The Universal Church, Part II (?)

If successful, it would be the first Anglican jurisdiction to reconcile with Rome since Mary I briefly returned England to papal authority in 1553 only to have her successor, Elizabeth I, reverse the move.

American Papist: Not Your Average Catholic!: Rumor: 400k Anglicans to be received back into the Church?
This is technically “blog fodder”, but believable hear-say, and if true, incredibly significant:

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is reportedly recommending that the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) be offered the status of personal prelature. The Traditional Anglican Communion is a group of approximately 400,000 Anglican’s that have broken away from the Anglican Communion seeking to preserve their Anglo-Catholic traditions. They formerly requested entry into the Catholic Church in 2007. These reports are emanating from an Australian Catholic weekly called The Record. {American Catholic}

Catholic Online posts a qualification to its initial report:

Catholic Online promised to up date our readers on this extraordinary story. So, we now pass this on: The National Catholic Register cites a “Vatican Source” as saying that “nothing’s been decided” by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Reports abound that the Congregation has recommended the creation of a personal prelature as the vehicle through which to receive the members of the Traditional Anglican Communion into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. The Register contends that an official at the Congregation spoke with their correspondent Edward Pentin today saying,“It’s something that has appeared on the blogosphere and then been reiterated, but the truth is nothing’s been decided.” We set forth our original story below believing that the sources reporting this exciting news and the history of the dialogue support its accuracy.

This move strikes me as entirely likely, and seems to fit within the general framework of what Pope Benedict has been doing to reach out to other communities who are “all-but-Catholic” (that “all-but” remaining an important destinction, of course). A revealing paragraph from the Register piece:

The news that the Traditional Anglican Communion may reconcile with Rome as a personal prelature (as is Opus Dei) is incredibly cool. While the Traditional Anglican Communion is no longer part of the Canterbury system, it would provide a mechanism for the Universal Church to absorb those Anglo-Catholic who have grown weary of the ecclesiastical and political civil war that has been destroying the Anglican Communion for centuries.

The Society of Saint Pius X was the only schismatic group to form since the Second Vatican Council, and SSPX appears to be well on the road to reconciliation. The other two great schisms of the post-Reformation era, the Anglican Communion and the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, should also be priorities for the Church. It is heartening that Pope Benedict is taking this seriously.

Here’s to hope that the Catholics who have been long torn from the Church — whether in SSPX, Westminster, or Beijing — will soon be reconciled.

Hat-tip to Catholicgauze for emailing this in.

Serious steps toward National Health Care

The Wall Street Journal is upset, though I am glad. These are good moves:

Democratic Stealth Care – WSJ.com
Initially designed for children of working-poor families, this new Super-Schip will be double in size, and even kids whose parents make $65,000 a year will be eligible. The program will also now cover pregnant women and automatically enroll their new arrivals. The Congressional Budget Office estimates 2.4 million individuals will drop their private coverage for the public program.

Still, it’s the “stimulus” that has proven the real gift horse — a behemoth that has allowed Democrats to speed up the takeover of health care under cover of an economic crisis. They initially claimed, for instance, the “stimulus” would provide Medicaid money to states struggling to pay existing bills. What in fact it does is dramatically expand the number of Americans who qualify for Medicaid.

Under “stimulus,” Medicaid is now on offer not to just poor Americans, but Americans who have lost their jobs. And not just Americans who have lost their jobs, but their spouses and their children. And not Americans who recently lost their jobs, but those who lost jobs, say, early last year. And not just Americans who already lost their jobs, but those who will lose their jobs up to 2011. The federal government is graciously footing the whole bill. The legislation also forbids states to apply income tests in most cases.

House Democrat Henry Waxman was so thrilled by this blowout, it was left to Republicans to remind him that the very banking millionaires he dragged to the Hill last year for a grilling would now qualify for government aid. His response? A GOP proposal to limit subsidies to Americans with incomes under $1 million was accepted during markup, but had disappeared by final passage. In this new health-care nirvana, even the rich are welcome. CBO estimates? An additional 1.2 million on the federal Medicaid dime in 2009.

The “stimulus” also hijacks Cobra, a program that lets the unemployed retain access to their former company health benefits — usually for about 18 months. The new stimulus permits any former employee over the age of 55 to keep using Cobra right up until they qualify for Medicare at age 65. And here’s the kicker: Whereas employees were previously responsible for paying their health premiums while on Cobra, now the feds will pay 65%. CBO estimates? Seven million Americans will have the feds mostly pay their insurance bills in 2009.

If Barack Obama can use the financial crisis to bring about a better national health care system, I will be very impressed. I wish him well!

A Word on Quants

Those who have criticized ‘quants’ for causing the financial crisis should read “The world’s largest hedge fund is a fraud” (PDF, hat-tip to Wikipedia) by Harry Markopolos. The first two paragrpahs:

I am the original source for the information presented herein having first presented my rationale, both verbally and in writing, to the SEC’s Boston office in May, 1999 before any public information doubting Madoff Investment Securities, LLC appeared in the press. There was no whistleblower or insider involved in compiling this report. I used the Mosaic Theory to assemble my set of obserations. My observations were collected first-hand by listening to fund of fund investors talk about their investments in a hedge fund run by Madoff INvestment Securities, LLC, a SEC registered firm. I have also spoken to the heads of various Wall Street equity derivative trading desks and every single one of the senior mangers I spoke with told me that Bernie Madoff was a fraud. Of course, no one wants to take undue career risk by sticking their head up and saying the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes but…

I am a derivatives expert and have traded or assisted int eh trading of several billion $US in options strategiesfor hedge funds and institutional clients. I have experience managing split-strike conversion prodcuts both using index options and using individual stock options, both with and without index puts. Very few people in the world have the mathematical background needed to manage these types of products but I am one of them. I have outlined a detailed set of Red Flags that make me very suspicious that Bernie Madoff’s returns aren’t real and, if they are real, then they would almost certainly have to be generated by front-running customer order flor from the broker-dealer arm of Madoff Investment Securities. LL.

Markopolis’ leter (which was written in 2005) shows quantitative evalulation in fine form, providing converging evidence to demonstrate that some claims can not be. Indeed, “mosaic theory” looks an awful lot like mxied-methods convergent-validity research.

Blaming ‘quants’ for the financial collapse is like blaming ‘accountants’ for Enron’s collapse. If you pay people to do something other than be wise, you increase how often they are foolish.

Indeed, the greatest ponzi scheme in history was not caused by quantitative methods, but old fashioned affinity fraud where a member of a community tricks other members of the same community through trust.

Call for introductory paragraphs: “5GW: The Fifth Generation of War?”

The call for chapters came out three weeks ago, the provisional contributors was announced two weeks ago, and a request for chapter titles came out last week.

The response has been overwhelming.

5GW: The Fifth Generation of War? will be an edited volume of perspectives on “5GW,” one of the most controversial subjects in defense and security studies. 5GW: The Fifth Generation of War? will be published by Nimble Books, which is currently overseeing the release of the “Age of Obama” series of works associated with the inauguration of our 44th President. 5GW: The Fifth Generation of War? should be on sale by June.

The provisional contributor list, along with provisional titles, is as follows:

  • Aherring: Why do we need 5GW?
  • David Axe: 5GW in Africa
  • Adam Elkus: Killing 5GW in Order to Save It: Reinterpreting 5GW Theory
  • Joseph Fouche: Is 5GW the End of the Rainbow?
  • Brent Grace: Reshaping the Battlspace: Using 5GW to Combat Urban Gangs
  • Lexington Green: 5GW: A Value-Destroying Formulation of Contemporary and Future Problems
  • Jay, of Soob
  • Samuel Liles: Cyber warfare to cyber terrain
  • Dan McIntosh: Transhumanist Politics and 5GW / How does 5GW differ from normal politics?
  • Stephen Pampinella: 5GW and Social Constructivism: Contemporary War as Identity Manipulation
  • Purpleslog: Patterns of 5GW
  • Mark Safranski, of Zenpundit
  • Seerov: Spatial Considerations of 5GW
  • Joe Sherrer: Generalizing Generational Warfare
  • Francis Younghusband, of Coming Anarchy

As editor, I am now calling on all those interested in writing a chapter for the edited volume, 5GW: The Fifth Generation of War, to submit a first or introductory paragraph. This one-paragraph-long introduction is provisional. It should serve to organize thoughts, and provide a dramatic or logical (or both) preview for the full chapter.

Here is the first paragraph for my chapter, “5GW: The Fifth Gradient of War”:

We control and improve war. We do this by making war more psychological, burrowing into your enemy’s mind and depriving him of a foe he can see. We do this by making more war peaceful, moving from killing tens of thousands in battle to one or two in war. We do this by defining what we mean by ‘enemy,’ no longer ‘he who wishes us harm’ but ‘he who does not care that we exist.’ We do this by fighting for our enemy, so that he can live, he can rule, he can fight, and he can believe in terms that he does not realize have been dictated by us.

Please post your first paragraphs below as a comment, or else email them to me, at dan@tdaxp.com.

Russian soldier defects

An active-duty draftee in the Russian army fled to Georgia.

Tensions Flare as Russian Soldier Seeks Asylum in Georgia – NYTimes.com
TBILISI, Georgia — A 21-year-old Russian soldier, sitting down with a Big Mac at a McDonald’s here in the Georgian capital, said Tuesday that he had changed into civilian clothes and walked across the South Ossetian border into Georgia because he was fed up with his military service there.

The soldier, Junior Sgt. Aleksandr Glukhov, a computer buff from Udmurtia, a central Russian republic, seemed unaware of the clamor he had prompted at home. As information about his action filtered out from Tbilisi, Russia’s Defense Ministry contended that he had been abducted by Georgian forces and was being forced to discredit the army as “information provocation.”

At least this one was sober.

Threats in the Age of Obama: “worth checking out”

I wanted to thank Tom for plugging Threats in the Age of Obama, part of Nimbles “Age of Obama” series of edited volumes on policy in the new administration.

Some of the contributors:

Dan tdaxp, Christopher Albon, Matt Armstrong, Matthew Burton, Molly Cernicek (PDF), Christopher Corpora, Shane Deichman, Adam Elkus, Matt Devost, Bob Gourley, Art Hutchinson, Tom Karako, Carolyn Leddy, Samuel Liles, Adrian Martin, Gunnar Peterson, Cheryl Rofer, Mark Safranski, Steve Schippert, Tim Stevens, and Shlok Vaidya.

And most importantly of all: Michael Tanji.

threats_in_the_age_of_obama_resized_cover

Soob just wonders who designed the cover!

Buy it from Amazon.com.

Update on SSPX

It’s been striking how political the coverage of the rehabilitation of several Society of Saint Pius X bishops have been. The story has been on Catholicgauze and this blog. One example of a political take on the matter is Andrew Sullivan’s post (admittedly, from a blog not known for quality).

Unfortunatley, another example of biased coverage is this NPR report:

Just days before the pope revoked the excommunication of the four bishops, one of them, Richard Williamson, again denied the Holocaust.

“The historical evidence is hugely against 6 million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler,” he said in an interview that aired on Swedish television.

When his interview began circulating on the Internet, the Vatican was quick to try to dampen the controversy.

The Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, said Williamson’s views are in no way linked to the pope’s decision. Lifting his excommunication, Lombardi added, does not imply sharing his ideas.

And the official daily L’Osservatore Romano stressed that the pope deplores all forms of anti-Semitism.

But for many Jewish leaders, efforts to distance the Vatican from Williamson’s revisionist views sounded hollow.

Rabbi David Rosen, the director of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations, said that without Williamson’s full recantation and apology, the Catholic-Jewish dialogue is in jeopardy.

“It raises a question mark on the Catholic Church’s own commitment to combat anti-Semitism, which Pope John Paul II described as a sin against God and man. If an individual is a Holocaust denier, which is a blatant anti-Semitic position, then how do you accept an individual as a bishop if he is in complete conflict with your official teachings?” Rosen says.

What’s biased? Omission. The NPR conveniently leaves out – without providing an update or anything – that Rome politely asked the SSPX bishop in question to shut up. SSPX told him to shut up, too.

Worse than a jet, or an office

It’s fashionable to complain about CITI’s bailout-funded jet or Merrill’s bailout-funded office. But a far more troubling are Wall Street’s bailout-funded lobbyists:

Robert Reich’s Blog: How You and I Are Paying Wall Street to Lobby Congress to Go Easy on Wall Street
The new administration and Congress are busy preparing the second tranche of bailout money for Wall Street — TARP II — at the same time they’re developing a new set of regulations to make sure Wall Street doesn’t get into this kind of mess again. But will the old politics intrude?

Wall Street is one of the biggest campaign contributors to both parties, and the Street’s contributions have increased considerably over the last several election cycles. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, by the 2006 elections, Wall Street contributions to the Democratic Party had caught up with its rising contributions to Republicans.

Yet what’s happened to the Wall Street campaign contributions and to the lobbyists? They’re still going strong. We now know that many of the financial giants that have been bailed out by taxpayers continue to finance a platoon of Washington lobbyists, who are at this moment trying to influence TARP II and the next attempt to regulate Wall Street. In effect, your money and mine, and that of all other taxpayers, is paying these lobbyists to push Congress in a direction we have every reason to believe is not in our interests but in the continued interests of Wall Street. Citigroup, the recipient of $45 billion of taxpayer money so far, is still fielding “an army” of Washington lobbyists, according to the New York Times. Its lobbyists are working on a host of issues, including the bailout. In the fourth quarter of 2008, when it got its first infusion of bailout money, Citi spent $1.77million on lobbying fees. During the last three months of 2008, at least seven other firms receiving bailout funds (American Express, Capital One, Goldman Sachs, KeyCorp, Morgan Stanley, PNC and Bank of New York Mellon) lobbied the government about the bailout.

It is dangerous to the country that Washington is giving failed banks money with which to extract political favors from Washington.

Six months ago, if I would have been asked what the largest, most politically connected, corrupt, and insolvent banks were, I would have guessed names like Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, and China Construction Bank: not Citi and Bank of America.

It would be better to allow the banks to be nationalized than keep funding this aristocracy of pull.

(Hat-tip to Economist’s View.)

Russia not prObama

From Russia prObama (Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog):

ARTICLE: Russia Ready to Cooperate With US on Afghanistan, AP, January 23, 2009

More nice signaling.

Remember my bit about everything suddenly becoming 50 percent off the top when Bush-Cheney leaves office?

Four days later:

At any rate, within a day of Petraeus’ remark, Moscow corrected him. Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Maslov told Itar-Tass, “No official documents were submitted to Russia’s permanent mission in NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] certifying that Russia had authorized the United States and NATO to transport military supplies across the country.”

A day later, Russia’s ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, added from Brussels, “We know nothing of Russia’s alleged agreement of military transit of Americans or NATO at large. There had been suggestions of the sort, but they were not formalized.” And, with a touch of irony, Rogozin insisted Russia wanted the military alliance to succeed in Afghanistan.

“I can responsibly say that in the event of NATO’s defeat in Afghanistan, fundamentalists who are inspired by this victory will set their eyes on the north. First they will hit Tajikistan, then they will try to break into Uzbekistan … If things turn out badly, in about 10 years, our boys will have to fight well-armed and well-organized Islamists somewhere in Kazakhstan,” the popular Moscow-politician turned diplomat added.

Russian experts have let it be known that Moscow views with disquiet the US’s recent overtures to Central Asian countries regarding bilateral transit treaties with them which exclude Russia. Agreements have been reached with Georgia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. Moscow feels the US is pressing ahead with a new Caspian transit route which involves the dispatch of shipments via Georgia to Azerbaijan and thereon to the Kazakh harbor of Aktau and across the Uzbek territory to Amu Darya and northern Afghanistan.

Instead of hoping for change from Putin, better to recognize him as the man who broke Russia’s soft power and ended Russia’s economic reforms.

While Putin has proved himself to be an able domestic politician, and capable of effective flattery, Putin is not prObama, prohOpe, or proChange. He’s pro-Putin.