Author: Steve Prestegard

The federal Off switch

I was asked by a reader if I planned on opining on the proposed federal budget cuts to public broadcasting, where I can occasionally be found on Friday mornings, as you know. (For which I receive nothing more than attention, and some of it negative, which is why I stopped reading Wisconsin Public Radio Facebook posts while I’m on the air.)

Now that someone brought it up, at the risk of biting the publicity hand that feeds my need for self-promotion, I bring up Ryan Girudsky:

President Donald Trump unveiled his budget on Thursday, and is planning on making massive budget cuts to domestic programs. Programs like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) which fund NPR and PBS will be on the chopping block. Rest assured, Big Bird and Elmo will survive without the government.

While liberals are comparing Trump’s budget to a dystopia and giving children nightmares that their favorite puppets will soon be no more, Sesame Street and most PBS shows will be fine.

Mitt Romney threatened to cut off funds to PBS if he were to win the presidential election in 2012. Sherrie Westin, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Sesame Workshop, told CNN that the cut in funding would not “kill Big Bird.”

“Sesame Workshop receives very, very little funding from PBS. So, we are able to raise our funding through philanthropic, through our licensed product, which goes back into the educational programming, through corporate underwriting and sponsorship,” Westin said. “So quite frankly, you can debate whether or not there should be funding of public broadcasting. But when they always try to tout out Big Bird, and say we’re going to kill Big Bird – that is actually misleading, because Sesame Street will be here.”
Only 31 percent of Sesame Street funding comes from a mixture of corporate, government, and foundational support. Nearly 70 percent comes from licensing, distribution fees, and royalties.

Sesame Street has so much potential to be even more profitable now that HBO bought the right to air the show for five years in 2015. PBS gets to air the new episode after a nine-month exclusivity period for HBO.

Furthermore, PBS and NPR will also be fine because they aren’t that reliant on the CPB either. According to Pro Publica, only 15 percent of PBS’s funding are CPB-issued grants, while only two percent of NPR’s funding comes from the government agency.

Perhaps all the celebrities who love to bask in the glow of their own greatness at award shows can open up their pockets and give additionally to the very small amount cut from PBS’ budget.

Kind of like the feast of donations Meals on Wheels programs have received after the proposed budget cut that isn’t a Meals on Wheels budget cut at all. (Community Development Block Grants fund Meals on Wheels programs in some areas, none of which receive more than a single digit percentage of their funding from CDBGs.)

A similar budget cut happened in Wisconsin during the 2015–17 budget, though the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported at the time:

Republicans on the Legislature’s budget committee on Tuesday cut funding for public broadcasting and programs to mitigate farm runoff, but not as deeply as GOP Gov. Scott Walker wanted. …

Walker, who is in Israel this week as he prepares for a likely run for president, recommended cutting nearly $5 million over two years from the state Educational Communications Board, which runs Wisconsin Public Radio and Wisconsin Public Television. The board also operates the system that is used for Amber Alerts and other emergency alerts.

Republicans on the committee voted to restore $2.6 million of the funding, leaving the board with a $2.3 million reduction.

Democrats invoked “Sesame Street” to argue for fully funding the board, with Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) saying the cuts were proposed by “Gov. Walker the Grouch.”

Public broadcasting is “the one consistent thing we get from one end of the state to the other,” said Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton). “It’s public. It’s ours. We as Wisconsinites own it and we should be supporting it.”

Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette), co-chairman of the committee, argued the cuts would not affect public broadcasting’s programming but some staff would be trimmed.

Rep. Dean Knudson (R-Hudson) said restoring some of the funding was important because public radio provides a service by letting its audience “listen to people from across the state.” But he said some cuts were warranted because public broadcasting in Wisconsin receives more taxpayer support than similar systems in other states.

Beyond the dollar figures involved, Logan Albright adds:

Budget hawks will be quick to point out that $445 million is but a fraction of a drop in the proverbial bucket of government spending, and it’s true. But no one is claiming that cutting public broadcasting will balance the budget. The question we should be asking is, “Why are we funding it in the first place?”

State-funded media suffer from one glaring, common problem: Someone — a central authority — gets to decide what kind of content is appropriate for the public, and what isn’t. As taxpayers, we cannot withhold our money if we object (or, are indifferent) to what we see — we have to pay for it regardless.

In most countries, this is called propaganda; the populace is fed what the government wants them to see. While public broadcasting in America is generally more benign than the term “propaganda” implies — focusing mainly on classical music and educational programming rather than fictional glorifications of Dear Leader — national media are nevertheless contrary to the American principles of a free press.

But what will happen to all that beloved programming on PBS and NPR if the federal government doesn’t pay for it? What about “Sesame Street”? What about “A Prairie Home Companion”? Should we just let these things wither on the vine? There are two responses to these concerns.

The first is that, if something really is popular, it will survive just fine without government having to force people to fund it.

“Sesame Street” is widely watched. It is certain that advertisers would be willing to sponsor it. Or, if you are among those who feel some moral objection to advertising in children’s shows, is there any reason to believe that donations couldn’t sustain the program? PBS and NPR already receive a majority of their funding from voluntary donations anyway — they are not suddenly going to disappear without the federal government as a backstop.

The second answer to the above question is simply “Yes,” things that no one is willing to pay for should be allowed to end.

There is no such thing as objective value in a television show or a radio program. The only value they have is in the subjective opinions of the viewers and listeners. If you have to use the force of taxation to keep a show running, it means that you are subsidizing the preferences of a few at the expense of everyone else.

For those who make the argument that we need public broadcasting to provide culture for the nation’s poor (who otherwise could not afford it), I would argue that this smacks of arrogance and elitism. The programmers at NPR may like classical music and cool jazz, but what evidence do they have that single mothers working three jobs appreciate these highly specific forms of “culture”?

Claiming that “the poor” need to listen to a particular type of music in order to better themselves is not based on anything but a false sense of superiority and a desire to impose one person’s tastes on others.

The government’s funding of broadcasting is as much an affront to the First Amendment as it would be if Donald Trump announced today that the federal government is going to dump $445 million into Fox News. (Someone before me came up with that observation, though I cannot find the source.) There is no guarantee of editorial independence from the government funders by the management of public TV or radio as long as there is government funding.

The identities of those in charge don’t matter. The heads of PBS and NPR can swear up and down that their news coverage is and will be unbiased, and they can be presumed to be sincere. That doesn’t prevent a future head of PBS from mandating news coverage to adhere to his or her own political views. That also doesn’t prevent a president from putting pressure on NPR to cover things as the president wants covered.

Jim Epstein adds:

If the Trump Administration gets its way in ending federal funding for public broadcasting (see the budget proposal …), it wouldn’t spell the end of NPR, PBS, or the radio and television programs that many Americans cherish. The biggest impact would be on rural stations that rely on government dollars for a large share of their operating budgets. Several reporters have noted that these rural stations “serve” communities that skew heavily Republican, claiming irony. “[D]efunding the Corporation for Public Broadcasting,” the Washington Post’s Callum Borchers writes, “would mean hurting the local TV and radio stations that a whole lot of Republican voters watch and listen to.”

We don’t actually know how many Republican voters (or anyone for that matter) watch and listen to NPR or PBS in these rural communities because the networks keep that information private. If saving the rural stations is the main reason to maintain federal funding, don’t taxpayers have a right to see multi-year ratings data? In a press release responding to the budget cuts, PBS merely cites its old talking point that public broadcasting costs each citizen just $1.35 per year. Just because something’s comparatively cheap doesn’t make it worth buying.

The notion of a television station “serving” a community is outdated. You don’t hear Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu boasting that they “serve” one area of the country or another. As I argued in a recent video, the mean reason to end federal funding to these stations is that the media landscape looks nothing like it did in 1967, when Lyndon Johnson signed the Public Broadcasting Act.

Our (un)civil war

Daniel Greenfield:

A civil war has begun.

This civil war is very different than the last one. There are no cannons or cavalry charges. The left doesn’t want to secede. It wants to rule. Political conflicts become civil wars when one side refuses to accept the existing authority. The left has rejected all forms of authority that it doesn’t control.

The left has rejected the outcome of the last two presidential elections won by Republicans. It has rejected the judicial authority of the Supreme Court when it decisions don’t accord with its agenda. It rejects the legislative authority of Congress when it is not dominated by the left.

It rejected the Constitution so long ago that it hardly bears mentioning.

It was for total unilateral executive authority under Obama. And now it’s for states unilaterally deciding what laws they will follow. (As long as that involves defying immigration laws under Trump, not following them under Obama.) It was for the sacrosanct authority of the Senate when it held the majority. Then it decried the Senate as an outmoded institution when the Republicans took it over.

It was for Obama defying the orders of Federal judges, no matter how well grounded in existing law, and it is for Federal judges overriding any order by Trump on any grounds whatsoever. It was for Obama penalizing whistleblowers, but now undermining the government from within has become “patriotic”.

There is no form of legal authority that the left accepts as a permanent institution. It only utilizes forms of authority selectively when it controls them. But when government officials refuse the orders of the duly elected government because their allegiance is to an ideology whose agenda is in conflict with the President and Congress, that’s not activism, protest, politics or civil disobedience; it’s treason.

After losing Congress, the left consolidated its authority in the White House. After losing the White House, the left shifted its center of authority to Federal judges and unelected government officials. Each defeat led the radicalized Democrats to relocate from more democratic to less democratic institutions.

This isn’t just hypocrisy. That’s a common political sin. Hypocrites maneuver within the system. The left has no allegiance to the system. It accepts no laws other than those dictated by its ideology.

Democrats have become radicalized by the left. This doesn’t just mean that they pursue all sorts of bad policies. It means that their first and foremost allegiance is to an ideology, not the Constitution, not our country or our system of government. All of those are only to be used as vehicles for their ideology.

That’s why compromise has become impossible.

Our system of government was designed to allow different groups to negotiate their differences. But those differences were supposed to be based around finding shared interests. The most profound of these shared interests was that of a common country based around certain civilizational values. The left has replaced these Founding ideas with radically different notions and principles. It has rejected the primary importance of the country. As a result it shares little in the way of interests or values.

Instead it has retreated to cultural urban and suburban enclaves where it has centralized tremendous amounts of power while disregarding the interests and values of most of the country. If it considers them at all, it is convinced that they will shortly disappear to be replaced by compliant immigrants and college indoctrinated leftists who will form a permanent demographic majority for its agenda.

But it couldn’t wait that long because it is animated by the conviction that enforcing its ideas is urgent and inevitable. And so it turned what had been a hidden transition into an open break.

In the hidden transition, its authority figures had hijacked the law and every political office they held to pursue their ideological agenda. The left had used its vast cultural power to manufacture a consensus that was slowly transitioning the country from American values to its values and agendas. The right had proven largely impotent in the face of a program which corrupted and subverted from within.

The left was enormously successful in this regard. It was so successful that it lost all sense of proportion and decided to be open about its views and to launch a political power struggle after losing an election.

The Democrats were no longer being slowly injected with leftist ideology. Instead the left openly took over and demanded allegiance to open borders, identity politics and environmental fanaticism. The exodus of voters wiped out the Democrats across much of what the left deemed flyover country.

The left responded to democratic defeats by retreating deeper into undemocratic institutions, whether it was the bureaucracy or the corporate media, while doubling down on its political radicalism. It is now openly defying the outcome of a national election using a coalition of bureaucrats, corporations, unelected officials, celebrities and reporters that are based out of its cultural and political enclaves.

It has responded to a lost election by constructing sanctuary cities and states thereby turning a cultural and ideological secession into a legal secession. But while secessionists want to be left alone authoritarians want everyone to follow their laws. The left is an authoritarian movement that wants total compliance with its dictates with severe punishments for those who disobey.

The left describes its actions as principled. But more accurately they are ideological. Officials at various levels of government have rejected the authority of the President of the United States, of Congress and of the Constitution because those are at odds with their radical ideology. Judges have cloaked this rejection in law. Mayors and governors are not even pretending that their actions are lawful.

The choices of this civil war are painfully clear.

We can have a system of government based around the Constitution with democratically elected representatives. Or we can have one based on the ideological principles of the left in which all laws and processes, including elections and the Constitution, are fig leaves for enforcing social justice.

But we cannot have both.

Some civil wars happen when a political conflict can’t be resolved at the political level. The really bad ones happen when an irresolvable political conflict combines with an irresolvable cultural conflict.

That is what we have now.

The left has made it clear that it will not accept the lawful authority of our system of government. It will not accept the outcome of elections. It will not accept these things because they are at odds with its ideology and because they represent the will of large portions of the country whom they despise.

The question is what comes next.

The last time around growing tensions began to explode in violent confrontations between extremists on both sides. These extremists were lauded by moderates who mainstreamed their views. The first Republican president was elected and rejected. The political tensions led to conflict and then civil war.

The left doesn’t believe in secession. It’s an authoritarian political movement that has lost democratic authority. There is now a political power struggle underway between the democratically elected officials and the undemocratic machinery of government aided by a handful of judges and local elected officials.

What this really means is that there are two competing governments; the legal government and a treasonous anti-government of the left. If this political conflict progresses, agencies and individuals at every level of government will be asked to demonstrate their allegiance to these two competing governments. And that can swiftly and explosively transform into an actual civil war.

There is no sign that the left understands or is troubled by the implications of the conflict it has initiated. And there are few signs that Democrats properly understand the dangerous road that the radical left is drawing them toward. The left assumes that the winners of a democratic election will back down rather than stand on their authority. It is unprepared for the possibility that democracy won’t die in darkness.

Civil wars end when one side is forced to accept the authority of the other. The left expects everyone to accept its ideological authority. Conservatives expect the left to accept Constitutional authority. The conflict is still political and cultural. It’s being fought in the media and within the government. But if neither side backs down, then it will go beyond words as both sides give contradictory orders.

The left is a treasonous movement. The Democrats became a treasonous organization when they fell under the sway of a movement that rejects our system of government, its laws and its elections. Now their treason is coming to a head. They are engaged in a struggle for power against the government. That’s not protest. It’s not activism. The old treason of the sixties has come of age. A civil war has begun.

This is a primal conflict between a totalitarian system and a democratic system. Its outcome will determine whether we will be a free nation or a nation of slaves.

 

On draining the swamp

Kevin D. Williamson:

Undivided government is not going to last forever. It never does, and, with a mercurial president and a Republican caucus caught between needful but unpopular conservative reforms and the realities of electoral politics, it may not last very long at all. Best to make the most of it, and take the opportunity to hit Schumer et al. where it hurts: In the bank account.

Among the many criticisms of the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is that they are basically full-employment programs for Democratic hacks and activists. They should be eliminated entirely — cutting their funding is not enough, because funding can be restored in the future. Also on the chopping block: AmeriCorps, the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, the Legal Services Corporation, and the Title X Family Planning Program, which is essentially a federal allowance for Planned Parenthood.
Congress should also target grants and other federal funding directed to political organizations. For example: La Raza, through its banking operations (of course it has banking operations!) has received millions of dollars in federal subsidies. While the federal government probably cannot adopt a general prohibition on nonprofit organizations that receive federal funding from lobbying and electioneering with their own money (this would violate the First Amendment), the comptroller general has found routine violations of existing laws against using federal funds for political advocacy and lobbying activities. There is in fact a federal criminal law against using federal appropriations to underwrite lobbying. You will not be surprised to learn that this law — which has been on the books for nearly a century — apparently never has been enforced. “The exact parameters of this law, adopted in 1919, are not precisely known,” writes the Congressional Research Service, “as there appears never to have been an enforcement action or indictment returned based on the provision.” Time to tighten that up.

Congress should also adopt a general prohibition on distributing federal settlement funds to nonprofit organizations. Billions of dollars in federal settlements have been directed to “non-victim entities” such as the Urban League and La Raza, which are fundamentally political organizations. If Republicans cannot bring themselves to act out of prudence and principle, then they at least ought to have a sense of self-preservation sufficient to stop funding campaigns against themselves.

The Left has a weakness: It is dependent upon government money. It has long accepted that arrangement complacently, on the theory that its friends will generally control the government, if not always at the elected level then at the administrative and bureaucratic level. (The Left has not been wrong about that.) According to the Congressional Budget Office, about 17 percent of all federal outlays take the form of assistance to state and local governments — funds that in turn account for about a quarter of all state and local government spending. A fair portion of that money ends up simply passing through to nonprofits and politically connected contractors who provide dubious “outreach” and “development” services. If Republicans are looking for a little leverage over New York, there it is.

And when they get around to tax reform, Republicans also should eliminate the deductibility of state and local taxes against federal taxes. The GOP can finally say it is for a tax increase on the rich — so what if it’s mainly rich Democrats in Connecticut and New York?

“Defund the Left!” has been a conservative battle cry for some time, but one that has produced relatively little in the way of results. But Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi have made it abundantly clear that the Democrats simply do not intend to act as partners in government. It may be that this is the Republicans’ best opportunity to leave them with a permanently diminished base — financially and, hence, politically. Now is the time for a little petty partisanship in the public interest.

Would ending the deductibility of state and local taxes harm Wisconsin? Probably, but it would also provide a powerful incentive for the Republicans who control state government to do something they haven’t done nearly enough of — cutting state and local taxes. (Need a matching budget cut? A state employee costs the state $71,000 on average in salaries and benefits. Divide your amount of budget needing to be cut by 71,000, and proceed from there.)

 

Trump’s Friday failure

So much for Donald Trump’s ability to make deals, as Peter Suderman notes:

The House bill to partially repeal and replace Obamacare is officially dead.

The American Health Care Act (AHCA), which was scheduled for a vote this afternoon, has been pulled from consideration. The move means that GOP’s years-long quest to repeal and replace the health care law has failed. For the foreseeable future, at least, Obamacare will stay on the books.

President Trump stumped for the bill aggressively over the last several weeks, and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said today that the president “left everything on the field when it comes to this bill.” But in the end Trump couldn’t make it happen.

The GOP legislation was ill conceived from the start. Partly as a result of the need to follow a special process that would allow the bill to pass with a simple majority in the Senate, it left much of Obamacare’s essential structure in place—including insurance regulations, subsidies paid through the tax system for individuals purchasing coverage on the individual market, and a mandatory penalty, assessed by insurers, for those who go without coverage and seek to regain coverage.

The bill would have transformed Medicaid into a per-capita block grant system, but not until the next decade, and in its initial form would have created incentives for states to expand the health program. It also would have resulted in individual insurance premiums rising 15 to 20 percent in the short term, and some 14 million people losing their insurance as of next year, according to the Congressional Budget Office. A final amendment to the bill, released late last night, might have sent the individual market into a complete and immediate meltdown.

The bill failed in part because it could not establish a balance between the concerns of moderate Republicans, particularly with regard to the way it treated the Medicaid expansion, and more conservative members of the House Freedom Caucus, who argued that the bill was too much like Obamacare, retaining its core scheme of subsidies and regulations.

But it also failed because Trump proved himself an ineffective negotiator and dealmaker—one whose preference for shallow political victories over substantive policy wins ultimately proved insufficient in a complex policy negotiation.

Throughout his life, Trump has portrayed himself as a master dealmaker. As far back as 1984, for example, he argued that the U.S. government should let him manage the nuclear arms negotiations with Russia. “It would take an hour-and-a-half to learn everything there is to learn about missiles,” Trump, who on the campaign trail did not know what the nuclear triad was, toldThe Washington Post at the time. Trump has never been focused on details. The deal itself was always more important than what was in it. …

As House Republicans moved towards a vote on the health care bill, GOP lawmakers characterized his role similarly. This week, in advance of meetings with Republicans who opposed the bill, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-North Carolina) called Trump “the closer.” Final support for the bill would be won by Trump, who would use his skills as a dealmaker to push it over the finish line.

Trump repeatedly promised to repeal and replace Obamacare with “something terrific.” But he never described the policy mechanisms of the replacement he preferred. And the outcomes he described—coverage for everyone, lower premiums, no changes to Medicaid—had little or no connection to the bill that House Republicans eventually drew up.

That didn’t seem to matter to the president. As has always been the case with Trump, making a deal—any deal—was all that mattered.

In the end, though, the bill died. Trump couldn’t close the deal. And one of the biggest reasons that Trump couldn’t close the deal is that he didn’t understand or care about the details.

There was little evidence that Trump understood the bill, or that he cared much about what was in it. …

“[Trump] is more interested in a win, or avoiding a loss, than any of the arcane policy specifics of the complicated measure, according to a dozen aides and allies interviewed over the past week who described his mood as impatient and jittery,” The New York Timesreported today.

Trump spent the last two weeks selling the House plan. He met with specific individuals and with various congressional factionsopposed to the bill. He personally called the offices of more than 100 legislators. He has cajoled and threatened, telling those who refused to back the legislation that they would lose their seats. He threw the entire weight of his personality and the office of the president behind the vote, saying that he backed the bill “one-thousand percent.”

But he never took the time to explain to either the public or congressional Republicans what the bill actually did. He did not make a case for the bill’s policy merits, preferring instead to describe it using generic superlatives. Contrast that with President Obama, who traveled the country making the case for his health care overhaul, and made a major prime time address outlining its provisions.

Trump, in contrast, was, by virtually all accounts, indifferent to the policy content of the bill so long as it passed and he could say that he had fulfilled his promise to repeal and replace Obamacare. …

Even that claim, however, would have glossed over important details. The bill only repealed parts of Obamacare, and it left many of its fundamental assumptions about the nature of health policy firmly in place. If anything, it made those assumptions even more difficult to upend by giving them bipartisan cover.

The bill Trump backed made no attempt to balance either the policy or political interests of the legislators, influence groups, or stakeholders involved. Trump spent the week negotiating changes to the bill, but because he neither cared nor understood what was in it, and what lawmakers wanted from the bill, he couldn’t act as an effective negotiator. A handful of last minute updates to the bill intended to pick up holdout votes backfired: One reduced the bill’s projected deficit reduction, while another was so imprecisely drafted that it ran the risk of killing the individual insurance market entirely, while leaving the federal government in control of the regulations it was supposedly devolving to states.

Trump, of course, shares some blame with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Ryan led the drafting of the bill, and the legislative process. The bill he put together didn’t really make sense, in large part because it was never really a health policy bill. The AHCA was a setup for tax reform designed to make it easier to permanently cut taxes in a future piece of legislation.

But it was Trump who managed the negotiations. It was Trump who was expected to seal the deal. And it was Trump who ultimately couldn’t make it work.

Health policy is hard because all of the policy pieces are interconnected. The various policy pieces, meanwhile, are just as interconnected with the politics, which is just as complex. You can’t separate any of it, and adjusting any one part of the system inevitably means a cascade of additional adjustments will be necessary further down the line. It’s a system of trade-offs, and Trump didn’t know or care what those trade-offs were.

This is the danger of a president who is so disinterested in policy particulars, especially when, like Trump, he expects to maintain a central role in the process. Trump’s character—his personal style and his habits of mind—prevent him from effectively negotiating complex legislation. And in this case, it meant that even with control of the White House and both chambers of Congress, Republicans couldn’t put together an Obamacare repeal bill that could pass, or was worth passing. It’s a problem that is likely to continue to haunt conservative policy goals for as long as Trump is president.

Trump didn’t care about the details. But health policy is all details. And it turns out it’s hard to make a policy deal when you don’t understand the policy.

One wonders if Trump’s art of the deal involves what The Hill reports:

White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon told a group of House conservatives they had no choice but to back the GOP’s ObamaCare repeal bill days before the bill was pulled, according to a new report.

Bannon confronted members of the House Freedom Caucus earlier this week during the White House’s push for the American Health Care Act, Axios’s Mike Allen reported Saturday in his newsletter.

“Guys, look. This is not a discussion. This is not a debate. You have no choice but to vote for this bill,” Bannon reportedly said.

A Freedom Caucus member reportedly replied: “You know, the last time someone ordered me to something, I was 18 years old. And it was my daddy. And I didn’t listen to him, either.”

The conservative group met with President Trump at the White House on Thursday, but the president reportedly did not want to discuss policy specifics of the healthcare legislation.

Freedom Caucus members were calling for additional changes to the GOP plan to further dismantle ObamaCare.

Friday’s traveshamockery is being blamed on the House’s Freedom Caucus. So it’s up to the Freedom Caucus, and for that matter U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R–Kentucky), to introduce their idea of what should happen to get rid of ObamaCare.

 

Presty the DJ for March 27

Today in 1958, CBS Records announced it had developed stereo records, which would sound like stereo only on, of course, stereo record players.

The irony is that CBS’ development aided its archrival, RCA, which owned NBC but also sold record players:

For similar reasons NBC was the first network to do extensive color. NBC was owned by RCA, which sold TVs.

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for March 27”

Catholics and being catholic, or not

It may surprise some people who pay attention to such things that apparently there are members of the Roman Catholic Church who are not necessarily fans of Pope Francis.

You might be able to tell from a blog’s naming the pope “Chaos Frank” that the Novus Ordo Watch is not part of the Franciscan Fan Club:

Every day we are being drowned in news about “Pope” Francis and the Vatican machinery. The incessant flood of information is becoming increasingly difficult for everyone to process, which means it is easy for stories to get missed.

Such was apparently the case with a real bombshell Francis dropped on February 26, 2017 while visiting an Anglican parish church in Rome. Virtually everyone seems to have missed it. What happened? During a Q&A session in which Francis was answering people’s questions off the cuff, he related an anecdote about ecumenical practice with Anglicans in his homeland of Argentina.

Have a look at what Francis said, and don’t forget to close your mouth afterwards:

And then, there is my experience. I was very friendly with the Anglicans at Buenos Aires, because the back of the parish of Merced was connected with the Anglican Cathedral. I was very friendly with Bishop Gregory Venables, very friendly. But there’s another experience: In the north of Argentina there are the Anglican missions with the aborigines, and the Anglican Bishop and the Catholic Bishop there work together and teach. And when people can’t go on Sunday to the Catholic celebration they go to the Anglican, and the Anglicans go to the Catholic, because they don’t want to spend Sunday without a celebration; and they work together. And here [at the Vatican], the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith knows this. And they engage in charity together. And the two Bishops are friends and the two communities are friends.

I think this is a richness [treasure] that our young Churches can bring to Europe and to the Churches that have a great tradition. And they give to us the solidity of a very, very well cared for and very thought out tradition. It’s true, — ecumenism in young Churches is easier. It’s true. But I believe that – and I return to the second question – ecumenism is perhaps more solid in theological research in a more mature Church, older in research, in the study of history, of Theology, of the Liturgy, as the Church in Europe is. And I think it would do us good, to both Churches: from here, from Europe to send some seminarians to have pastoral experience in the young Churches, so much is learned. We know [that] they come, from the young Churches, to study at Rome, at least the Catholics [do]. But to send them to see, to learn from the young Churches would be a great richness in the sense you said. Ecumenism is easier there, it’s easier, something that does not mean [it’s] more superficial, no, no, it’s not superficial. They don’t negotiate the faith and [their] identity. In the north of Argentina, an aborigine says to you: “I’m Anglican.” But the bishop is not here, the Pastor is not here, the Reverend is not here . . . “I want to praise God on Sunday and so I go to the Catholic Cathedral,” and vice versa. They are riches of the young Churches. I don’t know, this is what comes to me to say to you.

(“Pope’s Q & A at Anglican All Saints Church”, Zenit, Feb. 27, 2017; underlining added. Original Italian at Vatican web site here.)

Wow. Anglicans worship with “Catholics” and “Catholics” with Anglicans because they “want a celebration”, as though sacred worship were about them and not about God primarily. (To see what God thinks of unauthorized worship, even if not heretical, have a look at the demise of Core in Numbers 16; cf. Jude 11.)

Does Francis condemn this practice? Does he denounce it as offensive to God, dangerous, and favoring the heresy of indifferentism? Of course not. No, it is clear from the words, the context, and the absence of a condemnation that he is effectively endorsing it, using it as an example of ecumenically “working together”, which he calls a “richness” (or “treasure”) that churches in Latin America can give to Europe! The man is an indifferentist and a Modernist through and through. This should make it even more clear now why Francis couldn’t have had the slightest bit of a problem with the Anglican evensong service that was recently performed in the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Basilica. …

Notice also that he speaks of “church” and “churches” entirely without qualification, refusing to distinguish the true Church from Protestant sects. He does not have the Catholic Faith, which is why he cannot possibly be the “rock” on which Jesus Christ built His one and only true Church, “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15; cf. Mt 16:18-19) — the rock whose purpose is to confirm the brethren in the faith (cf. Lk 22:32), and who will never himself suffer shipwreck in it:

This gift of truth and never-failing faith was therefore divinely conferred on Peter and his successors in this see so that they might discharge their exalted office for the salvation of all, and so that the whole flock of Christ might be kept away by them from the poisonous food of error and be nourished with the sustenance of heavenly doctrine. Thus the tendency to schism is removed and the whole church is preserved in unity, and, resting on its foundation, can stand firm against the gates of hell.

(Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus, Ch. 4; underlining added.)

By the way: In 1868, Pope Pius IX had something to say about the true Church of Christ versus the false churches of the Protestants:

Now, whoever will carefully examine and reflect upon the condition of the various religious societies, divided among themselves, and separated from the Catholic Church, which, from the days of our Lord Jesus Christ and his Apostles has never ceased to exercise, by its lawful pastors, and still continues to exercise, the divine power committed to it by this same Lord; cannot fail to satisfy himself that neither any one of these societies by itself, nor all of them together, can in any manner constitute and be that One Catholic Church which Christ our Lord built, and established, and willed should continue; and that they cannot in any way be said to be branches or parts of that Church, since they are visibly cut off from Catholic unity. For, whereas such societies are destitute of that living authority established by God, which especially teaches men what is of Faith, and what the rule of morals, and directs and guides them in all those things which pertain to eternal salvation, so they have continually varied in their doctrines, and this change and variation is ceaselessly going on among them. Every one must perfectly understand, and clearly and evidently see, that such a state of things is directly opposed to the nature of the Church instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ; for in that Church truth must always continue firm and ever inaccessible to all change, as a deposit given to that Church to be guarded in its integrity, for the guardianship of which the presence and aid of the Holy Ghost have been promised to the Church for ever. No one, moreover, can be ignorant that from these discordant doctrines and opinions social schisms have arisen, and that these again have given birth to sects and communions without number, which spread themselves continually, to the increasing injury of Christian and civil society.

(Pope Pius IX, Apostolic Letter Iam Vos Omnes)

A few years prior, the Holy Office under the same Pope had written a letter to the Puseyite Anglicans and reminded them that “all groups entirely separated from external and visible communion with and obedience to the Roman Pontiff cannot be the Church of Christ, nor in any way whatsoever can they belong to the Church of Christ” (Instruction Ad Quosdam Puseistas Anglicos, Nov. 8, 1865; italics added). So much for the Vatican II doctrine of “ecclesial elements” and “imperfect communion” that supposedly exists between the Church of God and the sects of man — but that’s another issue.

Assisting at the liturgical services of non-Catholics is a mortal sin and makes anyone who does so, suspect of heresy. This is clear from the Church’s Code of Canon Law (1917) and her moral theology:

It is not licit for the faithful by any manner to assist actively or to have a part in the sacred [rites] of non-Catholics.

(Canon 1258 §1)

Whoever in any manner willingly and knowingly helps in the promulgation of heresy, or who communicates in things divine [=assists at sacred rites] with heretics against the prescription of Canon 1258, is suspected of heresy.

(Canon 2316)

It is unlawful for Catholics in any way to assist actively at or take part in the worship of non-Catholics (Canon 1258). Such assistance is intrinsically and gravely evil; for (a) if the worship is non-Catholic in its form (e.g., Mohammedan ablutions, the Jewish paschal meal, revivalistic “hitting the trail,” the right hand of fellowship, etc.), it expresses a belief in the false creed symbolized; (b) if the worship is Catholic in form, but is under the auspices of a non-Catholic body (e.g., Baptism as administered by a Protestant minister, or Mass as celebrated by a schismatical priest), it expresses either faith in a false religious body or rebellion against the true Church.

(Rev. John A. McHugh, O.P. & Rev. Charles J. Callan, O.P., Moral Theology: A Complete Course Based on St. Thomas Aquinas and the Best Modern Authorities, vol. I [New York, NY: Joseph F. Wagner, 1958], n. 964)

The Catholic prohibition against worship with non-Catholics is clear, then, both from a legal-canonical as well as a moral perspective.

In 1948, this prohibition was underscored once more through a canonical warning issued by the Holy Office specifically in the context of a rising interest in ecumenical (ha!) religious gatherings, which for Catholics were (and still are) strictly forbidden:

Mixed gatherings of non-Catholics with Catholics have been reportedly held in various places, where things pertaining to the Faith have been discussed against the prescriptions of the Sacred Canons and without previous permission of the Holy See. Therefore all are reminded that according to the norm of Canon 1325 § 3 laypeople as well as clerics both secular and regular are forbidden to attend these gatherings without the aforesaid permission. It is however much less licit for Catholics to summon and institute such kind of gatherings. Let therefore Ordinaries urge all to serve these prescriptions accurately.

These are to be observed with even stronger force of law when it comes to gatherings called “ecumenical”, which laypeople and clerics may not attend at all without previous consent of the Holy See.

Moreover, since acts of mixed worship have also been posed not rarely both within and without the aforesaid gatherings, all are once more warned that any communication in sacred affairs is totally forbidden according to the norm of Canons 1258 and 731, § 2.

(Holy Office, Decree Cum Compertum)

In the case of Francis’ practical endorsement of Anglican worship, there is more to it than a “mere” participation in false worship, however, because not only is the worship of Anglicans heretical, schismatic, and unauthorized, and therefore objectively odious in His sight (cf. Jn 4:24; Jude 11; Num 16), but any Anglican “Masses” are also invalid because all ordinations performed by the Church of England are “absolutely null and utterly void”, as declared by Pope Leo XIII in 1896:

Wherefore, strictly adhering, in this matter, to the decrees of the pontiffs, our predecessors, and confirming them most fully, and, as it were, renewing them by our authority, of our own initiative and certain knowledge, we pronounce and declare that ordinations carried out according to the Anglican rite have been, and are, absolutely null and utterly void.

(Pope Leo XIII, Bull Apostolicae Curae, n. 36)

Thus, Anglican “priests” are nothing but mere laymen dressed in fancy clerical robes. (The same theological principles which prove Anglican orders invalid, by the way, also prove Novus Ordo ordinations [after 1968] invalid.)

Pope Leo’s pronouncement, we might add, is considered infallible:

It belongs to a class of ex cathedral utterances for which infallibility is claimed on the ground, not indeed, of the terms of the Vatican definition, but of the constant practice of the Holy See, the consentient teaching of the theologians, as well as of the clearest deductions from the principles of faith.

(The Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. “Anglican Orders”)

For all intents and purposes, then, Francis has endorsed active participation in non-Catholic, heretical, schismatic, and even invalid liturgical rites, for he has told his followers that assistance at an Anglican “Mass” is not objectionable but praiseworthy, and is licitly done at least whenever (what he considers to be) a Catholic Mass is not available.

Here we see once again that the real news is much more absurd than any fake news ever could be. You just can’t make this stuff up!

Indeed. So as someone raised Catholic who is now a member of the Episcopal Church I am now a heretic? Cool! (Of course, as a journalist I am a heretic anyway and undoubtedly going to Hell. So I’ve got that going for me too.)

The author of that hate-filled screed is not the reason I left the Catholic Church, but this writer certainly validates my departure. (Along with a certain bishop and his supporters.) I have my differences with the extreme liberalism of the Episcopal Church, but as someone given a brain and free will by God I would be no happier in today’s Roman Catholic Church, which is not really the church I was raised in.

It should be pointed out that there is no Biblical justification for papal infallibility, and that any church document is subordinate to the actual Word of God, which is spelled out quite clearly in the Gospels: (1) Love God, (2) love your neighbor as yourself. The writer may want to familiarize himself or herself with the second Great Commandment.

 

 

Presty the DJ for March 26

The number one British single today in 1956 is an oxymoron, or describes an oxymoron:

Today in 1965, Rolling Stones Mick Jagger, Brian Jones and Bill Wyman were all shocked by a faulty microphone at a concert in Denmark. Wyman was knocked unconscious for several minutes.

The number one British single today in 1967:

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for March 26”