The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops spent nearly $30 million lobbying in Washington through 2008-09, according to a new report from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. That may not be good news for conservative-minded Catholics, however, given a significant fact about the USCCB. Except on matters of sex and abortion, the USCCB generally hews to the liberal line on public policy matters. Numerous commentators point to the bishops' pastoral letter and other teachings on the economy, and their support for universal healthcare, for instance, as proof the USCCB is virtually the religious arm of the radical left of the Democratic Party. That is true particularly on immigration. But other prominent evangelical organizations, generally regarded as more conservative than the bishops, are among the top nine names in Pew's list.
Despite billions in taxpayer subsidies pumped into the so-called “green-energy” industry, almost 15,000 windmills — maybe more — have been left to rot across America. And while the turbines have been abandoned over a period of decades, the growing amount of “green junk” littering the American landscape is back in the headlines again this week. Across the country, subsidized wind farms are meeting increasing resistance — and not just from taxpayers and electricity consumers forced to foot the bill. "If wind power made sense, why would it need a government subsidy in the first place?” wondered Heritage Foundation policy analyst Ben Lieberman, who deals with energy and environmental issues. “It's a bubble which bursts as soon as the government subsidies end." It turns out that wind power is expensive and inefficient even in the best wind-farm locations in the world. And regular power plants always need to be on standby in case there is no wind, not enough wind, or even too much of it — a fairly regular occurrence. That is why, when the tax subsidies run out, the towering metallic structures are often simply abandoned. In their wake: a scarred landscape and dead wildlife — the very same ills offered as justifications by administration officials for preventing oil exploration.
United Nations “experts” released a preliminary report during the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) climate-change summit in Durban, South Africa, claiming the Earth was still heating up and rapid government action would be needed to stave off global warming. But in the wake of the growing “Climategate 2.0” scandal, analysts said the newest wave of UN scare mongering appeared increasingly desperate and ridiculous. Earlier this month the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was ridiculed for alarmist warnings of more extreme weather in the coming decades. However, the statements were far more cautious than usual in tentatively linking the predictions to human emissions. On the sidelines of the UN climate conference in Durban, the World Meteorological Organization’s released another report warning of disaster. It alleged that 2011 was on track to be the 10th warmest year since humans began monitoring the Earth’s temperature. "The science is solid and proves unequivocally that the world is warming," claimed UN WMO deputy boss R.D.J. Lengoasa at the COP17, adding that he thought humanity was a significant contributor. "Climate change is real, and we are already observing its manifestations in weather and climate patterns around the world."
Even as atheists in the Army are lobbying for chaplains for unbelievers, pagans and Wiccans at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, have a place to cast their spells. And their new open-air “Stonehenge-like” ring of stones was provided at a cost of nearly $80,000 to the American taxpayers. There was a time when exorbitant military expenditures were symbolized by the $640 toilet seat. But the Cadet Chapel Falcon Circle certainly surpasses such examples on account of its absurdity. While the Air Force is attempting to justify the creation of a hilltop worship sight for pagan recruits on the basis of religious pluralism, in fact, the pagans who are supposed to be served by the availability of such a "circle" are almost nonexistent — at least at this point. As Jenny Deam wrote in a Los Angeles Times article (“Air Force Academy adapts to pagans, druids, witches, and Wiccan”), even the academy admits pagans make up what must be the smallest religious minority at their institution: Their ranks are slim. According to the academy's enrollment records, only three of 4,300 cadets identified themselves as pagans, followers of an ancient religion that generally does not worship a single god and considers all things in nature interconnected.
As the finance ministers from each of the 17 members of the eurozone meet in Brussels today, the main topic is “integration.” It’s a race against the clock. One of the first items being discussed is putting in place the leveraging of the stability fund — otherwise known as the EFSF, or European Financial Stability Fund. At present, this fund holds some $600 billion in assets, much of which has already been invested in government bonds issued by the eurozone's weak sisters: Ireland, Greece, and Spain. The leveraging, through some opaque maneuvering, will then allow the fund to do some serious purchasing of enough of Italy’s debt to solve two problems at the same time. One is to bring down interest rates to some level that Italy may be able, in the short run, to afford to pay. And the other is to give the new Italian technocrat, Mario Monti (who was appointed on November 12 to replace Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi after he was forced out), enough time to implement even more severe austerity programs in order to meet eurozone guidelines. That is the next item on the Brussels agenda: Just what are those guidelines, and who is going to enforce them, if necessary? According to Reuters, this would involve “deeper financial integration” among its members. The term “integration” is being increasingly used to disguise the erasing of national sovereignty and the installation of the final step toward a United Europe run by international bankers (such as Monti) and other unelected elites.
It used to be common for people to urge us to learn "the lessons of history." But history gets much less attention these days and, if there are any lessons that we are offered, they are more likely to be the lessons from current polls or the lessons of political correctness. Even among those who still invoke the lessons of history, some read those lessons very differently from others. Talk show host Michael Medved, for example, apparently thinks the Republicans need a centrist presidential candidate in 2012. He said, "Most political battles are won by seizing the center." Moreover, he added: "Anyone who believes otherwise ignores the electoral experience of the last 50 years."
GOP presidential contender Herman Cain has found himself contending with a variety of alleged scandals over the course of the last month, ranging from sexual harassment allegations to accusations of a long-term extramarital affair. The most recent allegation, which asserts that Cain had been involved in a 13-year affair with a woman from Atlanta, Georgia, led Cain to tell his senior staff on Tuesday morning that he was “reassessing” his campaign’s livelihood. However, there are mixed signals from the Cain camp regarding the future of Cain’s candidacy. Cain’s declaration prompted some to wonder whether he would pull himself out of the race for a Republican presidential nomination, but Cain’s campaign manager Mark Block indicates that he simply meant he was conducting a “strategic reassessment” and “not a reassessment of withdrawing” from the race. According to Block, Cain will be outlining the specifics of that strategic assessment during his campaign stop in Dayton, Ohio, where Cain will “lay out his way forward.” When asked if Cain would drop out of the race under any specific circumstances, Block answered that there are only two things that would prompt Cain to leave the race: “Mrs. Cain, and if we show up to do an event and no one is there.”
Benefiting from a hint from an article titled "Is Harry Potter Making You Poorer?", written by my colleague Dr. John Goodman, president of the Dallas-based National Center for Policy Analysis, I've come up with an explanation and a way to end income inequality in America, possibly around the world. Joanne Rowling was a welfare mother in Edinburgh, Scotland. All that has changed. As the writer of the "Harry Potter" novels, having a net worth of $1 billion, she is the world's wealthiest author. More importantly, she's one of those dastardly 1-percenters condemned by the Occupy Wall Streeters and other leftists. How did Rowling become so wealthy and unequal to the rest of us? The entire blame for this social injustice lies at the feet of the world's children and their enabling parents. Rowling's wealth is a direct result of more than 500 million "Harry Potter" book sales and movie receipts grossing more than $5 billion. In other words, the millions of "99-percenters" who individually plunk down $8 or $9 to attend a "Harry Potter" movie, $15 to buy a "Harry Potter" novel or $30 to buy a "Harry Potter" Blu-ray Disc are directly responsible for contributing to income inequality and wealth concentration that economist and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman says "is incompatible with real democracy." In other words, Rowling is not responsible for income inequality; it's the people who purchase her works.
Homeschooling and the computer: a match made in heaven? In many ways, yes. Homeschoolers can access lessons from online sites to successfully complete their education goals, but with a couple of caveats. First, the online lessons must be separate from public schools. Take the recent debate over a Herndon, Virginia-based provider of full-time public virtual schools called K12 Inc., with its various nationwide components, such as Virginia Virtual Academy, Florida Virtual School, and Massachusetts Virtual Academy. These are always incorporated into one of the states’ official public school districts. Thus, the twist on K12 Inc.: the word public, meaning tax-supported, and therefore subject to government oversight, with all the various “strings” and biases that go along with the federal government’s schools.
Republicans are amazing. It's possible they could lose the 2012 presidential election before 2011 is over. Really, they ought to rename that big river in Egypt (You know, “Duh Nile”) the Republican River. If you want to see an entire party in denial, with a few honorable and intelligent exceptions, look at virtually every Republican presidential hopeful but Ron Paul, the premier honorable and intelligent exception. The others will talk about balancing the budget — though they believe the SuperCommittee should get that job done for them before any of them gets to the White House — but none, with the exception of Ron Paul, is in favor of cutting the military spending, euphemistically called the “defense budget.” Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania made that emphatically clear when I spoke with him in New Hampshire on Sunday. The same Rick Santorum has on op ed piece in today's New Hampshire Union Leader calling for a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. No cuts for our worldwide military empire and no tax increases, praise God, but do pass an amendment that will tell us we must balance the budget. What a wonderful opportunity for the Democrats to tell the country that these allegedly pro-life Republicans really love bombs more than babies — more than old folks, too, whose votes will be up for grabs in 2012.