Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Our enlightened friends in the UK have given us more material. (There is so much to make fun of I don't know where to begin!)
Monday, January 30, 2006
UPDATE: Apparently, I included the wrong link in my initial post. Here is the link to the story on Chafee's no vote. The above link is a link to Senator Chafee's opponent (Steve Laffey) in the upcoming Republican primary. Oops!
Here's the basic idea: Instead of purchasing traditional health insurance through one's employer, an employee purchases a high-deductible health plan (usually $1000 deductible for a single employee) through his employer. Because of the high deductible, such a plan involves a smaller monthly cost to the employee. This savings is then "passed through" before taxes to the employee's very own HSA. Each year, the employee can deposit up to the amount of his deductible ($1000 in the above example). So, for example, if our employee needs health care services costing less than his $1000, he may pay those amounts out of his pre-tax HSA dollars. Additionally, it should be noted that HSA funds can be spent on any legitimate medical expense, this would even include things like Tylenol or Nyquil. If our employee really gets sick and uses up his entire $1000 deductible, then the high deductible health insurance plan takes over. But the beauty of the HSA is that if our employee remains healthy and doesn't incur many medical expenses, any amount in his HSA after the end of the year remains his and may continue to grow.
An HSA, like an IRA, is merely a tax umbrella, and an employee's HSA funds can be stored in different types of accounts (such as money markets, bonds, or stock index funds). Accordingly, if a healthy 25-year old employee invests his HSA money in a high growth stock index fund, after thirty or forty years, his HSA account will likely have a substantial sum of money in it after growing for so long in a tax deferred account. In retirement, the HSA is treated just like an IRA, so if our employee wants to spend it on non-health care expenses, he will finally pay taxes on the money. HSA's, also like IRA's, are transferable to the account owner's beneficiaries upon death.
Now that I've whet your appetite, go read more on HSA's here at the U.S. Treasury Website. And if you're still not convinced, feel free to keep throwing your money away on high monthly premium health care plans. In 40 years, when my HSA is bursting with money, I'll try not rub it in.
Also, see this article at NRO. The following paragraph is what initially prompted this post:
Full tax deductibility of health-care spending would accelerate the use of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), which are probably the best thing to happen to health care in a generation. Created by both President Bush and the Republican-led Congress, these accounts allow individuals to create tax-free nest eggs to cover routine out-of-pocket medical costs. Were HSAs to be used more commonly, the same dynamic that determines how most people spend their money Â trying to obtain the highest quality at the lowest price Â would finally come to American health care. That would reward the best doctors and hospitals, and squeeze inefficiency out of the system.
I met Judge Neilson several times during her visits to the law school, often to lend her time and talent as a moot court judge. She was a lady in every sense, and clearly enjoyed interacting with the newest members of her profession. The legal community -- not to mention the community as a whole -- was bettered by her time here on earth.
May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
Friday, January 27, 2006
Donald Luskin of National Review Online, however, explains that the actual effect of the capital gains tax cut was an increase in capital gains revenue. In other words, despite a reduction in the rate of taxation on "the rich," "the rich" ended up paying more overall in capital gains taxes.
To appreciate this story, we have to go back in time to January 2003, before the tax cut was enacted. Table 3-5 on page 60 in CBO's Budget and Economic Outlook published in 2003 estimated that capital-gains tax liabilities would be $60 billion in 2004 and $65 billion in 2005, for a two-year total of $125 billion.
Now let's move forward a year, to January 2004, after the capital-gains tax cut had been enacted. Table 4-4 on page 82 in CBO's Budget and Economic Outlook of that year shows that the estimates for capital-gains tax liabilities had been lowered to $46 billion in 2004 and $52 billion in 2005, for a two-year total of $98 billion. Compare the original $125 billion total to the new $98 billion total, and we can infer that CBO was forecasting that the tax cut would cost the government $27 billion in revenues.
Those are the estimates. Now let's see how things really turned out. Take a look at Table 4-4 on page 92 of the Budget and Economic Outlook released this week. You'll see that actual liabilities from capital-gains taxes were $71 billion in 2004, and $80 billion in 2005, for a two-year total of $151 billion. So let's do the math one more time: Subtract the originally estimated two-year liability of $125 billion from the actual liability of $151 billion, and you get a $26 billion upside surprise for the government. Yes, instead of costing the government $27 billion in revenues, the tax cuts actually earned the government $26 billion extra.
CBO's estimate of the "cost" of the tax cut was virtually 180 degrees wrong. The Laffer curve lives!
Thursday, January 26, 2006
The pride of place George W. enjoys among many of my colleagues on the Right is frankly stunning, for he is not just tolerated or grudgingly accepted as the (slightly) better of two bad choices; on the contrary, Bush is readily identified with and enthusiastically endorsed. This raises some alarming issues: is the Right dead? Does it have no principles? Does it not realize when those principles are violated? Is it really all about hating the Democrats after all (a worthwhile endeavor to be sure, were it not for the fact that the Republicans increasingly resemble their putative enemies)?
Judging from his recent contribution to NR, Charles Murray must be similarly bewildered. The following excerpt appeared in the 50th anniversary issue, in the very the heart of what has become the "Courtier Right" (I imagine only someone with Murray’s longstanding credentials could have pulled it off):
"From the founding of Nationa Review—an opening date that I nominate without fear or favor—through the presidency of Ronald Reagan, the intellectual vigor of the [conservative vision] grew. Then, during the 1990s, we discovered how much the vigor of the [conservative vision] depended on competition. With the Left intellectually moribund, politicians of the Right began to take the easy way out. It is understandable, because advocating the policies of limited government is psychologically uncomfortable. It requires a politician to say he wants to do things that will cause pain—cut benefits for young women with babies, scrub regulations that putatively protect the environment, or end affirmative action… In the aftermath of the Reagan ascendancy, when running and winning as a Republican became so much easier, we got more and more Republicans who wanted to be nice guys. George W. Bush is their leader. And so we have watched a Republican-controlled government take a giant step toward federalizing public education through No Child Left Behind; add a major new unfunded entitlement to Medicare; and last summer, demonstrate that Republicans in power love pork as much as the Democrats ever did. We are watching what happens when Republicans have forgotten the constrained vision of the nature of man and replaced it with a fuzzy desire to do good.”
Prescinding from the question of the war, I note that Murray, as a libertarian-conservative, omits two other violations which readers of this page would normally find egregious: Bush’s endorsement of gay civil unions and his heralding of a Greater Hispania. But hey, what’s the hurt in a little man love or some gangland violence?
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
The liberal Catholic journal Commonweal has an editorial explaining its view that Judge Alito's "narrow and troubling judicial philosophy should be rejected." The editorial instead provides a powerful lesson to faithful Catholics about the wretched prudential judgment (or is it lack of courage?) of much of the "seamless garment" crowd.
What he said.
Read the rest of Whelan's critique here.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
UPDATE: I expect that the text of Fr. Jenkins's address to the faculty will eventually be posted at his office's website.
UPDATE 2: Here's a link to the SBT story covering the faculty address. Here's a story on student reaction.
Today's latest vote further entrenches the notion that Senate Democrats will oppose any conservative nominee to the Court based solely on political and ideological reasons and regardless of the nominee's high qualifications. The Democrats' current treatment of Judge Alito is a far cry from the 90-plus bipartisan votes used to confirm President Clinton's nominees Justice Ginsburg and Justice Breyer. So be it.
Judge Alito will be confirmed and Democrats have further exposed their ideological litmus test for the Court. Republicans must be sure to remember this the next time a Democratic President nominates a liberal to the Supreme Court. Regardless of qualifications, Republicans should invoke the "Alito precedent" and vote against the nominee.
From the Article: "The St. Martin's priest has always opened his arms to people in all walks of life..."
Well, at least he's opening his arms to some rather gifted women, rather than a Filipino pool boy.
"We've got legislators to write law. The judges are to interpret law. ... He is a very, very smart, capable man. When you talk to Sam Alito you think, 'smart judge.' He's written a lot of opinions, his judicial philosophy is clear and his judicial temperament is sound. That's why the American Bar Association" voted unanimously for him."
UPDATE: Here's the text of the President's Kansas State speech. Based on all the laugh lines in the speech, the President appears to be in good spirits.
Monday, January 23, 2006
Or maybe not. But they are, afterall, products of the same democratic process we are dying for in Iraq.
It often appears that enthusiastic supporters of Bush and the Iraq fiasco are so far off the reservation that it is probably useless to argue with them. Nevertheless, in the spirit of charity, I offer the following from Buchanan's latest "American Conservative":
"No greater folly has been committed by President Bush than his midlife conversion to the notion that America was put on this earth to advance some 'world democratic revolution' and no non-democrat can be a friend of the United States.
"From Louis XVI, who helped us win our Revolution, to Alexander II who sold us Alaska to keep it out of the paws of the British Lion, to Franco in Spain, Diem in Vietnam, Salazar in Portugal, Marcos in the Philippines, and, yes, Pinochot in Chile during the Cold War, this has been true, while democrats like Olof Palme in Sweden, Trudeau in Canada, and Nehru and Krishna Menon in India were often less than useless.
"Reagan recognized this. Why can't Bush?
"And as we look around the world and see Chavez in Venezuela, Kirchner in Argentina, Morales in Bolivia, Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Chirac in France, we note they have two things in common. All either hold power or are advancing to power through free elections, and none has a nice word to say about the United States of George W. Bush."
Of course, Buchanan's point does present some problems for the current administration. We'd have to find another rationale to ship Americans thousands of miles from home to die. And guess what? Al-Qaida ties and WMDs won't work, either.
Though I have attended numerous Marches for Life, perhaps the most memorable was five years ago in 2001. In addition to being my first March for Life, that year's March also permitted me to attend the inauguration of President George W. Bush, a man I voted for and whose presidency I awaited with great hope.
Much has happened in the past five years, and all of my hopes for the Bush presidency have certainly not been realized. Nevertheless, with the confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts and with the coming confirmation of Justice Samuel Alito, I believe that the President has done a real benefit to the pro-life movement and I expect to see a shift in the Supreme Court's abortion jurisprudence in the coming years.
Let us continue to fight in defense of the unborn and in recognition of the inherent dignity of all human life. We must not let the confirmation of Justices Roberts and Alito become the high-water mark of the pro-life movement. Instead, we must continue to advance the cause of life and truly bring about a Culture of Life.
UPDATE: President Bush speaks to March for Life via telephone from Manhattan, Kansas. (Hat tip: Drudge)
Sunday, January 22, 2006
Other than being completely pretentious, and completely idiotic, the site is indicative of what is to come. Based on its advertising techniques, the site is betting its entire success on under-educated, media-frenzied, worthless, punching bags. It amazes me how American companies think that they can exclude the only truly income producing classes by pandering to unthinking, sex-crazied pansies. God bless the immigrants who chose to stay, for God knows that we are giving this country away.
I'm surprised that India isn't ruling the world by now, considering how many graduate school students we have from the East Indies. (Sorry, I cannot display the offending advertisement. Perhaps C. Ryder can teach me how to link to Macromeida Flash advertisements.)
Friday, January 20, 2006
Besides, a gay cowboy is like having only half a horse, it's just plain queer.
His Holiness Pope Pius XIII. In the 1300s, the papacy was transferred from Rome to Avignon, France. Seems it has now moved to Kalispell, Montana.
His Holiness Pope Michael. If you're going to make yourself pope, you should at least choose a cooler-sounding name.
His Holiness Pope Gregory XVII. Definitely in the "nut" category.
His Holiness Pope Linus II. Are you confused yet?
Thursday, January 19, 2006
And, what, pourquoi, was the United States doing, on February 26, 1993, when Al-Qaeda set off a bomb in the basement of the World Trade Center; on August 7, 1998, when Al-Qaeda bombed the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania; on October 12, 2000, when Al-Qaeda bombed the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Cole in Yemen; and September 11, 2001, when Al-Qaeda crashed two commercial passenger jets into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon, and caused one to crash in rural Pennsylvania? So far as I can tell, nothing---except making his relatives rich by buying oil from the Saudis. If he attacks unprovoked, why then should we believe that he would honor a truce, especially if it allowed him to recover his former strength?
Osama felt depressed from not having the Soviets to kick around after they withdrew from Afghan country in 1989. He had a fanatical army, but no one to use it on. So, he figured he would pick a fight with the only other superpower in town, the very ally who supported him in Afghanistan. But, this time it isn't going so well. And, despite his claims of success in the most recent speech, the tide is not turning; Iraq is, in the midst of violence, voting. Hence, his truce.
No worries, Binny, we will trace back the chain of custody from this latest tape and kill you just like we are killing every other Al-Qaeda terrorist.
Love and kisses.
A dog had followed his owner to school. His owner was a fourth grader at a public elementary school. However, when the bell rang, the dog sidled inside the building and made it all the way to the child's classroom before a teacher noticed and shoo'ed him outside, closing the door behind him. The dog sat down, whimpered and stared at the closed doors Then God appeared beside the dog, patted his head, and said, "Don't feel bad fella'....they won't let ME in either."
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Make sure that you listen to the actual 911 call on this story. This reminds me of Albert Speer's famous quote about Hitler: "One seldom recognizes the Devil when he is putting his hand on your shoulder." (or holding your hand).
How so, Ryder? Isn't the court forcing the NH legislature to carve out an exception where none is desired? We'll see. The law was drafted too loosely, and now NH has an opportunity to tighten up the procedural aspects of the statute.
I think the much more devastating aspect of this ruling, from the perspective of Planned Parenthood et al, is that it spells the end of "let's run to the courthouse with a facial challenge and keep this law from ever being enforced," which admittedly has been one of their most effective tactics over the years. Lower courts will be far less likely to invalidate an entire statute such as the parential notification requirement passed in NH, given today's ruling.
And to think, we were worried that this one might need to be re-argued after Alito is confirmed.
Monday, January 16, 2006
Sunday, January 15, 2006
For all you CrackBerry addicts, here is an interesting blog post regarding the ongoing patent litigation between Research In Motion (RIM) and NTP that threatens to shut down all wireless email delivery to the ubiquitous device, except to those
I couldn't help but think about the litigation while watching Judge Alito's confirmation hearings. During the first day of the hearings, there was a man behind Dianne Feinstein who kept taking his blackberry out to check his email while she harped about something. He was probably emailing his buddies: "Can you believe this witch??!! Chappy's no better; and he looks like the undead. Send me a bucket of water and a wooden stake, stat!" He was much more interesting to watch than the "Meanwitch from California."
Part of me feels a little left out for not having one of the digital ball and chains. But then again, I suppose that's akin to envying those on kidney dialysis.
Friday, January 13, 2006
Thursday, January 12, 2006
"Catholic" Democrat Senators Ted Kennedy, Joe Biden, Dick Durbin, and Pat Leahy are so rabidly pro-abortion that they have raised the topic of abortion numerous times in an attempt to pin Judge Alito's position on the subject. Of course, the only answer that is acceptable to these "distinguished legal scholars" is that Judge Alito promise to uphold Roe, a decision which at best is constitutionally dubious and at worst is an outright fraud that has been responsible for the slaughter of over forty million unborn children.
The actions of Kennedy, Biden, Durbin, and Leahy are scandalous. Thank God that these men are in the minority and that another prominent "Catholic" Democrat, John Kerry, was not given the opportunity to appoint the replacements for Justices Rehnquist and O'Connor.
Perhaps equally as scandalous as the behavior of these Democrat Catholic Senators is the flaccid position taken by the U.S.C.C.B. and many of America's Catholic bishops during last year's Presidential Election. Unfortunately, the U.S.C.C.B. is likely to conduct a repeat performance during this year's federal elections.
Thankfully, there are numerous faithful Catholic organizations (American Life League, Priests for Life, Catholic Answers, EWTN, Fidelis, etc.) that have picked up the slack and will be once again ready to fight on behalf of the unborn during this year's elections.
UPDATE: See Pat Buchanan's article here which makes some similar points.
UPDATE 2: See also Michael Novak's brief NRO article here.
The abuse Alito is receiving is appalling, and the pain his family is experiencing at having to witness this spectacle can be measured by just one look at Mrs. Alito's face.
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Hearing of all the good God is accomplishing through the intercession of John Paul the Great, and hoping for the same, her family will be saying a novena for his intercession with the following prayer from the Rome Diocese, starting tonight, January 11 and continuing up to and including January 19:
O Blessed Trinity, We thank you for having graced the Church with Pope John
Paul II and for allowing the tenderness of your Fatherly care, the glory of the
cross of Christ, and the splendor of the Holy Spirit, to shine through him.
Trusting fully in Your infinite mercy and in the maternal intercession
of Mary, he has given us a living image of Jesus the Good Shepherd, and has
shown us that holiness is the necessary measure of ordinary Christian life and
is the way of achieving eternal communion with you.
Grant us, by his intercession, and according to Your will, the graces
we implore, hoping that he will soon be numbered among your saints.
Her family thanks you in advance for any prayers you may offer up. I've been told that she greatly appreciates them all, and that they give her the strength to continue her fight. Needless to say, we are all hoping for a miracle.
O Blessed Trinity, We thank you for having graced the Church with Pope John Paul II and for allowing the tenderness of your Fatherly care, the glory of the cross of Christ, and the splendor of the Holy Spirit, to shine through him.
Trusting fully in Your infinite mercy and in the maternal intercession of Mary, he has given us a living image of Jesus the Good Shepherd, and has shown us that holiness is the necessary measure of ordinary Christian life and is the way of achieving eternal communion with you.
Grant us, by his intercession, and according to Your will, the graces we implore, hoping that he will soon be numbered among your saints.
(From the Rome Diocese)
Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit, arguing for more time for sex abuse victims to sue the Roman Catholic Church, says he was abused by a priest 60 years ago.
Gumbleton, 75, told The Washington Post in an interview published in Wednesday's editions that he was "inappropriately touched" by a priest in 1945 when he was a ninth grader at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit.
He is believed to be the first U.S. bishop to disclose that he was a victim of clergy sexual abuse and also the first to endorse proposals in several states to remove time limits that have prevented many victims of sex abuse from suing the church.
"I don't want to exaggerate that I was terribly damaged," Gumbleton told the Post in a telephone interview. "It was not the kind of sexual abuse that many of the victims experience."
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.
Monday, January 09, 2006
(hat tip: Columcille)
Friday, January 06, 2006
Apparently, Father's reason for leaving the priesthood is that he was "longing for a loving relationship." (Perhaps "longing" was the wrong word to use--yikes!)
Under civil law, parish properties across the United States are registered in at least four very different ways (corporation sole, religious corporation, various trust models, and fee simple). But to complicate unavoidably an already complex situation, under canon law all parishes are "juridic persons" (1983 CIC 515). Thus, regardless of civil registration forms, Catholic parishes canonically own the assets assigned to or acquired by themselves (1983 CIC 1256). Pastors, who administer parish assets (1983 CIC 532, 1279), and bishops, who exercise vigilance over property belonging to juridic persons in their territory (1983 CIC 392, 1276), are sworn (1983 CIC 833) to act in accord with canon law in the performance of their duties lest, among other things, their actions be null and they themselves be derelict performance of their duties (cit. omm.). The stage is now set for a classic "free-exercise" conflict.Read the article. What do you make of what Dr. Peters has to say? Are you among those who think individual parishes and schools should not be touched because a) the parishioners have given to their parish (and have frequently built the parish) with the understanding that it is a local entity distinct from the diocese, and/or b) to do so might end up treading on Canon Law and render meaningless the juridical status of the parish? Or are some of us just called to suffer because we may live in a diocese which will lose one or more parishes/schools because the diocese had its share of priest molesters and kept its corporate structure centralized? Have a different opinion?
I'm with those who believe we may be called to suffer (more) as a result of poor decisions that have been made by our bishops and cardinals on so many levels. In many ways, this suffering has begun in spades. Most obviously, the victims themselves have suffered immensely...and many of them will never see a penny for all that they have been through. The good priests in this country, too, have suffered: from losing the right to minister to the faithful due to a false accusation, to the everyday snickers and dirty looks, these men have endured and carried on. I know one priest who is now so sensitive to the stereotypes that he refrains from even hugging his juvenile nieces and nephews. Too much? Try walking a day in his shoes. Another priest I know -- my college roommate for three years -- can no longer invite me to his room at the rectory to have me look at something, say, on his computer there. Nor can he put his old roommate up for a night in a spare room at the rectory, as he did in the past when I was visiting, because of the zero-tolerance policy now in place in his diocese. Although the policy has only minor impact on me, it is something he has to deal with every day.
And the Church Militant as a whole will continue to suffer the temporal consequences of the sins that have been committed in this scandal. It will suffer the inconvenience of having to travel further for mass, of having fewer options as to where to place children in Catholic school, and it may even lose nearby church buildings and be forced to improvise and rebuild. Without wanting to oversimplify these unfortunate circumstances, I think those who experience them would do well to offer them up for the real Church Suffering...the souls in Purgatory whose pain is such that we'd go back to actual catecombs for mass before swapping places with them.
While in Austria recently, I visited the cathedral in Salzburg -- the Dom -- which was bombed (by the Allies, no less) during WWII. There was extensive damage to the cathedral and the dome itself collapsed as a result, but it was completely rebuilt by the Austrian faithful. If memory serves, the restoration took from the end of the war until 1959. But rebuild they did, and so will those of us who lose our churches to the spiritual battle that was fought and lost in the hearts of so many severely misguided priests...and the hierarchy that enabled them for so long.
Thursday, January 05, 2006
...though you wouldn't have known it talking to USC fans here in So Cal. "The Greatest Team Ever" just got beat in their own backyard. Way to hook 'em Horns!
Bishop Pilla is a former President of the USCCB (draw your own conclusions) and is known as (how shall I charitably put this?) an "innovator."
Here's an article which discusses some of these "innovations" as well as Bishop Pilla's "pastoral" approach to giving communion to pro-abortion politicians.
Pray that Pope Benedict will choose wisely in finding a replacement for Bishop Pilla.
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
Surely it was an oversight that this august society is not linked on Fumare.
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
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