prime time EWTN

Has anyone seen Dale Alquist's Chesterton show on EWTN? The guy's gotta be totally insane. If you can, find a clip of the show when he does, "ask Mr. Chesterton". It's amusing, but Alquist's obsession is positively creepy. And don't get me wrong, I love G.K. Chesterton, I just find it disturbing when Alquist interviews someone pretending to be Chesterton on a prime time Sunday night TV show. (thanks to commentators for correction)


an innovative idea

via Vox Nova:
The state is trying to shut down a New York City doctor’s ambitious plan to treat uninsured patients for around $1,000 a year.

Dr. John Muney offers his patients everything from mammograms to mole removal at his AMG Medical Group clinics, which operate in all five boroughs.

His patients agree to pay $79 a month for a year in return for unlimited office visits with a $10 co-pay.

But his plan landed him in the crosshairs of the state Insurance Department, which ordered him to drop his fixed-rate plan - which it claims is equivalent to an insurance policy.

Muney insists it is not insurance because it doesn’t cover anything that he can’t do in his offices, like complicated surgery. He points out his offices do not operate 24/7 so they can’t function like emergency rooms.
More. Dr. Muney’s idea is reminiscent of the minor health clinics Wal-Mart and CVS having been opening, though on a different scale.

People tend to think of the market as some kind of impersonal force (the ‘invisible hand’) pushing human beings around like pawns. The reality is that the market is millions of different people, each striving to improve their condition, exercising their creative potential, experimenting with different solutions to social problems. When one person hits on a better way to deal with a problem, others can copy this solution to the benefit of society. There is no need for everyone to accept the same solution if their needs and circumstances differ, nor is there any need to stick with a current way of doing things should a better way come along.

Government, however, tends to impede this process, imposing a one size fits all solution on society, and trying to block new ways of doing things that don’t fit its preconceived structures. Before cite the failures of the current system as a justification for greater government involvement in health care, they might consider applying an ancient piece of medical advice to government action: first, do no harm.
In reading this story, it strikes me how little freedom we have in America these days. A man is not allowed to open his own medical practice according to his own designs.


George Will explains our national insanity

WASHINGTON -- With the braying of 328 yahoos -- members of the House of Representatives who voted for retroactive and punitive use of the tax code to confiscate legal earnings of a small unpopular group -- still reverberating, the Obama administration Monday invited private-sector investors to become business partners with the capricious and increasingly anti-constitutional government. This latest plan to unfreeze the financial system came almost half a year after Congress shoveled $700 billion into the Troubled Asset Relief Program, $325 billion of which has been spent without purchasing any toxic assets.

TARP funds have, however, semi-purchased, among many other things, two automobile companies (and, last week, some of their parts suppliers), which must amaze Sweden. That unlikely tutor of America regarding capitalist common sense has said, through a Cabinet minister, that the ailing Saab automobile company is on its own: "The Swedish state is not prepared to own car factories."
He concludes
Jefferson warned that "great innovations should not be forced on slender majorities." But Democrats, who trace their party's pedigree to Jefferson, are contemplating using "reconciliation" -- a legislative maneuver abused by both parties to severely truncate debate and limit the minority's right to resist -- to impose vast and controversial changes on the 17 percent of the economy that is health care. When the Congressional Budget Office announced that the president's budget underestimates by $2.3 trillion the likely deficits over the next decade, his budget director, Peter Orszag, said: All long-range budget forecasts are notoriously unreliable -- so rely on ours.

This is but a partial list of recent lawlessness, situational constitutionalism and institutional derangement. Such political malfeasance is pertinent to the financial meltdown as the administration, desperately seeking confidence, tries to stabilize the economy by vastly enlarging government's role in it.


the media and religion

Archbishop Chaput has a phenomenal talk on the relationship between the media and the Catholic Church available here. Near the end he quotes the late Susan Sontag, who said
"The writer’s first job is not to have opinions but to tell the truth … and [to] refuse to be an accomplice of lies and misinformation."

quick thoughts on Obama at Notre Dame

It seems to me that, for anyone who does not regularly follow the news or pay close attention to politics, President Obama's presence at arguably the nation's most publicly recognizable Catholic university can only be seen as a sign of Catholic approval of the man and his policies. Due to the nature of modern media, whatever dialogue may occur will only be heard by a select few who are listening for it in the first place. Most people will hear the news and say, "oh, yeah, those Catholics love Obama. Wasn't he just happily received by Notre Dame?" Considering then his obscene toleration of the grave and great evil of abortion, one must conclude that this visit only results in scandal, both within and without the Church.

Someone at Mirror Of Justice pointed out this passage from the USCCB:
The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.


the Pope and politics

A great overview of the Pope's take on Church/state relations is available at Against the Grain. It helps you see why the folks at Vox Nova have such a difficult job.

some other measure

NO higher commendation can be given any work of the human mind than to praise it for the measure of truth it has achieved; by the same token, to criticize it adversely for its failure in this respect is to treat it with the seriousness that a serious work deserves. Yet, strangely enough, in recent, years, for the first time in Western history, there is a dwindling concern with this criterion of excellence. Books win the plaudits of critics and gain widespread popular attention almost to the extent that they flout the truth - the more outrageously they do so, the better. Many readers, and most particularly those who review current publications, employ other standards for judging, and praising or condemning, the books they read - their novelty, their sensationalism, their seductiveness, their force, and even their power to bemuse or befuddle the mind, but not their truth.
Mortimer Adler, How to Read a Book, pp. 165


“Nulla est homini causa philosophandi nisi ut beatus sit —
Man has no cause to philosophize other than that he be happy.”


yep, what he said

I'd like to remember this excellent rant from Crankycon:
The current kerfuffle over AIG and its payout of bonuses to certain of its former employees represents my “Popeye” moment where I shout “I stands what I can stands and I can’t stands no more.” No, I’m not outraged about the bonuses, though I think they’re incredibly stupid. My angst is aimed entirely at the hypocrites in Congress and the White House who are feigning moral outrage over a situation that they created.

Congress was not just aware of the bonuses, but indeed they wrote the very law that allowed TARP money to be used for the bonus payouts. To hear sanctimonious little shits like Charles Schumer vow to ignore the Constitution all in the interests of saving face with an evidently incensed electorate only confirms my low opinion of the man. He, along with the rest of the bozos in his party, created the mess, and now they’re yelling at everyone else for their own monumental stupidity.

This mock outrage is doubly infuriating because it is completely out of whack when one considers the monetary total of the bonuses. Considering that the government has doled out over 1.5 trillion dollars - more like 2 trillion plus when you factor in the interest we’re going to have to pay - in the past six months for TARP and the porkulus package, complaining about this $160 million is like fretting over the mice droppings you’ve got in the corner while Barney the giant elephant has left a mountainous turd sitting in the middle of your living room.

No one is fooled by this phoniness. This is all a useful diversion to draw attention away from the real villains in this fiasco - the Democrats in Congress and President Obama.

This is the new game in town. Spend a trillion dollars on completely wasteful spending masqueraded as stimulus, and instead of defending the insanity of it all, attack Rush Limbaugh and let conservatives go after each other instead of the President and his loyal minions. Once the furor over Limbaugh dies down, it’s time to go after those greedy executives. These diversionary tactics are nothing new in the world of poltics, but that doesn’t make it any less shameful.

But this all just exposes the lie that Barack Obama would be some kind of “new” political leader. He is just as mendacious a liar as the last Democrat to hold the office of president. Throw in the complete ineptness of this administration up to date, and Jimmy Carter starts to look good by comparison.

I have never been as depressed about the future of this country as I am now. I knew that the election of Barack Obama would have unfortunate repercussions, but even I did not anticipate this mixture of radicalism, corruption and ineptness into one inglorious stew. Perhaps Obama’s telemprompter can offer us all some words of bland comfort to make the situation seem a little less unpalatable and lead us out of this mess, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

I don’t really pity the folks at AIG. They are simply the latest tools in operation “look away.” But Americans can be duped for only so long, and this charade happily seems to be bumeranging on the Democrats as the public is slowly catching on that their moral duplicity is worse than the bonuses. It’s the only silver lining in this catastrophe, and the only thing that prevents me from weeping for the future of this country.


Could we stop them if we tried?

Where is it in the Constitution that the Federal government is given the authority to do this?


St. Patrick's Prayer

He was, after all, a Saint:
I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity:
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.

I bind to myself today
The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with His Baptism,
The virtue of His crucifixion with His burial,
The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension,
The virtue of His coming on the Judgement Day.

I bind to myself today
The virtue of the love of seraphim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the hope of resurrection unto reward,
In prayers of Patriarchs,
In predictions of Prophets,
In preaching of Apostles,
In faith of Confessors,
In purity of holy Virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I bind to myself today
The power of Heaven,
The light of the sun,
The brightness of the moon,
The splendour of fire,
The flashing of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of sea,
The stability of earth,
The compactness of rocks.

I bind to myself today
God's Power to guide me,
God's Might to uphold me,
God's Wisdom to teach me,
God's Eye to watch over me,
God's Ear to hear me,
God's Word to give me speech,
God's Hand to guide me,
God's Way to lie before me,
God's Shield to shelter me,
God's Host to secure me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the seductions of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who meditates injury to me,
Whether far or near,
Whether few or with many.

I invoke today all these virtues
Against every hostile merciless power
Which may assail my body and my soul,
Against the incantations of false prophets,
Against the black laws of heathenism,
Against the false laws of heresy,
Against the deceits of idolatry,
Against the spells of women, and smiths, and druids,
Against every knowledge that binds the soul of man.

Christ, protect me today
Against every poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against death-wound,
That I may receive abundant reward.

Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in the fort,
Christ in the chariot seat,
Christ in the poop [deck],
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of an invocation of the Trinity,
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.
He probably never drank.


not reason alone

I SHOULD LIKE BALLS infinitely better', said Caroline Bingley, 'if they were carried on in a different manner... It would surely be much more rational if conversation instead of dancing made the order of the day.' 'Much more rational, I dare say,' replied her brother, 'but it would not be near so much like a Ball.' We are told that the lady was silenced: yet it could be maintained that Jane Austen has not allowed Bingley to put forward the full strength of his position. He ought to have replied with a distinguo. In one sense conversation is more rational for conversation may exercise the reason alone, dancing does not. But there is nothing irrational in exercising other powers than our reason. On certain occasions and for certain purposes the real irrationality is with those who will not do so. The man who would try to break a horse or write a poem or beget a child by pure syllogizing would be an irrational man; though at the same time syllogizing is itself a more rational activity than the activities demanded by these achievements. It is rational not to reason, or not to limit oneself to reason, in the wrong place; and the more rational a man is the better he knows this.


God died not for "men"; He died for each man. Nothing is abstract in God.
- a paraphrase of C.S. Lewis

"Poetry may be more objective than science"
-Martin Heidegger


What is it that makes someone an American?

I would argue there are two traits that identify someone as an American perhaps more so than any others.

First, Americans possess a zeal for equality. The American experiment in ordered liberty is premised on natural or ontological equality. This equality-in-our-being was meant to be the moral basis for the democratic character of the American regime, but with time it has come to mean much more. The American Declaration tells us that we are "created equal". The archetypal American insists that since we are "created equal", no one really deserves more or less than anyone else, for this would violate our equality. Thus our material wealth comes to be seen as an accident of circumstance. The American argues that since we are "created equal", there is no good reason for there to be anything between us that is unequal. The egalitarian ideal is more beautiful to the American mind than anything else. Indeed, it may be all that the American mind can really see.

This American understanding of human nature has a direct application to politics. Quite simply, we think the purpose of government is to enact this equality.

From this first character trait flows a second - cosmopolitanism. Because of the intensity of belief in the equality of all things, Americans do not consider their location or physical surroundings much at all. Americans are citizens of the world. This belief can exist in a heightened form where the American will come to actively loathe the place they were born. Perhaps there is no greater (or simply more obvious) expression of cultural transcendence than an active hatred of one's own culture. This American desire for cultural transcendence will not be satiated by accepting membership in another living culture somewhere else; it will find its final form in the creation of an abstract, ideal community that will only actually exist in the American's mind. The mind is the only place the American can find refuge from the imperfections of a world that is so painfully unequal. Maybe this painful truth is what Tocqueville meant when he spoke of American individualism (and also the reason he said Americans are Cartesians without knowing it).

Paradoxically, American individualism, that is, our retreat into ourselves, is caused by our love of equality.


college these days

Berkeley nonetheless:

Check out 22 minutes-ish - the professor who's sponsoring this stops in to legitimize the whole affair.


"Catholic" "Leaders" concede abortion debate

So this is how we lose:
Q. Does Governor Sebelius support abortion?

A. Governor Sebelius has made clear that she agrees with church teaching that abortion is wrong and has lived and acted according to that belief. She believes that the best way to bring real change to the polarized abortion debate in this country is not to criminalize women and their doctors, but to focus on real, comprehensive results based approaches that can actually reduce the number of abortions.

In fact, Governor Sebelius’s policies of expanding access to health care, increasing funding and tax credits to encourage adoption, and funding “Life Support Centers” to connect expecting mothers with support services throughout their pregnancies led to an 18% decrease in abortions during her time as governor.
Note how the straightforward answer would be one word: "yes". This is extremely disheartening. It's also a terrible argument.

"No, we don't want or need to make murder illegal, we just need to give people enough money and doctor's visits - people won't want to kill anymore if they are healthy and rich! Rich people never kill each other, you know. And nevermind that our health care program will make killing more accessible and safer by making it a state-subsidized right, nay, privilege - we insist there will be less killing, and hey: our insistence means something because we have jobs in academia. "


Rod Dreher and my 10 cents

Commenting on the Rush Limbaugh brouhaha, Dreher writes of Victor Davis Hanson:
Likewise, how utterly bizarre is it to read someone in the web version of a publication started by William F(reaking) Buckley using "highbrow" as a pejorative description?
William F. Buckley had great contempt for "sophisticated" opinion. One of his most famous sayings was that he would rather be governed by the first 50 people in the Boston phonebook than the entire faculty of Harvard. Thus I think this critique misses the mark.

I haven't enjoyed Dreher's work for a while now, but he's still worth reading.


“The trouble with socialism is socialism. The trouble with capitalism is capitalists.”

-Willi Schlamm