with me next time.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

"Stingy" or Overtaxed?

When the news came out that Wisconsin residents were classified as "stingy" in regards to charitable giving, my first thought was "No!" followed by "Well, the tax burden plays a part in this"--particularly when one reads that Massachusetts is also ranked "stingy."

Along comes Professor Bainbridge, a UCLA Law prof, with Tax Foundation's Tax Freedom Day analysis, which measures the burden of taxation on a state by state basic. I've quickly eyeballed the two lists and it looks like "generous" states tend to have low tax burdens, which in turn suggests that taxation may tend to squeeze out charitable giving. (Thereby proving Edmund Burke's point about how the Leviathan state tramples the little platoons of society?)

We are painfully aware that Wisconsin's state/local per capita tax burden is 4th in the USA. Further, Wisconsin residents' per capita income is LESS than the US average--meaning that we are overtaxed (in relation to the US average) by about 25%.

This creates a problem with 'disposable income' which is reflected in charitable giving.

Giving Thanks

1) To God, for life, the Faith, health, the children, friends, and my wife.
2) To my wife, without whom....well, let's not consider it.
3) To my parents (both RIP) for providing a healthy skepticism and decent education.
4) To the children, for providing years of entertainment and even some assistance.

Credit to Eggs: Yes, Folks, There IS a Tax Increase

No Runny did a bunch of Excel-enhanced math and finds that BagManJim Doyle (D-WEAC/Tribes) has caused all kinds of tax increases, and those increases exceed the cost-of-living numbers consistently:

So, let's take a look at the levy since the 2002-2003 school year (the last year before Craps began his budget games). Due in large part to that shorting, the total statewide school property tax levy went up 5.50% between 2002-2003 and 2003-2004, and 7.22% between 2003-2004 and 2004-2005. So, doing some fancy math and taking this year's gimmick tax "cut" into account, the school tax levy went up an annual average of 4.02%. For those interested in viewing the numbers themselves, you can either head to DPI's Tax Levy page and do the math, or download my worksheet (a 125 KB Excel file). Any takers on next year's school tax levy INCREASE being less than 4%?

(Although Eggs has problems betting on NFL contests, his offer to wager is only for suckers...)

Search "UW + Audit" and Get More Stink

Seems that auditors just can't help but find smelly little items whenever they go hunting at a UW facility--and UW-Whitewater's Dean of Graduate Studies is next on the list.

In the lawsuit, which was filed in Dane County Circuit Court this month, Lee Jones, UW-Whitewater's dean of graduate studies and continuing education, argued that the harm that would be caused to the public's interest in diversity "substantially outweighs the public's interest in the release of the contents of the record."

His attorney, David Lasker, to whom Jones referred questions Wednesday, said the harm would spring from inaccurate information contained in the report.

At least the UW-W people understand that Jones' claim is crap:

But James Freer, UW-Whitewater's vice chancellor for academic affairs, said the findings were accurate and that they should be released.

He hinted that Jones may end up facing disciplinary action.

"The audit and the potential negative consequences shouldn't be mixed up with diversity efforts," Freer said Wednesday. "Everyone should be held equally accountable."

Apparently Mr. Jones has a few "large" skeletons in his office closet:

Jones, 40, joined UW-Whitewater last year after serving at Florida State University. The dean, who also is a tenured professor, earns $116,000 a year and oversees a $3.2 million operating budget.

Freer said the university launched an audit of him last spring after noting "some travel activity and procurement activity that raised questions."

So this Jones character spends a bunch of questionable dollars and when caught, claims that because he's a minority, revealing his problems will 'harm diversity efforts' at UW-W.


As usual, Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) is on the case.

Credit where it's due: OTHER UW-W administrators are mad as hell about Jones' wild spending and blew the whistle.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Don't Need Manufacturers--or Loggers, Either

The US Department of Commerce has (at least temporarily) given up the fight to maintain a viable US timber industry, acceding to NAFTA's decision. This means that, for the time being, US import duties on Canadian softwood will cease.

In the next few weeks, we'll start to hear about the sawmills and lumbering operations which are closing, or will close, due to the cost pressures. We'll also hear from the WallyWorldWonzos who will tell us that "after all, this makes your wood-goods purchases CHEAPER!!..."

Well, that's true. Of course, for unemployed manufacturing workers, and unemployed timber-industry workers, "cheaper" is a relative thing...

NAFTA was brought to you by the Gingrich/Clinton cabal.

Nofziger on GWB

Lynn Nofziger, who served Ronald Reagan in the White House for a couple of years, gave an interview to the Washington Times, and had some interesting remarks:

In 2000, Mr. Nofziger helped magazine publisher Steve Forbes' campaign for the Republican presidential nomination campaign instead of aligning with the current President Bush.

"Steve was more conservative and I liked his approach to government better," Mr. Nofziger says. "I always assumed George W. would be a moderate Republican because his old man was a moderate Republican, and I'm not a moderate Republican."

Did the younger Mr. Bush turn out to be something else? "Oh, he's more conservative than his father, " Mr. Nofziger says.

He defends Mr. Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq, saying faulty intelligence -- and not the president -- was to blame for misconstruing the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's weapons programs.

But Mr. Nofziger parts company with Vice President Dick Cheney's stated desire to get Saddam out of power in order to spread democracy in the Middle East.

"I'm not a great believer in spreading democracy, because I don't think you can spread democracy," Mr. Nofziger says. "People have to want it themselves."

"More conservative than his father."--a less-than-complimentary compliment. And "...I don't think you can 'spread democracy,'" Kinda PJB-esque, eh?

Gas Tax Progress, Perhaps

Here in Wisconsin, due to the abject lack of ethics and (frankly) greed of most of the Legislature and in the Governor's office for the past 25 years, we have a tax which increases annually--but on which our paid "representatives" NEVER vote. The tax funds highway projects, and the AGC and the highway builders (Payne & Dolan and Mathy, e.g.) send lots of money to our "representatives" for re-election campaigns.

In effect, our "representatives" actually represent the highway builders. I cannot possibly put into the blog what I think of these cretins, nor how I think they should be treated by the residents of Wisconsin.

Nonetheless, after several appeals to Sen. Kanavas, reminding him that he stated his opposition to the indexing of the tax, he has finally written to advise that he will support Sen. Reynolds' bill when (and if) it ever comes out of Committee.

We all know that Rep. Jensen is flat-out opposed to repeal of this tax-increase device--Scott was trained well by Tommy Thompson (Scott can distinguish butter and which side of the bread it's on--and knows full well that his seat is virtually a lifetime sinecure.) Worse, Rep. Gard, now slavishly pushing his nose up the anal crevasses of campaign contributors, will fight like Hell to keep this bill off the floor in the Assembly, and will assume that it will make no difference to his constituents or any other Wisconsin resident.

Gard will be wrong in that assumption, just as Jensen is wrong in his.

Enchantment With the Liturgy

Al Kimel says it quite well, gently but firmly repudiating the Bishops who are aghast at the possibility of imposing "another change" upon the Faithful (not that it bothered the same bunch the FIRST time, or the second time, or the third time they did so in the period from ~1969-1980.)

...But looking at American Catholic liturgy as it has developed over the past forty years, one simply has to wonder, What in the world were people thinking?! How could anyone think that colloquial liturgical language is to be preferred to a formal, hieratic language? How could anyone think that drastic reduction of ritual gestures would strengthen the mystery of the Mass? How could anyone think that the adoption of sentimental pop-music would not destroy the sense of holiness and awe that is proper to the Eucharist? How could anyone think that the radical mutilation of the rite would not undermine the conviction that the Church has received a holy tradition and is not free to make it all up as she goes along? How could anyone think that by turning the celebrant around to face the people the Mass would be magically transformed into an intimate experience of community? How could anyone think that buildings constructed in the functional architectural style of the twentieth century could ever be appropriate to house the Holy Mysteries? Hindsight, of course, is twenty-twenty; but the liturgical delusion that took hold of the Church in the 60s and 70s is truly breathtaking.

Actually, Mr. Kimel, I seriously doubt that the perpetrators of this series of deformations had any substantial "good intentions." And your rhetorical questions themselves indirectly lead one to that conclusion...

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Bernanke vs. Inflation

Well, maybe Mr. Bernanke can manage all this stuff--but he has a daunting task ahead of him.

Inflation is commonly measured by "increasing prices;" that is, when the CPI moves up, it's called "inflation." This common definition is wrong.

Inflation is actually a surfeit of money--more dollars than there used to be. This debases the "old" dollars, meaning that one needs more of them to purchase goods. Clear?

Good. But not so good. In the last year or so, M3, the broadest measure of money in the US, has increased by roughly $1 trillion--and in the last 5 years has increased from $6.5 trillion to around $10 trillion. That's a lot of monetization goin' on out there.

Some will argue that "rates are going up, which should be anti-inflationary." Not really. Rates are rising to protect the value of the USDollar on world markets. The Fed makes dollar-denominated investments (particularly in US Bonds and Bills) more attractive by hiking the rate of return. This keeps the dollars flowing into the country AND prevents the USDollar from collapsing on global markets--an eventuality which is too horrible to contemplate.

So as you notice that the Labor Department keeps insulting your intelligence by telling you that there's no real big "inflation" going on (so long as you don't count food, housing, and fuel), be sure to ask your Congressman how he explains the rapid expansion of M3.

Should be fun to listen.

Remember Those "Nice" Insurance Companies?

A few posts below, we referenced the earnings of "Big Oil" in comparison to those "nice" Insurance Companies. The insurers report a LOT more earnings than Big Oil, per dollar of sales.

Now we know why:

RESIDENTS of the Mississippi Gulf Coast withstood a devastating blow from Hurricane Katrina. Now, as they face the enormous task of rebuilding, they are threatened with yet another crippling misfortune - this time at the hands of insurance companies, which are trying to deny coverage. That's why the State of Mississippi has filed suit to get the courts to clarify that insurance companies must cover the water damage that policyholders sustained from the hurricane.

For years these companies have sold policies that insure Gulf Coast residents against loss from the effects of hurricane winds. The people who bought these policies reasonably believed that they were covered for damage ranging from a blown-off roof to a four-foot surge of water in the house. But now that the homes and businesses of many policyholders have been destroyed or seriously damaged, these insurance companies are denying coverage on the ground that their policies excluded water damage.

It's true that many of these policies exclude specific types of water damage unrelated to hurricane winds, like the damage caused by tidal waves or windblown rain. But to extend such exclusions to the damage caused by a storm surge, which is the direct consequence of hurricane winds, is unconscionable and illegal, at least here in Mississippi.

No one, except perhaps insurance company executives, seriously disputes that without the hurricane, there would have been no widespread water damage. And there has never been a hurricane that did not cause water damage. Mississippi law provides that when one incident is a direct or contributing cause of loss, then the insurer of such loss is obligated to pay for the resulting damage. A contract between private parties is void and unenforceable when it abrogates state policies like this one. Only the legislature or the courts have the power to invalidate the law.

Moreover, Mississippi law has long held that insurance companies cannot write insurance contracts that purport to provide coverage for certain losses in one section and then exclude that coverage in another section. That is in effect what these companies do when they issue hurricane insurance and then claim that the policies' water damage exclusions extend to the storm surges that result from hurricane winds.

The letter is signed by Jim Hood, the AG of the State of Mississippi.

HT: Sed Contra

How To Be a Pain--Especially if You Are Illegal

From Sonya, who lives a lot closer than we are:

Enter Mexico illegally; nevermind the immigration quotas, visas, international law, or any of that nonsense.

Once there, demand that the local government provide free medical care for you and your entire family. ($1 billion per year's worth)

Demand bilingual nurses and doctors. (California)

Demand free bilingual local government forms, bulletins, etc. (Texas real estate forms are statutorily mandated in English and Spanish) [In Wisconsin, demand a home mortgage from Guaranty Savings or Mitchell Bank!!]

Procreate abundantly to increase your free benefits.

Deflect any criticism of this allegedly irresponsible reproductive behavior with, "It's a cultural thing. You wouldn't understand."

Keep you American identity strong. Fly Old Glory from your rooftop, or proudly display it in your front window or on your car bumper.

Speak only English at home and in public and insist that your children do likewise.

Demand classes on American culture in the Mexican school system.

Demand a local Mexican drivers license. This will afford other legal rights and will go far to legitimize your unauthorized, illegal presence in Mexico.

Good luck! You'll be demanding for the rest of time or soon be dead, because it will never happen in Mexico or any other country you might choose -- only here in the USA.

You will note that LEGAL immigrants do NOT utilize this list of demands...

Predictable Congressional Theft

This is what happens when you elect lawyers to positions way beyond their moral-restraint capabilities:

...[T]he 27th Amendment [...] prevents Congress from passing and receiving a pay increase without an intervening election.

"No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened."

However, the canny politicians in Congress have found a way around this. They characterize their "pay increases" as "cost of living increases." And then they made those increases automatic. They go into effect without a vote unless someone introduces an amendment forcing debate and a vote. And, if you look at the history of Congressional pay raises, it's clear that, except for a brief period in the 1990s, they have all agreed to not stop their automatic pay increases from taking effect.

Here in Wisconsin, it's the same scam with different results. WE have taxation without representation, because OUR elected scuzzballs will NOT VOTE on tax increases if they are labeled "gas tax." They just increase the tax, automatically, forever and ever.

It's forgotten that the Wisconsin variation was engineered by Lee (the Walrus) Dreyfus, who was then and remains to this day an enemy of Conservatism.

Sorry, Jim: SCHOOLS "Complicate" Sex Ed

Columnist Jim Stingl, nattering away between indecision and possible indecision, gets the wrong headline on his article:

Only Madison lawmakers could make sex ed so complicated

...and proceeds to tell us all about some linguistic disagreement in Madistan to wit: whether abstinence is "preferred" or merely a "first method" of contraception.

He ignores the fact that SexEd, promoted by the Planned Barrenhood crowd of eugenics-worshippers and abortion/Pill profiteers, is NOT REQUIRED COURSEWORK in the public schools.

Of course, the public schools who are union-run (which are virtually all of the 425+ Wisconsin districts), installed SexEd because they "can save the children" AND (by no co-incidence) create more jobs for WEAC membership.

So it's the School Districts which make SexEd complicated, Jim.

On the other hand, you're right about aspirin.

"Triangulation" In Play

Hildebeeste, the "wife" of X42, emits stentatorian burps and "I'm Running" fog:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday that an immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq would be "a big mistake." While professing "the greatest respect" for Rep. Jack Murtha of Pennsylvania, the ex-Marine who called for a troop pullout last week, Clinton said, "I think that would cause more problems for us in America."

On the other hand, she said, the administration's pledge to stay in Iraq "until the job is done" amounts to giving the Iraqis "an open-ended invitation not to take care of themselves."

The right approach, Clinton suggested, would be for the U.S. to await Iraq's Dec. 15 elections for a clue about how soon the Iraqis can take over.

You noticed that last week, X42 pronounced that the Iraq War was "a mistake."

Here's how it works: X42 takes care of the left-wing extremists, making certain that they remain in the Clinton camp. In the meantime, Hildebeeste becomes a "centrist." It's a role-reversal of the 1992/96 campaigns, but let's face it: it worked before.

Greens Slam Corn-a-Hole

They figured it out in jolly old England, too:

An alternative fuel source once considered more Earth-friendly than petroleum is now being derided by some environmentalists and farming experts for allegedly hastening the destruction of the world's rainforests.

Bio-fuels, fuel made from corn, sugar cane or vegetable oil, can be used to power up everything from sport utility vehicles (SUVs) to diesel engines. Yet in spite of its reputation as a viable alternative to petroleum, this alternative fuel has prompted some environmental groups to point to the potential for environmental damage.

The British government, hard pressed to meet emission restrictions laid out by the greenhouse gas limiting Kyoto Protocol, is being criticized by the environmental group Friends of the Earth (FOE) for proposing to force oil companies to include bio-fuels in five percent of their gas and diesel fuels by 2010.

FOE is concerned that increased production of bio-fuels will cause the destruction of the world's rainforests."We live in a global marketplace and the worry is that some of these fuels will be imported," said Roger Higman of FOE, according to the UK Telegraph on Nov. 11. Higman is concerned that much more land will be needed to grow the crops necessary to produce bio-fuels and in turn increase deforestation.


"Now, suddenly governments are saying, 'Oh we should have lots of bio-fuel so that we don't have to get oil out of the ground,' but we would have to clear 16 million square miles of forest on the planet if we wanted to make any dent in the demand for petroleum," Avery said.

Almost makes you wonder how many of our Legislators have been purchased by ADM in the last few weeks, eh?

Monday, November 21, 2005

The Mass is COSMIC Worship

One of the points made in this article is that the Mass is not a "historical" Rite, but Cosmic worship, in the mind of the then-Cardinal Ratzinger. While supporting a point about the utter silliness of versus populum, (or supporting the rectitude of ad Orientem, if you will) the Cardinal reminds us that the Mass is not merely "historical," not like, say, the British Empire.

With the radical change in the liturgical life of the Church resulting from moving the altar, there was a rupture in the tradition of the prayer of the people of God reaching back even beyond the founding of the Church. Cardinal Ratzinger makes this point by referring to the work of the great liturgical historian, Louis Bouyer.

The synagogue, in its shrine of the
Torah, contains a kind of Ark of
the Covenant, which means it is the place
of a kind of “real presence”. . . And so
the Ark points beyond itself, to the one place of its presence
that God chose for himself – the Holy of Holies in the
Temple in Jerusalem. This Holy of
Holies, as Boyer puts it, remained the
“ultimate focus of the synagogal worship”.
“Thus have all the synagogues, at the
time of Our Lord and since that
time, been oriented”.

The rabbi and the people gaze at the “Ark of the
Covenant”, and in so doing, they orient
themselves toward Jerusalem, turn
themselves toward the Holy of Holies
in the Temple as the place of God’s
presence for his people

The article, a survey of Ratzinger's thoughts and writings on the Liturgy, is very readable and informative.

B-16 Shows a Pattern

Many people in the US who read such drivel as US Catholic understand all too well why Benedict XVI has "helped" the Franciscans who administer Assisi:

Pope Benedict XVI has curbed the independence of Franciscan friars running the famed St. Francis Basilica in Assisi, decreeing they must now get permission for their activities from the local bishop.

Benedict's decision, announced Saturday, came after the outgoing bishop complained he had virtually no power over "autonomous enclaves" the Franciscans exercised over the basilica, its adjoining convent and a nearby church.

A couple of days ago, the Austrian Bishops. Now the "peacenik" Franciscans. There will be a Vegas line on Mahony or the Jebbies...

More on Victoria's Secret and Prosti-Tots

No, we're not going away on this topic--the Victoria's Secret displays continue to attract attention (in their own way) and disapproval, this from a clinical psychologist in the DC area:

I heard about it in my kitchen before I read about it in the newspaper: After visiting the expanded Tysons Corner Center this fall, my 23-year-old daughter said, "You won't believe how weird Victoria's Secret's gotten: It's all red and black with a bunch of mannequins that look like porn stars." Some shoppers were so outraged at the raunchy lingerie display that they threatened to boycott the store; others just yawned.

I've been hearing a variation on this theme with increasing frequency in my office. Mothers voice distress over the suggestive clothing their teen and preteen daughters are wearing, inside and outside the house. In fact, conflict over clothing is what prompts them to come in for family therapy. The daughters themselves may be imperious or sullen, but almost all employ the everyone-is-doing-it excuse. And an awful lot of girls are doing it.

Women once complained about being reduced to sex objects. Now, their daughters are volunteering to be sex objects.

So what's the problem?

Another even bigger problem I see is indecision: Parents lack confidence in their instincts and in their judgment. Previous generations had no trouble making hard and fast rules. Parents in those days looked like and conducted themselves as adults and role models; kids and teenagers wanted to grow up and get the perks of adult life as soon as possible. Therapists see the inverse today. There are lots of parents who are uncomfortable with their grownup role and want to be young again; their kids don't want to grow up, or wish to postpone it as long as possible.

The "Question Authority" generation poisons its own children--

The article is interesting, to say the least.

As Long As Charlie Mentioned It...

The People's Cube seems to be a Conservative version of the Onion--or kind of a cross between the Onion and FrontPage.

One of their more useful offerings is a random insult generator; you simply insert the name of the offensive party, and VOILA!! up pops a fitting insult.

Here's the one for Sykes: Charlie Sykes, you are a profiteering criminal because you own a gas-guzzling SUV!

This may become addictive...

HT: Sykes (who evidently needs an invitation to Deer Camp)

Fix the Patriot Act

Who could disagree with Jeff Jacoby?

As I write, congressional negotiators are wrangling over a bill to amend parts of the Patriot Act and settle the fate of 14 sections due to expire on Dec. 31. Most of the fixes being pushed are not unreasonable. One would require the government to show that information it seeks under Section 215 — which allows investigators to obtain records, documents, and other ''tangible things" — is genuinely relevant to an antiterrorism investigation. Another would make clear that those who are served with a Section 215 order have the right to consult with attorneys and challenge the order in court. Section 213, under which investigators (with judicial approval) can delay notice of a search for ''a reasonable period," would be amended to specify that ''reasonable" normally means within seven to 30 days. And the FBI's sweeping power to issue ''national security letters" ordering the production of customer records — and prohibiting the recipient from discussing it with anyone — should be curbed. Recipients who find such an order or gag rule oppressive ought to have the right to seek relief in federal court.

Public policy SHOULD reflect wisdom which is permanent. There are less-than-honorable people who could take office and fill bureaucracies.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

We're Rich!

Under orders, I did a bit of scouting about for a DVD release of "The Tale of the Bunny Picnic," an old Jim Henson VHS release.

The pic is not out in DVD.

However, the VHS is now priced at $70.00!!!!

This means that our copy goes into the gun safe...

UW-EauClaire's History of "Oppression"

UW-EauClaire firmly stomped on student rights by forbidding a Resident Assistant from conducting Bible studies anyplace on the campus. So much for the First Amendment and all that claptrap Constitutional stuff.

But UWEC has a little history on "Oppression" which is interesting:

Since its original development in the mid-1990s, the Tunnel of Oppression has become a nationally recognized program offered at a number of college campuses including The Ohio State University, the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire, and The University of Nevada Las Vegas. Some campuses use it as an element of diversity training within the residence halls while others have fully incorporated the idea into their campus programming efforts. Campuses have implemented the program in various ways, incorporated various themes, and have realized varying levels of success. Following the interactive portion of the Tunnel, many campuses offer students an outlet for processing the activity including panel discussions with faculty and staff members.

....As part of the program, participants are led through museum style series of connected rooms which each ask the participants to experience various forms of oppression. Participants are challenged to consider how oppression and the advantages incurred have an effect on them, as well as the individuals and groups around them.
This year's themes are:

(1) Tools of Oppression
(2) Women's Issues
(3) Racial Oppression
(4) LGBT Issues
(5) Religious Oppression **this room is pending***.

Now we understand. The UWEC Chancellor has not yet participated in the Religious Oppression Tunnel-Game--therefore, he does not understand.

Frankly, I thought Chancellors were supposed to be relatively intelligent.

HT: Little Green Footballs

Saturday, November 19, 2005

B-16 Reads the Riot Act to the Austrian Bishops


The Austrian Bishops were in Rome for their ad limina visit with Benedict XVI, who knows the score. And he made it perfectly clear:

“As you well know, the confession of the faith is one of the bishop’s primary duties. ‘I did not draw back’, St. Paul says in Miletus to the pastors of the Church of Ephesus, ‘from the task of proclaiming to you the whole counsel of God’ (Acts 20:27).

It is true that we bishops must act with discretion. Nevertheless, this prudence must not prevent us from presenting the Word of God in all its clarity, including those things that are heard less willingly or that consistently provoke reactions of protest and derision. You, dear brothers in the episcopacy, know this well: there are some topics relating to the truth of the faith, and above all to moral doctrine, which are not present in the catechesis and preaching of your dioceses to a sufficient extent, and which sometimes, for example in pastoral outreach to youth in the parishes or groups, are either not confronted at all or are not addressed in the clear sense understood by the Church. Thanks be to God, it is not like this everywhere.

Perhaps those who are responsible for the proclamation [of the Gospel] are afraid that people may draw back if they speak too clearly. However, experience in general demonstrates that it is precisely the opposite that happens.

Don’t deceive yourselves! Catholic teaching offered in an incomplete manner is a contradiction of itself and cannot be fruitful in the long term. The proclamation of the Kingdom of God goes hand in hand with the demand for conversion and with the love that encourages, that knows the way, that teaches that with the grace of God even that which seemed impossible becomes possible.

Think of how, little by little, religious instruction, catechesis on various levels, and preaching can be improved, deepened, and, so to speak, completed! Please, make zealous use of the ‘Compendium’ and the ‘Catechism of the Catholic Church’! Have the priests and catechists adopt these tools, have them explained in the parishes, have them used in families as important reading material!

Amid the uncertainty of this period of history and this society, offer to men the certainty of the fullness of the Church‘s faith! The clarity and the beauty of the Catholic faith are what make man’s life shine, even today! This is especially the case when it is presented by enthusiastic and exciting witnesses.”

Hmmmm. "Parts of the moral code" like, for example, about contraception? Abortion? Greed?

One wonders if more proximate Bishops read this with a certain growing, ah, concern...Will there be references to B-16 as "divisive?"

Watch for the propaganda campaign to begin about 12 months before the US ad liminas commence.

HT: Recta Ratio

Murtha's PRECISE Words

Via Powerline, we can see precisely what Murtha (D-Deaniac) called for:

...his own words from a press conference a few days ago: "The United States will immediately redeploy — immediately redeploy. No schedule which can be changed, nothing that’s controlled by the Iraqis, this is an immediate redeployment of our American forces because they have become the target." And: "My plan calls for immediate redeployment of U.S. troops (consistent with the safety of U.S. forces)." Reference: here.


Murtha own website: "I believe before the Iraqi elections, scheduled for mid December, the Iraqi people and the emerging government must be put on notice that the United States will immediately redeploy." Reference: here.

The spin is one thing: the facts are above. Murtha's plan was defeated in the House, 403-3.

Diverse: Our Way or None!

From an email sent to the Bulldog Marquette Warrior, describing the scene at a table full of MU grads, all now (presumably) responsible adults who have established careers and Intellectual Credentials:

Many old canards about “religion” came tumbling out, even from people who consider themselves religious and even Catholic. Trying to interject a bit of reason unleashed a tirade about people who want to reinstate the Tridentine mass, something about kneeling being mandated, the return of the repressed rogation days, and something about a (no doubt crazy) professor who recently left his faculty post at Boston College to go to Ave Maria. Yipes!

This adds a lot to my old theory that the prevailing “Catholic” sentiment at MU is that Catholics should become really liberal Episcopalians.

It is an interesting picture, no? All that "Catholic" claptrap like kneeling, Latin, Rogation Days...

And this occurs within a larger discussion of "diversity" on campus.

There's no "diversity" like the "diversity" which meets the Left's precise specification...

Friday, November 18, 2005

What Musicians Do

So besides appearing with instrument nearby (or contained, as in the voice), and making noises which are either really wonderful or not...what do those folks actually DO?

Here's an article which tells you a little. Some musicians study music created by others and find fascinating things therein; others actually WRITE the music with all that fascinating stuff in there.

Might I add that this paper should add something to the "Liturgical Music" discussion which is ongoing in the Church. (And in other churches...) It should be perfectly clear that JSBach understood the concepts of 1) praising God and 2) elevating the minds and hearts of the Faithful to God--the two principal and intertwined purposes of musica sacra, sacred music.

He also took for granted that a portion of the audience understood what he was saying and doing--in other words, the idea that 17th-Century people were oh, so LESS smart than 20th-Century people is, ah, bogus.

Warning: the article is not light reading, but it IS comprehensible.

"I tell you now that, while it is certainly a great work of art, the B Minor demands that one approach it not merely as art, but as icon--a religious object crafted for the purpose of divine worship and instruction. In the words of Christoph Wolff, the composer himself saw his Mass as "the supreme opportunity to unite his creed as a Christian with his creed as a musician in a single statement." By "icon" I do not mean that twaddling sense in which the word has come to be used of late. I use the word, rather, in its historical sense, especially as it is represented in one of the richest and most varied traditions in art history, that of Eastern Orthodox Christianity. We have all seen these icons, with their wide eyes, tilted heads, halos, vivid colors, and piously folded hands. I am talking about a type of art expressive of a people capable of devotion so profound as to be practically incomprehensible to the western mind. "

and then,

C. S. Lewis's purpose for art--"to know that we are not alone"--and St. John of Damascus's purpose for icons--to know that God is with us--both stand in stark contrast to the existentialist philosophy of Jean Paul Sartre and others of our own century who portray mankind as very much alone and adrift in a meaningless universe, without God, but with a terrifying freedom to choose. The purpose of the icon, in particular, has been to say exactly the opposite, that the Creator did not leave creation alone, to its own devices, but that the Creator is active, involved, concerned, and full of love for his people

HT: Scrutinies

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Sensenbrenner: Against ANWR?

We just report some stuff here, given by a Wisconsin resident and true-blue Pubbie, on Jim Sensenbrenner:

Briefly, these a few of his arguments:

1. According to US REP Sensenbrenner: There is not enough refining capacity to accommodate any oil from ANWR. Of course it will take 10 years to put a well into production up there, and refineries will be built and expanded in the mean time. Even Sensenbrenner conceded that they have streamlined the permitting process, but that Bill was passed just 3 months ago.

2. Sensenbrenner said that all of the ANWR oil would be sold to Japan because of limited refining capacity in this country. (Bogus argument -- see above.)

3. Sensenbrenner claims that this current Bill and his objection had nothing to do with natural gas drilling on the east and west coasts, although current news reports say the opposite.

4. Sensenbrenner said that even if ANWR were drilled, they couldn't get the oil to Wisconsin because there is no pipeline across the Rocky Mountains. On the other hand, he conceded that the Canadians are going to build one, but it is not in place yet. (I say, so what? What is to prevent us from shipping the oil to our west coast to ease shortages. Wisconsin does not have to benefit directly.)

Taken from FreeRepublic (scroll down a bit to "Afraid for the Republic"'s comments.

Sensenbrenner was also quoted as objecting to the ANWR provision being included in a Budget Reconciliation bill, a position with which I agree.

Jim's an ACU-rating star, but this testimony puts his common sense into question. I'd sure like to hear his arguments again, and debate the issue with him.


As long as Charlie brought it up regarding an Oklahoma case, why not mention Charles Benson's huffy-snit last night on Channel 4 in Milwaukee.

Benson was in shock (I say SHOCK!!!!) when he came across a dozen young male students with their desks out on the sidewalk near a choice-school run for 'disciplinary problems.' The students were being monitored by a Drill Instructor (no less) while outdoors doing their school lessons.

OhMyGosh! Call DPI!!! Call the, ah, arrrgh, SOMEBODY!!!! Get the CAMERAS!!!!

Benson interviewed the DI and the school's principal, who vigorously defended the practice and stated emphatically that "the parents agree with me." He interviewed the DI, who was bemused by Benson's huffy, hyperventilating, and (frankly,) silly questions.

He then interviewed a couple of the Little Darlings who told the near-fainting Benson that: 1) they understood full well WHY they were out on the sidewalk; and 2) that they would NOT likely repeat the behavior which got them there in the first place.

Now thoroughly confused and with no story whatsoever, Benson tossed it back to "Gush," the 10PM anchor. As we all know, "Gush" is the son of a former MPS superintendent. "Gush" wrinkled his nose and said something to the effect that 'that's an unusual practice,' whereupon real news coverage commenced again.

Charles Benson is best known for arriving VERY late for church. It's likely that his next reputation will be for Crusading For Liberal Squishes--but he'll not get much sympathy from educators who want to make a difference in the lives of their charges.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

"Core" Inflation

The reports on "core" inflation bear a caveat: the number excludes the costs of transportation, housing, and food. Remember that when you go to the grocery store, driving from your home.

And in another interesting little note, the Fed has decided NOT to issue reports on "M3" anymore, which has been growing at about 10%/year--triple the amount of reported "inflation." They tell us that it's simply too difficult to pinpoint the actual number.

Finally, in a reliable report from the Front Lines: people are noticing that grocery prices are up, and up considerably, in the last few months. And they are complaining about it.

A few years ago (the mid-1980's) it was easy to tell how much my longsuffering and wonderful wife spent at the grocery store: simply multiply the number of minutes in the store by $1.00. An hour's shopping was a $60.00 grocery bill.

(I am NOT making this up. Nor am I making it up when I tell you that in the mid-1950's, through about the late 1960's, a US-made automobile cost about $1.00/pound curb weight.)

Anyway, I ran the numbers on groceries. We're now up to $1.50/minute in the store. Granted, more of the purchases are frozen and/or freeze-dried for convenience. And 20 years is a long time. Kinda wish I had kept track of the per-minute price on an annual basis...

It Ain't Hard to Be a Cynic

Well, the Senate got the word--Alaska's "Bridges to Nowhere" may be lost--sort of.

With nationwide scorn on Congress for spending $452 million on two so-called "bridges to nowhere," a Senate committee is trying to erase the two projects from the highway bill Congress passed this summer, Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, confirmed Tuesday.

Now read VERY carefully the next paragraph:

Stevens said a Senate appropriations bill now in the works would remove the description, but not necessarily the funding, for the Knik and Ketchikan bridges.

In other words, the Senate may well remove the specific NAMES for the bridges, but not the MONEY.

"That is what we're seeking, at the very least, to take the money that the state would get as (an) allocation, to use it as sees fit," [Sen. Stevens, (R-Pigdom] said.

[Cong. Flake, (R-AZ)] has been pushing a revision that would rescind 10 percent of the highway bill's spending. Like the rumored Senate bill, his proposal would also remove all of the earmark language, but leave the money with the states.

The bridges and the rest of the highway spending are damaging the Republican image of fiscal responsibility, he argues.

"I maintain that we simply can't stand the public relations disaster of funding this many earmarks," he said last week.

States, he said, would welcome the freedom to spend their highway money how they want, he said, even if they only get 90 percent of it.

Young said too many members of Congress have too much at stake in the highway bill to listen to Flake.

"He hasn't got any traction," [Rep] Young (R-Pigdom) told Alaska reporters last week. "He's a dog lying on ice right now: He's scratching a lot but he doesn't go anywhere."

Precisely what we fear, Junior PigMost Republican from Alaska.

HT: Human Events

Avian Flu Common Sense

Tom Bethell is a level-headed fellow and a practiced observer/commentator. He has a few thoughts on the Avian Flu scare worth considering:

Avian flu has been grossly exaggerated and it's time someone said so. There have been all of 60 deaths, worldwide. The same virus infected 18 people in Hong Kong in 1997. Then, two years ago, there were a handful of cases in both Vietnam (population 83 million) and Thailand (population 66 million). In both countries combined, 20 people, known to have been working with chickens, contracted influenza symptoms. All this is from the New England Journal of Medicine.

... Public-health departments annually come up with something to scare us. Remember SARS? That was another huge scare. In the end, 770 people died worldwide. To put that in perspective, about 55 million people die around the world every year, 2.4 million of them in the United States. It is said 1968 was another "pandemic" year; 34, 000 Americans died of flu. But about that many die of flu every year -- most of pneumonia.

...The media plays along for several reasons. They fall for the argument it is better to be safe than sorry. Also, scary headlines sell newspapers. So the press and public health agencies have a shared interest. One wants a bigger slice of the budget and the other wants greater circulation.

...By 2000, some 25 million Africans were said to have AIDS. This was seen as a threat to U.S. national security. African nations could not provide for their own security; half of those under 15 were destined for an early death; populations were threatened with collapse, and so on. Twenty years later, the population of sub-Saharan Africa is one of the world's fastest-growing. It has increased by more than 300 million since 1985, or by more than the total population of the United States.

Some pandemic. But the Bush administration fell for that one, too, and came up with $15 billion to combat it.

NIH, like NASA, loves budget dollars.

Another way to put it: perhaps the Impending Doom is a shortage of Federal Tax Dollars. It is NOT Impending Doom that the taxpayer has no money. Never. Nope.

Great News!

From Zenit:

Monsignor David Malloy of the Milwaukee Archdiocese has been elected general secretary of the U.S. bishops' conference.

The 49-year-old priest has served as an associate general secretary for the past five years. In his new post he succeeds Monsignor William Fay, who will leave the post in February after a five-year stint.

The general secretary serves a term of five years which can be extended for a year at a time.

Ordained in 1983, Father Malloy served as an associate pastor and later studied at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, in preparation for service in the papal diplomatic corps.

In the diplomatic corps, he served as secretary to the apostolic nunciatures in Pakistan and Syria. He also served as secretary to the Holy See's mission to the United Nations in New York.

Meanwhile, the president of the bishops' conference said Monday that priests maintain high morale and enjoy the appreciation of parishioners despite the clerical sex abuse scandals that have been reported in recent years.

In a speech defending the clergy, Bishop William Skylstad said that three recent studies show ''the high level of morale among priests'' despite the abuse crisis and the pressures caused by a decline in vocations. ZE05111521

Mgr. Malloy is a very sensible fellow. There's a 'bad-news' aspect: he won't be available for service in Milwaukee for at least 5 years.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Things Change--Maybe for the Better

One of the joys of my yout' about 52+ years ago was loading up the Dodge sedan with the week's trash and garbage, plus miscellaneous unused chemicals, boxes, scrap, grass clumps from the old Toro mower, and trash, and hauling it all to the "dump" with my father--who did the vast majority of the work...

We'd get out of the driveway, out of sight of Mom, and I'd immediately shift to the center of the front seat (there were no armrests, nor consoles then) and proceed to operate the gearshift, on signal from Dad, taking the three-on-the-tree from Low to Second, and finally, to High.

By and by, about 5 minutes later, we'd arrive at the Loth Pit, an unused quarry then operated as the City's dump. After paying a dollar or so to the attendant, we'd back up as close as Dad dared to the edge, open the trunk, and pitch everything off the cliff.

Eventually, you'd hear a clunk, or a clink, or several bangs and crashes, indicating that the trash had hit bottom.

Now, as I drive by the old Dump, I see that it's become a subdivision. Lots will likely go for upwards of $100K/quarter-acre. They may even excavate artifacts of 1940's/1950's Americana, and/or bones of various critters who inhabited the area for the free and easy food pickins.

I really don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Liturgical Reform (?)

Worth quoting in its entirety:

Latin was gone entirely, replaced by dull, oppressive, anchorman English, slavishly translated from its sonorous source to be as plain and "direct" as possible. It didn't seem to have occurred to the well-meaning vandals who'd thrown out baby, bath, and bathwater that all ritual is a reaching out to the unknowable and can be accomplished only by the noncognitive: evocation, allusion, metaphor, incantation -- the tools of the poet.

Mass was now said in the language of the region where it was celebrated. Like politics, all Masses were now local -- and had about as much dignity. Before "reform," the individual quirks of the priest -- whether he was a saint or a thug or merely a potato like old Father Bleary -- were submerged beneath the timeless rhythms of a universal script. Now priests had huge discretion in deciding the details of the "modern" Mass, and all those egos were on parade.

At one church I made the mistake of trying, the priest gave a rambling hour-long sermon whose main function, he seemed to feel, was to keep the faithful rolling in the aisles. Several of the utterly irrelevant observations he worked in were lines stolen verbatim from a Letterman monologue earlier in the week. The music was from one of the new Catholic hymnals, which had replaced the august millennial music of the Church with tuneless drivel penned during the seventies and eighties by clerical nonentities whose musical gods were John Denver and Andrew Lloyd Weber. These were accompanied by a sprightly cacophony of guitar, fiddle, and saxophone.

We've often repeated the words stolen directly from a VERY knowledgable priest: "...sacred time, sacred space, sacred language...." in reference to liturgy. Reading the above (from a NYT best-seller, no less) only serves to remind us that when all those elements are ignored and we go "horizontal" that faux-concerts of faux-music and Letterman monologues are pretty much all that's left...

And the LitWonkPantywaists are pleased.

HT: Dappled Things and Laudator Temporis Actae

Doyle's "OK Corral" Moment

BagManJim Doyle has requested the appearance of the CEO's from all five major oil companies. They are asked to come to Milwaukee to explain to him, BagManJim, PERSONALLY, how it is that their firms made 'all that money' (about 9% of gross sales) last quarter.

This is so friggin' transparent that it's basically beneath commentary, except to ask BagManJim how much State and local money will be wasted on this asinine enterprise.

My respect for Big Oil parallels Sykes' respect for them--after all, THEY are the ones who jammed MBTE, a known carcinogen, into Wisconsin fuel supplies. They are inclined to be predatory, or at the very least, jerks (you should read the "dealer agreements" as a lesson...)

But 9% of gross is not exactly high.

The "friendly" Insurance Companies (read: American Family, e.g.) make about 11% of gross. The "friendly" Banks run around 15% of gross.

For some reason, it's difficult to tell what % of gross the casinos take in. Hmmmmm. Think BagManJim will call in the tribal CEO's?

China Agenda for Bush

There's not much to add to Letters in Bottles' agenda for GWB,

except that he should ALSO make it clear that persecution and execution of Catholics and other Christians is absolutely unacceptable...

...and that using slave labor/prison camp labor to compete with American workers is absolutely unacceptable...

...and that currency manipulation is absolutely unacceptable.

The day GWB says those things (including Letters' suggestions) will occur, perhaps, the next time that the Packers are in the Super Bowl. In other words, not this year, and not next...

Tax Reform: DOA

So sayeth Bruce Bartlett in a discussion of the efforts of the bipartisan panel which recently sent its report and recommendations to the President.

In short, the tax commission proposals are deeply imbalanced politically. Therefore, there is no chance whatsoever that Congress will adopt either one. The Treasury Department and the White House may find some way to salvage a more politically attractive tax reform proposal from the commission report, but unfortunately, they have little to work with.

Bartlett says that recommending the reduction or elimination of mortgage-interest, health-care, and state/local tax deductions in exchange for a tiny reduction in the tax rate is politically un-doable. And he's right.

The perspicacious observer may ask "why?" Why load the 'plan' with THREE political sacred cows? And why then offer only a 10% top-rate decrease in tax? Why maintain the utterly complex IRS Code almost intact?

Something smells, and it ain't in Denmark.

Either the panel's charter was flawed, or the panel and others associated with the project, simply do not want to see 'tax reform.' There are far too many intelligent and persuasive people who can make a case for either the Consumption Tax or the Flat Tax who must be asking the same question, and maybe they are coming to the same conclusion: The Feds want to keep the cash-flow and favor the complexity.

In other words, GWB's telling us "fuhgeddaboutit." Thanks, George!

What's "Pellet Gun" in Squirrel-ese?

Squirrels can be very vocal animals, as backyard and park observers know, and now scientists have translated some of their squirrel-speak.

The findings, published recently in the journal Animal Behavior, present some of the most detailed information to date on squirrel vocalizations, which the researchers now believe constitute a complex language that is unique to the animals.

The team of zoologists focused their analysis on alarm calls of the Richardson's ground squirrel, Spermophilus richardsonii, which is the most common ground squirrel in Canada.

Squirrels often communicate with whistles, chirps and chucks, which sound like the word "chuck." Whistles and chirps resemble the sounds that many birds make.

"A chuck is a short duration trailing element, which when added to the end of a syllable, harshens the offset of a call so that it punctuates the end of the syllable with a click," explained James Hare, one of the study's authors.
[Sorta like the 'click' of the safety coming off?]

"The squirrel whistles and chirps are roughly equivalent to those of birds, with a whistle having a more or less constant pitch and a chirp decreasing in pitch over its duration."
Hare and his team coaxed squirrels to emit alarm calls by tossing a tan-colored brimmed hat in front of the animals. The hat mimics a bird or animal predator in color and can move low and fast.
[Note to self: don't throw hats at squirrels before loosing a round.]

"In effect then, whistles that incorporate chucks say 'there's a predator of moderate threat that's here,' whistles without chucks say 'there's a predator of seemingly moderate threat around here somewhere,' while chirps that in nature don't incorporate chucks say, "I'm ducking for cover here because there's an immediate danger,'" Hare told Discovery News.

Hare and his colleagues believe such sounds are part of a sophisticated language that he said "likely evolved just as all other communication systems have: by chance association of certain cues with significant events at first and selection favoring individuals who detected and responded appropriately to the broadcast of such cues." [Darwin, again. Next they'll tell us that the chirps and chucks are Indo-European in origin and may not apply to Far Eastern targets squirrels.]

Although squirrels risk their lives when they call out to warn others of threats, Hare said other squirrels might admire this behavior, thus increasing the caller's social status, not unlike humans who look up to heroes. [GET SERIOUS!!! See any squirrels with Purple Hearts lately?]

Hare said other animals, such as birds, probably understand at least some squirrel language, since they also may benefit from the alarm calls. [At least one Hare does...]

While chickadees and other birds often are welcomed into gardens by homeowners, squirrels frequently are viewed as pests. Hare wishes greater understanding of the complex social lives and communication systems of squirrels will provide "hope that humans will gain a greater appreciation and stop persecuting these animals." [Not 'complex' at all. Eat the birds' food, die!]

Discovery Channel

Monday, November 14, 2005

Need a Really Good Dose of Insipid and Banal?

Just in case you have not had your weekly requirement of Mr. Rogers in a declasse mode:

The 1970s liturgical music phenomenon the St Louis Jesuits plan to release their first album in more than 20 years later this year.

The US Jesuits' Company magazine reports that the new hymns will reflect the mature perspectives of the authors, in addition to their trademark lyrics based on Scripture and music that people can sing to connect with their faith. Composers and musicians Bob Dufford, SJ, Roc O'Connor, SJ, Dan Schutte, and John Foley, SJ, are often regarded as the "fathers" of contemporary liturgical music. [I dunno. Perhaps "sisters."]

...The St. Louis Jesuits have been discussing the idea of a new album since 2000, when they sang "City of God" together at the National Association of Pastoral Musicians conference in Washington, D.C., said O'Connor, a theology professor and liturgist at Creighton University. It was the first time they had sung together in sixteen years, and something magical happened. "People went wild, and that was very gratifying," he said. [Wild, eh? You said a mouthful, Fr. O'Connor. Let us count those who no longer show up at Reconciliation (or Mass, for that matter) to get a better picture of the results of your efforts...]

...In their heyday, the St. Louis Jesuits were a sort of religious equivalent of the Beatles, although they never toured or performed concerts. [Well stated. Rock'n'Roll is the last of the infamous 1960's trio of evils...]Instead, they conducted liturgical music workshops and spoke at conferences. This surprised some people. [Like anyone who had, say, 3 years' training in MUSIC.]

"There was a rather long period when anything the St. Louis Jesuits released was widely used almost immediately," Foley said. "One reason was that we were one of the few sources of this kind of liturgical music. [The good news: there were not too many. The bad news: there were any at all...]

HT: The Curt Jester