Archive for May 2012

WGN-TV Morning News on Gay Marriage — with Robin, Larry and Marj Halperin

May 10, 2012


Political duo talks Obama supporting gay marriage

Another Georgetown Letter? Argh…

May 8, 2012

This has the feel of the scene in “The Hunt for Red October” when the Soviet ambassador says “another” submarine is lost.

“You have lost another submarine, Yuri?” the incredulous national security advisor replies.

Well, Georgetown University, my beloved alma mater, needs another letter.

Three weeks ago, 90 faculty and staff signed an attack on Paul Ryan in the guise of a mini-lecture on Catholic Social Thought.  I replied at: .

Now, it turns out, Georgetown has invited HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius to be honored at one of its graduation events.  Indeed, the same Secretary Sebelius whose department authored the “We know what you may – and may not – believe” Obamacare regulations that are at the center of the constitutional crisis over religious liberty.

Sounds like a pattern, right?  Susan Fluke, the law student who declared Georgetown should pay for her birth control, also received a ‘greatest student ever to pay tuition award’ — but that’s yet another story.

Today’s story is Secretary Sebelius.  It is a very sad one.  Below is a possible response, a letter i and more than 10,000 others have signed.  It follows a Catholic vector.  If you are outraged, but not Catholic, and this text does not suit you, i will be looking for a suitable vessel for you to register your concern.  Thanks much, c

Catholics for Unity

Open Letter to Georgetown University

May 7, 2012

Edward Montgomery, Dean
Georgetown Public Policy Institute
3700 O St., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20057

John J. DeGioia, President,
Georgetown University
3700 O St., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20057

Dear President DeGioia and Dean Montgomery,

We the undersigned, write with utmost distress concerning the decision to select Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to address graduates at the commencement ceremonies of the Georgetown Public Policy Institute on May 18.

We can only assume that the selection of Secretary Sebelius was done with full knowledge of the present conflict between our Church and the current Administration over the recent preventative services mandate. As you surely know, this unresolved conflict raises issues of fundamental concern for our Church, bishops, and all religious institutions who hope to protect the time-honored freedom to define, teach, and act upon the moral and religious tenets of their faith.

The unity of our Church, together with our Bishops, in calling for a responsible resolution to this conflict is irreparably harmed when prominent institutions such as yours honor officials or persons whose record and public statements demonstrate a hostility and clear opposition to the freedoms sought by our Bishops. More worrisome is your decision to grant such an honor to a person who just last year told a pro-abortion audience “We are in a war,” referring to groups (including, presumably Catholic bishops) who oppose the mandate forcing employers to provide free birth control, sterilization, and some abortion-inducing drugs.

The U.S. bishops’ 2004 instruction titled “Catholics in Political Life” emphatically states: “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”

The letter continues at:


Progress in 20th c.? — 2/19/2012

May 7, 2012


One more thing:

“why data will help us now after a century in which people like me promised it would, but instead we ended up seeing some 100 million die from totalitarianism, much of which was predicated on data…”

I would really like to find out if we agree on this one: is there more democarcy in today’s world than 100 years ago? On average, is today’s world better than it was 100 years ago? Is today’s world, on average, more fair than it was 100 years ago? I believe so. Do you?

POSTED SUNDAY FEB 19, 2012 15:50 #

“…inevitably gives weight to a status quo that i believe deserves contempt and suspicion.”

i think we have improved, but with unacceptable costs? communism’s black book, from yale university press, tallies a high cost indeed. add victims of the axis powers and you are in the more than 130 million realm. with 25,000 dying from hunger daily, how fair are we? how far have we really come?

i had a seminar with nobel laureate oliver williamson — who teaches at berkeley that the failure of bureaucracy is the biggest story of the 20th century. i agree.

as to me and science — i ask for a bit of accuracy. i have never denied the conclusion of what you call the “98 percent.” i have said i know there are two sides to that and all other stories, and that i don’t know which side is right. the agreement of experts should be viewed with as much skepticism as the claims of politicians.

POSTED SUNDAY FEB 19, 2012 20:01 #

More on the forum — 2/18/2012

May 7, 2012
  1. this forum is exactly what we make of it. i stand by all of my contributions to its many threads. this particular thread was established to decry the republican takeover of the u.s. house.  [the thread’s founder] has had free reign. most of my posting is not here, but over on the RBHS thread. that means considerably more to me — because RBHS is a local issue, and this is a local forum. same was true in the anti-tif days, the planning days, and further back.

    it may not be immediately apparent, but in 99 percent of the cases, i have not engaged don’s partisanship. nor have i complained about it. nor have i replied with equivalent numbers of GOP-oriented posts. because i have opportunities to discuss those issues elsewhere, i don’t do a lot of that here, and frankly i don’t intend to.

    regardless of my use or non-use of the forum on those issues, i would remind all that policy proceeds from politics and vice versa. they are not independently self-sustaining. and, frankly, contrary to the FT econ writer at Ted (God complex), i think first principles are more important today than ever before. orientations — like his — matter. claiming not to have one is — typically for me — an alarm bell that someone has one, and they are not disclosing it. as ludwig mies van der rohe famously — and actually — said, “we don’t invent a new architecture every monday morning.”

    another quick point — this phrase appears above: “I would think it entices users to be more considerate and thoughtful…” i have not a clue to whom that’s directed, but as the author of a significant number of posts dealing with a deeply troubled public institution, i would say that consideration and thoughtfulness are shown far more by accuracy over time and consistency of contribution than by any a priori agreement not to sound partisan or other notes.

    simply said — get on with it and let the solid ideas prove up and the rest will fall by the wayside. that’s what i have done with RB, and all of the “RB is perfectly OK, you are a jerk to question it…” posts and posters have melted away. not because of me, mind you, but because the arguments stacked up.

    my tiny beef with don was that we were told by admin NOT to copy articles into these threads. i defended don when he did a while back and someone called him out. then don started up again. and he has continued to do so willy-nilly. oh well, if it does not matter to admin, it’s OK w me. don’s partisanship simply does not reach me. i doubt mine reaches him.

    cheers, c

    POSTED THURSDAY FEB 16, 2012 15:23 #
  2. TomJacobs


    “orientations — like his — matter. claiming not to have one is — typically for me — an alarm bell that someone has one, and they are not disclosing it.”

    What orientation of his (English economist Tim Harford) are you referring to?

    Here is why I believe you are a victim of partisanship capture (compare with “agency capture”, a fabulous post you contributed a few years back on this forum):
    When Bob Lutz was CEO of GM, one of their goals was to reposition and re-establish Buick. Once they had a new prototype model, they conducted customer interviews in three separate groups. All groups saw the exact same new prototype version of the new Buick, with one small variant: one car displayed the Buick sign, another a Lexus sign, and the third didn’t have a sign at all ( i.e. no-name car).

    Want to guess which car customers liked most?

    No. 1: Lexus

    No 2: No-name car

    No 3: Buick

    I submit that in these hyper-partisan times, the messenger (brand) has overtaken the content of the message, and frequently prohibits the message from being evaluated on its merits. I believe the RBHS discussion was great evidence for this occurrence.

    POSTED SATURDAY FEB 18, 2012 14:27 #
  3. chrisrobling

    Um, i do not know what you mean. RB’s better today, and will be far better in the future, because folks listened and saw for themselves what was going on there. That’s the discussion in which i have been involved.

    Harford’s orientation appears about five minutes in, to paraphrase, ‘the world is vastly more complex than anyone can imagine, so bringing a preconceived approach to policy and problem-solving is anachronistic and self-defeating…’ His point boils down to, ‘any preconception is valueless, one must learn from experts, there is too much for any of us to know.’

    For one, it is self-referentially inconsistent, a nice way of saying it suffers from what philosophers call, ‘inevitable falsity.’ Since he is a smart guy (i have read him in the FT since he started his column), one has to assume he knows this and is plowing ahead, because the other alternative is he is a fool. So, knave he must be — but knave must not be liked by me. Predicating a talk on this kind of flimsyness is my world’s equivalent to you using plywood for a foundation.

    Second, his point is a bland restatement of the c1890 progressive era elevation of data over values. People have been arrogantly believing their era is more complex / demanding / unknowable / challenging than all other prior eras since Chinese traders plied the waters off east africa in 2500 b.c., iow, Harford is historicism at work once again. He would be far more significant if his talk was, “why data will help us now after a century in which people like me promised it would, but instead we ended up seeing some 100 million die from totalitarianism, much of which was predicated on data…”

    Or, if you take ‘morning star’ as ‘data source,’ as Paul Williams and Kenneth Ascher wrote in 1979,
    Who said that ev’ry
    Wish would be heard and answered
    When wished on the morning star?
    Somebody thought of it,
    And somebody believed it
    Look what it’s done so far.

    Third, this approach inevitably gives weight to a status quo that i believe deserves contempt and suspicion. “Experts” are that way because they know what is. What is is less important to me than what ought to be. All actors in the public sphere are bringing about something. Are they bringing about the good? Not sure. But i am sure they are not waiting to hear from experts, they are on their way, and the status quo is merely a means to their end. Ironically, I quote Marx, a strong second-tier Hegel scholar who observed, “Philosophers have been trying for centuries to understand the world. The point is to change it.” It’s one of the few things he wrote that resonates.

    Drawing in point #3, above: What is the expert on whom Mr. Harford wants us to rely trying to accomplish? You see, it is an infinite regress: We are not supposed to have a preconception, so we rely on the expert. Has the expert a preconception? “Oh no — he mustn’t!” OK, but maybe his professor did — or the professor before — etc. Someone, somewhere, said “i think things should be this way…” Why not us ?

    Do we need data to know what is going on? Sure. For instance: Without pesticides and herbicides, we will not be able to feed the 9 billion expected on the planet by 2040. Today, with pesticides and herbicides, 950 million of us are severely malnourished. Approximately 25,000 children die every day because of it. Worst of all? There is plenty of food to feed these 950 million, and save the 25,000 kids, if the folks in charge wanted them to eat.

    Or, to bring it home, RB’s board agreed in 2008 to a five-year contract providing seven percent raises on average, after ten percent raises for three years. It did not have the money to pay for the contract. It borrowed $5 million via working cash bonds. When those funds began to run out, it proposed a referendum. When voters learned what the referendum would do, it lost almost four votes to one.

    POSTED SATURDAY FEB 18, 2012 15:50 #

ObamaNomics — 2/14/2012

May 7, 2012
  1. Economics since January 20, 2009:

    January 20, 2009 TODAY CHANGE

    Unemployed Americans
    12.05 million 12.76 million up 0.7 million

    Total Jobs
    133.6 million 132.4 million down 1.2 million

    Unemployment Rate
    7.8% 8.3% up 6.4%

    Gas Prices
    $1.85 $3.51 up 90%

    Home Values
    $169,700 $147,800 down 13%

    Worker Health Insurance Costs
    $3,354 $4,129 up 23%

    College Tuition
    $6,591 $8,244 up 25%

    Americans in Poverty
    39.8 million 46.2 million up 6.4 million

    Food Stamp Recipients
    32 million 46 million up 45%

    Misery Index
    7.8 11.3 up 45%

    Federal Debt
    $10.6 trillion $15.4 trillion up 44%

    Debt per person
    $34,731 $49,058 up $14,327/person, or 41%

    U.S. Global Competitiveness
    1st 5th down 4 places

    POSTED TUESDAY FEB 14, 2012 14:52 #


    Really? Come on.

    You go out of your way to list 13 indices, but don’t bother showing at least 1 that is positive? You don’t happen to fuel the fire, do you?

    You crop the timeframe to coincide with Obama’s first day in office, without even mentioning that the previous captain had just run the ship into the iceberg? You don’t happen to thus be conveniently representing a half-truth by omitting context?

    You don’t happen to be a paid partisan pundit? (Not paid on this forum, I’ll give you that.)

    Happy Valentine’s Day, my friend.

    POSTED TUESDAY FEB 14, 2012 20:22 #
  2. chrisrobling

    not paid at all. i am a true believer, and true believers have every right to participate.

    hey, obama knew what he was getting into. he had dem majorities in house and senate. he passed what he wanted — and he promised what he promised. all of that was up to him — not you, not me.

    and he knew he’d be judged. it’s the process. please put up the X-number of indicia of his success. you choose ’em. fine with me. when we are paying $5 per gallon f gas in 10 or so weeks, count on me to update that one, too.

    the truth is president obama has spent us into stratospheric debt and scariness. it is his ‘god complex,’ to use your term. before any question gets fully asked, his answers are:

    — expand government to address this issue
    — spend more money, at the rate of 39 borrowed cents per dollar
    — raise taxes

    if that’s the way to go — we have our man.

    happy valentine’s day.

    POSTED TUESDAY FEB 14, 2012 22:16 #

Obama embraces “Citizens United” — 2/9/2012

May 7, 2012

when our president takes the nearly, if not completely, unprecedented step of personally upbraiding and admonishing members of the united states supreme court, the peak of an independent and co-equal branch of the u.s. government, at a state of the union address, for the court’s holding on citizens united, and then spends months barnstorming against the judgment, its effects and practicalities, and then, on a monday night, in the february of the year of his campaign for re-election, lustily embraces the campaign finance fruit of citizens united, i think we have solid grounds on which to say, “ok, that was a political tirade, a jaunt into scoring debate points, sound and fury signifying not very much at all,” and to move on to something serious, like private job creation for the millions of unemployed and downtrodden.

if bho’s criticism was serious, now he is a hypocrite. if he was kidding, then he now makes all of his loyal supporters, like tom here above, and zillions of others, into fools.

for the left, principles do not apply — except that of power.

cheers, c

ps: corporations have been persons in the eyes of US law since about 1810.

POSTED THURSDAY FEB 9, 2012 11:13 #

And more on the phony “jobs” bill — 10/12/2011

May 7, 2012
  1. LOL—with the percentages that spatny has posted, it reminds me of Obama care—most of the country was against it, but Congress passed it anyway–against the will of the people.

    As the FORMER Speaker of the House so brilliantly stated, “We must pass the bill to find out what’s in it.” Well we passed it, we found out what’s in it, and since then unemployment has increased dramatically. And she became the former house speaker.

    POSTED WEDNESDAY OCT 12, 2011 08:22 #
  2. chrisrobling

    oh my goodnesssssss !

    skinny-cat, that’s EXACTLY the point.

    on thursday, mitch mcconnell offered the bho tax-hiking “jobs” plan — so that it would have passed with a bare majority, only 50 votes, plus joe biden if needed.

    dr. professor harry reid killed it — and changed the century traditions of the senate to do so. this after he and the senate majority had dilly-dallyed for weeks on the “pass it now, pass it now, pass it now” tax-hiking jobs plan. remember — reid could have called it for a vote any time he wanted.

    reid and the majority’s next step? trying to get 60 votes after they stopped a chance to pass with 50. this is called a cheesy set-up.

    please interpret as you wish, but on this planet it is well understood that the bho “plan” is anathema to enough democrats that they simply will not vote it up — or down.

    this is kind of how senate democrats deal with their legal duty to pass a budget…

    when m fat-cat bosses tell me what else to say, count on me to return.


    POSTED WEDNESDAY OCT 12, 2011 08:39 #