Archive for December, 2005

Last Post of 2005

Happy New Year to all, even Mariah Carey, who is wearing next to nothing on a frigid New York evening. Mariah dear- for 2006, try mixing in a few salads. 

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Can’t Argue With That Logic

How about this: the next time your friends start in with the Ben Franklin quote and their airy-fairy theoretical concerns about the loss of liberty, light a cigarette and see what happens.
Aptly put.

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Go Cats Go

I saw in the ESPN crawl today that my Alma Mater, Villanova, was leading Philadelphia Big 5 rival Temple 22-11. Big 5 games are seldom close, so I assumed that the final score wouldn’t be lobsided. Well, the #3 Wildcats ended up trouncing Temple 75-53. I had no idea my guys were ranked so highly, but I’m not a maniacal alum who keeps up with recruiting and other obsessive stuff. However, you can consider me on the bandwagon through March. My freshman year was right after the ’85 team shocked Georgetown in the NCAA final 66-64 in arguably the biggest upset in tournament history. The best they did when I was there was advance to the final 8 in 1988. I recall watching them beat Illinois in the sweet 16 and then my rommate and I toilet-papered a poor, unsuspecting tree. There is nothing like reliving your youth, but I’ll probably be more subdued if they do well this season.

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Governor Trump?

New York Republicans are in discussions with Donald Trump about a possible gubernatorial run in 2006.
The New York Daily News, citing unnamed Republicans, reported Friday that Trump, the billionaire real estate developer and TV personality, is considering a run for governor as a Republican.

Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno on Friday confirmed to News Channel 10 in Albany that he had been referring to Trump when he suggested on Thursday that a big-name candidate could be waiting in the wings to enter the 2006 governor’s race on the GOP side.

Is he electable? I think so. Would he be a good governor? As Trump himself has said when evaluating contestants on The Apprentice, he could be a spectacular success or a disaster. One certainty is my view is that a get-it-done guy like Trump will experience profound frustration at the difference between New York real estate and Albany politics. I wonder how a guy with a hand shaking phobia could campaign for the highest office in the state, but I guess when you have an ego the size of Donald Trump’s, you figure out a way.                                                   
Linked to Wizbang!

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“Exremist” Catholics

This editorial in the National Catholic Reporter illustrates the divide between Catholics who are politically liberal and Catholic conservatives. It is a discussion of the recent Catholic Charities of Greater Boston Christmas Dinner which honored Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, in which some, including Boston Archbishop Sean O’Malley, boycotted over Menino’s pro choice and pro-gay rights politics. The author calls those people extremists.
Obvious as the point may be to some, it is worth noting here that such scrutiny is likely not to be applied to politicians who advocate slashing benefits for the poor and/or the ill; who vote for preemptive war and the development of weapons of mass destruction; who argue for exemptions to allow torture; or who support the death penalty. They will avoid scrutiny not because it is patently stupid to expect the activities and votes of a politician to match up line by line with church teaching but because gay issues and abortion, unfortunately, have become for many the only proof texts of Catholic orthodoxy.

That is unfortunate because in areas where the government actually makes great demands of its citizenry — in the billions we are required to pay for war and other military adventures, in our acquiescence to state-sponsored killing on death row, in votes on budget priorities that further marginalize the marginalized — the Catholic voice has grown weak.

Well, this guy sure has everything figured out, doesn’t he. He goes for the theological soft tissue of Catholic conservatives on issues like the death penalty while ignoring the obvious shortcomings of Catholic liberals, and in doing so, makes it OK to claim his side is the Catholic voice. How arrogant can you get?

For Catholic liberals, the biggest issue is something known as the preferential option for the poor, which, as interpreted by all too many, says that we don’t care if the elected official runs a brothel, sells heroin and is a contract killer, as long as he’s for more entitlements, he’s for us. They have an astonishingly nebulous attitude about good and evil; they are anti death penalty, and anti war (who is "pro war?") but often shrug their shoulder on abortion and will accuse you of being a "one issue voter" if you call them on it. They aren’t one issue voters. Oh, no. They are intellectual. They grasp nuance. They care.

I once attended a lecture at Villanova by Rev Robert Drinan, a Catholic priest and former pro-choice(!) Democratic congressman, on how a good Catholic should evaluate candidates for the 2004 election. He was very insistent that the preferential option was not an option, and not-too subtly suggested that anyone who cared for the meek of the Earth should vote Democrat.

Someone in the audience asked Rev Drinan if the Preferential Option for the Poor applied to the unborn. He said it did, but then went into a long convoluted diatribe about how abortion will always be with us and that we should just resign ourselves to that and stop trying to change things. I found it interesting that he would be such a pragmatist about abortion and have his head in the clouds about poverty. At this point, one of the professors from the socialism Peace and Justice department got up and went on a red faced, vein bulging piss fest on how sick he was of pro lifers making elections about abortion and nothing else. He poured on plenty of righteous indignation, but wouldn’t admit that he too, was a one issue guy: maximizing the redistribution of resources from everything and everyone to the poor. This is not atypical. He’s not "extremist." Only those who disagree are.

Catholic conservatives view the liberal interpretation of the Preferential Option as more of a preferential option for the government. They object to the presupposition that the poor, especially in America, are so helpless that the only public policy to ameliorate poverty is income redistribution. Liberal & conservative Catholics can look at a blighted high rise public housing project and see two entirely different things; liberals see something that we should blame evil corporations and Republicans for. Conservatives see the failure of the welfare state. How interesting that the business-friendly Clinton era, which liberals love to point to as a proof that democratic policies work, was due to the good climate for capitalism and welfare reform. It was the anti-Great Society.

It is ironic to me that Catholics who throw politicians mulligans over being pro choice label Catholics who dissent from their lofty view as extremist. I don’t see income redistribution and government poverty programs as helping the poor, I see those programs as institutionalizing and solidifying poverty. I cut my teeth in Camden, North Philly, New Orleans and Washington DC. That hardly makes me an ivory tower theorist, like say, a professor who spends his career on a campus. It galls me that people like this, who are so ostensibly intelligent, are so utterly naive about the veracity of evil in the world and the need to prevent and or fight it. "It will be a happy day when the military needs to have a bake sale to buy a missile." Gag me. The day we disarm is the day we are destroyed.

Each side will continue to point to the other and claim they have a blind spot. For conservatives, it is abortion. For liberals, it is income redistribution. I tend to side with conservatives more because this is a clear life and death issue.  I reject the liberal view because it is feel good theory and is quite debunked by the actual results over the past 40 years. That is an oversimplification, and the issues transcend the these two categories, but overall I see things as fairly consistent. Catholic conservatives are far more pragmatic and vindicated by empirical results than politically liberal Catholics, who are seduced by theory. It is the height of hypocrisy, in my view, for one side, especially Catholic liberals who stand on weaker ground, to label the other side as extreme while claiming to the the voice of the Church. I have less of a clear cut view on the theological divide between conservative and liberals in the Church outside politics relating to Church policies, but that will have to wait for another post.

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This comment from Wizbang, on the dearth of lovable corporate spokespeople in the wake of Dunkin Donut icon Michael Vale (who passed away this past week), says it all:
Anyone and anything to do with selling Mentos, (the fresh maker!) should be skinned alive, dipped in alcohol, lit of fire and then fed to pit bulls with gingivitis, processed by said dogs then used to fertilize weeds growing on old toxic waste dumps.
I don’t know why, but he had me at gingivitis.

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At a closing this past Tuesday, an attorney told me that that the membership fee for the Trump National Golf Course right next to me in Briarcliff Manor, NY is $250,000.00. I don’t know if this is how lawyers typically gossip, but she’s wrong. It is actually $300,000.00. I believe that is an annual figure. Even if it isn’t, that is an awful lot of jellybeans. I am a capitalist and believe that people ought to be free to do what they wish with their assets. That won’t stop me, however, from viewing that as being utterly vulgar. 
This guy has a different angle.

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