Friday, November 30, 2007


It is not enough to be free...

I originally received this in an e-mail message in October of '04. Given the approaching primaries and election and the ever increasing hostility to religion in the public sphere as seen in the recent rise of the "new atheists" - Dawkins, Harris and their ilk - I thought this was worth dusting off:

Our motivation in beginning the work of the Acton Institute almost 15 years ago was to make a concerted, intelligent and faithful effort to promote and secure what we have repeatedly called 'the free and virtuous society.' It is my conviction that both these elements are necessary if we want society to be worthy of human dignity.

The element of freedom is critical because the human person is created with a destiny beyond this world, which requires his liberty to seek and pursue. It seems to me to follow logically then that interventions of a political nature must be limited, not merely for reasons of efficiency - that things would work better - but also, and more importantly, for reasons of morality. Man must be free to pursue his destiny because that is what he was created for. Religious freedom, as well as the freedom of enterprise, logically flow from this idea. We call for the minimization of taxes, regulations and other forms of control, at the same time as we call for the freedom of expression and assembly and the like, even when, at times, we do not agree with those expressions.

This is where virtue comes in.

It is not enough for people to be free; the more profound question is: What ought I do with my freedom? In many ways, religion, faith, commitment to God and lives of integrity and virtue, help in the construction of a society that promotes generosity, moral accountability, stability and peace. For these reasons, it is astounding to me that in the course of the political discussion over the past few months, and especially in the last few days, numerous intellectuals, editorial writers and journalists insist on identifying the integration of faith, character, values and morality with theocracy.

There appears to be a literal panic in some quarters that if religion influences the social and political decisions that Americans make in the coming days, the values of tolerance and pluralism (rightly understood), will disappear. I believe the opposite is the case and that in order to protect so free and prosperous a society, a clear moral vision and commitment is an essential part of the political debate. In a land where liberty is prized, only the intolerant would forbid the expression of this clear moral vision.

I know enough about politics (though I am not a member of any political party) to know that you cannot bring the kingdom of God to earth by means of it; and as valuable as democracy is as a process, a majority vote cannot determine the truth of a thing.

So my rule of thumb in evaluating platforms, policies and candidates is: Will this promote liberty (which is the highest political end of man)? And will it protect human life, especially when vulnerable? This leaves lots of room for prudence, of course, and Lord knows, plenty of room for debate.

One of the greatest models of how to live the tension of being in the world yet not of it, was Thomas More, the great English statesman. In his life, writings and martyrdom we see a man who witnessed to the "inalienable dignity of man's conscience" while remaining faithful to legitimate authority and political institutions. It was he who said that "man cannot be separated from God, nor can the affairs of state be separated from morality..."

Rev. Robert Sirico

President & Co-founder

The mission of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty is to promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles.

Copyright (c) 2004 Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and LibertyActon Institute * 161 Ottawa N.W., Suite 301 * Grand Rapids, MI 49503Telephone: 616/454-3080 * Facsimile: 616/454-9454

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The Earth is warming, but it isn't your fault...

Grasping the magnitude of Ice Age glaciation is possible today only on Earth's two extant polar ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. During the final Ice Age push, ice sheets up to nearly two miles thick covered much of America. Believe it! We Hoosiers who are living in a period of relative warmth have built houses where once existed only huge sheets of ice.

Because the amount of water in Earth's hydrosphere is constant - it is a closed system - the storage of water in the great ice sheets caused sea levels to fall. A lot. During the late Wisconsinan glacial episode, so much of the Earth's water supply was locked up in enormous ice masses that the sea level fell some 280 to 350 feet below today's level, exposing vast areas of land formerly under water. Continental shelves are shallow submarine plains that border continents and typically end in steep slopes to an oceanic abyss. Where a wide continental shelf slopes gradually, a small drop in sea level can cause a great increase in shoreline areas. Conversely, a small increase in sea level can inundate large swaths of land.

The result of the late Wisconsinan glaciation here in North America was a continuous land bridge that stretched between Siberia and Alaska. Legends tell of Lyonesse in the British Isles. If the semi-legendary western realm of Arthur is imaginary, the land itself is not, as Saxon records tell of the drowning of Lyonesse in 1099 due to, erm, rising sea levels.

Sea level now rises an average of one foot per century because global warming is melting the great polar ice masses of the Arctic and Antarctic. Before you picture future global conditions as the set for a crappy Kevin Costner movie, keep in mind that because the hydrosphere is a closed sytem, there is an upper limit to how high sea level can rise. A greenhouse effect and loss of stratospheric ozone may possibly have increased the rate of global warming recently, but attributing this to human activity is pure speculation because evidence suggests much higher concentrations of so-called greenhouse gasses many times in the past.

The temperature of the earth has been much warmer in times past. Bear in mind, there were once boreal forests. In eons past, before the coming of the ice, land where Hoosiers currently build houses was the bed of a shallow sea.

The current scare-mongering is nothing more or less than a scheme to separate you from your money and your freedom. Always remember that the same folks who are bemoaning anthropogenic global warming today were sounding the death knell for civilization in the chilly grip of the coming Ice Age, which, as I recall, was supposedly caused by human activity also.

Many of these are the same elitist control freaks who seem to think the solution to most of the world's problems are less people and have been doing their damnedest to remove as many as possible of the world's undesirables through eugenics, abortion and various scemes involving ovens and gas chambers and whatnot.

Relax. There isn't a durn thing you can do about global warming. Even if we in the US were to utterly destroy our standard of living on the way to zero emissions, the developing world - including the two most populous nations on the planet - far outspew our comparatively paltry output anyway.

Learn more at

All those poor polar bears will just have to take up residence on shore. Or evolve into cetaceans.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Catholics for Ron Paul

Followed a link from Mark Shea's blog Catholic and Enjoying It.

Yes, based on the principle of subsidiarity and prudential judgement we know that any social ill is best addressed at the most local level. We also know that when an issue is absorbed by a higher level of authority, the local level tends to become pathetic and passive because "it is no longer my problem." Compassionate liberals who vote for big government programs to solve social problems don't volunteer or give nearly as much money to charitable organizations as small government conservatives. This is because subsidiarity matters. - Catholics for Ron Paul

Rather at the level that is most appropriate, beginning with the individual, the family, local, then state, then federal. There are legitimate roles for each of the levels. When one usurps the proper function of another, then societal dysfunction is the result. Ron Paul understands this.

Most of us are so used to the all-pervasive State that we no longer even question the proper role of government. Libertarians of all stripes have been making this argument for years, only to be labelled as kooks or worse. It appears that Paul may finally making some headway, at least he's introducing libertarian - and, if only coincidentally, Catholic - principles into the debate.

He may not be your father's candidate - or even your grandfather's - but your Founding Father's would recognise Paul as a compatriot.

Ron Paul is a breath of fresh air.


Monday, November 19, 2007


Austin Starr for President!

I don't even care what his position on anything is!


Thursday, November 15, 2007


Spare me...


How sad that when the general public looks to find out what “libertarian” means, so many of them will be directed to such ignorant and histrionic nonsense as the writings of Thomas DiLorenzo. - Timothy Sandefur, Positive Liberty

Even more sad are the deluded Lost Causers who quote DiLorenzo's nonsense as gospel. Nothing is quite as irritating as wannabe Rebs who pine for the once and future Great Secession and are armed with the voluminous nonsense penned following the American Civil War, and lately by hacks like DiLorenzo, that glorifies the late, unlamented Southron aristocracy.

In general, I find the folks at the Mises Institute to be astute champions of liberty. With such minor contact as I've made with some of them through events like the Acton University and reading their various blogs and papers, I've been more than impressed with the level of scholarship I've encountered. I'd love to discuss the ACW with Jeffrey Tucker over a beer - maybe at the next Acton University. Who knows?

Then there's DiLorenzo -

From the time of Jefferson Davis's The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government and Alexander Stephens's A Constitutional View of the Late War Between the States, the anti-Lincoln columns have marched over and over the same tired ground. Edgar Lee Masters's Lincoln the Man, which DiLorenzo quotes approvingly, was a breathless compilation of every slander ever made against Lincoln. But if DiLorenzo's message is old hat, the incompetence of the messenger is surely unprecedented. The book is a compendium of misquotations, out-of-context quotations, and wrongly attributed quotations — one howler after another, yet none of it funny. - Thomas Kranawitter, Claremont Institute

I frequently encounter Lost Causers on the net - proof that I need to get out more often, I suppose. As you might have already gathered, I've encountered several over the past few days and my patience is wearing thin. At the risk of being uncharitable, and while I certainly don't intend to tar all unreconstructed Rebs with the same brush, I get the impression that there is a strong undercurrent of racism in many of the arguments for a return to the Glory Days of a Confederacy that never existed, except in the romantic delusions of disaffected good ol' boys.

I sympathize with the desire for a rebirth of true liberty in the United States, but with the secessionist fantasies of neo-Confederates, not so much. On the other hand, it's a break from the even more prevalent anti-Catholic silliness that seems to permeate the net. No wonder people have a hard time taking libertarians seriously. I am one, and even I get exasperated with 'em.



Check out the Ron Paul video -


After that, check out some Evanescence vids. Old fart that I am, I like Evanescence.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Sometimes the good guys lose...

Going south to the city of Frankfort, Incumbent Republican Don Stock lost by about 100 votes to Independent Chris Pippenger. Pippenger received 1164 votes. 1067 people voted for Stock. -

As a non-resident of Frankfort, I really didn't have a dog in the hunt for mayor, but I have to say that I think the city of Frankfort made a mistake by not re-electing Don Stock. I consider Don a friend, and have been privileged to teach CCD with him on Sundays and to play Devil's advocate in discussions concerning the many issues facing Frankfort.

I have seen Mayor Stock grow as a person and as a mayor over the past couple of years. I think Chris Pippenger has a long learning curve - and a huge dose of reality - coming. I wish him well. I suspect Don, being the decent man I know him to be, will, in the end, come to see this loss as a blessing in disguise.

Frankfort is a city of 18000 or so and the county seat for Clinton county; 2869 people came out to vote in the mayoral election.


Politics is a much different animal when it becomes personal. I wouldn't be caught dead voting for a national Democrat and have only reluctantly pulled the lever for the occasional Republican. I have pulled the lever for both parties in races where I have personally known the candidates I voted for to be men of quality and honor. I've never had the chance to cast a vote for Don Stock. I would have been more than pleased to do so.

Even if he was a damned Republicrat.


Monday, November 05, 2007


Me, my motorcycle and I...

There are a lot worse ways to spend your time than on a motorcycle in Southern Indiana in the fall...

I had been keeping my eye on the weather forecast and Saturday was looking to be the best day for some time to come. If I was to get in a good ride in the country, that was going to be the day. Sunday was supposed to be windy (it was) and Monday a front was supposed to come through (it has) Snow flurries were a possiblility for Wednesday.

I have season tickets to Indiana home games. Usually I take someone with me - my son, Dad, daughter, wife - but I decided to sell my extra ticket and go to the game solo. Some alone time with the bike was definitely overdue!

Saturday morning dawned cold and clear. There had been a heavy frost the night before and the dog and I made tracks in the frost as I took him out for his morning walk along the treeline. My wife stood at the door and watched as I made my preparations for the ride south. She gave me that "you really ARE crazy" look as I exhaled puffs of steam and loaded up the bike and bundled up for the 100 mile ride to Bloomington and a noon kickoff for the Hoosiers vs. Ball State.

As usual for a cold weather ride, the first few miles are hard to get used to as your body adjusts to the chill. After that, you're either numb or 38 degrees isn't as cold as you thought it was. Either way, the next 50 miles or so to Danville went smoothly and the bike performed flawlessly as I motored south. The bike began to sputter about 3 miles out of Danville, so I switched to reserve and it smoothed out again. The bike has a 2.5 gallon tank and I have to make frequent gasoline stops. I stopped for gas at a station in Danville. I nearly got killed twice getting in and out of the station's driveway, once by a man with his turn signal on who didn't turn and once by a guy in a van who was in a bigger hurry than I was trying to get out of the driveway before me.

On a motorcycle, you learn to keep your eyes moving and your head on a swivel. I've learned the hard way that cars, concrete and asphalt hurt when you bounce off of them. Or, worse, slide over them...

I headed south on SR 39, a hilly, twisting, mostly rural, two lane blacktop that kept life interesting until I picked up heavier traffic around Martinsville, where I hooked up with SR 37, which is a divided and limited access highway from there to Bloomington. The scenery is more remote and the traffic heavier. The people in cages...I wonder if I look that uninvolved when I'm driving my car?

I got off on Kinser Pike and headed into Bloomington. By the time I rolled into the stadium parking lot, my Thinsulate lined leather riding gloves were no longer keeping my fingers warm and I was more than happy to get out of the wind and into the stadium, where the sun heated up my leather jacket as I sat in the stands watching the pre-game activities. I actually dozed, cat-like, enjoying the warmth and the ambience.

The Hoosiers won the game 38-20, becoming bowl eligible in the process, and I left the stadium in a good mood, happy with the win and looking forward to the ride back north. The temperature had warmed into the 50' s and I'm thinking the ride back is going to be sweet. I left the helmet on the sissy bar and headed off into the crisp Indiana afternoon. The air was a little cool on my head, but the opportunity to ride through the Indiana countryside without the brain bucket was too good to pass up

The sunlight was filtered through the golds and reds of the maples and oaks that lined the road. Set against the dark green background of lawns and pastures and the brilliant blue sky, the scenery was otherworldly. The road was curvy enough to be interesting without being too busy to enjoy the show.

I worked my way west on SR 46 to Spencer and then north on US 231 to Crawfordsville where I stopped for dinner at The Forum (the fish was WAY too salty) and, due to the fact that the sun had slipped below the horizon and the temperature dropped again, I changed back into cold weather gear for the last 35 miles of the ride. I finally pulled into my driveway just after dark - and again thoroughly chilled, but it was magnificent ride and a great day.


I'm looking forward to getting a touring bike. The cruiser is okay - I'm not complaining about the ride at all! - but it's a little hard on the tookus and adding windshield and bigger bags would make for a more comfortable ride. I still want to do the Appalachians from north to south in the fall and the West Coast through the Dakotas and Montana, but it ain't gonna happen on the cruiser.

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Colts Lose ...

I learned some things this weekend:
1. If you're playing the Patriots, mistakes will cost you the game.
2. The Pats are as good as advertised.
3. When the difference between the two teams is as razor thin as between the Colts and Pats, missing a starting lineman and your best receiver is a big handicap.
4. Tom Brady is a helluva quarterback with top-notch receivers.
With all that, the Colts very easily could have won this game. Make no mistake, the AFC championship is going to go through New England barring an epic collapse in the second half of the regular season, but the Colts will be all right, I think. The Colts can't afford a letdown in the second half as the Titans are only a game behind and the Colts' schedule is tough the rest of the way. The AFC East is the lousiest division in the AFC, the Pats are in the catbird seat and should win it going away while the Colts will be in a dogfight.
5. Sean Salisbury isn't the most prescient analyst in the world.
6. Neither am I.

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