Saturday, April 19, 2008

Slowing Down

I think I'm going to go to "light" blogging for a while.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Should you be in the Public Eye?

Should a person has been involved in something scandalous be in the public eye talking about religious and moral issues?

What if there are accusations that they have been neither admitted or denied, but sidestepped?

How should we, as people who care about the things this person says, treat such a person?

Would it make a difference if the incident was before they came to their current moral/religious position? If it is after, would it make a difference if the person came clean?

Would it make a difference if it was something totally agregious like taking advantage of someone who is vulnerable (young, drunk, at a low point), or if it was just a moral slip up (like Mitch in The Firm)?

Would it make a difference if the person were totally no judgmental?

Thursday, April 17, 2008


There is an interesting discussion on torture here. Maybe I ought to lay out my argument against torture.

Renaissance Men Rock!

If your kids want to make it in the 21st Century, they need to study the liberal arts.

I continue to work my way through The World is Flat. I'm not sure if I can encapsulate the theme of the book, but it is basically about how technology and innovations in the way we do things makes for a more level playing field in many areas, makes outsourcing jobs easier, etc. There are chapters on blogging, and how information is so easily available on the net. etc.

Anyway, he also addresses the problem of jobs since people in India and China can do not only manual labor tasks, but also intellectual and service work much cheaper (and apparently do a better job because these are high prestige jobs for people in India--and for other reasons).

Let me cut to the chase: He argues that if you learn only the nuts and bolts of your field, be it accounting, journalism (yes, even that gets outsourced), law, business, engineering, you are likely to find your self scraping by or completely useless. You need to offer something more be it a personal touch, higher expertise and proficiency, or innovation.

The education he recommends for young people, and the direction he suggests for America if it wants to compete globally is to promote the study of liberal arts.

One concrete reason for this is that (not an exact quote): Since the East can do left brain work cheaper, we must be able to do right brain work better. Innovation and adaptation to changing circumstances (who doesn't need this skill?) is best done by someone who has mastered more than one discipline (case in point, Leonardo Da Vinci) because such a person can take priciples and thinking from one discipline and apply it to the other. A person who has studied, math, music, literature, history, philosophy, foreign languages etc. is better prepared for right brain endeavors--though if you want to be an engineer you still need to study math!

He also has an interesting formula for success: CQ + PQ > IQ (Curiosity Quotient plus Passion [about learning and about your work] Quotient are more important than Intellectual Quotient.

So then all of you "grade grabbers", and utilitarians who were always asking us "what are you going to do with that?", on behalf of all liberal arts majors, let me say: Nanny Nanny boo boo, looks like you'll be the one flipping burgers!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Stand Firm in the Hypocrisy

I believe in the value of words. We hear it said by politicians that they are persons of deep “faith”, but that they will not let that affect their role as a perfect servant. We also hear people say that, for the individual, “faith” should be kept separated from public life, that it should not influence their politics and that they should not infuse their “faith” into their political efforts.

But this is not faith. The word faith comes from the Latin fides. Fides was the goddess of loyalty in Roman Mythology. Hypocrisy comes from the Greek hupokrinesthai, to play a part or pretend—I might use the word “fake”.

I think it’s time for people, in intellectual honesty, to proclaim that they are men and women of hypocrisy. So hear is a new set of mantras:

“I am a person of deep hypocrisy.”
“My hypocrisy is very important to me.”
“My hypocrisy is a big part of who I am.”
“I’m a man of hypocrisy.”
“My parents taught me the importance of hypocrisy.”
--A much better use of language.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Put Your Money Where your Mouth is or Realeconomik?

I believe in supporting local business. On the other hand, I have been wondering whether my shopping habits can make a difference, or if it only delays the enevitable. I've been saving my pennies and I want to buy a new canoe. The locally owned shop has the canoe I want. The chain store has the same canoe for $130 cheaper. My wife says I should buy local because of all that I have said in the past. Even if I still felt as strongly about buying local, isn't this making a $130 donation if I go to the local shop? I mean, I don't mind paying slightly higher prices, but is this a business or a charity?

How should I look at this situation? I'd really like to hear thoughts from both sides.

Is that Jesus?

A Republican in a wheelchair entered a restaurant one afternoon and asked the waitress for a cup of coffee. The Republican looked across the restaurant and asked, 'Is that Jesus sitting over there?' The waitress nodded 'yes,' so the Republican requested that she give Jesus a cup of coffee, on him.

The next patron to come in was a Libertarian with a hunched back. He shuffled over to a booth, painfully sat down, and asked the waitress for a cup of hot tea. He also glanced across the restaurant and asked, 'Is that Jesus over there?' The waitress nodded, so the Libertarian asked her to give Jesus a cup of hot tea, 'My treat.'

The third patron to come into the restaurant was a Democrat on crutches. He hobbled over to a booth, sat down and hollered, 'Hey there, honey! How's about gettin' me a cold glass of Miller Light!' He, too, looked across the restaurant and asked, 'Is that God's boy over there?' The waitress once more nodded, so the Democrat directed her to give Jesus a cold glass of beer. 'On my bill,' he said.

As Jesus got up to leave, he passed by the Republican, touched him and said, 'For your kindness, you are healed.' The Republican felt the strength come back into his legs, got up, and danced a jig out the door.

Jesus also passed by the Libertarian, touched him and said, 'For your kindness, you are healed.' The Libertarian felt his back straightening up, and he raised his hands, praised the Lord and did a series of back flips out the door.

Then Jesus walked towards the Democrat. The Democrat jumped up and yelled, 'Don't touch me! I'm collecting disability.'

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Wimpy Catholics

Tim Shipe made an interesting comment on Inside Blog.

I find the lack of contact between faithful Catholics and the culture, the political structures, the media etc.. absolutely inexusable. The one big glaring virtue to the American system is the ability to get on the horn, get on the ballot, get off your butt, and change the world for Christ.

I have spoken to newspaper editors who have admitted to me that they would like to go to bat on this or that topic- ex. taking the palestinian narrative more seriously- but they are pressured by who calls, how many call, and do they request a sit-down meeting. If a tiny minority of pro-Israeli American Jews can shape our Congress, our Presidency, our Media, so soundly with good old fashonied organizing- what is wrong with us?

I have found most Catholic parishes barely interested in shaping the political landscape of which the pastors and faithful moan and groan about all the time. Minorities have to stand up and be counted or they will be overlooked or oppressed- history shows this over and over. Catholics are so bound by the devil with the Pro-Life camps pitted against the Social Justice camps- it is a clear divide/conquer strategy and most Catholics I know are being played like fiddles- Catholic Left- Catholic Right- how about straight Catholic- Dorothy Day/Mother Teresa- One Church- liberal give the conservative his due, conservative give the liberal his- you both make some sense.

If Catholics had their act together, we wouldn't be the butt of so much unholy humor, we wouldn't be destroying Iraqis and creating enraged jihadists at every turn, we wouldn't be killing our offspring and cheering right to choose death for our kids, we wouldn't be fighting a losing cause in standing up to a divorce/gay oversexualized culture, we wouldn't be calling social programs 'the beast", we wouldn't be questioning the value of faith-based organizations, we wouldn't have a global economy built on the backs of Chinese slave laborers and poor, desperate workers trapped in corrupt/failed nations with border guards keeping everyone and everything just in place so that the elites can keep their station secured, Hollywood wouldn't be making Da Vinci Code movies anymore than they are likely to make a Protocols of Zion film...but alas, American Catholics are either too wimpy, or too caught up in the exciting idiocies of party politics, to be of much service to the world for Christ's poor and vulnerable.

The only reason we are so powerless in America is that we are so clueless as to what freedom we have here in America- we are like the cave-dweller in Plato's parable gazing at shadows, missing out on the direct sunlight so easily found.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

"Ten Conservative Books" by Russell Kirk

Hattip to Tertium Quid

Russell Kirk spoke to the Heritage Foundation on 9/11/86 and gave his reccomendations for Ten Conservative Books worth reading. I think I'll summarize his introduction in a future post, but for now, let me tell you the ten books he reccomends (Methinks it would be more fun that way), and I'll throw in the books and authors that got honorable mention.

Reflections on the Revolution in France (Burke)
Democracy in America (Tocqueville)
The American Democrat (James Fenimore Cooper)
The American Republic (Orestes Brownson)
Liberty, Equality and Fraternity (James Fitzjames Stephen)
Is Life Worth Living? (W.H. Mallock)
Democracy and Leadership (Irving Babbit)
The Attack on Leviathan (Donald Davidson)
The Social Crisis of our Times (Wilhelm Ropke)
Notes Toward the Definition of Culture (T.S. Eliot)

Conservatism: Dream and Reality (Robert Nisbett)
The Case for Conservatism (Francis Graham Wilson)
The Case for Conservatism (Quintin Hogg)
The Portable Conservative (Kirk, ed.)
The Conservative Mind (Kirk)
The Political Writings of John Adams (George A. Peek, ed.)
A Disquisition on Government (John C. Calhoun)
A Disquistion on the Constitution (John C. Calhoun)

Walter Scott
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Robert Louis Stevenson
Benjamin Disraeli
Joseph Conrad
Rudyard Kipling
Henry St. John Bolingbroke
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Paul Elmer More
Bernard Iddings Bell
Malcolm Muggeridge
Alexandre Solzhenitsyn

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Accurate media coverage of the Pope’s visit and everything else Catholic: Is it a hopeless cause?

By Maureen Martin,

Over at the Inside Catholic blog, Margaret Cabaniss wrote a good post about flawed media coverage of Pope Benedict XVI’s upcoming visit to the United States. Like most people writing on the subject, I think there is a huge disconnect between what actually occurs within the Catholic Church and what the media is reporting. In addition, like Margaret, I would appreciate seeing someone else beside Fr. McBrien “representing” the Catholic Church.

Why do reporters get the story wrong so often and why do they rely on the same sources again and again?

There is a possible explanation. A number of years ago when I was studying communications, more than one journalism professor told us that reporters cover so many issues and topics, that what they can really know and understand about any given subject, you could basically put in a thimble. That isn't a knock against journalists; it's just the way it is. When you are assigned a story at 10 am, and have a 4 pm deadline, you need don't really have the time to always do the best research or track down the best sources. For the journalist, a lot of times it comes down to who answers the phone and who is willing and available to do the interview. Reporters need someone (an expert in the field, a PR person, etc.) to call and basically make himself available to help, over and over. Although there are people out there giving good, sound advice, most reporters probably won't have the time to go look for it. (Unless an assignment editor gets an itch to do a story on coverage of the coverage.)

So what can you change? You can change the individual perceptions that individual reporters, assignment editors, and news producers have of individual Catholic leaders. When a reporter meets and gets to know a Catholic priest, for better or for worse, he will think, “This priest is the Catholic Church.” The challenge then becomes for a reporter to get to know and develop a relationship with an articulate, personable orthodox priest, rather than an articulate, personable unorthodox one.
As someone who used to work in public relations for several years before she decided to take it easy and raise children, I have a few suggestions (not for reporters, but for Catholics.) The PR person who I considered my mentor used to make herself so useful and helpful to reporters that they were always calling her for quotes and to get quotes from others. She constantly worked at establishing friendships with reporters, so they trusted her and called her when they needed help with stories. She was one of the most ethical and hardworking people I have ever met. She was completely open and honest with reporters and they, in turn, respected her. A few of our orthodox and articulate priests out there are going to have to start putting themselves out there and establishing relationships with some of these managing editors, reporters and editorial boards and act as PR people for the Church. They need to take them out for lunch, for a beer (an advantage we have over Protestants), whatever, and start doing things like that *before* a story needs to be written or a big event takes place or a crisis arises. They need to call them up occasionally and pitch story ideas. They will probably reject 90 percent of them, but at least they will know who these orthodox priests are and that they are available to help (The reporters won't care so much that they are orthodox, but that are available and willing to help). They can guide them to other good sources,as well. Of course, people will say that priests don't have time, and they don't. However, people have more time to establish positive relationships with reporters before a crisis happens than to try to clean up the mess afterward. At some point, the reporters will start calling for help with various stories. A lot of the stories may be negative, but it would be far better to help a reporter with a negative story (and make whatever can't be perfect, be less imperfect...was that Chesterton or St. Thomas More?) than to just let him write it on his own. And never say, "No comment."

As a public relations professional told a group of us once, “Reporters are human. They send their kids to school, they pay bills and taxes, and they worry about the future, just like you. Relate to them like they are human beings.” Along the same lines, no one likes to hear about what a lousy job they are doing, 24/7. This seems to be a trap in which conservatives, particularly conservative bloggers and radio pundits, find themselves. Before I worked in public relations, I worked for a newspaper. Trust me, newspaper editors, reporters and publishers receive a lot more criticisms than they do attaboys. If you want to see more fair coverage, start praising writers when they get something right. It will be much more effective. Frankly, the onus is on us, as Catholics, to present our Church and its teachings in an accurate manner, and more difficult than anything, that involves living out those truths in our daily lives.

Your Opinion Please

Several people I respect have said that something that has greatly aided their development is, when reading a book, to write a one-paragraph summary. I'd like to develop that habit myself though it's a hard habit to acquire (I tend more toward Augustine's view that "We learn better in a free spirit of curiosity.....").

Anyway, if I can get motivated, I'd like to post my summaries--and with any luck get some feedback and improve them. With any luck other people would see fit to share the fruits of thier study as well. My question is this: would it be better to post them here at PSRM, or just make another blog with a link here? Here are my thoughts on both options:

1) PRO: More people would see them here.
2) PRO: I have my hands full keeping one blog going.
3) PRO: People only have to go one place

1) PRO: It would keep things separate for those who are not interested in my private Cliff's Notes.
2) PRO: It would keep things separate for someone who wanted to search for help on the particular chapter of a book (My frinds and I read a lot of the same books--pretty scarry)
3) CON: I'm probably being unrealistic that I will do that many summaries, so what's the point?
4) PRO: you could go to the list of posts and see a list of the books that have been summarized.
5) PRO: It would force me to make my summaries summaries and not fudge and make it turn into more of my "random thoughts".

Aside, I just started Plato's Republic. I sure hope it picks up. Right now it is grinding on my nerves. I've never read it straight through, but I don't recall what I've read being this dull. Maybe it's the translation.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Why Not?

If it's okay for two men to get "married", why can't a man do this? or even this? How about this?

A Post on Religion, Politics AND Money together

[Sorry, this post is longer than I would like. Just read the first paragraph and give me your thoughts, unless you are REALLY interested]

I wonder if the problem with this country is not our prosperity. The good books says "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle..." i.e. wealth is an obstacle to the individual. I think maybe it's an obstacle to a country as well.

I have a lot of, so to speak, "random thoughts while shaving" on this topic (some contining on the line of wondering if the country paralels the individula):

1) Somebody told me they saw a sociological study on how people seem to have increased difficulties if they have either too much or two little money. The problems can be overcome, but "it is easier....". If the phenomenon does not reach to the level of the contry, it reacehes at least to the level of the corporation: The mom and pops company that is not doing so well, has an increades liklihood to engage in unethical practices; the corporation who sees the opportunity to make a lot of money over a short period likewise has an increased liklihood to engage in unethical behavior. It's better to have a healthy steady income. There is the proverb about becoming wealthy suddenly and destroying yourself.

2) As an individual, if you are healthy, wealthy and popular, there is an increased tendency to feel he does not need God or or his fellow. On a personal note, I can be close to intolerable when I taste success. My chances of avoiding damnation are "iffy" at best. Were it not for pain, failure, embarrassment, and the like, I'd be on the highway to hell. Somebody said "I believe in getting into hot water; it keeps you clean."

3) Early Rome, on the path to greatness is full of virtuous men. Note how once Rome became successful, the anecdotes from history turn from examples of virtue and self-sacrifice to examples of greed, backstabbing, orgies and the vomitorium.

4) Other than 911, the last successful attack on the continental U.S. from a foreign army, was some Mexican's thugs that who made a brief foray but ended up being strapped to the hood of Lt. George S. Patton's car. That was pretty minor. Before that, what? the war of 1812? America has not seen the grisly face of war on the home front since the 1860's and America has never suffered a bombing campaign to "break the will of the people."

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Abortion is Not Safe

On another blog, my assertion that “abortion is no safer now that it is legal.” Was labeled as “a ridiculous statement”, my “misguided opinion” and a “ridiculous false statement.” And was informed that “abortion as practiced in the west by experienced medical personnel in a sterile surgical environment is exponentially safer than home/folk remedies being put in the hands of women who might be marginally familiar with their uses at best. If you googled just the one method I mentioned - pennyroyal - I would be willing to bet your search results would include several news items in which pregnant women attempting to end an unwanted pregnancy had fatally overdosed.”

They may think I am crazy, but I’m not. As it happens this is one area where I am pretty well informed. The problem is that the facts that I am about to discuss are never mentioned by the media.

Here is my response in no particular order:
1) Abortion in America is very often not practiced by experienced medical personnel.You do not have to be a doctor to perform an abortion in the U.S.
2) it is often not practiced in a sterile environment in fact, many abortion clinics have been found to merely wipe the blood off and go to the next patient. If you do not believe me, go to your local crisis pregnancy center and ask them how often they help women who have gotten infections and diseases from ana abortion
3) abortion, when performed by a doctor, is rarely performed by a person who is competent. Few doctors want to perform them, and the ones that do are very often forced to do so because they cannot get a job elsewhere because they have malpracticed so often. Abortionists are the scum of the medical profession.
4) The abortionist spends very little time with the patient. The women are prepped in several rooms and the abortionist goesfrom room to room and performs the abortions very quickly. If you have an abortion, this is what you will see of the doctor: You will see him for the first time as he walks quickly into the room, performs the abortion and is out of the room in about six minutes.
5) abortionist when they injure a woman, because they usually have numerous malpractice suits already, and because they are embarrassed to have an ambulance in front of the clinic, try to cover it up and several women have bled to death as a result of not being taken to a hospital quickly enough
6) the type of abortion women have where it is legal is essentially the same as what they had when it was illegal. The horror stories of coat hangers etc. are mere propaganda. The doctors who testified in Roe vs. Wade admitted they lied.
7) more women die of abortion today than they did before it was legal.
8) Compared to other areas of medcine, the abortion industry is virtually unregulated.
9) There is an abundance of former abortionists who say the following: I started doing abortions for two reasons: to help women and to make money. Within two months that became one reason: Money. I found out quickly that abortion does not help anyone.
10) The number of complications from and malpractices in abortion procedures is (I would say "grossly") underreported. Abortion clinics usually do not provide care for complications. Women have to go to other facilities and are embarrasses about the abortion and request the doctor keep it hushed.
11) There is rarely anything approaching informed consent in the abortion industry.
12) In Louisiana during the Clinton administration, the Department of Health and hospitals wanted to shut down a clinic, but as it turns out, abortion clinics are not regulated by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. The only agency that could touch the clinic was OSHA because the unsanitary conditions posed a threat to the employees. There was another agency, a law enforcement agency though I can't recall if it was the FBI or the AG or what, who was about to conduct an investigation of a particular clinic, but the people working the case were told that word came from "very high" to "back off."
13) Making abortion legal did not make it more psychologically safe.
14) Abortion still increases the risk of breast cancer.
15) JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION: "Complications following abortions performed in free-standing clinics is one of the most frequent gynecologic emergencies . . . encountered. Even life-endangering complications rarely come to the attention of the physician who performed the abortion unless the incident entails litigation. The statistics presented by Cates represent substantial under- reporting and disregard women’s reluctance to return to a clinic, where, in their mind, they received inadequate treatment." L. Iffy, "Second Trimester Abortions," JAMA, vol. 249, no. 5, Feb. 4, 1983, p. 588.
16) "One sequel to abortion can be a killer. This is pelvic abscess, almost always from a perforation of the uterus and sometimes also of the bowel," said two professors from UCLA, in reporting on four such cases. C. Gassner & C. Ballard, Amer. Jour. OB/GYN, vol. 48, p. 716 as reported in Emerg. Med. After Abortion-Abscess, vol. 19, no. 4, Apr. 1977
17) The number of women who die from abortion appears to be about the same now, though it is grossly underreported, as it was the year before abortion on demand became legal.

This is what I threw together quickly. I would invite you, whether you agree or disagree, to give me suggestions for improving this post by comment or e-mail

If you are interested in reading more, here you go:

What Former Abortionists Say

WHO Official Admits Legal Abortion is Not "Safe" For Women


Lie Admitted


Department of Labor: Abortion clinics do not comply with OSHA regulations and guidelines.

Lack of Informed Consent

Abortionists Are Not Held Accountable for Mistakes

Lack of Regulation

Victims Speak Out

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Why Not My Moral Code?

"Why are you trying to impose your values on the rest of us?'... [T]he underlying premise is that a democartic society may be constructed upon values and beliefs found in the books of Rachel Carson, Ralph Nader, Betty Friedman, and Alfred Kinsey, but not upon values and belifs [found elsewhere]. To accept that argument is to permit ourselves to be driven permanently from the public square.

Someone's values are going to prevail. Why not ours? Whose country is it, anyway?"

Patrick J. Buchanan, Right From the Beginning, page 342