Road To Tyranny

Monday, February 16, AD 2009

It’s a commonplace of sorts in Catholic and conservative circles that democracy without virtue will quickly become tyranny. At the same time, this is one of those phrases which seems to drive secular commentators to distraction. How could liberal democracy lead to tyranny when it’s clearly those authoritarian religious people who want to be tyrants?

Damon Linker (the “the theocons are coming” chicken little whom First Things once made the mistake of briefly employing in his younger days, thus giving him the claim to know the “theocon conspiracy” from the inside) has a post on The New Republic blog which seems to me to throw this point into sharp relief. Linker, it seems, tired of attacking “neocons” and decided to go after the more quixotic paleocons as his newest batch of crypto-authoritarians. The following section is fascinating in its thought process:

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8 Responses to Road To Tyranny

  • To be fair, Damon more or less retracted that post wholesale, saying he hadn’t thought the matter through well enough:

    On Tuesday of this week, I posted an item in which I drew connections between an essay by Andrew Bacevich and political authoritarianism. Two days later, I posted a follow-up in which I expanded on the argument. In retrospect — and in light of some online reaction to the posts — I’ve concluded that the connections I made in the original item were overdrawn, and that I made things even worse in the second post. Ideas and arguments can take on a logic of their own, and I foolishly followed the logic of mine into a position several steps more radical than one I really want to defend. I trust that future online disputation and debate will provide many opportunities for me to address these and related issues again — and so also to stake out and develop a more moderate, nuanced, and genuinely liberal position.

  • That said, the post was pretty embarrassing. Not as embarrassing as trying to make a career out of attacking people you used to work for by smearing them, but embarrassing nonetheless.

  • Darwin, excellent post. This has always been a bugaboo of mine as well. It’s a trap that conservatives fall into also at times. I’ve made offhand comments about not particularly liking SUVs, and had a friend respond as though I wanted to completely obliterate them from the planet. My personal dislike for them does not indicate that I necessarily want to impose legal sanctions upon ownership. But as a country, we have exalted the concept of choice as almost the ultimate good.

    Another thing Linker talked about hit upon something I was thinking about just yesterday. Many of the things we don’t do as Catholics strike me as good choices even absent religion. No sex outside of marriage: well there are a lot of rational reasons not to. No birth control: ever watch a commercial for the pill and hear them rattle off all the side effects? There are none of those for NFP.

    I don’t mean to say there are simply utilitarian benefits to being a practicing Catholic. But, when you think about it, there happily are such benefits to practicing the faith.

    One last thing – the final paragraph of your post points put the liberaltarian folly, such as it exists. If there is a threat to true liberty, it ain’t coming from the right.

  • “Not as embarrassing as trying to make a career out of attacking people you used to work for by smearing them, but embarrassing nonetheless.”

    Ouch John Henry! I am sure that left a mark on Mr. Linker. Perhaps he will return every dollar he ever received from the evil “theo-cons” ? Nah, that would be an act of high and inconvenient principle, and we all know there is no money in that.

  • To be fair, Damon more or less retracted that post wholesale, saying he hadn’t thought the matter through well enough:

    Ah, I hadn’t seen that one. I’ll drop these things into my “blog fodder” folder and sometimes not notice the follow through.

  • Donald,

    Perhaps I was too unkind. I am sure Mr. Linker is sincere, and his arguments should be evaluated on their merits (such as they are). I think his writing on these topics suffers from a lack of nuance and subtlety, which suggests an inability (or unwillingness) to appreciate his opponent’s arguments. And, well, I think his decision to publish an attack book on his former employer (and so soon after leaving) is ethically dubious.

  • Rather wobbly, but Linker gave it a whirl, didn’t he. The tyranny to come is apt to be a very selective tyranny, rife with the strangest socio-cultural bedfellows, if the past twenty years are any indication. And I think they are.

  • Mr. Linker writes:
    “Except for one thing: It now appears that Bacevich and Deneen aren’t really opposed to a “culture of choice” at all. Rather, they’re opposed to a culture in which people make the wrong choices — in this case, the choice to fornicate instead of the choice to resist their sexual appetites. But here’s what I don’t understand: Why would a free man or woman choose to resist rather than act on his or her sexual appetites? I mean, we’ve invented birth control. Sex is very pleasurable. It’s a way to enjoy emotional and physical intimacy with another human being. Why not choose for fornication? Why, in other words, is it wrong, in itself, to fornicate? Can we even imagine a response to this question that does not make reference to the authoritative teachings of an orthodox religious tradition?”

    He illustrates Medawar’s comment about people being educated beyond their ability to follow an abstract argument. His arguments read the scribblings of a high school student.

The Devil and Andrew Jackson

Monday, February 16, AD 2009


I have never liked President’s Day.  Why celebrate loser presidents like Jimmy Carter and James Buchanan, non-entities like Millard Fillmore, bad presidents, like Grant, with great presidents like Washington and Lincoln?  We have had other great presidents, and one of them, although Republican as I am I bridle on bestowing the title upon him, was Andrew Jackson.  No one was ever neutral about Old Hickory.  He is described as the father of the Democrat party.  Actually, both major parties owe their existence to him.   The Whig party, the main ancestor of the modern Republican party, was founded in opposition to Jackson’s policies.

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7 Responses to The Devil and Andrew Jackson

  • Jackson was a great war hero and I admire his qualities of grit and determination – but he’s always left me a bit cold. He had very little charity in him when it came to the Indians, was indifferent toward slavery (although a very strong Unionist) and his attack on the Bank of the United States was ill-advised, to say the least.

    Like most people of any era, he was very much a man of his time, with the faults and foibles of his time, including his frequent duels, and lack of empathy for the Indians. Since we live in an era when infanticide is casually accepted or even promoted as a good, I think a bit of humility is in order before we condemn our 19th century forbears too harshly for hewing to the conventional wisdom of their day. However, it always seemed to me that our greatest Presidents and the Founding Fathers were great in part because they were able, at times, to somehow see beyond their own place and time and culture. I don’t think Jackson had that quality, however admirable he was in certain respects.

  • You need not worry about the mythical “Presidents’ Day”. Section 6103 of Title 5, United States Code, currently designates this legal federal holiday as ‘Washington’s Birthday.’ Contrary to popular opinion, no action by Congress or order by any President has changed ‘Washington’s Birthday’ to ‘Presidents’ Day’.”

  • My views on Jackson can be summed up as follows:

    It is a shame that Charles Dickinson and Jesse Benton weren’t better shots, or that Junaluska didn’t do that day at the Horseshoe what he later lamented that he wished he had done.

  • You touch on some of the high and low points of his presidency. I tend to think the low points outweight the high. You also fail to mention his spoils systems, which is anathema to someone like me who, while being culturally conservative, could be termed as a procedural liberal.

  • Zak, for a blog post I thought I was already imposing on the patience of my readers in regard to length and therefore I could not address all the aspects of Jackson’s presidency that I would have wished in a different context. I agree that the spoils system was a lowpoint, although I think the civil service system also has its drawbacks.

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20 Responses to Why Does This Not Surprise Me?

8 Responses to Democrat Economy

  • Why “Democrat” economy? As Arlen Spector said, the Republicans essentially support this bill, but are afraid to put their fingerprints on it.

  • Arlen Spector, besides being a RINO, is a liar. This monstrosity is the Democrats’ gift to the nation. Besides Spector, and the Maine RINOS, the Republican party was unified in its opposition.

  • While one ought to roll eyes at superstition, I’d say that the Friday 13 passing of this trillion-dollar bag of pork-rinds is a bit of a morbidly funny harbinger. I am also glad it passed (first, because it was inevitable and second, because its inevitable doom may seal the ultimate downfall of the Left, even as the Left enjoys its shining little “moment,” at least right now).

    More horrific is the complete lack of innovation that surrounded this grand Democratic scheme to solve (or at least blunt) the crisis. Obama the new, new Visionary (for that is indeed the specific image he cultivated, sold, and rode-upon into office). Some “vision.” This bill is not only the most pedestrian, predictable, and typically uninspired Leftist folly right out of the tattered playbook, it is the fattest.

    This kind of “same old, same old” is far more ridiculous than the “past eight years same-old” that Obama, Pelosi, Reid and the other dwarfs have been whimpering about. Is anyone amazed at how the leftist imagination is so easily titillated and indoctrinated, en masse, by the most generic clouds of stardust? No. People may rightfully decry Bush and his myriad difficulties, but with the passing of this bill, the Obama Cult has officially become the greatest hoodwink in American history.

    None of that matters, now. We’re in for it. Obama plans to address the housing crisis on Wednesday. More drab policy-wonking and ineptitude. The horror is that so few Americans have even a shred of a clue that there is no solution to this largest segment of the crisis. Nothing can be done, short of having allowed (and continuing to allow) the big banks to utterly collapse and find a way to prop-up the smaller banks that did not have the means to engage in the pervasive lending abuses of the giants, and thus make it easier for the crashed banking infrastructure to reset itself even a tiny bit.

    That, at least, would put ~some~ sort of a dent in the fact that over 70 percent of those in the market for a house can never qualify for a loan now (even if 20 percent of that 70 actually DO qualify), with housing prices not even at the nadir, yet, and inventory all the way to the moon. Letting the offending banks and lenders fail and giving incentives to the smaller, up-and-coming banks would have helped put that 10-20% of qualified buyers back on the map. Even getting 5% of those who still truly qualify (but who cannot get a loan to save their lives) back on the map would have had a salvific impact. A superb pilot-light in the darkness. That would have been a real stimulus, right there. A genuine stimulus.

    But no one gets this. Few, at least. America doesn’t get it. I’ve been in lending and real estate for almost 20 years, in California. I can attest that Americans haven’t a proverbial clue and our representatives (touchy Republicans and dingbat Democrats alike) are evading the primary issue, on top of the Democrats’ execrable compounding of the issue. Everyone knows this stimulus is going to fail and that even its pithy scraps of assistance won’t register a blip for years. To secure their paradigm, Obama and the Democrats betrayed the nation and cobbled together this piece of garbage as quickly as possible (under the “we need it as swiftly as possible” mantle) at the expense of bipartisanship and the future. Certainly, a six-month attempt at coming-up with something truly innovative and potentially successful would have been wise. But that’s not on anyone’s agenda, in the beltway.

    How this administration can dare uphold even a mere pretense of being innovative and visionary is, at best, a joke, now. With the passing of this cobbled-together, typically uninspired-yet-exorbitant stimulus, the Obama presidency has already become an apocalyptic disaster. A massive failure. Truly: everything to come from him over the next four years is going to be so much fiddling amid the conflagration.

  • I’m not sure if the stimulus will help that much in the current economic environment. Economies go through cycles and recession is part of the cycle. I read a good article on the history of cycles at, I think,

  • I was looking at a chart of the DJIA for the last four years, it’s interesting to note that it was on a steady rise until November 2006… since then it has been declining.

    What happened in Nov 2006 that could possibly account for this?

  • What happened in Nov 2006 that could possibly account for this?

    Hmmmm,…., I seem to recall that there was an election that month,….,

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The Single Life and St. Valentine's Day

Saturday, February 14, AD 2009

So you’re a single Catholic sitting at home with nothing to do on St. Valentine’s Day, what are your options?  Well there are many things that you can do, especially if you want to resolve your current status as a non-married person.  If you’re not called to religious life, you are most certainly called to married life with very few exceptions, yet you’re sitting on your couch still being single.  In this column I’ll offer a basic and fundamental template for a single Catholic in pursuing your future spouse(1).

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5 Responses to The Single Life and St. Valentine's Day

  • Interestingly enough, St. Valentine’s Day was removed from the Church calendar in 1969 due to very little knowledge about the man/men himself, and as such the day has become a strictly secular holiday.

    Good post.

  • Jason,

    I was unaware of the removal, but I stress “Saint” in “St. Valentine’s Day” to raise awareness of the Christian (Catholic) origins of this secularized holiday.

    Thanks for your kind comments. They’re always appreciated (and encouraged). 🙂

  • Jason,

    St. Valentine’s Day was removed from the Church calendar in 1969

    The feast was removed from the liturgical calendar, that doesn’t mean his feast was suppressed, only that it was removed from the mass cycle. Many saints are not represented on the calendar, but their feast day still exists, and can still be celebrated outside the Mass, and inside the mass as a commemoration.

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  • i agree the best way to celebrate valentine’s is to be in God presence, but only few single understand the secret.

Political Philosophy or Ideology?

Saturday, February 14, AD 2009

While we’re discussing libertarianism and its derivations, Randy Barnett at The Volokh Conspiracy recently flagged a post by a libertarian that I found interesting:

I’ve always found libertarianism to be an attractive political philospohy. But…the libertarian perspective has a couple of traps. The trap Barnett describes is a particularly tough one to get out of: once seduced by a libertarian idea, like “goods and services are produced & distributed more effectively when markets are not interefered with by coercive agents like government”, its apparently obvious correctness turns it into a sort of semantic stop sign.

I went through a phase where if, say, education or healthcare policy came up in conversation, I’d say “Markets! Markets markets markets! MARKETS!” I found these conversations astonishingly unproductive, but I didn’t think to blame myself.

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3 Responses to Political Philosophy or Ideology?

Cultural or Political Axis?

Saturday, February 14, AD 2009

Donald linked below to a discussion of the death of “liberaltarianism”, which led many to ask what exactly that is.  As it so happens, I’d been reading about this seemingly contradictory phenomenon on Ross Douthat’s blog the other day.  It seems all this goes back to a piece Brink Lindsey originally wrote for The New Republic a couple years ago in which he complains:

Conservatism itself has changed markedly in recent years, forsaking the old fusionist synthesis in favor of a new and altogether unattractive species of populism. The old formulation defined conservatism as the desire to protect traditional values from the intrusion of big government; the new one seeks to promote traditional values through the intrusion of big government. Just look at the causes that have been generating the real energy in the conservative movement of late: building walls to keep out immigrants, amending the Constitution to keep gays from marrying, and imposing sectarian beliefs on medical researchers and families struggling with end-of-life decisions.

Though he admits there’s not been much real movement on the part of Democrats to please libertarians, he cites a few things:

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6 Responses to Cultural or Political Axis?

2 Responses to Bumpy Road to Richmond

  • Astounding when you consider that today Richmond is a fairly quick drive down I-95 from Washington D.C. You can see on a map how close the two cities are, of course, but the nearest of the 2 Civil War capitals never really hit me until I visited Richmond.

    I visited most of the historical battlefields in the DC-Virginia-Maryland area, but the Civil historical memento that sticks in my head most vividly is not Fredericksburg or Manassas, but a young Southern soldier’s letter home, displayed in the Confederate White House in Richmond. The letter was yellow, soiled, and had ancient stains, maybe bloodstains, on it, but you could still make out the writing. It was a very simply composed letter. The soldier was writing to his mother (from a field hospital, probably), telling her that he was dying and that he loved her very much. He wrote down the names of his sisters and other people he loved and asked her to tell them that he loved them too and he hoped to meet them all again in Heaven. That was it. When I was done reading it, I had to go into the Ladies Room to pull myself together. Crying in museums is not something I normally do. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that young man’s letter.

  • The great tragedy of the human condition is our mortality. The great consolation of the human condition is that death is not the end for us.

4 Responses to The Laughing (Four of Them) Babies

  • Thanks, Tito, what a great video! Laughing babies are one of the most delightful sights and sounds on this planet.

    One of my nephews went on laughing jags when he was a baby that lasted so long his mother got worried. He’d not only tear up but put his hands on his tummy, he’d laugh so hard. Now he’s a college freshman – and yes, he’s still quite the joker, he had me laughing like crazy at Christmas dinner.

  • Holding his belly, that is to cute!

  • Donna V.,

    This is only a suggestion, but you should put up a pic for your ID. It would make AC look so much more spiffier! (shameless AC marketing).

  • They remind me of my twin sons when they were babies, multiplied by two! Babies, God’s reminder of the innocence we once possessed in the Garden of Eden.

The Death of Liberaltarianism

Friday, February 13, AD 2009


Robert Stacy McCain has a brilliant column here on the death of the idea of a liberal and libertarian alliance.  Libertarian sites are noted for their scorn of traditional conservatives.  It will be amusing to see how much their economic and small government ideas need to be trashed before they decide that government sanctioned hedonism is not satisfactory compensation for paying for the socialization of America.

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15 Responses to The Death of Liberaltarianism

  • I guess I’m missing something here. I consider myself a little “l” libertarian, but myself and other libertarians I know and read about are hardly Obama supporters. scorns Obama just as much as they scorned Bush.

    I suppose there must a class of political thinking that calls itself liberal/libertarian and supports Obama.

  • Most libertarians I know are fairly conflicted. They are repelled both by social conservatism (particularly the creationist strain, but sometimes also by the pro-life/defense of marriage strain), and, of course, by Obama/Pelosi style big-government liberalism. As Bush blurred the lines between what Republicans are offering and Obama/Pelosi style liberalism in terms of fiscal policy, many of them naturally gravitated towards the Democrats last election. Granted, nearly everyone gravitated towards the Democrats last election (at least relative to 2004), so that may not mean very much.

    I think at this point we have at least a partial answer to the rhetorical question, ‘How much worse could government spending get than it did under Bush?’ It remains to be seen how libertarians (and liberaltarians) will respond next election cycle. It also remains to be seen whether libertarians are really numerous enough to matter. As delightful as they are as bloggers, there seems to be an all-chiefs-no-indians quality to the libertarian movement.

  • I don’t find myself conflicted in terms of conviction.

    Democrats and liberals are the “cool” people. You don’t mind hanging out with them (well, most of them…they have their fair share of “creepy”), and they certainly at least put on the aura of intelligence. But scratch just a little and you’ll find a philosophical undercurrent to their thinking thats positively loathsome. So, no problem abandoning them at all.

    With the GOP its quite a bit more complicated. There’s plenty I “agree” with, but of course thanks to the last 8 years I don’t trust them to actually follow through on their political philosophy. That, and the strain of militarism and foreign interventionism unnerves me quite a bit. The militarism especially. It borders on state-worship to my mind. The GOP at times seems down right trigger-happy, which is quite a bit different than defending 2nd amendment rights!

    I still think there’s “hope” for libertarianism long term. If the GOP continues to be broadly defeated and the Democrats ruin everything like they always do then perhaps their might come a tipping point were people across the spectrum will say “you know, lets actually give liberty a shot again”.

  • “As delightful as they are as bloggers, there seems to be an all-chiefs-no-indians quality to the libertarian movement.”

    That is very true as to the all-chiefs-no-indians quality. The charm of their bloggers, I confess, has mostly eluded me.

  • Anthony,

    the GOP at times seems down right trigger-happy

    you may have forgotten that there was a bipartisan resolution in congress authorizing military action in Afghanistan and Iraq, 70% of the population supported it. While you may have been among the 30%, it was hardly an unpopular move. Getting bogged down was unpopular.

  • “you may have forgotten that there was a bipartisan resolution in congress authorizing military action in Afghanistan and Iraq, 70% of the population supported it. While you may have been among the 30%, it was hardly an unpopular move. Getting bogged down was unpopular”

    I haven’t forgotten, I just think its a bit irrelevant. Thats not to imply that the Democrats/liberals don’t love their wars. I’m confidant Obama will demonstrate in due time.

    Military action in Afghanistan was quite a bit different than Iraq. Afghanistan is an undeclared war in reaction to a specific event done against the United States. In the case of Iraq its an undeclared war of choice and aggression, which distinguishes it in a bad way.

    What does that have to do with my feelings towards the GOP? Everything. They turned their back from a “humble” foreign policy and instead abandoned all common sense in favor paranoia and political opportunism. The idea of invading Iraq being “popular” shouldn’t have had any bearing on whether or not it was a moral thing to do.

    And getting bogged down in what was unpopular?

  • In the late ’80’s I started to shift to the right – quite against my will, I might add. I lived in Washington DC. I was a paralegal at the time and worked for various law firms, but most of my friends were staunchly liberal government workers. I thought I was too cool for school in the 1980’s – a “cultural Catholic” (i.e.: Mass at Christmas and Easter) who knew better than to express my private qualms about Roe v. Wade in polite company. I loathed Reagan and thought the Washington Post was the true word of God.

    And then reality started setting in. I started shamefacedly buying copies of the National Review and to my horror, I found I agreed with many of the articles. I began calling myself a libertarian, because I could not bring myself to admit that I was becoming a *gasp* conservative. Conservatives were Republicans and everyone knew the Republican Party was made up of wealthy, middle aged, WASPY white guys like William F. Buckley (I didn’t know then that he was a Catholic) who belonged to country clubs and looked down on everyone who wasn’t a wealthy WASP. That was the image I had of them, at any rate, and it horrified me to think I might be morphing into something that seemed so alien to my sensibilities. (A decidedly non-WASPy Republican co-worker from South Philly pointed out the obvious fact that the many millions who had voted for Reagan in ’80 and ’84 were not all country club WASP’s. He also pointed out WASP’s we both knew – Groton, Harvard, lockjaw accent types – who were indisputably flaming libs. But prejudices do die hard.)

    I called myself a libertarian for a long time, despite the fact that I find Ayn Rand unreadable. Why? Well, I still had all those lib friends. When I said at parties, “I don’t believe in big government any more” – a dangerous sentiment to voice in Washington DC, no matter who is in the WH – and eyebrows were raised, I found that following it up with “I’m not a conservative, I’m a libertarian” was somehow socially acceptable. And then I discovered the reason for that – all the libertarians I met seemed to be mainly concerned with drug legalization. And on abortion, they were no better than the liberals.

    I am back in my hometown now, and although I live in a very left-wing neighborhood (ah, but I am a block away from Lake Michigan, and I love the lake dearly, and the Art Museum and any number of good restaurants are a short walk away), I am now a middle-aged woman and coolness does not concern me any more. So I freely admit to being a conservative and (since 2005) a Catholic revert.

    And I do wonder if libertarism isn’t, for some others as well as for me, a phase one passes through on the way from the left to the right, an attempt to maintain hipness at an age when hipness still matters.

  • Anthony,

    sorry for not being clear. I was responding to an accusation you made apparently singling out the GOP as down right trigger-happy. It wasn’t moral defense of the Iraq war. If the GOP was trigger happy, so were the Democrats, and the typical American. That’s all. There’s no need to hijack the thread on the question of a just war.

    They turned their back from a “humble” foreign policy

    A fair enough point.

    and instead abandoned all common sense in favor paranoia and political opportunism.

    No basis for this. The US had been long escalating it’s response to Hussein’s refusal to submit to the terms of the ceasefire agreement he signed during the first Gulf War… and his periodic attacks on US pilots enforcing the UN sanctioned no-fly zone.

    The idea of invading Iraq being “popular” shouldn’t have had any bearing on whether or not it was a moral thing to do.

    And it doesn’t.

    And getting bogged down in what was unpopular?

    I don’t understand what you’re confused about? My response was referring to the Iraq war, you’re surely aware we got bogged down until a change in leadership, strategy, and tactics.

  • Nice biographical detail Donna. I am certain that when young more than a few people adopt the political attitudes of the friends that they admire. Then time passes, friends change, experience accumulates and analysis and thought begin.

  • I became acquainted with Ayn Rand and Objectivism via my husband, who had had a brief flirtation with Objectivism in his youth and had several of her books. (By the time I met him, however, he had discarded that and had reverted to his Catholic faith.)

    I will give Rand credit for pointing out that ideas matter (see “Philosophy: Who Needs It”), and that there is such a thing as objective truth, falsehood, right and wrong. She also did a great job of skewering some of the pretentions of the ’60s counterculture crowd.

    However, I think a lot of her ideas — particularly the notion that “altruism” is bad and “selfishness” is good — were simply overreactions to the oppression she experienced in Communist Russia and her disgust with Nazism. Objectivist philosophy leaves no room for God, for the family, for the virtue of charity or for any notion of a common good. In fact, Objectivists will argue until they are blue in the face that there is no such thing as “common good.”

    I got a kick out of watching hard core Objectivists on You Tube, several months ago, try to explain away Rand disciple Alan Greenspan’s admission that the economic policies he’d been following for most of his life just might have been a bit off the mark.

  • This blogpost doesn’t make sense to me. As there is no term that is called ‘liberaltarianism’ and Libertarians in general despise the [American] liberals (as the term is very different from what it means in Europe), maybe the poster is just upset that some people that aren’t proclaiming themselves to be conservatives nor liberals voted Obama. Not sure. In either way, the only one to vote for in 2008 for a Libertarian would have been Ron Paul…which sadly didn’t reach above some collective 10% in the primaries. Americans still have a long way to go in adopting their for-fathers whishes for a free nation.

  • As there is no term that is called ‘liberaltarianism’

    The whole point of this post and the one linked to it as that there is a group of American libertarians who coined the phrase and who have called for an alliance of libertarians and the Democratic party.

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  • Paul>> Thanks for that explanation.
    One thing in the OP however: “Libertarian sites are noted for their scorn of traditional conservatives. It will be amusing to see how much their economic and small government ideas need to be trashed before they decide that government sanctioned hedonism is not satisfactory compensation for paying for the socialization of America.”
    Here the author fails to make a distinction between the supposed minority of some Libertarians wanting to form a ‘Liberaltarism’-group and real Libertarians. Hence part of my confusement.

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Data Ownership

Friday, February 13, AD 2009

As an analyst, one of the things that fascinates me about the latest Obama cabinet snafu is that it centers around data ownership.  GOP Senator Judd Gregg had been nominated to head the Commerce Department, but withdrew his nomination yesterday over “irresolvable conflicts“, large among which was disagreement over management of the US Census.  Although the Census has traditionally been run by the Commerce Department, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel had indicated after Gregg’s nomination that the Census Bureau would be moved to report directly to senior White House officials.

Effectively, this would have created for Emanuel the largest political polling organization in the world — funded at government expense. Having influence into census methodologies, questions asked, and the priorities of census data analysts would not only give political operatives in the White House an incredible data edge of their opponents, it would also give them an inside edge on redrawing congressional districts as the result of the 2010 census.

For those with a great deal of faith in the chances of putting together a truly “bipartisan” cabinet, Gregg’s withdrawal is a setback. However, the fact that other members of the administration were seeking to take from Gregg’s control any politically potent processes, the commitment to real bipartisanship seems to have been shallow anyway. And one hopes that with a new nominee the Census Bureau will stay in the Commerce Department and remain less politicized than it would have if reporting to Rahm Emanuel.

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18 Responses to Data Ownership

  • I am not sure how much of an issue this was. Gregg would have been reporting to Rahm Emmanuel and Obama either way on the census, and he knew that when he accepted the position. Ambinder claims it’s not a real issue, but it’s hard to know who to believe here.

  • JH makes good point to note the difficulty of believing anybody in this mess. But the very notion that the President wanted bipartisan representation in his cabinet was dashed this week by the Porkapalooza Bill. Wherein Senate and Congressional Republicans were handed sneak previews of the bill and told sign off on this now. The House GOP handed it back unsigned en masse. The only Pub Senators who went with the program were the Three RINOs- Specter, Collins, Snowe. It is pleasing to see that the George W. Bush style of collegiality- perhaps his fatal flaw as President- is as irrelevant as refrains about Hope and Change. Sen. Gregg concluded he was not up to those standards. Or down to them. Thank you Senator for your attack of sanity.

  • Maybe I’m projecting some corporate power struggles I’m dealing with myself this week onto another situation, but the desire to have census report directly to the White House rather than through Commerce struck me as a very clear “you’re a figurhead and you won’t be allowed to act independantly” message. But as I may, perhaps I’m just projecting.

  • Agreed Darwin (not with the bit about projection). It struck me as a kind of slap in the face, and it certainly was reported that way or worse in the conservative blogosphere. The problem, of course, is that in the blogosphere information tends to lag opinion formation. When well-connected and generally fair people like Ambinder say it’s a non-issue, it’s hard to know what to think.

  • JH,

    if that were the case then they wouldn’t have made the change to the census bureau. Obviously, they could have manipulated the census under Gregg, but they could not have done so without it coming out in public, he would have been able to blow the whistle if they tried.

  • Sen. Gregg withdrew because (1) Obama’s chutzpah crossed the line and (2) Obama CANNOT put away his “birth certificate” issue.

    1. Here’s the chutzpah: The Republicans didn’t get their act together enough to challenge Obama for not being constitutionally qualified to be President as an Article 2 “natural born citizen” so Obama’s White House steals the census from the Commerce Department against the specific instructions of the constitution itself — “actual enumeration” under Article 1.

    2. Here’s the “birth certificate” issue: Since Obama’s earnest drive to convince the nation to weaken its economic strength through redistribution as well as weaken its national defense, COUPLED WITH HIS UNPRECEDENTED WHITE HOUSE TAKEOVER OF DECENNIAL CENSUS TAKING FROM THE COMMERCE DEPARTMENT, has confirmed the very threats to our Republic’s survival that the Constitution was designed to avert, it no longer is sustainable for the United States Supreme Court to refrain from exercising WHAT IS ITS ABSOLUTE CONSTITUTIONAL DUTY TO DEFEND THE NATION FROM UNLAWFUL USURPATION. The questions of Obama’s Kenyan birth and his father’s Kenyan/British citizenship (admitted on his own website) have been conflated by his sustained unwillingnes to supply his long form birth certificate now under seal, and compounded by his internet posting of a discredited ‘after-the-fact’ short form ‘certificate’. In the absence of these issues being acknowledged and addressed, IT IS MANIFEST THAT OBAMA REMAINS INELIGIBLE TO BE PRESIDENT UNDER ARTICLE 2 OF THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION. Being a 14th Amendment ‘citizen’ is not sufficient. A ‘President’ MUST BE an Article 2 ‘natural born citizen’ AS DEFINED BY THE FRAMERS’ INTENT.

  • Ted,

    Let’s avoid the conspiracy theorizing.

    Discussion of usurpationg of the country in ALL CAPS on the internet always makes me feel like a black helicopter is going to land.

  • The birth certificate issue is a complete non-starter. Even if Obama had been born in Kenya, he would still be an American citizen because of his mother, just as John McCain is an American citizen even though he was born in the Panama Canal zone. This issue is fun to debate on the internet, but as a matter of law it is quite clear that Obama is an American citizen no matter where he was born.


    Article II states:
    No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

    The framer’s intent? “Naturalization Act of 1790” signed by George Washington himself:
    And the children of citizens of the United States that may be born beyond the sea, or out of the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural born citizens.

    In any event, I concur with DC.

  • Of course none of this would be an issue had Sen. Gregg not first accepted before withdrawing. Further evidence that our Party is a mess and we should all probably realize the Obama always seems to be right on every issue.

    [Ed.- I just caught this. Obama-Can is spoofing DarwinCatholic, I changed the name from DarwinCatholic to Obama-Can. If this happens a third time Obama-Can will be put on moderation and possibly banned]

  • I have to agree with Darwin—Sen Gregg made a mess of this whole situation. Go Obama!

    [Ed.- I just caught this. Obama-Can is spoofing Matt McDonald, I changed the name from Matt McDonald to Obama-Can. If this happens a third time Obama-Can will be put on moderation and possibly banned]

  • [Ed.- I just caught this. Obama-Can is spoofing Matt McDonald, I changed the name from Matt McDonald to Obama-Can. If this happens a third time Obama-Can will be put on moderation and possibly banned]

    An Obama supporter behaving so badly? Hard to believe… maybe they can get him confirmed for a cabinet level position…

  • Obama-Can, using foolish “false flag” tactics is hardly the way to engender support for Obama.

  • You would think the troll would notice that there’s a unique identifying avatar next to each person’s name. But, then again, assuming intelligence amongst trolls is folly.

  • Mr. Zummo-
    I think I’d be able to spoof the icons, actually…. My guess is that our host checked the IP address. ^.^

    Side note about the Obama birth thing: most of the reasonable folks I know point out that at the time, a parent had to have lived in the country for, I think, 4 years after age 18, which his mother hadn’t been alive long enough to do. Also, that he might get citizenship from his birth father, and may have claimed it at some point, all of which would make a huge mess in the courts that still should be straightened out.

    Myself, I want to know what embarrassing thing is on the certificate– only reason I can think not to offer a basic, certified original copy.

  • Foxfier,

    Side note about the Obama birth thing: most of the reasonable folks I know point out that at the time, a parent had to have lived in the country for, I think, 4 years after age 18, which his mother hadn’t been alive long enough to do.

    Yes, but the congress changed this law and made the change retroactive to cover that theoretical situation. There are only two types of citizenship one is by birth – natural born, the other is naturalized, he was by virtue of his birth a citizen, not by naturalization.

    Also, that he might get citizenship from his birth father, and may have claimed it at some point, all of which would make a huge mess in the courts that still should be straightened out.

    Not at all, even if he did have dual citizenship it is not a abandonment of his US citizenship.

    Myself, I want to know what embarrassing thing is on the certificate– only reason I can think not to offer a basic, certified original copy.

    I agree.

  • Mr. McDonald-
    Claiming the citizenship of another country usually does involve abandoning US citizenship, though– since most countries aren’t as casual about the whole dual-citizenship thing, and there’s some stuff about Obama having traveled on non-US passports.
    I think I’m dragging this off topic, though. ^.^

    I can’t help but look at McCain, who responded to the challenge to his citizenship pretty dang quickly, and compare it to the piss-poor response from Obama’s team.

    Take a step back, though, and it’s very good kabuki– Obama’s team gets to show how horribly prosecuted they are by those nutters and any valid objections can be shouted down.
    “See, we offered a certificate of birth!” “See, we offered him a position!”
    “But that version just says you were born to or adopted by a resident of the state!” “But you first stripped the position of power!”

    I have to fall back on my wish that a young Mr. Obama had gone to Hollywood instead of Chicago. -.-

Marse Robert

Friday, February 13, AD 2009

Some of our readers south of the Mason-Dixon line no doubt have perhaps felt left out in my many posts regarding Abraham Lincoln.  I am fully aware that great Americans fought on both sides of the Civil War, and one of the greatest of Americans, of his time or any time, was Robert E. Lee.

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8 Responses to Marse Robert

  • Don,

    As a Union loving Yankee, let me second your praise for Lee. It was a man (Lee) going up against boys for most of the war until Grant was finally given total command.

  • “He repeatedly expelled white students from Washington University, of which he was President after the war, who engaged in attacks on blacks.”

    Now of course Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA. A beautiful town and campus. You can still see Lee’s office as it was on the day he died. A nice museum in the basement of the Chapel.

    Also located in Lexington is VMI where Stonewall Jackson taught prior to the War.

  • Lexington is worth a trip for any history buff. Also of note is that Sam Houston was born there. Just outside of town is Natural Bridge, once owned by Mr. Jefferson. The initials of George Washington can be seen carved into the rock of the Natural Bridge … grafitti from his youthful days as a surveyor of the Virginia wilderness.

  • Lee was a great man and a great general, and were it not for the depletion of good corps and brigade commanders by 1864, as well as the sheer weight of troop numbers, Lee would certainly have bested Grant, who if I remember right, as much as conceded the point. Grant’s genius lay in the observation that if he remained engaged continuously with Lee, constantly reinforced his troop levels, attrition would eventually force Lee back to Richmond and ultimately to surrender. Thus Grant was willing to suffer horrific casualty counts in the Overland campaign from Wilderness to Petersburg. He was vilified by the northern press as a butcher, but Lincoln loved him because he was not afraid to remain engaged with Lee’s army, something that many lesser federal generals never dared.

    In perfect hindsight, it’s almost too bad Lee was such a great commander, because by all rights, the North should have won the war as early as 1862, which would have saved hundreds of thousands of lives.

    One thing Lincoln deserves credit for is that he had a very good strategic military mind, all the more remarkable since he was not a professional soldier. He recognized the weaknesses of the Confederate military situation, but could not find agressive, smart generals to exploit those weaknesses, until Grant.

  • Hey, Tom and I agree on something regarding the Civil War. 🙂

    Seriously, Tom is exactly right on Grant’s genius. It’s amazing that it took, what, six Union commanders before there was one who realized, “Hey, we have a lot more guys than the other side.” Reading the history of the war is an exercise in frustration because you want to slap the Union generals upside the head for their complete inability and/or unwillingness to act.

  • Wonderful way to cap off the week, Don. Gen. Lee was truly a great American. Making the best of of an untenable situation in the southern states regarding the inhumanity of slavery. Conducting himself as a true Christian gentleman even in engineering battles. Continuing a life of service well into the winter of his years. Just as I marvel at the Revolutionary era- that world class giants like Washington, Franklin, Adams and Jefferson were active simultaneously- so how wonderful God gave Lincoln and Lee to our torn and abused nation during its most fundamental trauma. He has been better to us than we to Him. Or ourselves.

  • Henry Halleck, who was a pretty bad general himself, once told Sherman that it was “little better than murder” to give command to such men as Benjamin Butler, Nathaniel Banks, Franz Siegel, George McClellan, and Lewis Wallace. The Union had decent division and corp commanders in the east throughout the war, but the Army command level was truly pathetic until Grant arrived. McClellan wasn’t bad as a strategist, but as a battlefield commander, he was worse than having no one in command. Burnside deserved a place of dishonor on Halleck’s list. Pope was almost at Burnsides’ level of ineptness. Hooker, a good corp commander, not a bad strategist, but fell apart facing Lee. Meade lucked into a defensive victory at Gettysburg. His Mine Run campaign indictated how poorly he would have performed if Grant hadn’t come East to effectively make him a field chief of staff.

  • Marse Bob is a favourite of mine too. One of the highlights of a 1991 trip to North Carolina was a visit on the return home to Lexington, VA, home of Washington and Lee Univ. as well as VMI. My husband and I spent time at Stonewall Jackson’s house, then enjoyed a short walk to the University campus, down the road to VMI, then to the hall where the Lee Family crypt is located. The office of President of Washington University, which Lee occupied at the time of his death, is kept as it was during his term of office. My father was also an admirer of Gen. Lee, and I thought much of Dad while on the visit. An added treat was locating the grave of Traveller, Lee’s beloved horse, in the grounds adjacent to the Chapel. Marse Robert was the true Southern Gentleman; a worthy adversary and a loyal friend.

200 Years

Thursday, February 12, AD 2009


Several fine observances of the birthday of the Great Emancipator around Saint Blog’s.  Crankycon has several first rate postings on Mr. Lincoln.  Jay Anderson at Pro Ecclesia has selections from two of President Lincoln’s finest speeches.  Paul at Thoughts of a Regular Guy reminds us of why we residents of Illinois are proud to call ourselves the Land of Lincoln  (Although considering the condition of the Sucker State currently, I doubt if Mr. Lincoln would consider it a compliment!)

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17 Responses to 200 Years

  • Ah, they don’t make Illinois pols like they used to! Since I am a Wisconsinite and grumbling about Flatlanders ( or, more accurately, visitors from Chicagoland) is one of our favorite hobbies, it pains me to admit it, but Illinois has done pretty well historically when it comes to producing distinguished statesmen. Admittedly, the current bunch is a disappointment, and I doubt any state can quite match the bumper crop produced by Virginia, but, well, there was that Eureka College graduate, for starters. And I can imagine what Adlai Stevenson would say about Blago (well, actually I can’t, because Stevenson would come up with a much more devastatingly witty put-down than I’m capable of dreaming up.)

    And then there’s the astonishing career of Paul Douglas. I had never heard of the man until I came across him in the pages of E.B. Sledge’s “With the Old Breed”: a professor who enlisted in the Marine Corp in his 50’s, was severely wounded on Okinawa and survived to represent Illinois in the Senate. (Heck, they don’t make Democrats like they used to either.)

    I don’t mean to change the subject, just to point out that Illinois has produced some very fine pols in the past and God willing, will do so again.

  • Paul Douglas was indeed a very brave man. He rose from private to lieutenant colonel in three years and did it all through sheer guts on the battlefield.

    A liberal who has always had my respect.

  • Also on the GOP side, don’t forget the great, unabashedly pro-life and Catholic statesman Rep. Henry Hyde; Sen. Everett McKinley Dirksen, a key backer of civil rights legislation (if you’re ever in Pekin stop in at the Dirksen Congressional Center, run by a really great guy, Frank Mackaman); and Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, who defied what some describe as a bipartisan corruption “Combine” to bring us U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald (no relation).

  • How true Elaine, and how I miss the great Henry Hyde, one of the best orators in the last three decades.

    The senior partner in my first firm was born in 1902 and was a Democrat. He was also a close friend of Dirksen. He used to tell me hilarious stories, usually centering around Dirksen’s capacity for drink. Drunk or sober Dirksen was a great senator. Not only have I been at the Dirksen Congressional Center, I bought an album of songs sung by Dirksen!

    My only criticism of Peter Fitzgerald is that he lacked the fortitude to stay in the state and fight the corruption. If he had, my guess is that history in the state and in the nation may have been greatly altered.

  • I forgot to mention Dirkson and Hyde – 2 more fine gentlemen.

    Your neighbor from the schizophrenic state to the north (home of the LaFollettes, the People’s Republic of Madison AND Tailgunner Joe) salutes them.

  • Whether you love Linccoln or not (like me), Pat Buchanan (himself loved and loathed by many) has a very well written and substantive analysis of Lincoln and all the heavy issues surrounding the Civil War.

    A long time ago (you know…the 90s!) I was on the Buchanan-hating band wagon… but the Bush years caused me to really raise my opinion of Buchanan’s thinking. I don’t agree with him on every little thing, but I do agree with him more often than not now.

  • I love how Buchanan uses selective quotations to pretend as though he has a better argument. The south has a right to secede? Of course it does- a small newspaper in Maine said they did.

    Sorry, but as a scholar I find this kind of shoddy workmanship offensive. When you are presenting an argument, you have an obligation to present the other side’s point of view as fairly as possible. If this was a term paper I wouldn’t even give it a C.

  • This is my all time favorite quote from Henry Hyde:

    “When the time comes as it surely will, when we face that awesome moment, the final judgment, I’ve often thought, as Fulton Sheen wrote, that it is a terrible moment of loneliness. You have no advocates, you are there alone standing before God and a terror will rip through your soul like nothing you can imagine.

    “But I really think that those in the pro-life movement will not be alone. I think there will be a chorus of voices that have never been heard in this world but are heard beautifully and clearly in the next world and they will plead for everyone who has been in this movement. They will say to God, “Spare him because he loved us,” and God will look at you and say not, “Did you succeed?” but “Did you try?”

  • I am sure Elaine that when Mr. Hyde came before God for judgment he had a myriad of small advocates.

  • No Anthony, Buchanan’s piece is neither well written nor substantive. He simply loves the Confederacy and loathes Lincoln. He believes the South had a right to secede, and fails to acknowledge that this “right” had been hotly contested for more than forty years prior to the Civil War. His view of the Civil War is as wrong-headed and historically nonsensical as his view that World War ii was an unnecessary war. His article has no more substantive content than a rebel yell. He makes DiLorenzo, dishonest hack that he is, seem intellectual by comparison. Buchanan has always had a flirtation with racists and anti-semites and I think he is completely contemptible. Gateway Pundit has been doing yeoman work in exposing Buchanan:

  • I will attempt to do a proper “fisking” of Buchanan’s article during the weekend.

  • Here Victor Davis Hanson, a real historian, takes apart the book of pretend historian Buchanan on World War II.

  • Man, I’ll be glad when the Lincoln worship on this site has passed.

    Don, most historians love the state and love centralizers. Thats nearly always the philosophical lens they use in their work. They love “do-ers” who assert power and win. Lincoln was all these things, so whatever “fisking” you do isn’t really going to surprise me, or even continue to prove your case that Lincoln is some objectively awe-inspiring political man-god. If anything I was a bit surprised to see Buchanan dislike Lincoln. Buchanan’s support of protectionist economic policy (ie, bailing out the auto-industry) reeked of a sentimentality towards the state that blurred his view of reality. At least thats where my nose takes me.

    However, the racism/anti-semitism charge gets trotted out from time to time against the “old right”/libertarian-type guys. I’ve yet to see it, plus its fairly difficult to make any kind of sober criticism of such matters until someone comes right out and admits they hate so-and-so. Its like when someone advocates for “non-intervention” and suddenly they’re a “isolationist”. Again I think Buchanan’s protectionist sentiments – particularly with regard to cultural matters – drive his thinking. After all, some times you’ll find him praising minority figures, and other times criticizing them. I might disagree with his point or even his attitude, but I won’t object to his willingness to jump into sensitive areas with a critical eye.

    I can only imagine that the accusations get used to bludgeon into submission those who would dare consider the politically incorrect things like Lincoln’s “evolving” views on race and slavery, or that WWII might have been brought about by political bungling and maneuvering.

    Ah well. Its all in good fun.

  • Anthony,

    WWII might have been brought about by political bungling and maneuvering.

    as opposed to totalitarian aggression? Perhaps the horror could have been reduced by less bungling, it would have taken earlier and more assertive intervention (like, a pre-emptive invasion) to completely avoid it. Buchanan’s position on this is based on his assumption that Hitler’s rhetoric was honest, and not simply ploys to justify his aggression. He did not just want his little Liepzig back.

  • “objectively awe-inspiring political man-god”

    Nice phrase Anthony. It has absolutely nothing to do with anything I have posted about Lincoln, but it is a nice phrase.

    “Don, most historians love the state and love centralizers.”

    Most academic historians today are of the political left and they do love the State. Fortunately most of them also write in a deconstructionist or postmodern gibberish that renders them unreadable by anyone who is not paid, fellow academics, or forced, poor students in their classes. Popular historians, i.e., historians who can actually get people to plunk down money to buy their books, are more ideologically mixed, and often take a more jaundiced view of the role of government in human affairs. As for Lincoln, there has been an historical battle royal waged over his actions since before the guns fell silent in the Civil War, and the battle continues to be waged down to the present day. In this battle Lincoln has been attacked from Left with almost the same ferocity that he has been attacked from the Right.

    “fisking” you do isn’t really going to surprise me,”

    Ah, it may not surprise you Anthony, but it will make you better informed. Buchanan gets the basic facts twisted and that is what my fisking will be about. That Buchanan is a Confederacy fan doesn’t particularly bother me. That he mangles the historical record to attack Lincoln does. Historical accuracy is a passion for me and I detest attempts to distort the historical record, as Buchanan does in his ham-fisted way, to serve political agendas.

    “However, the racism/anti-semitism charge gets trotted out from time to time against the “old right”/libertarian-type guys. I’ve yet to see it, plus its fairly difficult to make any kind of sober criticism of such matters until someone comes right out and admits they hate so-and-so.”

    You must not be looking very hard Anthony. You might start by reading this 1991 article by William F. Buckley and then googling Buchanan and Jews.

    I accuse Buchanan of being an anti-semite based not upon one or two isolated statements but upon a pattern of statements and actions over the decades. He is a kook and and an embarrassment to responsible conservatives. He fits to perfection the strawman conservative liberals love to attack: anti-semitic, friendly to racists and their causes and buffoonishly ignorant. It will be a happy day for the Right when he totters off the public stage.

  • Couldn’t have said it better myself, Donald. I would describe myself as right of center on the political spectrum; but I cannot stand most of the current crop of conservative pundits (i.e. Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, Buchanan).

    Buchanan does get it right some of the time when it comes to analyzing current events, but unfortunately, his attempts to discredit figures like Lincoln and Churchill just make him look ridiculous. I mean, c’mon — an entire book devoted to the notion that World War II was “unneccessary”?

  • The things you find on the internet. Here is a transcript of a debate between Harry Jaffa, probably the most eminent Lincoln scholar post World War II, and DiLorenzo on May 7, 2002.

Does It Really Stimulate?

Thursday, February 12, AD 2009

It seems a bipartisan effort to ensure that there is some sort of stimulus bill, and only a few politicians think there should be no package at all.  Many economists have warned in the past, and continue to do so now, that stimulus packages like the one currently waiting final approval, do not work.  Let’s take a moment and examine the arguments as to why they don’t work.

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2 Responses to Does It Really Stimulate?

  • The Porkapalooza Bill is a classic example of the foolishness in this phrase- Don’t Just Stand There Do Something. It represents everything that the Washington Elite in their heart of hearts have wanted to inflict on their fellow Americanos since well nigh 1933. All in one big lovavble pork-filled sausage casing. Do not think many of us in PA will forget seeing GOP Senator Arlen Specter snuggling up to Dingy Harry Reid in the announcement of Pork In Our Time. At same time- except for mania for infrastructure- don’t see how state and local governments will receive help from Porkapalooza. Philly Mayor Michael Nutter told his top managers to give him three cost-cutting scenarios each- bad, really bad, and Oh My (will not break 2nd Commandment on this blog.) Meaning- up to 30 per cent budget cuts across the board. Including a possible 2000 or more police officers turning in badges. PA Government may or may not be in dire straits- we may not know until the annual late-June early-July kerfuffles between Gov. Fast Eddie Rendell and wascally Wepublicans(according to PA MSM, of course.) Meanwhile I hope to promote cousin Edward for Sen. Specter’s seat- devout Catholic, ethical lawyer, doting father of 2-year-old Katie, makes me look like a flaming liberal. Until then, we shall hold and roll.

  • Gerard,
    If I have any money left after being forced to subsidize abortion and welfare, I will donate to your cousin’s candidacy.

Now We Know Who Gets The Change

Thursday, February 12, AD 2009


President Obama ran on a platform of Hope and Change.  From the details of the National Bankrupt the Nation Act of 2009, sometimes called a “stimulus” bill, we can now see who gets the change:

“Q: What are some of the tax breaks in the bill?

A: It includes Obama’s signature “Making Work Pay” tax credit for 95 percent of workers, though negotiators agreed to trim the credit to $400 a year instead of $500 — or $800 for married couples, cut from Obama’s original proposal of $1,000. It would begin showing up in most workers’ paychecks in June as an extra $13 a week in take-home pay, falling to about $8 a week next January.”

Thanks a heap!

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9 Responses to Now We Know Who Gets The Change

  • From two Happy Meals this year to one next January. At least worldwide sales at Mc D’s were up 7.1 percent last month. Now that Disney has acquired Dreamworks. more chances for movie cartoony characters served with your fries. This is truly Hope and Change.

  • Fear not; your Republican buddies kept out of the package the controverted spending on school construction.

    After years of Reagan, Bush I and II, oi polloi will remain content with a little bit more of bread and circus.

  • How did “the Republicans” keep anything out of the bill? They weren’t in conference on it, and Snowe, Specter and Collins aren’t exactly doctrinaire conservatives.

    I’d have been perfectly content with the bill had there been more actual job creation, regardless of whether it involved spending or tax cuts. The infrastructure stuff is great, not to mention overdue. But there’s too little of it, and too late to do much. Frankly, there’s precious little stimulus in all the spending, however meritorious much of that spending may be to help those who are down and out. And there’s precisely squat being done to address the mortgage crisis at the heart of our current troubles.

  • Mark,

    While I have no problem, in general, with school construction, I am dubious that it should be included in a stimulus bill. Is there any other economic stimulus other than a few construction workers getting a job for a year or so building or renovating, and then being out of a job when the funds run out? Much of what I’ve seen in the package should create a bunch of short term jobs, but it doesn’t seem to me that those jobs will last in the long term without future governmental spending on the same proportions we’re seeing now. Am I missing something?

  • Mark DeFrancisis,
    It’s that simple, right? Republicans don’t want schools built. Of course – so simple, and dovetailing nicely with the MSM narrative.
    Allow me to translate: School construction = make-work jobs for union tradesmen at an exorbitant cost. Union tradesmen that would do half the work at half the quality as a struggling crew of Polish immigrants. But hey, Dems are for the little guy, right?
    Thanks for regurgitating what the MSM told you. I needed this line of crap warmed up.

  • daledog,

    I worry about you. Have you talked to your doctor about high blood pressure or hypertension?

  • Daledog and Mr. DeFrancisis, keep it civil please.

  • Mark,
    Witty comeback.

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Now He Belongs to the Ages

Thursday, February 12, AD 2009


Now he belongs to the ages.”  So said Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War, who had kept vigil at Lincoln’s deathbed, after Lincoln died from an assassin’s bullet.

For the past few weeks in the leadup to today, the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, I have examined various facets of the public life of Abraham Lincoln.  Of course, the most important part of Lincoln’s life came, as it will for each of us, after his death when he stood before God for the particular judgment.  In this life the outcome of that judgment is unknown to us.  However, I think  the record is well-established that during the Civil War Lincoln found his mind and his heart turning increasingly towards God.

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Honest Abe and Dagger John

Wednesday, February 11, AD 2009


Archbishop John Hughes (1797-1864) of New York, was a titan within the Catholic Church in America in the nineteenth century.  Overseeing with skill the explosive growth of the Church in New York, and helping lead generations of Catholic immigrants out of poverty,  he also found time to take part in the public affairs of his day, and was probably the best known Catholic churchman of his time.  He was also a very tough and fearless man.  After the anti-Catholic riots in Philadelphia in 1844 he called on the mayor of New York, an anti-Catholic bigot, and informed him that if a single Catholic church were touched in New York, New York would be a second Moscow.  (The reference was to the burning of Moscow in 1812 during Napoleon’s occupation of the city.) Not a Catholic church was touched.  On another occasion when a threat was made to burn Saint Patrick’s cathedral the Archbishop had it guarded within hours by 4,000 armed Catholics.  No wonder his enemies and friends nicknamed him “Dagger John”!

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14 Responses to Honest Abe and Dagger John

  • Strong bishops, that is what we lack in many parts of the country today. He certainly was needed during his time as well as today.

  • Don- thank you thank you 997 times thank you for this tribute to My Number One Americano Catlick Hero. Yes more than Blessed Fulton or our dear Bishops Chaput and Martino. Dagger John was a bad cat, in the complimentary sense. You did not mess with him. Not to mention the prelate who persuaded the New York immigrant Irish, still living with pigs in their streets, to turn over their hard-earned pennies and nickels to build a fitting house unto the Lord. The fruits of his efforts still dominate the landscape around 50th St. and 5th Avenue. St. Patrick’s Cathedral shines to this day- long after its principal sponsor has gone to his rest. A few more Dagger Johns and abortion on demand would scatter like sand in a windstorm. Dear heroic Archbishop- maybe a little too hard-edged for an Official Halo but we still dig him- intercede for us.

  • I have always appreciated “Dagger John” also Gerard. He had his flaws: nepotism, a blindess towards the evil of slavery, etc, but take him all in all, he was a very good man who fought with everything he had for the Church, his flock and America. May God send us many such bishops in our hour of need.

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  • Yes, Hughes was a powerhouse. His influence is still felt in Catholic NYC, make no mistake. People forget that the bishops had real moxie in those days, protecting their flocks. Men of valor and aggressive faith. Feisty, fighting men! Equally exciting was the vigor of Catholic bishops in the Southeastern US, around the same time. Those men had it rough, but they were in the trenches with their persecuted flocks, and it was said that southern Catholics had nothing to fear “so long as they were within one hundred miles of a bishop’s altar.”

    (sigh). The episcopate is decidedly due for a comeback.

  • Not sure I’d want a bishop who thought it was OK to do the bidding of a sitting president by going over to Europe to convince Napoleon not to take sides in the War Between the States; or one who would actually try to persuade poor Irish young men to come fight for the Union Army (where they were often used as cannon fodder by their WASP officers); nor would I want a bishop who, Wolsey-like, sought to dissuade the Holy See itself from being more sympathic to the Confederate cause than Rome already clearly was.

    Fortunately, we’ve come to realize that bishops should not allow themselves to be used as tools of politicians for purely secular political ends.

  • All good and valid points, Tom. I wouldn’t say that men like Dagger John were necessarily steeped in heroic virtue…and I daresay that modern bishops have all sorts of new & exciting ways of letting themselves be manipulated and maneuvered by contemporary powers, just as they themselves manipulate and maneuver. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, after all.

    I think Mr. McClarey was making the point that these “Dagger John” kinds of American bishops knew how to take care of “their own” in some powerful and unambiguous ways–ways that could be viewed as very admirable in their intensity; ways that some of us would like to see applied today.

    Though, without the more unsavory flaws-o-the-day, of course.

  • “or one who would actually try to persuade poor Irish young men to come fight for the Union Army (where they were often used as cannon fodder by their WASP officers); ”

    Oh give it a rest Tom. Have you ever heard of the Irish brigade? Yeah, there were a lot of WASP officers in that outfit! Not to mention the fact that WASPS were also dying in huge numbers to preserve the Union and that the most dangerous job in the war was to be a junior officer in an infantry or cavalry regiment.

    We get it Tom. You wish the Confederacy had won the war. “Dagger John” and “Honest Abe” and a whole lot of other Union men made that impossible. I do not take exception to your right to hold that belief. The country was divided during the Civil War and it still is in historical memory. However, I do not think it is fair to attack Hughes simply because he supported the side that you wish had lost in the Civil War, no more than I would think it fair to attack Southern Catholic ecclesiastics, some of whom will be featured by me in future posts, simply because they supported the Confederacy. Comparing Hughes to Wolsey is simply a pejorative since Lincoln was no Henry VIII attacking the Church or seeking a reversal of some past papal action, and the iron-spirited Hughes was no slavish servant of secular power, but rather a man who supported the Union cause because he thought it right.

  • Hi, I just discovered this blog and it looks interesting. I live in Springfield, Illinois, just a few blocks from Lincoln’s home and I am a geek for all things historic, political and Catholic so this blog is right up my alley!

    The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception here in Springfield (built in the 1920s and currently under renovation) has a stained-glass window that shows Lincoln sending Hughes off to France to talk Napoleon III out of recognizing the Confederacy. You can see it at this link:

    It’s one of several windows depicting great moments in American Catholic history. They are staying in place during the renovation and are being restored to look better than ever.

    It might seem odd to some that a Catholic church would depict a non-Catholic figure of American secular history but I suppose the point is that God accomplishes His purposes through the workings of both Church and State, just as was the case in the time of Christ and long before that.

  • Thank you for the interesting information about the Cathedral Elaine! My family and I live in Dwight, Illinois. Each year in July we go down to Springfield to see the Lincoln Museum, and what a superb place that is, and to say prayers at the Lincoln tomb for the repose of the souls of Mr. Lincoln and his family. The next time we are down we will stop in at the Cathedral, assuming the renovation is comlete, and look at the windows. The type of windows you describe reminds me of a stained glass window showing a WWI American doughboy kneeling at the foot of the cross which is at the Saint John’s chapel at the Newman Center at the University of Illinois in Urbana.

  • Thanks for the quick reply Donald! Be forewarned that the Cathedral renovation is likely to take the rest of this year, so you may have to wait until next year to see this.

    There is another window on that side of the Cathedral that shows soldiers massed in front of the Illinois Capitol, being blessed by a chaplain before they march off to World War I (it would still have been referred to as “The Great War” at the time the window was made).

    I have also visited St. John’s Chapel in Champaign and THAT is one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen. It was built in 1926, two years before the Springfield Cathedral.

  • Thanks for the tip as to the renovation Elaine. One of the high points for me during my seven years at the U of I was worshiping at Saint John’s. I especially loved the regular midnight mass on Saturdays which was usually packed.

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