Open Letter to President-elect Barack Obama

Monday, November 17, AD 2008

President-elect Barack Obama,

As American Catholics, we, the undersigned, would like to reiterate the congratulations given to you by Pope Benedict XVI. We will be praying for you as you undertake the office of President of the United States.

Wishing you much good will, we hope we will be able to work with you, your administration, and our fellow citizens to move beyond the gridlock which has often harmed our great nation in recent years. Too often, partisan politics has hampered our response to disaster and misfortune. As a result of this, many Americans have become resentful, blaming others for what happens instead of realizing our own responsibilities. We face serious problems as a people, and if we hope to overcome the crises we face in today’s world, we should make a serious effort to set aside the bitterness in our hearts, to listen to one another, and to work with one another

One of the praiseworthy elements of your campaign has been the call to end such partisanship. You have stated a desire to engage others in dialogue. With you, we believe that real achievement comes not through the defamation of one’s opponents, nor by amassing power and using it merely as a tool for one’s own individual will. We also believe dialogue is essential. We too wish to appeal to the better nature of the nation. We want to encourage people to work together for the common good. Such action can and will engender trust. It may change the hearts of many, and it might alter the path of our nation, shifting to a road leading to a better America. We hope this theme of your campaign is realized in the years ahead.

One of the critical issues which currently divides our nation is abortion. As you have said, no one is for abortion, and you would agree to limit late-term abortions as long as any bill which comes your way allows for exceptions to those limits, such as when the health of the mother is in jeopardy. You have also said you would like to work on those social issues which cause women to feel as if they have a need for an abortion, so as to reduce the actual number of abortions being performed in the United States.

Indeed, you said in your third presidential debate, “But there surely is some common ground when both those who believe in choice and those who are opposed to abortion can come together and say, ‘We should try to prevent unintended pregnancies by providing appropriate education to our youth, communicating that sexuality is sacred and that they should not be engaged in cavalier activity, and providing options for adoption, and helping single mothers if they want to choose to keep the baby.’”

As men and women who oppose abortion and embrace a pro-life ethic, we want to commend your willingness to engage us in dialogue, and we ask that you live up to your promise, and engage us on this issue.

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15 Responses to Open Letter to President-elect Barack Obama

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  • OK,

    Before I “jump” on this bandwagon I have some questions about this FOCA bill/legislation.

    My understanding, here in Texas anyways, is that with any legislative laws that interprets the constitution no federal bill is able to strip state law that augments said constitutional law. If that state law is not based on the constitution, but interprets state law or anything but federal law, then it can be affected by FOCA.

    I hope the wording makes sense, but that is the way I see FOCA.

    FOCA will never happen. FOCA was a no-brainer for Obama to trumpet up during the election. To “feed” his left-wing base. Obama knows that the majority of state laws wont’ be affected by any FOCA bill/legislation because only the Supreme Court can change constitutional law. Since the vast majority (99%?) of state laws that limit abortions are “interpretive” of the US constitution they won’t be affected.

    Ipso facto, this whole excercise of this “open letter” to Obama is pretty much meaningless.

    IF FOCA passes, it won’t affect almost all state laws (at least here in Texas).

    I’ll do more research on this, but I thought I’d throw this out there to my online lawyer friends to chew on.

  • Tito:

    Federal law ALWAYS supersedes state law, unless the federal law provides otherwise. This is stuff we learn the first day of law school.


  • “Federal law ALWAYS supersedes state law, unless the federal law provides otherwise.”

    Unless the federal act is deemed to be an unconstitutional infringement on the powers of the States by the Supreme Court. The Supremes have rightly in the past few years found a few instances where the power of the Commerce Clause was found to be too frail a reed to justify federal preemption.

  • Lex,

    State laws that “interpret” the US constitution would not be affected by a federal legislative bill. I’ll get back with the proper wording of what I’m trying to say.



  • Ipso facto, this whole excercise of this “open letter” to Obama is pretty much meaningless.

    IF FOCA passes, it won’t affect almost all state laws (at least here in Texas).

    I wish you were right, but you’re not. FOCA is a potential reality, and if you really don’t think so, you were awfully quiet about that leading up to the election when scores of Catholics (including me) were voicing grave concern.

    Texas is not a privileged state. FOCA is intended to roll back state restrictions on abortion–that would include Texas.

  • “Texas is not a privileged state. FOCA is intended to roll back state restrictions on abortion–that would include Texas.”

    Right, the only way a state law would survive is if the Supreme Court determined that FOCA went beyond the power of Congress to regulate abortion laws in the states. That would be up to Justice Kennedy; and I don’t think he would be inclined to side with S,T,A,R on this, but it’s hard to say. Kennedy generally follows the opinion polls on controversial issues.

    I am optimistic that there will be opposition within the Obama administration and among vulnerable Congressional Democrats to passing FOCA, but it is a real risk.

  • Poli,

    I’m still doing my research on this and learned about it two days after the results of the election, but thanks for keeping tabs on me!

    I hope I’m right, but if not, I’ll be signing that ASAP.


  • Texas is not a privileged state. FOCA is intended to roll back state restrictions on abortion–that would include Texas.

    Shucks. We don’t get to secede again?

    But yes, unfortunately it is correct that FOCA would overturn all state restrictions on abortion.

    As for the letter: I greatly appreciate its intent, but I couldn’t stomach the introductory paragraphs of Obama flattery enough to put my name to it — and I generally do not think that open letters of this sort get a reading from any but those who agree with them already.

  • Actually, we can secede. The question is if we have the gumption to do it. Because the federal government can’t do anything about it (this time around).

    Again, I’m doing my research on FOCA and I’ll get back to you all about it.

    The introduction was a bit much. It did get picked up by Deal and CNA (I think). But the introduction is a bit much to stomach.

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  • This comment is in response to DarwinCatholic, who claimed that the Obama flattery would only “get a reading…[from] those who agree with them already.” I would instead like to commend the respect and appreciation given to President-elect Obama in this letter.

    Though I do not personally agree with this letter’s main statement, I very much appreciate its tone, not just of flattery but of a willingness for cooperation. I agree with the call for open discourse and the abolition or at least the diminishing of partisanship, as it only serves to catalyze fiery arguments and not constructive debate. The usage of ‘lofty rhetoric’ should not be penalized in the writers’ case, but should be looked upon as one step towards the unity that this country could really use at a time like this.

    Thank you for having a well-structured and, most importantly, respectful tone in these pieces. It allows for better communication, and your letter is not only reaching the ears of your supporters, as some pointed out, but also those looking at others’ views for a better perspective.

  • Gania,

    We strive to be charitable when writing our columns.

    Thank you for the kind comments towards Darwin.

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,


Cardinal: Obama "Aggressive … and Apocalyptic"

Monday, November 17, AD 2008

His Eminence the polite and soft-spoken James Francis Cardinal Stafford head of the Supreme Tribunal of james-francis-cardinal-staffordthe Apostolic Penitentiary gave a lecture on November 13 at the Keane Auditorium at Catholic University of America last week titled, “Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II: Being True in Body and Soul“.  In it Cardinal Stafford critiqued President-elect Obama as “aggressive, disruptive and apocalyptic,“ and he further added that Obama ran an “extremist  anti-life platform”.

Here are some highlights of his lecture:

“Because man is a sacred element of secular life,” Stafford remarked, “man should not be held to a supreme power of state, and a person’s life cannot ultimately be controlled by government.”

“For the next few years, Gethsemane will not be marginal. We will know that garden,” Stafford said, comparing America’s future with Obama as president to Jesus’ agony in the garden. “On November 4, 2008, America suffered a cultural earthquake.”

Cardinal Stafford said Catholics must deal with the “hot, angry tears of betrayal” by beginning a new sentiment where one is “with Jesus, sick because of love.”

The lecture, hosted by the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, pertained to Humanae Vitae, a papal encyclical written by Pope Paul VI in 1968 and celebrating its 40 anniversary this year.

Stafford also spoke about the decline of a respect for human life and the need for Catholics to return to the original values of marriage and human dignity.

“If 1968 was the year of America’s ‘suicide attempt,’ 2008 is the year of America’s exhaustion,” said Stafford, an American Cardinal and Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary for the Tribunal of the Holy See. “In the intervening 40 years since Humanae Vitae, the United States has been thrown upon ruins.”

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12 Responses to Cardinal: Obama "Aggressive … and Apocalyptic"

  • Interesting. I wonder if the Pope was sending a sharp message to Obama via Stafford?

  • Message sent loud and clear. One wonders if the first assault by Obamaites will be on all forms of human life protection or packing the FCC to snuff out the Fairness Doctrine. In truth, most of those allegedly terrible talk hosts are pro-life. Thanks to Cardinal Stafford for heads-up from The Boss.

  • Apparently the good Cardinal didn’t get the memo. Obama was the true pro-life choice and that far from being apocalyptic and extremist, he is our great hope for the end to abortion in this country and a great promoter of life. After all, we are told that nobody is really for abortion – leaving aside those who choose to abort their children, the doctors and staff that perform the procedure, those who consider it a right, and those who would prefer their grandchildren be aborted lest their child be “punished” with a child of their own – it’s pretty much true.

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  • Cardinal Stafford is indeed typically soft-spoken… that he would come out *so* strongly speaks volumes.

    And he can’t be dismissed as a wingnut in clerics… he was fairly strong against the invasion of Iraq.

  • Speaks great volumes indeed.

    Something is afoot and I don’t believe that the recent boldness of American bishops along with Obama winning the presidency is pure coincidence (being a Catholic nothing is coincidence).

    I can’t put my finger on it, but we may be experiencing something akin to the tumultous 60’s, but towards a virtuous path, not that demonic path back then.

  • T- methinks you are sniffing out something real. There will be a humdinger of a kerfuffle between Pro-Life and Anti-Life (Obamaites) in the next three years. Time for American Catholics- aka America’s Happy Middle Managers- to do something they are reluctant to attempt in any endeavor. Choose.

  • Should Roman Catholics be single issue voters? Both of these candidates supported issues in conflict with catholic doctrine. Should McCain supporters repent also?

    McCain supports the death penalty for federal crimes. McCain says we should extend use of the death penalty and implement stricter penalties for violent felons. McCain supported legislation to prohibit the use of racial statistics in death penalty appeals and supports banning it for persons under eighteen.

  • Jamel,

    One issue carries more weight than the other and more grievious.

    I can understand the reasoning that you are stating.

    Though “one-issue” Catholics is a straw man argument.

  • Jamel – Catholics are not required to be single-issue voters. Many Catholics, however, feel that the moral significance of abortion outweighs many of the other issues.

    For instance, there are 1.3-1.4 million abortions every year in the U.S., whereas about 55-65 people are executed. It is hard to make the case that these are of equal significance if you believe that abortion takes a human life.

  • Moreover, people often overlook the fact that Democrats are not monolithic on capital punishment. Both Clinton and Obama support capital punishment.

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Latest Final Frontier

Sunday, November 16, AD 2008

The trailer to the Star Trek movie being released next year.  Probably this trailer is not authorized so doubtless it will be pulled soon from YouTube.  (Yes, I am a big enough Trek geek to be looking forward to the movie!)

[Updated 11-19-2008 AD by Tito, found the high quality non-bootleg version I think]

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9 Responses to Latest Final Frontier

  • Looks good. Not very “Star Trekish” at all. Great new feel to it. I hope they also got rid of the “one-world” drivel they’ve been pushing these past few years.

  • I haven’t seen a Star Trek movie since Generations… (I stopped watching the franchise when DS9 wound up — by which time I’d become a Babylon 5 fan and given up on Star Trek stuff.)

    Still, I might take a shot at this one in the theater. It seems like to a great extent this will be their freshest start since Wrath of Khan, which remains by far the best Trek movie to my mind.

  • Wrath of Khan was there best of all of them agreed. I lost interest after Generations as well. Just to unrealistic, methodolgy-wise, ie, liberal utopia, no money, persuit based on philosophy balderdash.

    The pre-quel series was actually pretty good but short-lived.

    I’m actually a big Battle Star Galactica fan. Extremely well written supported by exceptional special effects, but the story line and writing is what has me hooked.

    On a different level, I got hooked on Stargate: Atlantis. Can’t put my finger on it, but it’s addicting.

    Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back are my favorites of the SW series, but ever since Return of the Jedi, ewoks went over the line in blatant marketing/materialism, the series is a sham.

  • Star Trek First Contact was quite good. Enterprise, the latest series, I didn’t see until it came out on DVD and I was quite surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I loved both Stargate Atlantis and the original Stargate. I am a sucker for science fiction which is optimistic, and has a good blend of action and humor.

  • The ship at 30-ish seconds looks like Serenity from Firefly. *geekgasm*

  • I’m kind of mixed about this one. If they were going to re-tool the series, I had hoped they would do something really new, not go back and start tinkering with the Classic series. I can’t imagine the new Kirk et al will look good compared to the original, but I’ll try to keep an open mind.

    I still wish they had gone off in a new direction, something along the lines of Star Trek: Klingon! Now I’d gladly fork out the cash for that.

  • Should be fun, but the really hardcore fans are going to hate it.

    The series really needed a ‘reboot’. It had gotten rather stale and formulaic.

  • Well, I found more information. I’m not sure if any of this is correct, but I was able to ID some of the characters. The villain is Nero a Romulan played by Eric Bana, John Cho of American Pie fame is Sulu, the original Spock is the dad of the new Spock, Winona Ryder is Spock’s mom. And the rest of the cast are newbies (to me anyways).

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  • Thus the dilemma neatly summarized by Prof. Rove. Churchfolk- that is of the Caucasian variety- sat this one out. Got the vibe that McCain wasn’t up to their standards. Particularly on Life Issue Number One, trampled on by Obama campaign. Seeing a nice bubbling of this issue. Accurate and funnier summary circulated this weekend by Jonah Goldberg, one of our syndicated faves. No more mooshy moderates. No more Christie Todd Whitmans. Strong on life issues, free-market economy, support for the guys and gals in the armed forces. All else is far below in rankings. This effort will make the 2010 midterms more pleasant for many of us.

  • Mr. DeFrancisis I deleted your comment. This isn’t Daily Kos. Feel free to propound your ideas but I will not tolerate in my threads mere insult.

  • Mr. McClarey,

    That is in fact Bush’s nickname for him. It is not my doing.

  • John Henry: Did Mr. De Francisis refer to Mr. Rove as “word removed by Donald R. McClarey”.

    Yes he did John Henry and in my threads I am going to draw the line at such terms no matter who bestows them as nicknames. I expect that during the next four years debate will become quite heated politically and I am going to do my best in my threads to deal with ideas and not allow partisan passion to start an insult war that accomplishes nothing.

  • Shucks, you mean we don’t get to re-use Nixon’s nicknames for people?

  • Fair enough. Apologies for violating the rule. In any case, thanks for posting the article. I am glad to see that Republican party strategists recognize the importance of the pro-life movement.

  • No apologies necessary John Henry. I have seen quite a few political combox threads get too heated and degenerate into useless back and forth and I therefore am going to be proactive in eliminating items in my threads that I think could start a flame war.

    “Shucks, you mean we don’t get to re-use Nixon’s nicknames for people?”

    I am afraid Darwin that I would then have to make heavy use of “expletive deleted” editing!

  • I saw Karl Rove debating Comes (of “Hannity of’) on ESCR and the Mexico City policy last week. I believe Rove’s concern — counter the liberal caricatures of him — was genuine rather than manipulative.

  • Christopher,

    I have to ask because I cannot make your little avatar.

    What is it?

  • Karl Rove was interviewed in Newsweek recently — best line:

    Do you like Joe Biden?

    “I think he has an odd combination of longevity and long-windedness that passes for wisdom in Washington.”

  • I have to ask because I cannot make your little avatar. What is it?

    Tito — the painting is “crucifix 46”, by William Congdon.

    You can read about him here.

  • “I think he has an odd combination of longevity and long-windedness that passes for wisdom in Washington.”


    Strikes me that one of the interesting things about the Obama presidency is that Biden is not a remotely credible successor. He’d be 74 in 2016, and he was really more there to assure people that there would be an adult around if they weren’t sure about Obama’s experience.

    So if Obama is seen has having had a successful presidency, he won’t have a direct successor but rather an open field to vie to replace him. Unless he dumps Biden in 2012 and runs with a different VP then.

  • As for 2012, if Obama encounters the problems I expect him to encounter I wouldn’t rule out a challenge by Clinton. One way to forestall that would be to dump Biden and put Clinton on the ticket. Whether she would accept would depend upon how much trouble she believes Obama is in. In any case Biden is a completely dispensable figure with no independent following in the party who could be given the heave ho without a second’s hesitation. I think that is one reason why Obama picked him.

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The War on Joe the Plumber-Update

Friday, November 14, AD 2008


Previously I had posted about government snooping on Joe the Plumber here.  Ohio Inspector General Tom Charles has now reported that no fewer than six governmental agencies, including the office of the Attorney General of the State of Ohio, and the Ohio Department of Taxation, accessed state records on Joe Wurzelbacher.  The lesson is obvious:  ask an inconvenient question of President Obama and agencies that your tax dollars support will be used as a weapon against you.

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4 Responses to The War on Joe the Plumber-Update

  • Perhaps you could do some pro bomum work to defend the poor fellow, Mr. McClarey… ;

  • pro bonum…pro bono…U2 rules, btw…

  • Pro bono? Surely you jest? The taxpayers of Ohio will pay heavily for the zeal of Democrat public officials in the cause of Obama. If I lived in Ohio I would unhesitatingly take this case on a contingent fee faster than an Obama supporter can say “Yes, we can!” This case is tailor-made for large punitive damages. Joe will have attorneys standing in line. The discovery portion of the case will be a hoot too, since that will give Joe’s attorney ample opportunity to determine if there was collusion between the Ohio snoopers and the Obama campaign. Oh, and the free publicity is something that few trial attorneys would be adverse to.

  • This story illustrates the unprecedented transparency that technology is bringing to society. Just as (allegedly) Plumber Joe’s privacy was breached, access logs in Ohio’s information systems show when his data was accessed and from which particular government offices. That’s powerful stuff. Data logs can probably enable a deeper investigation into precisely who made the access and whether it was legal. If people acted illegally, the digital evidence can lead to their punishment. Such transparency represents a big trend in society –Ben

3 Responses to On Just Wages, Work, and CST (Part I)

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  • There are a lot of points in this post that are worthy of comment and/or critique. My first impulse would be to write half a dozen or so long comments each addressing a different point, but if I did that each individual point would likely get lost in the volume. So let me, for now at least, confine myself to one particular point. You say:

    Associated with work is the principle of remuneration. Ideally, a man receives in return for his toil compensation proportional to the effort he has expended. It is justice that if a man expends more hours in labor, he receives further compensation.

    I sense the ghost of the labor theory of value lurking behind these remarks, and I want to send that specter back to the foul perdition from wince it came. It’s not true that compensation ought to be proportionate to the amount of labor that a man expends in performing a given task, or to the amount of time he labors. If A can do a particular job twice as fast as B, then it is perfectly fair for an employer to pay A more than B for the same amount of time worked. What matters is not how hard a person works or for how long; rather, it is the value he produces that will determine his compensation. (It is true that, for practical reasons, a lot of compensation is determined based on time worked, whether in hours, or days, or weeks, or whatever; but there is no reason in principle why it has to be this way, and indeed it often isn’t, as anyone who has ever worked on commission can tell you).

  • blackadderiv,

    Well, I hope the specter is duly banished. I wanted to keep concepts as simple as I could, as this was a long, long post (noted by how I decided to divide it into two posts). The part you have quoted here was merely the comparison of a man with himself, not with any other men. I wasn’t even necessarily thinking so much as a man working for wages in some company, even, but down even to the most basic. If you think of ancient, prehistoric man, out hunting and gathering, the idea would be this: if you spend more hours a day picking berries, chances are (there’s no guarantee, of course), that you’ll end up with more berries.

    You are exactly correct to point out that a man deserves compensation for quality as well as quantity of work. I never meant anything to imply that I denied that. On the other hand, you can’t deny quantity of work, either, at least within context. Quality, quantity, and rarity of work (i.e. special skills that only a few have) are all factors that have to be consider together when working with the whole picture. You’re exactly right about that.

Obama and Consequences

Friday, November 14, AD 2008


My friend Jay Anderson over at his always well worth reading blog, has a story about Father Jay Scott Newman’s controversial decision that voters for Obama should do penance before receiving communion.  The anonymous comments are priceless.  Perhaps some of our readers would care to share their thoughts pro and con over there?  For the record, my guess is that Father Newman will quickly be taken to task by his Bishop and rightly so, but the howls of the Obamabots have to be read to be believed!

Update:  Good analysis by Ed Morrisey over at Hot Air.

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19 Responses to Obama and Consequences

  • “… my guess is that Father Newman will quickly be taken to task by his Bishop and rightly so …”

    Actually, the Diocese of Charleston is currently without a Bishop. But Rich Leonardi’s post indicates the chancery is backing up Fr. Newman, calling his comments “appropriate and in line with Church teaching“.

  • I stand corrected Jay.

  • (Preface: I have a great amount of respect for Fr Newman and the work he’s done. I’ve been a fan of his since the old Pontifications days.)

    My humble opinion as a layman: Fr Newman ought to have exhorted his parishoners to examine their conscience carefully to see if it was in line with Catholic teaching on material cooperation with evil and proportionality, or, better yet, walked them THROUGH it. (I wouldn’t be surprised if this already happened, actually)

    THEN, tell them that if they were out of line then they should confess prior to receiving.

    Just assuming that because a Catholic voted for Obama they were guilty of mortal sin was presumptuous.

    Also, saying “voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exists constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil.” isn’t totally accurate, I think. If I understand correctly (I’m open to correction here) a Catholic could licitely vote for McCain, who supports ESCR (I know not 100% supports, but let’s not quibble on this for the sake of the argument) and is therefore NOT pro-life in the proper sense, due to proportionality (in order to limit the evil done by the more pro-abortion candidate). Obviously, voting third party or abstaining are defensible positions for a Catholic as well.

    Since McCain supports ESCR, those of us who voted for him are guilty of material cooperation with intrinsic evil as well, yes? Do we have to confess? Or does proportionality absolve us of that?

    If a Catholic Obama supporter was convinced (deluded, IMO) into believing that his administration would reduce abortions, were they guilty of mortal sin? Or just terribly wrong? How does Fr Newman know the difference?

  • I don’t think anyone knows what the Church’s teaching is on voting and abortion because the Bishops disagree with each other. It’s hard to hear what they are trying to say, even when you pay really close attention.

  • Perhaps Fr. Newman’s brave stand will compel some of the sorry bench of bishops to teach clearly. But pigs may take wing first.

    Good on Fr. Newman. It needs to be said.

  • Just noticed that it’s made Drudge. I agree with Chris that it is presumptuous to say voting for Obama required penance, and I think it was particularly unwise to do so in a letter. Here’s the relevant text per the AP:

    “Our nation has chosen for its chief executive the most radical pro-abortion politician ever to serve in the United States Senate or to run for president,” Newman wrote, referring to Obama by his full name, including his middle name of Hussein.
    “Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exits constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil, and those Catholics who do so place themselves outside of the full communion of Christ’s Church and under the judgment of divine law. Persons in this condition should not receive Holy Communion until and unless they are reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance, lest they eat and drink their own condemnation.”

  • Reading the text, it appears Father did not say explicitly that those who voted for Obama need to do penance. One could believe, in the language of the letter, that McCain was not a ‘plausible pro-life alternative’. For instance, I thought it would be very difficult for McCain to appoint judges unsympathetic to Roe with a Democratic Senate, and that his support for ESCR meant he was not really ‘pro-life’. For these reasons, McCain may not have been a ‘plausible pro-life alternative’. However, the extreme nature of Obama’s pro-choice record should have been a serious obstacle for Catholics.

  • He jumped noggin-first into secular politics. Bad idea but great execution. Sad to say, many of our fellow RCs either don’t know about abortion as a grave sin or are too muddled to grasp it. Padre Newman’s exhortation appears after the fact. Or else he violates the unspoken rule in New Zealand- the tall poppy gets chopped off. But he didn’t get much direction from his, and our, own shepherds. The USCCB statement this week was wild, bold and way out there, compared to the usual peace and justice and blahblahblah and we still have hope. Archbishop Chaput, The Shepherd For Our Time, is the one who sets the bar on this stuff, particularly with that fine read Render Unto Caesar at bookstores somewhere. Capture the good Archbishop’s pitch and tone and you’re OK. But I do like the good Padre’s style. Hee hee.

  • [Ed. Note Deleted]

  • That priest should be disciplined.

  • It sounds like the news story is mostly a matter of Fr. Newman’s bulletin letter from the previous week having been misinterpreted by the Greenville News and then Associated Press. He’s got a piece up about the incident on the parish website:

  • The poor cleric should perform due penance for either (a) his willfull and knowledgeable abusing of his parishioners’ consciences, or, (b) his inexcusable ignorance of proper Church teahing, in the light of the special and not-to be-taken for granted teaching, pastoring and leadership charisms conferred upon him, through ordination,

    These examples make me consider going all NonConformist and Dissident, in my weaker moments…

  • Or how about the AP does penance for willfully distorting what he said?

  • I’m only a lay-woman, a trained Catechist but no “Doctor of the Church.” I have no important degrees nor have I written “scholarly papers on the subjects of Church Teaching and the finer points of Canon Law.

    I am a middle aged “Baby-Boomer,” that was too young to understand Rowe verses Wade decision. I did not go through the crisis of an unwanted pregnancy.

    Naively I supported “Planned Parenthood” as a young woman until I learned some family history and how my grandfather’s sister who had been in college to be a school teacher in the early 1930s was swayed by Communists and worked for Margaret Sanger in Detroit Michigan, and died not from influenza, but a botched abortion her “lover” insisted she have to “prove” herself to the cause.

    I have taken women I know that had abortions BACK to a medical practitioner because of complications from abortion that they were not told about at the time. And prayed for both them and the child they aborted.

    There is trauma to the process, physically, mentally and especially spiritually, to the woman or girl, and to those that participate in the action. I cannot think of a good reason to abort a child in the womb.

    But I know abortion is an intrinsic evil, and those that endorse, encourage or consent are committing a grave mortal sin. More dire because it spills over into some many other areas of life.

  • Powerful testimony Sandra.

  • Sandra,

    Thank you for sharing. Very powerful testimony indeed as Donald said.

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,


  • Poor Father got his hand slapped from above:

    Here’s the written statement from Monsignor Martin Laughlin, administrator of the Diocese of Charleston:

    CHARLESTON, S.C. (November 14, 2008) – This past week, the Catholic Church’s clear, moral teaching on the evil of abortion has been pulled into the partisan political arena. The recent comments of Father Jay Scott Newman, pastor of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Greenville, S.C., have diverted the focus from the Church’s clear position against abortion.

    As Administrator of the Diocese of Charleston, let me state with clarity that Father Newman’s statements do not adequately reflect the Catholic Church’s teachings. Any comments or statements to the contrary are repudiated.

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions.” The Catechism goes on to state: “In the formation of conscience the Word of God is the light for our path; we must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. We must also examine our conscience before the Lord’s Cross. We are assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, aided by the witness or advice of others and guided by the authoritative teaching of the Church.”

    Christ gives us freedom to explore our own conscience and to make our own decisions while adhering to the law of God and the teachings of the faith. Therefore, if a person has formed his or her conscience well, he or she should not be denied Communion, nor be told to go to confession before receiving Communion.

    The pulpit is reserved for the Word of God. Sometimes God’s truth, as is the Church’s teaching on abortion, is unpopular. All Catholics must be aware of and follow the teachings of the Church.

    We should all come together to support the President-elect and all elected officials with a view to influencing policy in favor of the protection of the unborn child. Let us pray for them and ask God to guide them as they take the mantle of leadership on January 20, 2009. I ask also for your continued prayers for me and for the Diocese of Charleston

  • ” Therefore, if a person has formed his or her conscience well”

    Well, that’s the real trick, isn’t it? Can a well formed conscience ignore every Bishop that’s spoken out and vote for the most pro-abortion senator and presidential candidate in US history?

    Anyway, yes, Fr Newman overstepped.

2 Responses to Tolerance in the Land of Lincoln

  • I’m pleased that the young lady dealt so well with the harsh criticism from her peers. When I was that age I don’t think I could have. Her experiment was good, though I could have told her the outcome beforehand. It’s that strange irony of the American left, they brand themselves as the tolerant and loving but are actually the most intolerant and hateful.

  • Perhaps it would be more charitable to say that the left’s use of “tolerance” as a slogan is misleading, misapplied, or simply inaccurate. Very, very few people actually believe that we should tolerate anything. At the far end, the only thing not to be tolerated is intolerance, but further in the spectrum, there is more reason.

    Tolerance, of course, cannot include actions that are despicable. Degrees might come into play for some people, but the rape of a 7-year-old can never be tolerated. It would be hoped that most agree that rape in general can never be tolerated, but certainly the molestation of an innocent child is so reprehensible that it could never be tolerated. (And notice that there needs to be a distinction between the criminal and the crime; we could, if the rapist shows true repentance, tolerate him; but his crime is never, ever to be tolerated.)

    Tolerance, as the left uses it, isn’t necessarily about trying make relativism a way of life, isn’t necessarily about accepting anything, but supporting those minority groups with a different outlook that have been classically suppressed, oppressed, or unjustly forced into dark corners. Lately, they’ve taken that a step further in seeking acceptance for some behaviors that are morally questionable at best, gravely disordered usually, and sometimes even intrinsically evil.

    So I’ll throw the left a bone and accept that they don’t really mean tolerance when they say it, but use it because the term sounds good. The problem that they don’t realize is that tolerance in and of itself is neither good nor bad. Some things should be tolerated–differences of opinion, for example–while other things should never be tolerated. One has to be firmly grounded in moral theory, with an objective standard to weigh against, in order to start flinging slogans of “tolerance” around.

Rescue Packages & the Automobile Industry

Thursday, November 13, AD 2008

Smart takes from Manzi and McArdle. A question: I understand the political argument for an automobile industry bail-out. Unions are a valued Democratic constituency, and many of the potentially affected employees and suppliers live in swing states.

But is there a good argument for the bail-out on policy grounds? If GM can’t convince investors to buy additional equity or debt in the corporation, why should the U.S. government tax other companies (struggling in the same economy) to make an investment the market is unwilling to make? Is Congress better at spotting good investments?

Update I: See also Ryan’s comment on the National Money Hole” thread.

Update II: Blackadder has a good post up about the administration of the bailout.

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23 Responses to Rescue Packages & the Automobile Industry

  • Try national security/strategic: we can’t afford to lose that part of the manufacturing base.

  • Where the September Financial Sector Meltdown has gone. If certain banks are too important to fail, what about this company what about that company what about GM. Trading around 3 bucks as we speak. But what about those jobs the economy of Michigan the American way cue Stars & Stripes Forever. What lingering bad feelings about the 08 election were removed by laffs. At the sight of two distinguished figures on the Obama Economic Team- 1. our VP-elect- how nice Joe was let out of the attic for a few hours; 2. Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm. We will temporarily restrain our feelings about this Catholic pro-abort sellout. Only that she has been as incompetent as one in her position can get. In a state that fosters old-skool New Deal answers to 21st century positions. So now We Are All Michiganders. Bellying up to the public trough when our bank/auto company/lemonade stand suffers from largely self-inflicted wounds. They might want to chat up Philly Mayor Michael Nutter- libraries and pools to close, city employees laid off, no more cash for Mummers Parade awards, taking 10 percent pay cut. Chitown Mayor Rich Daley did similar presentation- more vague, but strongly warned of similar fiscal surgery. In spite of this, neither gent- good Dems both- are terribly willing to cry Mr. President Elect Save Us. Philly and Chi-Town are too big to fail. But they got- so soon after the elevation of the Dollar Store Messiah- that around their way, The Era of Big Gummint is over. Done. History. During my recent visit to SoCal, I saw loads o’ Toyotas, Infinitis, a Beemer or two. Very few manufactured by the Big 3 Welfare Cli- uh…. Detroit Auto Makers. GM makes great vehicles- Chevy Silverado, Caddy Espilade, anything with GMC logo. But way too little and way too late. Two Words for them- Chapter. Eleven.

  • “Try national security/strategic: we can’t afford to lose that part of the manufacturing base.”

    That is a good point, but it raises the question: would that base necessarily go away without a bail-out? Companies frequently use Chapter 11 to restructure their contractual obligations, create a more sustainable business model, or to maximize the value of the company in a sale. If GM is sick enough that bankruptcy wouldn’t help, then it may not be much of a strategic national resource.

  • I am opposed to bailouts under any circumstances.

  • Would they really be shut down? Wouldn’t successful carmakers (the ones that didn’t keep making tremendous gas-guzzlers even with the rise in gas prices) buy up a lot of the factories and use them eventually? It seems like we should allow smart companies, even if they are Japanese or German, to profit at the stupidity of our own carmakers. Anyway, I don’t beelive anything is really “American-made” anymore. Everything is from everywhere anymore.

  • Try national security/strategic: we can’t afford to lose that part of the manufacturing base.

    That’s silly.

  • That’s silly.

    That’s a Pythonesque response.

    More to the point, no, it’s not. The United States could not have geared up for WW2 without the Big 3. Nor could the Allies in general. Case in point: the Russians wouldn’t have reached Berlin without Chrysler’s 2 and a half ton Dodge trucks. I grant that an epochal, nation-shattering struggle along those lines is not currently on the menu, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t in the future.

    History happens in ways we don’t expect. I’d rather have mass-vehicular production capacity to hand if it does.

  • The United States could not have geared up for WW2 without the Big 3.

    The U.S. isn’t going to be gearing up for another WW2 any time soon. One might as well suggest that we need to keep GM around in case of a Martian attack.

  • -The United States could not have geared up for WW2 without the Big 3.-

    We will never have another war in which heavy vehicles will be that crucial. Important, yes, but not as critical as they were in WWII. The Second World War will not happen again. WWIII will be fought along entirely different lines (cybernetic, aerospace, guerrilla). There will be no tank dashes into the heart of Asia or anywhere. Did a blitzkrieg win the war in Iraq? Nope.

    If your goal is to win WWIII, saving big carmakers is waste of time. If there was such a need for them, they wouldn’t be suffering, would they?

  • I’d also note that, given the current size and capability of the U.S. military, the number of jeeps, tanks, fighter planes, etc. that are currently being produced and maintained (mainly by companies other than the Big 3), and the sheer volume of U.S. military spending, which dwarfs that of any other country, the idea that the U.S. would be somehow defenseless or unable to cope if the Big 3 weren’t around to utilize their 250k employees in the case of an emergency is, as I so Pythonesquely put it before, just silly.

  • Being an anapologetic free market capitalist, I’m all for no bailout. Let the market correct itself. If the Big-3 can’t remove the outdated UAW, let them fail. Besides we have Toyota and Nissan car plants in the U.S. that can be converted to war time use.

    IF, and I hope it’s a big IF, the UAW needs to be disbanded, removed, put out of mind and out of sight. In my humble opinion it is they (along with poor management) that is the root cause of why the Big-3 is where they’re at.

  • The U.S. isn’t going to be gearing up for another WW2 any time soon. One might as well suggest that we need to keep GM around in case of a Martian attack.

    The difference being we’ve had two global wars and four regional wars involving deployment of American troops in excess of 180,000 men in less than 100 years. As opposed to zero conflicts with doggedly Red Mars….

    Throw in a Cold War that involved static deployments of additional tens of thousands, along with the necessary logistical support for these.

    The one thing we know about this sunny unipolar moment is that it will end. Holidays from history always do. Nobody foresaw American involvement in WW2 in November 1939, either. I’d like to have a national manufacturing base handy when history starts up again. Who knows? It also might keep Tars Tarkas and his legions quiet, too.

  • I see Dale’s point, but we already have a pretty huge manufacturing base of “non-US” car factories in the US — which in the event of a WW2 scale conflict would doubtless be severed from any foreign entanglements and told to act as US companies.

    I would assume that given the tarrif and shipping costs involved, we’ll continue to have roughly the same number of auto worker jobs in the US whether some or all of the Big 3 go belly-up or not — it’s just a question of who will own the plants and whether they’ll be union shops or not.

  • …don’t forget the threat from Xenu.

  • “…we’ll continue to have roughly the same number of auto worker jobs in the US whether some or all of the Big 3 go belly-up or not — it’s just a question of who will own the plants and whether they’ll be union shops or not.”

    Agreed. Bankruptcy offers a lot of flexibility for restructuring union contracts and debt obligations to prepare a business for sale or for continued operation. My inclination would be to allow people who have a vested interest in these matters, rather than Congress, sort out the company’s strategy going forward.

  • Dale has a valid point, but I would prefer straight defense outlays to bailouts. I also agree with him that holidays from history always do end. I think ours has ended, but unfortunately a majority of the American people do not agree. Our military was stretched fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Add in another conflict or two and our military could be on the receiving end of some unpleasant outcomes. Meanwhile many Democrats in Congress are calling for substantial defense cuts. One more costly lesson I think we will learn in the next four years is what happens when a nation weakens its military in turbulent times.

  • For folks that get up tight about a 2 point increase in the marginal rate for income over $250K, you seem rather nonchallant about the impact to the economy losing annual allocators of $170B (F), $190B (GM), and whatever Chrysler does. Sure, maybe someone out there would buy the assets out of bankruptcy and in an optimistic scenario eak out 80% when all is said and done. That would only be annual cost to the econony of $70B, or if we do it how Congress does it, $700B over 10 years. That of course is an optimistic scenario. Take GM’s plant in Janesville. There are only so many things that can be produced there, and my guess is that even if that plant gets occupied relatively quickly, there will be nothing approaching the equivalent of a $40,000 SUV leaving there every minute. The worst case scenarios involve losses of 80%-90%. When you start talking about ripping $300,000,000,000 from the economy with no immediate prospects of recovery, you start having cascading effects. By itself, it would be a 2% decline in GDP. The whole Great Lakes region could start looking like Michigan real quick. Once that happens, other states will be affected. After 30 years, the steel belt has still only partially recovered from the collapse of that industry.

  • M.Z.,

    The problem I have with this approach, apart from a natural aversion to any parade of horribles argument, is that I think the U.S. automobile industry is structurally unsound. The steel industry provides a useful comparison; if we had propped up and rescued every major steel company in the U.S., I doubt the industry would have been that much better off in the long term. But, even if it was marginally better, this would have hurt a lot of other companies because the capital allocated to the steel industry by the government could have been put to a thousand better uses (preferably by investors rather than whoever has the most influence in Congress). The steel industry circa thirty years ago was not a good investment; that’s why it was failing. The same seems to be true of the automobile industry today.

    I am not opposed to programs that provide additional unemployment benefits and/or money for education and re-training that may help to mitigate the direct impact on affected individuals. But indirect effects matter, and, if the industry has an unsustainable cost structure, it is bad policy to devote scarce resources to bad investments.

  • Mr. Forrest,

    I think your “optimistic” scenario is unduly pessimistic. Even if not all of the assets sold during a bankruptcy are valuable, those that are will tend to be used more productively than in there current capacity. In any event, paying the Big 3 around $200,000 for every single employee in order to stave off the inevitable for who knows how long does not strike me as sensible.

  • M.Z.,

    More likely what you’ll find if the government does not bail out the Big 3 and the Big 3 fail, is that someone will come along, buy out those companies, reorganize the whole structure to be more efficient, and in a couple of years, Ford will no longer stand for “Found On Road Dead”. (I don’t know any witticisms for GM or Chrysler.)

    The result? A number of people lose their pensions, but hopefully will have been bought out at a reasonable price. A number of people will lose their jobs, but once the companies are up and running more efficiently and hopefully recapturing a share of the market, then that will balance itself out. I’m not saying that it will be easy for those who no longer have pensions or jobs, but here’s a couple of ways to look at it.

    A) The Big 3 are bought out and people lose pensions and jobs. B) The Big 3 just go under anyway, and then people are still out of their pensions and even more people are out of jobs.

    I’m not throwing in any condition of C) Government bails out the Big 3, and the Big 3 don’t go under, because I don’t see that happening. The problem is that the Big 3 simply aren’t conducting good business. A bailout won’t fix that; at best, it would delay the inevitable.

  • Amendment to previous post way above this one- Philly Mayor Michael Nutter got on Amtrak Express this morning to DC. Brought tin cup. Joining Mayors Shirley Franklin of Atlanta and Phil Gordon of Phoenix to get into Begging Line. Hope the wait is short and bottled water available before reaching the Anointed One’s chosen apostles.

  • Based on what expertise are you claiming that the big three will be reorganized even stronger. Cerberus attempted it with Chrysler, and as of a month ago, Daimler wrote off the rest of its investment that it hadn’t sold to Cerberus. BA, the problems go deeper than than the OEMs. Some first tier suppliers have been bailed out or went through bankruptcy already once in the past couple years. (Delphi and Visteon.) More importantly, many of these first tier suppliers don’t have markets for their goods outside vehicles.

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Not One Dime

Thursday, November 13, AD 2008


I have never given a dime to the Campaign for Human Development.  The always indispensable Father Neuhaus explains why here:

“Which brings me, finally, to another and related matter that will surely be discussed in Baltimore and deserves to be on the agenda. The Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) is an annual collection in parishes, usually on one of the last two Sundays in November. It used to be called the Catholic Campaign for Human Development but the Catholic was dropped, which is just as well since it has nothing to do with Catholicism, except that Catholics are asked to pay for it. Some bishops* no longer allow the CHD collection in their dioceses, and more should not allow it. In fact, CHD, misbegotten in concept and corrupt in practice, should, at long last, be terminated.

Ten years ago, CHD was exposed as using the Catholic Church as a milk cow to fund organizations that frequently were actively working against the Church’s mission, especially in their support of pro-abortion activities and politicians. Now it turns out that CHD has long been a major funder of ACORN, a national community agitation organization in support of leftist causes, including the abortion license. ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) is under criminal investigation in several states. In the last decade CHD gave ACORN well over seven million dollars, including more than a million in the past year. It is acknowledged that ACORN, with which Sen. Obama had a close connection over the years, was a major player in his presidential campaign. The bishops say they are investigating the connection between CHD and ACORN. They say they are worried that it might jeopardize the Church’s tax-exemption. No mention is made of abusing the trust of the Catholic faithful.

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One Response to Not One Dime

  • Fuzzy wuzzy ideology is easy to implement when times are fat. Oh you wonderful neighborhood organzation (led by the local Stalinists) we’ll send cash to you. No we don’t need to audit our books we trust these people. Our Serious Financial Crisis may produce all manner of good, if unexpected, fruit. One result is that the biggest public scam in American Catholicism may be in its last days. I will vote for Nancy Pelosi before one red cent from my pocket ever goes into CHD anymore. Maintained that position since reading some of The Wanderer’s investigative pieces. Would that many of our peeps- some of whom really are hurting very deeply- do likewise.

Thomas Merton, American Catholic

Thursday, November 13, AD 2008

merton_woodsBy way of Carl Olson comes Can You Trust Thomas Merton? – an evaluation of the Trappist monk and contemplative Thomas Merton which appears in This Rock, by Dr. Anthony E. Clark.

As with most critical evaluations of Merton, Clark mentions some by-now-familiar pieces of controversy in Merton’s life — His fathering a child during his hedonistic and womanizing years in Cambridge, where to quote him directly, he “labored to enslave myself in the bonds of my own intolerable disgust” and his on-again, off-again relationship with his superior, abbot Dom James Fox.

But it is not so much Merton’s “sins of the flesh” which are perceived as a danger (something which even the greatest saints were certainly not immune — is it more than coincidence that Merton’s Hindu friend Brahmachari would recommend Augustine’s Confessions?) as his exploration of the world’s religions, particularly Buddhism, the character of which, according to Dr. Clark, “often appears more like replacement than rapprochement.”

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16 Responses to Thomas Merton, American Catholic

  • Nice post!

  • Very good.

    On the central coast of California, there is a garish hotel on Highway 101 that is famous for its, uh, men’s bathroom and themed rooms, among other things; the bizarre men’s bathroom attracts the curious attention of even women, and it’s a natural place to stop on your way up the highway – I have used the bathroom several times. I was astonished to discover that Thomas Merton stopped there during a trip through California in the late 1960’s. From the October 8th, 1968, entry in Thomas Merton’s Journal, Volume 7 (1967-68) titled “The Other Side of the Mountain”:

    “A feeling of over-saturation with talk, food, drink, movement,
    sensations. The Madonna Inn on the road (US 101) outside San Luis
    Obispo exemplifies the madness of it. A totally extravagant creation,
    a disneyland motel, impossible fairy caves, a waterfall that starts in
    the urinal when you piss on the beam of an electric eye, a hostess
    with a skirt so short her behind was almost showing.” (page 199)

  • Some of you younger folks were just twinkles in your parents’ eyes during 1968. You tought 2008 was crazy. 1968 was ca-ray-zee. Protests and acid rock (mostly pretty good I must say) and deep deep societal convulsions. Of course, the year poor Pope Paul VI was fried and parboiled for Humanae Vitae- a prophetic document if ever there was one. Martin Luther King was assassinated on April 4 of that year. Thomas Merton died six months and six days later. If ever any historic figures could trigger spasms of If Only They Had Lived, it would be these two major religious leaders who passed away during The Really Crazy Year. Merton made it easy for religious leaders to show weaknesses. To demonstrate that even saints wrestle with demons, past mistakes, deep fears. Clearly shown in the recently published memoirs of Mother Teresa. But look at his proteges. For Dr. King, the REV-rund JACK-sonnnnn. For Merton, all manner of religious dissidents and wackadoos. Maybe they could have shaped and developed those following them with effectiveness. Would coulda shoulda. Bad enough they both died during The Really Really Crazy Year.

  • Christopher,

    Fine post.

    I like this part from Thomas Merton, “I think, then, that in our eagerness to go out to modern man and meet him on his own ground, accepting him as he is, we must also be truly what we are.”

    We must be truly aware of who we are. I know too many Catholics that go to far in throwing out the best of being a Catholic just so they could retain “respect” with the modern man.

  • Had he lived longer, he would have become a traditionalist.

    When you read his works, sure, he explores Buddhism, Zen, the Sufis. He makes statements that were certainly regrtettable (though not in any way out-of-the ordinary in the sixties and, let’s face it, even at his worst he was more orthodox than most of our bihsops form then until the present).

    But Merton not only “said mass every day”, he said it in Latin, though the rule shad broken down by then and lots of experimentation was going on, even before the promulgation of the Novus Ordo. I think, when that came out, Merton would have resisted the change. In his last days he records how disturbed he was at the idea of saying mass in the vernacular.

  • Except for THE SEVEN STOREY MOUNTAIN I’ve never read anything by Merton. One does wonder what a person who so casually concludes that He was unorthodox would do with St Justin the Martyr: “Whatever all men have uttered aright is the property of us Christians.”

  • In his last days he records how disturbed he was at the idea of saying mass in the vernacular.

    There’s a caustic notation in one of his journals about a progressive priest who, surprised that his congregation still said the rosary, escorted them into the woods and had the parishioners bury them, “in the spirit of Vatican II.”

    It’s not clear whether Merton was speaking figuratively or referring to an actual incident that occurred. Given the horror stories of that era, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it actually happened.

  • I pray for the conversion of the Spirit of Vatican 2 crowd. We need them in our struggle with the secular world.

  • I pray for the conversion of the Spirit of Vatican 2 crowd. We need them in our struggle with the secular world.

    This is reactionary, ecclesial fortress thinking, foreign to the spirit of Catholicism. An authentic interpretation of VII does not see the “secular world” as something to fully embrace (as the priest in Blosser’s example) or to fully reject (as in the case of Tito Edwards).

    Read more De Lubac, Tito.

  • MI:

    I think there’s a difference between the “Spirit of Vatican II” crowd that Tito’s talking about, and those who, as you say, authentically interpret VII. The SoVII crowd are almost the mirror image of the SSPXII (lots of abbreviations tonight, I know) folk. Both have distorted the meaning of Vatican II in their own ways.

  • MI – I agree with crankycon. Tito is referring to Catholics who use Vatican II (or, more precisely, its ‘spirit,’ since the documents are tiresome to cite) as a license to create a new Catholicism in their own image. Pope Benedict XVI has frequently decried this approach. It generally begins by describing Vatican II as a radical break with traditional Catholicism, then casts about for ways to establish a ‘new’ and ‘relevant’ Catholicism.

  • MI,

    I like the Vatican II documents and truly believe in their implementation. I don’t like how they have been hijacked by well-meaning Catholics who projected on them what they ‘thought’ were the actual interpretations.

    What Crankycon & JH said.

  • Tito, John, CrankyCon,

    I realize the “Spirit of VII” types that Tito is apparently critiquing, and I agree with that critique. But I am concerned about his follow-up statement that “We need them in our struggle with the secular world,” which to me sounds like a repudiation of VII. Our struggle, as Catholics, is not against the “secular world.” We affirm grace and the presence of the Reign of God wherever we find it. Our struggle is against sin, against the anti-Reign, and against the culture of death.

  • Just and FYI…that picture that you put next to the Jim Forest quote is actually a photo of his former secretary – Br Patrick Hart, OCSO.

  • Thanks for the tip, Kristen — have amended my error.

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8 Responses to The National Money Hole?

  • I, for one, am willing to go on record as against the money hole. Also, I am against taking money from successful companies and giving it to poorly run companies (as long as the poorly-run companies are not a systemic risk).

  • I second that motion.

  • Part of the problem with the government dumping money wherever is that the whole point of the economic system we have is to try to increase capital. Businesses try to become successful so that they can provide a living for the owner and for any employees he hires. Part of being successful is expanding to provide more services, hire more employees, and so on. I just state that last because I don’t want to enrage anyone out there who will think I think capital is the only important thing.

    The thing is, failing businesses decrease capital. The government funneling money into to them to bail them out might salvage the business, but in many, many cases the result has been merely to prolong the collapse, and effectively sends that money into the void. Now, I won’t argue whether it is wise to offer bailout money in any particular case, but when a business is failing because of bad practices, myopic plans, and greed, offering money to bail them out is exactly like taking money and flushing it down the toilet. Above and beyond the capital lost in the failing business, the bailout money is even more potential destroyed.

    That might have been a tongue-in-cheek production, but there’s more than just a kernel of truth there.

  • I second that.

    Though if the government wants to bailout the Big-3, the U.A.W. needs to be disbanded or radically altered. My personal opinion is, besides poor management, the UAW is right up there for the cause of the Big-3’s problems. Not even Daimler from socialist heaven Germany wanted anything to do with them when they finally dumped Chrysler.

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  • The irony is that if the government were to throw tax dollars in a giant hole and set it on fire, this would probably be better than a lot of what they are doing with it now.

22 Responses to Just Wage Open Forum

  • 60 hour work weeks, particularly spread between two different jobs, is feasible but tiring for a healthy young person without dependents. However dependents make this type of schedule difficult to maintain, particularly given the frequency of divorce and/or illegitimacy in the U.S. Childcare can be very expensive, and generally requires an adult working less than 60 hours a week.

    That said, it’s interesting that the $7.42 figure is in the ballpark of what the minimum wage ($7.25) will be next year. My understanding is that only about 1-2% of the U.S. workforce makes minimum wage, although that percentage may increase when the minimum wage is adjusted upward. Numbers aside, I am looking forward to your discussion of the just wage in CST.

  • Hmm…Not the resounding turnout I’d been hoping for, but then, I can’t expect people to hang out here every hour of every day, either.

    What I failed to make clear in my initial posting is that what I was calculating was a living wage for Laramie, WY, for two people.

    What I intend to discuss with a post that will hopefully be up tomorrow is that there is difference between just wage and a living wage, between just wage and minimum wage, and a living wage and minimum wage.

    I hope we hear more from other people about what they view as a living wage where they live, especially from Michael and Mark. This is, or at least seems to be, an important topic for them, and I’d really like to have them contribute a little before I post my next article.

  • Couple thoughts:

    What a good living wage is varies a huge amount by part of the country. I recall $8/hr feeling very comfortable in Steubenville, Ohio — but then I was paying $400/mo for a three bedroom duplex which I shared with three other working adults.

    Living in Los Angeles, it could be a lot rougher. Car insurance was $200/mo and medical insurance was $500/mo through my work for my wife and (then one) kid. Rent was $1000/mo for a one bedroom apartment.

    I think you were right to calculate an income and a half for two people. Sometimes that’s the husband working a job and a half, sometimes it’s both working, but it’s certainly not unreasonable.

    More generally:

    It seems to me that the real measure of a “just wage” has to do with the value of one’s work. It’s wrong for an employer to pay you less than a reasonable percentage of the value that your work creates for him — especially if paying you only a tiny percentage of the value your work creates results in putting you in poverty. (If you create a lot of value, it may be just to pay you pretty small percentage — though people often want more. In a given month I can point to a few million dollars in revenue that are directly attributable to my actions at work, and my wages are a pretty tiny percentage of that, but I’m nonetheless paid a comfortable enough wage I don’t think I could complain that getting a small percentage is “unjust”.)

    This creates, I think, dual responsibilities for the employer and employee: The employer has a responsibility to design jobs which are of enough value to pay a decent wage — and the employee has a duty to, if he’s a head of household or wants to be, be economically valuable enough to earn a decent wage through the value of his actions.

    My favorite example in this regard is the position of “greeter” at Wal Mart: I think Wal Mart is remiss in having a job description which contributes virtually no value to the company. But I also think that a worker who is a provider has a duty to be able to do something more valuable than being a greeter at Wal Mart. If the father of a family is working as a greeter and having trouble making the bills — the problem is not so much that he’s not being paid enough by Wal Mart as that he shouldn’t be working that job as a head of household.

  • DC, here’s something interesting for you. If you Google “catholic social teaching just wage”, your 2007 post on just wages is the second link that pops up. Just FYI.

  • Darwin Catholic has hit the big time ;-).

  • Boy, that’s odd. I would have thought some “social justice” focused Catholic site would rule that one.

    The benefits of being around a long time, I guess…

  • This creates, I think, dual responsibilities for the employer and employee: The employer has a responsibility to design jobs which are of enough value to pay a decent wage — and the employee has a duty to, if he’s a head of household or wants to be, be economically valuable enough to earn a decent wage through the value of his actions.

    You’ve hit the nail on the head. Using economics positively and not normatively, we can set aside “justice” for a moment and say that a market wage is simply the value marginal product of labor (p*dq/dL).

    Now what does that mean if we’re not just “neutral” economists but Catholics who care about social justice? It means exactly what Darwin said: there is a dual moral duty at work. The employer has to be more realistic about the value and productivity of the work being provided, and the employee has to have the sense to know what constitutes valuable and productive work. Unfortunately, the reason we see guys in chicken suits on the street corner advertising stuff is because neither party is getting it right.

  • a just wage? that would be whatever my employer and I agree upon for me to work for him, with no coercion involved. And it doesn’t matter how I spend my money, or if I agreed upon to little, or how many bills I have.

  • Anthony,

    Actually the Church has ruled that a just wage is not just solely determined by whatever you and your employer agree upon, with or without coercion. Due to certain factors on the part of the employer and the employee, it is possible for the employee to agree, willingly and without coercion, perhaps due to ignorance, on a wage that is far below what the position is actually worth. Now, it is one thing if you’re accepting a much lower wage as a matter of volunteer work or charity, but it is something else if, say, you accept a position worth $20/hr for $8.50/hr, thinking that is a great wage (because you’ve only made $5.15 up until then), and the employer really could pay you $20/hr, then that’s a different story.

    Granted, there are hundreds of different variables to consider, and I believe that, for the most part, the employer/employee contracts are more or less just.

  • Due to certain factors on the part of the employer and the employee, it is possible for the employee to agree, willingly and without coercion, perhaps due to ignorance, on a wage that is far below what the position is actually worth.

    It’s not clear to me how one determines “what a position is worth” without reference to a free labor market.

  • I don’t believe I ever suggested that you could. The assumption that an employer and an employee can make a just contract as regarding the employer’s wages depends upon both having full knowledge of the market forces, and full access to the market. The assertion that, at times, it cannot simply be left to a private contract between employer and employee is due to the recognition that most people will only have an imperfect knowledge of the free market, and only partial access to the market itself.

  • BA,

    I think that in an open market, wages will tend to hit the maximum value possible given the value of the work done.

    So I guess I’d argue that an unjust wage would most often be the case of some sort of market breakdown — either a segment of employees not knowing the real market value of their work and being cheated into working for much less; or employers using some sort of market restriction or force to make employees work for a wage well below what the market would set if allowed to function freely.

    Does that sound reasonable?

  • The scenario envisioned, I take it, is that a man takes a job from employer A at $10 an hour not knowing that another employer, B, is offering $20 for a similar position. I doubt that this sort of thing happens very often, and if it ever did, the simple solution would be for the guy to quit his job and take the position with A.

    Determining which jobs are comparable to each other is, of course, a tricky business (I say this as someone who could be making double or triple my current salary by taking a “similar” job to the one I have now; yet I’m not going to do so because there are other non-monetary considerations in play).

    As for market restrictions making wages lower than they should be, I would certainly agree that the restrictions are unjust, at least in most cases. But given the restrictions, I’m not sure you can say that the agreed upon wage is unjust (at least if implicit in the idea is the notion that it’s immoral for an employer to pay it).

  • There can be conditions, such as a monopsony employer in an isolated region, where the equilibrium wage is below the market wage. A minimum wage in situations like that can help workers.

  • BA,

    I think I’d envisioned something more like: Joe normally pays his technicians at Joe’s Auto Shop $20/hr. He charges his clients $70/hr and has no shortage of work in sight. However, when he hires a new technician Tim, he tells him “Of course, this position only pays $15/hr” because he notices that it’s been a couple months since Tim lost his last job and Joe figures he probably doesn’t have many options. Tim works well and a couple months later finds out he’s making 25% less than the other workers, but Joe tells him, “We only do pay reviews once a year. You’re welcome to leave if you don’t like it,” knowing that there aren’t any mechanics near by hiring.

    Now, I guess you could argue this is the market wage, if Tim is not in fact able to go find another job. However, it does strike me that if there’s no economic reason why Joe has to pay him less, other than that he thinks he can get away with it and make his business more profitable, he’s arguably cheating Tim, and in that sense behaving immorally by paying an unjust wage.

    I don’t think it’s the kind of thing which external entities like governments can do a good job of preventing, so I wouldn’t support any kind of regulation to prevent that kind of occurance, but it does seem to me that Joe is treating Tim unjustly and thus arguably sinning.

    On the market restriction question, I might envision something like:

    The large manufacturing concern in a small town has gone under, and the town council puts out big tax and funding incentives to bring in a new company. Company ABC somes in and sets up a widget factory, part of their deal being they get the town council not to give building licenses to any other manufacturers to come into the town for at least three years. (Illegal, I would hope in the US, but let’s imagine.) ABC then announces it will pay $5/hr in its factory, which is a quarter of what the old bankrupt employer in town paid. The labor of one worker creates $100 in value for ABC per hour. But since people would have to move out of town to get manufacturing jobs elsewhere, enough people grit their teeth and go to work in ABC’s factory that they’re able to run a booming business with huge profits.

    I’d argue that’s pretty clearly of treating workers injustly and thus immorally — but all that has to be done to prevent that at a government level is not provide local monopolies to employers. There’s not a need to legislate wages, but rather to allow employers to compete.

    Do those examples seem to show clear cases of unjust wage paying?

  • I think this discussion, where we connect the moral wage to the current free market value of the labor, is off basis. Why do we have to take the current market value as a given? Maybe the current market value of the labor is unjustly low.

    Look at it from the point of the consumer. Is it moral to purchase goods or services paying a price that we know provides for inadequate wages to those who have labored to produce or deliver the product? As a consumer, should we not be willing to pay for things knowing that their producers are not compensated enough so that they can have an adequate living? I think that justly compensating those who produce our goods should be a major factor in determining what we are willing to pay for an item.

    You are treating the matter as if the market value of labor should determine just compensation. I think that what we need to do is to make sure that the morally just wage determines the market value of the labor.

  • Michael Enright, I have to politely but fervently disagree with your statement. You more or less put the cart before the horse, by immediately judging that wages ipso facto are unjust. You also make a broad, and I think invalid, assumption that just because wages are inadequate to live on, they are unjust.

    I will make a quick statement here, and more in my upcoming post, that not all jobs are intended to be positions one makes a living from, and thus the wages offered for those positions can both be just and inadequate to make a living. For example, I would not expect someone to make a living being a bag boy at Safeway. I would expect that to be a position intended for teenagers looking to earn some money while accruing job experience and a history.

    Honestly, if I felt a company engaged in dishonest business practices by paying its employees unjustly, then I would be morally obliged to shop elsewhere. However, I’m not going determine the price I’m willing to pay for a product based only on the wages paid to the company’s employees. The price I”m willing to pay is based upon how much I need an item and how much I can afford to pay for it. Judging whether or not a company pays just wages is separate issue and depends on regional economic concerns, the jobs themselves, and host of other issues.

  • I have to say that you are taking my statement out of context. I never said anything about teenage workers, although they may have a family to take care of themselves. There are plenty of grown adults forced to do work, and sometimes very hard work, that pays very little. One great example of this is migrant labor.

    Secondly, I never suggested that you determine the price based solely on the wages that are paid. You put that in yourself. I am not advocating for the labor theory of value.

    I also never judged any wage as unjust. That would have to be a specific call based on each particular job.

    All I made was a modest claim. My modest claim is that when purchasing something, and we know that the employees are paid inadequately, that we choose another provider and be willing to pay more so that the laborers are paid adequately. That is one of the factors we should look at when considering what we are willing to pay for an item. We shouldn’t be looking to pay the cheapest prices in order to be cheap if we know that means for inadequate wages. (I did not define what an inadequate wage is). The market itself should advocate for fair wages.

  • I beg forgiveness, then. I did read more into what you wrote than you actually put there. To my mind, there is no separating a just wage from market forces, and what you were saying seemed to suggest (I only say “seemed to suggest”, not that you did so) that we determine numbers beforehand (how, I don’t know), and then compare how the world lives up to that standard.

    Your reply states that I was making an issue out of practically nothing (though there are minor details I could quibble over with you). Mea culpa.

  • Ryan, I pretty much stopped taking you seriously after “… the Church has ruled that… ”


  • Anthony,

    This is directly from Centesimus Annus, an encyclical by Pope John Paul II, looking back at Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum from the perspective of a hundred years:

    8. The Pope immediately adds another right which the worker has as a person. This is the right to a “just wage”, which cannot be left to the “free consent of the parties, so that the employer, having paid what was agreed upon, has done his part and seemingly is not called upon to do anything beyond”. It was said at the time that the State does not have the power to intervene in the terms of these contracts, except to ensure the fulfilment of what had been explicitly agreed upon. This concept of relations between employers and employees, purely pragmatic and inspired by a thorough-going individualism, is severely censured in the Encyclical as contrary to the twofold nature of work as a personal and necessary reality. For if work as something personal belongs to the sphere of the individual’s free use of his own abilities and energy, as something necessary it is governed by the grave obligation of every individual to ensure “the preservation of life”. “It necessarily follows”, the Pope concludes, “that every individual has a natural right to procure what is required to live; and the poor can procure that in no other way than by what they can earn through their work”.

    If you don’t like it, I’m sorry. Or maybe you’re thinking I meant “dogmatically defined” when I said “ruled”, which I did not mean. I meant that popes, after long deliberation and consideration of the teachings of the church, came to the conclusion that I then just passed along in my comment.

  • Hello. It is test.

12 Responses to Cardinal George's Official Statment on Abortion

  • The Catholic Anarchist and I agree! Probably not one of the signs of the Apocalypse, but close!

  • “This was bad law [I would say “this is bad law”].”

    Actually an attorney would use the phrase “this was bad law” which might indicate that the cardinal consulted with an attorney when drafting it. Heaven knows, however, that I would never set up my profession as models of good English usage.

  • Donald,

    Thanks. I was wondering about that, especially from such an important document such as this.

    I like the statement as well. I hope Cardinal George and President-elect Obama will be able to have a good dialogue on this and hopefully a fruitful outcome.

  • Decent stuff. Tito’s comments in red were welcome and clearly modelled on those by the esteemed Father Zeulsdorf on the most excellent What Up That Prayer Say. Almost bold or at least appears that way compared to the usual oatmeal served at the USCCB Restaurant. Time to find out if all those bold letters and statements they released in the past 12 weeks weren’t just vacant moosh. Could be tough times ahead for them and many practicing Catholics, particularly those in health care. Must pray for them to maintain the tungsten reinforcement in their vertebrae. And for us too.

  • Tito – Did you add more commentary since you originally posted this? Just to clarify, I think the statement itself is a good one. I have no comment whatsoever on your own commentary, other than to say I think you should have placed it at the end of their statement rather than mucking it up with your own interruptions.

  • The red is a little jarring to me, personally, but I like the statement. Thanks for posting it Tito.

    MI- approved your comment (not the second one, although I found it amusing). I feel your pain with the moderation; it’s happened to me occasionally with the auto-filters at VN and I know it’s off-putting.

  • Too bad the Catholic Church does not persecute the pedophiles and rapists within their very ranks with the same fervor they pursue the people’s elected representatives who do not kowtow the Catholic line.

    What about protecting the children that are already born? This is an organization that by it’s very actions basically condones child molestation!!!!!

  • M.I.,

    I was thinking the same thing. The red seems to scream out. I was puting in my commentary and saving the column after each paragraph, hence why you thought you saw double or something.

    I believe Fr. Z uses a slightly off-blue on the background to calm down the screaming red. I like your idea of puting the comments at the end though.

    I’ve been practicing on my personal blog with the red commentary a la Fr. Z and still haven’t figured out the right balance so as not to distract from the statement itself.

    It’s a work in progress and I also agree with you that the statement itself would have been sufficient, though what fun would that have been?


  • Zebediah,

    Could you present proof of the Church’s teaching on the condoning of said behavior?

    Here’s our catechism link so you can find it for us and post it on our website:

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,


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FOCA meet the USCCB

Wednesday, November 12, AD 2008


The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have made fighting against the Freedom of Choice Act a high priority in their current meeting.  The Catholic Church and the incoming Obama administration are on a  collision course in regard to abortion.  For every American Catholic the choice couldn’t be starker:  which side are you on?

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3 Responses to FOCA meet the USCCB

  • The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.

    Will our shepherds lay down their life for their sheep, or will they flee and leave us to the wolves?

    For decades they’ve acted as hired hands and squandered their authority.

    How many will see this through, and give their all so that, martyred their witness may provide the moral authority to their successors that they received from so many of their predecessors?

  • About time. For too many years, our shepherds tapdanced around controversy. They allowed most official documents to be wrapped around the blanket labelled Social Justice. When none of the sort meted out to around 50 million unborn children. Now awake, they speak pretty boldly for such an august body. Hope they’re ready for whatever level of persecution may be dished out by the new administration. So they were going to avoid that abortion/election/citizenship stuff at this meeting. Events dictated otherwise.

  • Pray for our bishops.