Monthly Archives: March 2010

Rod Dreher’s (American) Advice for the Pope

On the sex abuse scandal and what can the Pope do? Rod Dreher at beliefnet offers this advice:

I think the best thing he can do now — indeed, possibly the only sensible thing — is to admit any role he had in transferring priests and failing to do the right thing by sex abuse victims. Explain these decisions in context of the times and the culture, but overall don’t be defensive, but rather be humble. Confess all, and be publicly penitent. Many people will scream condemnation at the pope and the Church, and much of that will have been deserved. But I think men and women of goodwill will appreciate a genuine attempt to come to terms with this evil situation, not by denying and stonewalling, but by admitting and asking forgiveness. The pope already has uttered some extraordinary words of regret, but I think people are looking for something more.

I think this advice makes sense for American public officials. The American people are more expectant and accepting of leaders who go this route.

But the Pope is not an American official. And what might be acceptible for Americans may not be acceptible for European, South American, African or Asian Catholics. I would say that such a confession might wreck more damage to the Catholic church as an institution than stonewalling will. That doesn’t make stonewalling right, but it is something to consider in watching the behavior of the Pope and the Church.

I also believe that people who think the Pope is going to resign are looking at the Pope as a politician — which he is — and not as a Pope in a long line of Popes. Switching Popes is a big deal. Plus I think Benedict has wanted to be Pope for a very long time. Given that, there will be lots of steps that will be taken before resignation occurs.

A perfect definition of Facepalm

The timing of Obama’s Agenda – why he wins even if the Democrats lose seats

I am surprised with how little people comment on the timing of Obama’s agenda. It’s not haphazard. The first thing up was financial stabilization. That was a given. But what could have been done, but wasn’t, was the reining in of the financial sector. Instead, what he went after next was health care. That was the toughest item on his agenda, which meant he needed as much time and as much support in Congress as he could get, and that mean he had to do it before elections in Congress come up, because it is almost a given that the Democrats are going to lose seats and it is going to be even tougher to get progressive bills through like health care. I think that’s one of the reasons financial regulation was put on hold. But now, financial regulation is coming up. Given that the banks are stable, it is easier to try and rein them in. Even if the Democrats can’t due to Republican opposition, they can take that opposition and run against the Republicans on that and health care, whose benefits Americans should be seeing in the next year.

Other big items will come after that, including climate change and immigration reform. On immigration reform, opposition from the Republicans may not be as uniform as it was on health care. Running against immigration reform will only help Obama when we runs again for reelection. Likewise with climate control.

Finally, given how depressed the American economy is now, it can only get better, and likely in a dramatic way, before the time Obama has to run again. That will help him most of all.

His biggest challenge will be what major initiatives he wants to tackle in his second term.

A very good list

What’s the difference between a nerd and a geek? Or for that matter, a dork or a dweeb

Well, this very handy Venn Diagram outlines the qualities that separate them out quite nicely.

I would argue that geeks are still social inept, just less so that nerds and dorks. But that would make me a ….geek. :)

Who is better: Public Mobile or Wind Mobile

Good question. There’s plenty of things to consider when choosing a new wireless carrier, and it helps to get an objective opinion. If you go here:
Wind Mobile vs. Public Mobile – choosing the carrier that’s best for you,  IT Business can help you decide. Of course, there are other carriers too. Not only that, but I suspect Wind and Public will be continually upgrading their service. Still, if you are in the market now, consider this IT Business review: it’s good.

The fluidity of left-right politics and whether or not “left” and “right” still make sense

Reading this post, A Post-Health Care Realignment? | Cato @ Liberty, and the shifting in priorities as well as the odd alignments of so called left and right wing political groups in the U.S., had me thinking again of the notion of left and right in politics. In the U.S. in particular, there seems to be a shift to the notions of progressives and conservatives, which would be a shift away from the notion of liberals and conservatives. To make it confusing, in Canada we had Liberals (left) and Progressive Conservatives (right) who are now just Conservatives. And of course, from time to time, in any given country, what policies and politics make up left and right shift around.

Given that, it’s worthwhile to go back and look at the origins of the idea of left and right in politics. According to Wikipedia on Left–right politics:

The terms Left and Right have been used to refer to political affiliation since the early part of the French Revolutionary era. They originally referred to the seating arrangements in the various legislative bodies of France, specifically in the French Legislative Assembly of 1791, when the king was still the formal head of state, and the moderate royalist Feuillants sat on the right side of the chamber, while the radical Montagnards sat on the left.[8] This traditional seating arrangement continues to be observed by the Senate and National Assembly of the French Fifth Republic.

Originally, the defining point on the ideological spectrum were the attitudes towards the ancien régime (“old order”). “The Right” thus implied support for aristocratic, royal and clerical interests, while “The Left” implied support for republicanism, secularism and civil liberties.[1] At that time, support for socialism and liberalism were regarded as being on the left. The earlier “left-wing” politicians were advocates of laissez faire capitalism[citation needed] and the “right-wing” politicians opposed it, until the early nineteenth century when anti-capitalism gained favour among the leftists due to the rise of socialism.

However, among the left-wing were not only liberals but also Robespierre, who was a protosocialist, a disciple of Rousseau. When his section of the Jacobin party got the power, left-controlled French National Convention moved to decree numerous economic interventions during the Revolution, including price controls (enforced under penalty of death), forced loans on those with incomes exceeding 1000 livres, and the abolishment of the Paris Stock Exchange and all joint-stock companies.

During the French Revolution, the definition of who was on the left and who on the right shifted greatly within only a few years. Initially, leaders of the Constituent Assembly like Antoine Barnave and Alexandre de Lameth, who supported a very limited monarchy and a unicameral legislature, were seen as being on the left, in opposition to more conservative leaders who hoped for a more British-style constitutional monarchy (the British monarch was a very powerful figure in 18th century British politics, unlike today), and to those who opposed the revolution outright. By the time of the convening of the Legislative Assembly in 1791, their party, now called the Feuillants, had come to be seen as on the right due to its support for any form of monarchy, and for the limited franchise of the 1791 Constitution. By the time of the National Convention only a year later, the semi-liberal Girondins, who had been on the left in the Legislative Assembly due to their support for external war to spread the revolution, and strong dislike for the king, had themselves come to be seen as being on the right due to their ambivalence about the overthrow of the monarchy, their opposition to Louis’s execution, and their dislike for the city of Paris, which had come to see itself as the heart of the Revolution.

Part of the confusion of left-right wing politics in much of the West had to do with the problem with the old order (normally right wing) being associated with progressive politics (left wing), given the amount of change that had been established, especially the New Deal policies of F.D. D.R. Hence, I think this is a reason why people have moved away from those terms. But in a deeper sense, they still hold, for progressive politics are still associated with the masses while conservative politics are still associated with the estates of our current societies. And because of that, I still think the idea of left and right in politics is still worthwhile.