Tom and Jerry: Defenders of All Things Right and Good

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Once-In-A-Generation Event

Tomorrow afternoon, there will take place an event of such magnitude that the cosmos can apparently only stand to allow such an event once in a generation, likely out of fear that two such occurrences would irreparably damage every living thing.

I am, of course, speaking of the state of Washington's 2008 edition of The Apple Cup, featuring Washington (0W-10L) vs. Washington State (1W-10L) - a battle between the two worst teams of the 119 that play major college football, and quite possibly the two worst teams in the history of major college athletics.

I was a witness to the last such meeting of suckage of this magnitude: 1987 Kansas vs. Kansas State. Prior to my transferring to ND as a 25 year-old sophomore in 1992, I did my first attempt at college at the U. of Kansas from 1986-88. In the fall of 1987, KU and Kansas State were ranked #1 and #2 in USA Today's 'Bottom Ten' rankings of the worst team in college football.

K-State opened the season by surrounding their first home game (vs. Division 1AA Austin Peay) with weekend-long festival that included a Willie Nelson concert. The football team responded by losing 26-22. They followed that up by losing, also at home, to Army 41-14. Things went even further downhill from there.

KU opened the season at Auburn, who carried a 42-0 lead into halftime. The game was played with a running clock in the second half. The next week, the Jayhawks lost their home opener to Kent State 31-17. They did manage a single win on the season, however, a 16-15 home victory over Division 1AA Illinois State. KU quarterback Mike Orth drove around campus in a shiny new cherry red Corvette and never seemed to be present during class test days, but could not complete a screen pass.

KSU lost to Oklahoma and Nebraska by a combined 115-13. Those two teams routed KU by a combined 125-12.

On Nov. 7, 1987, 1W-7L KU met 0W-8L KSU on State’s cozy little campus in Manhattan, KS. What transpired was possibly the worst-played football game at any level in history. The teams combined for 21 penalties and 11 turnovers. With the score knotted at 17-17 in the final minute of the game, each team had a field goal attempt blocked. I exited the stadium as quickly as I could, as I feared that with the final gun the earth would open up and swallow the stadium and all its inhabitants.

KSU finished 0W-10L-1T and KU finished 1W-9L-1T. USA Today called for a KU-KSU rematch in one of the lower-tier bowls.

KU won the national championship in basketball that spring.

I left KU after the spring semester, worked for a couple of years, went back to school at UCF and got my GPA way up, then fulfilled my dream of attending ND. The first live college football game I attended as a spectator since '87 KU-KSU was the '92 ND home opener featured the #3 Irish against #6 Michigan.

That game also ended in a 17-17 tie.


I used to do game previews for each Notre Dame game from 2005-early 2007, mostly for Lynda but also for anyone else who wanted to read them, and Tom has saved them and provided a link to them to the right. I shall give a small preview of tomorrow’s donnybrook:

Yes, folks, this is the Small One, the battle of the badly-beatens, the movable object meeting the resistible force. There are only tomorrows. When these two teams get together, nothing can happen. This game is for a single marble.

The hosts are the toothless WSU Cougars, whose single win was over Division 1AA Portland State. They have been outscored in their eleven games by a combined 533-139 (avg. 48.4 – 12.6). Some other notable achievements in 2008 Wazzou football:

• Their closest losses were a season-opening 25-point loss to Oklahoma State, a 25 point loss to UCLA (who’s won all of 4 games on the season), and a 28-point loss to Baylor (also only 4 wins).

• They have given up over 60 points in four of their games, and over 50 in two others.

• Prior to the USC game of October 18, the Cougars had not been held scoreless in a game since 1984, a streak of 280 games. USC beat them 69-0. The next week, WSU lost to Stanford 58-0, and last week they lost to Arizona State 31-0. So after a streak of 280 non-scoreless games, the 2008 Cougars have been shut out in 3 of their last 4 games.

The Cougars are “coached” by Paul Wulff, a.k.a. “Skippy”, who is in his first year with WSU, and in his first year coaching in Division 1 football. He is only 41, but he looks like he’s about 25. He yips and yaps up and down the sideline, and is the kind of coach who, after losing to USC 69-0, says he’s excited about how well his team competed.

The visitors are the equally toothless U-Dub Huskies, who have not won a game in more than a calendar year. They have been outscored “only” 399-139. Other notable achievements:

• Only two of the Huskies’ losses have been by less than 20 points - a 35-28 loss to Stanford and a 28-27 loss to BYU.

• The BYU game was notable for the action immediately following the Huskies' scoring of a touchdown with 3 seconds left to pull within one point. Quarterback Jake Locker, who scored the TD, flipped the ball in the air and was penalized for celebrating, which moved the extra-point kick back 15 yards. The extra point was blocked. BYU was penalized for celebrating, which moved the ensuing Huskies kickoff to midfield. Instead of attempting an onside kick, UW coach Ty Willingham stunningly ordered a kick out of the endzone, effectively conceding the game.

• On October 25, UW played a nationally televised night home game against Notre Dame, who at the time had the 75th ranked defense in the country. The Huskies, through 3 ½ quarters, managed only 55 total yards of offense, 4 first downs, and had not crossed midfield. Once the Irish put in their 3rd string, which included two walk-ons playing cornerback, the Huskies were able to score their only touchdown in a 33-7 drubbing. It was after this game that Willingham was informed that his services would be terminated at the season’s end.

The Huskies are “coached” by former Notre Dame head coach (2002-04) Tyrone Willingham, a.k.a. “Paint Dry Ty” and “Chauncey Gardiner” (for the Peter Sellers character in “Being There”, who spoke in nonsensical platitudes that high society took for nuggets of wisdom). After a 2004 Ty-coached Irish team lost 41-16 at home to Purdue, Ty proclaimed that ND had been only "4 or 5 plays away from winning the game". Presumably he meant the plays where Purdue scored touchdowns.

Ty reacted to news of his termination at Washington thusly:

I don’t make any excuses. I never feel sorry for Tyrone Willingham. But the truth of the matter is, everything is not microwave popcorn.

For those of us that have experienced Ty-speak, that can be translated as follows (per’s petendcollin):

To successfully make microwave popcorn, OK, you need to have a number of things go correctly, and executed in the proper fashion when you set out to microwave a bag of popcorn in this matter, which we attempt to do on a daily basis. You've got open the microwave, and you've got to put the bag in. You've also got to close the microwave, and then press up to 4 buttons in the proper sequence to get the thing to work. Does it require excellence? Yes. Do we strive to achieve excellence? Yes.

Yesterday, when we set the kitchen on fire, we came up short of excellence. But we're close, if just a few more of those buttons were pressed at the right time, and if I didn't leave a metal spoon in there, we would have made the popcorn in an excellent and competitive fashion, OK?

But now, once the fire marshal says we can go back inside, we've got to get right back to trying to make that microwave popcorn in the excellent fashion that is our stated objective. We've got to execute in making the popcorn, OK?

Ty was the head coach at Stanford from 1995 through 2001, and his 1999 Cardinal team won the PAC 10, which is cited every time someone wants to claim that he is a good, or even competent, head football coach. What they don’t mention is that Stanford did not have to play the only other PAC 10 team to win more than 7 games that season (Oregon), beat only one team with a winning record (7W-5L Oregon State), lost their opener to Texas 69-17, gave up a whopping 30.3 points a game, and lost at home to woeful San Jose State.

Still he rode that Rose Bowl appearance and his skin pigmentation to a job at ND, where he won the first 8 games of his tenure, for which he is still lauded as a coaching genius by some. However, ND lost 16 of the next 29 under Ty (8 by 20+ points), he recruited all of 2 offensive linemen in three years, signed 2 of the lowest rated recruiting classes in ND history, and was negotiating with Washington prior to the end of the 2004 regular season, after which he was fired. Notre Dame was nevertheless lambasted as racist. Go figure.

He has done even worse at Washington, winning a total of 12 games in 4 seasons, and his lack of recruiting effort or skill has pretty much emptied the cupboard for whomever UW hires in the offseason. Ty has successfully made himself a multi-millionaire by running two historically strong programs into the ground.

In contrast to WSU’s Wulff, Ty prefers to stand like a cigar store Indian statue (motion- and emotion-less, with a stern but blank look on his face) while his team falls apart around him. Defenders of the Tytantic say it is his ‘steely nerve’, but fans and alumni of Notre Dame and UW know better: it is because he doesn’t have the slightest idea what to do.


Ties are no longer an option since college football implemented overtime in 1996. I’ve seen both teams a couple of times this year: the Cougars look like a high school team and the Huskies look like a dispirited mess. The Cougars are statistically worse, but the Huskies have Ty as coach and his team quit on him more than a month ago.

I predict that the winning team will carry the opposing team’s coach off the field in thanks and celebration.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Latest Instance of ACLU Hypocrisy

The American Civil Liberties Union is an organization dedicated to protecting the Bill of Rights.  They pride themselves in protecting the 1st through 10th Amendments (except the 2nd), the 13th through 15th Amendments and the 19th Amendment.  In other words, they believe in protecting individual liberty.  Here is first part of the ACLU mission statement:

The mission of the ACLU is to preserve all of these protections and guarantees:
  • Your First Amendment rights - freedom of speech, association and assembly; freedom of the press, and freedom of religion.
  • Your right to equal protection under the law - equal treatment regardless of race, sex, religion or national origin.
  • Your right to due process - fair treatment by the government whenever the loss of your liberty or property is at stake.
  • Your right to privacy - freedom from unwarranted government intrusion into your personal and private affairs.
[emphasis mine]

The priorities of the ACLU are clear: protect your first amendment rights to free speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of religion.

Not quite.

The New York chapter of the ACLU testified before the New York city council in support of a bill which would limit the rights of pro-life protesters.  Of course, the ACLU claims that the New York bill will not infringe upon the rights of pro-lifers to speak freely and assemble.  However, others disagree:
The purpose of the press event — to attempt to silence pro-life prayer and free speech outside abortion facilities by proposing a restrictive 15-foot “buffer zone” around all abortion centers in New York City.

The proposed bill would also allow abortion workers to file harassment charges against pro-lifers as well as “ease the burden of proof” currently necessary to prosecute on harassment charges, according to the press release issued by the New York City Council.

This measure flies in the face of both freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.

The 15 foot buffer zone is restriction enough, but the real danger of this bill is the vague language of "harassment." If you read pro-choice websites, these people consider silent prayer outside a clinic "intimidation" and "harassment." Although the authors of this bill claim they do not intend to restrict freedom of expression, it would be easy for a liberal judge to rule that prayer is intimidating and therefore illegal within 15 feet of an abortion clinic.

Many in the pro-life movement are confident that this bill will be overturned because it is unconstitutional. It is ironic, dare I say hypocritical, to see the ACLU arguing for greater restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Really Dumb Songs That I Love, Exhibit A

While avoiding doing household chores the other night, I was flipping channels on the TV when I came across Country Music Television's "Crossroads". "Crossroads" pairs a rock act and a country act on the same stage doing each other's songs together. Past pair-ups have included Kenny Chesney - John Mellencamp and Bon Jovi - Sugarland, both of which were pretty good.

This night's edition had Taylor Swift onstage with Def Leppard, an odd pairing if there ever was one. Their performances came off pretty well, and it kept me from having to move boxes around the house, but the part that made an impression on me was getting to hear Def Leppard's
Hysteria again, from the 1988 album of the same name. Here's the original song and video:

Good Lord, I enjoy listening to that song. What's odd is that most of my favorite songs - Springsteen's Thunder Road or Gordon Lightfoot's Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, for example - have great lyrics. Or least have something to say. Or anything at all to say. Hysteria's lyrics, on the other hand, are practically a waste of typing:

Out of touch, out of reach, yeah
You could try to get closer to me
I'm in love
I'm in deep, yeah
Hypnotized, I'm shakin' to my knees

I gotta know tonight, if you're alone tonight
Can't stop this feeling
Can't stop this fire

Oh, I get hysterical, hysteria, oh, can you feel it?
(oh can you feel it? )
Do you believe it?
(do you believe it? )
It's such a magical mysteria when you get that feelin'
(when you get that feelin)
Better start believin'
(better start believin' it's a)
cause it's a miracle, oh say you will
Ooh babe
Hysteria when you're near

Out of me, into you yeah
You could hide, it's just a one way street
Oh, I believe I'm in you, yeah
Open wide, that's right!
Dream me off my feet
Oh, believe in me

Come on
Ooh babe
(oh, can you feel it? )
Ooh baby
(do you believe I get hysterical? )
(when you get that feelin')
You'd better believe it!
(better start believin')
cause it's a miracle, oh, say you will
Oh babe, say you will

(get closer to me)
Get closer baby
(get closer)
Closer to me

"Mysteria"? "Dream me off my feet"?

Now, I know this is not the dumbest song ever. Heck, it's not even the dumbest song on the Hysteria album: that title would go to the will-be-playing-in-Hell-for-all-eternity-should-I-go-there Pour Some Sugar On Me. But Heaven help me, I could listen to this song 10 times in a row and still want to hear it again.

Def Leppard stood out from similar '80's acts: their drummer losing an arm then having a special kit created for him so he could keep playing with the band; the fact that - unlike most 'pop metal' acts of their day - their albums got terrific reviews; that - also unlike
most 'pop metal' acts of their day - girls that liked the band were not generally of the trashy / easier-than-a-People-magazine-crossword-puzzle variety.

Their videos for this song and another Hysteria track, Animal, broke from the '80's pop metal template of "performance + lots of slutty-looking chicks in halter tops". Their early '80's attempt at avoiding this template was hide-your-eyes awful. The above video and the Animal video were actually pretty well done and have a certain stylishness about them.

So, forgive my Lord, for I love a really dumb song.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

This is great.  All of you expectant parents should visit your local priest.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Vote For a Catholic Blogger to Get a Scholarship

Thomas Peters at American Papist is asking for your vote.  A $10,000 scholarship hangs in the balance.  Please consider supporting this Catholic blogger (i.e. follow the link).  It only takes a fews clicks.  Be sure to vote for Thomas Peters.


Helping the Poor: Avoinding the CCHD Part II

I recently received this donation envelope from my parish:

At first glance at this envelope, one might think that money donated to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) goes directly to helping the poor. You may have visions in your mind of soup kitchens, homeless shelters and St. Vincent de Paul charities.

Read the envelope closely.   

According to the CCHD grant list (pdf), approximately 90% of their grants go to community organizing. As far as I can tell, none of the money went to promote human development between conception and birth. As recently as last year, the CCHD had donated money to left-leaning and partisan organizing groups such as ACORN. A letter on the USCCB website (pdf) claims funding to ACORN has been cut off and that an investigation is underway.  

I do not know much about community organizing, but I can appreciate the old saw:
Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for life.

I have no problem with community organizing in theory. Insofar as such projects focus on "teaching men to fish" then I'm in favor of them. Economic development is undoubtedly a good thing. However, I suspect many of the community organizing projects sponsored by CCHD support partisan, predominately leftist causes and candidates. The fact that money went to ACORN is case in point.  

You may recall that ACORN is under investigation in Ohio for voter fraud and that they unabashedly supported the Obama campaign. While ACORN's theory of encouraging poor people to vote is good, its practice of encouraging poor people to vote for a specific (pro-choice) candidate is bad.

Until the CCHD finishes its investigation and implements safeguards to ensure no USCCB money will support pro-abortion and/or partisan causes, I would suggest avoiding the CCHD and helping the poor in other ways. Let me recommend Food for the Poor.  Their website states,
[Food for the Poor] provide[s] food, housing, health care, education, water projects, micro-enterprise development assistance and emergency relief to the poorest of the poor

According to the CFC, their overhead is just 3.8%.  In other words, over 96% of the money they raise goes straight to helping the poor. My beautiful wife and I contribute to them regularly.


Friday, November 07, 2008

Avoid the Campaign for Human Development

I read an interesting post by Richard John Neuhaus.

Bottom line:  This organization raises funds in Catholic churches during the month of November.  It has very little to with helping the poor.  They support ACORN and other organizations that support the abortion licence.  Give your money to the poor instead:

The Campaign for Human Development (CHD) is an annual collection in parishes, usually on one of the last two Sundays in November. It used to be called the Catholic Campaign for Human Development but the Catholic was dropped, which is just as well since it has nothing to do with Catholicism, except that Catholics are asked to pay for it. Some bishops no longer allow the CHD collection in their dioceses, and more should not allow it. In fact, CHD, misbegotten in concept and corrupt in practice, should, at long last, be terminated.

Ten years ago, CHD was exposed as using the Catholic Church as a milk cow to fund organizations that frequently were actively working against the Church’s mission, especially in their support of pro-abortion activities and politicians. Now it turns out that CHD has long been a major funder of ACORN, a national community agitation organization in support of leftist causes, including the abortion license. ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) is under criminal investigation in several states. In the last decade CHD gave ACORN well over seven million dollars, including more than a million in the past year. It is acknowledged that ACORN, with which Sen. Obama had a close connection over the years, was a major player in his presidential campaign. The bishops say they are investigating the connection between CHD and ACORN. They say they are worried that it might jeopardize the Church’s tax-exemption. No mention is made of abusing the trust of the Catholic faithful.

What most Catholics don’t know, and what would likely astonish them, is that CHD very explicitly does not fund Catholic institutions and apostolates that work with the poor. Part of the thinking when it was established in the ideological climate of the 1960s is that Catholic concern for the poor would not be perceived as credible if CHD funded Catholic organizations. Yes, that’s bizarre, but the history of CHD is bizarre. The bishops could really help poor people by promptly shutting down CHD and giving any remaining funds to, for instance, Catholic inner-city schools. In any event, if there is a collection at your parish this month, I suggest that you can return the envelope empty—and perhaps with a note of explanation—without the slightest moral hesitation.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

So What's Next For Obambots?

Whatever will they do with their time? I'm sure they'll figure out the next logical step in service to the Obamessiah.....


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Congratulations To Senator Obama On Winning The Presidential Election

The success of his campaign truly illustrates something we've been told as a child about our great nation: That anyone can grow up to be president. All you need is ambition, determination, and the willingness to....

** break your pledge to not accept private donations so that you can outspend your opponent 6 to 1 with money obtained from dubious sources

** have a compliant and subservient national media applying maximum scrutiny to (and even fabricating stories about) your opponent while sweeping any of your skeletons, gaffes, and glaringly ridiculous propositions under the rug

** promise a mathematically impossible tax-and-redistribution plan designed to turn the election into 4 wolves and 1 sheep voting on what's for dinner

** employ an ethically-challenged "grass-roots" organization to sign up voters who might otherwise miss out on the opportunity to vote for you, such as 2nd graders, dead people, cartoon characters, etc.

...and any millionaire with little-to-no experience or accomplishments can pander to enough people to get elected.

Is this a great country, or what?

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Gee, Thanks For Clearing That Up

According to the Wall Street Journal, journalists at the New York Times have discovered that, contrary to being innocents unjustly detained by fascist George Bush, many of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay are actually, you know, guilty as hell:

According to the six-year narrative of the press and political class, the Bush Administration's counterterrorism policies fall somewhere between the Spanish Inquisition and the Ministry of Love in "1984." So it was something of a shock to read a remarkable front-page story in the New York Times yesterday, the abridged version being: Never mind.

In their 1,600-word dispatch "Next President Will Face Test on Detainees," reporters William Glaberson and Margot Williams discover that, gee whiz, many of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay really are dangerous terrorists. The Times reviewed "thousands of pages" of evidence that the government has so far made public and concludes that perhaps the reality is more complicated than the critics claim.

Lo and behold, detainees are implicated in such terror attacks as the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania and the 2000 attack on the USS Cole. Those with "serious terrorism credentials" include al Qaeda operatives Abu Zubaydah, Ramzi bin al-Shibh and the so-called "Dirty 30," Osama bin Laden's cadre of bodyguards. The Times didn't mention Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the architect of 9/11, though he's awaiting a war-crimes tribunal at Gitmo too.

It has been joked that the NY Times should change its slogan from "All The News That's Fit To Print" to "All The News That Fits Our Agenda". Perhaps a better one would be "We'll Get Around To Practicing Journalism And Reporting The Truth......Eventually"

Monday, November 03, 2008

Final Thoughts Before Election Day

From the email transom.

Disclaimer: This should not be interpreted as an indictment of either candidate. 

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Curiouser and Curiouser

It is practically beyond dispute that what is refered to as the country's "mainstream media" - ABC, CBS, NBC, the New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, Newsweek, and Time - have been so far in the tank for Barack Obama that they've grown gills. They have done an absolutely masterful job of keeping their coverage of troubling information about Obama - and, indeed, many of his own more potentially damaging statements - down to blurbs that are quickly followed by their dismissal. As to most of the damaging info about Obama - Rev. Wright, Bill Ayers, ACORN, etc. - and his own potentially damaging statements - for instance, his numerous reversals of policy over the last 12 months, not to mention his silly charges of racism against John McCain - they have received wide discussion on Fox News and in the conservative blogsphere, but have mostly been effectively muted by the outlets mentioned above.

This is why I have been very suprised by the info that has gained considerable traction over the last few days: first the LA Times suppression of the Khalidi tape got wide coverage, now an audio interview Obama did with the San Francisco Chronicle back in January was discovered on the Chronicle's own website, in which he promises to bankrupt the coal industry (details that were - surprise! - left out of the original article).

My first reaction to hearing the tape was "I wonder how the folks in Pennsylvania and Ohio feel about this...". My second was "What an incredibly stupid thing for Obama to say."

My question about this latest Obama admission is: Why has there been no pushback by the Obama campaign or from the media outlets listed above? Both parties pushed back ferociously to Obama's Wright and Ayers connections, pushed back ferociously to Obama's "Spread the wealth" reply to Joe the Plummer, pushed back ferociously in defending the LA Times' not releasing the tape...but about this latest potentially damaging statement - nothing.

My suspicion is that Obama and co. think they have the election sown up, so why bother? They've already started celebrating, and his backing out of his pre-presidential campaign agreement to participate in a series of townhall-style debates with McCain and the fact that he had not held a press conference since September seem to indicate that he figured that he is comfortably ahead and need not take chances. The myriad of polls have, for the most part, backed him up on this notion, though they have tightened somewhat in the last week.

I can't escape the feeling, however, that the Obama camp and the press, sensing that a) Obama was a shoo-in for the nomination and b) that there was quite a bit of negative feelings coming their way for their shamefully biased election coverage, have let their guard down a bit in the last few days, and some info poured through the cracks. In doing so, I believe that they have a) vastly underestimated John McCain and Sarah Palin, b) vastly underestimated the resourcefulness of the conservative blogsphere in accessing this info, and c) overestimated the reliability of the pre-election polling.

If my suspicion is correct, I think Obama and his champions in the media might be in for a bit of a surprise come Tuesday night.

We shall see.....


Sunday, November 02, 2008

Abortion vs. Healthcare

During my comment sparring with the writer of Liberal Catholic News, the question came up about whether a Catholic should give up on trying to outlaw abortion in favor of promoting other life issues like health care.  A similar question was emailed to me by my friend Lisa.

It was an interesting question, so I decided to do some research.  It didn't take long to find this excerpt from paragraph 2273 of the Catechism:
2273 The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation:

"The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority....Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being's right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death."

"The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined....As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child's rights."

That is pretty strong language.  It says the state is under a moral obligation to respect the rights of unborn children and to outlaw abortion.  In a democracy, it follows that Catholic voters are under a moral obligation to ensure the state does so.

Contrast this with what the Catechism says about health care in paragraph 2288:

2288 Life and physical health are precious gifts entrusted to us by God. We must take reasonable care of them, taking into account the needs of others and the common good. Concern for the health of its citizens requires that society help in the attainment of living-conditions that allow them to grow and reach maturity: food and clothing, housing, health care, basic education, employment, and social assistance.
Here the Catechism is less specific.  It does not say the state must "provide" health care, nor does it say that health care is a "right."  Rather, it says the state should "help in the attainment" of health care and other basic needs.
Respecting human life does not end when the child is born.  It involves promoting human dignity throughout life.  There are people suffering in our society with inadequate health care and lack of other basic necessities, and we have to do more to help them.

That help can come in several forms.  Certainly the state could create a massive state-run health care system.  This works well in some countries (Norway) and not so well in other countries (Britain).  The larger the population of the country, the less likely it is to work well.  The state can also help by promoting a robust economy so that its citizens can afford to purchase health care for themselves.  Reasonable Catholics can disagree on the best method.
There are pros and cons of both Obama's and McCain's health plans, and neither of them will survive Congress unchanged.  One may better than the other, but both will "help in the attainment" of health care.
Conversely, only one candidate has expressed a desire to respect an unborn child's right to life in law. The other candidate, by supporting FOCA, will further diminish that right.  Protecting the rights of the unborn is not the only issue in this campaign, but it hard to imagine a more important issue.  

I was very impressed with my local bishop's, Paul Loverde, homily today.  He emphasized the importance of supporting human life with our vote because life is the "foundation of our society."  Life is fundamental and a prerequisite for all other rights.  He also said there could be proportionate reasons to vote against the pro-life candidate.  But then he reminded us that 4,000 unborn children are killed every day in this country.  In my mind, it would be hard to find any proportional issue that can outweigh that startling statistic.

Pray the rosary for this election.  If you do, I'll promise to stop beating this dead horse (until after the election). 

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Reducing Abortions: Piling on More Evidence (a.k.a. Beating a Dead horse Deader)

Many pro-choice organizations court the Catholic vote by saying they are in favor of making abortion rare eventhough the want to keep it legal.  In fact, you can spot a liberal Catholic if they speak of life issues in terms of "reducing abortion rates," while a pro-life Catholic will speak in terms of "protecting life."

Some have contended that an Obama presidency would reduce abortions more than a McCain presidency.  I challanged that contention in an earlier post.  Since then I found a Whitherspoon Institute study (hat tip to Dawn) that further supports my view.  While pouring over years of CDC data, Dr. New discovered that welfare programs and social safety nets had little effect on abortion rates.  But abortion restrictions like informed consent, parental notification and parental consent laws has a significant effect.  It is doubtful, therefore, that an Obama presidency would reduce abortions.

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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Republicans, Democrats and the Economy

Past performance is no guarantee of future results but....

I know the S&P 500 is only one of many indicators of economic performance, but decided to compare its performance with who has been in power in Washington. Barack Obama likes to trumpet the great economy managed under Bill Clinton while blaming the current economy on the "failed economic policies of George Bush."

Let's see what the numbers say.  Here is the change in the S&P 500:

Wow!  No wonder Obama likes to trumpet the Clinton years. Maybe I should take back everything I've said about the Democrats and the economy.   Well, not so fast.  There is another branch of government that has some influence on the economy.  Let's not forget about Congress.

Clinton operated with a Democrat controlled Congress for the first two years of his presidency.  In 1995, under the leadership of Newt Gingrich and his Contract with America, the Republicans took control of both house of Congress.  For the first time in our life time, they balanced the federal budget.  

Conversely, George Bush enjoyed a Republican congress for the first six years of his Presidency and has had to compromise with a Democratic congress for the last two.  Since the Republicans controlled Congress for roughly three times as long as the Democrats, in order to normalize the data I divided the Republican numbers by three.  The actual performance of the S&P500 during the Republican congress is three times higher.

Without further ado, here is the performance of the last two Presidents broken out by which party controlled Congress:

This paints a different picture.  There is no doubt that the Clinton years were better for the stock market and the economy than the Bush years.  But, the bulk of the Clinton stock market performance happened while the Republicans controlled Congress and all of the Bush stock market losses happened while the Democrats controlled congress.  Admittedly, this is rough "back of the envelope" analysis and I know correlation is not necessarily causation, but the data is interesting.

Here is the average performance of the S&P 500 while each party was in the majority in Congress.  Once again, in order to normalize the data, I divided stock market performance under the Republican Congress by three:

That fact is, Newt Gingrich's congress cut spending and balanced the budget.  Clinton, for his part signed the Republican congress's budget into law.  The compromise was good for the economy and the stock market soared.  Under the Bush administration the economy sputtered along with slow growth and the Republicans lost their way and went on a spending spree.  In his defense, this country was attacked by terrorists during that time.  However, the economy didn't really tank until the Democrats took over congress.

In my opinion, putting a Republican spending hawk like McCain in the White House with a Democrat controlled Congress will be a good thing.  The Democrats will moderate McCain's proposed tax cuts, and McCain will reign in Congressional spending.

I am going to commit Republican heresy and say that now is not the time to cut taxes.  The budget deficit is just too high.  However, neither should we raise taxes on the people and corporations that are the engine of this economy.  We should keep taxes fairly level and start tightening our belt and cut spending.  

Obama and a Democrat congress will raise taxes.  If they used that money to pay down the deficit, I would not be too concerned.  However, Obama plans to spend all of that money on expanding government entitlement programs.  That would be terribly irresponsible when deficits are soaring.

McCain has promised to cut pork and spending.  That is exactly what this economy needs.

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A Little Political Wisdom Before the Election

Get off your booty and vote:


Reason number 4,726 I like Notre Dame: Reason 324 I like Charlie Weis

I just had to pleasure of watching a short video documentary aired during the Notre Dame half time show.  It tells the story of Charlie's 13 year old daughter Hannah who suffers from global developmental delay.  

Charlie loves his daughter and decided to do something to help her and others like her. So in 2003, he and his wife founded Hannah & Friends which calls itself a "nonprofit organization improving the quality of life for children and adults with special needs."

Their latest project is to build a farm outside of South Bend, IN to serve as a loving community for young adults with special needs. Hannah and people like her will have special place to live and thrive.

I think that is a great idea, so I just donated $100. If all of our readers do the same, then we could raise $400 or so. What do you say?

In any event, this video tells Hannah's story much better than I did: