Wednesday, January 31, 2007

"Investment": Is the Press Bending Over?

As we noted below, the word "investment" is beginning to be troublesome.

It's bad enough that our Dimowit, DarthDoyle, uses the term as (not-too) Secret Code for "SPENDING."

But when the Milwaukee JS reporter (could be either Walters or Forster) uses the same word in reporting on the address, without quotation marks, or even semi-quotes, ...shall we call it inaccurate? Are they using Doyle's linguistic linguini to make it All Better? Or is this 'reality-reporting'?

He will also encourage campuses to develop greater specialization. For example, at UW-Milwaukee, which has sought $10 million for its research agenda, Doyle called for greater investment to attract top experts to the school and allow for more partnerships with the private sector.

In fact, Darth wants to SPEND $10MM (or a big chunk thereof) on UW-M's research program proposal.

Shall we call a spade a spade in news coverage?

Florida "Criminal" Gun Permits?

There's been a bunch of ink spilled over the allegation that the State of Florida is issuing concealed-carry permits to "criminals."

Not so fast. John Lott provides the facts that the NYSlimes (inter alia) 'forgot.'

But these individuals were not convicted of "felonies." Florida judges have the power to take a plea, impose probation (without entering a conviction) and once the person completes that, "withhold conviction." These individuals are eligible for a permit because they were not convicted of anything. If the cases are as horrible or the evidence as clear as you claim, why are the judges withholding convictions? Second, I talked to a Mary Kennedy with Florida's licensing department and she confirmed for me that only one person last year lost his permit for any firearms related violation. That is 1 out of 410,000 permit holders.

Now you know the REST of the story.

Bi-Partisan Terror Caucus

Here's a good thing:

Today at a press conference in the U.S. Capitol, U.S. Representative Sue Myrick (R-NC), along with Representatives Bud Cramer (D-AL), Kay Granger (R-TX), and Ben Chandler (D-KY) formally announced they have formed a new bipartisan Congressional Anti-Terrorism Caucus. Myrick, Cramer, Granger, and Chandler are the co-chairs of the new caucus.

The Caucus mission statement states that it “serves to educate Members of Congress, their staff and the general public about the threats to our country that are fueled by extremist ideologies. The Caucus recognizes that terrorism is not a Democrat or Republican problem; it is a critical issue for all Americans. To this end, the Caucus will facilitate an educational process and healthy exchange of ideas in a bipartisan setting.”

Sue Myrick states, “Terrorists don’t target Democrats or Republicans. They target Americans, and this is why we must face this issue as Americans… Members of Congress and the American public must know the threats we face from radical jihadist terrorists. This caucus will give Congress the tools and resources it needs to communicate those threats to the public, as well as help them make more informed decisions when it comes to terrorist issues….

Let's hope that this caucus is able to make a LOT of noise. The WOT will go on for much, much longer than the Iraq engagement (although there will be overlap.) We need to know what's going on out there.

HT: Counterterrorism Blog

Owen Did It

Displaying his self-flagellating tendencies, Owen actually read Darth's speech and commented.

I am beginning to hate the word "investment."

Keep Your Ears on Biden

As Betsy points out, Sen. Biden loves to talk. And the more he talks, the more you learn.

“Are they going to turn to Hillary Clinton?” Biden asked, lowering his voice to a hush to explain why Mrs. Clinton won’t win the election.“Everyone in the world knows her,” he said. “Her husband has used every single legitimate tool in his behalf to lock people in, shut people down. Legitimate. And she can’t break out of 30 percent for a choice for Democrats? Where do you want to be? Do you want to be in a place where 100 percent of the Democrats know you? They’ve looked at you for the last three years. And four out of 10 is the max you can get?”

Well, Senator, we think you'll live to regret dissing the Hildebeeste.

Then he discusses the Breck Girl:

“John Edwards wants you and all the Democrats to think, ‘I want us out of there,’ but when you come back and you say, ‘O.K., John’”—here, the word “John” became an accusatory, mocking refrain—“‘what about the chaos that will ensue? Do we have any interest, John, left in the region?’ Well, John will have to answer yes or no. If he says yes, what are they? What are those interests, John? How do you protect those interests, John, if you are completely withdrawn? Are you withdrawn from the region, John? Are you withdrawn from Iraq, John? In what period? So all this stuff is like so much Fluffernutter out there. So for me, what I think you have to do is have a strategic notion. And they may have it—they are just smart enough not to enunciate it.”

That commentary also applies to Our Own Fluffernutter: Feinie bin Getouttathere.

DarthDoyle Wants to Spend, Spend, Spend!!

And off to the races we go!

Of course, there are these minor difficulties:

His 2007-'09 budget must control a long-term deficit estimated at $1.6 billion to $2.1 billion, depending on the accounting system used. That gap could also worsen by $277 million, if the state Supreme Court rules against the state in a sales-tax refund claim filed by the Menasha Corp.

Estimating likely expenses through June 30 and tax collections through mid-2009, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau predicted Tuesday a midyear surplus of $110 million - or about $40 million more than the last report, issued in November by Doyle budget aides.

That surplus assumes the Ho-Chunk tribe will pay $30 million the state says it is owed, but which the tribe disputes.

That good news of a higher surplus was jeopardized by a warning of a total of $99.3 million in year-end deficits in four programs, which could lower that midyear surplus to about $11.3 million when state government closes its budget books on June 30.

Fiscal Bureau Director Bob Lang listed those overruns as: $46 million in the Wisconsin Shares program that subsidizes child care costs; $38 million in higher Department of Corrections spending; $9.7 million in Office of the Public Defender; and $5.6 million in the BadgerCare program that provides health care for the working poor.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Marquette U's "Honors" Program: Rotting from Within

GOP3 reports that some academic "honors" program at Marquette U will be producing the Vagina Monologues as part of a "symposium". Marquette U has thus managed to slam the virtues on the very same day in which it announced that Marquette will NOT allow criticism of its programs or profs.

We suppose that this is the result of "Symbolic Logic," (a sham and a ripoff used at Marquette in the beginning of the Sex/Drugs/Rock'n'Roll age.)

The highly controversial “Vagina Monologues” will be the heart of a symposium sponsored by the Marquette Honors Program entitled “Academic Conversation on Catholicism, Sexuality, and Human Rights,” April 14 at 4 p.m.

The announcement of the event is less than a year after the university denied left-leaning student organization JUSTICE’s request for the monologues’ performance last spring. The Rev. Andy Thon, Vice President of Student Affairs, said at the time a performance of the monologues would be “distractive” from the issue of violence against women.

But Director of University Communications Brigid Miller said this rendition of the monologues are permissible because they are being sponsored by an academic department, not a student organization. Unlike students, faulty-based “academic units are free to host lectures, discussions and symposia that are appropriate to their subject areas.

"Academic" Department?

Surely you jest, Brigid.

Academics needs VM like music needs fish.

As to criticism, the Warrior reports that Students for Academic Freedom was denied its application to become a recognized student group at Marquette.

The Warrior comments:

Quite clearly, criticizing Marquette, particular programs at Marquette and individual professors is viewed by Marquette bureaucrats as “inimical to Marquette’s commitment to academic freedom.”

In other words, “academic freedom” doesn’t include the right to claim that faculty and administrators are using their freedom in a biased way!

Like, for example, mocking Catholic and Christian virtue...

Even MORE Wisconsin Spending

HT Owen.

This case is very important:

The 4th District Court of Appeals in Madison ruled Thursday that Neenah-based Menasha Corp. was eligible for a tax exemption on what the manufacturer said was customized business software. The Department of Revenue argued the software should be considered uncustomized, or “off-the-shelf” software that isn’t eligible for an exemption.

And Menasha Corp is hardly the Lone Ranger in this situation.

The Menasha case amounted to a $343,000 tax refund, plus interest, for the company. But similar cases could amount to as much as $250 million in refunds and interest, and as much as $100 million in potential lost taxes for the two-year budget that ends June 30, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau said in a recent memo.

Nelson estimated the potential liability for the state would be lower, perhaps between $120 million and $150 million.

There is another case working its way through the courts which could also go against the State. In that one, various Wisconsin companies have placed earning assets in Nevada, which does not have an income tax. Wisconsin is suing for what it claims is a tax liability.

More Wisconsin Pension Problems

Wisconsin taxpayers have another bill to pay.

Governments in Wisconsin face costs of around $17.4 billion beyond what they have already set aside to pay for pensions and other benefits promised retirees, according to a study by the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute released today.

The paper, by former Wisconsin Secretary of Administration George Lightbourn, is the first to attempt to quantify those costs, which are moving into the spotlight after changes in accounting rules requiring they be calculated.

"The exact amount will not be known until 2009," Lightbourn writes. "But it is already clear that there are either tax hikes or program cuts in the future for Wisconsin taxpayers."

The costs are of two types: pension plans that fall short of the money needed to pay promised benefits, and the amount of money needed to pay other retirement benefits, mostly for health insurance

The State of Wisconsin has figured its unfunded liability for both pensions and other promised retirement benefits, and has sold $1.3 billion in bonds to fund the obligations. Lightbourn said that with interest, the bonds will cost $3.6 billion to retire.

Will these numbers emerge during DarthDoyle's State of the State address?

Monday, January 29, 2007

SECRET!!! Catholic Code

Sent by a friend who (obviously) wishes to remain anonymous.

This information is for Catholics only. It must not be divulged to non-Catholics. The less they know about our rituals and code words, the better off they are.

AMEN: The only part of a prayer that everyone knows.

BULLETIN: Your receipt for attending Mass.

CHOIR: A group of people whose singing allows the rest of the Parish to lip-sync.

HOLY WATER: A liquid whose chemical formula is H2OLY.

HYMN: A song of praise usually sung in a key three octaves higher than that of the congregation's range.

RECESSIONAL HYMN: The last song at Mass often sung a little more quietly, since most of the people have already left.

INCENSE: Holy Smoke!

JESUITS: An order of priests known for their ability to found Colleges with good basketball teams.

JONAH: The original "Jaws" story.

JUSTICE: When kids have kids of their own.

KYRIE ELEISON: The only Greek words that most Catholics can recognize besides gyros and baklava.

MAGI: The most famous trio to attend a baby shower.

MANGER: Where Mary gave birth to Jesus because Joseph wasn't covered by an HMO. Holiday travel has always been rough.

PEW: A medieval torture device still found in Catholic churches.

PROCESSION: The ceremonial formation at the beginning of Mass consisting of altar servers, the celebrant, and late parishioners looking for seats.

RECESSIONAL: The ceremonial procession at the conclusion of Mass led by parishioners trying to beat the crowd to the parking lot.

RELICS: People who have been going to Mass for so long, they actually know when to sit, kneel, and stand.

TEN COMMANDMENTS: The most important Top Ten list not given by David Letterman.

USHERS: The only people in the parish who don't know the seating capacity of a pew.

SECRET HOT LINE number direct to the Holy Spirit" that only Catholics know -- "Et cum spiri - 2 -2 -0"

Please do not spread this list around. One never knows when Elizabeth I will resume her activities.

State DWD Program Short $128 Million. Complete Idiots?

Every two years, Wisconsin Gummint agencies are required to submit a budget. After the usual tweaking and yanking, the budget is approved by the Legislature and the Governor. Then the agencies proceed to spend accordingly.

Most normal folks begin by assessing one of two things: projected income, or projected expenses.

Maybe DWD doesn't "get" that yet.

In a letter to legislators and other officials made public Friday, state Secretary of Workforce Development Roberta Gassman said the state must consider tightening income criteria in ways that would knock some poor families off the program. The cuts could also raise parents' co-payments, cut rates paid to providers and start a waiting list for parents needing child care, she said.

Several paragraphs later, you find this little gem:

...Gassman said a deficit of $128.2 million in Wisconsin Shares, including a $46 million shortfall in the current fiscal year that ends June 30, is putting "extraordinary pressure" on spending.

So.....they were short $80+million last year and kept it a secret?

.....Oh, yeah. Last year was election year.

So the Governor and his Secretary of DWD either 1) deliberately and seriously screwed up their projected expenses, or 2) seriously screwed up their projection but DIDN'T TELL ANYBODY because DarthDoyle was running for office, again.

Your choice.

HRC: "I Don't Want It!!"

The Hildebeeste figures she'll be sworn in as President early in 2009, but there's one trapping of the office she doesn't want: the War on Terror.

Hillary Rodham Clinton said Sunday that President Bush has made a mess of Iraq and it is his responsibility to "extricate" the United States from the situation before before he leaves office.

It would be "the height of irresponsibility" to pass the war along to the next commander in chief, she said.

Right, Hill. I'm sure GWB's cutting the orders to evacuate right now.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Thomas Aquinas on Cheese Standing

HT: Berres. You wannabe Thomists should enjoy this:

Does the cheese stand alone?

It seems that the cheese does not stand alone:

Objection 1: There are many dairy products such as milk, yogurt, cream, half and half and the like. In the natural world, all stand together with the cheese in the dairy isle and freezer section, therefore the cheese does not stand alone.

Objection 2: The tradition handed down by the FDA has always grouped cheese with other dairy products and as leading to your daily dairy intake. As such, the cheese does not stand alone.

Objection 3: It is not in the nature of cheese to stand as it has no legs or any other standing apparatus and since, as the Philosopher says, “nature is a source or cause of being moved and of being at rest” (Physics I, ii), nothing can do what is not in its nature. Thus the cheese does not stand alone because it cannot stand at all.

Objection 4: It is said that “milk does a body good” and therefore is great. Therefore the cheese does not stand alone, but with the milk.

Objection 5: In the Holy Land per se, also known as Wisconsin or Land that is inherently Holy, cheese is not the only object of fame. For Wisconsin is also known for polka, toilets, tamales, fireworks, and bubblers. The cheese must, then, stand with all of these and not alone.

On the contrary:

The Poet says, “Hi-ho the derry-o, the cheese stands alone.”

I answer that: The cheese stands alone in two ways. Firstly, among dairy products it is the most pungent and therefore the most easily identifiable by smell and taste. It is also the most carefully crafted of all dairy products as well as the most diverse in kind. As what is most important is given the most attention, the cheese is unique among dairy products and stands alone as one.Secondly, cheese by its very nature is holy. Some cheeses have a greater actuality of their holiness, such as Edamer or Swiss. (Note that this is why the Swiss Guards are only allowed into the Vatican after consuming exorbitant amounts of Swiss cheese.) Other cheeses have a lesser actuality, such as Cheddar or Brie. Nevertheless, this holiness is possessed by each cheese essentially regardless of its actuality. As such, cheese is necessarily holy, unlike other foods, and therefore stands alone.

Reply Objection 1: The word ‘alone’ can be used in two different senses; the first existing individually and in solitude, the second existing in a class of its own above all else to which it is compared. The Poet uses ‘alone’ in the latter sense while the objection applies to the former.

Reply Objection 2: There are two types of grouping, metaphysical and effectual. Metaphysical groups mark out something regarding what it is while effectual groups mark out something according to the result it produces. The FDA’s grouping is an effectual one as it means that all those in its group result in a healthy body. However, thee cheese stands alone metaphysically.Moreover, there are two types of tradition, for tradition depends upon authority. A contingent tradition is dependent on a temporal authority, while a universal tradition does not. The FDA is a temporal authority, has a contingent tradition, and therefore can not speak on the metaphysical matters at hand.

Reply Objection 3: The word ‘stand’ can not only be used properly, i.e. by the means of legs, but also analogically, i.e. “I should stand up to him” or “Stand proud”. Regarding the cheese, stand is used analogically and therefore does not require legs or any physical organ of standing.

Reply Objection 4: It is also said, “Behold the power of cheese.” Cheese has a power that strikes fear into the hearts of men. As fear is a gift of the Holy Spirit, cheese has a greater power than milk and stands above it and alone.

Reply Objection 5: Cheese is not native to Wisconsin, nor is it found only in Wisconsin as it is commonly found in France, Italy and the like. As such, it is not associated with Wisconsin per se but per accidens. Hence it is only accidentally associated with bubblers, polka, etc. So it does not stand with them per se but per accidens. Thus, the cheese stands alone per se.

Original: Becket of the Holy Whapping.

Not mentioned by TA: the Poet also says "The Casein Goes Rolling Along."

A Leading Liturgeist Snivels and Spits

Just one paragraph from a letter written by John Page (ex-Twit-in-Charge of ICEL) will tell you all you need to know:

Liturgiam Authenticam is negative, depreciative and condescending. It is closed, introverted and defensive. There is no vision. Nothing uplifting or hopeful. Its scolds and belittles. It doesn't speak to the human longing for God but rather to a staid and airless world that contains solely in itself all the answers [...] The conciliar intent, deeply pastoral in nature, was in favor of the use of the living language in the Church's public worship. A document that only pays lip service to the genius and claims of the receiver language(s) is empty of all credibility. [...] This document creates ex nihilo "liturgical translation, sacred language" and fences them off (to be kept pure and uncontaminated from the reality of the living literate vernacular languages). Only the Holy See would have the hubris to enshrine such an ignorant position.

(Letter to Bp. M. Taylor, May 9, 2002)

Dare we say "divisssssssssive?"

Could the proper adjective be...ahhhh...."mean-spirited"?

Does "nasty name-caller" fit the fellow?

Of course not!!

He's a Liturgeist! That means that he is above reproach.

Gratias a Deo, he's also unemployed now.


Iran: "IN" in Iraq?

This is a matter of grave concern:

On January 20th, a team of twelve men disguised as U.S. soldiers entered the Provincial Joint Coordination Center in Karbala, where U.S. soldiers conducted a meeting with local officials, and attacked and killed five soldiers, and wounded another three. The initial reports indicated the five were killed in the Karbala JCC, however the U.S. military has reported that four of those killed were actually removed from the center, handcuffed, and murdered.

The American Forces Information Service provides the details of the attack in Karbala. Based on the sophisticated nature of the raid, as well as the response, or cryptic non-responses, from multiple military and intelligence sources, this raid appears to have been directed and executed by the Qods Force branch of the Iranian Republican Guard Corps. My sources agreed this is far to sophisticated an operation for the Mahdi Army or Badr Corps, while al-Qaeda in Iraq would have a difficult time mounting such an operation in the Shia south. "The Karbala Government Center raid the other day was a little too professional for JAM [Jaish al-Mahdi, or the Mahdi Army]," according to a military source.

This raid required specific intelligence, in depth training for the agents to pass as American troops, resources to provide for weapons, vehicles, uniforms, identification, radios and other items needed to successfully carry out the mission.
Hezbollah's Imad Mugniyah executed a similar attack against Israeli forces on the Lebanese border, which initiated the Hezbollah-Israeli war during the summer of 2006.

HT Malkin.

We noted earlier that the RoE in Iraq have been changed to allow US military to kill or capture Iranians discovered inside Iraq. Roggio notes the same, and speculates that the change in RoE may be a result of this intelligence.

Health Insurance Blithering: "47 Million Uninsured"

The Bush health-insurance proposal has not been on the table for a week, and it's drawn more partisan fire than the War on Terror.

That's an accomplishment!

Some of that partisanship spills into "news" stories and it significantly distorts what should be a reasoned debate.

For example, in Saturday's JSOnline, we see the following:

The administration estimates that the average tax bill for families who now buy their own health insurance will go down by more than $3,650 in 2009, the year the tax break would be enacted. President Bush estimates that 3 million more people would get health insurance as a result.

That is a small percentage of the estimated 47 million people without health insurance, most of them lacking coverage for a year or longer.

That number--"47 million"--is pure horseapples.

The Congressional Budget Office ran the numbers (2003 report) and found that it is a wild exaggeration--not just a 'high-end guess.'

The key to understanding the legerdemain is separating "uninsured for a WHOLE year" from "uninsured at SOME POINT during a year." The numbers change dramatically:

CBO found that there are up to 40 million (non-elderly) people who are uninsured at "some point" during the year, but only 21 to 31 million who are uninsured for a "whole year or more." They also found that up to 59 million are uninsured "at any time" during a year.

Naturally, that 59 million figure is a totaling of the other two categories.

There are a number of other facts which are significant. Among them:

Many children (3 million or so) are eligible for Medicaid, but are not covered because their parent(s) have not applied for the coverage on behalf of the children;

Over 75% of the uninsured state that their health is "good", "very good", or "excellent."

HALF of the "uninsured spells" lasted 4 months or LESS.

People with less education are more likely than higher-educated people to experience long uninsured spells. Some 23 percent of spells among people in families in which no one graduated from high school last more than two years, compared with a figure of only 8 percent among people in families in which at least one person has a bachelor's degree

Obviously, a reflection of "employability."

About 19% of those who were un-covered for a year or more state that they "do not need insurance" (!!) or "don't believe in insurance" (!!!!)

Finally, about 23% of those who are un-covered are Hispanics. The CBO does not break down that category, but it is certain that some proportion of that group are illegals.

Unfortunately, some people are more interested in throwing political bombs than in rational discourse:

"You got to take this proposal for what it is," said Paul Fronstin, a health care economist with Employee Benefit Research Institute, a policy research organization. "It's not about insurance reform and it's not about health care reform. It's about premiums and taxes. And it's about ideology."

The "I-word" is code for irrational. Perhaps a mirror would help Mr. Fronstin.

There's a reason that Wisconsin liberals are not interested in Bush's proposal: it's called "politics."

Bush wants to make other federal health programs more flexible so that they complement, rather than hinder, state reform efforts. For instance, instead of sending billions to hospital emergency rooms and other providers to treat the uninsured after they get sick (the current practice), states could use the funds to help the poor obtain the sort of private coverage available to the rest of us.

In general, moving decision-making closer to the problem (i.e., to the State) is a good thing. It's called 'the principle of subsidiarity,' and is a matter of common sense. But States wish to avoid the responsibility which goes with the authority, because it's much easier to point fingers at "the Feds" than to actually be responsible. State deficits matter, and States have "other priorities."

Ironically, Bush's plan does what most liberals want: it will increase taxes on those who have exceptionally good plans--the OTHER source of State recalcitrance, particularly in States with strong public employee/teachers' union presence.

Briefly, the Bush $15K cap will make many teachers' health-plans partially taxable. This is absolutely anathema to Jim Doyle (among others.)

So how to address this problem while ignoring the obvious? Simple. Go to "the future."

The president proposed creating a standard deduction - $15,000 for families, $7,500 for individuals - for health insurance starting in 2009. If the cost of a health insurance policy exceeded the standard deduction, the amount above the limit would be taxable.

...The deduction would be pegged to the Consumer Price Index, not the rise in health care costs or in health insurance. The difference is significant. Since 2000, the cost of health insurance offered by employers rose an estimated 87%, compared with an 18% increase in the price index, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

This means that more people's health benefits eventually will exceed the deduction - about 40% of health plans in 10 years, by one estimate.

"It doesn't matter how many people we are talking about today," Fronstin said. "The fact is, six, seven years from now, you are talking about a big number."

Fronstin demonstrates how "ideology" really works with his projection. It's no different from the AlGore "Inconvenience:" find a cataclysmic possibility in the future, and flog it.

Let's settle down and start with germane facts; accept responsibility, and design a plan which works. Bush's proposal is an excellent start, if only the Ideologue Left would stop their screeching and spitting long enough to work with it.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Cdl. Martini, SJ: Not To Be Followed

Occasionally we've mentioned Cdl. Martini (SJ), now retired from his perch in Milan. We've never been friendly about him, and he just keeps adding to the pile of garbage he puts on the front porch of Catholics:

...the ten pages of doubts, hypotheses, and “gray areas” of cardinal Carlo Maria Martini in dialogue with bioethicist Ignazio Marino published in last week’s edition of “L’espresso” came like the manifesto of an antipope.

The fact that cardinal Martini... cleared the way for the use of the oocyte in the first hours after fertilization, maintaining that here “no sign of an individually distinguishable life yet appears,” was seen as an act of surrender to what John Paul II defined as the modern “culture of death.”

This is very serious stuff.

Martini is a close friend of Milwaukee's immediate-past-Archbishop.

Bloomberg, Barrett, and Bullshit

The mayors agin-"illegal" guns are, of course, against all gun-ownership. Their platitudes about hunters are merely the lipstick they paste on the pig.

Jolly Olde England has enacted what the mayors want. How's that working out?

Labour has been accused of losing control of gun crime as new figures show a sharp rise in armed robberies. Guns were used in 4,120 robberies last year - a 10% jump - including a 9% rise to 1,439 in the number of street robberies where guns were used.

There was also a rapid and unexplained increase in the number of times householders were confronted in their own homes by armed criminals. Residential firearms robberies show a 46% leap, a record 645 cases in England and Wales - up 204 on the previous year and four times the level recorded in 2000-01.

Bloomberg, Barrett, (et al) kinda hope you can't read the facts.

HT: Vox Popoli

Less Union Membership

BLS released its annual report on union membership. Summarized by NAM's "Shopfloor," we read:

In the Fifties, unions represented almost 35% of the workforce. By 1983, that number had dipped to 20%. Yesterday's numbers show that union membership has dropped to its lowest point since the government began tracking the numbers -- to an embarrassing 12%. In the private sector, the news is even worse for labor, where they now represent a paltry 7.4% of all workers.

There are lots of reasons for this, and not all of them have to do with "union intransigience" on wage/benefit/rules/conditions. A significant portion has to do with membership dissatisfaction with the movement's internal governance and overtly leftist politics.

With a history that is somewhat rooted in the Guild movement of Europe (before the Protestant Revolution took effect) the union movement's leadership should re-examine their Guild-like roots.

Unless there is reform, the movement may well practically disappear in private industry.

Democrat Party Slaps US Workers

The Democrat Party's "new inclusive-ism" does not include US citizen workers.

Senate Democrats quashed a proposal yesterday that would have dramatically increased civil fines on employers who hire illegal aliens.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican, offered the amendment to the bill now being debated that would increase the federal minimum wage.

Ridding the economy of illegal aliens, he argued, would do far more to help low-income wage earners than simply raising the minimum wage. Not only do aliens displace U.S. citizens in the work force, he said, they also artificially suppress wages.

"Our whole purpose of the minimum-wage act is to increase the wages of working Americans, particularly low-skilled workers," Mr. Sessions said. "That's a noble goal."

One of the reasons "that those salaries have lagged behind is because of a large influx of illegal immigrant labor," he said. "That is indisputable, and it's not been discussed much here. People apparently don't want to talk about it, but we're going to talk about it."

One leading opponent of American citizen-workers is Ted Kennedy.

Hyannis, after all, needs gardeners.

Rules of Engagement Now Read: Kill Iranians in Iraq

Common sense emerges.

The Bush administration has authorized the U.S. military to kill or capture Iranian operatives inside Iraq as part of an aggressive new strategy to weaken Tehran's influence across the Middle East and compel it to give up its nuclear program, according to government and counterterrorism officials with direct knowledge of the effort.

Three officials said that about 150 Iranian intelligence officers, plus members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Command, are believed to be active inside Iraq at any given time. There is no evidence the Iranians have directly attacked U.S. troops in Iraq, intelligence officials said.

But, for three years, the Iranians have operated an embedding program there, offering operational training, intelligence and weaponry to several Shiite militias connected to the Iraqi government, to the insurgency and to the violence against Sunni factions. Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the director of the CIA, told the Senate recently that the amount of Iranian-supplied materiel used against U.S. troops in Iraq "has been quite striking."

"Iran seems to be conducting a foreign policy with a sense of dangerous triumphalism," Hayden said.

About time.

China Is Our Friend!! Part 58249

Seems that "journalists" in China have ethics problems:

Chinese reporters are demanding such hush money with increasing regularity from businesses and government agencies in exchange for the withholding of unfavorable news.

In many ways, blackmail journalism grew naturally out of a system in which Communist Party censors control the news rigorously, barring reports that could be seen as unfavorable to the party or contrary to the government's political goals. If the ruling party distorts the news for political reasons, blackmailing reporters have concluded, why wouldn't they do it themselves for financial reasons?

Which means, of course, that there are Things We Don't KNOW that we don't know about PRChina.

We do know about slave labor, to-order body-parts sales, forced abortions, and working conditions which would make Dickens convulse.

But those are not problems. Those are "signs of growing economic prosperity."

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The KGB vs. Pius XII: "The Deputy"

Most of you know that the play The Deputy has been used (and cited) as ammunition against the Catholic Church. In sum, the play questions the Church's attitudes and actions on behalf of the Jews during the Holocaust.

But you don't know this:

In 1963, General Ivan Agayants, the famous chief of the KGB’s disinformation department, landed in Bucharest to thank us for our help. He told us that “Seat-12” had materialized into a powerful play attacking Pope Pius XII, entitled The Deputy, an oblique reference to the pope as Christ’s representative on earth. Agayants took credit for the outline of the play, and he told us that it had voluminous appendices of background documents put together by his experts with help from the documents we had purloined from the Vatican. Agayants also told us that The Deputy’s producer, Erwin Piscator, was a devoted Communist who had a longstanding relationship with Moscow. In 1929 he had founded the Proletarian Theater in Berlin, then sought political asylum in the Soviet Union when Hitler came to power, and a few years later had “emigrated” to the United States. In 1962 Piscator had returned to West Berlin to produce The Deputy.

...The Deputy saw the light in 1963 as the work of an unknown West German named Rolf Hochhuth, under the title Der Stellvertreter. Ein christliches Trauerspiel (The Deputy, a Christian Tragedy). Its central thesis was that Pius XII had supported Hitler and encouraged him to go ahead with the Jewish Holocaust. It immediately ignited a huge controversy around Pius XII, who was depicted as a cold, heartless man more concerned about Vatican properties than about the fate of Hitler’s victims.

Before writing The Deputy, Hochhuth, who did not have a high school diploma (Abitur), was working in various inconspicuous capacities for the Bertelsmann publishing house. In interviews he claimed that in 1959 he took a leave of absence from his job and went to Rome, where he spent three months talking to people and then writing the first draft of the play, and where he posed “a series of questions” to one bishop whose name he refused to reveal.

Lots more at the link to Open Book. The author of the above is a Romanian intelligence officer, who was acquainted with higher-level KGB bastards.

HT Amy

Ethanol: All You Needed to See

At the behest of my longsuffering better half, I watched GWB capitulate to the Socialist Axis in Congress the other night.

Big Gummint, Big Gummint, Big Gummint, blah, spend, spend, spend, blah, yap.

(puke, puke, puke.)

Iraq was an exception, as was the WOT. It would be very helpful for the President if he would find a nice short rhetorical device by which he could connect those dots, but he's undoubtedly working on it, right?

Then came Big Gummint: Energy!

When he announced that Corn-A-Hole[ing] the Republic was on his agenda, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Corn-A-Hole) almost jumped out of his chair with glee (the camera caught it.)

That was all one needed to see or know about the issue.

But there's another thing one should know:

Net of the tax subsidy, the price of ethanol is $2.04 a gallon, which is 70 cents more than the $1.34 wholesale price of gasoline. And the energy content of ethanol is only two-thirds that of gasoline. (Forbes)

Thanks, George.

Even more here, including the following:

“Right now Congress is giving billions to ethanol, biodiesel, and the nuclear industry,” Doug Koplow of Earth Track consulting firm said in the same Christian Science Monitor article. About $6 billion in 2006 went to subsidize ethanol. (Only nukes make sense.)

Bush’s desire to continue “investing” in ethanol can only mean more mandates and subsidies for the energy source – funded by taxpayers.

President Bush is proposing a huge expansion of the corporate welfare state,” said Ebell, CEI’s Director of Energy Policy, in a release dated Jan. 23, 2007.

The article also points out that the Middle East only provides about 20% of our imported oil; Mexico and Canada supply the majority of imports.

So GWB simultaneously proposes to reduce the flow of USDollars to Mexico for oil, AND to increase the cost of food for poor Mexicans by increasing demand for corn (and the price, as a result.)

It's too tragic to be comical.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Naming Names and Kicking Ass

This Deacon here--is HE the "bad guy"?

A deacon upbraided Rep. Brian Higgins during Sunday morning Mass in St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church for voting in favor of embryonic stem cell research, prompting the congressman and his family to walk out during the sermon.

The Rev. Art Smith, pastor of the South Buffalo church, said he felt "horrible" about the Higgins family's departure on "Respect Life Sunday" and offered an apology from the pulpit after the congressman had left.

Bishop Edward U. Kmiec of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo later issued a statement also criticizing Deacon Tom McDonnell's action.

"I can't tell you how terrible I felt," Smith said Tuesday. "While we have to always uphold the church's teachings regarding life, I don't think it's ever fair to publicly criticize someone who serves our community and our parish so well."

Added Kmiec: "The pulpit is not the appropriate place for confronting a member of the congregation. It is my belief that in situations like this, we are more effective when we have substantive, one-on-one conversations with individuals outside the context of the Mass."

The Congressman in question is rated "100%" by NARAL and has voted against life at every opportunity.

And if Bp. Kmiec had said "Look, I've spoken with the Congressman and he's committed to his evil ways--but the Deacon shouldn't have named names..." we'd feel better.

But that's not what the Bishop said, is it? In fact, the Bishop doesn't say ANYTHING about whether he's addressed the issues with the Congressman, does he?


"What happened is so painful, so hurtful," Smith said. ".

Fr. Smith is the pastor of the parish.

It hurts so bad! Pain. Owwwww!

Tell me, Father: does it hurt as bad as getting your brains sucked out before you get chopped up so it's easier to get you out of the womb?


HT: ProEcclesia

101 Dumbest Business Moments of 2006

HT Big Picture blogsite, this from CNN Money.

Among others: McDonald's gives away MP3 players complete with viruses which upload to PC's; NWA offers discount-fares in a "Hunt for Hoffa" promo; Starbucks sends (printable) coupons by email--which get replicated nationally, at great cost and with a lawsuit, to boot...

You get the idea.

The Smoke Tax and Ban: Complementary!

DarthDoyle is a man of contradictions. He agrees that killing babies by abortion or ESCR is a "good" thing.

On the other hand, smokers (who have escaped the womb untouched by DarthDoyle's pals) should not be smoking. It might kill them.

It has been observed that smokers will "find the money" to feed their habit despite the marginal increase in cost, which is likely for most of them. Even if they cut back on smoking, the difference will be small.

So a question: where will the money come from?

Not rent. Not heat. Not food.

It will come from other entertainment: restaurants, vacations, toys.

NOW you know why Darth also proposed banning smoking everyplace in the State. It won't make any difference. Smokers will not be spending money in restaurants and bars after they pay the Darth tax on cigarettes.

And you thought Darth was just a PIG-tax-grabber/liar.

2nd Amendment to be Erased in Maryland?

Some dipwad frosh Maryland legislator wants to eliminate "assault weapons."

Although the name is masculine, the instinct is feminine, and the daffynitions in the proposal are astounding.

According to Senate Bill 43, introduced last Wednesday by freshmanSenator Mike Lenett, an "assault weapon" is simply a semi-automatic firearm (not a fully automatic machine gun) that has some scary-looking cosmetic features such as a folding stock; a bayonet mounting lug; a thumbhole stock; etc. It is not caliber, ballistics or function that defines an"assault long gun" but simply appearance. If passed, the legislation would also ban some shotguns and nearly all pistols, except possibly revolvers.

People like Lenett are not doing responsible legislators any favors at all.

HT: Of Arms and the Man

Reduce Man-Caused Global Warming Contributions!

There. The moonbats should like that headline, no?

Trouble is, they won't like the content of the post.

James Lovelock differs from most global warming fanatics in that he actually believes in it. You can tell, because he advocates heavy reliance on nuclear energy. As Lorrie Goldstein observes:

[A]ny politician who says he or she is concerned about global warming, who is not advocating for nuclear power, does not really believe our world faces an imminent threat, no matter what they say publicly.

The reason is that if burning fossil fuels really has "brought us to the brink of cataclysmic climate change that threatens humanity," nuclear power is "the only energy source that can stave off disaster without plunging us into a new Dark Age."

Yet you don't hear much about nuclear power from Al Gore et al., because the envirokooks who set the agenda don't approve of it. It's not that they're against human activity that causes global warming. They're against human activity, so they pretend it causes global warming. Plunging us into a new Dark Age is very much a part of the agenda, for those who aren't ambitious enough to want to wipe out the human race altogether.

By the time this antihuman ideology filters down to the average citizen, it takes the form of puttering around in a Prius to save polar bears from falling through the ice, as if anyone intelligent enough to operate a motor vehicle could genuinely believe driving hybrids will affect global temperatures.

Lovelock doesn't. As a co-creator of the "Gaia theory" — which views Earth as a single living organism — his moonbat credentials would seem to be impeccable. The problem is that he isn't using global warming as an excuse to raise taxes, hustle a research grant, or advance some other agenda. He truly believes, so he found the only feasible solution. It's been right under our noses for decades: nukes.

Reality: there will be battery developments which will reduce utilization of petroleum for commuting.

But batteries require charging, with actual electricity, delivered at 120v and usually fairly high amperage (compared to a lightbulb, anyway.)

Nukes provide 120v, high amperage, and zero--repeat, zero--fossil-fuel emissions.

HT: Moonbattery

Free Speech? Rug-Merchant Doesn't Like It.

Jessica points out that Euphoric Reality has a comprehensive rundown on the rug-merchant controversy.

Only problem: when you get to ER, they advise that their site was hacked, and a good chunk of their posts/responses were deleted.

So you have to go here to get more.

Meantime, American Spectator blog says that "the employee was fired." I don't recall that fact emerging from the JS report--only that the employee "was disciplined." The second link above repeats the claim of "firing."

That's not what the Company President told the JSOnline.

From what's written on ER, it seems as though the Company is a small-time distributor of goods, linked to a number of other minor-interest small-time businesses dealing with fitness and athletics--not to mention yoga.

The claim that the Company employs 10 people is highly questionable.

But then, so is the whining about "free speech," no?

Bachelor Party Done Right

An acquaintance of mine will be assuming the "'til death do us part" position later this year.

I got the early word on a planned Bachelor Party.

It begins at Fletcher's Arms in Waukesha. The plan is to engage a dozen or so men in the sport of target-shooting, using a variety of long- and handguns. It's estimated that the group will go through 500 rounds or so in a couple of hours, despite numerous breaks for doughnuts, coffee, and highly-taxed legal substances (tobacco.)

Next, the party goes.....

But who cares? The best part is described above.

Elmbrook Board Goes for Broke

After playing the "pricing" game, the Elmbrook Board of Education will ask taxpayers to remit an average of $315.00/year increase in taxes for the next 20 years, by spending $100 million or so on renovating Elmbrook's two high schools.

The original proposal was $99.8 million, but Board member Schwei (obviously a clever fellow) asked the Board to knock $500,000 off the request so that the request would appear to be "$99 million" rather than "$100 million."

The thinking taxpayer may wish to know which "vital, critical, and necessary" part of the plan will be dumped along with the $500K.

The taxpayer might also ask whether there are any OTHER $500,000 portions of the plan which are not necessary--you know, to make the price sound even better.

The somewhat clumsy baiting of the hook has another effect: the Board will place another $9.5 million question on the ballot for increasing the space in both high-school gymnasiums.

So it's really a $109,300,000.00 expenditure, of which $500,000.00 is apparently unnecessary, and $9,500,000.00 for an addition to the addition (which doesn't really have to be integrated with the larger project, eh?)

Of course, that $315.00/year x 20 years assumes that the Elmbrook schools will not increase spending on other stuff--like faculty.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Thoughts on Liturgy

From Germany, translated in England, to all 3 of our faithful readers. (Full text found at The New Liturgical Movement)

The author, a fellow named Martin Mosebach, proposes Six Theses regarding the Liturgical Revolution of 1969/70--ffd. Not a bad synthesis/reduction of the events, and accurate.

Paul VI’s reform of the Mass following the Second Vatican Council represents a unique event in
the history of the Church. Never before had the Church forbidden an old rite, never before had
she, as Cardinal Ratzinger has stated, put a “fabricated rite” in the place of a traditional one.
The defining rite of the Western Church prior to 1968 is in no measure “Tridentine”, i.e. the
creation of the Council Of Trent, as many would erroneously have it, but can, in its essentials,
be traced back to Gregory the Great.

...According to the oldest theological sources, which survive unbroken in Orthodoxy, it was
not the Last Supper of Maundy Thursday, but primarily the sacrifice on the Cross which was
present in the Mass.

When, shortly before its demise, the ideology of secularisation had penetrated the Church in
various guises, and concepts such as sin, guilt, sacrifice and salvation had come to resemble the
barbaric-atavistic residue of a religion which caused only embarrassment in sophisticated society, the traditional Sacrament was reinterpreted as being a peace-bringing commemorative breaking of bread by the congregation. There has been an irresolvable contradiction in the Church ever since: Papal doctrine incessantly promulgates the traditional view of the Eucharistic Sacrament, whilst common practice, which always carries more weight than teachings, has more or less departed from the centuries-old position and created an entirely new mentality among the faithful.

It's not a co-incidence that tunes such as "Peace Is Flowing..." and "Let There Be Peace..." were de rigeur through the 1970's. In fact, it's quite logical--a post-facto affirmation of this thesis.

The post-Conciliar liturgical reform cannot make the claim to be based on the Liturgical Constitution of the Second Vatican Council.

...John XXIII revised the missal in keeping with these ideas and, in 1965, issued a missal which
reflected the will of the Council Fathers. The deviations were minimal: there had been no interference with the actual ritual act at all.

...The most important elements of today’s Mass practice, as in the celebration of the Mass facing the congregation and not with priest and congregation uniformly facing East and the dispensing of Communion in the hand and not in the mouth, are not even integral parts of the Mass reform of Paul VI. They were wrested from Rome in disobedience to the instructions of the missal. The paradoxal result is the fact that a mass celebrated according to the old missal is considerably closer to the wishes of the Council Fathers than a mass of the ‘Novus Ordo’, even on the rare occasions when the celebration is dignified and in keeping with the instructions of the missal.

The 'disobedience' was encouraged and furthered by the LitWonkTutu crowd here in the USA, but also in Europe. That crowd still exists, personified by Bp. Traut-person, for whom history stopped in about 1975 or so...

The post-Conciliar liturgical reform is the first reform in Church history which did not aim to
re-establish form, but instead sought its dissolution, abrogation and relativisation. Today, every
form of liturgical order is de facto at the individual’s discretion. Confession has been largely
abolished. Obligatory fasting has been reduced to two days in the year, eucharistic fasting is
simply no longer required. Liturgical music and liturgical art are no longer subject to order.
The criterion for any form of liturgy today is solely what is “acceptable” and “accessible”. The
list of liturgical rules of conduct which the modern churchgoer no longer “accepts” is a long one.
Kneeling is completely out of the question; ritual language is not accessible; Mass times must be
convenient; passages from the Scripture which are somehow unsettling or harsh are done away
with. When churchgoers claim that the liturgy is “not relevant to them”, that they “don’t feel
involved in the liturgy”, that the liturgy “doesn’t speak to them”, the reaction of theologians
is always retreat; the parish priest who takes on the liturgy committee of his parish council can
expect no protection from his bishop, only the charge of not being accommodating enough, of
not being duly subservient. The reform of the liturgy has absolutely nothing in common with
religious reform in the old sense of the word. It resembles the hectic special-offer and closing down-sale mentality of a department store desperate to attract customers.

A most egregious example was the declaration that those who knelt for Communion were "in sin," propagated by a West Coast Bishop and his lackey parochial-vicar. It's possible that the Bishop was actually the lackey of the parochial vicar, of course.

Paul VI’s reform of the Mass places the emphasis not on the adoration of God, but on the
placation, chatechising, manipulation, and even entertainment of the congregation. The priest
stands facing the congregation, like the presenter of a television programme; when he says
prayers, the actual addressee, even if he appears to address God, is the congregation, in whom
he wishes to kindle religious feelings and to spiritually guide. Just as good educationalists strive
to have their pupils involved in the lessons, the congregation is incorporated into the sacred
actions as if their interest would otherwise wane.

Shades of Malcolm Muggeridge gone bad...

The motives given for the reform of the Mass are pastoral ones. The claim is made that the
exodus of the faithful from the Church was to be prevented. “Pastoral” in this sense, constantly
gauging the reaction of the congregation during prayers, the old Mass certainly was not. The
old rite was often celebrated even without the presence of the faithful, ‘in conspectu angelorum’.
Despite this fact, although not ‘performed’ for the congregation but rather attended by the
faithful who gave thanks for the grace of being present, the old Mass preserved the Faith in a
manner unsurpassed today. Whoever attended Mass knew that he was witness to the presence
of Christ. The way Mass is conducted today no longer guarantees this handing-down of the
Faith. Entire generations of young people have since come of age who no longer know what
a sacrament is, who no longer know the Credo and the Pater Noster off by heart. This, however,
is the result of a pastorally oriented reform of the Mass, a pastorally oriented reform of
the Mass which has emptied the churches.

I'll disagree in part with his cause/effect thinking here. It is not 'the reform' which has emptied churches in the West--although one can argue that 'the reform' contributed to this problem. The demise of religious practice springs from the culture of consumerism. All our percieved needs are satisfied; if we are living in Heaven, who needs salvation?


The justifications for the reform of the Mass are contradictory. Too many birds were to be
killed with one stone. ‘Modernisation’ was to take place, but with the intention of adhering to
Early-Christian practices. Pius XII had already seen the threat posed by ‘archeologism’, the
temptation to force the results of ‘scientific’ research upon the ‘lex orandi’, the law of prayer.
The results of scientific research have a habit of becoming obsolete within a few generations;
today’s state-of-the-art insight is old hat twenty years later. Academics claimed to have proof
that the Early Christians celebrated the Eucharist at a table, with the priest facing and looking
at the congregation. Exhaustive study by Klaus Gamber has now confirmed that the Church has,
from earliest recorded times onwards, worshiped the resurrected Christ by facing East towards
the rising sun. Since Gamber’s research, what was once celebrated as scientific certainty is now
suspected of being ideology.

True, in the first centuries Communion was dispensed onto the hand, but the accompanying signs of reverence far surpassed the kneeling receipt of the Sacrament which later became customary: the communicant removed his shoes and laid a cloth over his hands in order not to come in contact with the transubstantiated Christ,

C'mon, be honest: did your local Liturgeist with a Master's Degree tell you about the part in red above? Naaaaah.

The Offertory prayers of the old Rite were among its most beautiful parts. In the attempt to suppress the sacrificial character of the Mass, these prayers, an important link to the Byzantine Liturgy, had do disappear. With its philosophical-juristic exactness, the same obsolete scholasticism was then just the right thing to prove how the Offertory prayers unduly pre-empted the result of the Consecration. They were replaced by a medieval Jewish prayer-before-meals which underlined the supper character of the Mass and simply no longer mentioned the sacrifice.

There are two VERY important concepts in the snippet above. First, the 'link to the Byzantine Liturgy;' second, the re-linking to Jewish meal-prayers. The first has had the consequence of stalling (to some degree) the East-West re-unification. The second, besides re-inforcing the "meal theory," tends to blur the delineation between the Old Covenant (now inoperative for Christians) and the New Covenant; which blurring has confused some popular Catholic blogsters.

The reform of the Mass has engendered in Catholics a deeply anti-religious self-mindedness.
The Christian ritual is now no longer a gift of grace to be received in kneeling reverence, but
a commodity examined with ill-disposed caution, spurned more often than not. The hitherto
hermetically sealed mysteries of the Mass had to accommodate the muddle of opinions. What
was previously revered as a semblance of the celestial is now recognised as being constructed and arranged, and what has been arranged can also be rearranged. Then there is simply no end to the rearranging.

Benedict XVI has mentioned this--in fact, he's pounded on the theme.

Unimaginable in the atmosphere of the new mass is a prayer which actually stems from the Greek Orthodox Liturgy but which consummately expresses the spirit of the old Latin Liturgy: “Count us worthy to partake of your heavenly and fearful Mysteries at this sacred and spiritual Table with a pure conscience, for forgiveness of sins and pardon of offences, for communion of the Holy Spirit, for inheritance of the Kingdom of Heaven and for boldness before you; not for judgment or condemnation.”

As we embark on the reform of the reform, these theses are worth recalling.

A Hard Look at BLS "Inflation" Numbers

Manipulation is the name of the game, but it is NOT a one-party trick. Clinton used it; so does GWB. And one of the worst is the Fed, whose former chair, Greenspan, was a master.

Start with the inherent bias built into the BLS models, and their tendency to understate inflation. Next, add a sprinkle of substitutions, quality improvements, and hedonic adjustments, all of which rationalize price increases as somehow non-inflationary.

Then, we have the Fed's focus on core inflation, which tends to ignore the non core items like Food and Energy (besides, who really needs Food and Energy anyway?). A variation on Core Inflation is Wall Street's love affair with
Inflation -ex-inflation, which is a basket of only those goods and services that have not gone up in price.

Finally, the latet inflation innovation is a new concept I call Uni-directional Inflation, which states that when certain items (e.g., Oil, Corn, Copper) go up in price, it is not inflationary -- but when those same items drop in price, its proof positive that inflation has been vanquished.

The BushBots will get into examining these, ah, statistics when The Hildebeeste assumes power.

On "Substitution":

When someone buys Chicken instead of Steak because meat has gone up in price, that's evidence of inflation. The substitution process fraudulently rationalizes this to eliminate inflation from the BLS basket. Indeed, substitution is PROOF of inflation. When a product's price rises out of a consumers ability to afford purchasing it, its prima facie evidence of inflation. Only the starry eyed residents of ivory towers can say with a straight face that cheaper substitutes are non-inflationary.

On "Hedonics" (flogged by Greenspan):

Hedonics asks the question: "How much of product's price increase is a function of "inflation," and how much is a quality improvement?" Thus, the entire late 1990s concept of Hedonics is premised upon a flawed assumption: that Quality is static.

In reality, all products incrementally improve over time. Indeed, it is the very nature of all technology -- from fire to the wheel to the iPod -- that they become better/faster/cheaper/feature-laden over time.

Hedonics are the bastard stepchild of flawed assumptions and abstract theory. To call it dishonest serves only to slander liars. Consider:

"Hedonics opens the door to producing magical results: a lower inflation rate with generally rising prices, a higher growth rate although the economy may be weaker, and a higher productivity number, although productivity would have been declining without the hedonic imputations." --The Illusions of Hedonics

But hey! Keep thinking that the rate is only about 2.5 or 3.0%.

Just don't eat a lot of steak, buy gasoline, or notice the price of copper (or gold).

HT: The Big Picture

Eugene Kane Goes to Washington

Not really. But his spirit lives there!

"Freshman Rep. Stephen I. Cohen, D-Tenn., is not joining the Congressional Black Caucus after several current and former members made it clear that a white lawmaker was not welcome."

Cohen isn't black. However, the Congressman he replaced - Harold "I like sports and I like girls" Ford - was, and his district, in Memphis, is 60% black, and his staff is majority African-American. That clearly just isn't good enough, though.

..."Half my Democratic constituents were African-American. I felt we had interests in common as far as helping people in poverty," said Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA), who attempted to join the caucus in 1975. "They had a vote, and I lost. They said the issue was that I was white, and they felt it was important that the group be limited to African-Americans."

And the Congressional Black Caucus has made it very clear who is not invited, either now or ever: White people.

HT: Redstate Conservative.

Not in the Local Newspaper

The annual March for Life attracted more than 100,000 people.

As a former radical leftist, I attended many demonstrations in Washington, DC. Now having attended the March for Life two years in a row, I'm amazed at how under-reported the March for Life is - and all too aware of how that under-reporting contributes to the rampant stereotyping of pro-lifers as middle-aged white males. I actually saw very few of those today! What I saw were hundreds of thousands of people willing to brave the cold (DC had its first snow of the winter the night before) to affirm that a baby in the womb is not property to be destroyed, but a person that those committed to human rights must defend. It's a child, not a choice!

800 from Wisconsin alone, as reported on Channel 12 News last night.

HT: NewsBusters

West Allis Rug Merchant's Story Smells Funny

The rug-merchant has spoken, but it doesn't add up.

When Jessica first mentioned this, my initial thought was that the company in question employed a dipwad in Customer Service, and that the editorial stupidity was solely the dipwad's own "thought."

I still think so. But it now seems that the rug-merchant "company" may only have 1 (or at best 2) employees--the President and the Vice-President.

Vice president Sajid Nasir said the employee is being "held accountable." But he said the incendiary and threatening nature of some of the e-mails - and voicemails left at the West Allis home that co-owner Faisal Khetani shares with his parents - have shaken the family.

First of all, Sajid: if you don't use your HOME ADDRESS and PHONE NUMBER as a business address, you won't get calls at your HOME.

Of course, the grass-eaters showed up for the party:

"This is a matter of free speech," said Julie Enslow, an organizer with Peace Action Wisconsin in Milwaukee. "It is totally irresponsible for radio stations and bloggers to attack a person for his personal political views."

And the local Muslim spokesman is confused:

Othman Atta, president of the Islamic Society of Milwaukee, said he would fault the worker for his lack of tact but defended his right to speak his mind.

"If you look at the polls, his opinion is reflected by a majority of Americans now," Atta said.

Atta is deliberately misleading on two fronts: first, the "worker" "spoke his mind" on COMPANY CORRESPONDENCE. It's not likely that Atta would be so cavalier and forgiving if one of his employees suggested that Muslims should become Catholic, on Islamic Society letterhead.

Hmmmmmmm, Mr. Atta?

Secondly, Atta is playing fast and loose with "polls." The "majority" of which he speaks is not overwhelming, by any means. It's slightly over 50%. Yes, it's a "majority." Barely.

How many "employees" does the rug-merchant have?

Is the "Vice-President" active in the business, daily?

Is the "President" employed by the State of Wisconsin on a full-time basis?


Swift's Dilemma: Congress Covers Its Ass

Congressmen complain to Cherthoff that Swift & Co. was harmed by the illegal-immigrant raid. This is called "covering your Congressional ass" and the American Spectator swallowed it whole.

Swift & Co. was a participant in the Congressionally-designed Social Security number-clearance program, which means that Swift & Co. was reasonably diligent.

But the Congressionally-designed program is inadequate (no kidding, Sherlock) for the purpose of detecting SS numbers which are being used twice.

It's a mess, designed by Congress.

But Congressmen will point fingers--so it's DHS' fault, right?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Sam Brownback

'Nuff said.

Dies Irae Rises Again--to Rap. Hmmmmmm....

A few years ago, the Latin Liturgy Association published an item in which they claimed to have found over 80 musical quotations of the opening musical motif of the Gregorian Chant Dies Irae.

At that time it was over 80. It may be well past that today. Brahms, Rachmaninoff, and many others "classical" composers have used it. Britten used the tune in his own way--backwards and upside-down, as the opening motif for the Dies Irae in his War Requiem.

Shortly after the article was published, I heard the theme in the first violins of the orchestral score behind the scene where Papa Lion dies in Disney's Lion King--but that's not likely the only "non-classical" quotation used in the LLA study at the time.

And it's back, again!!

Yesterday, you saw a Nike commercial featuring a number of basketball players who were rapping.

Yup. The orchestral music behind them was the Dies Irae.

By the way, the text of the Dies Irae is not exactly heartwarming. It is a classic memento mori for those who have ears to hear.

And, yes, it may be used for funeral Masses, even in the Novus Ordo.

Solzhenitsyn on Law

Worth consideration:

People in the West have acquired considerable skill in using, interpreting and manipulating law, even though laws tend to be too complicated for an average person to understand without the help of an expert. Any conflict is solved according to the letter of the law and this is considered to be the supreme solution. If one is right from a legal point of view, nothing more is required, nobody may mention that one could still not be entirely right, and urge self-restraint, a willingness to renounce such legal rights, sacrifice and selfless risk: it would sound simply absurd. One almost never sees voluntary self-restraint. Everybody operates at the extreme limit of those legal frames. An oil company is legally blameless when it purchases an invention of a new type of energy in order to prevent its use. A food product manufacturer is legally blameless when he poisons his produce to make it last longer: after all, people are free not to buy it.

I have spent all my life under a communist regime and I will tell you that a society without any objective legal scale is a terrible one indeed. But a society with no other scale but the legal one is not quite worthy of man either. A society which is based on the letter of the law and never reaches any higher is taking very scarce advantage of the high level of human possibilities.

So what IS 'the meaning of the word is....'?

HT: Chesterton & Friends

Warning Flags, Chapter 28

Note that the Housing Index is a leading indicator for Personal Consumption expenditures since 1985.

Note the far-right-hand side of the graph.


HT: The Big Picture

Gun Control Nuts--Here's the Reality Check

As you may have suspected, the Brady Campaign (gun-control nuts) has been blaming George Bush for the problems some cities (ahemmmm) have in their violent-crime statistics.

The strategy was evidently outlined several months ago; various Mayors have been spouting the line ever since, including Milk-Carton Tommy in Milwaukee.

The refutation is contained in this article--but the author makes another interesting point (statistics are for 2005):

Separating states by RTC [Right-to-Carry] status, we find that RTC states’ average LEO [Law Enforcement Officer/100,000 population] rate is 29.7% lower than non-RTC states, yet their violent crime rate is 21.6% lower, and murder rate 30.4% lower. Non-RTC states have higher rates than the national average in all three categories: LEO, 125.4%; violence, 119.1%; murder, 129.3%. Meanwhile, RTC states average rates are less than the national average: LEO, 90.3%; violence, 93.5%; murder, 90.0%.

Lessee, heah, boys and girls...

Less cops/resident AND less violent crimes and murders/resident.

In other words, it's possible to reduce cops AND crimes by simply giving each law-abiding adult a nice new Colt .45 with a holster and a few dozen bullets.

Sounds good to me!

Update on SnotFaced "Mat" Supplier

Jess McBride picked up the story, but she's hardly the only one.

Euphoric Reality has an extremely interesting series of posts on the event.

I think the jackass-in-charge at the rug company is not going to be a happy camper.

A rug company, no less.

Flying rugs?

Where's the Permission Slip?

The State of Wisconsin's DOT has sold lotsa driver's license information, and Owen is not a happy camper .

What got my attention was the following:

An Elections Board spokesman says they’re legally required to make that information public. It’s the same with the DNR and DOT, but they can allow residents to keep their names off requests for lists containing 10 or more names.

NEVER, ever, has DOT "allowed" me to keep my name off a list.

So, boys--where's the permission slip?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Liturgy Done Right

Cdl. Arinze, speaking to a French institute of studies on the liturgy.

(One might regard this as a "lecture" in the admonitory sense...)

While, therefore, a higher liturgical institute should promote research, it above all bases its strong and durable foundations on the faith, on the Tradition of the Church and on the heritage enshrined in liturgical texts, gestures and postures. Such an institute appreciates that the sacred liturgy is a gift we receive from Christ through the Church. It is not something that we invent. It has therefore unchangeable elements which come from our Savior Jesus Christ, as in the essential forms of the sacraments, and changeable elements which have been carefully handed on and guarded by the Church.

...A higher liturgical institute trains experts in the best and authentic [theological]-liturgical tradition of the Church. It forms them to love the Church and her public worship and to follow the norms and indications given by the magisterium.

...Liturgical celebrations will beautifully manifest the faith of the Church, nourish this faith in the participants, awaken this faith in the dormant and the indifferent, and send the people home on fire to live the Christian life and spread the Gospel. This is very far from the cold, man-centered and sometimes openly idiosyncratic mannerism which our Sunday congregations are sometimes forced to endure.

...Unfortunately, many homilies as delivered by priests or deacons are not up to what is desirable. Some homilies seem to be mere sociological, psychological or, worse still, political comments. They are not sufficiently grounded in Holy Scripture, liturgical texts, Church tradition and solid theology. In some countries there are people who do not appreciate that the delivery of the homily at the Eucharistic Sacrifice is a pastoral ministry assigned only to ordained ministers: deacon, priest or bishop. Lay people laudably conduct catechesis outside Mass, but not the homily which demands ordination.

...The common priesthood of all the baptized and the ministerial priesthood of the ordained priest come from Christ himself. Confusion of roles in the hierarchical constitution of the Church does damage. It does not promote witness to Christ nor holiness for clergy and laity. Neither attempts at the clericalization of the laity, nor efforts toward the laicization of the clergy, will bring down divine graces.

...If a diocese does not have enough priests, initiatives should be taken to seek them from elsewhere now, to encourage local vocations and to keep fresh in the people a genuine "hunger" for a priest (cf. John Paul II, "Ecclesia de Eucharistia," No. 32).

One wonders how many Milwaukee-istic peccata were hit by these excerpts alone...

If you don't know, then take the hint: read the red!

HT: The New Liturgical Movement

Publick Screwels vs. Common Sense


'Special needs' sounds really alarming, as if the child involved is in some way physically or mentally damaged. In a small minority of cases, this may be so. But for the most part children with 'special needs' didn't have those needs until they were subjected to the disastrous teaching methods of so many of our primary schools. All they specially need is to be made to sit in rows and learn things by heart, after having been swiftly taught to read. Fat chance in much of the state system, however, as the woeful figures on literacy and numeracy show.

These schools are very glad to pretend that their serial failure to teach children to read can be blamed on the invented 'disease' of dyslexia or the invented 'disorder' of ADHD and its many allies. Actually it results from their ideological hatred of synthetic phonics, a wholly reliable and successful reading teaching method, whose virtues have been repeatedly proven by research over more than half a century, which many modern teachers apparently regard as being beneath them. In much the same way, they seem to despise chanting times tables or correcting spelling.

Acerbically re-affirming the "Great City Schools" Committee report.

HT: Relapsed Catholic

On Abp. Wuerl and Queen-Granny Pelosi

I have maintained, here and elsewhere, that Abp. Wuerl's non-position-position on Speaker-ette Pelosi is, at best, not helpful.

Always happy to know that others have the same questions. First Things has a discussion and cites the USBishops' pastoral "On Preparing to Receive Christ Worthily in the Eucharist."

The statement says, among other things: “In order to receive Holy Communion we must be in communion with God and with the Church. . . . If a Catholic in his or her personal or professional life were knowingly and obstinately to reject the defined doctrines of the Church or knowingly and obstinately to repudiate her definitive teaching on moral issues, he or she would seriously diminish his or her communion with the Church. Reception of Holy Communion in such a situation would not accord with the nature of the eucharistic celebration, so that he or she should refrain.”

Voting for Federal funding of abortion, or for "partial-birth" abortion, certainly falls within the category of "...repudiat[ing]...definitive teaching on moral issues."

The statement goes on to address the question of public scandal. “To give scandal means more than to cause other people to be shocked or upset by what one does. Rather, one’s action leads someone else to sin.” The statement then quotes the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “Anyone who uses the power at his disposal in such a way that it leads others to do wrong becomes guilty of scandal and responsible for the evil that he has directly or indirectly encouraged.”

Here the Bishops' statement gets into levels of culpability. The definition of "scandal" given here would imply that such "scandal" is "mediate material cooperation," the definition of which follows:

Mediate Material Cooperation. Mediate material cooperation occurs when the cooperator participates in circumstances that are not essential to the commission of an action, such that the action could occur even without this cooperation. Mediate material cooperation in an immoral act might be justifiable under three basic conditions: [the term "might" is significant, because the presumption is against 'justifiable.']

[3] The danger of scandal (i.e., leading others into doing evil, leading others into error, or spreading confusion) must be avoided.

In other words, if "scandal" is not avoided, Mediate Material Cooperation is sinful.

(Back to First Things)

When the aforementioned Nancy Pelosi orchestrated a four-day gala in Washington celebrating her familial, ethnic, and—very explicitly—Catholic identity, people were alert to what would be said by the new archbishop of Washington, Donald Wuerl. He said nothing.

Also recently, Edward Cardinal Egan of New York gave a rare television interview in which he was persistently asked whether the pro-abortion position of Catholic politicians, notably Rudolph Giuliani and outgoing governor George Pataki, posed a problem for him. He just as persistently said he refused to be drawn into politics and answered, “They are my friends.” But of course he was making a statement of momentous political consequence, in that he seemed to be saying, as far as he is concerned, that the Church has no problem with pro-abortion politicians. It is understandable that Catholics and others have drawn the conclusion that, for both Wuerl and Egan, bishops of the two most prominent sees in the country, rejecting the Church’s teaching on the human dignity of the unborn child is not a big deal.

One would think that Bps. Egan and Wuerl are aware of the text in the letter "On Preparing to Receive..." which, after all, they signed.

Certainly appearances place Queen-Granny P in a very questionable position, when she voted FOR partial-birth abortion and regularly votes FOR abortion funding.

Is this a "big deal" or not, Excellencies?