Monthly Archives: April 2009
Probably the most interesting part of the press conference last night. Ed Morrissey at Hot Air has an interesting take on it. Obama remains an ardent pro-abort, but I think he is beginning to realize that while that position may be popular among a majority of his supporters, it is much less so with the country at large. I daresay all the upcry over Obama Day at Notre Dame is also having an impact upon him. The Freedom of Choice Act* has tumbled from the “first thing he would sign” at the White House to “not the highest legislative priority”. The message to the pro-life movement is clear. Stay active, stay noisy and expose every pro-abort move that this administration makes to the public at large. Obama is paying attention and he will back down in the face of determined opposition.
Blogger Sam Rocha wrote a post the other day titled, “A Brief Defense of ‘Capitalism'”. However, Rocha’s attempt is, I think, somewhat hampered by the fact that he by his own description does not think much of capitalism.
For the most part we (by “we” I mean those of us on the left, yes I will own up to being something of a leftist, whatever that means) like to say that all capitalism, and its governing libertarian sentiment, desires is for there to be no limit at how much one can take for one’s self. It is a creed of the indulgent and the rich. Greed, selfishness, isolationism, sterile individualism and other nasty things, are what we enjoy making capitalism out to be.
With such an opener, what might wonder what it is that Rocha then finds to praise in capitalism. What he find is, I think, not at all unique to capitalism narrowly defined, but it is something which those of us in the West are much attached to:
If we can cut-out the name calling, I think we can find a powerful meaning within capitalist sentiment. Namely, the much-abused, taboo, and rejected idea of the individual, the person-singular. I think that if we take notions of private property and negative freedom (“freedom from”) inherent in capitalist sentiment, and ponder what they mean, we will find that we all value such things privately….
Here is my defense: Capitalism, as it is believed in benevolently, reminds us of our radical existence as images of God with a potency to as we wish within the vast sea of possibility. What we need next is the ability to control ourselves with the prudence, grace, and love of our Creator in this stormy sea of freedom. But we should never be too quick to accept external-control over our bodies, minds, and hearts. We need to be free. And perfect freedom is not the raw, brute force of libertarianism, to be sure. At the same time, it also is that imposing force.
I don’t find what Rocha finds to praise unappealing, but at the same time I think that there is something more to be found in capitalism as described by Adam Smith and others which even many of those who frequently condemn capitalism would find it in themselves to admire if they could look past their preconceptions and see Smith-ian capitalism for what it is.
Hatip to Drudge Report. Biden, that never failing source of unintentional humor in dark times, in addition to being Veep is apparently de facto Surgeon General based on this rather alarmist advice that he gave in regard to swine flu. Perhaps he believes the swine flu is the crisis he warned about last year?
Update: Dale Price at Dyspeptic Mutterings has more health tips from the Veep.
Hattip to Catholic Key Blog. Bishop Robert W. Finn gave an address at the 2009 Gospel of Life Convention on April 18, 2009 that deserves to be read by every Catholic in this country. He is blunt, forceful and truthful, qualities that have too often been in short supply among bishops in this country over the last four decades. Here is the text of his address:
Father Z plays whack-a-mole here with the attack on Mary Ann Glendon by Catholic Democrats, a group which has experienced a ferocious fisk from him before. Jay Anderson at Pro Ecclesia has some perceptive thoughts in his post “… Dollars to Doughnuts …” regarding the attacks on Mary Ann Glendon now coming from some elements of the Catholic Left.
The first 100 days for a president is a rather silly bench mark. For some presidents it is an important period: Lincoln and FDR come to mind. For other presidents the first 100 days are relatively unimportant: both Bushes, Coolidge, Carter, etc. However it is traditional to grade a President now, and the graphic above indicates my assessment. Except for Iraq and Afghanistan, I believe the policy choices made by the President up to this point have been disastrous, particularly in regard to abortion, stem cell research and the economy, where I would be hardpressed to think up worse policies short of this. However, that is merely my opinion and I am interested in reading yours in the comment thread.
Michael Denton, at his always well worth reading blog, For The Greater Glory, has a list, partially humorous, of what he perceives to be the 100 top failures during the first 100 days of the Obama administration.
For our readers who wish to participate, MSNBC is running an online poll on grading the Obama administration here.
Salvete AC readers!
Here are today’s Top Picks in the Catholic world:
1. Since the passing of Father Richard John Neuhaus, the FIRST THINGS journal has gone through some changes that have enhanced their image. The mysterious Spengler joined FIRST THINGS as Associate Editor and outed himself in his Asia Times column as David P. Goldman. Then Elizabeth Scalia, who was once as mysterious as Spengler, with her popular political-Catholic blog The Anchoress joined FIRST THINGS as well. Not to mention that prior to these two fine additions FIRST THINGS also initiated their very own blog a few months back.
2. David P. Goldman, a.k.a. Spengler, writes an intriguing article on how Israel can reconcile it’s Jewishness with a liberal democracy and how this correlates with the West and its march towards secularism. Mr. Goldman has this prescient conclusion to this article:
Defenders of the West democracies should take a deep interest in the outcome of what might seem to be arcane legal matters in Israel. Pushed to its extreme conclusion, the secular liberal model will exclude the sacred and the traditional from public life. Of all the things sacred in the thousands of years of pre-history and history that inform Western Civilization, surely Judaism and the Jewish people are the oldest and arguably the most pertinent to the character of the West. Eroding the Jewish character of Israel is an obsession of the secular project, precisely because the Jewish people in their Third Commonwealth in the Land of Israel have such profound importance for the Christian West.
For the article click here.
3. A very disturbing story coming from the Diocese of Savannah where Bishop John Kevin Boland is preventing an orthodox Catholic, Robert Kumpel of the very well written St. John’s Valdosta Blog, from attending any Mass in his diocese. Bishop John Kevin Boland is doing so in conjunction with a lawsuit leveled against by another layperson to Mr. Kumpel so as to prevent him from investigating allegations of multiple abuses by diocesan officials. In other words it seems that Bishop Boland is frantically covering something up, but we don’t know what that is because of a restraining order on Mr. Kumpel who was attempting to investigate this.
Bishop John Kevin Boland is the ecclesiastical equivalent of a Catholic politician who is personally opposed to abortion but publicly for it. For example, Bishop John Kevin Boland is personally orthodox, but ecclesiastically heterodox in his application of Church teaching. Such as Archbishop Donald Wuerl of the Archdiocese of Washington where he is known for his personal orthodoxy but is lacking in applying it in his pastoral and management style.
For the article click here.
Before he was elevated to be Archbishop of Newark, John J. Myers was Bishop of Peoria, my diocese. I always liked him. He was vibrant and orthodox and attracted many men to the priesthood during his tenure. Earlier this month he released this statement in regard to Obama Day at Notre Dame on May 17, 2009:
In honor of my son’s first birthday this week:
Becoming a father has brought clarity to my soul- one could say spiritually and in other significant ways which relate back to the state of my eternal soul. I have always been political, but now I believe I really get what that means. Politics is treated like a game, a sport, a business; it is even viewed as a necessary evil by many. Politics and sex are similarly abused by many, and cheaply regarded by way too many. They aren’t games, or sports, they are about loving others, taking care for the next generation. Politics and sex are holy, even if we do our best to undermine them and rob them of their inherent godly potential for good.
Consider the alternative to political organization- anarchy. Who benefits from that? The strong, the uncaring, the ‘might makes right’ crowd; certainly not the child, not the honest man looking for a stable situation to raise a family up in peace.
Previously I commented on the infantile morality of many on the left over the issue of abortion, particularly the ‘double-standard’ argument that says:
“If men get away with x, why can’t women do it? If rich people can get x, why shouldn’t the poor do it?”
I argued that instead of relaxing moral standards so that everyone can freely sin without shame or legal penalty, those who have indeed been guilty of getting away with offenses against people and society should somehow be held to account for it.
Now I face a different, yet equally infantile moral logic from some – I repeat, some – on the right. This time the issue is torture.
Pro-abort Republican Senator from Pennsylvania Arlen Specter is now pro-abort Democrat Senator Arlen Specter. He does this of course because he realized that Pat Toomey would have creamed him in the Republican primary in 2010. Instead, assuming that the Democrats are deluded enough to nominate him, Toomey will cream him in the general election. This should be a prime race for all pro-lifers around the nation next year.
Update I: Hattip to Hot Air. Here is Specter last month on the prospect of his switching parties:
“I am staying a Republican because I think I have an important role, a more important role, to play there. The United States very desperately needs a two-party system. That’s the basis of politics in America. I’m afraid we are becoming a one-party system, with Republicans becoming just a regional party with so little representation of the northeast or in the middle atlantic. I think as a governmental matter, it is very important to have a check and balance. That’s a very important principle in the operation of our government. In the constitution on Separation of powers.”
Normally, I’d berate someone like this as a self-serving turncoat. However my reaction is simple joy to have this political hack finally out of the GOP.
Update II: The ever perceptive reptilians at Big Lizards Blog have an intriguing look at the upcoming Toomey-Specter match up in their post A Specter Is Haunting the Democratic Party.
UpdateIII: The Cranky Conservative has some thoughts here on Specter, including the observation that after 30 years in Washington Specter is the poster child for term limits.
Mary Ann Glendon, Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard, is in the limelight now for her decision to deprive Jenkins of his fig-leaf over his invitation to honor Obama on May 17, 2009. I am not surprised by this development. She has long been an eloquent defender of the unborn in a completely hostile environment. She has written many articles on the subject.
For a number of years I have read the opinion pieces of a writer known only as “Spengler” in the Asia Times Online. I enjoy his wit and his tight reasoning on many topics. “Spengler” has now revealed that he is David P. Goldman, the new associate editor of First Things. I am glad to see Mr. Goldman coming to First Things, but I confess to sadness that “Spengler” is no longer a mystery. As bloggers know, a nom de plume can take on a life, and a character, separate from the keyboarder who creates it. The substance of the writing of course remains, and that is most important, but a certain element of fun dies when the writer behind the assumed name is revealed.
Graduations are just around the corner, and I would assume that most high school seniors heading on to college next year have already picked their schools and are now navigating the treacherous waters of financial aid forms. However, ’tis the season, and with Catholic colleges somewhat in the news at the moment (and the realization that despite my thinking of myself as recently down from college I am in fact eight years out — with my eldest daughter likely heading off to college herself in eleven years) I thought it might be an appropriate time to assess the practicalities of Catholic higher education — or more properly, of higher education for Catholics.
In our social circle, I know a number of parents who proclaim that no child of theirs shall ever go to any but one of 3-5 approved, orthodox Catholic colleges. (The contents of these lists vary slightly depending on the speaker, but Thomas Aquinas, Steubenville, Ave Maria, Christendom, University of Dallas and Benedictine are names one hears often.) I find myself less of one mind on the question, in part because my wife and I both actually went to Steubenville (class of ’01). My goal here is not to advocate one specific course as the only wise one for serious Catholics, but to lay out the advantages and disadvantages of all. I think there are basically two sets of concerns that parents have in these discussions, moral and academic. I shall begin with the moral.
Hattip to Hot Air. Notre Dame’s reaction to the stunning Glendon withdrawal:
“We are, of course, disappointed that Professor Glendon has made this decision. It is our intention to award the Laetare Medal to another deserving recipient, and we will make that announcement as soon as possible.”
Now who could Jenkins get at the last moment? Hmmm, someone on board with Obama, doesn’t mind ticking off the bishops, nominally Catholic, nominally pro-life. I have it! The perfect candidate for Jenkins is here.
As Brendan noted a while back, the Notre Dame controversy, “has all the staying power of an inebriated relative after a dinner party.” I’m loathe to post on it again, but there has been a fairly significant development: Harvard Law Professor Mary Ann Glendon has decided not to attend the graduation or accept the Laetare Medal. Here, via First Things is the text of her letter to Father Jenkins:
April 27, 2009
The Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
University of Notre Dame
Dear Father Jenkins,
When you informed me in December 2008 that I had been selected to receive Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal, I was profoundly moved. I treasure the memory of receiving an honorary degree from Notre Dame in 1996, and I have always felt honored that the commencement speech I gave that year was included in the anthology of Notre Dame’s most memorable commencement speeches. So I immediately began working on an acceptance speech that I hoped would be worthy of the occasion, of the honor of the medal, and of your students and faculty.