13 Responses to What Blogs & Sites Will You Visit First on Nov. 5th?

Counting Bishops

Friday, October 31, AD 2008

Last week I linked to a Deal Hudson article on Inside Catholic where he threw out the claim that 61 bishops had thus far issued “clarifications” of Faithful Citizenship in which they emphasized the preeminance of the abortion issue in this upcoming election. 

Michael Iafrate of Vox Nova responded with a post entitled “Misleading numbers, misleading claims” in which he remarked with characteristic restraint:

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3 Responses to Counting Bishops

  • What is this “Catholic barfosphere”? Would it be safe to say that the “Catholic barfosphere” would be comprised of Mogs rather than people? I have yet to find this loose association of which you speak.

  • Michael’s meaning in using the phrase (unless it’s simply meant to be slightly derisive towards all other Catholic bloggers) is obscure to me.

    Of course, there is always the little known Gnostic sect of Barfarians who held tenaciously to an alternate reading of Genesis in which “God breathed upon the waters” was rendered “God hurled upon the waters”. Their other favorite line was of course about the lukewarm being “spewed forth” by God — leading to their statement of faith, “By out lukewarmess we shall be known, and God shall spew us into a new creation.”

    I shudder to think that Michael would have become mixed up with such people, but I suppose it is always possible.

    😉

  • Let us pray that Michael has not become mixed up with such people.

Class and Classless

Friday, October 31, AD 2008

In this election there have been a spate of conservatives who have endorsed Obama, including Christopher Buckley, the son of William F. Buckley, founder of National Review.  Most of these Obamacons have chastised Senator McCain for choosing Governor Palin as his running mate.  I have been struck by how much of the Palin hatred is simple class snobbery.

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27 Responses to Class and Classless

  • Puh-LEASE.

    The republican party — suddenly gaining “class consciousness”?!

    Hahaha!

  • I can understand why you are amused Catholic Anarchist. Horny handed son of toil grad student that you are.

  • Horny handed son of toil grad student that you are.

    You some kind of a pervert?

  • No, Catholic Anarchist, although my own hands are softer than they used to be.

  • Sarah freaks those who believe that all national political types should be vetted by the D.C. Chattering Classes. Attend the right cocktail parties. Leave cell phone number to producers of all D.C. cable teevee shows. Come from The Right School. The Right Political Mentor, The Right Image. Thus we have a logjam of folks who spout the same cliches in slightly modified form. We have not even mentioned how Sarah violates basic tenets of Official Feminists. Ew she hunts and fishes. Ew she had five kids. Ew she holds lifetime membership in the NRA. Double triple ew her baby is a gasp retard. But it’s all good. Sarah’s star will shine brightly should the GOP ticket burn out on November 4. Attention Obama- take a look at your 2012 opponent should you win out next week. This means you too Hillary. Thus The Future Of The GOP on display for all to see. Rhyme definitely intended.

  • As always Gerard I agree with your sentiments and stand in awe of your way of presenting them!

  • For those who, like me, came of age after the English language had ceased to be used to describe anything other than the excretory and reproductive systems (and who failed to sufficiently immerse themselves in the prose of ages past in order to get past that modern degeneracy) “horny handed” refers to someone with heavily callused hands.

    A horny handed son of toil is, thus, someone whose hands are calloused from long years of manual labor.

    What Don was doing, Michael, was questioning your cred as a representative of the working classes.

  • Perhaps Michael I. wouldn’t qualify for cocktail parties either. Do you really want Palin as the nominee in 2012? I haven’t been that impressed. I like her more than Huckabee…or McCain…or Giuliani. But Jindal is a much better representative of the party I would like to support.

  • “Do you really want Palin as the nominee in 2012?”

    Depends upon what conditions are in 2012, but as of now yes. I haven’t seen a candidate with better political skills since Reagan, she draws massive crowds wherever she goes and I believe she beat Biden hands down in the debate. If she were the nominee instead of McCain, with a year of campaigning for the public to get to know her, I think she would be up 3 points even in the current polls with the partisan id slanted to the Dems. She has done incredibly well for a candidate who arrived on the national scene only two months ago and in the teeth of the most hostile media environment I can recall for any national candidate.

    Jindal is also impressive. As of now I would be happy with either of them being the standard bearer.

  • Was Michael just kidding, or is his vocabulary that limited?

  • What Don was doing, Michael, was questioning your cred as a representative of the working classes.

    I don’t claim to represent anyone. But you republicans who think 1) that Sarah Palin represents working people and 2) that criticism of Palin is “classist” are unbelievably out of touch.

    Was Michael just kidding, or is his vocabulary that limited?

    Yes, I was joking, in that I didn’t really think Donald’s comment had anything to do with that meaning of the word “horny.” But no, I have not heard the term “horny handed” before. Probably an age thing.

  • Catholic Anarchist, Sarah Palin is much closer to actual blue collar voters than the Harvard trained attorney and his career politician side-kick. The best conservative candidates can establish such a linkage between themselves and blue collar families, the same type of family I came from.

    As to horny handed, I feel so old! Tip O’Neill, then Democrat Speaker of the House, and President Reagan once had a minor dust-up when they attempted to “out poverty” each other regarding which one of them had the humbler start in life. A columnist referred to the horny handed sons of toil multi-millionnaires and the phrase stuck with me.

  • Donald,

    In Western PA, most ‘bread and butter’ people think that Sarah Palin is a joke.

  • -But no, I have not heard the term “horny handed” before. Probably an age thing.-

    You probably don’t read very much.

  • “In Western PA, most ‘bread and butter’ people think that Sarah Palin is a joke.”

    You’ve talked to them all Mr. DeFrancisis? I suspect that the joke this election cycle in western PA is Murtha lambasting his constituents as racists and rednecks.

    Palin draws massive crowds at all her events in PA. For example in eastern PA Biden and Palin had dueling campaign events in Williamsport last Thursday. Biden drew 700. Palin drew 13,000. Her political opponents underestimate this woman at their peril.

  • “Her political opponents underestimate this woman at their peril.”

    Not this election cycle. I certainly over-estimated her prior to the Katie Couric interviews. She has a serious credibility problem; not necessarily among evangelicals or talk radio, but among independents/MSM. The independents tend to follow the MSM conventional wisdom, and Palin has a lot of work to do if she wants to run successfully for national office. She might be able to win a Republican primary, but her approval ratings indicate she would be a tough sell to non-Republicans.

  • “Not this election cycle.”

    Hmmm, the most accurate poll in 2004 has it now as a 2 point race. I guess we’ll find out how successful Palin has been this election cycle on Tuesday night.

    http://www.ibdeditorials.com/series13.aspx?src=POLLTOPN

  • Though I was politically aware enough to be massively upset by the outcome, I wasn’t a very deep reader of political commentary in ’92. However, I do remember that at Bush’s concession speech there were GOP supporters there waving “Quayle ’96” signs. Despite four years of relentless media pile-on, at least some of the conservative base still clearly loved the guy. But come ’96, he wasn’t even talked about in the primaries that I recall. (Not that the GOP disported itself well in the ’96 primaries.)

    Now, unlike Quayle, Palin has a strong ability to work a crowd. She can electrify an event in a way that few people (Reagan and Obama are the only examples springing to mind) can. The question is: will she succeed in building up a viable mainstream political persona over the next four years — which would mean having solid speeches on a range of topics which she’s able to give convincingly, something resembling a stated political philosophy (Obama’s would fit on an index card, but he does have one); and successfully going up against Meet The Press and other major venues.

    If she walks away from this with a solid team of advisers and puts in the work that work, she might well turn into a very viable candidate in ’12, with a “she was hobbled by McCain’s bumbling campaign” narrative smoothly coming into existence.

    Right now I wouldn’t have a problem with her as number two, but she doesn’t strike me as having the gravitas to be a president.

    As for the polls — I’m starting to think that we pretty much have a 47/47 electorate with very little swing actually in play no matter who the two parties run. There have been precious view victories by more than 4% in recent memory. So while I think it’s true that selecting Palin got McCain a much needed degree of loyalty out of the base, I wonder how much the polls would be different if he’d picked someone safe like Pawlenty.

  • Catholic Anarchist, Sarah Palin is much closer to actual blue collar voters than the Harvard trained attorney and his career politician side-kick.

    There must be vastly different factions among blue collar workers, then. From what I can see, Mark is quite right.

    BTW I simply can’t wait for Palin to become the new face of the republicans. Their demise will be sealed. And the real conservatives know it!

  • Given that the nation is roughly equally split between supporters of each candidate — it seems a no-brainer that there must be radically different groups of “blue collar” workers out there.

    Who do you consider to be the “real conservatives”, Michael?

    It’s all very well to vaunt over the idea that an intellectual/political movement one dislikes is about to meet its demise — but honestly if conservatism could survive GOP nominees ranging from Nixon to Dole and progressivism could survive Democratic nominees like Mondale, Dukakis and Kerry, it would seem clear that lousy presidential nominees (if Palin were both nominated and lousy) are incapable of destroying a movement.

  • Please Catholic Anarchist. Real conservatives? You have as much of an ability to determine who is a “true” conservative as I do who is a “true” anarchist.

  • Seriously, when did Michael I. and Mark become the arbiters of conservatism (or western PA)?

  • You have as much of an ability to determine who is a “true” conservative as I do who is a “true” anarchist.

    Then I expect you will shut the hell up from now on?

  • “The question is: will she succeed in building up a viable mainstream political persona over the next four year…successfully going up against Meet The Press and other major venues….Right now I wouldn’t have a problem with her as number two, but she doesn’t strike me as having the gravitas to be a president.”

    Agree completely. I’m inclined to say it won’t work, but I’m open to be proven wrong. The GOP doesn’t have a very deep bench right now, although Jindal shows promise (if everything goes well in LA – a big ‘if’)

  • -Then I expect you will shut the hell up from now on?-

    Did your mama raise you to talk like that?

4 Responses to The Continuing War on Joe the Plumber

Catholics Continue Trending Toward McCain

Thursday, October 30, AD 2008

The latest poll* that came out today, the Fox News Poll, show’s that Catholics are still trending away from Senator Obama and towards Senator McCain.  The poll today show’s whiteCatholics are now evenly split, 46-46%, between Senator Obama and Senator McCain.  Previously in the Fox News Poll it showed Senator Obama with an 11 point lead among white Catholic voters over Senator McCain (emphasis mine).

The race has tightened in part because of changes in a couple of important swing voting groups. Independents back Obama by 5 percentage points today, down from a 9-point edge last week. Similarly, among white Catholics, Obama held an 11-point edge over McCain last week and today they split 46-46.

 

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2 Responses to Catholics Continue Trending Toward McCain

  • I heard an interesting theory today regarding the polls. Currently, the media actively supports Senator Obama. Many Americans don’t want to appear to be against him, so either indicate they are undecided, or perhaps that they support him. Historically, the polls have over counted democrats, both in pre vote polling and in exit polling. It will be curious to see how the actual voting goes this time. Pray for pro-life positions.

  • I heard the same theory except the caveat is that these are democrats that are still upset with Hilary not getting the nod, but tell all their liberal friends and pollsters they’re going to vote for Obama so they won’t get ostracized. But come election day they’re pulling the lever for McCain.

13 Responses to Send Me Your Poor…

  • The fear with immigration seems, to me at least, to be rooted in the notion that if we don’t limit immigration, then we will pluck the tree bare of fruit and not have any left for planting. All the hidden costs that illegal immigrants bring suggest there is some reason for concern there. A surplus of labor tends to depress wages, which isn’t necessarily the end of the world, unless someone out there is mandating unreasonably high minimum wages. But the fact that so many of these immigrants have no problem finding people who will hire them–coupled with the fact the US has had for years a very low unemployment rate–states this isn’t as large a problem as people think. Personally, I’m all for finding all the illegal immigrants and at the very least handing them green cards (or whatever the permission-to-work tag is now).

    Culture is another matter, as well. The problem with the Hispanic wave of illegal immigrants is that they tend to be isolated from the rest of the nation. What I don’t know is whether that is the fault of the Hispanics–wanting to come, pluck the tree bare, and then hurry home without being tainting by US culture–or us–so prejudiced against the immigrant, legal or not, that we isolate them. Regardless of which case it is, we still could do a better job of reaching out to our immigrant communities and help them more.

  • Why is the standard a condo, two cars, a game cube, a cell phone, and Levis what makes “life worth living”. I understand that you did not actually promote this as the standard, but I think it is worth discussing. Who actually has this standard?

    I think the problem is this is what we demand, not for them but for us. People aren’t affraid of having neighbors that are poor. People are affraid of being poor, or as you put it, not living the “American Lifestyle”. Thats why we don’t want to have the kind of redistribution it takes to provide for things like healthcare to immigrants, because we need to live our “American Lifestyle”.

  • Ryan,

    I’d agree in finding culture and education more troubling than economics in many ways. Though to a great extent, that’s part of a larger part of breakdown in education and culture in the US. I’m not clear that we’re doing any better inculcating education and American culture in native born poor children than we are with the children of immigrants.

    Michael,

    Why is the standard a condo, two cars, a game cube, a cell phone, and Levis what makes “life worth living”. I understand that you did not actually promote this as the standard, but I think it is worth discussing. Who actually has this standard?

    What I was thinking of (though expressing it in a slightly satiric way) is that we have a standard of what constitutes “poverty” in the US which is based on our own standards resulting from living in the US: a family should be able to afford its own, stand alone home; you should be able to afford a good working car; your house or apartment should be at least a certain size; etc.

    Obviously, even a very working class lifestyle in the US is very, very well off by the standards of many countries in the world. So given the chance, you might find a three generation family with eight people living in a one bedroom apartment in the US — four adults earning minimum wage pooling their resources to make expenses — and yet compared to their life in Guatamala two years before they might feel like they’re doing very well.

    Now my approach to the above situation would be to say, “They’re getting the chance they want to create wealth and work their way out of poverty into a US lifestyle.” However, I think we often hear people say, “It’s horrible that we allow immigrants to be treated this way, why don’t we pay them a decent wage?”

    At a basic supply/demand level, though, I don’t see how we could both guarantee that they’d make a wage much higher than the current US minimum wage; allow nearly unlimitted immigration; and avoid having high unemployment.

    And so, since even at current low wage levels an immigrant to the US is often making 5-10x what he or she would have been making back home in an undeveloped or semi-developed country — I’d tend to support opening up legal immigration a lot and allowing there to be lots of low wage labor which gradually creates wealth and lifts itself out of poverty.

    However, I think the two forces pushing back against that idea (probably far to strongly for us to ever adopt such a policy) are:

    1) Low skill/low education workers in the US who don’t want to see their wages go down because there is a large supply of immigrant labor willing to do the same work for less.

    2) Well intentioned people across the political spectrum but especially on the left don’t want to see immigrant families be poor — and so would rather either keep immigrants out or provide so much support in terms of either minimum wage hikes or social services that lots of immigration results in high unemployment and/or unsustainable needs for social services spending.

  • The old “lump of labor” fallacy always gets rolled out in tough times. It’s still a fallacy, though. Immigration actually leads to economic growth; it doesn’t steal jobs from domestic workers.

  • Someone please argue how Hispanic culture is inferior to American culture…

  • Mark,

    I didn’t see where anyone said that Hispanic culture is inferior to American culture. But more generally, do you have a problem passing judgment on a culture? Even if, say, that culture practiced infanticide or virgin sacrifices as part of its way of life? It’s people who are created equal, not the attributes of their culture…

  • j.

    True.

    But I guess I have this quetion? why do we have the intense focus on insuring/insisting that Hispanics are thoroughly assimilated into ‘Amercan culture.? And what in God’s name is American culture, that is seemingly so said to be a threatened by unassimilated, outside influences?

    I look back at the educational endeavors of the 1920s and see some of the untrue, terrible things that were simply assumed about Jews, Italians, the Poles etc.

    Is not the concern coming from the same ignorance and/or prejudice?.

  • -I’m all for open boarders,-

    I spent eighteen months after college as a full-time volunteer in shelters that aided illegal immigrants (actually, about half that time was on the Mexican side working with the homeless and running a women’s shelter). So, I don’t share the fear or hatred of the immigrant. Actually, I like Spanish and Latin culture more than I do American, and I only speak Spanish in the home, so I am quite comfortable with immigration.

    However, I could never agree with some of my fellow volunteers that we should have open borders. That seems reckless. What has always annoyed me about the immigration situation is the way it is set up. The truth is that for many years we had nearly non-existent unemployment and these workers were not taking jobs from people (I never lost a teaching job to an illegal immigrant and I never wanted the job in the orchard busting my ass for minimum wage). Basically, we needed these people but we made them go through hell to get here (Pragmatically, the border enforcement is a good idea: it generally only allows the strong and young to get through and then we exploit them for labor. Obviously, that is an inhumane practice and, to cover it up, that is why the immigrants are always painted as a problem rather than the solution to our need for cheap physical labor).

    I just wish that our policy could be more honest. Admit we need a certain amount of people and recruit them!

    It always amuses me when people say, “Why don’t they just come legally?” They think that it is just as simple as dropping into the US consulate and getting papers. It took me over two years (and the frequent assistance of Senator Jon Kyl’s office) to immigrate my wife and my own children, and I am a natural-born US citizen. Can you imagine how hard it is for Jose the orchard worker from Nicaragua? It is impossible, actually. You have to meet income and property requirements that are unreachable for your typical Latin American worker. They have little choice but to come illegally.

  • Rob,

    I think you bring up an important and (outside of those who’ve actually had to deal with the current immigration regulations) little known point: Whatever the right approach is, the status quo of immigration regulation is just plain disfunctional. It’s very, very difficult and time consuming to immigrate legally (coming in on a student visa and then getting an employer to sponsor you for a work visa is probably the easiest route) and the combination of a very difficult immigration process with occasionally lax enforcement is that we end up actively selecting for people who are willing to ignore the law and sneak in. (Which in turn leaves them most open to being exploited.)

    As for open boarders — I personally think that it would be most just to allow anyone without a criminal record or a serious communicable disease in (19th century style) but I don’t know if I’d actually support the policy if there was a vote on it tomorrow in that I don’t think the US is open to dealing with the consequences of really huge immigration. Realistically in the short term, I think we need to expand the quotas and simplify the process, and enforce what laws that we do have.

    Mark,

    Someone please argue how Hispanic culture is inferior to American culture…
    [snip]
    But I guess I have this quetion? why do we have the intense focus on insuring/insisting that Hispanics are thoroughly assimilated into ‘Amercan culture.? And what in God’s name is American culture, that is seemingly so said to be a threatened by unassimilated, outside influences?

    While I don’t think it’s impossible to say that in certain cases one culture is inferior to another (not all cultures are equal) I don’t think that “Hispanic culture” (whatever that means — “Hispanics” being a very broad and diverse group) is inferior to US culture.

    However, I think society is generally only healthy and free of strife when people share a common culture. That doesn’t mean they can’t have differences based on their culture of origin, but it’s important that they be able to speak to each other (shared language) and that they share certain common knowledge and archetypes derived from their nation’s history, political philosophy and literature.

    This isn’t something unique to the US. It seems to me that if one was going to emmigrate to Japan, one would owe it to one’s new country to learn at least some Japanese and develop an understanding of Japanese history and literature as it applies to modern Japanese culture. Similarly, if you moved to France, you’d owe it to them to learn some French and learn enough of their history and culture to understand “Frenchness” as your new fellow countryment would.

    In the same sense, if our own country is to resist becoming a Balkanized federation of unassimilated cultures which don’t have any interest in each other, it’s important that US citizens learn English in school and develop an understanding of American history and literature (including American political archetypes.) That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t retain an appreciation of their own culture of origin as well — but there needs to be a sharing in real culture — not just consumer MTV culture that you pick up from the television and radio.

    Which is why I think it’s essential that our schools do a massively better job than they have in recent decades.

  • DC,

    I forgot to make my point! LOL

    I was going to say, even with my background, I think that any country has the right, really a duty, to defend it’s borders, even seal them off. So an “open” border would just be reckless. But our present kookoo pokicy is essentially an open border, since the difficulty of legal immigration encourages people to cross the border anywhere but at a legal checkpoint.

    However, I atke issue with your concern about Balkanization. This country has always been on the verge of Balkanizaton and has always survived. Common language? There are still (small) places where French and German are spoken first in this country. 100 years ago, upstate New York and much of New England were French speaking (and Cajun in Louisiana). Lots os Pennsylvanians were German speakers (the first World War convinced them to change that, though!). These were not people who learned foreign languages as a hobby. They spoke “foreign” languages at home and in business! Now, though, those areas are practically museums, little Williamsburgs. The same will happen in the Southwest. It behooves people to learn English. The ones that aren’t learning English are the parents (I dare you to pick up a foreign language after a childhood of little or no education and having six kids to support!). But their kids, the ones born here, are native English speakers just like you and I. I know. I taught these kids for ten years.

    If there is anything I am worried about, it is that they WILL assimilate into our sick culture. I find it hard to relax when I see the ease with which the kids of simple, earnest, Catholic immigrants become drug-using, abortion-seeking, “good Americans”.

  • Rob,

    I don’t necessarily disagree with you much on the assimilation question. I don’t have a problem with Spanish newspapers and radio stations and some of the stores I go into being primarily Spanish speaking — that’s just a matter of serving the people who are local. (Back in Los Angeles our neighborhood supermarket went through stages of being mostly in Spanish, then Russian and later Arabic and Turkish.)

    What did worry me a good bit with the California schools was that because they got paid more for “ESL” students than English-speaking students, they’d often shunt kids off into classes that were mostly taught in Spanish for all eight years of their elementary education. However, they didn’t cover Spanish grammar very well, so the Spanish spoken was often low quality, and for “Hispanic culture” there was a lot of messing around about “Aztec culture” because they felt uncomfortable discussing anything that was Catholic in a public school setting.

    So you’d end up with kids who sounded uneducated in both Spanish and English and didn’t have a real grasp of either culture — though they were definitely fluent in the trashy pop-culture which pours out of American TV sets every day.

    Though I should say: Although the ESL classes tended to cover less math and writing than they should have (and thus hurt kids in the long run) — I don’t think that the “normal” classes in most of our public schools do a very good job of instilling American and Western Culture. So the problem is certainly wider than just dealing with immigration.

  • -there was a lot of messing around about “Aztec culture” because they felt uncomfortable discussing anything that was Catholic in a public school setting. –

    LOL Aren’t liberals a riot? Yeah, because the average Mexican kid really identifies with the ancient Aztecs more than he does with Christianity. Gimme a break.

    -I don’t think that the “normal” classes in most of our public schools do a very good job of instilling American and Western Culture.-

    But they do. They just don’t instill the culture we want them to instill. George Washington? Naaah. Bill of Rights? Plymouth Rock? In God We Trust? Naaaah! Instead, they teach the permissive, nebulous and totally unidentifiable blob-culture that is the new America. By “blob”, I mean that most people no longer stand for anything or try to even say anything, because all viewpoints are equally offensive, so the solution is to make everything “okay”. The new culture is non-culture…

    Ah, what am I doing? I’m preaching to the choir, right?

  • ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind…and…you shall love your neighbor as yourself’.

    There are no liberals, conservatives, Mexicans or Americans. There are only children of God. There are no British, Canadians, Brazilians, black-white-or-brown.

    National pride, saluted flags and hoarded money are idols when revered in greater sanctity than the greatest commandments of our Lord.

    Would Christ turn away a desperate immigrant? Would Christ tell someone to speak the right language? Would Christ turn away a person who is not Christian? Would Christ care that you would not share for fear you may lose a piece of your fortune?

    We should put our fears aside and trust in the Lord.

On These Slippery Slopes

Wednesday, October 29, AD 2008

We seem to be teetering on the edge, and there is fear that a President Obama will push us over into the long descent into the night. Those of us who value life and cling (bitterly or not) to our religion are, if not terrified, at least horrified at what Obama intends to do in office. Pass the Freedom of Choice Act, an attempt to legitimize abortion across the board. Make a national health insurance fund that is more appropriately labeled as health care. Raise taxes on the rich and give tax credits and refunds to the poor (definitions of “rich” and “poor” still pending) in order to “spread the wealth around.” Focus on Afghanistan to the detriment of Iraq and, in general, the War on Terror.

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9 Responses to On These Slippery Slopes

  • Spot on. People forget that we live in a republican (turning more democratic) nation where the representatives are obsessed with catering to the popular will. Sure, our elected leaders have mucked things up, but they have been aided and abetted by the people who have put them into power. It’s not enough to elect the right people – that will happen, but we have to make sure the people voting understand why they are the right people.

    It’s a hard road, but especially for those of us who are Burkean in political bent, we have to appreciate that there’s a broader culture that has to be transformed, and we can’t expect certain ballot box results to make everything better.

  • I largely agree.

    Our cultural cesspool is a product of the people who have embraced abortion, the gay agenda, contraception, divorce, etc. However, a great deal of this has been imposed on the people by the judiciary. The culture of death has won most of its important victories through the courts, and public opinion changes to reflect the courts–which function as an oligarchy in this country.

    Personally, I doubt that 50% of the country would actually favor FOCA. For example, recent polls show 90+% of the population wanting some restriction on abortion. More than 80% wanted significant restrictions on abortion.

    A majority of Americans are conservative on social issues, but they’ve been tricked by sound bites (“Right to choose,” “Roe v. Wade”, Separation of Church and State”) that they are willing to accept things like FOCA even though they don’t agree.

  • Very good. It’s been our own inaction, complacent attitudes and desire to “go along to get along” that have gotten us to where we’re at.

    I recently read a post that claimed Catholicism is always counter cultural. Kinda makes sense if it’s realized that the culture will be secular and oriented towards the material world. We can’t all be Mother Teresa but can strive to be more than we are.

  • Blaming ourselves and working on ourselves is part of the battle. We certainly need to practice our faith, pass it on to our children, and evangelize those around us through example and dialogue.

    The other part of it will be more difficult. The courts have played a significant role in changing attitudes in this great nation of ours. We are one or two more justices away from possibly turning over Roe v. Wade. With Obama as president we certainly will lose that opportunity.

    That is why we need to hit prayer really hard from here until November 4. Throw in some fasting to purify our souls and we may possibly change hearts and minds through the grace of God.

    We lose then this is what Ryan was saying about God chastizing us. We will reap what we have sown as a nation as a President Obama further embeds the culture of death upon American society.

    Ora pro nobis.

  • “Make a national health insurance fund that is more appropriately labeled as health care. Raise taxes on the rich and give tax credits and refunds to the poor (definitions of “rich” and “poor” still pending) in order to “spread the wealth around.” Focus on Afghanistan to the detriment of Iraq and, in general, the War on Terror.”

    Sounds good and Catholic to me!

    BTW, Ryan, just what is Bush’s so-called “War on Terror” and how does it square with the Culture of Life?

  • I’m always confused when government social programs are cast as advancing Catholic social teachings. Jesus instructed us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, etc. He didn’t instruct us to lay all responsibility at the feet of the government.

  • With a population of 98% meat eaters and 10 billion slaughtered each year, it sure is a culture of death. Our vote choice is like arsenic or cyanide.

  • Mark,

    1) The Devil is in the details. I don’t have a problem with the government providing health care for the needy, per se, but I do have a problem when the government wants to offer blanket protection to everyone. We can’t pay for this financially, so we’ll pay in other ways, such as time, as in long waiting lists for scarce resources. It isn’t the intent that I disagree with as far as health care goes; the implementation, however, is lacking. Same with the raising the taxes to give handouts to the poor. When historically, doing such a thing has only left more people poor and unemployed, is that really helping the poor? Again, it isn’t intent, but implementation.

    2) Bush’s so-called “War on Terror” is really a global police effort attempting to crack down on trans-national, violent radicals who set bombs and kill civilians in order to try to topple nations and governments. Whether his War on Terror squares with the Culture of Life depends on a number of issues. Does the US have the right to punish criminals that have committed crimes against the US when the criminals themselves are on foreign soil? If so, does the US have the right to send military units into foreign nations for the purpose of detaining these criminals? If so, does the US have the right to exercise lethal force against these criminals, which are wholly unrepentant and use lethal force themselves?

    The War on Terror squares with the culture of life, I believe, when falling within the Just War Doctrine. Do I think that it has remained within those constraints? We know that it was just to go after Al Qaeda and the Taliban. The threat posed by those groups is grave, severe, and lasting. The other conditions, though? We seem to have a reasonable chance for success, provided that we fight seriously, and not just in our spare time with our spare change. We know that no other means works–we’ve tried for years to negotiate with these people, and that has brought us nothing but grief. We can’t just ignore them because they won’t ignore us. So when the options essentially boil down to: be placid and allow them to continue to suicide bomb us, or take action and destroy these radical groups, the choice seems clear to me. A government has a duty to protect its citizens (when those citizens aren’t themselves violating law), and the intent to destroy Al Qaeda and end its radical terrorism is justified. Now, are we causing greater harm than if we had let the situation lie? From what I’ve read and seen in the news, the answer appears, to me at least, to be negative.

    What about the war in Iraq? After long consideration, I eventually concluded that we were not justified in going into Iraq. We had the option of letting Hussein rot, and from what I could tell, that would not have left us in a position of grave and lasting harm. But that point is moot. What we have to focus on now is what we do now that we’re in Iraq. We can’t go back in time and unmake the decision to go into Iraq, so need to figure out how to leave without making matters worse. We seem to have weathered the storm fairly well, and Iraq seems to be headed towards stability. Not perfect peace by any means, but stability. But here I would use the Just War Doctrine again: the damage of us leaving before Iraq has reached a stable point far outweighs the damage of staying. It is a certainty that an unstable Iraq will send the whole area up in flames. A region-wide conflict would inflict severe and lasting damage, perhaps even embroil us in a much greater war.

    So, a long answer to a short question, I know. But let me sum up my thoughts: Bush’s War on Terror sometimes squares with the culture of life, sometimes doesn’t. We know that his implementation of this global effort is far, far, far from perfect. Catholic voices definitely need to speak out against those parts–unnecessary warfare, torture, etc–that are squarely contrary to the culture of life. But because the whole plan has flaws doesn’t mean we toss it for a worse one. And I personally believe that Obama’s plan is a worse one.

    That doesn’t mean that I agree with what McCain will do, but as I should have mentioned in my post, McCain himself is a compromise. The choice is between voting for someone who is 0% pro-life, and 55% pro-life (numbers made up, so don’t fact check me on them). We want a 100% pro-life candidate, but we find ourselves forced to compromise to the 55% (assuming we wish to vote for one of the two main candidates). So even with McCain, we will reap what we sow.

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Weary of Wonkery

Tuesday, October 28, AD 2008

Whether the next four years are spend under an Obama administration or a McCain administration, one thing that may be said with certainty is that conservatives are going to have to do some serious thinking over that time in order to come up with an agenda that can bring conservatives back into political success — and bring the GOP back into something like conservatism. Either administration will be enough to make principled conservatives cringe — though I think that an Obama one would visit greater damage upon the country.

There are lots of contenders out there wanting present the new conservative policies that will bring the GOP back to relevance. Ross Douthat is very much at the forefront of that, with his Grand New Party out in bookstores.

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6 Responses to Weary of Wonkery

  • One word: liberty

    It seems that with each initiative/referendum that comes about, we end up with a more complex set of regulations intended to make our lives easier/better.

    For instance, we here in WA are deciding on a home health care initiative, cloaked in the language care for the vulnerable. What is more likely to come about should this pass, is more and more encumbrance and hindrance of those trying to provide the care by more red tape.

    I think the principled conservative has a steep hill to climb in that our society tends to look for solutions from our government rather than ourselves. This is evident from the rhetoric from both the left and the right these days.

  • “…our society tends to look for solutions from our government rather than ourselves.”

    It’s only going to get worse.

  • “…conservatives are going to have to do some serious thinking over that time in order to come up with an agenda that can bring conservatives back into political success — and bring the GOP back into something like conservatism.”

    I am all for conservatives spending their allotted time in the wilderness coming up with new ideas and/or new framing for good old ideas, and I think it’s important for the GOP to sort out how conservative it wants to be. The problem I have with the coming conservative civil war (which may have some very good results) was best expressed by Megan McArdle’s discussion the financial crisis: “Isn’t it marvelous how the financial crisis has been caused entirely by things that you were opposed to before the crisis happened?” To that end, a couple of points:

    1) Bush was incompetent. Let’s look at three of the major failures of his terms in office”

    a) The deficit. He cut taxes, increased spending, and ignored the resulting deficit. This isn’t conservative (or liberal). It’s just incompetent, and it does not take a major re-tooling of conservative philosophy to avoid this.

    b) Katrina. Hurricane relief is not a policy problem, it is a competence problem.

    c) Iraq was the major disaster of the Bush presidency. The failures in Iraq (both in finding WMD’s and establishing security) are what caused the public to turn on Bush. Granted, this was partially a policy difficulty, but Iraq (at the time of the invasion) was supported by almost 70% of the country, and by pundits with divergent approaches to foreign policy. For example, I didn’t think it met just war criteria; many people I respect did. In any case, I do not think the public will have any appetite for extensive military involvement oversees for quite some time, and so I do not think this is an area where the conservative movement has to do that much intellectual spadework for ’10, ’12, or ’16.

    2) The major reasons Obama is winning is that Bush is very unpopular, the economy tanked within the last six weeks, and McCain is not a great candidate. In that order. Bush and McCain are going away. Neither will run again. The economic crises was caused by a convergence of events, none of which were ‘big-picture’ intramural policy debates within the Republican party prior to the crisis.

    In short McCain is likely to lose by between 3%-8% in a year in which nearly everything has gone wrong for the Republican party. That doesn’t look like a party that is collapsing to me. I think Douthat makes good points regarding the fact that conservatives are in some sense a victim of their own successes as the center has moved rightward on welfare reform, the second amendment, and crime over the last twenty years, but I don’t think the poll numbers indicate that it’s time to blow up the Republican party. It’s been a rough two years, but ‘this too will pass.’

  • The problem I have with the coming conservative civil war (which may have some very good results) was best expressed by Megan McArdle’s discussion the financial crisis: “Isn’t it marvelous how the financial crisis has been caused entirely by things that you were opposed to before the crisis happened?”

    Heh. Ain’t that the truth. And certainly, the various claims as to where the conservative movement needs to go now mostly seem to fit that model.

    In that regard, I found very amusing the “Death of Conservatism” article which Ross Douthat linked to as being very emblematic of the various epitaphs for the movement being penned right now, except that this one was written in 1992:

    http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=bbbe161e-98ab-4937-bcb3-aefe1123502a&p=3

  • Wasn’t it just a few years ago, when Democrats lost the presidency and congress in 2004, that we saw lots of articles about how liberals were no longer in touch with the American public, liberalism needed to become more relevant, etc.>?

  • That’s a good link, Darwin. A well-made case that was not exactly vindicated by events.

    It seems to me that many of the loudest voices (e.g. Brooks) represent the smallest constituencies of the conservative movement. More broadly, I think pundits (and amateur pundits) project a concern about issues onto the general public that just isn’t there.

    S.B. – It seems like it was ten years ago, but yes, in 2004 the Democratic party was in complete disarray – in desperate need of a re-tooling to return to relevance in a center-right nation according to many pundits. Granted, it is unlikely that there will be a convergence of events quite like Katrina/Iraq failure/economic collapse within the next four-eight years, but it does mean that a strong candidate may have slightly less than even odds shot in ’12 or worst-case ’16.

    The political brilliance of Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid is unlikely to banish the Republican party to the wilderness for a generation. That said, Iraq has damaged the conservative advantage in foreign policy in the near-term, and it will take a while for conservatives to find their footing over the next several years.

Cocaine, Cardinal Ocampo, and the Drug Wars

Tuesday, October 28, AD 2008
Drug Lord Eduardo Arellano Felix in Mexican Police Custody

Drug Lord Eduardo Arellano Felix in Mexican Police Custody

The drug problem in the United States, specifically cocaine, is very severe.  The U.S. is the number one user of this drug in the entire world.  Hollywood continues to glamorize the drug and the American public has an insatiable desire for it.  Greed and gluttony play prominent roles in creating this epidemic.  Many Americans seeking shortcuts to attaining the American dream sell drugs that feeds this gluttonous appetite for cocaine.  Unfortunately there are serious side effects that aren’t as widely publicized.

 

What are often overlooked are the victims of this drug trade.  Not necessarily those that are addicted to the drug simply because they chose to do so, but the innocent victims that are caught up in the drug trade.  Especially those that stand up to drug traffickers like that of the Archbishop of Guadalajara, Mexico, Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo.

 

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20 Responses to Cocaine, Cardinal Ocampo, and the Drug Wars

  • I’m glad that at least some of the Cardinal’s assassins have been brought to justice. I would note, however, that the quickest and easiest way to reduce drug-related violence (both domestically and internationally) would be through drug legalization.

  • Legalizing drugs would only make the problem worse.

    I understand where you’re coming from, but the analogy of ‘legalizing murder’ comes to mind. It’s widespread, why prosecute it, why don’t we legitimize it and be done with it. It just doesn’t make sense.

    Reminds me of the (in)famous Chewbaca defense from South Park. It just doesn’t make sense.

  • The purpose of legalizing drugs is that it would lead to significantly fewer murders. Legalizing murder obviously wouldn’t have that effect, so the two cases aren’t parallel.

    During alcohol prohibition, the sale of alcohol was controlled by gangsters and violence was rampant. Now that alcohol is legal, by contrast, you don’t see representatives of Coors and Miller gunning each other down in the streets.

    It’s the same story with drugs. Back when drugs were legal (as they were through most of U.S. history), you didn’t have the system of drug cartels and inner city gangs that we have today. It was only after drug prohibition (and particularly after the start of the “war on drugs” in the late 1960s) that you started to see these things develop. Unsurprisingly the murder rate has shot way up since then.

  • Black Adder IV,

    Although I see the logic in legalizing drugs, I just don’t feel right about it. I need to think it through more to offer a better defense in not legitimizing drug use.

    I certainly see the comparisons during prohibition.

    What I’d like to see is the repelling of the income tax. It wasn’t instituted here in the United States until 1913. Now that would solve many problems.

  • … this is the same argumentation that we see today with abortion.

    Just go along with Roe vs. Wade and work on other social issues. That will reduce abortions.

    Ya right.

    That was the argument with prohibition. Did that lead to fewer alcoholics? How many road death related to alcohol do we see today. How about broken families due to alcohol?

    With drugs you’ll see the same thing.

    I’ve even read a few articles about legalizing prostitution.

    The ends never justifies the means..

    St Thomas More once said that ‘Compromise, Prudence and patience’ were virtues to live by. However, he knew that compromise could lead to laziness, and cowardness.

    “There comes a time to stand up and fight” Compromise can be the casket of integrity.

    WCC +<

  • Alcohol ? Cocaine

  • Well, I think the actual question would be: Is the use of illegal drugs inherently evil enough to merit banning them and dealing with the resulting illegal trade.

    You can’t get much more inherently evil than abortion, as there we’re talking about the snuffing out of an innocent life within what should be the protecting confines of his mother’s womb.

    The use of illegal drugs is, at worse, either a form of gluttony or a form of destruction of our bodies, which are deserving of respect as temples of the Holy Spirit.

    As with alcohol, some illegal drugs can result in functional impairment, and as with alcohol, extreme doses can resultin in injury or death. (I’d say that most “hard drugs” are worse than alcohol in this respect.)

    But I’m not sure that the degree of inherent evil involved in the taking of drugs is such that one morally _must_ outlaw them, and as such I think Blackadder’s point has some merit.

    On the other hand, the law often serves as a moral teacher. So it seems reasonable to assume that drug use would go up a bit if it was legalized.

    I’m not sure that I support legalizaing drugs, but I definitely don’t think that supporting their legalization would be akin to supporting legal abortion.

  • People do make the same sort of argument with regard to legal abortion, but I find the argument unpersuasive for the same reason that the “let’s legalize murder” argument is unpersuasive.

    Ending prohibition probably did lead to more drunk driving deaths and the like. Still, all things considered most people the disadvantages that come from legal alcohol to be less than the disadvantages that stem from prohibition. As St. Thomas said, sometimes the attempt to eliminate a particular vice only causes men to break out into even greater evils, when this is the case, one should let that evil be, rather than causing greater destruction by trying to stamp it out.

  • BA4,

    You’ve made some good arguments.

    What West Coast Catholic and Darwin said.

  • I think I’d add that it would also weigh against the banning of drugs that most of the time a drug user will only harm himself, whereas murder/abortion the primary harm is to someone else.

    The state has more business intervening when one person hurts another than when one person hurts himself.

  • I would also like to add the destruction of drug use does to a society and the family. Drug use is just not personal. Just ask anyone who had a “druggie” in the family.

    Just some points to consider.

  • -Now that alcohol is legal, by contrast, you don’t see representatives of Coors and Miller gunning each other down in the streets.-

    Well, my eldest brother and I fought over a Sam Adams, but the liberal press, as usual, totally overlooked that story!

    My own two cents is essentially that of WCC. I don’t think legalization is the way to go. I believe, when opium first became popular in the West, it was essentially legal, and caused huge problems. And do we really want to legalize crystal meth? Because, once it’s legal, every kid will be making it in his basement and getting hurt. Now, if you say, “No, certain things would be illegal, etc”, then we are not really talking about drug legalization. We are just talking about drawing the line in a different place and saying, “Now, this is the line you can’t cross!” It is just going to encourage further and future “innovations” in drug law.

    At the same time, I think a lot of the problem with pot is a result of being “illegalized”. I’m not a fan (tried it four or five times in college and didn’t understand what was so great. A girlfriend told me my problem was that I was always naturally high and therefore could not benefit from drugs), but it seems that it was made illegal (and therefore popular!) due to hemp’s competition with the lumber industry.

    My own problem with the legalize hemp/pot people, is they are always represented by freaks! It’s like marriage in the priesthood. I’ll be happy one way or the other, but the people for married priests who speak in public are always complete heretics, and not just for a married priesthood. I always feel the same with the legalize pot crowd…eh, you’re just a bunch of potheads! Get my grandma on your side, then we’ll talk!

    Really, the whole legalize drugs movement (BA IV excepted, of course) seems rife with suspicious characters. When your greatest press release is Woody Harrelson flying around in helicopters throwing hemp seeds at people, it’s gonna be hard to get me or Joe the Plumber on your side!

  • Not aware of this horror against an august bishop. Lovely that some measure of justice has been accomplished.

  • Thank you all for articulating for me the reasons why we shouldn’t legalize drugs.

  • I don’t think legalization is the way to go. I believe, when opium first became popular in the West, it was essentially legal, and caused huge problems.

    My understanding is that opium was around in the West for a long time without any major problems developing (the Lady Bertram character in Mansfield Park, for example, is apparently supposed to be an opium addict. She is portrayed as being a somewhat comic figure (similar to depictions of “stoner” characters now) but the novel is noticeably free of drive-bys. In fact, during the 19th century most opium addicts were women who had been prescribed the stuff by doctors for relief of “female problems.” It was only when you started having lots of immigration from China in the late 1800s that people became alarmed and opium was prohibited.

    And do we really want to legalize crystal meth? Because, once it’s legal, every kid will be making it in his basement and getting hurt.

    Why you think this would happen is unclear. Alcohol is legal, yet we don’t see too many people building stills in their basements. Incidentally, a number of the most dangerous drugs out there today plausibly wouldn’t exist were it not for drug prohibition (crack falls into this category, and I think crystal meth does as well, though I’m not sure). Because it’s illegal, dealers have an incentive to create drugs that are incredibly potent, so that it’s easier to create and move (similarly, if alcohol was illegal you would expect more consumption of hard liquor vs. beer and wine than you see now). I predict that if drugs are not legalized, in the next 30 years we will see the creation or new found popularity of at least one new “super-drug” that is incredibly dangerous.

    My own problem with the legalize hemp/pot people, is they are always represented by freaks!

    Yeah, this is a problem with a lot of drug legalization people generally. I myself have never smoked marijuana, let alone done any harder drugs.

  • The irony is that part of my job used to be helping to put drug dealers in prison (well, there are many ironies, but that’s one of them). Not that I feel bad about doing that; these weren’t nice guys we were locking up. I just think legalizing drugs would be the best (and probably the only) way to put them out of business.

  • -Why you think this would happen is unclear.-

    The stuff is so cheap to make, no one would pay for an “industiral version” (like they might for some sweet, well-cut coke, right?). I don’t think these new drugs would fall into the category of “if it were legalized, it would be manufactured safely”. I do see your point, and would have agreed with you some time ago, but I don’t think the plan works with meth on the street now, and I bet it wouldn’t stop crack, either. I think we would just create a lot of “pharmaceutical industries” (I can just see the advertising -Ask your doctor about Horse – side effects may include euphoria, seeing bugs and diarrhea) and a lot of cheaper “street” versions would still exist, still be illegal, etc.)

  • “Ending prohibition probably did lead to more drunk driving deaths and the like. Still, all things considered most people the disadvantages that come from legal alcohol to be less than the disadvantages that stem from prohibition. As St. Thomas said, sometimes the attempt to eliminate a particular vice only causes men to break out into even greater evils, when this is the case, one should let that evil be, rather than causing greater destruction by trying to stamp it out.”

    If you see the problem as a pragmatic one, then legalizing drugs isn’t the way to go. Drunk driving deaths were cut down by lowering the level of alcohol needed to qualify as drunk (or, if you prefer, “impaired”) while driving. Enforcement was eased by fact that a breathalyzer could be used to test the driver’s alcohol level.

    Similarly, any tolerance employers had for workers who drank during their lunches vanished. It wasn’t just because of union protection, but also because of inevitable lawsuits when some drunk screwed up on the line and hurt himself.

    There is no breathalyzer for drugs. And the legal system being what it is, it seems highly unlikely that on-the-spot blood or urine tests would be permissable. Even if they were, there would be a problem. For example, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol ) is stored in fat cells and can stay in the body for days or weeks, so pot-smoking drivers would test positive even though they weren’t high.

    Most likely, we’d be left with the other options: determining if drugs were involved after an accident, either in hospital or in the toxology report by the coroner.

  • The stuff is so cheap to make, no one would pay for an “industiral version”

    Few products are worth manufacturing for oneself. I see no reason to expect meth to be different, particularly given the safety concerns that making it yourself involves.

  • -I see no reason to expect meth to be different, particularly given the safety concerns that making it yourself involves.-

    Good point.

Data on the Effect of Legal Restrictions on Abortions

Tuesday, October 28, AD 2008

Some time ago I wrote a post in which I tackled the claim that Democratic administrations are better at reducing abortion than Republican ones because they reduce poverty more. I had hoped I’d have a chance to do a second round looking specifically at the unexpected pregnancy rate and abortion rate for women in poverty. (A large percentage of the women who have abortions live at less than 200% of the poverty line — but that same demographic group also has a much higher unexpected pregnancy rate than other women.) However, things have been very busy at work lately and there’s a limit to how much statistical analysis a fellow can do in a day before he needs a tall drink and a good book — not to mention some time with the offspring. So it’ll have to wait till after the holiday retail season.

However, someone rather more qualified than I is on the case. Michael J. New of the University of Alabama has an article at The Public Discourse in which he looks at the data supporting the claim (which, surprisingly, has become controversial in some quarters) that anti-abortion regulations reduce the number of abortions. Some highlights are as follows:

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4 Responses to Data on the Effect of Legal Restrictions on Abortions

Did the U.S. Commit "Terrorism" in Syria?

Tuesday, October 28, AD 2008

Michael Iafrate of Vox Nova condemns the United States for a brutal act of “terrorism” in conducting a strike into Syria against an al Qaeda facilitator.

In typical fashion, Michael likewise insinuates that Sarah Palin approves abortion bombings and alleges that, by virtue of the fact that nobody at American Catholic has yet commented on the story, we are quite obviously racist:

Of course the “pro-life” Cathollic barfosphere, so vocal in the “defense of human life,” remains utterly silent in the face of the Bush administration’s ongoing acts of terrorism. Of course, these weren’t cute white babies who were slaughtered, were they? That explains it.

Michael’s penchant for profanity, libel and general elementary school antics does nothing to enamor readers of his position or the Catholic blog he represents. Yet I think he deserves a response (however meager) …

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37 Responses to Did the U.S. Commit "Terrorism" in Syria?

  • More background on the Abu Ghadiyah network in Syria

    http://counterterrorismblog.org/2008/02/aqi_facilitation_networks_stil.php

  • The idea that countries may give sanctuary to terrorists and be immune from the consequences of their actions defies history and common sense. Syria has now been put on notice that the US will no longer tolerate their collusion with Al Qaeda, and my only regret is that we didn’t do this years ago.

  • The always indispensable Michael Yon has an informative piece on the strike.

    http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/syria-iraq-bloody-border-messy-politics/

  • I hope Michael or anyone else who disagrees with Chris will engage the substance of this post… great post, Chris.

  • Donald,
    I would disagree. I think, rather than primarily signifying that you can’t harbor terrorists, it signifies that powerful states can ignore international law.

    International relations depend on the norms accepted by the participants, and here the US is suggesting that the norms are those of Thrasymachus.

    A grand strategy that would better serve us (and which would arguably be more Christian) is for us to argue that powerful states must abide by the same rules as all others, and to have our actions match our words.

  • Aside from Blosser’s typical cut-up job in which he suggests that comments I made about the Catholic blogosphere in general were made in direct reference to your blog (which is misrepresentation and nothing more), Blosser’s main point seems to be: this certainly could have been an act of terrorism, if we knew that civilians were directly targeted. But since we don’t have all the facts, we don’t know. Blosser assumes that, even though their goal was to kill one human being, these eight human beings were somehow not directly targeted. (Reminds me of that old show Sledge Hammer in which the main character often would blow up a building in order to kill a criminal who had run inside to hide. The show made a mockery of the notion of double effect that Blosser carelessly applies.) The assumption that these deaths were “collateral damage” is an assumption just as much as mu view that they were intentional. The thing is, my assumption is based on the actual history of united states military actions, while Chris’ is based on the illusion that the united states only kills when necessary, or by accident.

  • And for someone who claims in his writings to take just war tradition seriously, that Blosser would actually defend such an action shows that he does not take it seriously at all. Just war teaching allows for no such actions.

  • shows that he does not take it seriously at all

    Or that he might be mistaken in his application of it, but that wouldn’t fit with your preconceived notions of Chris, Michael. Better and easier just to impugn him.

  • Chris, I could charitably say that he was “misapplying” just war teaching if there was any evidence of him actually attempting to apply it at all in this case.

  • For the sake of argument, Michael, I’ll grant that there is no such evidence. My point is simply that it seems (as I’ve proposed elsewhere) better to give Chris the benefit of the doubt and *inquire* and dialogue with him about that. Instead of saying that he doesn’t take just war teaching seriously at all, given that he does even attempt to apply it in this case, why not *ask* him if he’s applied said teaching, and how he arrived at the position he did having done so?

  • [Michael]: Blosser’s typical cut-up job in which he suggests that comments I made about the Catholic blogosphere in general were made in direct reference to your blog

    After Chris Burgwald protested charges of racism, classicism and nationalism, you responded:

    I’ve noticed your blog, Chris, has not condemned this action of the united states against innocent people. And of course it won’t. You guys are too busy belly aching over how badly Joe the Plumber is being “persecuted.”

    I think it a fair assumption that your prior remarks would apply to “his”/our blog as well, insofar as American Catholic is presumably part of “the Catholic blogosphere in general.”

    However, if you’re willing to retract your charges and amend your post, I’m perfectly willing to accept your apology.

    [Michael:] Blosser’s main point seems to be: this certainly could have been an act of terrorism, if we knew that civilians were directly targeted. But since we don’t have all the facts, we don’t know. Blosser assumes that, even though their goal was to kill one human being, these eight human beings were somehow not directly targeted.

    All you had rely on in your post, Michael, is a rather flimsy story culled from the headlines — your impulse was to play judge, jury and executioner on the basis of sparse details and rival claims as to the intent of those involved and the identities of those slain.

    My point: I think charity demands we refrain from doing so.

    You bemoan my hesitancy to apply just war teaching in evaluating this particular incident — I would go further in saying that there are likely those who are far more qualified than you or I to make an accurate assessment of what happened based on the facts, and that we do a disservice to the just war tradition when we indulge in speculations and condemnations based on insufficient evidence.

    (The history of a similar “rush to judgement” further compels me to wait until “all the facts are in”).

  • Mr. Blosser,

    What has been your stance about the US invasion and occupation of Iraq?

  • The irony is that to garden-variety leftists like Michael I., it’s America’s fault both for 1) allowing Arab terrorists to enter Iraq and kill people there (i.e., for allowing people to die in Iraq), AND for 2) trying to stop Arab terrorists who have killed people in Iraq. Catch-22.

  • Michael I.,

    Why are your posts on Vox Nova so full of hate and vitriol, but in the American Catholic comments box you are very civil and polite. I hope your commenting skills will spill over into your posts.

  • S.B. – The united states does not have the right to invade other countries whenever it feels like it, even if Syria is “harboring terrorists.” It goes against international law as well as the just war tradition of the Catholic Church.

  • Blosser – Is that your advice for the families of the victims? “Just wait until the ‘facts’ are in. Charity, charity.” Give me a break.

  • Michael, since when is this about what *advice* to give the families? I thought the point was regarding the *justice* of the actions… even if it *had* been a just action, there’s no “advice” that would have solaced the families of innocent victims… would you tell them, “Oh, it’s okay, this strike was justified under the auspices of just war teaching of the Catholic Church.” Of course not.

    Tangentially, Michael, why do you capitalize “Syria” but not “United States”?

  • Because he’s a classic troll . . . he writes not for the purpose of rational debate, but just to ignite other people into reacting.

  • Blosser – Is that your advice for the families of the victims? “Just wait until the ‘facts’ are in.

    As far as “advice” to families of those killed, I agree with Chris Burgwald.

    Given the deaths of civilians I would hope there to be a full investigation into the matter by the proper authorities to determine culpability.

    On the other hand, we very well could form a mob, hold a public lynching of the soldiers involved and get it over with, facts be damned — just as Senator Murtha did in the case of Haditha.

    It would certainly save us a lot of time and thought.

  • On the matter of international boundaries, Zach says “rather than primarily signifying that you can’t harbor terrorists, it signifies that powerful states can ignore international law.” True, but there are limits to the case. Weigel makes a good point that “the principle of state sovereignty must not be considered exceptionless.”

    Suppose an Indian government, controlled by militant Hindu nationalists and capable of deploying nuclear weapons, decided to settle the “Pakistan problem” and redress what it considered to be the fundamental injustice of the 1947 partition of the subcontinent, using its claims to sovereignty in Kashmir as the opening wedge for military action. Or at a somewhat less apocolyptic level, suppose the government of Turkey decided to rid itself of the Kurds in the manner in which it had once decided to rid itself of the Armenians. Does the principle of state sovereignty mean these affairs would be no one else’s business? Would it constitute a fundamental breach of the principle of sovereignty of an international force — or an individual state, for that matter — intervened to stop the genocide of Christian tribesmen in the south of Sudan?

    Put that way, the question seems to answer itself: whatever else it might mean, the principle of state sovereignty cannot mean that states are free to engage in the indiscriminate slaughter of religious, racial, or ethnic minorities within their borders. When that is taking place, othes have a right — perhaps even a duty — to intervene to stop the killing.

    (Idealism Without Illusions/U.S. Foreign Policy in the 1990s pp. 99-100).

    Syria continues to be a state-sponsor to terrorism — but quite apart from Syria’s hosting of terrorists within its borders, the problem remains of its porous borders. According to the December “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq” report to Congress, nearly 90 percent of all foreign terrorists known to be in Iraq had used Syria as an entry point.

    The target in question — Abu Ghadiyah — was not only complicit in funneling terrorists across the border, but himself a leader in terrorist acts:

    Last spring U.S. intelligence picked up similar reports that Abu Ghadiyah was planning an attack in Iraq. The information — not detailed enough to act on — was followed by the murder of 11 Iraqi policemen. Abu Ghadiyah personally led the attack, a senior U.S. official told The Associated Press.”The trip wire was knowing an attack was imminent, and also being able to pinpoint his location,” the official said Monday.

    So there is no question that the target was legitimate.

    According to the same AP report, the U.S. had requested Syria “hand over Abu Ghadiyah months prior to the raid, the intelligence official said. Syria rebuffed the U.S. request, saying it was monitoring Abu Ghadiyah’s activities.”

    Should they have gone across the border? — I don’t know.

    How much actionable intelligence did we have?

    How close were we to taking out Abu Ghadiyah?

    Was it a reasonable presumption that those men in Ghadiyah’s company were complicit in his activities?

    Was there any off-the-record notification of Syrian authorities? — One account alleges that “The Syrians were unwilling to be seen publicly bowing to US pressure to tackle the group, he says, but in the end gave the Americans the green light to do so themselves.”

    Did the authorities give consideration to the minimization of civilian casualties? — According to the AP, “A ground attack was chosen over a missile strike to reduce the chance of civilian casualties.”

    Meanwhile, the Syrian government appears at odds with local authorities as to how many people were killed:

    The government statement said eight people were killed, including a man and his four children and a woman. However, local officials said seven men were killed and two other people were injured, including a woman.

    A journalist at the funerals in the village’s cemetery saw the bodies of seven men — none of them minors. The discrepancy could not immediately be explained.

    Lastly,was the United States prepared to deal with the aftermath that would follow when the incident went public?

    There is a lot we don’t know and sorry, I’m not going to imply that I’m competent and knowledgable enough to register a judgement on the culpability of those involved.

    Tangential note: I predict we will be revisiting this argument under the next presidential administration, given suspicions that Osama Bin Laden is hiding in Pakistan and/or being assisted by Pakistani elements, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that President Obama may embark on a similar ‘across the border’ excursion to apprehend another terrorist.

  • Apologies — for some odd reason, when you insert something in “blockquotes” WordPress renders the first paragraph in bold. Never figured why it does that or how to circumvent.

  • Chris – Who are “the proper authorities”?

  • Michael,

    Q: What usually happens in the context of a military operation when civilians are killed in the line of fire?

  • What usually happens is that the event is ignored and/or justified under the vague blanket term “collateral damage.”

  • Okay… At first cut my thoughts would be:

    1) I very much doubt you would believe a claim of first person knowledge that disagreed with your preconcieved notion, so I’m not sure why we should find your reception of one that agrees with it to be so compelling.

    2) It’s entirely possible that he’s dead right, and that the site attacked was of no military value whatsoever. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it was a terrorist attack intentionally aimed against civilians. It could well simply mean that it was a mistake. For instance, I wouldn’t claim that Clinton was performing a terrorist attack against the Chinese when he ordered (through a mistake in building address) the bombing of the Chinese embasy in Kosovo.

  • Darwin you are unbelievable. “Must have been a mistake. My country, right or wrong.” You have no desire to know the truth. You’d rather assume everything is a “mistake,” and that the u.s. military does no wrong.

    (And, yes, Clinton was a terrorist too.)

  • Look, I think Clinton was a lot of things, but a terrorist? Is your theory, then, that the US _did_ intentionally bomb the Chinese embassy in Kosovo?

    I certainly don’t think that the US military can do no wrong — but to claim this was a terror attack doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The whole point of a terror attack is to kill lots of people in an indiscriminate and spectacular fashion so as to strike terror into the populace. Napalming several whole Syrian villages would be an obvious way to achieve that goal. Sending in a couple helicopters to attack one house, and one house only, in a remote area seems a curious approach.

    It’s entirely possible that the military was criminally negligent and struck a target based on intelligence that was flimsy and entirely wrong (though that certainly seems odd given that it probably took very high level approval to strike across and international boarder) but terrorism really doesn’t seem like a probably motivation.

    It’s not “my country right or wrong” it’s using one’s basic powers of reason. (I invite you to try it some time.)

  • So Michael links to (and thanks) an anonymous commenter who purports to be Syrian (how that Syrian guy ended up on Vox Nova, who knows) who says that the United States is lying about this attack, just like the United States lied about the fact that it arranged 9/11 to happen so that it would have an excuse to kill Muslims.

    It’s very telling what Michael I. does — and does not — disagree with. In fact, I’d guess that Michael is a 9/11 “truther,” given that he’s a sucker for whatever crap he reads on any random leftist website.

  • I don’t know the particulars about the bombing of the Chinese embassy. But in between the Gulf Wars Clinton oversaw regular bombing raids in Iraq as well as the sanctions there in which children were knowingly left to die. Madeline Albright said publicly that these children’s deaths were “worth it.” This is terrorism.

    Look, I know these actions won’t fit your definition of terrorism. But that’s part of my point. Who gets to decide what “terrorism” is? If the military was criminally negligent, I would still call that terrorism. Being careless about the power you wield over life and death is terror.

    (I invite you to try it some time.)

    And I invite you to include a little self-criticism in your reasoning, and to purge your capacity for reason of the utter denial of your country’s history.

  • Michael, if you can indulge me… why “Syria” but “united states” and “u.s.”?

  • Well, I have my suspicions, but I want to see if I’m correct.

  • He’s just being trollish, i.e., trying to poke a finger in people’s eyes, just to get a reaction.

  • Michael, so who does get to define terrorism? Or more precisely, why don’t you simply lay out your terms for what constitutes terrorism so we can all at least know what the other is talking about? Frankly I have to believe that there is a fundamental difference between targeting a single house with several helicopters and targeting a whole market square with a single bomb. One speaks loudly of restraint, while the other speaks of indiscriminate violence. I’m not saying that therefore you can’t claim terrorism on the part of the US, but then, I like to see exactly, point for point, what your criteria for terrorism are.

    Also, let me ask one further question: is there a difference between intentional and unintentional killing: for example, between murder and manslaughter?

  • Chris, feel free to email me for an answer to your question. I don’t feel like “discussing” it with S.B. again. 🙂

    Michael, so who does get to define terrorism?

    For starters, I’d say the victims of should be given special consideration as to what constitutes terrorism.

    Frankly I have to believe that there is a fundamental difference between targeting a single house with several helicopters and targeting a whole market square with a single bomb. One speaks loudly of restraint, while the other speaks of indiscriminate violence.

    If the u.s. military was going after one person, which the reports claim, then killing EIGHT other people IS a matter of indiscriminate violence. Perhaps if it was your family that was killed, you would not be calling the action “restrained.”

    …is there a difference between intentional and unintentional killing: for example, between murder and manslaughter?

    Yes, of course. But bear in mind that we often hold people accountable for unintentional killing. That’s the whole point of the concept of manslaughter. I also think that there are different types of unintentional killing. If my car hits a patch of ice and I slam into someone and kill her, that’s unintentional. But soldiers being reckless when attempting to capture ONE PERSON such that EIGHT OTHER people are killed, when this is happening on the ground and not from a helicopter, etc., this is not an accident. It is recklessness that comes from not giving a shit who gets in the way. And being willing to sacrifice whoever is “in the way” is indeed terrorism. The Syrian gov’t is absolutely right to call it terrorism.

  • Somewhat tangential here…

    Why do so many liberals place so little faith in one aspect of the US government (the military), but so much confidence in other aspects of the same government? And why do so many conservatives do likewise?

    If it’s patriotic to serve your country in the armed forces, why isn’t it similarly patriotic to be a civil servant? And likewise the opposite?

    Am I missing something obvious?

29 Responses to Being Reasonable Doesn't Always Work

  • Arguing with folks like that is like trying to teach a pig to sing. All you do is waste your time and amuse the pig.

  • That is really funny…. I think I will use that.

  • Arguing with folks like that is like trying to teach a pig to sing. All you do is waste your time and amuse the pig.

    So…everyone who holds a principled, good-faith view that embryos aren’t as “human and alive” as you or I are pigs in search of amusement? You joke of course, but if that were Chris’s take then just ignore the rest of my post.

    To Chris’s point:

    I cannot get (at least one of) them to acknowledge that according to embryology a human being comes to exist at conception (whatever one’s definition of personhood).

    It’s obviously a necessary step, but you’re right that I do not classify embryos as “human beings”, any more than I classify monkey embryos as “monkeys”. I have what I think are good reasons for this, so I don’t figure sticking to this assessment makes me unreasonable.

    While I’ve been a bit impatient at times, my general tone is fairly calm, I think, and yet we are getting almost nowhere.

    And we aren’t likely to get anywhere in terms of changing each others minds about where life begins. I recognized this from the start. I’m not appalled at the prospect of reasonable disagreement. Are you?

    As I said, it’s a helpful reminder for me that — try as you might — some people just cannot be persuaded, at least in the short term, of what seems obvious and self-evident to me.

    I view it as a reminder that — try as you might — some people will continue to hold their beliefs so dearly that they think criminalizing the behavior of many people who reasonably disagree is the “core principle” of a properly secular conservatism.

    If the kind of conservatism you’re interested in is the Church’s — as seems to be the case with all these posts about Catholics for or against Obama and how genuinely pro-life Catholics would never cast such a vote — then you probably don’t care about the point I’m making. Keep on keepin’ on.

  • Gherald,

    Maybe you should put Lipstick on that Pig.

    I kid.. I kid… 🙂

    Except for the fact that Sarah Palin Rocks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • “some people will continue to hold their beliefs so dearly that they think criminalizing the behavior of many people who reasonably disagree is the “core principle” of a properly secular conservatism.”

    Well, if the point of disagreement is about whether human beings in early stages of development are to be granted the legal protection, it seems to me the debate is both secular and conservative. After all, it was Roe that overturned the laws of 46 states while introducing a sweeping new abortion regime. You can argue it was correct, but it certainly wasn’t conservative.

    As to determining when human life is eligible for legal protection, that is as ‘secular’ a question as any. Catholics don’t oppose abortion for ‘religious reasons’, they oppose abortion because it is a human rights issue.

    You may hold idiosyncratic beliefs about when a human life begins, but they certainly are not scientific, insofar as an embryo is a completely unique genetic entity, with its own gender, and capacity like all human life for growth and development under the proper conditions. You can refuse to acknowledge an embryo deserves legal protection or that it has personhood, but it certainly is human life.

  • You can argue it was correct, but it certainly wasn’t conservative

    Yes and no. I’m ambivalent about whether it was rightly decided, because too many legal scholars disagree. But I do think that criminalizing abortions isn’t a “core principle” of conservatism, and that’s the position I’m arguing for.

    My personal beliefs were just offered as an example. I certainly don’t expect many Catholics to agree with me.

    I do however think that a Catholic who believes in secular government can be pro-life while at the same time not wanting to criminalize abortion. Just like how, for instance, a Catholic should believe adultery is wrong yet still not want to criminalize it.

    Hate the sin, not the sinner. Tell people you believe abortion is wrong, but don’t advocate criminalizing the (possible) actions of the vast group of people who don’t share that belief.

    an embryo is a completely unique genetic entity, with its own gender, and capacity like all human life for growth and development under the proper conditions

    Embryos are not necessarily unique, there are only so many possible combinations of the chromosome pairs of two parents. Granted, there may be some tiny mutations within chromosomes, but that’s just adding another layer of diversity. Identical twins, for instance, aren’t unique genetically. They may certainly develop into independent individuals, of course, with their own life experience in all its wonder.

    You can refuse to acknowledge an embryo deserves legal protection or that it has personhood, but it certainly is human life.

    Ah, this is a matter of defining our terms. “human life” may be shorthand for more specific things….

    I’ll happily concede that embryos are human life, but only in the sense that they are “biological life that is human genetically”. The same way as if, for instance, I were to isolate a live skin cell from my body. That’s would also be “human life” defined as “biological life that is human genetically”. Note that with sophisticated enough medical technology it is perfectly feasible to grow that ordinary skin cell into a biological clone of mine, thus creating a new person.

    (Just watch Jurassic Park, tee-hee)

    What I would not concede is that embryos or early-term fetuses are “human beings” like you or I and thus worthy of “protection”. Mr. Wehner called their protection a “core principle” of conservatism, and this I disagree with.

    I don’t believe they’ve passed a meaningful threshold that would deserve treatment as a developed individual. I don’t think mere brain activity is sufficient either — I think it requires a somewhat more developed sapience or sentience — something abstract like that. But since “brain activity” is a prerequisite for those things, close enough in the development chronology, and much more easily testable, I refer to brain activity in the context of abortion.

    HTH

  • -Hate the sin, not the sinner. Tell people you believe abortion is wrong, but don’t advocate criminalizing the (possible) actions of the vast group of people who don’t share that belief.-

    In all honesty I ask you, why couldn’t this be applied to various crimes in order to rationalize their legalization?

    e.g Tell people you believe jaywalking is wrong but don’t advocate criminalizing….

    And yet we have to have traffic laws.

  • Gherald,

    Embryos are not necessarily unique, there are only so many possible combinations of the chromosome pairs of two parents. Granted, there may be some tiny mutations within chromosomes, but that’s just adding another layer of diversity. Identical twins, for instance, aren’t unique genetically. They may certainly develop into independent individuals, of course, with their own life experience in all its wonder.

    Well, no, actually. You’re scientifically wrong on this. A naturally conceived embryo is invariably genetically different from either of its parents. No child has DNA identical to either of its parents. Just doesn’t and can’t happen.

    On the question of identical twins: It’s true that identical twins have the same DNA, however there’s never a question as to whether there is in fact at least one unique living human organism in existence post conception. Further, the splitting of identical twins happens so early that it is invariably before a conception would be detected and an abortion procured, so by the time period that we’re looking at abortion as an option there is simply no question as to the number of unique human organisms involved.

    Now, it’s true that you can, should you so choose, get all philosophical and come up with your own definitions of what exactly a “human being” is by some definition other than “human organism”, but I’m unclear as to why you think this would be a good basis for a secular conservatism in that this would invariably rely on people sharing your beliefs about when a human organism is or is not a human being. (After all, some people are outliers on that question — take Peter Singer.)

    It seems to me that a secular order is best served by using those criteria which are most objectively verifiable, and in that regard there is no dividing line more clear than existence.

  • Anyone who describes himself as “ambivalent” about whether Roe v. Wade was rightly decided is not a “conservative” in any sense of the word with which I’m familiar. Libertarian maybe, but NOT conservative.

    Put aside the fact that the case was about abortion. Striking down the laws of 40+ states and territories and the federal government (and thereby removing the issue forever from the political process of the democratically elected branches of government) on the basis of some undefined “right” that “emanates from penumbras” that are supposedly inherent within the Bill of Rights, but which can only be discovered and defined by 9 unelected and life-tenured jurists, is NOT conservative.

  • Well, no, actually. You’re scientifically wrong on this. A naturally conceived embryo is invariably genetically different from either of its parents. No child has DNA identical to either of its parents. Just doesn’t and can’t happen.

    Uhm, I never suggested children would be identical to their parents, only that they could be identical to other possible children. I was just objecting to the “completely unique genetic entity”, which was overstated. A minor objection really, but I don’t like letting hyperbole slide.

    I’ll address secularism over at c11 in response to fus’s other post…

  • I’ll happily concede that embryos are human life, but only in the sense that they are “biological life that is human genetically”. The same way as if, for instance, I were to isolate a live skin cell from my body. That’s would also be “human life” defined as “biological life that is human genetically”. Note that with sophisticated enough medical technology it is perfectly feasible to grow that ordinary skin cell into a biological clone of mine, thus creating a new person.

    Gherald, that’s a red herring. A human skin cell will not of its own accord develop into an adult human being… the transformation required for it to do so changes it from a skin cell into — wait for it — an embryonic human being, for it is only the human embryo that will — again, of its own accord — develop into an adult human being. The embryonic human is self-actualizing itself towards adulthood, something no other human cell can do.

    I don’t believe they’ve passed a meaningful threshold that would deserve treatment as a developed individual. I don’t think mere brain activity is sufficient either — I think it requires a somewhat more developed sapience or sentience — something abstract like that. But since “brain activity” is a prerequisite for those things, close enough in the development chronology, and much more easily testable, I refer to brain activity in the context of abortion.

    Why is sapience or sentience morally relevant, Gherald? What is so important about these things that having them endows one with rights? My position is this: it isn’t being *actually* sentient or sapient that grants one rights (what would that say about those in a coma?), but rather it is the innate *capacity* to do those things that is relevant, and the embryonic homo sapiens has that innate capacity, as do the neonate, infantile, prepubescent, adolescent an adult homo sapiens.

    I’d invite you to read the the following linked (short) essay for a strictly secular exposition of the position I hold:
    http://www.bioethics.gov/reports/cloningreport/appendix.html#george

  • Perhaps I was mis-interpreting your phrase:

    there are only so many possible combinations of the chromosome pairs of two parents

    But I took you to mean that it was possible that an embryo might end up identical in genetic makeup to either a parent or sibling because there were “only so many possible combinations”. This isn’t so. Identical twins are genetically the same, but only because a single embryo splits. One never has identical twins who are identical by “chance”.

    The key, as I pointed out, is that one may tell from the genetic uniqueness that the embryo is distinct from its parent (unlike some other “bit of tissue”) and one may tell from identity that an embryo is distinct from its twin. There’s really not any question going on here other than an introduced philosophical one which is not objectively observable or verifiable.

  • Anyone who describes himself as “ambivalent” about whether Roe v. Wade was rightly decided is not a “conservative” in any sense of the word with which I’m familiar. Libertarian maybe, but NOT conservative.

    Put aside the fact that the case was about abortion. Striking down the laws of 40+ states and territories and the federal government (and thereby removing the issue forever from the political process of the democratically elected branches of government) on the basis of some undefined “right” that “emanates from penumbras” that are supposedly inherent within the Bill of Rights, but which can only be discovered and defined by 9 unelected and life-tenured jurists, is NOT conservative.

    If Roe v. Wade was rightly decided — which many people disagree on — then there’s no argument about whether it was “conservative”. In such a case it was simply the correct constitutional ruling.

    If Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided — which may well be the case — then of course it’s not “conservative”, but it’s also not many other things (such as “right”, or “crunchy”)

    I don’t claim to know whether it was right or wrong, so the conservative thing to do admit: I don’t know, rather than pick the choice I like best.

    But I can tell you that today (2008, not 1973) if Roe were repealed you would not see 46 states with abortion totally outlawed. It would be split closer to 50-50, maybe 60-40. It would be a somewhat messy to reintroduce it as a federal issue, and I (conservatively) would rather avoid a new mess, especially since so many people disagree about Roe to begin with.

  • Gherald, the obvious parallel is slavery in the South. How — based on your argument — could a conservative possibly have supported abolition?

  • “If Roe v. Wade was rightly decided — which many people disagree on …”

    Not really. I couldn’t name you a single “conservative” legal scholar or jurist who believe Roe was “rightly decided”. And there are plenty of liberal legal scholars who – when they’re being honest – will tell you the consitutional basis on which it was decided is shaky at best, despite their support for legalized abortion.

    The argument today is not over whether Roe was rightly decided but rather over stare decisis … whether a precedent once set and once relied upon should be overturned. You may find a lot of people supporting the outcome of Roe and wanting to keep it in place, but you won’t find many defending the decision as constitutionally sound or “rightly decided”.

  • “… but you won’t find many defending the decision as constitutionally sound or “rightly decided”.

    And when you DO find such people, they’re certainly NOT “conservative” under any definition of the word.

  • “Yes and no. I’m ambivalent about whether it was rightly decided, because too many legal scholars disagree.”

    Right, because interpreting the phrase “…nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law,” a procedural safeguard, as containing a substantive right to abortion is abusing the language of the text beyond recognition.

    “But I do think that criminalizing abortions isn’t a “core principle” of conservatism, and that’s the position I’m arguing for.”

    Overturning Roe is certainly a central part of judicial conservatism; indeed it has been the fault line in legal academia for the better part of thirty-five years. You are absolutely free to advance an alternative vision of conservatism, a la David Brooks or David Frum, but I think it’s important to remember that it wasn’t the pro-life movement that brought conservatives to this point. A combination of national greatness conservatism (cough, cough…Iraq/Frum/Brooks), fiscal incontinence, and a systemic misunderstanding of the housing market were the primary drivers there.

    “I do however think that a Catholic who believes in secular government can be pro-life while at the same time not wanting to criminalize abortion.”

    Well, the analogy is important here. The question is whether abortion is more like adultery or like other types of homicide and/or child neglect/abuse. If abortion is the taking of a human life (a point on which we are in disagreement, but seems consonant with every sonogram I’ve ever seen), then it may be an issue of greater importance than adultery. If the analogy is changed to slavery, it is hard to sympathize with the position that those in the North should have refrained from imposing their religious beliefs about the equal dignity of persons on others. In any case, it is more in keeping with a traditional understanding of conservatism, both in a Burkean traditional sense as well as with the principle of subsidiarity, to permit the states to work that out as they had historically.

    “Identical twins, for instance, aren’t unique genetically.”

    They may not be that unique from each other, but they are quite distinct from their parents, which was the point being made. An embryo can be a different gender than it’s mother, which strongly suggests it is a distinct genetic entity, unless we are to consider the mother a hermaphrodite.

    “if, for instance, I were to isolate a live skin cell from my body. That’s would also be “human life” defined as “biological life that is human genetically”…it is perfectly feasible to grow that ordinary skin cell into a biological clone of mine, thus creating a new person.”

    This strikes me as obtuse. The clone comment highlights the fallacy in the analogy. The embryo grows in a self-directed manner with nutrients, and it is genetically distinct from it’s parent; not once has a skin cell of mine shown similar initiative or distinction. If your skin cells behave differently, do tell. At a minimum skin cells, are not human life ‘in the same way’ that a skin cell is.

    “What I would not concede is that embryos or early-term fetuses are “human beings” like you or I and thus worthy of “protection”.”

    Fair enough. This is the real impasse. But it is not a matter of ‘theocratic fundamentalism’ as I believe you described it, to hold an alternative view. You have established your individual criteria for what constitutes a ‘developed human being,’ but your criteria are not any more ‘secular’ than mine is ‘religious’. You have a hierarchy of goods which prizes some sort of achieved actualization as the defining characteristic of humanity. I think that such a view, less objective and open to all sorts of reductio ad absurdem arguments, is an arbitrary and impoverished approach to defining human rights. Perhaps, I am a bit over-sensitive to this, because earlier today I saw a 10-week sonogram of my child (with it’s heart beat, arms, and legs), and it is an image that is far more convincing to me than arguments based on ‘meaningful thresholds that…deserve treatment as a developed individual.’

  • But, look, while I was typing the discussion progressed apace. ;-). Ah well, note to self, brevity is the soul of wit. Good night all.

  • I probably won’t have time to respond thoroughly to some of the above posts until tomorrow, but would like to point out one misconception:

    your criteria are not any more ’secular’ than mine is ‘religious’.

    Eh, I’m not arguing that my criteria is “secular”, nor that it is necessarily “correct”. It’s just what I believe, for reasons I’ve tried to explain. It’s one example. Others have different beliefs, and they aren’t objectively wrong.

    “Secular” comes into play in deciding whose beliefs the government should enforce. And the answer is basically: no one’s when too many people disagree.

    It’s not at all like traffic laws, which most people can agree there’s a practical need for (even if they resent a few).

    Now if you’d like to live somewhere where enough people fall on the side of criminalizing abortion, look at this map. It’s pretty obvious that the places with enough public support to outlaw it tend to be more theocratic, undeveloped, or both: Central and Latin America, Africa, Middle East, Ireland…

    I understand your sensitivity fus01 and that’s a beautiful thing. I would probably feel the same way about a 10-week old (probably not so much about a 6-week old). But you have to understand: not everyone thinks the way we do, and indeed we disagree going further back than 10 weeks, and trying to force a vast number of people to act in accordance with your beliefs is a futile effort. Certainly not a core principle of conservatism.

    Just oppose abortion the same way you oppose adultery.

    I’ll address this and the “obtuse” red herring tomorrow, if you still care…

    g’night folks

  • Gherald said, “I do however think that a Catholic who believes in secular government can be pro-life while at the same time not wanting to criminalize abortion. Just like how, for instance, a Catholic should believe adultery is wrong yet still not want to criminalize it.”

    Would you agree with this statement, Gherald? “I do however think that a Catholic who believes in secular government can be pro-chastity while at the same time not wanting to criminalize pedophilia.”

    There are sound public policy reasons for criminalizing adultery. Even someone who prefers “secular government” must admit that (even if she is not persuaded by those reasons.) One need not appeal to any sort of “God said so” claims in order to recognize that some choices should have a sanction against them in the criminal law.

  • Two quick notes for the sake of clarity in discourse:

    Others have different beliefs, and they aren’t objectively wrong.

    You need to think about this one a little, I think. Objective is generally taken to mean: From an outside vantage point at which all facts are known. Thus, when you say that others who hold beliefs contrary to your own on the question of human personhood are not “objectively wrong” you either say that you are wrong, or that no one is right — that there is nothing which it is possible to know because personhood doesn’t exist. The entire basis of logic is that both A and Not A cannot be true at the same time. So unless you don’t believe in either reality or logic, all but one opinion with regard to the start of personhood is wrong.

    Perhaps you mean that the question of which beliefs are true is indiscernable, at least by what you consider objective discernment?

    “Secular” comes into play in deciding whose beliefs the government should enforce. And the answer is basically: no one’s when too many people disagree.

    This falls into a basic fallacy of holding that topic on which enough disagreement develops is a topic on which a secular government could not rule. In 1800, wife beating was such a topic. In 1840, slavery was such a topic. In 1920, lynching was such a topic. Do you really hold that it’s impossible for a secular government or political movement to take a principled stand on such issues until after a consensus had developed independently?

    If you do, I fear many people would ask themselves, “Than what good is secular government?” and overall I’d consider that a bad thing.

    It’s pretty obvious that the places with enough public support to outlaw it tend to be more theocratic, undeveloped, or both: Central and Latin America, Africa, Middle East, Ireland…

    You don’t know a lot about modern Ireland, do you? It’s arguably one of the most advanced and free market economies in Europe now. Poland isn’t in bad shape either.

  • Gherald,

    I appreciate your taking the time to respond, and I think it exonerates you from the charge of being unreasonable. There are three questions in play here, I think.

    1) At what stage of development should human life be legally protected?

    We have different answers to this question, but I think in rough outline our positions are clear.

    2) Whose position should be reflected in the laws?.

    Here, I think your position is unreasonable, not because you would like the laws to reflect your position, but because you argue that establishing regulations to protect unborn human life is an impermissible ‘imposition of beliefs’ on others. One problem with this argument is that nearly all laws are an ‘imposition of beliefs’ on others. A second is that it does not take the pro-life argument seriously. If abortion is the taking of a human life, then it is a serious violation of human rights, and a rather lethal ‘imposition of beliefs’ on a whole class of persons. To ignore this imposition, while highlighting the imposition on other persons, as Darwin Catholic pointed out above speaks either to a fundamental agnosticism (it’s unknowable), or a failure to consider the principle of non-contradiction. Finally, it is essentially a tie-goes-to-my-side position. People disagree about whether and when fetal life should be protected, but as Ronald Reagan argued, why should we err on the side of no protection?

    3) Which position should the conservative movement support?

    As I said, you are free to advance your vision of conservatism, but excluding pro-lifers a priori from the debate by arguing that pro-lifers should not advocate legal protections for the unborn because it’s an ‘imposition of beliefs’ is not a promising start.

  • There’s a lot more I could say here (explaining the red herring and why I’m not being obtuse and such). We could go on for weeks really.

    Unless there’s some surprising interest in my continuing, I’ll just address fus’s points in parting…

    2) The first problem isn’t a problem because there is much wider consensus behind most laws (I believe traffic laws were mentioned, but murder might be a better comparison).

    Uhm, I’m taking the anti-abortion argument seriously….to what DarwinCatholic said:

    So unless you don’t believe in either reality or logic, all but one opinion with regard to the start of personhood is wrong.

    Perhaps you mean that the question of which beliefs are true is indiscernable, at least by what you consider objective discernmentThis is quite ridiculous. One opinion is not right because no opinion is right. It’s a matter of definition, not fact. Not reality. Outside of theology, there is no objective, ethical reality of what constitutes a human being or a person. A definition must be chosen. Embryos == people is one such definition, which I find ridiculous. 8.5 month old fetus == still not a person is another such definition, which I also find ridiculous. But there are people who hold both those views, and they are both tenable positions were everyone else in society to agree with them. But everyone doesn’t. And Roe is as close as we’ve been able to come to a pragmatic consensus, and will in all likelyhood stay that way (impossible to predict the future, but for my purposes I have a 95% confidence level). So the conservative thing to do, from my perspective, is to accept the status quo and find a workable agenda, e.g. doing what we can to keep abortions safe, legal, and rare.

    In summary: no belief is “discernible”, because no belief is “true” unless you believe in some external source of truth like a God. (and obviously that holds no sway in secular government, hence my anti-theocratic ravings)

    3) Which position should the conservative movement support?

    As I said, you are free to advance your vision of conservatism, but excluding pro-lifers a priori from the debate by arguing that pro-lifers should not advocate legal protections for the unborn because it’s an ‘imposition of beliefs’ is not a promising start.

    I am not excluding anyone a priori. Mr. Wehner was excluding many secular conservatives like myself by asserting (with different words) that criminalizing abortion is a “core principle” of conservatism.
    The “pro-life imposition of beliefs” would be workable if there were enough support for it. It’s worked out in Ireland for instance. Minority pro-choice people don’t like it, but that’s…life. However that’s not the society we live in here in America, and it won’t be: we’re trending away from it. For various reasons America, the western world, and really the world as a whole is becoming more accepting of abortion with time. From what I’ve gathered anecdotaly and from a few polls, this trend is likely to continue.

    You’re welcome to fight it outside of government, but e.g. basing your presidential politics on it will accomplish virtually nothing. So find other ways to pursue a tenable pro-life agenda like private adoption agreements, leaving the state out of the abortion issue and maybe looking into some real pro-life good the state can do, such as avoiding unnecessary wars and treating prisoners humanely.

  • Oops, first quote should be formatted like this:

    […] Perhaps you mean that the question of which beliefs are true is indiscernable, at least by what you consider objective discernment

    This is quite ridiculous […]

    sorry

  • “Embryos == people is one such definition, which I find ridiculous. 8.5 month old fetus == still not a person is another such definition, which I also find ridiculous.”

    All right, gol ding it! Where would you draw the line, and why?

    “And Roe is as close as we’ve been able to come to a pragmatic consensus”

    Paired with Doe v. Bolton, with the right to abort through nine months of gestation limited only by one’s ability to find a practitioner willing to do the deed? That’s consensus?

    “no belief is “true” unless you believe in some external source of truth like a God.”

    The authors of the following articles do not believe in God, but they apparently believe that objective truths can be determined by applying science and logic:

    http://www.l4l.org/library/notparas.html
    http://www.l4l.org/library/congrecord.html

    “some real pro-life good the state can do, such as avoiding unnecessary wars and treating prisoners humanely.”

    Based on the figures I’ve seen, I suspect the number of externally viable babies aborted every year would make the number of prisoners of Gitmo and Abu Ghraib who can claim inhumane treatment look paltry.

  • Outside of theology, there is no objective, ethical reality of what constitutes a human being or a person.

    If by person you mean an entity that has inherent dignity and rights, I’d agree: ultimately, dignity and concomitant rights depend upon God. But with regard to what constitutes a human being, we *do* have biological anthropology which can tell us what makes a particular animal human as opposed to bovine, canine, feline, etc. Our position is that every human being (in the biological sense) is a person, and it seems that the onus is on your side to explain why some human beings (in the biological sense) do not have the same rights & dignity as others.

  • This is quite ridiculous. One opinion is not right because no opinion is right. It’s a matter of definition, not fact. Not reality. Outside of theology, there is no objective, ethical reality of what constitutes a human being or a person.

    Say that we take it for the sake of argument that there is no objective ethical reality of what constitutes a human person. Might it not be a good idea to, if we’re to pick an arbitrary theshold, to pick one that covers all human organisms, rather than one based on arbitrary characteristics which we happen to value? Otherwise, we have no real argument to make against someone who thinks that African Americans are not human persons, or Armenians are not human persons, or the disabled are not human persons, or the elderly are not human persons, or Jews are not human persons. In each case, someone picks which characteristics they value as “human” and reach a cultural consensus which excludes a lot of other human organisms — thus justifying treating those “others” very badly.

    That’s why it seems to me that even at a totally secular level we are better off treating human personhood as a matter of identity than of characteristic and degree.

    However that’s not the society we live in here in America, and it won’t be: we’re trending away from it. For various reasons America, the western world, and really the world as a whole is becoming more accepting of abortion with time. From what I’ve gathered anecdotaly and from a few polls, this trend is likely to continue.

    You’re welcome to fight it outside of government, but e.g. basing your presidential politics on it will accomplish virtually nothing.

    This is the argument that secular conservatives/libertarians have been making to the GOP since social conservatism started to rise to prominance in the ’76 primaries. However, I think at a fundamental, pragmatic level, it’s simply not going to get you anywhere. The fact of the matter is that serious social conservatives make up at least 20% of the GOP alliance, and you’re unlikely to pick up enough secular voters to replace those social conservatives if you shove them out of the tent. Indeed, imagine a situation in which the GOP is split into two parties an explicitly secular Libertarian/Conservative party and an explicitly socially conservative Traditionalist/Conservative party. Which one would get more votes?

  • I’ve numbered my responses, for ease of reading.

    1) “And Roe is as close as we’ve been able to come to a pragmatic consensus, and will in all likelyhood stay that way…So the conservative thing to do, from my perspective, is to accept the status quo and find a workable agenda, e.g. doing what we can to keep abortions safe, legal, and rare.”

    Well, I would disagree that Roe represents a consensus, insofar as most polling data indicates the public would support substantially more restrictions than the current Roe/Casey regime. Granted, there is a disconnect between what people say if you ask them if they support Roe and what they say if you ask more specific questions, but both the U.S. polling data and the practices of other (more ‘secular’) western countries such as the UK and Germany suggest that a majority of the U.S. would support many more restrictions on abortion if the legislative process were permitted to operate.

    Polling data aside, Roe is certainly not a ‘conservative’ decision. It was a judicial debacle, as most legal scholars will admit even if they support the result. Essentially, the raison d etre of a significant portion of conservative legal scholarship has been to oppose Roe and similar judicial usurpation of the democratic process. I suppose the longer Roe is on the books, it may become the status quo, and in that sense be a tradition to conserve in some quarters. Nevertheless, there is good reason to believe there will be four anti-Roe votes on the Court even after a two-term Obama presidency (Roberts 53, Alito 58, Thomas 60, Scalia 72), and it was nearly overturned in 1991.

    For most pro-lifers, particularly in the legal community, the advice to get over Roe looks like an invitation to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. But this is not a ‘victory’ for the sake of some sort of partisan point-scoring – the point is to save the lives of human beings, even if not everybody agrees when a human with a heartbeat, arms, legs, and distinct genetic features deserves legal protection. Even simply limiting abortions to the first trimester, would reduce abortions by about 8-10%, which would save hundreds of thousands of human lives (even if they are not ‘persons’ yet).

    2) “In summary: no belief is “discernible”, because no belief is “true” unless you believe in some external source of truth like a God. (and obviously that holds no sway in secular government, hence my anti-theocratic ravings)”

    I’m fascinated by this because law is often viewed as a moral enterprise – murder, theft, imbezzlement, prostitution, ensuring the public good through safety etc. Do you take a purely positivistic view of the law? I’m curious about your thoughts on infanticide, for instance, which has been widely practiced in some cultures or slavery, which was widely practiced in ours until recently, or even legalized racial discrimination, or the gay marriage debates. Is your view that the law has no relation to morality on the theory that morality is not secular?

    3) “we’re trending away from it. For various reasons America, the western world, and really the world as a whole is becoming more accepting of abortion with time. From what I’ve gathered anecdotaly and from a few polls, this trend is likely to continue.”

    I haven’t seen any evidence of this – do you have some poll numbers in mind? The data I have seen suggests support for abortion has either stayed the same or declined slightly over the past 20 years.

    4) “You’re welcome to fight it outside of government, but e.g. basing your presidential politics on it will accomplish virtually nothing.”

    Well, I think Darwin made a good point above about this line of argument; it’s not new, and I think the near-reversal of Roe in 1991 was a significant result, as are the appointments of Roberts and Alito. But aside from that, it seems like it would be a disaster to exclude the pro-lifers from the GOP’s base. As people like Ramesh Ponnuru have devoted reems of paper to demonstrating, the evidence suggests that the pro-life position of the GOP has been a significant benefit to the party. You may find pro-lifers to be personally distasteful (I might agree with you in many particular cases), but I think that you should examine the question empirically before suggesting that the Republican party become less friendly to the pro-life movement. Granted, being pro-life is not particularly popular in elite society, but it is very common in the rest of the country, particularly among the voters the GOP typically attracts.

    From your perspective, I understand that you wish the embarrassing theocrats would leave the party you support alone, or more accurately, provide votes without insisting on policies. But, keep in mind, parties are made up of diverse coalitions. Pro-lifers have provided a steady base of support for conservatism since 1980, and it seems to me that right now is not the time to alienate one of the most loyal conservative constituencies.

  • I saw a poll on the Confabulum recently that highlighted that 66%+ of the population would supports no change in Roe. I haven’t done recent research, it’s not a topic that interests me much.

    I’m mindful that single-issue pro-life voters have been a boon to the rightwardness of the GOP, and that this has kept our fiscal policies further to the right than such people would otherwise support if abortion were off the table. However, just because this would seem to benefit my economic ideology isn’t a reason for me to be happy about it….

    Democracy matters. I think the GOP would occupy a more center-right sphere without such single-issue votes, i.e. the whole party would move to the left for electoral purposes, and pick up the folks who are currently centrists. I think this would be a better party.

    I’m fascinated by this because law is often viewed as a moral enterprise – murder, theft, imbezzlement, prostitution, ensuring the public good through safety etc. Do you take a purely positivistic view of the law? I’m curious about your thoughts on infanticide, for instance, which has been widely practiced in some cultures or slavery, which was widely practiced in ours until recently, or even legalized racial discrimination, or the gay marriage debates. Is your view that the law has no relation to morality on the theory that morality is not secular?

    I’m not sure what you mean by “positivistic”. Secularism is amoral (as opposed to immoral). It’s only appropriate to “legislate morality” when a significant supermajority of people are for it. So e.g. 100 years ago the lack of gay marriage was appropriate, because the bulk of society rejected it. But today a significant portion of society has no problem with it, and the law should reflect that. (Even if, say, only 33% of the people in society supported gay marriage, that’d be enough because it’s a discrimination issue)

    I could say a lot more, but I’m not optimistic it’ll get us anywhere so I don’t want to spend too much time ranting in an oldish post : )

Political Intimidation and Persecution

Monday, October 27, AD 2008

The recent personal attacks and invasive investigation of Joe the Plumbers personal life is a scary thing.  Joe the plumber represents the everyday American, striving to better his lot in society.  By sheer coincidence Joe the Plumber was able to ask an innocent question to the Democratic candidate for president that seemed to put Senator Obama on the spot.  Then all hell broke loose.

I can understand if the far left goes far in their vitriol when their candidate was put in an unsavory position, but when the mainstream media began to jump all over Joe the Plumber I actually got a bit concerned.  I’m all for the vetting of candidates and hard-nose journalism, but the vitriol and aggressive journalism being exerted upon the McCain campaign and their supporters is practically non-existent on the Obama camp.

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56 Responses to Political Intimidation and Persecution

  • “I can understand if the Daily Kos, Vox Nova, and the nutroots community going ballistic that their candidate was put in an unsavory position…”

    “Brothers of Cain…”

    “With these thuggish Daley machine tactics being applied on a national scale are priests going to be investigated and prosecuted for preaching the sacrament of marriage is only between a man and a woman?’

    Tito,

    How long before your worthy contibrutors run away, with this type of stuff coming from their site’s founder?

    If you keep it up, I imagine a mass exodus soon….

  • Mark,

    Thanks for your prognostications.

    Where did I type, “Brothers of Cain…”?

  • Just a side note,

    Another TV station has been banned by Obama/ Biden

    http://www.breitbart.tv/html/206633.html

  • I agree that Sen. Obama’s campaign has not exactly been tolerant of dissent, and the treatment of Joe the Plumber by the media, more than the netroots, was disgraceful.

    That said, I think we need stronger evidence before we hit the panic button about Obama and our rights to free expression. The media and many of his supporters would quickly fall out of love with him if he began a ‘persecution of Christians.’

  • Mark,

    Thanks for the fraternal correction. Two out of three isn’t to bad for you.

  • “I call these folks crypto-Cain’s.”

    Sorry for my lack of precision in quoting. But did you cahange your original post? I seem to remember “brothers”…

  • Mark,

    That was from the “Catholics Switching to McCain” post I believe.

    Nope no brothers.

    But the other two were updated.

    Good eye.

  • I do think we are headed for a strong poersecution of Christians, most especially faithful Catholics who follow the teachings of the Church. Its the small things like the media’s unfiltered adoration of him, the attacks on Joe the plumber, the words of Biden about how we “won’t like what Obama does” after a crisis but that his supporters must stand by him, the folks who influenced his political thought, the messianic love by his followers, all little things that I think add up to something dark in our future.

  • Unbelievable that Tito would compare the “intimidation” of Joe the Plumber with the persecution of Christians. He is obviously clueless about real contemporary Christian persecution. Especially the kind actively promoted by the Republican party, especially Ronald Reagan and Bush I, throughout Latin America. His absolutely stupid comparison simply laughs in the face of the of the victims of REAL Christian persecution. Oscar Romero, pray for us.

  • Michael,

    Your one of the “Useful Idiots” that Lenin described.

    Are you talking about the “christian jesuits” that supported the Liberation Theology and the violent Sandistas Government? Which the current Holy Father condemned and his Great predecessor shook his figure at… aka Father Ernesto Cardinal.

  • Michael,

    Thank you for your charitable and constructive criticism.

    Especially asking for a non-canonized saint Osar Romero to pray for you.

    St. Maximillian Kolbe, pray for us.

  • Well, I disagree with Walter that something worthy of the term “persecution” will be officially inflicted on Christians by the US government at any point in the near future. I understand why people worry about it, but I think that the national belief in freedom of expression and religion is stronger than it is sometimes given credit for. (That, and I remember the unfulfilled prophesies of persecution under the Clinton administration.)

    However, Michael, you should get your facts straight. There’s no way that Romero could in any way have been killed with the support, tacit or otherwise of the Reagan administration, because he was assassinated in March 1980, eight months before Reagan was elected.

    So it would seem that his killing was the result of the REAL persecution of Christians supported by Carter — if that’s the argument you want to make.

  • Bret – No, I am primarily talking about the millions of innocent civilians, peasants, etc. who were killed by U.S.-backed governments. But I would include the many priests and religious who were killed by the same U.S.-backed policies, sure.

    If you think for one moment that these people deserved to die, whatever their political opinions were, you are no Christian. You can go to hell.

  • There’s no way that Romero could in any way have been killed with the support, tacit or otherwise of the Reagan administration, because he was assassinated in March 1980, eight months before Reagan was elected.

    I stated no such thing about Romero and Reagan. But if you want to sanitize the record of the Reagan and Bush presidencies with regard to Central America, good f–king luck.

  • Carter did support the same policies in Latin America. You are absolutely right about that. Romero was in touch with Carter repeatedly and Carter ignored him. Reagan and Bush continued and intensified those policies.

  • I don’t have any particular interest in sanitizing the Latin American policies of Bush, Reagan, Carter, Nixon, LBJ or JFK — but unlike you I don’t have an interest in overly demonizing them either. Much of the last fifty years of Latin American history is a succession of fascist thugs fighting communist thugs — with each side being thoroughly nasty people.

    US policy throughout the entire period was generally been one of trying to keep communists from gaining power (and thus supporting whoever opposed them) because of the way in which the USSR was using communist Cuba and communist militias in other countries to destablize the region.

    I’m not necessarily pleased with the people that US chose to support, but I see why it was judged to be the best of a bad lot at the time.

    Calling it religious persecution rather than a series of civil wars between fascists and communists is a real stretch, though. Generally attempted by those for whom passion serves as a substitute for thought. Speaking of which — I assure you that I can swear just as well as you can, but it adds little to conversation and if you can’t find more normal ways to express yourself I suspect that Tito will (quite rightly) delete your offending comments.

  • Calling it religious persecution rather than a series of civil wars between fascists and communists is a real stretch, though.

    Only if you ignore the fact that the U.S. gov’t explicitly targeted Catholic church leaders and liberation theology. Flyers in the streets of El Salvador reading “Be a patriot, kill a priest.” Romero, the N. American church women and the Jesuit martyrs were not mere “collateral damage” in a civil war. It was directly religious persecution.

    I could care less about whatever puritan language hangups you have.

  • I highly doubt that the U.S. government targeted Catholics to exterminate Catholics. Central America is 99% Catholic (give or take a couple of percentage points). So to claim that Catholics were targeted is a gross error in analysis.

    Your hyperbole to justify leftist positions painted in the blood of ancient martyrs does a disservice to their memory. It is unbelievably hebephrenic of you to do such a thing. No practicing Catholic would blaspheme the names of our ancient martyrs to promote your socialistic positions.

    Shame on you Michael I.

  • Pope John Paul II had a very clear idea of who he supported in Nicaragua.

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9906E4D61439F93BA35751C0A960958260

    As for language, of course you are foul mouthed Catholic Anarchist. That goes with your whole anarchist shtick right?

  • puritan language hangups????

    I suppose I could swear with the best of them… did once upon a time.

    Just don’t find it to be a very credible mode of discourse or argumentation anymore.

    I.e. it has nothing to do with puritanism, but rather with charity, Michael.

  • -I could care less about whatever puritan language hangups you have.-

    Nice. Multiple times contributors made attempts to speak rationally with you and you responded with profanity and disregard for their input. I think an apology is in order.

  • Michael,

    That someone in El Salvador (at least according to you) thought it to the benefit of his cause to kill priests does not mean that the US was actively supporting persecution. And frankly, those liberation theology exponents who deliberately aligned themselves with communist militias bear some blame in what happened as well.

    Surely your worldview can handle the “nuance” of real world cause and effect?

    As for my “puritan language hangups”, I don’t think that David Mamet fans can generally be accused of having a puritanical approach to language. But the fact is that God gave us the power of language for a reason. Why misuse it? Unless your points are so weak that you cannot make them with ordinary language.

  • So Michael,

    “I am primarily talking about the millions of innocent civilians, peasants, etc. who were killed by U.S.-backed governments.”

    You must be refering to the abortion policy of the Democratic Party and the one proposed by Obama where millions die each year.

    I never said priests who supported Liberation Theology deserved to die, but they worshipped a false religion and need to be corrected. Even the movie “Romero” pointed that out; and our Holy Fathers did do that.

    Just because I don’t argue with the revolutionary methods, does not make Christian… it is not I who ignore the cry of the innocent when they are butchered and it is called choice.

    By the way, I surprise you believe in Hell; I thought it was empty or did not exist?

  • I.e. it has nothing to do with puritanism, but rather with charity, Michael.

    Good point, Chris. And one that gives me a needed twinge of conscience since I frequently use words which are not profane in the plain sense, but are uncharitable in that they are intentionally derisive.

    Which isn’t very good either…

  • I highly doubt that the U.S. government targeted Catholics to exterminate Catholics. Central America is 99% Catholic (give or take a couple of percentage points). So to claim that Catholics were targeted is a gross error in analysis.

    […]

    That someone in El Salvador (at least according to you) thought it to the benefit of his cause to kill priests does not mean that the US was actively supporting persecution.

    You simply don’t know the history. U.S. involvement in supporting the killing of Catholic clergy, religious and laity is documented. Many of the killers involved were trained in the United States at Ft. Benning. It’s undeniable.

    Tito, it has nothing to do with justifying “leftist” ideology. It’s a matter of being honest about history. Even mainstream Catholics own up to the fact that the U.S. government was behind the killing of countless Latin American clergy, religious, and laity. You are are you one who is blinded by ideology such that you refuse to come to grips with the history of your political party and your government.

    And frankly, those liberation theology exponents who deliberately aligned themselves with communist militias bear some blame in what happened as well.

    Liberation theologians did not align with any militias.

    it is not I who ignore the cry of the innocent when they are butchered and it is called choice.

    Nor is it I. I am not pro-choice. Been to the “March for Life” twice.

    By the way, I surprise you believe in Hell; I thought it was empty or did not exist?

    Hell clearly exists. You are living proof.

    I.e. it has nothing to do with puritanism, but rather with charity, Michael.

    The real profanity is all of you making excuses for the slaughter of millions of Latin American people by your own government. Shame on you.

  • -Hell clearly exists. You are living proof.-

    Hail and well met, good fellow! The day is yours!

  • “The real profanity is all of you making excuses for the slaughter of millions of Latin American people by your own government. Shame on you.”

    What you are really ticked about Catholic Anarchist is that your side lost. Politics in Central America has been a deadly business since the nineteenth century. In the 20 the century the internecine warfare took on the coloration of the great struggle between Communism and the West. Blaming the US primarily for political violence in Central America is to betray an astonishing ignorance of the history of the various nations. Without the intervention of the US there would still have been great violence within El Salavador, Nicaragua and Guatemala, with the additional atrocity of the establishment of tyrannical communist regimes modeled on Cuba. I think it is a very good thing that the US prevented that.

  • Dear Michael,

    It is you who are making the excuses… not realizing that the U.S. was at war with one the major threats to Christianity… Communism. And to sit there and say, that American Foreign Policy under the Reagan and Bush Administration was evil is ridiculous. It was under Reagan and Bush that the U.S. defeated one of the greatest evils of man.

    There are many calamities in war… and many innocent people die, and I am not excusing the killing of the innocent, but you are ignoring what was at stake. World domination by the Communist party. Our goal was to stop the evil of Communism; you could see it in the Soviet Union under Stalin; you could see it in China under Mao; you could see in Vietnam under Ho; you could see it in Cambodia under Pol Pot; you could see in Cuba under Castro; you could see it in Nicaragua under Noreiga…

    We were fighting a war for the very survivial of Western Civilization, and you want to play these games of moral equivalence or worse… we were evil…

    There were many mistakes in our foreign policies dealing with Communist, but most of those were under Democratic Administrations… aka Kennedy the execution of Diem; Johnson letting the Media run the Vietnam war; Nixon (Republican) who went to China and his silly policy of Detente; Carter who was just a plain disgrace.

    You can say what you want, but the plain fact is the Liberation Theologian aligned themselves with the Marxist… and there have been records of Jesuits stashing machine guns for the “People” aka Communists.

    As a side note, am I hell or in hell or both – I am going to go with neither. 🙂

  • Bret – Stop making excuses for U.S.-backed slaughter of Latin American Catholics.

    Blaming the US primarily for political violence in Central America is to betray an astonishing ignorance of the history of the various nations.

    I am aware of the various histories and the u.s.’s relationship to them. The u.s. sided with right wing military governments throughout Latin America in order to stamp out “communism.” The u.s.’s targets explicitly included Catholics throughout Latin America who took sides with the poor.

    To the rest of you who do not believe that the u.s. would deliberately encourage the slaughter of Latin American Catholics, look up the “Santa Fe document.” See also Penny Lernoux’s book Cry of the People.

  • You simply don’t know the history. U.S. involvement in supporting the killing of Catholic clergy, religious and laity is documented. Many of the killers involved were trained in the United States at Ft. Benning. It’s undeniable.

    Some members of right wing militias who committed horrible atrocities were trained, earlier in their careers, in the United States, but that hardly means that it was actively the policy of the US to kill Catholics for being Catholic. The US policy was pretty clearly one of opposing the Latin American communists, and I don’t think it’s any more accurate to say that the US aim was persecution of Latin American Catholics than it would be to say that FDR’s aim in allying with Russia during WWII was the persecution of Cossacks and Poles.

    You of all people should understand that one can consider a particular party to be the best one to win control of a party without endorsing some of the immoral actions of that party — after all, you say that you prefer Obama to be the next president of the US despite his support for the mass killing of the unborn.

    Liberation theologians did not align with any militias.

    I actually chose my words rather carefully when I said “those liberation theology exponents who deliberately aligned themselves” because although the people you consider to be legitimate liberation theologians may not have aligned themselves with political violence, there were certainly those priests who claimed to preach liberation who did align themselves with violent parties. Going from what I can recall off the top of my head: several priests were involved in the Sandanista government, despite express disapproval from the Vatican; Haitian Fr. Aristide (eventually defrocked) repeatedly celebrated the “necklacing” of his opponents: tying their arms, putting a gas-soaked tire around their necks, and lighting them on fire.

    In short, as Donald pointed out: Latin American politics have been soaked in blood for a long time. I in no way defend the actions taken by the anti-communist forces in the various countries down there, nor do I think that the US government’s choice to support some of the more extreme right wing militias was wise or right, but to claim that the US was engaged in persecuting or supporting the persecution of Catholics for religious reasons is hyperbolic, and to claim that the communist forces were in any way deserving of admiration (or support) would be equally if not more wrong.

  • Incidentally, for an added level of irony, one of the positions of the much despised “neo-conservatives” which I found and continue to find myself much in sympathy with is that it is not an acceptable position for the US to simply support the existing local faction most in keeping with US interests, even if that faction has a bad habit of imprisoning and torturing its opponents, but that the US should instead seek to promote liberal democracy throughout the world.

  • “By the way, I surprise you believe in Hell; I thought it was empty or did not exist?”

    So American Catholic officially condemns those who dare to hope that all human beings be saved….?

    Is Von Balthasar a scapegoat around here?

    Unbelievable.

  • So American Catholic officially condemns those who dare to hope that all human beings be saved….?

    Bret is not one of our writers, and to be honest I couldn’t tell what he was getting at with that sentence anyway — I think there might be a typo in it.

    But though I’m in no position to condemn anyone, nor do I seek to be, I do think that Dante had a much more accurate appraisal of hell than Von Balthasar — for what it’s worth.

    Looking around the world, it is incomprehensible to me that hell should be empty — my great aim is simply to assure that I don’t myself make it any more full.

  • Our friends on the left are so devoid of hope and joy, it is no wonder the seminaries are full of conservatives and bereft of liberals. The only liberals in the Church are some aging radical priests who have no following. In reading some of the liberal’s posts here, I can’t tell if it is your own words or Bill Ayres’ talking points. Your rants about Latin America are truly troubling. Some of the most conservative people I know are Latinos along with Africans and Asians. They don’t own anything. However, they would like to, but you guys know better than them. Talk about elitist. They want to succeed and achieve but you guys are so caught up on Marx & Engels, you aren’t allowing these folks to live their dreams. I would also refer you to the many statements of Eduardo Versategui. Talk about being poles apart and that guy came from real poverty. My friends on the left, the McCain-Palin ticket is hardly that conservative. Senator McCain is frequently under attack from talk radio for not being conservative enough. I will leave you with a couple of thoughts how would the mainstream media react if John McCain said, “the poor you will always have among you.” (Mark 14:7) What would the mainstream media say if John McCain or Sarah Palin retold the Parable of the Talents and told the one who wasn’t producing that he would be thrown in hell for not measuring up? (Matthew 25:14-30) What about Saint Paul’s words concerning one must work before one can eat? (2 Thessalonians 3:10.) I am curious as to your thoughts.

  • Mark,

    So I disagree with Von Balthasar on one issue, and all of sudden “he is a scapegoat around here.” Goodness gracious.

    Darwin,

    Michael told me to go to hell, so I was trying to be funny. I guess I was not successful. 🙂

  • Michael told me to go to hell, so I was trying to be funny. I guess I was not successful.

    That was my basic impression — but some people take everything in the world so seriously that you have to address them on their own humorless terms at times. 😉

  • Bret,

    Who is it that you deem so incapable of (accepting) forgiveness?

    Your mother-in-law? 😉

  • I wonder how we can deny that persecution is coming when it’s already arrived in Europe and Canada. And we always seem to be just a few years behind those post-Christian nations in our rejection of God.

  • Michael,

    Thanks for your articulate response, it’s greatly appreciated.

    What Donald McClarey, Bret Ramsey, & Darwin said.

    🙂

    Mark,

    What Darwin said.

    🙂

  • Dave “Catholic Report” Hartline is rarely worth a reply, but here are a few points:

    Our friends on the left are so devoid of hope and joy, it is no wonder the seminaries are full of conservatives and bereft of liberals.

    1) Oh, I have as much hope and joy as I do hatred for the anti-Kingdom of death that you are pushing.

    2) I go to school with tons of seminarians. You characterization is wrong.

    The only liberals in the Church are some aging radical priests who have no following.

    Our of touch, obviously. Do you go to Mass? Are you a fallen away Catholic or something?

    Some of the most conservative people I know are Latinos along with Africans and Asians. They don’t own anything. However, they would like to, but you guys know better than them. Talk about elitist.

    Depends what you mean by “conservative.” If you mean “traditional,” sure. If you mean politically conservative, you’re quite wrong. Are you seriously saying that all Latinos, Asians, and Africans “don’t own anything”? It’s certainly elitist to lump them all together like that. Look, I live in one of the most diverse cities in the world. My colleagues here are from all over the world. I don’t need an education from you on how ‘they” feel or act.

    They want to succeed and achieve but you guys are so caught up on Marx & Engels, you aren’t allowing these folks to live their dreams.

    It’s funny that you think I sit around reading Marx all day. Truly funny.

  • Michael thank you for stating the true liberal agenda of keeping the poor down, that’s where the liberal elites would like to keep them, always have always will. I see you didn’t respond to Eduardo Verastegui’s comments did you? You should check out my interview with him. You guys are poles apart. Even Senator Obama hadnie things to say about President Reagan and yet you trash him. Talk about lbeing far left wing. Is it that funny to think you read Marx & Engels a lot? You state their ideals so often, I would have thought you read their works quite often. I need to get out in the world more, you say? My friend I have been to Latin America and Europe, I have relatives there. I am quite familiar with their views. As for my ecomonic status, I am the first to go to college in my family, actually only one of my four grandparents went past the 8th grade. My father is from Appalachia and I was a principal in a Catholic school there. I would love to see you spout your Socialist views to those folks, they would give you an earful and then some. My friend you need to get out of your latte liberal elite environment and see the real world, it might do you a world of good.

  • Michael thank you for stating the true liberal agenda of keeping the poor down, that’s where the liberal elites would like to keep them, always have always will.

    I agree with you about liberal elites. The key word, though, is ELITES.

    Is it that funny to think you read Marx & Engels a lot? You state their ideals so often, I would have thought you read their works quite often.

    Could you name some of them for me?

    I need to get out in the world more, you say?

    No, actually I didn’t say that at all.

    My friend I have been to Latin America and Europe, I have relatives there. I am quite familiar with their views.

    “Their” views? As if all people from Latin America or Europe think the same?

    My father is from Appalachia and I was a principal in a Catholic school there. I would love to see you spout your Socialist views to those folks, they would give you an earful and then some.

    Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the radical political history of Appalachia. Believe it or not — GASP! — there are socialists in Appalachia! Even in West Virginia, where I am from!

    My friend you need to get out of your latte liberal elite environment and see the real world, it might do you a world of good.

    Uhhh hhuhh.

  • Michael, I hope we can keep this civil. As for Socialists in West Virginia? Maybe a passing college lecturer who overstayed his welcome in Morgantown. Michael, the most liberal Democrat in West Virginia would fit into the mainstream of the Massachusetts GOP. As for the labor history of these radicals you mentioned, you left out the part about the folks from Appalachia throwing out the “Godless” radicals as they called them. As for the works of Marx & Engels, I did not take any Economics courses in Graduate School, but we did touch on Das Kapital in my Political Science courses. I understand the rudimentary parts of their thesis, but I am not an expert. I really don’t think you need to be to understand their theories and beliefs on human history, the acuumulation of wealth and the redistribution of wealth. I do not agree with their views that religion was devised to make us feel good. I also do not agree with their views that the poor need the elites to help them because they can’t do it for themselves. I am an optimist by nature and faith and I believe God gave everyone certain talents and abilities.

  • As for Socialists in West Virginia? Maybe a passing college lecturer who overstayed his welcome in Morgantown.

    Um, no, they’re everywhere in WV. Also remember that until the first (s)election of George W. Bush, WV was firmly a democrat state. There are even socialists in Super-republican Wheeling.

    I really don’t think you need to be to understand their theories and beliefs on human history, the acuumulation of wealth and the redistribution of wealth.

    If you don’t need to be an expert, then you should be able to talk about their view of human history and their theories regarding capitalist accumulation. I’m all ears.

    I do not agree with their views that religion was devised to make us feel good.

    That’s not quite what Marx said about religion. Try again.

    I also do not agree with their views that the poor need the elites to help them because they can’t do it for themselves.

    You got that right, at least. And that’s great. I don’t agree with them on that either. Nor do any of the so-called “Marxist” liberation theologians you love to hate. This is why I am an anarchist, not a marxist.

  • Michael I.,

    Watch that pride of yours buddy. Be kind and charitable.

    Your brother in Christ.

    🙂

  • Michael, you seem to be questioning me on my comments that Karl Marx didn’t say religion was made up to make us feel good. Are you saying that Marx didn’t say, “Religion is the opiate of the people?” Now I am much better in basic conversational German than I am at reading academic texts, but I can dig that quote out to see if it is the right translation. Something tells me it is.

  • “Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions.”
    Karl Marx, Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right

  • My point is that Marx did not simply believe religion was invented to make us “feel good.” His critique of religion is that it often functions as an ideological cover for and justification of injustice and that it is used in order to help people cope with their own oppression. And his critique is absolutely right. Religion often IS used that way. I’d have to look it up, but I believe he also talks about the revolutionary potential of religion to expose injustice.

  • Marx of course was absolutely blind to anything beyond the material world. One of the many fatal flaws in his philosophy is that true human happiness and contentment really has little to do with material possessions. That of course is the great truth that Jesus taught in his lillies of the field sermon. That is also why high priced shrinks catering to the wealthy do so well. Marx was a good stylist but his philosophy is a dead end.

  • One of the many fatal flaws in his philosophy is that true human happiness and contentment really has little to do with material possessions.

    If you think that Marx’s philosophy includes something about material possessions being the key to human happiness, then you have seriously misread Marx.

    There are obvious problems with Marx’s philosophy, and obvious ways that it is incompatible with the Christian worldview. But as a critique of capitalism, it is dead on. It’s important, I think, to understand what he is saying and what he is not saying before writing him off completely.

  • This reminds me of something a Mr. Ilyich Ulyanov delivered in a speech to advocates of the MORCPB on December 6, 1920.

    I can’t remember whom Mr. Ulyanov was referring to but it is apropos here.

  • “If you think that Marx’s philosophy includes something about material possessions being the key to human happiness, then you have seriously misread Marx. ”

    Marx was a complete materialist Catholic Anarchist. He believed there was simply nothing beyond the material. As his right hand Engels put it:
    ” The materialist conception of history starts from the proposition that the production of the means to support human life and, next to production, the exchange of things produced, is the basis of all social structure; that in every society that has appeared in history, the manner in which wealth is distributed and society divided into classes or orders is dependent upon what is produced, how it is produced, and how the products are exchanged. From this point of view, the final causes of all social changes and political revolutions are to be sought, not in men’s brains, not in men’s better insights into eternal truth and justice, but in changes in the modes of production and exchange.”

    Once the working class had the means of production in their hands to satisfy their material needs, the dictatorship of the proletariat would reign and the classless society would result. That Marx was wrong about this, as he was wrong about most of his predictions regarding capitalism, history amply demostrates. I enjoy reading Marx for much the same reason I enjoy reading Freud: both men could write with style and verve, but as world views both philosophies have less to do with reality than a Bugs Bunny marathon.

  • But marxist materialism does not mean the same thing as the word materialism as we use it in conversation. It does not mean valuing possessions as the key to human happiness. That is, in fact, to get his economics completely backwards. His materialism has to do with his denial of the transcendent, not how he views possessions.

  • M.I.

    Correct

    Marx more or less posited a natural human telos, in which the human being is to become himself, in which his activity would beyond the enslavement in servile labour, hitherto historically necessary in order to subdue and tame external and internal nature, and virtually invariably exploited by the powerful or ‘haves’.

    This end, however, is not just to take pleasure in a crass ‘materialism’ as we commonly call it, but to actualize himself in the liberal–albeit immanent, not transcendent–employment of his creative energies in a world made (as much as practically possible) free of scarcity and serviilty.

  • I actually agree that there’s *some* validity to Marx’s critique of capitalism, but we shouldn’t be surprised that he’s own proposal was a failure… apart from its obvious faults as described (in part) here, it shares the same lineage with capitalism (Enlightenment liberalism/humanism). (Cf., e.g., Benedict Ashley, _Choosing a Worldview and Value-System, ch. 2)

  • …it shares the same lineage with capitalism (Enlightenment liberalism/humanism)

    Yes Marx’s own thought does.

    It’s important, though, to recognize the revisions and rethinking that marxism, neo-marxism, etc. has gone through. There is no one “marxism,” and marxists disagree about all sorts of things.

Is Obama a Socialist? You be the Judge.

Monday, October 27, AD 2008

“If you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the court. I think where it succeeded was to invest formal rights in previously dispossessed people, so that now I would have the right to vote. I would now be able to sit at the lunch counter and order as long as I could pay for it I’d be o.k. But, the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society.

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6 Responses to Is Obama a Socialist? You be the Judge.

  • David Bernstein at Volokh has a fairly balanced take on Obama’s remarks:
    http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2008_10_26-2008_11_01.shtml#1225104785

  • Pingback: Redistribution and the Court | The Cranky Conservative
  • I think the post fus01 links to nails it pretty well, especially with its closing:

    It’s true that most Americans, when asked by pollsters, think that it’s emphatically not the government’s job to redistribute wealth. But are people so stupid as to not recognize that when politicians talk about a “right to health care,” or “equalizing educational opportunities,” or “making the rich pay a fair share of taxes,” or “ensuring that all Americans have the means to go to college,” and so forth and so on, that they are advocating the redistribution of wealth? Is it okay for a politician to talk about the redistribution of wealth only so long as you don’t actually use phrases such as “redistribution” or “spreading the wealth,” in which case he suddenly becomes “socialist”? If so, then American political discourse, which I never thought to be especially elevated, is in even a worse state than I thought.

    Not to sound like an elitist, but it’s one of the odd contradictions of the American voting public that although many essentially socialist (as in European stype social democrat) ideas are moderately popular with voters, and yet the concept of socialism is seriously unpopular.

    Or more cynically, perhaps it’s that Americans like free stuff, but don’t like the idea that their earnings might actually be taxed in order to give others free stuff.

  • Well said — DarwinCatholic and David Bernstein.

  • My opinion resembles the Volokh writer’s. Obama’s mention of redistribution is too vague to be scared or excited about. I’m not sure why Drudge got so excited about this. Why would he think it to be a bombshell?

    Government always redistributes wealth. This is most obvious in the case of, say, Social Security. But military spending, foreign aid, and domestic improvements channels wealth to government employees and contractors.

    I guess it’s the redistribution from private citizen to other private citizen *without pretense* that gets some people nervous.

  • Of course, the Christian Democrats in Germany accepted many of the same principles as Clement Atlee regarding the state’s duties to enforce positive rights and not just negative ones. I would agree with you that Obama is a social democrat, but on economic issues he shares a lot of ground with at least one branch Christian democrats as well.