Monday, January 6, 2014


Just thinking this evening about being on Noah's Ark.

That had to be a mess.  Crowded, and the smell must have been overpowering.  I am sure the people on the ark wished they could get off, and some of them may have thought of jumping overboard.

Jumping overboard is a bad idea, no matter how much sense it seems to make while you are delirious about your circumstances.

One of the more fiendish things our enemy does is whisper to us that our present condition is forever.  This is a lie, but it is one of the hardest to combat, since by definition any difficult circumstance has already gone on too long.  The temptation to jump ship is very strong, especially when there are people around you jumping ship, and people in the water yelling that it is warm.  

Go back to your bunk and thank God you are alive.  There is no future jumping ship.  Right now the society around us is quite toxic.  Humans were not designed to live in that environment.  Church is an ark.  My advice is to keep going to Church and do your best to clean up the ark and make it livable.  But don't fool yourself into thinking the water's fine and you're a good swimmer.  The stats tell a different story, my friend.  

If you are having a hard time with church, my advice is that you draw closer to God, not jump ship and swim away. Difficulties with church are not "the problem."  They are a symptom of our problems.  Human problems are humans. Simply put, we have to do a lot of changing to be genuinely happy.  Jumping ship doesn't help with that.

Reading God's word, prayer and fasting are good for us.  So find a good daily devotion (the Magnificat is a wonderful help) and make a point of praying and reading the Bible every day, and going to Church at least every Sunday.  

See, God likes us, but he's not lonely.  We don't pray and go to church because he's lonely.  We pray and go to church to save our lives.  It is breathing, eating, sleeping.  It is a bad and painful idea to stop, no matter how intriguing the counter-arguments are.

So stay on the Ark and do your best to clean it up and bail it out when the bilge water gets too foul. That's the price we pay for having so much life going on around us.  It is better than the alternative.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


Love, Sex, and Marriage are pleasant subjects to think about, but there seems to be a lot of confusion about them right now.

A society that encourages sexual promiscuity is committing suicide.  A society that successfully dissociates sex from love, faithful and permanent marriage, and from child-bearing, will dwindle and disappear. This is because sex is powerfully attractive.  A few tips:
If sex is separated from marriage, a substantial number of people will tend to pursue sex, not marriage.  Marriage has a lot of complexities; sex, not so much. 
If sex is separated from child-bearing, a substantial number of people will tend to pursue sex, not child-bearing.  Sex is more fun. 
If sex is separated from love, a substantial number of people will tend to pursue sex, not love. Loving another person is one of the most complex and difficult things human beings ever do.  It is also the most rewarding.  Sex is simple and easy.  A lot of people will choose simple and easy over complex and difficult.
Rejection from a person with whom one has been sexually intimate is a grave and often irreparable wound.  It is possible to heal from such wounds, just as it is possible to survive a badly fractured skull, but we were not built for this.  Some people recover, but many never do. 
Children do best, in every measurable way, when raised by two loving, faithful, permanently married, biological parents. There is no reasonable dispute about this in the scientific literature. If the question is "what is best for my child?" there is no other answer.
The difference between a society surviving and dying off is very thin.  It is the difference between bearing enough children to replace our population, and going slightly below replacement level.  Slightly below replacement level is like slightly below the surface of the pool.  You stay there and you drown, even just a few inches from the surface.  When a large and growing number of people choose not to reproduce, or not to reproduce enough to replace the population, it is cause for alarm.  Such a society is asking itself "why live?" and is answering "I don't know."  Such a society is broken.

Right now most of Western and many Third World societies are not replacing themselves.  That is a polite way of saying these societies are killing themselves.  Part of how we are killing ourselves is that we have separated sex from traditional marriage.  So separated, sex becomes merely a kind of addiction, maybe the strongest.  Sex becomes a powerful end in itself, divorced from having children.  In the end, like every addiction, it winds up destroying us.

We are killing ourselves, just one generation after the publication of Humanae Vitae, written by Pope Paul VI in 1968. The Pope taught that separating sex from love and having children was wrong. Turns out he accurately prophesied what would become of us if we insisted on separating Love, Marriage and Sex.

He was right, and it was good of him to warn us.  It was a very loving thing to do, despite the fact that it made a lot of people, including many Catholics, very angry.  If you read his essay, you will see that he is appealing to us in reason and in love.

The fact that it is common now for people to disdain traditional marriage, fidelity and child-rearing does not mean that these attitudes are healthy.  That someone can no longer feel gun-shot wounds does not make shooting people healthy.  While we love and care for people with gun-shot wounds, and see lots of them in the ER, it does not mean that we embrace shooting people as "normal."  However common it may be, we can see its ill effects and reject shooting people as a way of life.

Traditional marriage is not just a convention or a fashion, to be tossed off by humanity when it gets bored or tired, like an old pair of shoes. Traditional marriage is the foundation of human society. Without it, society dies.

Just look around.  We recognize some addictions for what they are, and we see the wreckage they create.

Sex, not so much.  But what Johnny Cash had to say, as he was dying, about his own battles with addiction and infidelity resonates powerfully with me as I examine my own life.  God saves us from many things, but most dramatically, from ourselves. The name "Jesus" meant, in Aramaic, "God saves."  It is moving to see Jesus on a cross at the end of this music video.  No matter where we are, there he is, saving us.

I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel.
I focus on the pain
The only thing that's real
The needle tears a hole
The old familiar sting
Try to kill it all away
But I remember everything.

What have I become
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know goes away
In the end
And you could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt.

I wear this crown of thorns
Upon my liar's chair
Full of broken thoughts
I cannot repair
Beneath the stains of time
The feelings disappear
You are someone else
I am still right here.

What have I become
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know goes away
In the end
And you could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt.

If I could start again
A million miles away
I would keep myself
I would find a way.

- by Trent Reznor, as performed by Johnny Cash

Sunday, October 13, 2013


Syria is a sad civil war that has had some bizarre twists lately.  Most recently Mr. Putin intervened to "save" his man Assad from an American bombing that, while much discussed, appeared unlikely to happen.

We announced last year that if Assad used chemical weapons it would be a game changer.  Parenthetically, why we thought this was a "game changer" is still unclear.  Assad was killing lots of people before using chemical weapons.  Presumably the dead were unhappy with their murder even when it wasn't due to chemical weapons.  See this poignant "comic."   Then we caught Assad using chemical weapons to kill lots of people.  Then we were stuck with defining "game changer," which we mulled over in public for a good bit, to no effect.

The arguments for using military force were that (1) we have to stop Assad from using chemical weapons and (2) we have to show the Iranians we mean business, because they keep trying to build a nuclear bomb. Assad had a front row seat as we wrecked Iraq and Afghanistan.  Assad knows we can bomb him; he just didn't think we would.  Turns out he was right.

I don't think throwing a few Cruise missiles into some dusty town-hall in Syria will convince Assad to stop bombing his own population.  Neither will it convince Iran that we are ready to destroy them to keep them from building nukes.  Bombing Syria would just kill a lot of poor people who don't have the wherewithal to get out of the way.

The lead up to Syria amounted to shouting through a bull-horn that we were about to throw a stick of dynamite into an out-house, the idea being that the neighbors will hear that you have dynamite and maybe quit playing Metallica at 3 a.m.

Problem is the neighbors already knew you had dynamite.  They just don't believe you are going to blow up the outhouse, because you are going to get $h!# all over the place, most especially on yourself.  Throwing dynamite into an out-house is a dumb idea.  Not bombing Syria was the correct decision.

Making a lengthy public demonstration about bombing Syria was dumb.  Being called on a bluff was unhelpful.

I do not think we lost credibility with the decision not to bomb.  I don't think anyone took us too seriously to begin with. Our internal problems are news all over the world.  For the last several years the president has not been able to get his own party in Congress to vote for his budgets, never mind Republicans, who so don't like his budget ideas they keep trying to shut the government down. Right now we cannot keep our government open, never mind take effective military action.  We are not fooling anyone.

Certainly not Assad.  Certainly not  Iran.  Certainly not Putin.

Talk about "losing" credibility is idle.  We've already lost it.


Saturday, September 28, 2013


I just got done glancing through a couple of popular magazines that cover celebrities.  Call them "WEEPLE." Some celebrity news from the pages of WEEPLE:
  • Two voluptuous sisters are both disappointed in their wealthy but disinterested male consorts, one a basketball player, the other a rapper.  One of sisters, with a new baby, is having trouble with her weight.
  • One 20-year old starlet has been exposing herself in public lately.  She is apparently crushed over a boy-friend who recently left her, and she has decided that public lasciviousness is the way to get over her heartbreak.
  • A not-so-famous former TV star has announced that, at age 50, he is ready to meet "Mrs. Right," get married and have children.
  • The 18-year old half-sister of an alcoholic, drug-addicted and criminal 20-something starlet has just had extensive plastic surgery to look more like her troubled, beautiful half-sister.  Their father has ditched both of their mothers.
  • A TV star wore a dress so low-cut that one of her breasts popped out unexpectedly during a formal event.
  • A 50-year old movie star was angered to meet her 35-year old ex-husband, accompanied by his new 30-year old girlfriend, at a Kabbalah function.  She introduced him to Kabbalah.
People wonder why I follow Christ. I think from now on I will start by having them read WEEPLE.  That should explain it.

WEEPLE expresses a deep truth about human beings - we are sad and have a hard time fulfilling our needs. I think we read WEEPLE because it makes us feel good, since we are not THAT messed up, but what's with that?   I know my heart.  If I had the money and the lack of boundaries that money brings, I could easily be on the cover of WEEPLE.


I thank God for my lack of money and good looks.

Sunday, September 1, 2013


Some time ago Eternal Optimist commented on a nasty op-ed article in the NY Times in which the author lacerated Israel for casting aspersions on Egypt's democratic aspirations, and generally ranted that Israel needs to make peace.  Read the comment here.

This was before Morsi's ham-handed grab for totalitarian power in Egypt.  Which mushroomed into a military coup. Perhaps the op-ed writer is less outraged over Israel's cynicism about the new, and now newly toppled, Egyptian government.

The Israelis seem to have gotten things about right, and the Times op-ed writer about perfectly wrong.  The Arab Spring turned into the Arab Sprang.  It is now the Arab Putsch and headed toward the Arab Train Wreck.  Let's call it the "Arab Sproing," since "sproing" is the sound your car makes when that metal thingie that holds everything together breaks and flies past your ear, just before the engine throws a rod.

The Times is the voice of Colonel Klink on public policy.  Study the Times on any public policy issue, and you will at least know what not to do.  Whenever you are about to listen to the Times, remember that it bought the Boston Globe for about 1 billion and just sold it for 73 million.  That's a loss of about 900 million dollars. Careful there.

At least the Times has a great sports section.  (That is irony, for anyone who has not read the Times Sports Section: "Proletarians View A-Rod as Tragic Victim of Capitalism").

Egyptians voted in droves for the Muslim Brotherhood, whose rhetoric on the Jews is Hitler's.  No wonder Israel was less than enthused about the Arab Sproing.  However the Arab Sproing works out for the Egyptians, it looked like a continued cold winter for Israel, surrounded by people who forthrightly declare their urgent need to kill all the Jews.  I'm sure that Egypt's military is not favorably inclined toward Israel, but they appear to be less eager to actively kill Israelis than are the Muslim Brothers.

So by Israel's lights maybe this is an improvement.

Having dealt with genocidal fascists in Europe, during the 1930s and 1940s, the Israelis are understandably suspicious of such folk.  That's why they formed the state of Israel, saying "never again."  I cannot imagine any constructive dialogue with Hamas, which controls Gaza, or a government in Egypt that is dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood.  The only question that Muslim fascists in Palestine and Egypt want to discuss with Israel is how quickly Israel can wind up its affairs and disappear.  And by disappear they mean "die."

So here's to more snotty pieces in the Times, which keep us both entertained and oriented, in a negative kind of way. And here's to Israel: 65 years of democratic success in a sea of fascist Muslim failure.


Eternal Optimist was feeling forlorn, long ago, toward the beginning of Mr. Obama's first term:
Now, I am quite willing – and even eager – for someone to point me toward an example where sustained deficit spending worked out well.

See, this is where things get scary, because I can’t think of any. So help me out here. Maybe someone knows an example where this worked. Or maybe even if there is no good example, you can help me understand how buying up toxic mortgages, and nationalizing banks and the health care industry are going to allow us to pay off the piles of debt we are racking up. Even if it is just a theory. Because for the life of me I can’t even figure out a theory, much less recite an example, of how it works.

So let me know if you have some great examples of chronic deficit spending success stories. I could use the encouragement.
I haven't had any response on this one.  Anyone got any encouraging stories yet?  It's been 5 years.  Greece?  Portugal?  Spain?  Illinois?  California?


I heard Cleveland has a great new marketing slogan, "We're Not Detroit!"  Watch the video here.

The idea seems to be that America is different.  Somehow we are immune to all that.  Just like the junk bond bubble in the 80s, the tech bubble in the late 90s, and the housing bubble in the mid-00s.  Just like economists told us the debt-propelled stock bubble in the late 1920s was "different," and could go on indefinitely.
I have a new investment strategy.  Whenever economists and politicians begin telling you how this particular debt-propelled binge is different, and can go on indefinitely, begin selling whatever is currently blowing up. Because the reason they are saying this is that they have run out of other explanations, and people are getting nervous, since the situation doesn't make sense.

Here is a new word for our current condition: dischangefulness: the state of depriving yourself of change for the better.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Bowing to the inevitable reality that Facebook interconnects one-sixth of humanity, Eternal Optimist has opened a (very conservative) Facebook page.  Obviously he was not able to accomplish this on his own.  Rather, a talented consultant of tender years helped him negotiate the intricacies of opening a new account.

How lovely that the young are willing to share their wisdom with the old!  It makes me optimistic.

I am also optimistic that after years and years of economic and political turmoil, America will eventually sober up and realize that it cannot fund entitlements and government programs forever via the issuance of debt.  It appears right now America is of two minds on the subject, and this is likely to go on for a long time.

Facts, however, will intrude at some point. 

Anyone not a union president acknowledges that our entitlement programs are on the road to bankruptcy and have to be reformed.  Anyone not a union president has to be uneasy at 1 billion a year in annual deficits, funded by endless debt issued by the Federal Reserve and Treasury.

I am sure Mr. Obama recognizes both truths.  He is not overly concerned, since he is confident that he can successfully blame Republicans for tax increases and spending cuts that he agreed to a few years ago. 
Mr. Obama's plan to fix entitlement deficits: ignore them and they will go away.

Mr. Obama's plan to fix current annual deficits: ignore them and they will go away.

Mr. Obama's plan, as I understand it: if we tax rich people and keep issuing lots of debt, somewhere along the line we will have an economic recovery based on wind and solar power and everything will fix itself. 

Thankfully, Mr. Obama has been predicting economic recovery since 2008.  At some point, I suppose, he will be right, although whether that point arrives in the next 4 years I am not sure.

In the meantime, Eternal Optimist is confident that we could trim the budget, begin fixing entitlement funding, and not cause an economic catastrophe.  Mr. Obama, and 52% of America, disagree.  So we won't do it anytime soon.  Simple as that. 

[Caveat: at this point, since I have disagreed with Mr. Obama, I will have been called an elitist, a racist, a fascist and possibly a warmonger.  This is a verbal tic that passes for debate among some of my Obamaista friends.  I am none of the above.]

The Republicans must feel like they are negotiating with the Palestinians, whose idea of good faith is to demand that you submit to genocide and then blame you for unreasonably breaking off negotiations.
All of this was easily predictable.  The Obama Administration is just Chicago machine politics writ large.  The Machine is good at winning elections, but bad at governing.  To study our fate as a nation, study the City of Chicago and State of Illinois.