USCCB Issues A Statement of Support For Bishop D'Arcy

Tuesday, June 23, AD 2009

Bishop John M. D'Arcy

Hattip to reader Rick Lugari.  The USCCB* has issued this statement of support for Bishop John D’Arcy, the Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend:

“The bishops of the United States express our appreciation and support for our brother bishop, the Most Reverend John D’Arcy.  We affirm his pastoral concern for Notre Dame University, his solicitude for its Catholic identity, and his loving care for all those the Lord has given him to sanctify, to teach and to shepherd.”

Bishop D’Arcy had been in the forefront of protesting Notre Dame honoring Obama on May 17, 2009.

* United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

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30 Responses to USCCB Issues A Statement of Support For Bishop D'Arcy

  • I wonder if, now that the entire USCCB has voted on this resolution, people will stop claiming that the ~80 bishops who spoke out against Notre Dame’s actions at the time were some sort of partisan hack minority.

  • “A sad testament to the co-option of the USCCB by Republican partisans…” will probably be the editorial gloss from the usual suspects, followed by more faux hand-wringing about “civility”, which, as practiced by its proponents, rarely involves a good faith attempt to respond to legitimate criticism.

    It is nice that the USCCB decided to recognize Bishop D’Arcy. I thought his firm and temperate response to the Notre Dame controversy was a model for other bishops.

  • The members of the Obama cult will have no difficulty discounting this.

  • How soon we forget!

    D’Arcy was one of the more moderate of those who expressed concerns about the Obama visit. Some of you even called him a coward! Now you’re spinning this as you wish. I commend the USCCB’s recognition of his leadership. In doing so, they have expressed their solidarity with HIS view, not the views of the mosr radical, Republicatholic bishops.

  • Catholic Anarchist, I defy you to find a quotation from any member of this blog in which Bishop D’Arcy was called a coward.

  • Michael, I think it’s you who are spinning. Bishop D’Arcy could not have been more clear in his position that Notre Dame was wrong to honor president Obama and that in doing so, they violated the 2004 Bishop’s statement (both statements are available on the diocese website and the one interview he gave is available on youtube). His response was direct and prayerful. I read all the bishops statements and I didn’t see any who said anything markedly stronger than Bishop D’Arcy. Maybe I missed it. Can you point me to the bishops you think are the “radical republicatholic bishops” and which parts of their statements went so far beyond Bishop D’Arcy that the USCCB’s statement of support can’t fairly be said to apply to them also?

  • D’Arcy was one of the more moderate of those who expressed concerns about the Obama visit. Some of you even called him a coward!

    Michael,

    I have no recollection of such a statement by anyone on this blog. As far as I know, I am the only one who (gently) criticized any of the bishops, and that post suggested Bishop Olmsted had been too harsh with Fr. Jenkins (a view I later revised as more Bishops spoke out). I praised Bishop D’Arcy’s response as striking the perfect balance; certainly, no one called him a coward. Please either produce a link or retract the accusation.

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2009/03/26/bishop-olmsted-accuses-president-jenkins-of-disobedience/

  • As I recall the debate the only thing negative and disrespectful said about any of the bishops were from people who called them Republicatholics and the like because they spoke out against a Catholic college honoring a vehemently pro-abortion politician who happens to be a Democrat. Those who supported the bishops were called partisan hacks who don’t understand what true Catholicism is – strikingly similar to Schiavo affair when the enlightened Catholics told us that Terri’s supporters and the many vocal bishops simply didn’t understand. Now the USCCB, albeit a late, gave voice, just like the Vatican did – thought at least in the Schiavo case Pope John Paul II and the Vatican were speaking out all along – but the arbiters of true Catholicism ignored all that too.

  • Rick

    Thank you for combating the revisionist history

  • I read all the bishops statements and I didn’t see any who said anything markedly stronger than Bishop D’Arcy.

    This is simply absurd. D’Arcy was about the tamest of the bishops who spoke out. This, jh, is revisionism.

  • Now, now, now–don’t confuse the excitable lad with facts. He expects neologisms like Republicatholic actually mean something to others, which is almost endearing.

    About the only truly intemperate statement was from Bishop Bruskewitz, the exception which proves the rule.

  • “Republicatholic bishops”

    Like I said, self parody. Who needs “i” when you have the real iafrate?

  • D’Arcy was one of the more moderate of those who expressed concerns about the Obama visit.

    What a hack. So a “more moderate” response was D’Arcy’s boycott of the Notre Dame graduation, along with his prayer for “Our Lady to intercede for the university named in her honor, that it may recommit itself to the primacy of truth over prestige.”

    After your behavior over at VN, no one in their right mind thinks that your positions have anything to do with fealty to the Church. Your comments are dripping with contempt and intellectual pride whenever anybody in the Church suggests disagreement with your precious political positions.

  • Michael J is the embodiment of the axiom that being on the left means never having to say you’re sorry, either for baseless accusations or for a bad memmory. There does seem to be a catholic modification to his leftism; he generally tells those he disagrees with to merely “shut up”. This is vastly better than the Che Guevara supporters on youtube who say they are going to kill me.

  • Michael J is the embodiment of the axiom that being on the left means never having to say you’re sorry, either for baseless accusations or for a bad memmory.

    What should I apologize for? I was against the idea of Obama receiving the degree from the beginning.

    he generally tells those he disagrees with to merely “shut up”.

    Prove it.

  • What should I apologize for?

    For claiming that you were against Obama receiving an honorary degree, when in fact you ridicule the Bishops that you supposedly agree with as “radical Republicatholics.”

  • Yeah, SB, that second example you posted is something I’ve seen more than once from him.

    Michael J. Iafrate Says:
    October 29, 2008 at 3:47 pm
    S.B., shut up or you will be permanently banned from commenting on my posts. Understand?

    I assume that smart people on the left resort to verbal bullying and intimidation because they know their arguments are weak. Some on the fringe right have the same tendency.

  • For claiming that you were against Obama receiving an honorary degree, when in fact you ridicule the Bishops that you supposedly agree with as “radical Republicatholics.”

    I was against Obama receiving the degree but I disagreed with the viewpoint expressed by your “heroic” bishops who went much further and said he should not be allowed to speak at ND and even went so far as to make judgments about Fr. Jenkin’s spiritual state. Surely you see that there is a difference.

    In the first example you cite, S.B., I clearly did not simply say “shut up” as a way to end an argument.

    Nor did I do so in the second example. In fact, “Pauli,” if you look at my comment in context you will see that was in fact S.B. who was engaging in verbal bullying. That’s his tactic as I’m sure you well know. I have no qualms about telling him to shut up when he does such things at my blog. But that is not the same as saying “shut up” in order to shut down an argument. Once again, you and S.B. must resort to mischaracterization in order to “win” an argument.

  • It wasn’t verbal “bullying” to point out the obvious fact that you were making an astonishing claim (about starvation being caused by “deliberate policies of global capitalism”) with zero evidence to back it up (“click around the internet,” you said, when you turned out to be incapable of finding any supportive links yourself).

    So you’re merely proving the point that leftists sometimes resort to verbal bullying (“shut up”) when their arguments lack logic or evidence.

  • S.B. – Your bullying reputation is obvious to anyone who reads this blog or Vox Nova. But continue to claim otherwise. It’s nice to have a little giggle in the middle of a busy day.

  • People who say stupid things often experience it as “bullying” to have it pointed out.

  • Ha! Two giggles in one day! You are too generous, S.B.

  • Addendum: People who tell outright lies in defense of unorthodox beliefs, and yet who derive enormous intellectual pride from their faith, often experience it as “bullying” to have that pointed out as well.

  • Reading his stuff is kind of like looking at pictures of crystal addicts–it keeps most sane folks from going over to the left. At least I would hope so.

  • I was against Obama receiving the degree but I disagreed with the viewpoint expressed by your “heroic” bishops who went much further and said he should not be allowed to speak at ND and even went so far as to make judgments about Fr. Jenkin’s spiritual state. Surely you see that there is a difference.

    Of course there’s a difference. But it says much more about your partisan idiocy, and about your willingness to put your own ideology above respect for the Church’s stewards, that you think a Bishop’s fierce opposition to Obama’s position on abortion makes him a “Republicatholic.”

  • Please, by all means, prove that I am a “partisan.” I am, and have been, against the republicans and democrats for many years. You are just spewing filth, nothing accurate, nothing based in reality.

  • It’s not “filth” — just the obvious truth — to point out that you are unorthodox, as are some of your fellow bloggers. If you’re not intelligent or honest enough to admit that fact, that’s your problem.

  • Is partisanship equivalent to unorthodox?

    It doe not matter here… SB is allowed to live out rather ungracefully his continued obsession with MI.

  • No, they’re unorthodox on several moral issues.

    I’m not “obsessed.” Believe me, it takes but 30 seconds or a minute at most to type out an occasional comment. I spend far more time thinking about my family, my work, the book I’m publishing, the classical guitar album I’m making, and how to improve my squat form as I progress towards squatting 405. It’s just that when I read this blog, and I keep coming across obnoxious and asinine comments from unabashed dissenters who nonetheless have managed to convince themselves that they are the only true Catholics, I can’t help responding.

Pity and Fear

Tuesday, June 23, AD 2009

Aristotle taught that the purpose of tragedy is to inspire pity and fear in the audience, thence causing catharsis, a purging of emotion. I’ve always found his explanation of tragedy compelling, but as I get older (queue laughter at the thirty-year-old getting “older”) I find that I want to achieve catharsis much less than I used to. Not that my life is layered in tragedy or anything, indeed, far from it. But somehow, one just doesn’t feel as much like seeking out pity and fear at thirty as at twenty.

This has been running through my head as I’ve been reading about The Stoning of Soraya M.

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One Response to Pity and Fear

2 Responses to The Gold Reserve Was Just Sitting Around Doing Nothing

Neda Agha-Soltan: "The Voice of Iran"

Tuesday, June 23, AD 2009

  • In a Death Seen Around the World, a Symbol of Iranian Protests, by Nazila Fathi (New York Times):

    Only scraps of information are known about Ms. Agha-Soltan. Her friends and relatives were mostly afraid to speak, and the government broke up public attempts to mourn her. She studied philosophy and took underground singing lessons — women are barred from singing publicly in Iran. Her name means voice in Persian, and many are now calling her the voice of Iran.Her fiancé, Caspian Makan, contributed to a Persian Wikipedia entry. He said she never supported any particular presidential candidate. “She wanted freedom, freedom for everybody,” the entry read.

  • Family, friends mourn Neda Agha-Soltan, Iranian woman whose death was caught on video, by Borzou Daragahi (Los Angeles Times). Neda Agha-Soltan, 26, ‘was a beam of light’ and not an activist, friends say. The video footage of her bleeding to death on the street has turned her into an international symbol of the protest movement.
  • In Iran, One Woman’s Death May Have Many Consequences, by Robin Wright. (Time) – Neda is already being hailed as a martyr, a second important concept in Shi’ism. With the reported deaths of 19 people on June 20, martyrdom provides a potent force that could further deepen public anger at Iran’s regime.

On the protests in Iran, see also From Tehran’s Streets: Hope and Rage – A Photo essay from LIFE Magazine. (NOTE: The Tehran-based photojournalist who made these pictures is now missing).

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10 Responses to Neda Agha-Soltan: "The Voice of Iran"

Party of God/Party of Satan?

Monday, June 22, AD 2009

I am not interested in having future fruitless arguments over whether or not the Republican or Democratic Party is pure evil or not. It is like the old canard comparing some contemporary American politician to Adolf Hitler- it is a deal-breaker. I am one who believes that truth in politics is pretty spread out among the various major and minor political parties- there are some huge moral gaps in all, so the choice of party for me is not based on trying to find the perfect Party of God here in America.

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12 Responses to Party of God/Party of Satan?

  • …but I also don’t believe that the mainstream Republican strategy of framing abortion rights as a state’s rights question is a legitimate pro-life solution.

    Hardly a fair assessment of the Republican strategy. The Republican platform calls for a Constitutional amendment to protect the right to life of the unborn from the moment of conception.

    Good luck with your project of bringing the Democrats around on the abortion issue, really.

  • Paul- three quick points- first thanks for the good will to wish me luck- prayers will do even better!

    Second- I am aware of the official platform, but to be honest I don’t think these platforms really drive the operations in the parties- they are nice and symbolic, and if I had seen the kind of energy from the national Republican leaders to push for such an Amendment during the 8 years of the Bush Admin, my heart might have been won over- but alas- it seems that all I hear from the actual candidates and reps during elections is that they have their personal beliefs about abortion being wrong, but really all they intend is to send it back to the states to decide- taking the Scalia/Thomas road to pro-State’s Rights, not natural law/pro-life. So, yes it is a few hairs more than the Democratic sell-out of the unborn, but it doesn’t cut it if we want to make the right to life a universal human right someday. There is sometimes a tyranny in popular opinion- and right now abortion is something that requires national leaders to take up their godly role, not pass the buck. Again, I am convinced that many of my friends who support the State’s rights approach to abortion are genuine in their position- they don’t see a way clear to what I propose without undermining the Rule of Law- I respect their reasoning, but I don’t accept it. What I propose will require a big turnaround inside the Democratic Party, which is why I am focusing my energies there. I will leave the Republican CAtholics to do the heavy lifting inside their chosen party. The big point in this submission is simply to say that there can be no debate or common ground if one is simply to assert that the Democratic or Republican parties are just pure evil and anyone associating or working within one or the other major Parties is in grave sin. That is the only point of no return for me when it comes to having a dialogue. I don’t view the parties as hopeless, just major basket cases- if I decide to break with the Dems it will be to go and try to form a Natural Law/Common Good Party- but right now that seems like a strategy that would give me pleasure, but I’m not convinced it would actually help reform American politics to help on the major issues of my discontent.

  • Great post. I agree with a good bit of it. I am really glad that certain people are not in charge of RCIA programs. One gets a sense that Republicans would have to repent in public of many supposed sins before being allowed to enter 🙂

    I am hoping the Church (in all its facets) does a better job of engaging both major parties

  • …if I had seen the kind of energy from the national Republican leaders to push for such an Amendment during the 8 years of the Bush Admin, my heart might have been won over- but alas- it seems that all I hear from the actual candidates and reps during elections is that they have their personal beliefs about abortion being wrong, but really all they intend is to send it back to the states to decide…

    Here, I wish I could contradict you, but I can’t. I share your frustration, the moreso because I am a Republican. So many missed opportunities.

    The only solution I can see is to find more pro-life candidates at every level of government; which is why I am running for the Illinois legislature.

  • I suspect the GOP would push it if the average pro-lifer in the pews would push it more.

    I mean I rarely hear about it.

  • “Good luck with your project of bringing the Democrats around on the abortion issue, really.”

    That’s precisely the problem. “Good luck with YOUR project.” Why is it only OUR project? Call me an idealist, but I thought we were in this together and I hardly see how we’re going to get that constitutional amendment, overturn Roe v. Wade, or get any federal pro-life legislation without the Democrats who are pro-life. Even with the GOP control of Congress, no pro-life legislation has ever passed without the 40 or so pro-life Democrats who get on board.

    I’m not justifying the actions or cowardliness that many pro-life Democrats have taken. But it seems that hardly any can rise because the funding isn’t there nor is the support.

    If I ran for office right now, health care and environmental lobbies won’t give me funding because I’m pro-life. Pro-life groups won’t give me funding because I’m a Democrat. In a Democratic primary, pro-choice groups and Democratic groups will back my opponent(s) and I would be outspent terribly.

    The problem for pro-life Democrats is not the general election. It seems that to me, a pro-life Democrat more often than not beats a Republican and solidly too. It is not the general that we have to worry about. We have to survive primaries and the party machine is set up in such a way that, that is an enormous, almost insurmountable task. What’s even worse is those who should be our true allies, don’t support us. And I’m not talking pseudo-pro-life Democrats — Joe Biden, Bill Clinton, Jesse Jackson etc — I’m talking the Robert Caseys who don’t quite get into the game, like Mr. Shipe here.

    I’m not all too sure if there’s ever really a second glance at a Democrats’ pro-life credentials once you see the “(D)” after his or her name. Maybe I’m wrong. I pray I am. But this “buck your party” and “then give us a call” business is beyond unfair.

    For every missed Republican opportunity, for every time the GOP machine has taken advantage of pro-lifers, or has failed on its promises, I would love to see a swarm of angry letters in the mail to Congress or a threat to not vote for them. But, oh….we can’t. If we vote against them, we get the opposition which is rabidly pro-abortion. So we’re locked in the box with no one to vote for except for the GOP…and they’re going to give this strategy up, why? For justice? I think that’s delusional. Sure, there are some sincere pro-life Republicans, but I don’t think the machine is selling the votes anytime soon.

    So if I can ask myself as a pro-life Democrat, why should I vote eagerly for the party establishment if they will not even consider my views? If the Democratic machine knew it could get my vote no matter what positions they took, they would have no reason to change it. In the same way, if the GOP does in fact take advantage of pro-life votes, if it does in fact pay “lip service” to the unborn and do minimal work to end abortion, then in fact, why sell your vote to an establishment that is at best lukewarm? I’m not saying vote for a pro-choice opponent. Vote for a different candidate in the primaries, at least abstain from voting for one (or however many) on the ballot, or at least raise awareness about that candidate. I don’t see the party getting more serious unless something is done.

    I hardly see as much energy spent at developing and maintaining real energy on abortion than I see on other issues and throwing the word “socialism” around. Like Mr. Shipe, had I seen one bill like the Right to Life Act or fetus-personhood bill, even make it off of committee for a vote I’d be in a different party. The Democrats are using the “reconciliation process” so that they ONLY need 50 votes to get a health care bill through the Senate. Why could the Republicans have not done that? I don’t see half the energy in fighting it than I do in talking about it or pointing to the failures of those on the other side. And this is hardly the point of pro-life Republican criticism.

    Again and again, we are told vote for “pro-life candidates.” Why is it then, there seems to be a distinction? It often strikes me as unspoken or perhaps unrealized. “Pro-life candidates” are Republicans. There is a distinction made for “Pro-life Democratic candidates” as if they were a whole and separate category.

    So, the project of voting for pro-life Republicans is an obligation to the unborn (one of which I am not disputing). But the possibility of crossing partylines to help gain a broader pro-life coalition across parties is not an obligation. It is a problem only for pro-life Democrats to worry about. The solidarity seems to break down here.

    How many pro-life Democrats have positions of leadership or head committees? The problem is, as long as they are the “freshman” and can’t form a meaningful coalition, the pro-abortion majority won’t see any reason to take them seriously.

    This isn’t helped by pro-life Democrats without so much as a blink voting for pro-abortion candidates. However, neither are we helped by those from the other side who wouldn’t so much as lift a finger.

    We talk about double standards a lot in politics. Is this not a double standard?

    Forgive me here, but at least I can acknowledge and blatantly point out the obvious failures of pro-life Democrats. We have some serious issues that need to be worked out. However, I sure as hell don’t think we’re the party that is going to end abortion. I don’t think Republicans will end abortion. Pro-life American people will end abortion.

    Pro-choice Americans are marching in lock-step. The pro-life house is divided against itself. Can we not find some consensus on this? Lord, Have Mercy On Us.

  • Just a few points here, Eric…

    That’s precisely the problem. “Good luck with YOUR project.” Why is it only OUR project?

    Because I’m a Republican; I have no capacity to reform the Democratic Party. I’m working on the reform of the GOP. Race you?

    It seems that to me, a pro-life Democrat more often than not beats a Republican and solidly too.

    That’s because so many people assume that the “pro-life” Democrat doesn’t really mean it. Does the name Bob Casey, Jr., ring a bell?

    I’m not all too sure if there’s ever really a second glance at a Democrats’ pro-life credentials once you see the “(D)” after his or her name. Maybe I’m wrong.

    And maybe you’re not. When I see the “D” after a name, I want to know what’s wrong with a person’s pro-life sensibilities that they would be part of the party of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, Kathleen Sebelius, and the rest of the crowd who lie about abortion and about pro-lifers in order to keep abortion money coming in. My suspicion is, I think, understandable.

    But, oh….we can’t. If we vote against them, we get the opposition. So we’re locked in the box with no one to vote for except for the GOP…and they’re going to give this strategy up, why?

    And the Democratic Party is going to make a home for these disappointed pro-life voters… when?

    Both parties are becoming increasingly pro-abortion. The GOP can only abandon the pro-life issue because the Democrats did so long ago.

    But the possibility of crossing partylines to help gain a broader pro-life coalition across parties is not an obligation. It is a problem only for pro-life Democrats to worry about. The solidarity seems to break down here.

    In my area, my state rep is a pro-abort Republican. If the Democrats were to put up a pro-life opponent, I would support that candidate. But last year, they ran no one in the primary, and slated a pro-choice accountant for the general, whom the incumbent succeeding in getting removed from the ballot on a technicality.

    But let the Dems offer me a real choice, and I’ll take a good look.

    This year, with no rumors of an opponent in the (Feb. 2010) primary, I have entered the race myself, unprepared and inadequate though I may be.

    We talk about double standards a lot in politics. Is this not a double standard?

    Not that I can see. I want the best pro-life candidate I can find. After that, I want the candidate I think is best on other issues, too. A pro-life Democrat isn’t likely to get my vote over a pro-life Republican.

    I personally have never seen a ballot that had a pro-life Democrat against a pro-choice Republican. I suspect that pro-life Dems run against pro-life Republicans for purely partisan reasons. I rarely see much Democratic opposition to pro-choice Republicans.

  • Paul,

    Together, we uphold the status quo quite nicely.

    I’m a Democrat because I feel profoundly that God wants to me sitting at a table with particular sinners for a particular reason–warring that sin as an “enemy from within.”

    I never imagined it would be easy or simple. I didn’t even think it would come without suspicion from others who disagree with me. I doubt that’s avoidable in this life.

    The more I think about it, the more I think I’m meant to do it. In fact, what convinces me that it is my vocation is that it scares the daylights out of me. The media will love the election of a homosexual Catholic who opposes same-sex marriage, civil unions, domestic partnership, gay adoption, etc etc.

    So, indeed, Paul. Race you.

    I’ll continue to profoundly disagree with you on this, as on other matters (obviously).

    Good luck with your campaign. I’ll pray for you and probably, sooner rather than later, I’ll help fund it.

  • Thanks Eric, I’ll say a Hail Mary for you too.

  • One problem we have Eric is Democrats who run as pro-lifers and who then convert to the pro-abort cause after they get elected. Believe it or not, Dick Durbin, pro-abort Senator from my state, ran as a pro-lifer to win a congressional seat from Paul Findley, a Republican pro-abort. Durbin received a huge amount of support from pro-life Republicans around Illinois, and I have no doubt that Durbin would not have been elected in downstate Springfield without that support.
    http://www.illinoisfamily.org/informed/contentview.asp?c=27439

    Enough Democrats have pulled this trick to give many pro-lifers concern about the bona fides of a Democrat running as a pro-lifer. It is a shame that this impacts truly pro-life Democrats, but that is the situation.

  • If I held every single Republican politician accountable for my suspicion of a pro-life facade that I generally suspected, I wouldn’t vote for any of them and support third party candidates, or write-in candidates.

  • Eric, how many Republicans can you name that were elected as pro-lifers and then became pro-aborts?

6 Responses to Obama: Fly-Killer!

Diagnosing contemporary conservatism's ills.

Monday, June 22, AD 2009

Apropos of DarwinCatholic’s post on the meaning of conservatism, the following comment from Francis Beckwith (What’s Wrong With The World) struck a chord:

“Conservatism–as a philosophical, cultural, and political project–does in fact have boundaries, and those have been set by the cluster of ideas offered by such giants as Burke, Lincoln, Chesterton, Lewis, Hayek, Chambers, Friedman, Kirk, Weaver, Gilder, Buckley, and Reagan. There are, of course, disagreements among these thinkers and their followers, but there is an identifiable stream of thought. It informs our understanding of human nature, families, civil society, just government, and markets.

“What contemporary conservatism has lost–especially in its Hannitized and Coulterized manifestations of superficial ranting–is the connection to a paternity that is necessary so that its intellectual DNA may be passed on to its progeny.

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16 Responses to Diagnosing contemporary conservatism's ills.

  • DEAR GOD! YES! YES! YES!

    Christopher, this is one of those moments when someone puts fragmented thoughts into coherent words.

  • This also reminds me to write that letter to FOX as to why I think Sean Hannity should just be taken off the air.

  • I confess I don’t see much of a identifiable stream of thought among the figures mentioned. Some of them, no doubt, would have been horrified at being identified with others in the group, or explicitly disclaimed any conservativism.

    The intellectual foundations of conservativism have always been something of a post hoc affair (I’m not saying this is unique to conservativism). The way people talk, you’d think the average Goldwater voter could have quoted you chapter and verse from Russell Kirk. I doubt it.

  • Perhaps our writer would like all conservatives to be nice and polite and drink tea with pinkies upended. When the world of ideas is a moshpit where knees and elbows are needed. He forgets that William F. Buckley Jr. of blessed memory, an elite by birth, used very sharp elbows and knees in public debate. Firing Line was the model for many of the Fox News programs- Buckley would invite liberal guests, only to undress them clothing article by clothing article. In the Media World, conservatives operate at a disadvantage of numbers and resources. Hannity, Coulter, et al, even with the ratings dominance of Fox, must compensate with honking rhetoric at times. Meanwhile, El Rushbo gets bigger numbers than anybody anywhere. Mostly on the strength of his ideas.

  • Blackadder — true, it’s not that cut and dry. On that note, I had recommended this introductory essay on the other thread — on the disparate influences and intellectual threads of “American conservatism” and their points of agreement.

    I found George Nash’s The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945 is also a good read.

    Regarding Beckwith’s criticism, while before my time, I’m disappointed that we don’t have a television show of the calibre of, say, Buckley’s Firing Line.

    The wasteland of Fox News’ “pseudo-conservative” television has to some degree been replaced by blogs and online interactions. Websites like “First Principles” and the various journals (First Things, Weekly Standard, etc.) which might encourage such a return to and examination of conservatism’s intellectual sources.

    Due credit to Ann Coulter, however — apparently she did recommend Chambers’ Witness in one of her books and prompted a number of them to take it up.

  • *laughs* Of course the TV guys aren’t known for their great philosophical arguments!

    They’re not dealing with highly philosophical folks who want to listen and reason– they’re dealing with folks who either already agree, or who are disposed *not* to agree and will only consider their words if they’re sufficiently startled.

    Sweet Mother, most of the folks watching will be results of the public school system– the same one that has more years of sex ed than history ed?

    Would we also be surprised at sidewalk preachers who appeal less with sweet reason than with ways to get your attention, then direct you to places you can get more information?

    Sure, they’re shallow– but they get the ideas out.

    I’d argue that right thought is less suited to this style of being spread, which is why left thought is so much more common in the area.

  • There has to be some kind of middle ground where we are able to firmly articulate our beliefs backed by a fairly in depth understanding of our historical roots. I’d agree with Frank and with Chris on the boorishness of Fox News and most of its talking heads, though I think he’s underestimating Laura Ingraham and, to a lesser extent, Coulter.

    What we’re seeing time and again in these blog debates are two groups kind of talking past one another. There are a group of conservatives that are tired of taking what seems to be the Marquess of Queensberry approach to political debate, and another concerned about the crassness of some of the political commentary. While I can understand the hesitation on the part of the latter group, it does seem that there’s a subtext to this debate as often the people who cry the loudest for a more temperate tone also want a more temperate kind of conservatism, one that abandons some of the core principles and policy positions of modern conservatism. This only angers the other side even more, and so the rhetoric becomes even more intemperate.

    And as much as it pains me to say this, perhaps we should stop being overly academic. There’s absolutely nothing wrong – and it’s in part necessary to understand the philosophic roots of conservatism. But we’re not going to make that many advances with master’s theses and doctoral dissertations (that was a very painful sentence to write). We should be able to convey the eternal principles of conservatism without boring the masses to sleep, but without the gutteral thoughtlessness of people like Hannity.

  • It strikes me that part of the thing here is that if one has a political movement which a larger percentage of its voters are actually interested in, it will have a fairly loud/populist tone to many of its spokespeople. One can only get away with having a calm, elite, academic tone to all debate if one’s actual voters are such absolute sheep that they don’t bother following any of the movement discussion.

    The solution is simply to have layered communication vehicles, some of which are okay with remaining small because of the limits of their appeal. Fox News and talk radio by their nature need to appeal to tens of millions of people. Magazines like National Review, American Spectator or First Things necessarily take a higher brow approach, and have a smaller appeal.

  • “Sure, they’re shallow– but they get the ideas out.”

    Well said Foxfier. People like Rush, Hannity, Levin, Ingraham and Coulter have to entertain in order to stay on the air. They also carry the conservative message to a mass audience, something that National Review and blogs simply can’t do. I would also note that when WFB started National Review it was attacked as sensationalist and boorish. I recall one initial review stating that the country needed an intelligent conservative journal but National Review clearly did not meet the bill!

    There is more than enough room in the conservative movement for both conservatives of the head and of the heart.

  • To the extent that Rush Limbaugh can communicate the core convictions and ideas of conservatives and/or the Republican Party in a popular medium, he has my wholehearted support.

    Where I get off the Limbaugh train is, say, his off-the-cuff loose cannon remarks — for example, on the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib:

    “This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation, and we’re going to ruin people’s lives over it, and we’re going to hamper our military effort, and then we are going to really hammer them because they had a good time. You know, these people are being fired at every day. I’m talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You [ever] heard of need to blow some steam off?”

    and taking a cavalier “it’s not torture if you can survive it” approach to waterboarding.

    To the extent that these kind of remarks become — given his popularity (and Hannity’s, and Coulter’s, et al.) — the public face of American conservatism for the masses and the media alike, I see that as an impediment.

    And I don’t think even William Buckley himself, despite his penchant for “sharp elbows and knees”, would have approved.

  • I believe it was William F. Buckley, he of the upended pinky and refined manners, who referred to Gore Vidal as a “fa___t.”

    So, as long as we’re talking about superficial ranting, which Buckley did plenty of times, I don’t really see the difference between him and Hannity, except that Beckwith uses him to make his alleged point.

    By the way, Beckwith compares favorably with Hannity, Coulter, et al., in his own ignorance of his tradition when he speaks of Catholicism.

  • Nemo,

    On Beckwith and his comprehension of Catholicism (as a convert to such): irrelevant and stick to the topic.

    Paul,

    Completely agree w/ your comments @ 11:03 am.

    I admit these days much of what I see — from the pundits at Fox News to the recent RNC resolution to call on the Democratic Party to rename itself “Democrat Socialist Party” to Michael Steele’s “the GOP needs a Hip Hop makeover!” and rationally-challenged articulation of pro-life principles — makes me wince.

  • I believe it was William F. Buckley, he of the upended pinky and refined manners, who referred to Gore Vidal as a “fa___t.”

    Buckley once called Vidal a queer during a heated exchange in which Vidal had referred to him as a crypto-Nazi. I doubt it was an exchange he wished others to emulate.

  • In regard to Michael Steele Christopher, we are in complete agreement. The man can’t seem to make up his own mind as to what he believes, let alone lead the RNC!

  • It’s on youtube if you’d like to see it in context, too.

    Frankly, I can’t say an accurate sexual slur rises to the level of offense of “you are a wanna-be mass murdering, eugenically-minded quasi-pagan trying to take over the world.” Not very productive, but I’d have offered to clobber the tootaloo too.

  • “I believe it was William F. Buckley, he of the upended pinky and refined manners, who referred to Gore Vidal as a “fa___t.” ”

    Buckley said it on nation-wide television, although he used the term “queer”.

    Here is a link to the video and the transcript:

    http://concordlive.wordpress.com/2008/02/28/william-f-buckley-jr-vs-gore-vidal-1968/

    As far as I know Buckley never expressed any regret for what he said, and considering it was said to Gore Vidal, good novelist but rancid human being, leaving completely aside his sexual preference, I can understand why.

What Is Conservatism

Sunday, June 21, AD 2009

Seeing a fair amount of discussion as to what “conservatism” is or is not cropping up on various threads — and not having time to write a massive treatise on the topic — I’d like to put forward a few basic thoughts on the topic and then turn it loose for conversation with our readership, which clearly has a number of opinions as to the matter.

I would argue that conservatism is, to a great extent, a relative term. Conservatives seek to preserve the ways and institutions of the past. In the ancient Greek and Roman world, there was a worldview present among conservatives that there had been, in the past, a literal golden age — in the age of the great heroes. Among modern conservatives, resistance to change is rooted more in a suspicion of programs of change based upon ideologies that seek to remake the human person or society into new forms. In this sense, conservatives do not necessarily hold that the way things have been in the past are necessarily good, but they lean towards the fear that drastic change will make things worse.

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30 Responses to What Is Conservatism

  • There has to be something more to conservatism than a simple defense of the status quo, whenever, wherever.

    I believe the Church’s social doctrine is essentially conservative. I also think Aristotle was essentially conservative. I think the conservative view of society, at least up until this thing called American conservatism, is that of a hierarchical social organism.

    It is a travesty that in this day and age only leftists are regarded as opposing great social inequality, while those on the right – often, not always, but often – justify it or at least accept it as a necessary outcome of economic freedom.

    For in Aristotelian and Catholic political thought, which I think anyone would be hard-pressed to dismiss as ‘leftist’ (seeing as how both pre-date the concept), wealth and property can and must be regulated with an eye to preserving a social balance. It isn’t about leveling or envy; it is about preserving the peace and ensuring that each member of society is rightfully recognized for the contribution they make.

    A conservative, then, has the goal of preserving or conserving society as a social organism. Whether it is ancient Greece or America in the Great Depression, you have those who insist that economic freedom is good only within limits, that the role of government may extend beyond mere prevention of force and fraud.

  • American conservatism is, in large part, the political ideals of the Founding Fathers. These ideals of course did not spring newborn to Earth in 1776. The largest ingredient was the experience of the American colonists from the time of settlement up to the Revolution. The colonies were largely left to their own devices by England throughout most of the colonial period. They grew used to running their own affairs. The American colonists were lightly taxed by the governments they set up, probably the most lightly taxed people in the history of the world. Self-reliance was a must in a new country with virtually zero in government services, and not much in the way of government at all, especially outside of the few towns. This was a great laboratory for a grand experiment in a new way of looking at government, and this experiment is still underway.

  • There has to be something more to conservatism than a simple defense of the status quo, whenever, wherever.

    Well, I would say that at any given time and place, conservatives have an ideology which is rather more than this, but that the conservative tendency is one towards preservation of whatever is seen as the good of the past.

    It is a travesty that in this day and age only leftists are regarded as opposing great social inequality, while those on the right – often, not always, but often – justify it or at least accept it as a necessary outcome of economic freedom.

    In a sense, though, wasn’t this the case in many earlier cases as well? Around 1800, conservatives (and the Church very much among them) were defending, at least in essentials, a system in which the vast majority of the population were effectively bound to the land and living at a level barely above subsistence, while a small minority owned the land and enjoyed a level of wealth and comfort unimaginable to peasants. The liberalism of the French Revolution and the other political and cultural revolutions which swept Europe were imagined to be a leveling force, though in many ways they opened the door to a devolution of social structures which allowed even greater social inequality.

    Not only were conservatives (and the Church) defending a system of inequality, but of ingrained and inflexible inequality. Modern inequality is, at least, porous and meritocratic in nature by comparison.

  • Darwin,

    You have hit on my favorite topic!!! A few points:

    Conservatism begins with Burke.

    A plausible case, depending upon definition, can be made for “pre-Burke conservative figures” (limiting to the the West and obviously depending upon defintion). I believe a good case can be made for Cicero and Hume.

    The Enlightenment changed everything. And I mean everything. We cannot escape this umbrella. Rights-infused liberalism is in the very air we breathe. Thus conservatism in any definition will contain some aspect of liberalism.

    Here is my definition of conservatism. In one phrase, the negation of ideology. In longer form over several considerations here:

    http://vox-nova.com/2009/02/06/what-is-conservatism-part-v/

    Now, in sum, I would say it is this – in effect, a sentiment…. :

    the negation of ideology, the political secularization of the doctrine of original sin, the cautious sentiment tempered by prudence, the product of organic, local human organization observing and reforming its customs, the distaste for a priori principle disassociated from historical experience, the partaking of the mysteries of free will, divine guidance, and human agency by existing in but not of the confusions of modern society, no framework of action, no tenet, no theory, and no article of faith.

  • Jonathan,

    Shoot me an email at tito[.]benedictus[at]gmail[dot]com.

    Thanks!

  • Such definitions, of course, beg the question of how political and social practice could follow. Essentially, a “conservative” reaction to a policy problem would be : 1) against systematic and large-scale application (the coercive) 2) against both the individual and the synthetic collective as the foundational unit of society.

    So – applied to “gay marrige”, for example, Patrick Deenan spells this out here:
    http://www.frontporchrepublic.com/?p=3636

    Here, culture and community are more important than politics, and group morality is more important than individual right and justice. (And in my conjecture, culture and community, the foundations of conservative sentiment, require homogeneity and.or assimilation.)

    The problem for U.S. conservatives is not only that their political goals are often infused with liberalism and rights, but that there was not much terribly conservative about its founding. One may still wish to preserve and value founding principles, however, seeking cautious change following Burke and so on, and thus lay claim to the title (although the case might well fall apart philosophically).

  • Burke of course was quite sympathetic to the American Revolution, so sympathetic that during the Revolutionary War his political opponents denounced him as an “American” and a near traitor to the Crown. I have always thought that Burke’s sympathy for the American Revolution, and his condemnation of the French Revolution, is one of the keys to understanding American conservatism.

  • Donald, that is certainly true, but remember that Burke was very much in the liberal tradition and remained a loyal Whig his entire political life, which was rather long.

    The reason that conservative sentiment (not ideology, and conservatism can certainly have an ideology…in fact, several intellectuals like W. Kendall and Kuehnelt-Leddihin wanted to make it an ideology) begins with Burke is that he wrote in reaction against an earth-shattering event, a culmination of liberalism. By this I mean that conservatism is a reaction to liberalism, its partial parent.

    And thus a style, a sentiment, a bias against efforts of utopianism, ideology, and against the promise of a bright new future casting aside considerations of human nature. This is all over the Reflections – natural rights must be in accord with prior practice and convention (my reason of association with Hume and Cicero). This is a received, accumulated, generational wisdom worthy of commitment against movements that would seek to alter them so as to pursue ideological aims.

    The Rockingham Whigs hated arbitrary monarchical power, most of England’s overseas colonial adventures, and wanted very badly internal governmental reform. When Burke spoke of the Glorious Revolution as a “revolution not made, but prevented,” he meant that James II, the last Stuart king overthrown in 1688, was trying to increase royal prerogatives and was thus the true revolutionary. This was against Britain in its development of natural right. The American revolution was positive by his lights in the same manner, due to prudence and prescription in its pursuit of natural right (from God, not usually the right of liberalism). The colonists sought to preserve and continue the English institutions of representative government and private rights founded in the transcendent first and foremost.

    This takes us to the case that “conservative” requires the transcendent, which strikes me as plausible yet is at the very least another fault-line of argument, similar to Russell Kirk v. Frank Meyer and W. Kendall.

  • I don’t have a whole lot to contribute here, perhaps because of my own ignorance on shifting definitions over time.

    The Catholic Church is “conservative” by nature because its mission is to preserve the teachings of Jesus Christ. Politically however, she might find herself aligned with either political liberals or political conservatives in any given time or place.

    In the United States “conservative” ought to be defined by adherence to the Constitution of the United States, even when inconvenient. Events and culture have manipulated and warped that definition beyond recognition, to the point where genuine fidelity to the founding documents is shattered across the political spectrum. One party might be better on civil liberties, while the other better on economic matters.

    I suppose anything else would qualify as additional, no matter how valuable.

  • (I apologize in advance for my comments; I do not mean to be disrespectful. I follow your inspired blog with real affection.)

    “I would argue that conservatism is, to a great extent, a relative term. Conservatives seek to preserve the ways and institutions of the past.
    Because conservatism is a suspicion of change, we see conservatives embrace very different causes in different places and times.”

    While the historical context is interesting for understanding Conservatism it may be the wrong premise for a “positive” definition (when President Reagan said “tear down this wall” he wasn’t looking back !). If Conservatism is being “suspicious of change” then you have to twist the definition and make the definition “relative” because there is no fixed point in the past to which Conservatives are clinging (wink). The same argument can be advanced regarding our beloved Catholic Church –would you say that we are trying to preserve the ways of the Borgia Popes or the Avignon Popes? -. There are some unchangeable Catholic Values, rather than institutions or ways, we seek to preserve. So I would argue that to define Conservatism we need to define Conservative Values, rather than look at some mythical past.

    If you define modern liberalism as an attempt to establish in our society a set of different values; and you define Conservatism as an attempt to stop the spread of those “foreign”-in the sense of different- values you get to your definition of “Conservative seek to preserve”. The problem with that definition is that we become defined by them, Conservatism is opposition to change, and then they define change as good and opposition to change as bad; so we end up as “bitter clingers”.

    “In the American context, conservatives hold to the ideals of the American Revolution and the Founding Fathers . . . limited government, constitutionalism, division of powers and local/regional rights. Because free markets were rejected by adherents of socialism and communism, American conservatives tend to be pro-business.”

    Here you attempt to define Conservative Values, good ! Maybe this is a useful discussion, and we can make some progress. Conservatism is not just pro business/free markets (again you are letting them define us: business is bad; conservatives are pro business; conservatives are bad). Conservatism is about Capitalism and Capitalism only works with a market system and strong property rights The reason Conservative Economist like free –competitive- markets is that with increased competition prices are lowered, to the benefit of consumers. Note that increased competition reduces profits to companies. That is why companies spend so much money lobbying the government seeking to limit competition. Companies do not like free markets. So again, we cannot define Conservatism as pro business; we are pro competitive markets and therefore pro consumers.

    I feel that we need to rescue Capitalism as a bedrock value. At the end of the day we are in an ideological struggle with the Marxist/Communist/Socialist/Liberals/Leftist –notice how they mask themselves to make inroads into a gullible population, does this attitude remind you of the forces of darkness- Wow ! now I’m really sounding like a paranoid kook LOL

  • Pingback: Diagnosing contemporary conservatism’s ills. « The American Catholic
  • The website ‘First Principles’ (from the ever-resourceful Intercollegiate Studies Institute) has a helpful overview of American conservatism and its contributors.

  • I wish someone could coin a new word to describe what we call “conservatism” because at its root it means attempting to conserve already-existing or well-established ideas. In the area of social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage, that is exactly what conservatives are attempting to do. However, some economic and other policies favored by conservatives, such as school choice/vouchers and privatization of Social Security, would actually represent radical change from the status quo.

    Right now I am in the middle of reading Dorothy Day’s autobiography “The Long Loneliness.” Day was an active socialist/communist prior to her conversion to the Catholic faith, and continues to be thought of to this day as very left-leaning because of her pacifism and labor activism. Yet, some of her ideas would be considered extremely “conservative” today. For one thing, she and many of her followers like Peter Maurin did NOT approve of Social Security or most of the New Deal social programs. They believed that making the needy dependent upon government for help was another way of enslaving them. To this day many Catholic Worker houses do not apply for tax exempt status because Day believed works of charity should be done for their own sake and the government should neither encourage nor discourage them.

    Some ideas are, IMO, kind of hard to classify as either liberal or conservative. Take Chesterton and Belloc’s ideal of distributism. My understanding of it, based on what I’ve read about it so far (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong) is that it means every individual or family owning enough property or other means of supporting themselves to make a decent living without having to be dependent upon an employer or the government.

    So, is distributism a conservative or liberal idea? Chesterton himself said that the problem with capitalism was not that there were too many capitalists, but too few. However, he was very opposed to the notion of “big business” and distributist ideas are said to have heavily influenced the creation of American anti-trust laws. I don’t think that would go down well with some of the hard-core economic conservatives who think ANY government regulation of business is evil.

  • As a student, I am really learning a lot about conservatism and other agendas from your article. Thanks!

  • “So, is distributism a conservative or liberal idea?”

    It is neither, really, though if I had to choose one, I would say conservative.

    The Church’s view on private property is that it is a right attendant with social obligations and duties. You may not do whatever you please with your property. Your right to own it is conditioned on your duty to use it morally.

  • There are 2 dimensions to this debate. The first is definitional. The dominant strand of American “conservatism” is in no way conservative — it is pure, undiluted, liberalism. Darwin defines conservatism as an evolution vs. revolution concept, and there is some validity to this hermeneutic. But it falls short. For the economic order of the New Deal is firmly embedded in the economic and constitutional order, and yet the so-called “conservatives” oppose it. I think Sam Tanenhaus puts it best — this group defines itself by what they oppose (often using cartoonish generalization) and thus employs tactics that border on Marxist (and I mean Marx’s followers, not what he said himself).

    I think a more pertinent approach would be to say that conservatism values the stability of the social order, and the community over the rights of the individual. Obviously, opposition to abortion and gay marriage would count, but the rest of American “conservatism” is a hymn to individual rights (guns being the most egregious example). And on guns, I think Darwin is being a little deceptive — the American right does not oppose gun control because no such controls existed historically, but because they have totally ingested a liberal ideology of protection of the individual from outside coercion.

    The second question is the relationship to Catholic social teaching. In a sense, these debates over the definition of conservatism are academically interesting, but not that relevant. For Christianity does not call us to be “conservative” in all senses. Yes, we are called upon to protect the common good, but we are also called upon to change the social order if it is faulty. We share conservatisms suspicion of utopia, and yet we are called to build God’s kingdom on earth. There is a tension here, for sure, a tension which probably underlies all the divisions within the Church.

    Final point: the American definition of conservatism is nothing more that old liberal enemy condemned by the modern Church — from Pius XI’s twin rocks of shipweck (capitalism and socialism) to John Paul’s idolatry of the free market. Call it what you like, but we should oppose this ideolgy just as much as we should oppose socialism.

  • Elaine,

    The Church in its social teaching also insists that government programs not make people dependent on such programs in that they will be enslaved.

  • For the economic order of the New Deal is firmly embedded in the economic and constitutional order, and yet the so-called “conservatives” oppose it.

    Yeah, not so much. Do conservatives want to abolish the FDIC, Social Security, or the SEC? They do not. There are exceptions, but generally speaking conservatives are fine with the post-New Deal economic and constitutional order. At most they seek to restrain its growth a bit.

    this group defines itself by what they oppose (often using cartoonish generalization)

    I think this is true of most every political group. Recall Henry Adams statement that politics was the organization of our hatreds. There’s a lot of truth in that.

  • For the economic order of the New Deal is firmly embedded in the economic and constitutional order, and yet the so-called “conservatives” oppose it.

    I think this assertion would require a lot more teasing out to see if it’s true and to what extent. Clearly, a lot of the New Deal was not well embedded in the economic and constitutional order, since much of it was rejected as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court and overturned. Kosher butchers are no longer being jailed for the sin of allowing their customers to select which chicken they want to buy. But what I assume you mean at this point is that those elements of the New Deal which have survived are now embedded in the economic and constitutional order, and yet you perceive American conservatives to be against them. The obvious question in regard to this is which elements of the New Deal you have in mind, and who among conservatives are actually calling for the repeal of those elements.

    I think a more pertinent approach would be to say that conservatism values the stability of the social order, and the community over the rights of the individual. Obviously, opposition to abortion and gay marriage would count, but the rest of American “conservatism” is a hymn to individual rights (guns being the most egregious example).

    Why do you think this would necessarily be “conservative”? Certainly, there are certain cases where progressives might assert a new individual “right” which is detrimental to the social order and conservatives oppose it, but there might be a fair amount of disagreement as to whether a “right” is individual, and whether it is in fact detrimental to the social order. It seems to me that the definition you’ve chosen here may be more suited as a framework for expressing approval and disapproval of specific political positions than for articulating a philosophy. Though perhaps you just need to expand on it a bit further. What would you see as the things that should be major “conservative” concerns at this time and place in history?

    Keep in mind, especially, that thing which some see as aiding the social order will be seen as others as destructive to it. It’s widely held that social safety net programs aid the social order, while radical individualists oppose these programs. But in a sense, programs which make it more economically feasible for individuals to remain economically provided for without the aid of a community enable individualism. It’s perhaps instructive that medicare and social security (which I assume are programs you are very much in favor of) are both rejected by the Amish and (if the several mentions I’ve run into are correct) by many members of the Catholic Worker movement, because they replace the works of a local community with a direct relationship between state and individual.

    And on guns, I think Darwin is being a little deceptive — the American right does not oppose gun control because no such controls existed historically, but because they have totally ingested a liberal ideology of protection of the individual from outside coercion.

    I’m not sure how exactly you discern the motivation of conservatives in this regard, but I’ll admit that there is a liberal egalitarianism involved. As you’ve pointed out on occasion, gun violence is a phenomenon which afflicts primarily the urban poor, and support for gun ownership comes primarily from the rural and suburban middle class. If we truly had not attachment to liberal egalitarian ideals, everyone would support the idea of banning gun ownership by people who live in cities but are not property owners. (Or perhaps even more reprehensible from a modern liberal point of view, simply ban ownership by poor minorities.) However, although that kind of class and property-based distinction would have been perfectly acceptable in most times and places in Christian history, we all have too many enlightenment liberal ideals at this point to accept such a resolution, and so conservatives end up supporting the same rights for everyone else as they support for themselves. Personally, I think that’s rather a good thing, but I’ll freely admit to being formed by the Enlightenment on that point.

  • So “conservatism” is bad because it’s really just “liberalism”? And “liberalism” is bad because . . . ?

    I think Sam Tanenhaus puts it best — this group defines itself by what they oppose (often using cartoonish generalization)

    Well, anyone’s beliefs can be recharacterized in that way. You, for example, could be described as defining yourself in cartoonish opposition to SUVs, guns, for-profit health care, Calvinists, Israel, Republicans, Karl Rove, and pro-lifers who do anything besides make excuses for their beliefs.

  • I find it interesting that with any discussion of “Conservatism,” more often than not, the conclusion is that conservatives are afraid of change. Conservatives can be agents of change, as in our revolution. The signers of our Declaration of Independence, justified the need for change, in other words conservatives do not like change for the sake of change. Given the right justification, change is not only desirable, but necessary. The human rights enumerated in our Declaration included the right to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of “Happiness.” These words are the contribution of John Locke, who as an enlighten philosopher provided us with the notion that individuals precede governments, he also stated that ownership of property is created by the application of the individual’s labor. Locke also stated a preference for limited government, “Property precedes government and government cannot dispose of the estates of the subjects arbitrarily.” Locke’s contributions are central to the Federalist papers, our founding fathers, and they remain true to today’s conservatives (Treatment of Chrysler bond holders). As a conservative I can tell you that I am for:

    – Limited Government: Check and balances is critical to limit government abuse. We are in favor for a Federal Republic; as opposed to a Unitarian Republic were the capital city dictates to the rest of the nation, i.e., national entrance exams administered by the Ministry of Education in Paris, France. We believe in limited and government as our founding fathers. We oppose Federal encroachment on State rights i.e., Department of Education.
    – Home rule: Most conservatives support parochial schools because of the participation of students, parents and the community at large. Today home rule is eroding before our eyes with the temptations of federal moneys and mandates with strings attached. – Individual rights: We tend to support life and opposed abortion in many levels, but the first and foremost is the concept of the individual life. Today, the political correct response is that “privacy,” trumps the life of the child. However, where is the privacy when you consider that most abortions are performed as a method of contraception and at tax-payers expense? Where is my privacy when the School district decides to take the role of parenting a six grader about contraceptives? Lastly, most abortions are performed on minorities. In the not so distant future someone is going to accuse the proponents of abortion of genocide. This is a Civil Rights issue waiting to happen.
    – Limited Taxes: Essential to the well being of the nation/state/local.

    Conservatives are environmentalist too. However, our support for the environment or any other effort is proportional. Ask yourself at what expense are we to support any government effort (Mussolini kept the trains on time)? We oppose most changes that are open ended. Conservatives are not willing to sacrifice our individual freedoms for an imposed fuzzy greater good. Conservatives are tolerant, and are unlikely to impose behavior on others. An example of this behavioral enforcement is the manner in which we regulate smoking. I do not smoke, but why the persecution, or societal ostracizing of smokers? Are you really exposed to cigarette smoke (what is the frequency of smoke inhalation)? Who do we go after next; fat people? Or perhaps we go to Plato’s Republic to find a formula for discussing the individuals that will make-up our City-State. Do we want beautiful people, young, old, academics, and pious people? I can guarantee you that Conservatives are not social engineers; we are suspicious of initiatives that prescribe individual behavioral changes.

    Conservatives want change but only when well justified. We embrace most issues/arguments facing this great nation of ours. But what we hold dear is our God given “free will,” and the freedoms to exercise it. We also, accept the many choices/responsibilities that come with having made any of life’s choices. We the people empower our government, and that is a great one way street.

  • As you’ve pointed out on occasion, gun violence is a phenomenon which afflicts primarily the urban poor, and support for gun ownership comes primarily from the rural and suburban middle class.

    Perhaps we could locate some social research on the question. If what is true in my social circle is true generally, sport hunting is characteristic of small towns and rural areas and, while found in all social strata, is most likely practiced by wage-earners, not the bourgeoisie. Shooting clay pigeons is more upscale, but, again, has a diverse clientele.

  • In rural Illinois, almost every one has a firearm of some sort: rich, poor and middle class. I am an odd man out since the last time I shot a firearm was the last time I did target practice with an M-16 in the Army.

  • in a sense, though, wasn’t this the case in many earlier cases as well? Around 1800, conservatives (and the Church very much among them) were defending, at least in essentials, a system in which the vast majority of the population were effectively bound to the land and living at a level barely above subsistence, while a small minority owned the land and enjoyed a level of wealth and comfort unimaginable to peasants.

    Hereditary subjection was, by 1789, characteristic of Eastern Europe, not Western Europe. There were some residual feudal dues in France; serfdom was gone in England and in uplands generally.

    The historian Jerome Blum did some back of the envelope calculations some years back and concluded that the exactions on Eastern European peasantry were generally severe. However, one needs be careful not to confound the manifestation of a generally low standard of living with the manifestation of a maldistribution of wealth or income. IIRC, the income from about 30% of the land area of France repaired to the clergy and nobility, who together constituted about 4% of the population. Asset ownership in occidental countries in our own time is likely at least as skewed.

    In Eastern Europe at that time, the crown was commonly an advocate of extensive reforms in the agrarian system, including the abolition of hereditary subjection (for reasons of economic efficiency). A faction of the nobility favored a like course of action.

  • If what is true in my social circle is true generally, sport hunting is characteristic of small towns and rural areas and, while found in all social strata, is most likely practiced by wage-earners, not the bourgeoisie. Shooting clay pigeons is more upscale, but, again, has a diverse clientele.

    Well, given that (due to personal and regional background) I can’t help seeing “middle class” as starting at or below 30k/yr in most parts of the country — we’re not necessarily picturing different things here. 🙂

    It’s one of the peculiarities of America that we all like to think of ourselves as middle class.

  • Hereditary subjection was, by 1789, characteristic of Eastern Europe, not Western Europe. There were some residual feudal dues in France; serfdom was gone in England and in uplands generally.

    I’m probably heavily handicapped here in that 18th and 19th century political history is very late for me (classicist and medievalist by training) which means that I mostly know what I’ve exerted myself to study: Britain, Ireland and Russia, but only general outlines in between for that period.

    That said, I was leaning more heavily on “effectively bound to the land” in that the degree of industrialization in much of Europe in 1750 to 1850 was not necessarily enough to allow most peasantry (in the broad sense, not legally surfs in the West) many options when coming in to the cities — and the options when they did so were often rather poor.

    Given that as late as the cold snap following the eruption of Krakatoa in the 1880s there were serious regional food shortages in parts of Europe as a result of poor crops due to bad weather, I think its accurate to see the inequalities between hereditary nobility (and “gentle” classes in the wider sense) and those on the land as being much wider than today’s inequalities, in that it was a gap between near subsistence agriculture and a level of plenty which would look fairly upper class even today.

    That said, I may well be letting my impressions run away with me here and am subject to correction.

  • While I think discussions of political terminology are sterile, I think one might repair to Thomas Sowell’s dialectic between the ‘vision of the anointed’ and the extant practices of ‘the benighted’, who are distinguished by the respect they accord the contrivances of the chatterati over and above the intelligence encoded in institutions as they have evolved over time. The folk in our own time who wish to replace the magisterium of the Church with the pronouncements of he board of the American Psychological Association and replace family relations with user-defined entities whose continuance is dependent upon consumer taste have their analogue in the folk who contrived the Cult of the Supreme Being and the French Revolutionary calendar.

    Since Mr. McClarey has brought up the American Revolution, one ought to note some contrasts between that and the French Revolution. The political order delineated in the Constitution of 1789 here was an elaboration upon the extant colonial forms; in France, each of the constitutions adopted between 1790 and 1813 took no cognizance of the political forms existing prior to 1789. The abolition here of legally-delineated orders of clergy, nobility, and burgesses can be seen as a consequence of the limited presence of the British nobility in the colonies to begin with as well as the confessional variegation between the colonies and sometimes within them; there it incorporated a violent rebellion upending existing social arrangements. Here the disestablishment of one or another protestant sect over the course of the last quarter of the 18th century a consequence of the demographic loss of position by the pre-eminent confession (in the South) and the loss of institutional verve (in New England); there it incorporated first a legislated attempt to render the Church a department of the French government and later an attempt to replace the Catholic faith with a deistic cult.

  • The French Revolution and the American Revolution share little in common except for the term Revolution. It is instructive to read the varying reactions of the Founding Fathers to the French Revolution, from the puerile enthusiasm for it by Mr. Jefferson, to the adamant repugnance towards it shown by Mr. Adams. A good book is waiting to be written on the subject. Conor Cruise O’Brien wrote a first rate book on Jefferson’s infatuation with the French Revolution, but little has been done as to the other Founding Fathers, except for Adams.

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Grassroots Push for Democrats for Life

Sunday, June 21, AD 2009

Here is a blog I wrote for fladems4life.org- this is the website for Florida Democrats for Life organization- If you are a Democrat and pro-life you should seriously consider joining the National and State chapters for Democrats for Life. There is a lot of freedom for you to bring your ideals and ideas into these growing organizations. I believe it is mostly a waste of time trying to turn Democrats into Republicans or vice versa- there is a philosophy of governance that pulls deeper than individual issues- even big issues like abortion.

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30 Responses to Grassroots Push for Democrats for Life

  • Tim,

    As always, we are in agreement. Though lately I have been wondering if perhpas, as well, conservatives might be won over to the Catholic economic and political perspective.

    Perhaps we need a movement on both sides of the spectrum – one which encourages Democrats to accept pro-life, pro-family values, and one which encourages Republicans to embrace new and better economic ideas. Then we might meet in the middle and shift the whole center of gravity, away from liberalism in its economic and cultural forms, and towards a truly communitarian vision in which the state plays a supporting role (as opposed to no role at all, or too great a role).

  • I somehow found my way here after reading an article about another Christian pro-test about something irrelevant to the mainstream. My instinct is to not waste my time on this, but here it is…STOP MAKING DEMOCRATS OUT TO BE ANTI-FAMILY…just some of us believe that government has NO PLACE IN A WOMAN’S UTERUS…and certainly some middle aged, middle income white MAN has no business pushing for legislation that effect women…pro-choice is not the same thing as pro-abortion. Everyone wants less abortions happening. Only the Catholics also want no birth control, no sex education…gosh, that will work well for preventing unwanted pregnancies…and “family values?”…look at the personal lives of Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Riley, Gingrich, the list goes on…hypocrites on ‘family values.’ I teach Sunday school, I pray and I am curious about my faith…but I will be damned to allow the religious right to continue to make abortion a political issue. Keep the church out of my government and I will keep the government out of my church. The Catholic church (and many Catholics) scare me more then any other religious group. So please, do not try to patronize Democrats with this issue. We know the truth…Republicans use it to get single issue voters…it is highly effective. Let the Democrats keep fighting for urgent things that effect the already living…things like energy efficiency, global warming, poverty, urban plight, labor, and health care…

  • Pro-Family Democrat,

    You have no right to tell us what we can and cannot do as Catholics we have freedom of speech.

    You confuse establishing the Church as the official church of the United States to Catholics speaking up about their values. Just as you speak up about your right to kill children in the womb.

  • Tito…

    Again, this time slower for you…no one here is pro “killing children in the womb”….(but those are choice emotional words, well done)…I am not pro-abortion…a concept that seems to be void to most ‘pro-lifers’…if you all would slightly bend to include PREVENTION into your cause we could probably work for a common good…but you are limited in your fight.

    Again…keep your church out of my government and I will keep the government out of your church…you can’t have to both ways. You should be very scared to continue to blur the lines…church-led government like Iran…or Government led church, like Hitler’s Germany and cold war Eastern Europe…are you really wanting to be like that?

  • Joe,

    Yea- it’s strange fighting against sexual liberalism and economic neo-liberalism simultaneously- it puts you on the ‘outs’ with both major political forces in this country anyway. I was being a little polemical about how it is easier to convert to pro-life than to change party affiliation- it did work that way for me though. Even though I hold firm to being a Democrat and working within that party, I don’t vote for the party so much as the candidate- though there are times when I haven’t done the necessary homework and all I have facing me in the ballot box is a name and a party affiliation- for local elections the abortion issue is pretty moot. But philosophically, I can see the Democratic Party taking abortion out at the national level if it gets it’s act together, and combine that natural law legal move with the necessary social program and safety net investments to make sure women are not going to face undue hardships in seeing their children through to birth at minimum.

    One other side note- I agree with Ralph Nadar about how the Dems have in many ways embraced the Republican neo-liberal economics- though both parties have gone in for dubious massive bail-outs for the large investor class- see Jeff Faux’s book The Global Class War- for info on how Clinton began the sell-out of prior Democratic party inclinations on economics. Just because I see a major role for government in such things as directing economic outcomes- I don’t go in for all of the Greenspan/Bush/Obama bail-outs of dubious banking and investment interests- economics is not a zero-sum game, you don’t just print money up to bail out the big boys- you do have to get resources moving with fixed currency exchanges and investments like the Marshall plan and/or Manhattan Projects for morally positive outcomes. I will post my campaign column on “Common good, Common-sense Economics” at a later time.

  • Baby Killing Democrat,

    Your argument sounds like I’m against slavery but I don’t want to push my views of being anti-slavery on others.

    Also I have a right to speak my values, so keep your anti-Catholic views out of the public forum.

    Islam and Catholicism are different. It’s also a straw man argument. You, like many democrats, dwell in relativism and think all religions are the same.

    Just as Hitler came to power pushing socialism, Obama is very similar. Just as Hitler, Obama is a great public speaker. Just like Hitler’s thugs, ACORN rigged the votes in strategic states. Just like the Brownshirts (who were militant homosexuals) the Black Panthers intimidated voterr. (two can play the “Hitler-card”).

    When you start drawing analogies such as you have, you know you’re losing the argument.

    If you want to prevent the killing of innocent children in the womb, then outlaw it.

  • Tito,

    your last rant is what makes me think you all are loony…just more proof…so cool, thanks…

    and when you put Acorn, Obama, Hitler and what have into your analogy…your not just losing an argument…your losing your mind.

    My guess is..it’s been awhile since you have been laid…homophobic AND a conspiracy theorist…mix in neo-nazi pro-lifer…been awhile since you had a date I bet.

    You keep on that crusade of yours…good luck. hahaha…

    I need to go wake my baby from his nap…and go meet my family at the pool for some family time…that crazy thing that us anti family Democrats writhe from…hahahaha

    you see, freak? I didn’t “kill my babies”….I just waited to have them when I was ready…thanks to being educated and informed about how babies are made…

    may the Dear Lord forgive you for being such an intolerant and bigoted ass…

  • oh one more thing Tito

    “If you want to prevent the killing of innocent children in the womb, then outlaw it”

    you are so sadly misinformed and ignorant…wow.

    We should do this with so many things…let’s start with murder. That should be illegal…then it would finally not be a problem…drunk driving, that’s another one…mmmm….we are on to something here, Tito!…how about drug use? Excellent…that IS a pesky problem. And while we are at it, how about robbery, home invasion…man, if we just made them illegal…gosh, we should have done this years ago!!!

    Excellent thought process Einstein…

  • While I may not agree with precisely the way Tito addressed you, you did say…

    “just some of us believe that government has NO PLACE IN A WOMAN’S UTERUS”

    And some of us believe that every human being, regardless of his or her location, has a right to exist. It is that simple.

    If I believed that it wasn’t a human life inside a woman’s uterus, I wouldn’t care about it. If the unborn human being has no value, then abortion should be legal.

    If the unborn human being does have value, then nothing can justify abortion. It is really that simple. The government has every right to protect human life. Seeing as how 99% of pro-lifers don’t care about the 99% of medical procedures that don’t involve killing a human being, it is simply false to make this a women’s issue.

    Even moreso in that I think men should be held accountable as well. Please don’t make us out to be misogynistic. This is about parental obligation, not women’s rights. No one has a right to neglect, abuse, or murder their child, man or woman.

  • Baby Killing Democrat,

    Odd that you bring up Hitler then mock me for mocking you.

    Again, it is God that you are angry at, you’re just a troll throwing vitriol at anyone that doesn’t adhere to your disordered view on life.

    I’ll pray for you.

  • I have found myself in the Lion’s Den…so I ask you. You middle aged men who fight for the unborn…what have you done to help the BORN? Have you adopted an unwanted child? Do you want to raise a minority child born to a drug addicted mother? Please do, it would make your argument credible. Do you volunteer at county hospitals to rock the newborn, who has been abandoned while it detoxes from meth? Do you work in the foster care system to give those children an equal chance in the world? Do you support social systems that provide a family with the LIFE LONG support they will need? Not short term…”here are some bottles, diapers and a winter coat…good luck.” WHAT DO YOU DO to help those children? Those children born, here and now…breathing, living, suffering, hurting, hungry and unwanted. Do you help them? I’m betting on ‘NO’

    And again I say to you…prevention is the key. Stop thinking abstinence. Get out of the box. I am NOT a sexual libertarian…or whatever you called Democrats…the most offensive, sexually degrading shows I have seen are on FOX…the “values channel.” Republicans, Catholics, Christians, pro-lifers…you do not have the moral authority. I am not a “baby killer” because I want to see prevented pregnancies for women that do not want to yet be mothers.

    You must separate the radical pro-life movement and include prevention and education.

    But if abortion were to be illegal…the Republicans will lose too much of their base…they know it. It will never change. Bush didn’t change a thing…why? Because you all came back and voted for him again.

    Patronizing your vote.

    good luck in your fight to get Dems on board. Single issue voters are pathetic. If they would give up all the important issues we are working on, so they can go hold up a sign and shout at young girls…good riddance…

    I hear the pitter patter of my son’s feet…he wants to join his siblings at the pool…

    Namaste

  • Does pro family include the prenatal?

  • Pro-abort Troll, I have three kids, including an autistic son, so don’t rant to me about the demands of parenthood, my wife and I have lived them. I have been active in the pro-life movement since 1973. For the last decade I have been on the board of the crisis pregnancy center in my county that gives assistance to women dealing with problem pregnancies. I am currently president of the board. Many of these women we help eventually come back to volunteer with our organization to help other women. We also have an outreach to post-abortive women to help them heal from the bitter despair often engendered from a “safe, legal abortion.” In short I have done what I can to help women in bad situations as a result of pregnancy and abortion. Do I have all the answers to the complex social problem of unwanted pregnancies? I do not. But I do know that killing the child is not a solution, and that the law must protect unborn children as it does born children, if we are to have any pretense of being a civilized society that values human life.

  • Pro-Death Democrat,

    No one here made any claims to “Fox” being the values channel. Most of us don’t even watch tv for that matter. We like to read books mostly.

    I am a board member and a volunteer to a crisis pregnancy center and many more other post-natal care facilities. In addition I pray every day for the end of killing babies as well as praying in front of baby killing facilities such as Planned Parenthood.

    I am a young man in my thirties, but I am old relative to the movement since most of my colleagues are toddlers all the way up to college students who pray with me in front of abortion mills, volunteer with many pro-life organizations that helps pregnant moms and abstinence programs.

    I don’t believe in killing innocent unborn babies and will work until my dying days for the end to the mass slaughter of babies, which is the greatest civil rights challenge in our nations history.

  • Wow- I go out for ice cream and the playground with the family and look what happens to my father’s day blog entry!!

    Well all I can say is that while I am a middle-aged man, my chief pro-life teachers in life have been women. I didn’t just become Catholic and then receive my marching orders from the Pope to become anti-abortion. I had enough life experiences to teach me the true nature of abortion to lead me to oppose abortion with or without a religious conversion. As an update, my wife was one who helped me clear the final hurdles about abortion- she is the one who told me that the only women she can understand would still be pro-choice on abortion are women who have not had children. She is the one who has told me before the births of our children, she is the one who made me promise that no matter what goes down, if there comes a point where there is a choice to be made between her life or the baby she has only seen on ultrasound- go with the baby always! Now I know I am only a middle-aged male, but these kind of witnesses from my female wife have made a deep impact. Maybe the claim will be made that my wife is a self-loathing female- well that logic would follow anyone who opposes a U.S. war and speaks out negatively. Maybe only active duty service men and women should be able to participate in the political debates concerning whether the country should go to war or not.

    I’m not buying it. Now I agree with the need for investments in all kinds of pregnant women/children/family social helps, which is why I am pushing for the Pregnant Women Support Act, it deals with a lot of the root causes of abortion- so don’t paint the pro-lifers with too broad of a brush as being insensitive to women and children already born. We may have strong disagreements on the value of contraception, but there are a host of other ways to address many of the same root causes- shall we work together on those, or just continue to issue angry emails and look upon our opposites as pure bad guys. I personally disagree with many things that mainstream liberals and conservatives put forth, but I also find room for common ground, and I am willing to work on that, even as I keep on trucking with my full list of ideals, pushing the system as is my right to do in a free society.

    I’m not sure that non-religious persons would embrace my way of loving the women in my life- but I have a facebook cause entitled “Dads Protecting Daughters” which shows more of the politics of my heartfelt love and devotion to my female children- girls I would die a thousand painful deaths over to save- the content of my love may be in some ways mistaken, but do not mistake my intent- I love the women in my life, and I do not believe that supporting abortion rights is any way to say I love you to any woman. That’s my humble but strong opinion.

  • This guy gives us yet another opportunity to look at how the pro-choice movement makes a complete mockery out of logic.

    “You middle aged men who fight for the unborn…what have you done to help the BORN?”

    Why would this have any bearing on the argument? Something is either true or it is not. What the person proclaiming that truth does on their spare time has no relevance. The answer to the question may well be, ‘absolutely nothing’. So what? Go back to logic 101. 1+1 = 2 even if Hitler says so. The sky is blue even if Stalin says so. Truth claims have to be evaluated independently of the person making the claim.

    “Do you support social systems that provide a family with the LIFE LONG support they will need?”

    I can’t speak for the others, but I do, as a good in itself. But again it is irrelevant. With or without those systems, either abortion is murder or it isn’t. If it is, it is unjustifiable. If it isn’t, then who cares if there is a system in place?

    “And again I say to you…prevention is the key. Stop thinking abstinence. Get out of the box.”

    This is simply not about abstinence. There are plenty of married people having morally licit sexual relations who nonetheless seek out the services of the abortionist. This is about parental obligation. To make it all about sex reduces the unborn child to nothing else but a consequence of sex. It is that, but it is also more. It is a child of two parents and an independent human being.

    That said, birth control does not prevent abortion. It encourages abortion. It creates a mentality and a lifestyle of sex without consequences, but it only has to fail ONCE, people only have to forget to use it ONCE for that false reality to implode. Then people are left completely unprepared for the consequences, and the less prepared people are, the more likely they are to abort.

    “the most offensive, sexually degrading shows I have seen are on FOX…the “values channel.”

    True, but again, irrelevant.

    “I am not a “baby killer” because I want to see prevented pregnancies for women that do not want to yet be mothers.”

    We all know what a pregnancy is, and what you mean by ‘prevented’.

    A woman isn’t pregnant with a kidney or a spleen, but an unborn child, a unique individual with its own genetic code and potential in life. The only way to ‘prevent’ it from being born is to kill it. So, we have a child, and we have killing. Making it sound political or clinical doesn’t change what it is.

  • Tim, as a pro-life Democrat, I obviously agree.

    If I lived in Florida, I would strongly urge you to run for re-election and I would work for your campaign.

    Joe, this is yet another reason as to why we should run on the same ticket. I’d be willing to be the Vice President for 8 years. So that I can succeed you for another 8 and be in the White House for 16 years (diabolical laughter).

  • Normally liberal Democrats are all in favor of protecting groups of people who are seen as vulnerable, powerless, or discriminated against, particularly women and racial minorities. Wouldn’t it be perfectly logical for them to regard the unborn as an oppressed class deserving of protection as well?

    I realize, of course, that the main reason liberals seem to have a blind spot with regard to the unborn is their insistence upon absolute sexual freedom. However, most liberals don’t seem to have a problem restricting the “freedom” of an employer to sexually harass or intimidate workers, or the “freedom” of pedophiles to access child porn, so even they acknowledge that there are SOME limits on sexual freedom.

  • I think “Pro-family Democrat” is the reason many of us see making the Democratic party pro-life as a practical impossibility.

  • Phillip raises an excellent point. I have paid dues to Dems for Life, but even on the local level, pro-life voices are made VERY unwelcome at Democratic Party gatherings. The (God help us) “Pro-family Democrat” types treat respect for life as hate speech; it’s hard to imagine any common ground with them.

  • I am registered as an independent, but I would not have any qualms voting for a pro-life Democrat. I would even volunteer for a pro-life Democrat and actively participate for Democrats for Life.

    In fact I have done those three things in the past, but only at the local level.

    This is only the beginning, but we shouldn’t lose faith. Continue working within the Democratic Party to begin a dialogue and eventually a change from their pro-abortion platform.

    With God all things are possible.

  • Here’s the plan guys- I know that strong Republicans are pretty biased against the idea that Democrats can pull themselves together on Life issues because of the current establishment/activist hostility to traditionally religious worldviews- it is natural to suppose that an organization that you disagree with to the core could ever change on something that is nearest to your heart. But, I think that there is much more positive in the classic Democratic model as Elaine describes above- and also I don’t think that “Pro-Family Democrat” represents the mass of Democratic voters. This is KEY.

    I recommend Mark Stricherz’ book – Why The Democrats Are Blue- I plan on doing a brief sketch of the book for a blog entry in the future. The book depicts how secular liberalism came to dominate the upper reaches of the Party by way of legal strategies internal to the Party as the Party Boss system was challenged- there was enough to justify reform on the old boy network, but of course, the wrong type of folks took advantage and led the Party down the drain.

    I take it as a given that there is a very large untapped “market” among rank and file Dems- the type of people who vote Democratic for economic and other meat and potato reasons, but disagree with varying intensities to the social liberalism that comes with that package. As evidence, look at how many states voted as a majority for Obama but then also voted down gay marriage or voted for trad marriage definitions. And even though african-americans and hispanics voted strongly for obama, there are probable majorities among these folks who would love to support traditional morality candidates- but they haven’t had many opportunities.

    I would say that the strategy of Republican Catholics to just continue casting aspertions on minorities for voting Democratic- as if everyone should just fall in line and become overnight Republicans- that is beyond wishful thinking. The fact that many of us feel that the establishment Republican strategy of having an end game of sending abortion back to state legislatures- is not even a worthy pro-life strategy in the first place, is another point to consider.

    Instead of focusing a lot of energy trying to convert Dems over to Repubs, or Repubs over to Dems, I would rather spend time now building up a network of traditional religious voters within the Democratic fold- among those who are Democratic already for reasons I have spoken of many times before. This is why I am addressing myself primarily to fellow Democrats- it is not very helpful for Republicans to jump in with more negativism about how “hopeless” the Democratic Party is- I get it- but I think both major parties are “hopeless” on paper, but God trumps the paper, and I believe that there is a numbers game that is to the favor of transforming the Democratic and Republican parties to be much much more pro-life if only the sleeping giants of traditional religious folks awaken and assert themselves. My role is to try to help organize that within the Democratic fold. I would suggest that religious Republicans focus more on getting the Republican party to put abortion on a much higher shelf than it has in the past. For example if Bush/Cheney had spent half the energy they devoted to the case for invading Iraq on bully pulpiting and pushing the Republican Congress to educate the American people to the facts of Life beginning at Conception, with legislation being passed saying the same, putting the issue in front of the Supreme Court repeatedly- then I don’t think we would be sitting here looking at a very diminished Republican party today.

    But my job here is not to keep beating up on Republicans, I need to focus on my party, and since I believe only a strong two major party strategy against abortion will do the trick- I believe my mission is good, and not self-delusional. If or when I come to see that I am wrong, I would probably go with trying to form a Natural Law/Common Good Party rather than join a Republican Party where I disagree with their core assumptions about the nature of the role of the political community, which results in my even finding too many serious flaws in their approach to abortion that I couldn’t find any true enthusiasm- even though I do vote Republican sometimes- mostly at the national level where I have to admit that while establishment Republicans are lukewarm on abortion, Democrats have bacome ice cold. If we use an analogy from Scripture where the unborn are unconcerned- I see establishment Republicans as the Pontius Pilates’ trying to wash their hands of abortion by sounding like impartial, unemotional originalist judges, while the establishment Dems are more like the Chief Priests who are very actively stirring up the people against the rights of the unborn. Not a pretty choice to make- with few heroes out there in the mainstream.

  • I notice that Elaine Krewer is the only lady who’s commented here, so I figured I’d put my oar in just so PFD doesn’t get the notion this is entirely a hangout for middle-aged men.

    Middle-aged woman, here. Mom of four. Doctrinally conservative Catholic with liturgically eclectic tendencies. Pro-life feminist in the tradition of the nineteenth-century suffragists. Have had a crisis pregnancy. Have volunteered with a Birthright center. Been volunteering with kids for a couple of decades. Make regular contributions to those less fortunate.

    I bear you no ill-will, PFD, but if you’re going to sashay into a combox and post a bunch of inflammatory accusations and rambling rants, you shouldn’t be too surprised if some of the gentlemen reading forget they’re gentlemen.

  • Dear readers-

    Good for you! We need to work hard to end abortion by election of more Pro-Life Democrats who will pass laws in this respect and Pray for those who want abortion and have back alley shops they call offices! God will do his thing!

    Respect,

    Robert L. Jones
    A Blue Dog Democrat
    http://www.democratsforlife.org

  • Is abortion wrong because abortion is anti family, against God’s law, and/or coercive?

  • Student,

    That is part of it. But mostly because it violates the Fifth Commandment of “You shall not kill”, ie, killing innocent babies.

  • This blog post and the comments are an excellent witness to both the Catholic faith and the “pro-life, whole life” doctrine it teaches. Pro-family Democrat, you are in my prayers. Kudos to everyone here who will doubtlessly be called “good and faithful servants” by our heavenly Father some day!

  • Thank you so much for this very interesting post. I am pro-life, but disagree with the Republican party about just about everything else. If anything, I am probably a bit more liberal than the Democratic party on many issues. I feel in such a crisis about this. I like what you wrote about “limited government” verses “limited responsibility” and the importance of the common good.

    I was just talking with my husband–actually in tears–because I have always been political and civic minded and voted since age 18, and yet I feel like I have no one to vote for.

    For the record, I am not Catholic, although I am Christian. And also for the record, I am a woman and a feminist and have been pro-life almost all of my life. But that is not what matters. Sadly, I do think that a lot of liberal men who otherwise might be pro-life are bullied by the more radical elements in the pro-choice movement–are told that they have no right to have an opinion about abortion because they are men, which is irrelevant if abortion is murder.

    Anyway. Sorry to crash your party, but I wanted to say that what you are doing is inspiring.

  • Should God’s laws influence (if not control) government’s laws?

  • From: Lila Cuajunco
    Date: Sun, Jul 5, 2009 at 7:03 AM
    Subject: Fwd: FW: Fwd: Fw: OPEN LETTER TO OBAMA
    To: [email protected]

    On Thu, Jun 25, 2009 at 1:38 AM, Lila Cuajunco wrote:
    Hi Georgia – Thanks for the Open Letter to Obama. I will send it to my
    congressman.

    ———- Forwarded message ———-
    From: Georgia Froncek
    Date: Sat, Jun 20, 2009 at 1:47 PM
    Subject: Fwd: FW: Fwd: Fw: OPEN LETTER TO OBAMA

    This letter you are about to read was written by a 4th grade teacher
    recently. She even gave the world her telephone and fax numbers. She
    is a brave, bright, PATRIOT! We are in dire need of more true American
    citizens who are proud of OUR United States of America . WAKE UP
    AMERICA . . . Please . . . Before it is too late!

    April 27, 2009

    The White House
    1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
    Washington , DC 20500

    Mr. Obama:

    I have had it with you and your administration, sir. Your conduct on
    your recent trip overseas has convinced me that you are not an
    adequate representative of the United States of America collectively
    or of me personally.

    You are so obsessed with appeasing the Europeans and the Muslim world
    that you have abdicated the responsibilities of the President of the
    United States of America. You are responsible to the citizens of the
    United States.

    You are not responsible to the peoples of any other country on earth.
    I personally resent that you go around the world apologizing for the
    United States telling Europeans that we are arrogant and do not care
    about their status in the world. Sir, what do you think the First
    World War and the Second World War were all about if not the
    consideration of the peoples of Europe ? Are you brain dead ? What do
    you think the Marshall Plan was all about?

    Do you not understand or know the history of the 20th century? Where
    do you get off telling a Muslim country that the United States does
    not consider itself a Christian country? Have you not read the
    Declaration of Independence or the Constitution of the United States ?
    This country was founded on Judeo-Christian ethics and the principles
    governing this country, at least until you came along, come directly
    from this heritage. Do you not understand this?

    Your bowing to the king of Saudi Arabia is an affront to all
    Americans. Our President does not bow down to anyone, let alone the
    king of S Audi Arabia. You don’t show Great Britain , our best and one
    of our oldest allies, the respect they deserve yet you bow down to the
    king of Saudi Arabia. How dare you, sir! How dare you!

    You can’t find the time to visit the graves of our greatest
    generation because you don’t want to offend the Germans but make time
    to visit a mosque in Turkey . You offended our dead and every veteran
    when you give the Germans more respect than the people who saved the
    German people from themselves. What’s the matter with you?

    I am convinced that you and the members of your administration have
    the historical and intellectual depth of a mud puddle and should be
    ashamed of yourselves, all of you. You are so self-righteously
    offended by the big bankers and the American automobile manufacturers
    yet do nothing about the real thieves in this situation, Mr. Dodd, Mr.
    Frank, Franklin Raines, Jamie Gorelic, the Fannie Mae bonuses, and the
    Freddie Mac bonuses. What do you intend to do about them? Anything? I
    seriously doubt it.

    What about the US . House members passing out $9.1 million in bonuses
    to their staff members – on top of the $2.5 million in automatic pay
    raises that lawmakers gave themselves? I understand the average House
    aide got a 17% bonus. I took a 5% cut in my pay to save jobs with my
    employer.

    You haven’t said anything about that. Who authorized that? I surely
    didn’t! Executives at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be receiving
    $210 million in bonuses over an eighteen-month period, that’s $45
    million more than the AIG bonuses. In fact, Fannie and Freddie
    executives have already been awarded $51 million – not a bad take. Who
    authorized that and why haven’t you expressed your outrage at this
    group who are largely responsible for the economic mess we have right
    now.

    You can’t blame ANY of the above on George W. Bush. WHY are you so
    determined to give this country’s dwindling wealth to corrupt
    politicians and your corrupt friends?

    I resent that you take me and my fellow citizens as brain-dead and
    not caring about what you idiots do. We are watching what you are
    doing and we are getting increasingly fed up with all of you. I also
    want you to know that I personally find just about everything you do
    and say to be offensive to every one of my sensibilities. I promise
    you that I will work tirelessly to see that you do not get a chance to
    spend two terms destroying my beautiful country.

    Sincerely,
    Every Real American

    P.S. I rarely ask that e-mails be ‘passed around’…………
    PLEASE SEND THIS TO YOUR EMAIL LIST……it’s past time for all
    Americans to wake up!

    Ms Kathleen Lyday
    Fourth Grade Teacher
    Grandview Elementary School
    11470 Hwy. C Hillsboro,
    MO 63050
    (636) 944-3291 Phone
    (636) 944-3870 Fax
    >
    >
    >

Iran: Protest Becomes Insurrection

Sunday, June 21, AD 2009

Rioting in Tehran Saturday is shown in the above video.  Protests are quickly developing into an insurrection.  The Iranian government is using brutal force to suppress the dissidents, but reports from Iran clearly indicate that the situation is moving well beyond the ability of the government to suppress it without massive bloodshed.  The Guardian has an hour by hour account of the events yesterday here.  Nico Pitney here has been doing yeoman work in covering the crackdown at the Huffington Post.  Ed Morrissey here has been doing his usual fine work covering breaking events at Hot Air.

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3 Responses to Iran: Protest Becomes Insurrection

  • Good words from Obama. A little late, but I’m very glad to see him doing the right thing.

  • I agree with Darwin, Obama is arriving late to the scene. I guess he figured out that being “present” doesn’t help your poll numbers.

    Donald,

    In #4, that is crucial that the army hasn’t been deployed. Only the Revolutionary Guard and their militia are loyal to the regime.

    I pray this doesn’t turn into a shooting war but into a Soviet meltdown when that coup against Gorbachev failed.

  • Obama’s comments just go to show his clear ignorance of the islamic faith. It has always ruled through coercion going all the way back to it’s “prophet.” Obama’s words mean nothing to any of these people. He has no spine to either give real help to the resistance or to out-right condemn the lunatics who rule the country.

The Maple Leaf Forever

Saturday, June 20, AD 2009

Something for the weekend.  My sainted Mom was from Newfoundland.  She was proud of being a “Newfie”, and my family lived up in that beautiful land from a few months after my birth in 1957 until 1961 when we returned to the US, although she eventually became a naturalized American citizen.  Her family in 1949 preferred statehood with the US over joining on to Canada.  She always liked the unneutered version of the Maple Leaf Forever, however.  This one is for you Mom.

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8 Responses to The Maple Leaf Forever

  • Here is hoping English Canada gives Quebec its walking papers and excises the legacy of Pierre-Elliott Trudeau, the Constitution of 1982 in particular.

  • Art Deco:
    I agree with you about the legacy of PET. But “give Quebec its walking papers”? Have you forgotten where Canada started? As a reminder, if you are Catholic, Canada’s primatial see is in Quebec City, with Cardinal Marc Ouellet as the Primate of the Catholic Church for all of Canada.
    As a Catholic and a “québécoise” I am proud of the legacy of Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys and Saint Marguerite d’Youville (the Sisters of Charity) who founded Orders that are active from sea to sea; the Ven. François de Montmorency-Laval, Jeanne Mance and so many others; and those explorers who opened roads west to the Rockies and down South to the mouth of the Mississipi…
    Charity should trump politics…
    Elise B.

  • This one for Donald:
    I do not know how old is your mother, but I am old enough to remember that it took 3 referendums and the stubbornness of Joey Smallwood before Newfoundland joined the Confederation in 1949.
    Elise B.

  • Miss Elise:

    I think the course of Canadian public policy is partially stymied by the addition of an ethno-national binary to the usual polarities of political life. Mr. Harper is currently presiding over yet another minority government. The language barrier and the conjoining of Upper and Lower Canada as a consequence of one party defeating the other confound the formation of a satisfying national self-conception and common loyalty. Let Quebec have their flag and anthem and language; let English Canada fly the Red Ensign and sing The Maple Leaf Forever and pay their due respects to Her Majesty; let both have within themselves the disputes modern countries have over questions economic and social; and let both understand themselves as something other than not-American.

    Now, let’s see if you can get a Bloc Quebebois administration to accept responsibility for a quarter of the central government’s bonded debt and accept revisions to the frontier (the north of Quebec being disproportionately aboriginal and generally federalist). As the man in the mock beer commercial says, “Ah beeleeve in ze distinct zociety, as long a someone elze pays for it.”

  • Don, one of the most uplifting books I ever read was “The Day the World Came to Town,” about the dozens of international flights that were diverted to the Gander airport on 9/11 after U.S. airspace was closed, and how the townspeople welcomed hundreds of complete strangers into their homes until the flights could leave again. I learned from reading this book about the colorful Newfie tradition of “kissing the cod” and downing Screech liquor, which makes you an honorary Newfie.

  • Elise, my mom was born in 36. You are quite correct about the three referendums and Joey Smallwood. Newfies were still talking about it as if it were yesterday in the Sixties.

    Elaine, now you are making me homesick! Newfoundland has a very unique culture, and I was very pleased that the luck of the draw of birth caused me to experience at first hand how warm-hearted Newfies can be. My great Uncle Bill, who served in WW2 in the Royal Army because, as he said, “Someone had to teach the Limies how to fight!”, used to kiddingly call me a “dirty Yank” and I used to kiddingly call him a “dirty Newf”, but part of me still remains Newfie.

  • Elise B.,

    sadly that’s ancient history. Like most of Europe, Quebec is a wasteland of secularism.

  • Anyway, when I was in Sea Cadets we used to play this song, accompanied by cannon fire a la 1812 overture.

One Response to Obama sends Bush's Council on Bioethics packing; what does the future hold?

Jesuitical 7: Jesuits and Polarization

Friday, June 19, AD 2009

Father Drew Christiansen, SJ-Current Editor in Chief of America

Part 7 of my continuing series commenting upon the follies of modern day Jesuits.  None of the following of course applies to Jesuits who are orthodox in their faith and are often among the harshest critics of the antics perpetrated by their brethren.  An editorial in America, the Jesuit magazine, expresses concern about the dangers of polarization in the Catholic Church in America.   Father Z, the Master of the Fisk, in one of his finest efforts, gives the editorial a fisking to remember here.

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16 Responses to Jesuitical 7: Jesuits and Polarization

5 Responses to Catholic View of the Political Community (Part 3)

  • I think the Catechism deals with the question of patriotism vs. what you call “My Country Right or Wrong abuse of patriotism”. The Catechism would call the latter nationalism. Patriotism itself is seen as a reflection of the virtue of justice as as such a proper duty for each person.

  • No argument there. Patriotism is a good thing, but is soured when it begins the process of excusing/overlooking/or outright supporting moral evils or lackings in a given nation. I use the term patriotism more than nationalism because most Americans are unfamiliar with the term nationalism to describe things here in the U.S., and find it convenient to hide behind the term- patriotism- as if you couldn’t go wrong being patriotic even to the extreme. What is that old saying- patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels- or something like that. I see this sort of thing in the drumbeat to war- in the debate on how best to “Support the Troops”. I will write a future article on my own decision to join the military in the early 80’s, and how my thinking goes today. Patriotism is something that we can all relate to, and it is a great discussion to have among serious Catholics. We don’t want to fall into the Zealots camp anymore than we want to become likened to the Pharisees- both missed Jesus bigtime!

  • C.S. Lewis in “The Four Loves” discusses the various types of love of country. To summarize what he said — which I have found very helpful — patriotism exists on several levels.

    At its most basic it is simply an attachment to your home and culture, to the things you grew up with (food, music, holidays, landscape, etc.) This type of patriotism, Lewis says, is usually not at all aggressive, but simply wants to be left alone, and respects other people’s right to enjoy their “homes” equally. I suspect that for many Americans, this kind of patriotism attaches to their home state or city as well as to their country.

    Another type of patriotism is pride in the legendary or iconic deeds and words of the country’s heroes and founders (e.g. the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving, Washington chopping down the cherry tree, Old West cowboys). Lewis says there is nothing wrong with this kind of patriotism or pride in one’s country, but it should NOT be confused with the actual, factual history of one’s country, which has to include the bad as well as the good.

    The last and potentially most dangerous form of patriotism is the belief that one’s country is inherently superior to all others. Attempting to remake other countries in the image of one’s own can be done aggressively through war, or commercially through colonization, or in more subtle ways. It is this kind of patriotism that corresponds most closely with “nationalism” in the sense that the Catechism uses.

  • Right on elaine- I have absorbed a lot of C.S. Lewis over the years- I really like the above description- thanks

  • Tim,

    Back from Father’s Day weekend. It may be that Americans may confuse the term but perhaps that is that it has not been used with them. Given that we are seeking to form the basis of the conversation for understanding political community it would also be good to start with proper terms. I agree with Elaine that C.S. Lewis has good insight to this though again it would be good to distinguish the terms. I find most Americans capable of learning this even given the status of Public Education. As for the Zeolots/Pharisees and Nationalism see:

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11789b.htm

    Since we are trying to understand the political community I would also say that we do not think of Jesus in terms of “revolution.” Such a term has political implications all its own. Redemption is I believe a better Catholic starting point.

Wasting Gas to Save the Planet

Thursday, June 18, AD 2009

This afternoon found me spending my lunch break (or being non-hourly, a period of time in the middle of the day) driving in circles for no reason other than to save the planet.

You see, I have been so unsporting as to own a 1996 Toyota Camry, which despite looking a bit dirty gets great mileage and has 118k miles on it. Most people would think this was a keeper — except, it seems, my state’s environmental regulations. You see, 1996 was the first year during which the current type of ODB II emissions monitoring system was required, and the one on my car, being a first year out attempt, is rather flaky. It doesn’t help that my car was originally manufactured for the California market, which has it’s own totally unique set of emissions monitoring requirements, which don’t match the rest of the country and which Texas mechanics don’t seem to be very good with.

So while my car invariably passes the actual tailpipe test, it frequently has a check engine light on, which constitutes an automatic fail on our emissions test here in Texas. Over the years I’ve spent plenty of money (indeed, almost all the money that I’ve ever had to spend on care repairs) on getting the car to pass emissions, though last time around I learned that since I always pass the tailpipe emissions anyway, I can just reset the computer sixty miles before going in for my state inspection, and I’ll usually be fine.

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12 Responses to Wasting Gas to Save the Planet

  • I think the Check Engine light exists solely to fatten the wallets of mechanics. In the history of the automobile, has the check engine light’s going on ever actually indicated an engine malfunction of any kind?

  • In my experience, on older cars the check engine light is only good for indicating two things: 1) the battery is working; 2) the check engine light hasn’t burnt out.

  • Agreed Paul and John. I drove a car with the check engine light on for two years. I asked my mechanic about it and he shrugged his shoulders and said that I would be surprised at how often it comes on in vehicles for no apparent reason.

  • We’ve been driving our ’02 minivan with the check engine light on for over a year now. We made the mistake of taking it in for a diagnostic test at one point over a year ago. They found nothing wrong. Reset the computer so the light would turn off. Within a week it was back on again.

    Needless to say, after driving with the light on for roughly a year-and-a-half with no problems, it’s safe to say there’s nothing wrong with our engine apart from being almost 8 years old and having over 150,000 miles on it.

    Fortunately, in Ohio, you aren’t required to get an annual inspection.

  • This is just the sort of thing that makes my blood boil. And frankly, I’m surprised Texas is doing it. We had something similar in Wayne County, Michigan 10-20 years ago, but they finally repealed it. Predictably, it was ineffective, a waste of resources, and as with so many efforts and regulations that exist to sooth the malformed consciences of the left, the poor pay the price.

    Who isn’t going to be able to get their car licensed due to failing the inspection? The guy making 100k a year and leasing a 2009 Accord or the guy scraping by at 15k with his $500 1987 Impala? Is the latter even equipped to fork out a few hundred dollars on the gamble that a mechanic can tweak enough to make it pass? All for what? So the state can raise taxes for a “good reason” and without calling it a tax? So a particularly industry can benefit due to the state demanding people use their services? So the state can keep the working poor off the roads? Oh how I hate this kind of shit!

  • Bravo Rick. It is amazing how often proponents of more government regulation are completely oblivious to the impact of said regulation on the poor.

  • First of all, I’m surprised by the idea of an emissions test for a inspection sticker (we call them brake tags in New Orleans; no idea why). All they do here is check the lights and horn and window tints. How does that even work? I would hope that the government bureaucrat would inhale the tailpipe to check the levels of CO2, but you probably aren’t that lucky 😉

    Second, these inspections are ludicrous. You get the luck of the draw with the inspector. My fiancee bought her car used, only to discover they had put on too dark window tint. She got passed twice, but now didn’t pass, and needs a doctor’s note that her eyes are sensitive to glare.

    Third, the check engine light is evil. When I was a new driver, I brought my car in when the check engine light came on to discover that the light came on b/c the 10,000 mile service hadn’t been done so they did it…except that the service HAD been done, and they just forgot to hit the reset button. Needless to say I will ignore it in the future.

  • Just a note. I am a mechanic. The check engine light does come on for legitimate reasons. Now, like every other system in the world there are the exceptions. However, most mechanics can turn wrenches but have no idea how to do electrical or computer diagnostics at any level of real competence. You really have to be a lucky person to actually find a good mechanic.
    I am glad that people can become mechanics with no college education. I think that there are a lot of careers that the college industry has hijacked with their “accreditations” and the automotive industry is one that has escaped the hands of academia. But there really is no way to differentiate a good mechanic from a bad one- this includes ASE certifications- other than the experience of dealing with that person.
    Just some thoughts.
    In all honesty it would prob. require a four year technology degree at a real college to get a firm grasp on automobiles. They are extremely complex machines, not what your father grew up with.
    Luckily you can find some people that do have degrees that are mechanics and, as in any industry, there are those that have a natural aptitude.
    Thank God I can work on my own vehicle- I save tons of cash and have that feeling of “that job was done right.” Any ways…

  • Yep, the check engine light is a mystery. I drive my wife’s 2002 Ford Escape. When the light came on a couple of years ago, I turned to the owner’s manual which recommended I run a tank or two of a better grade of gasoline from national distributor. Sure enough, the light went out. It then started coming on regardless of the brand of petrol and seemed to go out when it was tired of illuminating. The vehicle has since passed a California emissions test. It remains a mystery and possibly a clue to an impending malfunction, but it is now largely ignored.

  • I drove a 1996 Ford Windstar van with a “check engine” light that stayed on continuously for two years. I never knew exactly what was causing it, and didn’t care as long as the thing ran. I never took it to a mechanic unless there was some other clear sign of trouble. It did finally crap out and end up in the junkyard at 220,000 miles, after 3 years (we bought it used) of driving it 100+ miles per day to a job 50 miles out of town!

    Don, I hear ya completely on the impact of things like emissions testing and other car-related stuff on the poor. Mandatory insurance laws, while well-intentioned, often make it virtually impossible for very poor people to own cars (and thereby be able to travel to jobs where they could earn more money) even if they do manage to scrape up the cash for a beater. Not to mention the costs of transferring titles and registrations.

    In Illinois we currently pay $78 per year for license plate stickers (this may go up to $98 soon if the pols have their way). Coming up with the bux for that has caused me significant hardship at times. In other states the cost of registration/plates/stickers is even higher.

    I too am surprised that the low-tax paradise of Texas requires this sort of thing. Maybe THAT’s one place they get the money that enables them to survive without an income tax?

  • “It doesn’t help that my car was originally manufactured for the California market, which has its own totally unique set of emissions monitoring requirements, which don’t match the rest of the country… ”

    Is this why California is called La-la land?

  • The check engine light recently came on in our 2003 Honda, and it was probably caused by a loose gas tank cap (according to the manual). It *did* have an effect on performance — the car didn’t accelerate properly when the light was on. Maybe this is an instance of the emissions system (computer?) limiting acceleration for some reason? I don’t know, but not until we stopped and tightened the cap did the light go off and the car accelerate properly.

105 Responses to Where Is My Vote?

  • You are aware that the US is responsible for snuffing out democracy in Iran in the first place, that this event led to the 1979 revolution, and that Iranians still hold a grudge about this today, right? You are aware how hollow this rhetoric sounds, given the US’s history of propping up a string of oppressive regimes in the region, right? You are aware that the Iranian opposition groups are urging the US to stay quiet about this, right? You are aware that a strong US condemnation along your lines would be a great gift to Ahmadinejad and Khamenei, right?

  • You are aware Tony that your one trick pony Obama-Uber-Alles act is tiresome beyond belief, right?

  • It would be nice, Donald, to actually engage the arguments I made instead of turning to the same tired old personal attack that you make on practically every topic.

  • You are aware that a strong US condemnation along your lines would be a great gift to Ahmadinejad and Khamenei, right?

    Yes, this talking point in defense of Obama has been repeated ad nauseum, but like the charge of Calvinism, it doesn’t become any truer based on repetition.

    The funny thing is the Iranian state run media has already tried to pin the protest movement on the American government, but the Iranian people are not the useful dupes that so many of the “just stay quiet” brigade believe them to be.

  • Morning’s Minion:

    Why not compose a list of foreign countries which meet the following criteria:

    1. Located in the Near East, North Africa, or Central Asia;

    2. Whether sovereign or not, constitutionalist in their political practice with scant interruption during the years running from 1953 to 1979;

    3. Not yet accused of ‘war crimes’ by ‘Morning’s Minion’.

    When you are done, why not construct a list of foreign countries whose political practice has been, during the post-war period, consistently constitutionalist while having a literacy rate which averaged under 20%.

  • I don’t engage you Tony because your comments are non-serious. You are a political partisan who will say literally anything to defend or advance the policies of Obama.

  • Now if I were to ignore the fact that all of your comments might as well have “copyright of the DNC” stamped on them, I would respond as follows:

    “You are aware that the US is responsible for snuffing out democracy in Iran in the first place, that this event led to the 1979 revolution, and that Iranians still hold a grudge about this today, right?”

    My guess is that the Iranians in the street today care quite a bit more about Ahmadinajed and the mullahs than they do about the dumping of Mossadeq in 1953. Also, only someone very unfamiliar with Iranian history could contend that Mossadeq was a democrat with a straight face.

    “You are aware how hollow this rhetoric sounds, given the US’s history of propping up a string of oppressive regimes in the region, right?”

    Tony, the US just fought a war to topple the most oppressive regime in that area and to install a functioning democracy. You opposed that effort tooth and nail. Please make up your mind.

    “You are aware that the Iranian opposition groups are urging the US to stay quiet about this, right?”

    Actually Tony quite a few Iranian opposition groups here and abroad are calling for the US to speak out.

    “You are aware that a strong US condemnation along your lines would be a great gift to Ahmadinejad and Khamenei, right?”

    As Paul has already noted Tony, they are blaming us for meddling anyway. Better to let the Iranian people know that we stand with them and not with the tyrants who currently have the guns, especially when there is a chance that they may not have the guns much longer.

  • As much as I often disagree with MM on a host of domestic and economic issues he is 100% right on this issue and he is just not spouting Obama/DNC propaganda. Patrick Buchanan has supported the Obama strategy of dealing with Iran – is he a wild eyed leftist.

    http://www.takimag.com/article/outlasting_the_ayatollahs/

    However, you neo-cons aren’t happy unless you are helping people of other nations by bombing them back into the stoneage.

  • The problem, Donald (and Paul) too, is that you arrograntly view the world through the lens of the United States and its politics. Everything must be fitted into your neat little partisan baskets.

    Well, let me break it to you — this is not about the US. This is not about Iranians wanting to live like Americans, or to have the same political system of Americans. It is about Iranians — most of whom remain committed to the principles of the Shia revolution — standing up to injustice in their own country and on their own terms. When you arrograntly make references to the “free world”, this is exactly the kind of blinkered rhetoric that will backfire.

    And as for your pathetic attempts to turn this into a partisan squabble, nobody serious thinks the US administration should be taking intemperate statements at this point. I said nobody serious — the neocons have been. And they were proven so right about Iraq, were they not? Of couse, many neocons like Marty Peretz actually want Ahmadinejad to win, as it gives then an excuse to blow the bugles of war. They need their Iranian devil. That’s all they can understand.

    The reality of course, is far more nuanced. It quite possibly represents a power struggle between Khamenei and Rafsanjani– the latter being obscenely rich and lilke probably obscenely corrupt. Remember, Mousavi is a firm believer in the islamic state, and was quite likely behind the founding of hezbollah. So, please, let the Iranians fight their own injustices on their own turf in their own way.

    Of course Ahmadi and Khamenei are blaming the US — that’s their trump card. It would be foolish to give legitimacy to that charge.

    And who cares whether Moassadeq was considered a “Democrat” by US standards? He was the elected leader of Iran and was overthrown to protect western oil interests. In turn, Pahlavi oversaw one of the most brutal regimes in the area, using torture techniques that would shock even Dick Cheney. The result was the revolution.

    Finally, as Daniel Larison notes, if Obama gave the kind of speech you spell out above, you and your neocon friends would be mocking him for being incredibly naive. It’s always politics with you, it’s always US-centric. Well, I’m sorry, but this isn’t about you. Butt out.

  • The problem, Donald (and Paul) too, is that you arrograntly view the world through the lens of the United States and its politics.

    Umm, the basis for my rebuttal is an understanding of the Iranian people, based in part by several Iranian commenters who have pressed for Obama to be more vocal. Not sure how that is viewing things through an American lens.

    The rest of your comment is just – and there’s no polite way to put it – dumb. Seriously, it’s the kind of stuff I might read from an angry teenager on the walls of a DC area pub.

    However, you neo-cons aren’t happy unless you are helping people of other nations by bombing them back into the stoneage.

    Aside from the fact that few if any of us would identify as neo-cons, it’s a rather strange allegation. We’re rooting for the revolutionaries precisely because we don’t want to engage in a shooting war. I’m not exactly seeing the connection behind hoping that a people successfully overthrows a tyrannical oligarchy and wanting to “bomb them back into the stoneage.” But if Pat Buchanan said it it must be true.

  • You understand the Iranian people, Paul, because you have heard “several Iranian commenters”? That’s the best yet. I suppose you believed that the Iraqis would welcome the US occupying army with flowers because Ahmad Chalabi told you so? Unbelievable. You need to get out more.

  • “Everything must be fitted into your neat little partisan baskets.”

    Interesting case of projection there Tony. I defy anyone to find a more partisan hack than you on Saint Blogs.

    “It is about Iranians — most of whom remain committed to the principles of the Shia revolution — standing up to injustice in their own country and on their own terms.”

    Pardon me while I stifle a deep laugh. The principles of the Shia Revolution that have saddled them with a government far more corrupt and barbaric than anything they knew under the Shah. My guess is that most Iranians would prefer to consign the rule of the mullahs to the ashheap of history as fast as they can. However, there are always plenty of useful idiots in the West eager to laud any third world tyranny, no matter how squalid, if it mouths anti-American platitudes.

    “And as for your pathetic attempts to turn this into a partisan squabble, nobody serious thinks the US administration should be taking intemperate statements at this point.”

    Standing with the Iranian people is not intemperate Tony, and if your Messiah in the White House were doing so you would be lauding him to the hilt. Assuming that he does a 180 on Iran in the next few days, and I think he will probably be forced to by events, it should be humorous to have you explain why Obama was right to reverse his policy.

    “They need their Iranian devil. That’s all they can understand.”

    Yep, Tony, it’s those evil JOOOOISH Neo-Cons who are the enemy and not Ahmadinejed and the mullahs. Got it.

    “Remember, Mousavi is a firm believer in the islamic state, and was quite likely behind the founding of hezbollah.”

    By Iranian standards Mousavi is a reformer now. In any case I defer to what the Iranian people in the streets demand. It was their election that was stolen. I also suspect that Mousavi is merely a vehicle by which most Iranians can attack a widely-despised regime.

    “And who cares whether Moassadeq was considered a “Democrat” by US standards?”

    Obviously not you Tony. He is merely a stick that you can wield in order to defend the dithering of Obama.

    “Finally, as Daniel Larison notes, if Obama gave the kind of speech you spell out above, you and your neocon friends would be mocking him for being incredibly naive. It’s always politics with you, it’s always US-centric. Well, I’m sorry, but this isn’t about you. Butt out.”

    Actually Tony, I have stated on this blog that I support Obama’s current policy both in Iraq and Afghanistan. If he changed his policy on Iran I would cheer the change. After he changes his policy, no doubt you will join me in the cheers.

  • who cares whether Moassadeq was considered a “Democrat” by US standards? He was the elected leader of Iran and was overthrown to protect western oil interests.

    At the time of his overthrow Moassadeq had suspended parliament and was ruling via “emergency powers.” Any claim he had as a democratically elected leader had already evaporated.

  • Tony, my point was simply that the I’m not basing my objection to your point to some silly “Americanist” reading, but from what I have read directly from Iranians. That they might not represent all Iranian thought on the matter goes without saying. However, I think mere common sense dictates that the bulk of the Iranian people are not fooled – or are far less fooled by the propaganda being pushed by their leaders and the puppet press.

  • BA:

    So what if Moassadeq was a ‘true democratic leader” or not. The U.S. has no business medling in the elections or governance of other nations. There has not been one time that we have done it that it has not resulted in worse blow back or evils then those we were trying to prevent.

    By the way, are you saying that it is alright for a country to be governed by a tyrant so long as it is our tyrant (e.g., the Shah, Samosa, Pinochet, Sadam (at one time our guy), etc.?

    Don:

    Thanks for proving your strongest forte is engaging in straw man attacks. I would have been disappointed if you had not resorted to calling those who oppose the disasterous neo-con foreign policy of the past 8 years as anti-semites. It sure beats arguing the facts. Why don’t you drag out your old issue of the National Review so you can list all those anti-semite isolationist conservative Republicans who argued that the U.S. should not invade Iraq and that doing so would be disasterous to the U.S. and the Republican party – their prediction sure turned out to be wrong – right.

    Finally, who gives a rat’s *** what Iranian groups here or abroad are calling for the U.S. government to do. The U.S. government should not base its foreign policy upon what the Israel Lobby, the Persian Lobby, the Albanian Lobby, the Polish Lobby, the Irish Lobby etc. wants – that has been the root of our foreign policy problems and disasters of the past century. America foreign policy has not been defined by what is best for America but by what is best for other groups or peoples throughout the world. I’m tired of us sticking our noses into hornet’s nests at other peoples request and then complaining when we get stung.

  • he U.S. has no business medling in the elections or governance of other nations. There has not been one time that we have done it that it has not resulted in worse blow back or evils then those we were trying to prevent.

    The Japanese, South Koreans and Germans, to name a few, might have some quibbles with that sentiment.

  • Awakaman, no thank you for attempting to deny the undeniable, that “neo-cons” is often thrown about, especially in paleocon fever-swamps, as a short-hand for Jews.

    As for the facts, that is precisely what I have been arguing. Time to have your eyes checked.

    Awakaman, we won in Iraq. Even Obama admits that, much to his chagrin.

    Isolationism didn’t work back in the Thirties Awakaman and it will not work now. Our oceans offer us scant protection from either nuclear weapons or terrorist attacks, and it is idiotic to pretend otherwise.

  • BTW, I don’t think anyone here has advocated for a forceful American interference in this matter. What is being suggested is that President Obama say something meaningful to show support for the Iranian dissidents, something which European leaders like Sarkzoy have already done. This is not exactly a neocon desire for needless meddling, unless the Europeans are all neocons now.

  • “Standing with the Iranian people is not intemperate Tony…”

    I stand with the Iranian people. As a believer in the gospel of non-violence, my heart stirs when I see waves of peaceful protestors walking in total silence. I admire the great Persian culture and I am intrigued by Shia mysticism. But I would not arrogantly claim that the Iranians must adopt a western-style democracy. I would not arrogantly claim that the Iranians, who are risking their lives on the streets, will appreciate the kind of condescension you would wish to convey to them, about the “free world” standing behind them, when they look at the “free world” and see hypocrisy.

    What should Obama do? I’ll tell you. Pope John Paul understood the virtues of confession and apology. He expressed his regret over and over again for the sins of the Church in the past. Obama should do the same. He should say that he regrets the US overthrow of an Iranian leader to secure the flow of oil, he regrets US support for the shah, he regrets the military support given to Iraq during the 1980s, he regrets the one-sided approach to the Israeli-Palestinian issue, he regrets the invasion of Iraq, torture, and the camp at Guantanamo. He should the extend an olive branch to Iran and seek peace. That’s what he should do, but it’s not going to happen (oh, sorry, I wasn’t supposed to criticize Obama, was I? :))

  • Blame America first, last and always eh, Tony? Your Leftist European provincialism is stunning. That is also why Obama is ultimately going to break your heart. The US is not going to be transformed into Sweden or even the UK. The US will remain true to its history, and the Obama debacle will be a cautionary tale for Americans for generations to come.

  • By the way, are you saying that it is alright for a country to be governed by a tyrant so long as it is our tyrant

    No. I just don’t think a choice between tyrants should be portrayed as a choice between a tyrant and a democrat.

  • I suppose I’m deeply naive, MM, but I find it hard to credit the idea that the Iranian protestors holding up signs with slogans written in English for photographers to see are standing there thinking, “Boy, I sure hope that Obama apologizes for the US supporting the Shah and for toppling the dictatorship in Iraq — but restrains himself from saying it would be unacceptable for the Revolutionary Guard to slaughter us.”

  • …the Iranian protestors holding up signs with slogans written in English for photographers to see are standing there thinking..

    Important observation, Darwin. Not that the world doesn’t utilize English to a fair degree, but I can think of no other motivation in this case than for the protesters to be communicating to the West as well. I originally thought it best for the President remain tight lipped for a while too, and I still lean that way. However, I heard one criticism of Obama’s handling that did give me pause. Iowahawk picked up on it too. It’s not that Obama has been tight lipped that’s so much a problem, it’s that he hasn’t been tight lipped and characterized the whole affair as dialogue. Well sorry, people don’t die in dialogue – and characterizing it as such is basically saying that we stand behind you Ahmadinejad.

  • Yeah, I don’t think it would be wise or appropriate for Obama to come out in support of Mousavi or to call for the abolution of the current regime — but I think that a more general recognition of the yearning being expressed in these protests for the democratic process to work, and an emphasis on how the international community would respond to violent repression, would be appropriate. Without endorsing the protesters goals explicitly, their right to protest without being slaughtered would be loudly supported.

    It’s a fine line, but one that needs to be walked.

  • In turn, Pahlavi oversaw one of the most brutal regimes in the area, using torture techniques that would shock even Dick Cheney. The result was the revolution.

    I think if you examine the reports issued by Freedom House during the period running from 1973 through 1978, you will note that their assessment of the quantum of civil liberties and political participation in Iran put it proximate to the median of the Near East and North Africa, and not at all out of the ordinary for a non-occidental country. Pakistan, Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, Kuwait, Bahrain, Cyprus, and Israel qualified as more liberal. The government in the region given to exceptional cruelty was not that of Iran but rather Iraq.

    Authoritarian government was and is the default mode in the Near East. Attributing same to the acts of the United States government (‘propping up’, &c.) may be a pleasing evasion for the chatterati of the region but is false and should not be given credence by the current President or anyone else.

    The Government of Iran had passable relations with Israel for 31 years; they ceased to maintain such relations for no reason more compelling than their own ideological frenzies. There is no need for the President to apologize for that; it is their problem, not ours.

    Nor is their any reason to apologize for whatever limited co-operation the United States government had with Iraq during the period running from 1985 to 1988. The Iranian cause was not so self-evidently just that it should have trumped reasons of state.

  • You can’t have it both ways. You cannot have the United States crusading for “democracy” around the world, and cozying up to dictatorial regimes at the same time. I accept the point well that one must often deal with unjust rulers, as that’s the nature of the world, and it has always been Catholic practice. One can even do this and still stress the virtues of human dignity, but to elevate the promotion of “freedom” to some kind of divinely-mandated principle (hello Wilson, Dulles, Reagan, Bush) is another matter entirely. It is arrogant, it is tone-deaf, it lacks nuance, and it is dualistic in a derivately Calvinist way (shout out to Paul here!).

    Though I do find it a little ironic that supporting Saddam Hussein in the 1980s (possibly the worst of the worst) was seen as OK, but supporting Obama today is verboten.

    I do draw the line with war – it might have been OK to deal with Saddam on the level of statecraft, but it was serious cooperation with evil to support his military endeavors (just as it was evil to overthrow him in later years).

    But consequentialism looms large in American culture. It will not be overcome until people recognize the great evil perpetuated by the war criminal Harry Truman against the people of Japan. And yet, most Americans, across the partisan spectrum, argue that this was fine, appealing to consequences (future lives saved). But that is beside the point — an intrinsically evil act is an intrinsically evil act, period, and the direct targeting of non-combatants is as evil as it gets.

  • I tried to search out the word “Carter” here. Forgive me if I miss it, it was Jimmy Carter who seems to be why Iran is a problem. We abandoned the Shah. It seems with Carter and unwittingly his bookend Obama, there are some glaring foreign policy errors.

  • MM,

    Yet even without taking the modern Western understanding of political freedom as a divinely-mandated principle, I can see little wrong with hoping to see less bad forces win out. Is it really so very bad to want to see the mullahcracy in Iran be mitigated or swept away? Can you bring yourself to want to see something better for the Iranians, who clearly want such a thing, even if it puts you in company with the dreaded neo-cons?

    Also, at the risk of going off on a tangent, I’m struck by your comment:

    I do draw the line with war – it might have been OK to deal with Saddam on the level of statecraft, but it was serious cooperation with evil to support his military endeavors (just as it was evil to overthrow him in later years).

    Do you seriously think that overthrowing the Baathist dictatorship in Iraq via war (which was pretty clearly the only way it was going away — whether war with an outside power or some sort of civil or revolutionary war) was something that was clearly evil? I can see holding that because the Bush administration was foolish enough to base the Iraq War on preemption of supposed WMDs that it was therefore an unjust war, but I honestly can’t see the claim that removing Hussein’s dictatorship (which as you state was one of the worst in a bad region, when it comes to human rights and oppression) via war would be necessarily and objectively evil.

    Do you really hold that the objective of removing Hussein’s dictatorship was necessarily an insufficient causus belli for anyone, anytime? Or just an insufficient one for Bush at that time, for the stated reasons?

  • Darwin,

    Read what I said above. I think the stirring of the Iranian people is wonderful, and the passive resistance appeals top me, but (i) the US sticking its nose where it is not wanted will make things worse (just as Peretz needs Ahmadinejad, Ahmadinejad needs somebody like Bush); (ii) it would be arrogant to tell the Iranians that they deserve western-style “freedom” — the Iranians want to stamp out the abuses of the Shia state, but they are by no means secularists in the western sense. And that’s fine.

    On your second question — you know well that the just war criteria set exacting standards, and if the criteria are not met, the war is evil. And just because a regime is odious does not mean it should be overthrown by force, especially given the destructive power of modern weaponry. Think of the implications — what would you say if Ahmadinejad threatened to invade the US to prevent a million abortions a year?

  • The United States needs to stay out of this one, pure and simple. They shouldn’t be meddling in affairs they don’t understand, in a culture they don’t understand under conditions they don’t understand.

    Let the Iranians sort this one out. Its their show. We will only make it worse, like we have in so many other conflicts.

  • you know well that the just war criteria set exacting standards, and if the criteria are not met, the war is evil. And just because a regime is odious does not mean it should be overthrown by force, especially given the destructive power of modern weaponry.

    Actually, the standards as laid out in the catechism do not strike me as necessarily that exacting, unless one weights them with a certain set of assumptions. The Baathist regime was clearly one that could only be removed by war, it’s violence was continuous and immediate, other means of removing it had long ago been exhausted. The only possible hold would be the claim that the evils of war would be worse than the evils of the regime itself — which is probably where we part ways. The Church does not require functional pacifism, and indeed through must of its history it has been quite open to war for rather less cause than getting rid of a regime as odious as that of Hussein.

    Still, it’s instructive to know where we stand on the topic. I suppose one of the interesting side points is that since you believe the removal of Hussein to be an unjust and evil act, you necessarily would have to see it as legitimate to defend Hussein’s regime by force. In another place, this would put us exchanging shots rather than words. Though it would hardly be the first time that serious Catholics found themselves across a battlefield from each other.

    Think of the implications — what would you say if Ahmadinejad threatened to invade the US to prevent a million abortions a year?

    This is a point which is silly, bordering on the juvenile. You yourself have frequently made the argument that the US government is not directly responsible for abortions in the way that Iraq’s government was responsible for its atrocities (or the way Bush was responsible for the Iraq War, though I consider that a just act rather than an atrocity). Quite obviously, invading the US would thus not be able to directly thwart abortions in the sense that invading Iraq was able to directly remove the Baathist regime and its barbarities. Indeed, Ahmadinejad would only be able to stop abortions instantly by implementing the sort of public executions and reign of terror which is far to common in Iran already.

    Also, I think its quite arguable that there’s a higher threshold of justification when it comes to overthrowing an openly democratic republic (which can thus, obviously, be changed through peaceful means) than there is to a military dictatorship which can by definition only be overthrown by some sort of military action, if only a bloodless coup.

  • Rumors going around that there could be a massive crackdown by the government of Iran tomorrow.

    http://hotair.com/archives/2009/06/18/tomorrow-tiananmen-in-tehran/

    May God watch over those brave protesters.

  • If only enough of the Revolutionary Guard will refuse to fire on their own people…

  • Darwin:

    Ratzinger once mused that the very existence of a just war can be questioned in the modern age, given the destructive power of the weaponry. I think that is probably right — at the very least, it sets the bar extremely high. Too often, people today view war like a giant thrilling video game, courtesy of cable TV and “embedded” journalists, oblivious to the human misery. See Guadium Et Spes 80 on this point. Also recall also John Paul’s heartfelt plea in Centesimus Annus:

    “Never again war! No, never again war, which destroys the lives of innocent people, teaches how to kill, throws into upheaval even the lives of those who do the killing and leaves behind a trail of resentment and hatred, thus making it all the more difficult to find a just solution of the very problems which provoked the war.”

    As for Iraq, I could challege: (i) disproportionate evils, as you note, but also (ii) last resort – we all know the war was preemptive; (iii) Saddam’s genocidal actions had ended in the early 1990s, meaning there was no immediate threat to the world community (and the WMD excuse was fabricated); (iv) competent authority– I follow the Vatican in that, in the modern world, the UN is the only entity that can make these kinds of decisions. No, at the time of invadion, Saddam was just another tinpot dictator, one of many.

  • Mother Jones may say WMDs in Iran was fabricated. This is easy to say now. Many Democrats were talking about what a threat Saddam was as well.

  • I would also add to MM’s list (v) Iraq’s military never recovered from the first Gulf War, it toppled over in a matter of weeks, and Iraq’s entire economic and social infrastructure – without which a country cannot wage war – had been disintegrating under the pressure of sanctions for over a decade.

    Iraq was a sitting duck. It was weaker than the Ukraine in that game of Risk that Newman and Kramer played on Seinfeld.

  • I’d also add that the media is obviously hospitable to Liberals. It has been widely reported in some media that WMDs were spirited out of Iraq.

    http://www.nysun.com/foreign/iraqs-wmd-secreted-in-syria-sada-says/26514/

    “The man who served as the no. 2 official in Saddam Hussein’s air force says Iraq moved weapons of mass destruction into Syria before the war by loading the weapons into civilian aircraft in which the passenger seats were removed.

    The Iraqi general, Georges Sada, makes the charges in a new book, “Saddam’s Secrets,” released this week. He detailed the transfers in an interview yesterday with The New York Sun.”

    Democrat citations on Saddam and WMDs: http://www.snopes.com/politics/war/wmdquotes.asp

    http://sweetness-light.com/archive/who-is-lying-about-iraq

    Al Qaeda has been a main foe in Iraq. So, those connections are apparent as well.

  • Ed Morrissey is right on target with this post at Hot Air:

    “However, the people of Iran also clearly understand this. The crisis has moved beyond Mousavi, and Khamenei knows that. The people in the street may shout Mousavi’s name, but their protests have evolved into a protest against being ruled and not governed. Mousavi could choose to join that fight, or he could choose to remain within the ruling system, but the people on the street now may choose to fight absolute rule without him. Khamenei can’t back down without losing his conceit of infallibility in temporal matters, and if the Iranians refuse to return to the yoke of tyranny, then this will get ugly very, very quickly.”

    http://hotair.com/archives/2009/06/19/khamenei-rigging-what-rigging/

  • Larison, the “true conservative” (unlike the phonies, you know who you are:

    “All of this comes back to the problem of Republican denial about why they lost power. They are supremely confident about their views on national security and foreign policy, and they cannot conceive that a majority of the country would reject them because of the policies they advocated and enacted. Worse still, they remain wedded to the hectoring, moralistic and aggressive approach of the last administration, in which sanctions and condemnation are the only “soft” tools they understand. They are so wedded to this approach that that they think this is not only the best kind of foreign policy, but that anything other than this is fecklessness and surrender. To a disturbingly great extent, replacing the current leadership may not have much of an effect on shoddy foreign policy thinking on the right, because the rot is so deep and widespread, but it is particularly important that Republicans in positions of responsibility at least attempt to play the role of credible, informed opposition, which may sometimes mean acknowledging that the President has handled an issue correctly. It will also mean building up the credibility and knowledge to challenge and resist the President if he embarks on misguided or irresponsible courses in the years to come.”

  • Tony, contrary to Mr. Larison, conservatism is not synonymous with head in the sand isolationism. Larison and his fellow paleocons are chiefs with very few followers among American conservatives.

  • Donald, how do you define an American conservative? I see little emphasis on morality and the social order. I see little evidence of prudence and evolution over utopianism and destruction. These are the traditional markers of conservatism. Instead, I see a weird mix of Enlightenment-era liberalism that calls for “small government” and a radically individualist notion of freedom, combined with an America-centric nationalism that calls for “big government” and an attempt to remodel the world in its own image. What is remotely conservative about that?

    Oh, and by the way, the man on the right who actually knows something about the world (as opposed to the current crop of Republican Know-Nothings), Henry Kissinger, thinks Obama is doing the right thing: http://thinkprogress.org/2009/06/18/kissinger-obama-iran/

    Joe Klein who is just back from Iran sends the same message — all shades of Iranian opinion see the US as great medddlers who should stay on the sidelines.

  • Paleo conservatives are neither paleo, nor conservative. Discuss.

  • Tony, your analysis, as usual, is littered with strawmen and infantile caricatures. Even neocons at this point place significant emphasis on morality and the social order, though they tend to be slightly more utopian than I am comfortable with (and thus why I am not a neocon).

    Also, as a member of the progressive left, you have a lot of nerve calling anyone else a utopian. The entire Obama program is a repackaging of the same old Wilson-era attempts at building a perfect (not more perfect) society, something which the Democrats have been building upon ever since.

    Oh, and by the way, the man on the right who actually knows something about the world

    Haven’t you been complaining this entire thread about the US cozying up to dictators? Isn’t that a hallmark of realist foreign policy? Isn’t Henry Kissinger the paradigmatic figure when it comes to realism? So now Henry Kissinger, who the left universally despised about 30 years ago, is the man who knows something about the world. Talk about convenient flip flops.

  • I see little emphasis on morality and the social order.

    Really? Are you kidding? American conservatives never talk about morality and social order?

    That’s an interesting perspective…

    But then, who would have thought that we’d see the day when you’d be singing the praises of Henry Kissinger, a man who is probably responsible for more foreign policy decisions you deplore than any other single person.

    I’m not sure what you’re getting at, though, with the “US must stay on the sidelines” line of argument. The most that anyone is suggesting is that Obama should speak strongly to the right of the protesters to make themselves heard without being arrested or slaughtered, and perhaps at the outside threaten that consequences would follow if they are arrested and slaughtered.

    That sounds pretty far on the sidelines to me.

    Though perhaps the greatest tragedy of the last eight years is that many on the left, and MM seems to share in this instinct, now reflexively want to see the nascent democracy in Iraq fail, and to see more oppressive regimes win out or continue in other countries in the Middle East, simply to prove out their conviction that Muslims are incapable of having democratic freedoms, and thus prove Bush wrong. That, and perhaps a desire to keep as many high profile enemies of Israel on the playing board as possible.

    It’s unfortunate to see people supporting oppressive regimes simply out of desire to see their political vendettas carried forward.

  • Tony, I’ll see your Joe Klein and raise you a David Ignatius of the Washington Post.

    “President Obama was right to speak carefully about the events in Iran during the first week of protest. But it’s time for him to express his solidarity with the Iranians who are so bravely taking to the streets each day. He can do that without seeming to meddle if he chooses his words wisely.

    Obama should invoke the Iranian yearning for justice — which was a powerful theme of the revolution. He should cite Iran’s own rich history of political reform, going back to Cyrus the Great, whose declaration on good governance was chiseled in the Cyrus Cylinder in 539 B.C. He should cite the Iranian constitution of 1906, which established elections and basic freedoms. Democracy is not an American imposition but an Iranian tradition.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/18/AR2009061803369.html

    As for Dr. Kissinger, as his opening to Red China might indicate, human rights have never loomed large for him as a diplomatic issue. You quoting the master of RealPolitik is one of the more amusing portions of this thread.

    In regard to American Conservatism, you obviously have no understanding of it.
    As Reagan eloquently indicated in 1964, a concern for the liberty of those who are not Americans is not some sort of neo-Con deviation from true conservatism, but rather goes to the heart of what it is to be an American conservative.

  • MM,

    You never fail to demonstrate your uncanny ability to employ such perverse application of Ratzinger’s work (indeed, any number of catholic teaching for that matter) in order to advance your own deplorable ends.

    Indeed, though it meant rending the very fabric of moral integrity & one’s own Catholic Faith; in the past, you have went so far as to justify the atrocrious tenets of the Culture of Death in order to advocate the ascendency of your abortionist political demagouge (or, rather, demigod), Obama, even at the cost of compromising Catholic teaching.

    As for your “enlightened” opinions, I scant recall a conservative who lauded the Leviathan State and the general perniciousness of ‘BIG GOVERNMENT’.

    As for isolationist controversies alluded to earlier, most such folks I recall weren’t really conservatives per se; rather (and even more precisely), these were largely of the ‘America First’, ‘Socialist Party, USA’ brand as well as any number of those eminating from the hotbeds of student leftism.

    I can only venture the guess that you hail from the same homeland as these.

  • * I believe Henry Kissinger is a notorious war criminal (the bombing of Cambodia alone merits that deisgnation) – then again, so was Harry Truman. But I am also well aware that Kissinger knows his foreign policy very very well. We’ve come a long way from Kissinger to know-nothing agenda of the Bush years, still peddled by the shameless neocons (see Krauthammer and Wolfesitz in today’s Washington Post– for shame).

    * Yes, morality and the social order are certainly priorities of the American right — though far more so around these Catholic circles that the wider Fox News cicles. But it is attached onto everything I listed above: Enlightenment-era “small government” liberalism plus nationalist “big government” interventionism, a liberal understanding of “freedom”… I do not see these ideas rejected too often around here. Whatever they are, they are not conservative.

    * The discussion of “democratic freedoms” in Iraq is exactly an example of what I am talking about. I desire peace and justice in Iraq– I’m not particularly concerned if the form of government is is democratic, dictatorial, monarchist, federal, secular, religious, or breaks up into multiple regimes. Right now, the cost of your precious democracy has been a million deaths and 4.5 million orphans, and five million displaced. Ethnic tension is rampant, and our Chistian brothers and sisters are suffering most. To march into a country — with no knowledge of its history, its culture, its religious traditions, the post-Ottoman colonial legacy, the suspicion of the United States — to deliver “freedom and democracy” through the barrel of a gun is outrageous, arrogant, and dangerous.

    * This is also how I view Iran – I am 100 percent behind the Iranian opposition, because they are seeking justice on their own terms, and they are doing with without violence. They are rallying behind a veteran of the theocratic state, and man who wants to return to the good old days of Ruhollah Khomenei, and who campaigned on that very premise. We saw today that Khamenei is lashing out out foreign meddlers. That’s what he wants. Do not play into his hands. This is not about the US. It is about Iran. Time to butt out, people.

    * Am I a member of the progressive left? In some sense, yes. I follow the teachings of the Church in that a follower of Christ cannot be merely conservative, seeking a static society, but must also be dynamic, anticipating the eschaton. The very title of Christ — Salvator– was deliberately chosen to convey this dynamic sense, when the obvious Roman world “conservator” was rejected. And Catholic social teaching is rich and powerful, and goes far beyond wither statism of free market liberalism. I am actually more in line with European Christian democracy, which I understand veers sharply left on the American scale– I certainly adhere to the social market of Catholics like Konrad Adenauer. Part of the reason is that I don’t accept the false barrier between “church” and “state” but that’s a whole new topic.

  • The Iraq Body Count puts the civilian death toll at about 96,000 as we speak, some portion of which are not attributabile to the U.S. Military.

    Can you define the term ‘war criminal’? Can you specify how it might include Henry Kissinger, who was, prior to August of 1973, a functionary of the Executive Office of the President with a staff of perhaps 30 and with no authority to command any American soldier bar Alexander Haig and a few others who had been seconded to his offices?

    The entire juvenile population of Iraq is perhaps 11 million. Do I take it your contention is that 40% of the youth of Iraq have lost both their mother and their father attributable to American military action?

  • I am actually more in line with European Christian democracy, which I understand veers sharply left on the American scale– I certainly adhere to the social market of Catholics like Konrad Adenauer.

    I suppose that, as Americans, we should feel somewhat flattered that while you’re “not particularly concerned if the form of government is is democratic, dictatorial, monarchist, federal, secular, religious, or breaks up into multiple regimes” in Iraq, you _do_ apparently consider Americans to be sufficiently similar to your continent of origin that you support implementing Adenauer-style Christian-democracy in the US — despite the fact that Adenauer’s political views were very much formed by a particular time and place in European history which is foreign to American history and experience.

    What is the distinction that makes oppressive government acceptable in the Middle East, because it’s their culture you know, but demands that US conservatives abandon the 250 years of American political and intellectual heritage which they might rightly claim to “conserve” and instead embrace a post-war (briefly after WWI and briefly again after WWII) intellectual movement which is European in nature?

  • Obama is now “very concerned” about the Iranian regimes’ “tone”. Get prepared Tony! The Presidential Weather-Vane is preparing to turn!

    http://hotair.com/archives/2009/06/19/video-obama-now-very-concerned-about-iranian-regimes-tone/

  • Apparently Andrew Sullivan is claiming that those neo-con JOOOS want to keep Ahmadinejad in power.

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/weblogs/TWSFP/2009/06/sullivan_and_khamenei_agree_je.asp

    That is crazy even by Andrew Sullivan crazy standards.

  • First of all, Darwin, if the Christian Democracy that I espouse comes from anty culture, it is Catholic culture. I thought that Catholics would seek to embrace a Catholic culture. The dominant culture in the US right now is Protestant — we should accept that, but it doesn’t mean we have to embrace it, does it? (And by the way, that does not not you need to want to turn the US into Sweden).

  • MM,

    In spite of our disagreements in other places, on other topics, I agree with your assessment of conservatism in America, as well as what conservatism ought to be.

    It’s interesting to discover that by the standards of other countries, I am probably a conservative – even a reactionary. I’m so conservative I want to bring back the guild system and the commons!

    Social cohesion requires a rough degree of social equality, a sensible, proportionate hierarchy in which every member of society is recognized and rewarded for the role they play, even if it is small, even if the almighty forces of supply and demand would otherwise leave them out.

    The way some people around here defend a CEO’s divine right to billions of dollars, you’d think Japan, the second wealthiest country in the world whose CEO’s make far, far less, would have sunk into the ocean now, having angered the free market Gods.

  • Non-conservatives do not get to define conservatism Joe. American conservatism is not reactionary, unlike what passes for conservatism in other countries. Edmund Burke and the Founding Fathers, with a strong admixture of Lincoln, are the guiding stars of most American conservatives from a philosophical stand point. A few of the things most American conservatives believe:

    1. In a strong national defense.

    2. In free enterprise.

    3. In limited government.

    4. In traditional moral values.

    5. A concern as to the Federal government usurping powers that belong to the state.

    6. A deep rooted suspicion of utopian projects that depend upon governmental power.

    7. Self-reliance rather than reliance on the State.

    8. In low taxes.

    9. That government only derives its power from the consent of the governed.

    10. That government is always a danger to human freedom unless carefully watched.

    A statist like Tony has no more right, or ability, to define conservatism for Americans than I do anarchism. He is especially handicapped due to his European background and his antipathy to much of American history, including the American Revolution. Anyone out of sympathy with the American Revolution has precious little chance of ever understanding Americans or America.

  • Agreed, Joe, I think Pius XI-style corporatism still has a lot to offer. And, in the larger scheme of things, I think our disagreements are pretty minor.

  • You prove the points I make above, Donald. Abstracting completely from the virtue of your list, it cannot be described as conservative (except 4 and 6). The rest belong to Enlightenment-era liberalism. Waht do you think Pius IX or Pius X would make of your list?

  • 6. A deep rooted suspicion of utopian projects that depend upon governmental power.

    The problem with this view is that it preserves the separation of government and the people. Anarchism, which has a strong suspicion of gov’t as well, seeks to make the people the government in the most direct way possible. It’s the only way forward. “Conservatives” have it all wrong.

    7. Self-reliance rather than reliance on the State.

    These are are only two options? What a silly binary assumption this is.

    10. That government is always a danger to human freedom unless carefully watched.

    See my point on #6. All you are doing is preserving the separation of the people and gov’t with this view.

    How dare you say that MM’s cultural background is a “handicap”?

    Donald – Can you explain to us ho the American Revolution meets the requirements of a “just war”?

  • Donald,

    I do believe that people ought to be able to define themselves. But I also believe that a political label as broad as conservatism can be home to different branches, to conservatisms, plural.

    The thing about the founding fathers and Burke is that they lived before the Industrial Revolution, and Lincoln, only on the cusp. I am indeed quite sympathetic to the American revolution. I stand by the bill of rights as a document that defines our quintessential political liberties. But I do not believe that civil libertarianism and economic libertarianism are the same, or equally desirable.

    There is a hierarchy of social values. “Free enterprise”, as Pius XI wrote, is good within its proper limits. But when it is placed as a higher priority than social stability, then it becomes dangerous. When it is said that it is better for great inequalities to exist than for a minority to have their vast wealth regulated for the common good, to me that is anti-conservative. I think Pius’ argument that property and wealth must be regulated in order to ultimately preserve them from the sort of class warfare and violent revolution that inevitably results from their imbalance is a far more conservative argument.

    So, I think the true continuation of conservatism is found in Catholic social thought, not in classical liberalism. As for your list, I agree fully with 4, 6, 7 and 9, though I would understand “self-reliance” within the context of community and family, not as an isolated individual. The rest I accept on the condition that they are not prioritized above the common good and social stability. And I believe that is where Catholic social thought ultimately leads us. It is not that these things are bad, or not to be valued, but that they have a specific place on the hierarchy of values.

  • I’ll add that I have an article coming up on Inside Catholic about the direction I think conservatism ought to go… as someone who would like to consider himself a conservative but can’t quite yet.

    There does need to be a new conservatism, and I’m afraid that the conservative values I DO share – the value of the unborn, the right to bear arms, the integrity of the family, home and private schools, and others – will be dragged into irrelevance at best by some of the other values I don’t share or don’t believe should be prioritized the way they are.

    Conservatives have to understand that my generation does not agree with them on the role of government in the economy. If they can’t put forward an alternative to Democratic welfare-state that isn’t just more of the same laissez-faire rhetoric, they will never hold power again. Balk at that if you like, or take it for the reflection of reality that it is.

    Since most conservatives are also Christians it would be ironic, and tragic, if the reason conservatism failed was that it refused to embrace Catholic social thought (and there are schools of Protestant social thought that aren’t that distant).

  • Tony, which Pius IX? The Pio Nono of 1846-1847 would have been much more accepting of various parts of my list than the Pio Nono of 1848 who, badly frightened by Italian Revolutionaries, retreated into political reaction for the rest of his life, which culminated in his Syllabus of Errors, a document which helps establish the case that the charism of infallibility does not extend to purely political matters, although it still has some very interesting and intriguing passages. As to Saint Pius X, my beloved Hammer of the Modernists, I doubt not that he would have detested much of my list. Of course he also would have detested much of your Christian Democrat leanings, and your socialism would have appalled him. Saint Pius X was not in sympathy with much of the political development of the modern world since the Council of Trent. His attitude is summed up in this paragraph:

    “Pius X instituted a reaction against the Christian Democrats, the Catholic party in Italy. He objected to any Catholic in Italy or elsewhere conducting a social or political life independently of the Church hierarchy. He condemned popular Catholic parties in Italy and France, including Charles Maurras’s Action Française. In this matter Pius carried Leo XIII’s political paternalism to an extreme and rejected democratic ideals. In pursuance of this policy a break with the French government was inevitable because of the secularizing philosophy of that government and the law of 1905 separating Church and state in France. Tension between Russia and the Vatican grew over Poland. Pius had uneasy relations with Germany, Austria, and the United States for the same reasons.”

    Popes are to be followed on matters of Faith. As to their political leanings, those vary wildly from pope to pope, and their worth, or worthlessness, have to be judged separately from their office.

    As to my list, it is deeply conservative from an American conservative perspective. The list has its roots in the American Revolution, an event you have absolutely no sympathy for, and therefore I can understand your inability to understand American conservatives.

  • Joe, your comments require more time from me than I have this morning for an adequate response. I would merely note that I think you and I, except in the economic sphere, are much more in agreement than disagreement. I look forward to your post on conservatism. I may do a responding post and the dialogue I hope will be fruitful.

    I think the American Revolution is key for understanding most things about America, with the Civil War coming in a close second, and our political beliefs are no exception to that rule.

    Winston Churchill, who went from Conservative-Liberal-Conservative, was often condemned in his time as being a “Yankee” due to his mother and to his odd, for the British, political style. Unlike most foreigners, I believe he understood and appreciated the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, and his writings on America are useful for Americans wishing to understand their country from the eyes of a sympathetic outsider. I woud put him next to de Tocqueville in that regard.

  • “Donald is clearly a liberal.”

    Now you’ve gone too far Catholic Anarchist!!!! (Actually if you mean 19th Century political liberal, you are absolutely correct!)

  • “Anarchism, which has a strong suspicion of gov’t as well, seeks to make the people the government in the most direct way possible.”

    As was demonstrated during the Spanish Civil War Catholic Anarchist, woe betide those portions of the people who are not in sympathy with the government when portions of the people are the government. Government will always be with us, and people will always disagree as to what government should and should not do. Best to shackle government as much as possible and to allow people the maximum possible freedom to work out private voluntary associations between themselves. For example, if people want to be part of an anarchist commune, I have absolutely no problem with that. If an anarchist people-as-government says that I have to belong to such a commune, I have a huge problem. The State should occupy as small a role in our lives as possible.

  • “Self-reliance rather than reliance on the State.

    These are are only two options? What a silly binary assumption this is.”

    People are also free to rely on families and voluntary associations, but for most healthy adults, as they quickly find out, self-reliance is best.

    “That government is always a danger to human freedom unless carefully watched.

    See my point on #6. All you are doing is preserving the separation of the people and gov’t with this view.”

    Catholic Anarchist, in my view Rousseauian governments which purport to embody the popular will require even more suspicion than most governments. It is a fantasy that governments will not act like governments no matter what they are called. History amply proves that point.

    “How dare you say that MM’s cultural background is a “handicap”?

    Because it is true Catholic Anarchist, as every post Tony has made about America demonstrates.

    “Donald – Can you explain to us ho the American Revolution meets the requirements of a “just war”?”

    Yes I can and thank you for giving me an idea for a Fourth of July post, which I am sure you will be eager to read as you mourn the Fourth up in Canada!

  • Donald,

    I think you’re right – we probably do agree more than disagree, but the disagreement is still substantial.

    For instance, I disagree with what you said to someone else:

    “Popes are to be followed on matters of Faith. As to their political leanings, those vary wildly from pope to pope, and their worth, or worthlessness, have to be judged separately from their office.”

    The social teaching of the Church has been consistent for 120 years. It has been developed and modified, but the core themes have remained in place. And I do not believe that the Papal writings on social issues can be neatly separated from ‘matters of Faith’. That said, there is flexibility in the social doctrine that there is not in matters of religious dogma.

  • “How dare you say that MM’s cultural background is a ‘handicap’?”

    It’s a handicap in the sense of not being able to sympathize with Americans, which in turn prevents him from being able to understand Americans, which is what leads him to constantly offer cultural psychoanalysis that consists of nothing but crude and juvenile caricatures. It’s rather comical.

  • Like most things Joe it is a matter of definition: how we define social teaching as distinct from political leanings. For example, a condemnation of greed and a stern admonition to care for the poor I consider to be a timeless social teaching of the Church. The Papal condemnation of Magna Charta in 1215 I would consider to be the ephemeral political leaning of a particular pope. Often times it takes centuries to sort the wheat from the chaff of a particular papacy.

  • “It’s a handicap in the sense of not being able to sympathize with Americans, which in turn prevents him from being able to understand Americans, which is what leads him to constantly offer cultural psychoanalysis that consists of nothing but crude and juvenile caricatures. It’s rather comical.”

    I wish at times that I felt Americans understood this in the reverse when we view others – that we have a natural handicap in seeing events elsewhere.

  • I think the difficulty with discussions such as this is that ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’ are in their common usage nominal categories which describe a nexus policy preferences. ‘Liberal’ can be used to describe properly a very particular sort of political economy (which in our own time might be more intelligibly rendered by a term like ‘whig’), but ‘conservative’ has ever been amorphous and characteristic of very particular circumstances. Time and again over the last fifty years, there has been a mess of ink spilled in tedious intramural discussions over what is and is not a properly ‘conservative’ position and time and again over the last thirty years, a sort of rhetorical thimblerig has been played by characters august and scruffy (e.g. Henry Fairlie, Andrew Sullivan, Andrew Bacevich) which purports to critique a course of action or the general dispositions of a political faction as spuriously ‘conservative’ rather than undertaking an engagement with the premises or consequences of the policy. May we suggest perhaps that the point of political life is the apprehension of justice. “To be conservative’ is a proper goal and virtue for accountants. To be justly disposed is proper for the rest of us, without regard to the shorthand by which we are referred.

    I will anticipate Mr. McClarey’s post on the Revolutionary War. In apprehending the course of history in any particular time and place (and more particularly why men rebel), I think it aids one to temporarily suspend judgment. Your country is your country and its history is its history and your civic obligations have no other proper setting. That having been said, one task we have in contemplating that history is understanding why the country’s gentry political class thought disputes over excise taxes and parliamentary representation were worth the candle. (Personally, I would be content were the monarchy restored in this country, and the world’s anglophone territories confederated).

    Now consider:

    1. In a strong national defense.

    What resources you devote to your military is going to vary according to time, place, and circumstance. The United States can look after itself; it is rather less dependent than most on cunning, prudent concession and abstention, &c. A more general set of principles might be as follows: conflict is a given in human relations, force is legitimate, and there is no shame is self-reliance.

    2. In free enterprise.

    I think command economies have been thoroughly discredited. More particular questions of the right relation between markets, public administration, philanthropy, and family, remain unsettled. Your disputes with others are going to be over positions occupied on spectra, rather than over systems described categorically. A more general principle might be stated thus: that state allocation is not the default mode; that the burden of demonstration ought be on the advocates of state allocation.

    With regard to Thomas Storck and Mr. Hargrave and others who appear to be advocating the formation of parochial cartels in various economic sectors, you might offer as a counterpoint to tease out the implications not only for material welfare but for the quality of civic life of having all this organized rent-seeking going on.

    3. In limited government.

    The difficulty with this principle as stated is that advocates of Hobbesian absolutism, Dr. Francia’s Paraguay, Communism, and Fascism as practiced by Hitler and Mussolini are fairly thin on the ground in most occidental countries. Government is quite generally limited in its capacities and (more often than not) in its formal properties. The question is where the limits should be.

    4. In traditional moral values.

    An elaboration on this would be that enunciated principles of conduct are not properly derived from 1. contemporary social research or 2. contemporary popular preferences or 3. the fads of the elites, or the professional-managerial bourgeoisie, or the chatterati.

    5. A concern as to the Federal government usurping powers that belong to the state.

    That is quite particular to time an place. A more general principle might comment on the tendency you see to strip localities of discretion, which may be manifest in extensive federal republics (like ours) or in small commonwealths like Ireland). One might observe that the discretion of municipal councils is often replaced with that of a cartel formed of a central public agency staffed with professionals, lobbies staffed with those similarly educated, the appellate judiciary, and the (entrenched) elected legislators of the central government; and that the latter, favor the views of those Thomas Sowell has called ‘the anointed’ over ‘the benighted’.

    6. A deep rooted suspicion of utopian projects that depend upon governmental power.

    True. The thing is, Woodrow Wilson is long dead and Earl Browder never mattered much. A more salient problem is the influence in public discourse not of utopians but of folk like Barbara Ehrenreich and Ralph Nader, who are quite articulate but very misinformed about the anatomy and physiology of a political economy. (My personal favorite is the suggestion in 1986 by Ehrenreich and Frances Fox-Piven that everyone be given a guaranteed income equal to the domestic product per capita; you can call this ‘utopian’, but ‘stupid’ would be closer the mark). If you are speaking more particularly about foreign relations, a sort of utopianism is a grave problem, though more abroad than here.

    7. Self-reliance rather than reliance on the State.

    The trouble with this as stated is that the state produces services that commercial companies and philanthropies either cannot or can in only a half-assed way. Any working political society is going to have some reliance on the state. Your disputes with others are going to be on spectra than over categories. Perhaps some more general principles might be: 1. it is not the business of the state to produce salable goods and services, bar in the realm of ‘natural monopolies’ (i.e. no Beveridge in your Keynes); 2. common provision through public agencies tends to enervate to a degree families and philanthropies, and that this sort of impact needs to be weighed in the balance in considering augmentation of state provision.

    8. In low taxes.

    I think more properly stated would be a general bias against public expenditure. Over time, the level of taxation should reflect precisely the ratio of public expenditure to domestic product. To say you have a bias against public expenditure is a somewhat cruder restatement of a disinclination to have public agencies as allocators.

    I do think it would be better in contemplating this question to give some thought to what you would like the state to be undertaking and then to look at the implications. One might also note that there are unpredictable spikes in public expenditure which come from wars (about one year in ten since 1756 we have spent in a war which required a full-bore national mobilization) and banking crises like the one we are in now (which seem to occur about every 55 years or so). Personally, I think it would be difficult, or entailing some sacrifice of desirable public goals, to reduce public expenditure much below a long-term mean of 40% of domestic product. One principle you might enlarge on (as it is much in opposition to the practice of the Democratic Party in our time) is that public agencies should not be organized appetites, and that public policy should never be directed toward the provision of rents to public employees qua public employees).

    9. That government only derives its power from the consent of the governed.

    An elaboration particular to our time, and which might draw on the observations of persons as disparate as Thomas Sowell and Christopher Lasch and Robert Bork, is that much of what the opposition does is directed toward the erection of and justification of a mandarinate.

    10. That government is always a danger to human freedom unless carefully watched.

    Looking at our own time and place, I think what occurs is not so much that the state is a danger to liberty but that the state turns into a vast practitioner and promoter of rent-seeking by its employees, by elected officials, and by dependent economic sectors.

  • The social teaching of the Church has been consistent for 120 years.

    I suppose those encyclicals as they now stand rule out certain approaches to social relations (e.g. Ayn Rand’s), but if you can craft implementable public policies from those documents, you are way ahead of me.

  • Not to jump in inappropriately… but personally I’m uncertain if the church has a full understanding of “self interest” in the libertarian sense. To this day it seems that most Catholics equate “self interest” with selfishness, and in their efforts to exalt a “selflessness” end up distorting the society-wide benefits of “self interest” and free market capitalism.

  • Anthony,

    I do not equate those terms. We are all self-interested. It is, as always, a question of moral priorities. Self-interest is pursued within the context of the common good, not outside it or against it.

    Utilitarian arguments about the free market are worth next to nothing in my book. There has never been a “free market” at the state level – there has only been command economy and varying degrees of state capitalism.

    I don’t want to haggle over the standard words and their meaning. My argument, and that of the Church, is simple: when inequalities in wealth threaten social stability, wealth and property must be regulated. When workers are denied their fundamental rights, which the Church has listed, they have a right to organize economically and/or politically to fight for them. When commercialism and consumerism lead people into immoral, anti-social behavior by ceaselessly appealing to their lower natures, concerned citizens have a right to insist on their limitation.

    Catholic social teaching can tolerate a degree of liberalism – but only a degree. It cannot become liberalism. Liberalism’s view of society is still, in spite of some modification and improvement, atomistic at its core. The Chruch’s is organic. The Church warns against the danger of politics being reduced to “individuals and the state” – as has arguably happened to American politics, with one party talking of nothing but individual liberty and the other of the potential of state intervention.

    When this happens, like it or not, you are signing on with Hobbes. You can’t acknowledge the war of each against all and then prefer it to the Leviathan state – sooner or later that war will consume society. The Church has always known this. That is why she has always supported the “middle” layer between individuals and the state, and has always been concerned with its withering away.

  • Utilitarian arguments about the free market are worth next to nothing in my book. There has never been a “free market” at the state level – there has only been command economy and varying degrees of state capitalism.

    I attended some lectures years ago by the economic historian Stanley Engerman. Among the estimates he offered was that in the occidental world, the ratio of public expenditure to domestic product tended to be around 10% during the period prior to 1914. The expenditures of the central government in the United States prior to 1930 tended toward 3% of domestic product. The United States has never had much in the way of public enterprise (it has been limited to postal services, water provision, gas and electric provision, and mass transit) and state industrial and housing sectors in Britain were an artifact of the Atlee government (1945-51). From the repeal of the Corn Laws in Britain (ca. 1845) to the advent of the First World War, the liberal economic order was the default in the occidental world. (There is a distinction between an ideal type and a reality, of course).

    My argument, and that of the Church, is simple: when inequalities in wealth threaten social stability, wealth and property must be regulated.

    In this country, there have been two gross manifestations of threats to social stability derived from class stratification in living memory: the riots which tore through one city after another during the period between 1964 and 1971 and the mass of industrial actions occurring during the Depression. A discussion of neither would be particularly topical, the former was derived in large measure from a loss of nerve on the part of civic authorities and in part from communal stratification, not class stratification; the latter was in part derived from acute, not chronic, conditions.

    When commercialism and consumerism lead people into immoral, anti-social behavior by ceaselessly appealing to their lower natures, concerned citizens have a right to insist on their limitation.

    The drug trade and prostitution are generally illegal, gambling is in most locales circumscribed and technology has rendered it next to impossible to contain the most salient forms of trafficking in pornography, though more conventional forms could be were there political will to do so. Just out of curiosity, what else did you have in mind.

    Catholic social teaching can tolerate a degree of liberalism – but only a degree. It cannot become liberalism.

    Who has identified the two?

    Liberalism’s view of society is still, in spite of some modification and improvement, atomistic at its core. The Chruch’s is organic. The Church warns against the danger of politics being reduced to “individuals and the state” – as has arguably happened to American politics, with one party talking of nothing but individual liberty and the other of the potential of state intervention.

    For at least the last thirty years, politicians within the Republican Party have been speaking of the erosion in the durability of family relations and of encroachments on the discretion of families.

    When this happens, like it or not, you are signing on with Hobbes.

    Stop it.

  • “Self-interest is pursued within the context of the common good, not outside it or against it.”

    I’m not sure we see this statement in the same way. When a person pursues their self-interest, they are contributing to the common good whether intentional or not. They better society in a variety of natural ways by their self-sustenance, providing for family and friends, and improving the lives of those they produce for.

    “Self-interest outside the common good, or against it” to me WOULD be the very definition of selfishness. And, to improve the libertarian argument, this selfishness is naturally self-destructive. It can’t be maintained forever, and the market has natural mechanisms for punishing such behavior. No one argues in favor of this kind of attitude because its understood to inevitably do harm to society.

    “My argument, and that of the Church, is simple: when inequalities in wealth threaten social stability, wealth and property must be regulated.”

    The Church can say that, but I’m not certain it has an kind of infallibility when doing so. I would argue that when inequalities in wealth threaten social stability the market must be allowed to equalize itself. To end that statement with your “wealth and property must be regulated” is extremely problematic. For one, regulation by its very nature would redistribute wealth not according to moral needs, but rather according to political interests. I shouldn’t have to explain the dangers in that. Two, the regulators (ie, the state) have no moral means to accomplish the moral end of stabilizing society. They only have the coercion that legal violence affords them. We can be certain in that respect that the Church would not support immoral means even in the service of a moral end.

    In short, the tact your above statement seems to take would not resolve conflict, but rather entrench it.

    “When workers are denied their fundamental rights, which the Church has listed, they have a right to organize economically and/or politically to fight for them.”

    This is true. But there are limitations. Workers do not have a right to coerce wealth and resources out of their employer, nor do they have right to coerce participation from other workers.

    Unions, which I presume you are referring, serve a positive role in the economy. Not only to they allow workers to organize their own resources, they serve as a way of letting employers know more information about their own business and the labor market. This information is invaluable to the employer because now he can better organize his business to a variety of ends: either to attract more talented labor, or to increase efficiency or to improve relations with current employees.

    However, when Unions become a political force with the intent of using the law to extract wealth from the employer it drags down the very source of the wealth it had to start with. The Union is also selfishly attempting to benefit its members at the expense of non-members and the unemployed: for if it had kept within its moral bounds, society would be further benefited either in the increased profit or the increased employment the lesser regulations would allow.

    “When commercialism and consumerism lead people into immoral, anti-social behavior by ceaselessly appealing to their lower natures, concerned citizens have a right to insist on their limitation.”

    Says who exactly? Some consumers might engage in such behavior, but whose to say that a.) violence is being done to other citizens and b.) that “bad” consumers are not already being punished for their choices?

    Many Americans in the past 10 years lived way beyond their means. Now they are suffering the consequences by having to improve their behavior, i.e. under-consume resources in order to pay off their debts. The market has forced them to re lifestyle. This is the marketplaces’ natural punishment. “Regulation” does nothing to improve the situation. In fact we often see what passes for regulation more often that not enables FUTURE bad behavior and places restrictions and arbitrary obligations on the responsible consumers.

    Besides, citizens only have a ‘right’ to ‘insist on limitations’ when actual harm (usually either violent or financial) has been done to them. If an individual or a corporation simply makes a bad decision, or enters into a foolish contract, or produces a tasteless product, I as a citizen and consumer can punish them by taking away my business but I cannot render any other kind of harm. As I’ve alluded to above, moral means are requisite to a moral end.

    “The Church warns against the danger of politics being reduced to “individuals and the state” – as has arguably happened to American politics, with one party talking of nothing but individual liberty and the other of the potential of state intervention.”

    Well of course it does… because that reduction leaves no room for religion in the life of society. However, that does not equate to making counterproductive policies in the halls of Congress. The Church has a responsibility to teach and behave in concert with Christ’s message. Its that effort that fills gaps between individuals and the state.

    “You can’t acknowledge the war of each against all and then prefer it to the Leviathan state – sooner or later that war will consume society.”

    I’m not really sure what you’re getting at here. If I might be allowed to shoot from the hip for a second, an ‘ordered’ society in my view would place primacy on individual liberty, followed by the natural phenomena of religious, philosophical and moral teaching all secured by a severely limited and small contractual government. But of course, thanks to our fallen nature that ‘order’ is rarely in proper proportion, isn’t it?

  • AD,

    You don’t think potential social unrest is mounting right now? America is more polarized today, politically, than it has been in a long time. The divides may be cultural, but there is also widespread populist discontent with the Wall Street marauders. Obama will only hold the lid on that for so long.

    Even if it didn’t lead to open, violent class warfare, vast inequalities still unbalance the political system and tend towards plutocracy. Not to mention, they eat up resources that could and should be used to promote the common good. The disproportionate share of the wealth commanded by the top 1% of Americans is simply unjustifiable.

    “Just out of curiosity, what else did you have in mind.”

    I have in mind the informative Vatican document “Ethics in Advertising” which condemns the practice of creating demand for items that no person needs or asked for.

    I also have in mind towns like Ave Maria, which weren’t able to regulate pornography as they originally intended thanks to threats from the ACLU. Our society is drowning in pornography, which is a multi-billion dollar industry. It has having horrible, corrosive effects on families and communities.

    Pornography is only the most extreme example. Fast food joints are taking over public schools, paying for books in return for the privilege of peddling their unhealthy junk food to impressionable children. This is an assault on public health and a Faustian bargain with the devil. A high school diploma won’t help you when you develop diabetes as a teenager.

    Our ability to regulate and control our own lives, our health, our spiritual and intellectual well-being, is ceaselessly undermined by big business and big government. You can trivialize these problems if you wish – yes, look around you and most people appear sated, comfortable, supportive of the status quo. But appearances are deceiving and deeper down, there is more suffering than we realize.

    “Who has identified the two?”

    I have. Is there is some problem with the way I am using them? I’ll defend my interpretation of both, if so. You can read this if you like, where I talk about Catholic social thought maneuvering between both individualism and collectivism:

    http://insidecatholic.com/Joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=6026&Itemid=121&ed=4

    “For at least the last thirty years, politicians within the Republican Party have been speaking of the erosion in the durability of family relations and of encroachments on the discretion of families.”

    The nuclear family is a flimsy copy of the extended family that has faded out of existence in the West. And even that is not enough – families must be united as communities. We need all of the little platoons, not just one or two. Those are what support the individual and his efforts and serve as the natural, organic buffer between him and the state.

    “Stop it.”

    I won’t, because it’s true. Social atomization necessarily gives rise to the Leviathan state. Without the intermediate organizations, the weak have only the state to protect them, and they eagerly seek out its services.

  • Whew. Another long post to reply to. I hope it goes somewhat appreciated. I type fast, but I can’t keep this pace forever.

    Anthony,

    “And, to improve the libertarian argument, this selfishness is naturally self-destructive. It can’t be maintained forever, and the market has natural mechanisms for punishing such behavior.”

    It is not only self-destructive, it destroys society. Unfortunately many people do not think about the long-term consequences and seek only short-term gain. All economic activity is a social act and has social consequences, hence, the community and the state, to various degrees, have every right to regulate it for the common good. We are under no obligation to sit and wait for the self-destructive effects to culminate in disaster before we do anything. Society is an organism, not an amalgamation of individuals – preventative medicine today prevents costly and painful treatments tomorrow.

    “We can be certain in that respect that the Church would not support immoral means even in the service of a moral end.”

    Of course not – but the Church does not consider regulation and the redistribution of wealth, again within reason, to be ‘immoral’, partly for the reason stated above – economic activity, as social activity, must be regulated by individuals themselves, communities, and the state, each acting within their proper role. This is a central message of Catholic social thought.

    Again, we are under no obligation to ‘wait for the market’. It boarders on an idolization, if not an anthropomorphizing, of an abstract entity. The economy is made up of real individuals with real obligations to the society in which they live. Severe imbalances could be prevented through wise policy before a catastrophe that requires ‘correction’ even materializes.

    Personally, I prefer cooperatives to unions – when everyone is an owner with a substantial share and say in the business, there is no class conflict. The relationship is between the firm and the community, without internal antagonisms distorting it. This serves the common good.

    The Church supports both unions and cooperatives. The most successful cooperative in the world was founded by a Catholic priest inspired by Quadragesimo Anno. My goal, if anything, is to help spread that inspiration further.

    “Besides, citizens only have a ‘right’ to ‘insist on limitations’ when actual harm (usually either violent or financial) has been done to them.”

    I disagree. I believe communities have every right to decide what kind of content will be allowed in their community – a person is always free to move to another one. In my post above I cited the example of Ave Maria town. Pornography is harmful – just because something isn’t force or fraud does not mean it does not cause harm.

    Frankly I don’t see how you can have a Catholic view of morality and spirituality if you don’t acknowledge these things. Moral and spiritual harm is real, psychological harm is real – when these things break up families and corrupt the minds of children, society is harmed, we are all harmed.

    What I see in your thinking is what I see in many Americans, on both sides of the spectrum – in the name of freedom, allow problems to fester until they require a drastic and heavy-handed response. The left says “lets make a law” and the right says “let the market fix it”. The Church says “lets create morally capable individuals and communities who can handle problems on their own” without waiting for some outside entity to solve it.

    “he Church has a responsibility to teach and behave in concert with Christ’s message. Its that effort that fills gaps between individuals and the state.”

    Then why does every Papal encyclical on social issues constantly remind us about and implore us to build the intermediate organizations? It isn’t just a moral lecture that the Church calls us to listen to, but real ideas to be implemented in our lives.

  • “I have in mind the informative Vatican document “Ethics in Advertising” which condemns the practice of creating demand for items that no person needs or asked for.”

    Oooh. Thats right up my alley, considering that I’m an art director at an advertising agency.

    Umm… who exactly gets to determine what a person needs or is asking for? That is sort of the consumers job isn’t it? Its not our fault if they make a bad choice, and its kind of insulting to imply that the consumer either isn’t capable of making proper decisions or is too intellectually weak to resist material temptations.

    And to boot… advertising does not create demand. That’s actually giving advertising a little too much credit. Consumers in the determine the level of demand in the same way supply is determined by production. Advertising does, however, create AWARENESS by alerting consumers to products and services available.

    At any rate, I won’t go further because I haven’t examined the document myself. But it is fun to think that the Vatican thinks advertising is worth commenting on. Hahaha.

  • Donald is indeed a liberal — I think 8 of his 10 tenets have their genesis in classical liberalism. And no, one cannot simply define terms as one sees fit. The term conservative has a clear meaning that cannot be simply transformed in an Orwellian manner. I readily admit that I find things to like in the liberal Enlightment- the modern papacy has tended in that direction, and Pope Benedict has said as much Unlike dear old Elizabeth Anscombe (close friend of a close friend of mine), I would not dub it the “Endarkenment”!. But I also recognize the fatal flaws in its anthropology, especially its emphasis on the individual over the person (again, one must use precise language — these words mean 2 very different things in the Catholic context).

  • There has been an insufficiency of financial prudence manifest in excessive consumption, public and private, over the last 25 years. The thing is, I think you will find the effect and purpose of advertising is to influence people preferences on a fairly granular level. If you walk about my home, you will see four appliances which had no analogue in the home my grandparents occupied in 1940: a television, a pair of personal computers, and an associated laser printer. On some shelves you see compact discs, cassette tapes, and long-playing records. These, and the equipment used to render the sound, are technologically updated versions of the 78s and record player they owned. Some of the vegetables in the refrigerator would not have been vended in 1940 as they were not in season. The quantum and quality of merchandise is better, but the sort of things people find utile are not all that much different. Per capita income has about quadrupled since 1940.

    If you say that advertising plays on and promotes a conception of satisfaction that diminishes our character, you might have a point. Personally I cannot imagine what sort of public policies might be crafted and adopted to address that.

    The misbehavior of the appellate judiciary and the har har public interest bar is their doing, not that of the Republican Party as an institution or of associated publicists.

    I am not sure why you have concluded that nuclear families are ‘flimsy copies’ of extended families (and I think you mean ‘stem families’), or where you came by the idea that ‘extended families’ have been the primary social units in occidental civilization.

    I asked you who had suggested ‘liberalism’ was properly identified with ‘Catholicism’. You were implicitly accusing someone of having done that . I asked you and your answer was you yourself. Now I am thoroughly confused.

    I won’t, because it’s true. Social atomization necessarily gives rise to the Leviathan state.

    The following are not true:

    1. That Mr. McClarey or persons with an affinity for the Republican Party generally can be fairly characterized as being unconcerned with the welfare of small communal groups;

    2. That Mr. McClarey et al. are composing justifications for absolute monarchy.

    (I might also add that the nuclear family is not properly dismissed out of hand as an unimportant social body, but you are entitled to your own opinions if not your own facts).

  • “We are under no obligation to sit and wait for the self-destructive effects to culminate in disaster before we do anything. Society is an organism, not an amalgamation of individuals – preventative medicine today prevents costly and painful treatments tomorrow.”
    Nor are we under an obligation to curb productive development or hunt down economic boogee men that may or may not exist. The responsibility of the state is to ensure the integrity of the playing field in the free market by enforcing contracts and punishing fraud.
    I’d love ‘preventative medicine’ but I’m afraid you and I might disagree on what that means exactly. The American public has been suckered into that ‘medicine’ (ie regulation) time and again and yet it still did not prevent economic destruction from occurring. Had we genuinely believed in free markets none of this would be happening – yet instead we’ve bought into the collusion of government and business and have been fooled into thinking it actually protects us from an uninhibited and malicious capitalism. It does not.
    Take the Federal Reserve – a quasi-private / public institution that in essence also serves as a cartel of large banks wishing to limit competition. By arbitrarily setting interest rates under self-serving or politically motivated pretenses, “bad” behavior on the part of banks, corporations, governments and individuals is ENABLED. Had the market been allowed to determine its own price for money, much of the irresponsible choices would never have happened thanks to higher interest rates. Consumers and businesses would be forced to save and wait for better conditions to borrow funds. In other words, the very ‘preventative medicine’ you are looking for is built right into the free market system if it would only be allowed to work!
    Sadly this bogus monetary system is sold to the public as benign and regulated when in fact it is the precise opposite. The intervention into the economy, and others like it, has been the beginning, middle and end of these problems by manipulating the environment in which the free market must operate. It should come as no surprise to any one that under these conditions bad decisions, both innocent and deceptive, would occur!
    “It boarders on an idolization, if not an anthropomorphizing, of an abstract entity. “
    I don’t see the free marketers idolizing the market any more than physicists idolizing gravity. Plus, a lot of the voices that supposedly talk up the free market contradict themselves by their own actions: either going to the government for assistance (in the case of business people), or supporting interventions ( on the part of politicians).
    Additionally I’m unsure that the market is an abstract entity rather than a natural phenomenon that can be observed and studied. If anything it has been in reading about the free market and its natural modes of reward and punishment that has reinforced my awe in God’s creation.
    “Personally, I prefer cooperatives to unions – when everyone is an owner with a substantial share and say in the business, there is no class conflict. The relationship is between the firm and the community, without internal antagonisms distorting it. This serves the common good.”
    Yikes! I bet that company has the most inefficient and unproductive meetings imaginable!
    “I disagree. I believe communities have every right to decide what kind of content will be allowed in their community – a person is always free to move to another one. In my post above I cited the example of Ave Maria town. Pornography is harmful – just because something isn’t force or fraud does not mean it does not cause harm.”
    Hmm. Mixtures of yes and no on my part. Your example only works because it is on a small, local level. Taking such measures on a much larger scale across multiple communities and cultures would probably result in worse, unintended antagonism.
    The harm you speak of however is more moral and spiritual. I strongly hesitate to see the state intervene in such matters. At some point it has to be accepted that some, perhaps many, will morally fail and that maybe they should be allowed to. The state cannot make up for the inadequacies of the churches, families, friends etc. that aim to steer the human person away from the harmful paths you refer to. The monolith will not save you, will not save society and cannot force you into heaven kicking and screaming.
    “Frankly I don’t see how you can have a Catholic view of morality and spirituality if you don’t acknowledge these things. Moral and spiritual harm is real, psychological harm is real – when these things break up families and corrupt the minds of children, society is harmed, we are all harmed.”
    I don’t disagree. I just acknowledge that the state is ill suited to solve such matters interior to the human heart.
    “What I see in your thinking is what I see in many Americans…the left says “lets make a law” and the right says “let the market fix it”. The Church says “lets create morally capable individuals and communities who can handle problems on their own” without waiting for some outside entity to solve it.”
    Don’t really disagree with the above.
    Creating those very individuals is a role for the Church, the individual, the family and to a lesser degree local communities- not the large, fat behemoth federal state that encompasses multiple societies and cultures with at times differing and conflicting moral convictions. A bureaucrat from Connecticut who works in D.C. at the Department of Education ought not, should not and cannot make proper formative decisions for a kid growing up in Arizona with one parent, no matter how well intentioned.
    “Then why does every Papal encyclical on social issues constantly remind us about and implore us to build the intermediate organizations? It isn’t just a moral lecture that the Church calls us to listen to, but real ideas to be implemented in our lives.”
    Sure. But who said those organizations had to be the state’s brainchild? Such intermediate organizations should come from individuals and the private sector, where charity finds its genuine home.
    You need only look at the arguments over abortion, marriage, poverty, etc. to see what happens when people accept the state as a route to solving moral deficiencies in society.

  • I am not sure what is so unhealthy about Chicken McNuggets. I diet composed of Chicken McNuggets would be unhealthy, but so would a diet of chicken fried on the top of my stove the way my great-grandmother used to make it. The aesthetics of retail trade and associated real-estate development are distasteful and something to be addressed by policy, but it is rather de trop to refer to the local franchiseur as ‘the devil’ for selling you lunch prepared according to stereotype. I think the teachings of the Church will allow us to hold people responsible for what they stuff into their face.

  • Apologies for my lack of paragraph breaks above. Could the above be removed allowing an easier to read repost?

    *****

    “We are under no obligation to sit and wait for the self-destructive effects to culminate in disaster before we do anything. Society is an organism, not an amalgamation of individuals – preventative medicine today prevents costly and painful treatments tomorrow.”

    Nor are we under an obligation to curb productive development or hunt down economic boogee men that may or may not exist. The responsibility of the state is to ensure the integrity of the playing field in the free market by enforcing contracts and punishing fraud.

    I’d love ‘preventative medicine’ but I’m afraid you and I might disagree on what that means exactly. The American public has been suckered into that ‘medicine’ (ie regulation) time and again and yet it still did not prevent economic destruction from occurring. Had we genuinely believed in free markets none of this would be happening – yet instead we’ve bought into the collusion of government and business and have been fooled into thinking it actually protects us from an uninhibited and malicious capitalism. It does not.

    Take the Federal Reserve – a quasi-private / public institution that in essence also serves as a cartel of large banks wishing to limit competition. By arbitrarily setting interest rates under self-serving or politically motivated pretenses, “bad” behavior on the part of banks, corporations, governments and individuals is ENABLED. Had the market been allowed to determine its own price for money, much of the irresponsible choices would never have happened thanks to higher interest rates. Consumers and businesses would be forced to save and wait for better conditions to borrow funds. In other words, the very ‘preventative medicine’ you are looking for is built right into the free market system if it would only be allowed to work!

    Sadly this bogus monetary system is sold to the public as benign and regulated when in fact it is the precise opposite. The intervention into the economy, and others like it, has been the beginning, middle and end of these problems by manipulating the environment in which the free market must operate. It should come as no surprise to any one that under these conditions bad decisions, both innocent and deceptive, would occur!

    “It boarders on an idolization, if not an anthropomorphizing, of an abstract entity. “

    I don’t see the free marketers idolizing the market any more than physicists idolizing gravity. Plus, a lot of the voices that supposedly talk up the free market contradict themselves by their own actions: either going to the government for assistance (in the case of business people), or supporting interventions ( on the part of politicians).

    Additionally I’m unsure that the market is an abstract entity rather than a natural phenomenon that can be observed and studied. If anything it has been in reading about the free market and its natural modes of reward and punishment that has reinforced my awe in God’s creation.

    “Personally, I prefer cooperatives to unions – when everyone is an owner with a substantial share and say in the business, there is no class conflict. The relationship is between the firm and the community, without internal antagonisms distorting it. This serves the common good.”

    Yikes! I bet that company has the most inefficient and unproductive meetings imaginable!

    “I disagree. I believe communities have every right to decide what kind of content will be allowed in their community – a person is always free to move to another one. In my post above I cited the example of Ave Maria town. Pornography is harmful – just because something isn’t force or fraud does not mean it does not cause harm.”

    Hmm. Mixtures of yes and no on my part. Your example only works because it is on a small, local level. Taking such measures on a much larger scale across multiple communities and cultures would probably result in worse, unintended antagonism.

    The harm you speak of however is more moral and spiritual. I strongly hesitate to see the state intervene in such matters. At some point it has to be accepted that some, perhaps many, will morally fail and that maybe they should be allowed to. The state cannot make up for the inadequacies of the churches, families, friends etc. that aim to steer the human person away from the harmful paths you refer to. The monolith will not save you, will not save society and cannot force you into heaven kicking and screaming.

    “Frankly I don’t see how you can have a Catholic view of morality and spirituality if you don’t acknowledge these things. Moral and spiritual harm is real, psychological harm is real – when these things break up families and corrupt the minds of children, society is harmed, we are all harmed.”

    I don’t disagree. I just acknowledge that the state is ill suited to solve such matters interior to the human heart.

    “What I see in your thinking is what I see in many Americans…the left says “lets make a law” and the right says “let the market fix it”. The Church says “lets create morally capable individuals and communities who can handle problems on their own” without waiting for some outside entity to solve it.”

    Don’t really disagree with the above.

    Creating those very individuals is a role for the Church, the individual, the family and to a lesser degree local communities- not the large, fat behemoth federal state that encompasses multiple societies and cultures with at times differing and conflicting moral convictions. A bureaucrat from Connecticut who works in D.C. at the Department of Education ought not, should not and cannot make proper formative decisions for a kid growing up in Arizona with one parent, no matter how well intentioned.

    “Then why does every Papal encyclical on social issues constantly remind us about and implore us to build the intermediate organizations? It isn’t just a moral lecture that the Church calls us to listen to, but real ideas to be implemented in our lives.”

    Sure. But who said those organizations had to be the state’s brainchild? Such intermediate organizations should come from individuals and the private sector, where charity finds its genuine home.

    You need only look at the arguments over abortion, marriage, poverty, etc. to see what happens when people accept the state as a route to solving moral deficiencies in society.

  • Art Deco,

    I meant extended family. I really don’t know or want to speculate on why you thought you needed to correct my phrase.

    “I am not sure why you have concluded that nuclear families are ‘flimsy copies’ of extended families”

    Because they are smaller and offer less social support. It’s pretty simple.

    “or where you came by the idea that ‘extended families’ have been the primary social units in occidental civilization.”

    I came by the idea from history. At least in Mediterranean cultures in Spain, Italy, etc. extended family played a large role. In other societies, perhaps not as much – but families were still more integrated than they are today.

    “I asked you who had suggested ‘liberalism’ was properly identified with ‘Catholicism’. You were implicitly accusing someone of having done that . I asked you and your answer was you yourself. Now I am thoroughly confused.”

    I’m confused. You asked “who has identified the two” – I thought you meant, who tried to say what they were. Perhaps the word you were looking for was ‘conflate’ or ‘confused’.

    “That Mr. McClarey or persons with an affinity for the Republican Party generally can be fairly characterized as being unconcerned with the welfare of small communal groups”

    As economic units, I would say they don’t give them their due – economic liberalism undermines communities when it doesn’t destroy them. Unless Donald is a Pat Buchanan style conservative, and I don’t think he is, I’d say the economic policies he supports don’t help and often hurt local economies.

    As guardians of morality and culture, I would say they do give them their due. But it isn’t enough.

    “That Mr. McClarey et al. are composing justifications for absolute monarchy.”

    That isn’t what I argued. Social atomization leads to a Leviathan state – and it doesn’t need to be a formal monarchy, a 20th century style dictatorship will do as well – without anyone necessarily desiring it.

    What is so hard to understand about the notion that, in spite of what one intends and one wishes for, something else may result? Why does my saying x leads to y = saying those who support x, wish y?

  • Anthony,

    You’re going to have to get used to the idea that I, and a lot of other people, and most importantly, the Catholic Church, simply do not buy market orthodoxy. Not even physicists are as confident about their models as some people are in their economic ones.

    It isn’t that I ‘reject science’ – what I reject is the notion that your economists are automatically more knowledgeable than the dozens of economists I could find who say something different. Economics is a discipline that is still open to rational debate, to competing models, to different ideas. If we can’t agree to that, we can’t discuss economics. You can talk at me, and I can ignore it.

    Economic activity is moral activity. Pius XI (and every other modern Pope) has condemned the invisible hand theory from a moral point of view. Here is what Pius said, in part:

    “[T]he right ordering of economic life cannot be left to a free competition of forces. For from this source, as from a poisoned spring, have originated and spread all the errors of individualist economic teaching. Destroying through forgetfulness or ignorance the social and moral character of economic life, it held that economic life must be considered and treated as altogether free from and independent of public authority, because in the market, i.e., in the free struggle of competitors, it would have a principle of self direction which governs it much more perfectly than would the intervention of any created intellect. But free competition, while justified and certainly useful provided it is kept within certain limits, clearly cannot direct economic life” (Quadragesimo Anno 88)

    Justified and useful – within certain limits. The same applies to private property – justified, and useful, but within certain limits.

    “The American public has been suckered into that ‘medicine’ (ie regulation) time and again and yet it still did not prevent economic destruction from occurring.”

    I believe it did. I believe regulation such as Glass-Stegall was in for a reason – and that dismantling it is what accelerated the financial collapse. Alan Greenspan, the man who ran the economy while all of this was bubbling up, frankly admitted that his deregulatory philosophy was wrong.

    I suppose there are some ‘experts’ who will say that even Greenspan’s authority is no match for their model.

    “By arbitrarily setting interest rates under self-serving or politically motivated pretenses, “bad” behavior on the part of banks, corporations, governments and individuals is ENABLED.”

    I disagree that this is what causes the economic crisis. We always have a Federal Reserve. We don’t always have a crisis. We have a Federal Reserve, doing what it does with money and interest rates, through good times and bad. Does it contribute, can it contribute to the problems? Of course. But is it the only source? No.

    “Consumers and businesses would be forced to save and wait for better conditions to borrow funds. In other words, the very ‘preventative medicine’ you are looking for is built right into the free market system if it would only be allowed to work!”

    I disagree again. It only ‘works’ if people actually behave ethically and rationally. This is why I hated ‘rational choice theory’ – it makes assumptions about human nature that are profoundly wrong. In reality, you have a bunch of people consumed with the rat race, with keeping up with the Joneses, with consumerism and materialism, acting today without thinking about tomorrow. That’s the market. That’s the people who play in it. And their behavior affects me and you. Therefore society has a right to set limits on what they can do with their wealth. Regulating the financial institutions was wise; deregulating them was insane.

    “Yikes! I bet that company has the most inefficient and unproductive meetings imaginable!”

    Have you seriously never heard of the cooperative model? There’s nothing inefficient about it – people are capable of organizing things both democratically and efficiently at the local level.

    Give people a little more credit. Yes, they do things a way differently than you or most Americans would, and yes, they still manage to succeed and thrive in a competitive market.

    Now, as for the rest – you use the word “state” over and over, “state state state”. First, the state DOES have a role to play in regulating the economy. How large a role really depends on the extent of the problems we face, which are at this time, unfortunately, quite large. Secondly, the community has a role to play, and community is the word I used even where you replied with “state”.

    “But who said those organizations had to be the state’s brainchild?”

    It wasn’t me – but the state can and should play a role. Everyone needs to play a role. I have to tell you, more and more people my age are sick of these categorical rejections of ideas that seem like holdovers of the 60s and the 80s. You’re either 100% for the state or 100% against it. We don’t want to hear that, Anthony. I can’t speak for everyone but I can speak for a majority, according to the pollsters, in saying that we do not and will not share a rigid view that seeks to totally exclude the state from economic matters.

    I don’t think conservative values will survive another century if they aren’t wedded to a social and economic vision that recognizes consumerism, corporate greed, environmental destruction, vast inequalities in wealth, and above all poverty as problems that are the responsibility of everyone to solve – the state, the community, the public sector, the private sector, the family, the individual. Everyone has a role to play, and some may have a bigger role to play than you or others like you have been willing to accept. Compromise is what is needed, balance is what is needed. That is what I have found in the social teaching of the Church.

  • Alright gents,

    I’m out of here for the day. I’ll be happy to pick it up again tonight 🙂 Something to look forward to.

  • “Economic activity is moral activity.”

    And I tend to view Economics the younger of the sciences, something which can be observed and studied in a valueless way, leaning towards Mises’ study of praxeology, ie human action.

    That does not mean that economics has no moral aspects or that there are no moral dimensions to economic decisions. But before we can fully understand those moral implications its crucial we attempt to best understand the reality in which we live.

    We, as ‘created intellects’ make choices within this reality. We should be allowing nature to take its course, rewarding those that create and produce while punishing those that over-consume and do not produce. I genuinely believe that is the best course for human progress, the best means towards bettering the lot of humanity, rich and poor.

    The question Catholics face is – how do we best use our weath? How will we, as free acting individuals, choose to use the fruits of our labor to better society?

    That is a completely valid question for Catholic social teaching – but it is separate from observations of the free market.

    “Alan Greenspan, the man who ran the economy while all of this was bubbling up, frankly admitted that his deregulatory philosophy was wrong. I suppose there are some ‘experts’ who will say that even Greenspan’s authority is no match for their model.”

    No, but they will say that Greenspan was a traitor. Greenspan chucked his free market principles when he became Federal Reserve Chairman. You can’t believe in free markets and deregulation if you’re also going to believe in fiat money that can be created at will and distributed according to political conditions.

    The worst thing Greenspan ever did was that “admission” of his. He did a massive disservice to his country and to liberty.

    “I disagree that this is what causes the economic crisis. We always have a Federal Reserve. We don’t always have a crisis. We have a Federal Reserve, doing what it does with money and interest rates, through good times and bad. Does it contribute, can it contribute to the problems? Of course. But is it the only source?”

    Of course it is! None of the bad decisions could have been carried out had the money not been so easy to come by.

    Central banking causes both the boom highs and the busts. That is why we have a Fed in both good times and bad. Its just that the bubbles are illusions encourage by low interest rates, which down the road results in economic retraction once all the bad investments fall apart.

    Thats not to imply that somehow bad economic choices would not be made. Far from it! But the scale would be lessened and the shock waves easier to recover from.

    “In reality, you have a bunch of people consumed with the rat race, with keeping up with the Joneses, with consumerism and materialism, acting today without thinking about tomorrow. That’s the market. That’s the people who play in it. And their behavior affects me and you. Therefore society has a right to set limits on what they can do with their wealth. Regulating the financial institutions was wise; deregulating them was insane.”

    Your argument is a cartoon of the market realities. The ‘rat race’ you described is not true, its a distortion. Some of us in the market are there to better ourselves… to do that we work hard and try to make wise choices with the wealth we accumulate.

    The people you describe are the irresponsible ones – obsessed with ‘things’ and consumption. Yet this consumerism would be impossible to entertain if money did not come so easily. Money provided by the Federal Reserve – working under political pressures or with selfish motivations.

    This is the problem with fiat currencies. When money- false ‘wealth’- can be created from nothing the insane behavior becomes possible.

    This is why there are those that still argue for commodity standards in currency, like gold. If money is REAL and cannot be made by the wave of a magic wand out of control consumerism and ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ becomes much more difficult. Our economic choices would be made with two feet on the ground, and giving us MORE freedom to work towards a properly ordered society.

    This is a moral and NATURAL way of regulating economic activity. It helps ensure that what growth occurs is genuine, and blunts the spread over-consumption.

    “Now, as for the rest – you use the word “state” over and over, “state state state”. First, the state DOES have a role to play in regulating the economy. How large a role really depends on the extent of the problems we face, which are at this time, unfortunately, quite large. ”

    Because its the state that typical makes situations worse. The problems we face are large, but they were in part created by the state, and the collusion of big business and the state. If ‘the state’ would be so kind as to get out of the way and play its proper role (like in bankruptcy courts), society could more quickly get back on its feet. Now, thanks to government’s ever expanding hubris, companies that should die- like GM- will limp onward, taking up resources and handicapping the private sector’s search for new investments that can produce our way back into prosperity.

    “I have to tell you, more and more people my age are sick of these categorical rejections of ideas that seem like holdovers of the 60s and the 80s.”

    You and I have completely different visions of history. The 60s were all about guns and butter. We were going to save the world through war and social programs. And what did it result in? The crappy 70s, where American society had to finally pay the bills for all that foolishness. And to add insult to injury, all those well-intentioned programs didn’t relieve poverty, it entrenched it by creating a generation of people now dependent on the government. It wasn’t until the 80’s that things began to grow again…but even then there were still plenty of bad choices made within a framework of easy monetary policy that hurt the taxpayer and enriched bankers.

    I don’t know what holdover ideas your talking about, but they certainly aren’t the ones I’m talking about.

    “You’re either 100% for the state or 100% against it. We don’t want to hear that, Anthony. I can’t speak for everyone but I can speak for a majority, according to the pollsters, in saying that we do not and will not share a rigid view that seeks to totally exclude the state from economic matters.”

    A.) Who the heck is ‘We’? and b.) your ‘philosophy’ (whatever it is) is an arrogant one.

    Its not a matter of being “100%” for or against the state, its about understanding what the roles are, what the parts in the play are. Its about having the humility to see what happens when the various actors in society overstep their moral boundaries and believe themselves capable of making decisions for others.

    I just think we would be much better off if our economic lives reflected life on Earth as opposed to some obscure magical world were utopia is only a social program and printing press away.

  • I see this thread has been busy today! Good! I will have various responses and comments tomorrow when I can spend some time at the computer.

  • Ugh. When I reread my posts I find so many annoying errors. I renew my demand for an edit feature!

  • iafrate said this:

    The problem with this view is that it preserves the separation of government and the people. Anarchism, which has a strong suspicion of gov’t as well, seeks to make the people the government in the most direct way possible. It’s the only way forward.

    The problem, of course, is that unless you anticipate that all human beings will live in towns of no more than 150 or so people, the “people” will never be completely identical with the “government.” Indeed, you can’t even expect the parents at a decent-sized school to have the time or energy to make every decision about what goes on in that school (down to the purchasing of supplies); which is why they always delegate decision-making power to superintendents, principals, and the like.

    And society as a whole is immeasurably more complicated than a school — decisions have to be made about roads, garbage collection, utilities, policing, fire protection, insurance laws, alcohol sales, gun licensing, and literally thousands of other topics in every locality. There simply isn’t any way that a town of even 10,000 will be involved in making all of those decisions . . . which means that they will inevitably delegate power to some smaller group of people . . . call them “government officials.” Voila, you have a separation between the “people” and the “government.”

  • S.B. – Recognition of a tendency does not require that that tendency be reinforced and systematized.

    MM – Yes, Donald is a classic liberal. His understanding of “freedom” bears no resemblance to the Catholic understanding and his view of politics has absolutely no roots in Christianity.

  • Anthony,

    Two things.

    “Of course it is! None of the bad decisions could have been carried out had the money not been so easy to come by.”

    Who is really responsible for that, though? Credit card companies are as much to blame for people living beyond their means as the Federal Reserve, if not moreso. And though I mean no personal offense to you, relentless advertising also tempts people into trying to spend money they don’t have.

    Alan Greenspan was not a “traitor” to deregulatory ideals.

    “Mr Greenspan admitted that he was “partially” wrong in his opposition to tighter regulation, and added that he was in a state of “shocked disbelief” that shareholders were not protected.”

    http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/economics/article5003610.ece

    It’s one thing when the FR is doing things that go against your economic philosophy – when it is doing things that supposedly align with it and they fail, what then?

    Meanwhile the Community Reinvestment Act, which conservatives immediately blamed for the crisis, upon closer examination actually prevented it from being worse than it was. For 20 years that policy encouraged lenders to make safe and profitable loans to low and middle income borrowers. If anything is responsible it was the repeal of Glass-Stegall, which prevented financial institutions from engaging in risky ventures such as mortgage backed securities. It opened the floodgates for a tsunami of predatory lending practices that were subject to no regulation whatsoever. Both Greenspan and Bernanke admitted before Congress that there were financial incentives for individual, unregulated, independent lenders and brokers to engage in such practices, since their income was mainly derived from the volume and not the quality of the loans they made and then repackaged and sold upstream.

    Next,

    “A.) Who the heck is ‘We’? and b.) your ‘philosophy’ (whatever it is) is an arrogant one.”

    A is, as I clearly said, my generation – Generation “Y” or the millennial generation. I posted a link somewhere above to a study showing this generation’s view on the economy, which is nothing like yours or Donalds.

    B, my philosophy is Catholic social teaching, with which I have taken time and effort to familiarize myself. I won’t say you can’t be a Catholic and a libertarian, but I will say that I resent flippant attempts to dismiss the Church’s economic teaching as ‘unscientific’. You sound like Dawkins and Hitchens dismissing the idea that our universe is created as some backwater hick idea. It’s sterile dogmatism and we – my generation and the Church – want nothing to do with it.

  • “Yes, Donald is a classic liberal. His understanding of “freedom” bears no resemblance to the Catholic understanding and his view of politics has absolutely no roots in Christianity.”

    Rubbish Catholic Anarchist. My views on freedom are completely within the mainstream of Catholic thought of this century and the last century. Your attempt to produce a synthesis of Catholicism and Anarchism is the oddity and not my political views.

  • Best to shackle government as much as possible and to allow people the maximum possible freedom to work out private voluntary associations between themselves.

    This is “freedom from.” It’s an incomplete view of freedom, distorted by individualist liberalism. It could rightly be called Americanism, not Catholicism.

    My anarchism flows directly from Catholic social teaching. It’s the same anarchism of Servant of God Dorothy Day.

  • A is, as I clearly said, my generation – Generation “Y” or the millennial generation. I posted a link somewhere above to a study showing this generation’s view on the economy, which is nothing like yours or Donalds.

    The thing to consider there, however, Joe is that opinion is often rather more dependent on state in life than generation.

    At one time, it was insisted that the 60s and 70s generation would usher in a new and more communitarian world. That was certainly the impression many of the gave while in their 20s and early 30s. However, they’re now pretty much an establishment generation. Having and raising children tends to have a moderating effect on people — and polling has been quite consistent over the last fifteen years that the “marriage gap” is much more of a dividing line between liberal and conservative political opinions than generation.

    After all, if you start wielding the Generation Y “we”, I could always do the same. 😉

  • “At one time, it was insisted that the 60s and 70s generation would usher in a new and more communitarian world.”

    Because it didn’t happen then, doesn’t mean it can’t happen now.

    “Having and raising children tends to have a moderating effect on people — and polling has been quite consistent over the last fifteen years that the “marriage gap” is much more of a dividing line between liberal and conservative political opinions than generation.”

    I simply do not agree with this. If that were the decisive factor, we would not see broad ideological and political realignments. For better or worse, the boomers did usher in something new – it wasn’t a communitarian society, but an atomized society. First it was morally and culturally pulverized by the sexual revolution, then economically by the Reagan revolution. It was and remains “the me generation”.

    This generation is different. It confronts new challenges and new problems. No offense intended at all, but the notion that marriage and children would make people less inclined to care about changing and fixing serious problems is ludicrous to me. Indeed I agree that there is a ‘moderating effect’ – the impulse is to moderate the economy.

  • I should add, of course, that realignments may or may not be observed within a 15 year period. From a historical perspective 15 years is nothing. It may be capturing the mood of one particular generation but that doesn’t mean it has found a pattern that works across several generations.

  • Well, I think what will moderate for a lot of people is their illusions about how much can be achieved through government related activism. For most people, by the time they’ve been working away at a steady job and raising several kids for a few years, big schemes to change the whole world start to fade, and a desire to be allowed to go about the business of raising one’s family without undue interference starts to take precedence.

    That said, one of the things which I think has clearly led to more and more atomization in our society (and advocacy for government support to allow individuals with no community support to get by) is that people are marrying significantly later, having fewer kids, and more are remaining permanently (or recurrently) unmarried. As compared to the status quo sixty years and more ago when political and economic power rested squarely with stable families, this has resulted in ever increasing demands for supports and protections for those which no organically grown ones.

  • Running a business and dealing with government regulators would have turned Marx, Karl but probably Groucho too, into a conservative Republican overnight!

  • Darwin,

    Here we agree. I was just discussing this very topic with my future wife. Atomization leads to a more powerful state, not a less powerful one. Individualism is an illusion – we are social beings, and in the absence of an organic community, people will create an artificial one (see Hobbes).

    That is why the 1980s were as destructive as the 1960s, culturally.

    Your first argument is premised on the existence of an economy that supports the existence of families, however. We see that family is disintegrating – so how can it be that people will ‘settle down’? It is precisely because those stabilizing forces have been ground down by the twin doctrines of reckless individualism and overbearing statism that this new generation will have no choice but to fight for a better social order.

    That is the true significance of “Hope” and “Change” as it relates to Obama. There is a massive generational divide. I don’t even agree with Obama on some pretty important issues but I can’t work myself into a frenzy over every thing he says and does the way older conservatives sometimes do. Older conservatives grew up when the family was in a less advanced state of decay, when the culture wasn’t quite as rotten.

    When he speaks about the economy, in a philosophical way, he makes a great deal of sense to me. Because he was a community organizer, my hope is that he will use the power of his office to help communities rather than smother them. But, unlike many others, I don’t count on it.

  • I now happily return with a moment to respond to Joe.

    “Who is really responsible for that, though? Credit card companies are as much to blame for people living beyond their means as the Federal Reserve, if not moreso. And though I mean no personal offense to you, relentless advertising also tempts people into trying to spend money they don’t have.”

    Sure the credit card companies are responsible.They made a bad choice in giving credit to people who could not pay. As the former messiah-in-chief said “Wall Street got drunk.” But who gave them the alcohol? The Fed. And the Fed did just that to keep afloat wealth that was never real in the first place. Through money creation the Fed quite literally has the power to create explosive “growth” – but none of it is real, thus creating the inevitable, massive retraction we are now seeing.

    In regards to the advertising swipe, I’m going to use your own words from an earlier post: “Give people a little credit.” Are you kidding me? My profession is about as much to blame for people making bad personal choices with their money as the Church is for AIDS in Africa. I’ve art directed vodka and tequila ads – does that make me responsible for alcoholism?

    Frankly, I think people at large are cynical enough to see through advertising and distinguish between the good and the bad, the truth-tellers and the liars.

    I help brands put messages out there in the world with the goal of growing business and alerting people to products and services available. The only ethical lines I really draw regard lying and matters of faith/morals that the Church binds me to.

    I’d also add that if we’d had a sensible monetary policy much of the oh-so-tempting advertising you find destructive would be unaffordable for our clients. But thanks to their ability to get easily loans and fudge the books, they’ll spend like there’s no tomorrow rather than make the tough decisions for their brand.

    “Alan Greenspan was not a “traitor” to deregulatory ideals…

    It’s one thing when the FR is doing things that go against your economic philosophy – when it is doing things that supposedly align with it and they fail, what then?”

    I’m sorry, perhaps I didn’t make myself clear: I don’t think the Fed should even exist. The Fed is an immoral and unconstitutional defacto fourth branch of government that has little to no accountability to the people or Congress, yet its given monopoly control over our nation’s medium of exchange – the dollar.

    Alan Greenspan’s very presence as Chairman tells me he either chucked his principles long ago or foolishly believed he could tame the Fed from within. Personally I think its the former.

    If you deregulate within an economy that has fiat currency created at political whim it shouldn’t be shocking that money will immediately flow disproportionately to that sector of the economy. Then to make matters worse, once the market realizes that the whole thing is phony, society is unwilling to endure the the bitter medicine of recession because its all ‘too big to fail’. Thus all the idiots involved go to the Fed and the taxpayer hat-in-hand begging and demanding that their bad choices should be further subsidized!

    I would encourage you to support Congressman Paul’s bill H.R. 1207 to audit the Federal Reserve. It has garnered over 230 cosponsors from across the political spectrum. The people deserve to know what the Fed is doing with the nation’s currency.

    “Meanwhile the Community Reinvestment Act, which conservatives immediately blamed for the crisis, upon closer examination actually prevented it from being worse than it was.”

    This law is “part” of the problem, but is so miniscule its not worth mentioning. The very building blocks of the economy, and the attitudes they enable, are where the problems lay.

    You and I are blaming different things for the same problem. You’re saying that its the cracked wall that is to blame for the roof collapsing, and I’m saying that none of it would have happened if the house’s foundation wasn’t sinking.

    “…my generation – Generation “Y” or the millennial generation…”

    “…I won’t say you can’t be a Catholic and a libertarian, but I will say that I resent flippant attempts to dismiss the Church’s economic teaching as ‘unscientific’. You sound like Dawkins and Hitchens dismissing the idea that our universe is created as some backwater hick idea. It’s sterile dogmatism and we – my generation and the Church – want nothing to do with it.”

    Well I was born in 1979, so you’re not going to get rid of my views any time soon…

    OUR spoiled generation that spent half its time in malls maxing out credit cards on Abercrombie & Fitch shirts changes opinions at the speed of Twitter, so I wouldn’t rush to proclaim inevitable future trends just yet. When the dollar won’t purchase squat, or another war spreads it’ll be interesting to see what happens to all that “hope” and “change” that gave young people the vapors this past fall.

    You might not say I can’t be Catholic and a “libertarian” – but it sounds like you’d want to!

    Faith and reason, as our Church teaches, is never in contradiction with one another. Both are beautiful sources of knowledge that spring from a variety places. The fact that economic realities can be discovered, such as the law of scarcity, in no way strikes a blow against we Catholic’s mission of teaching and living the Gospels, or our individual moral responsibilities. What it does do, most importantly, is aid us in living our faith, by finding moral and productive means of relieving the suffering we see in society.

    The principles I allude to in my posts, that of liberty and a return to real “laissez faire” ideas are done with that very mission in mind. A society that allows risk taking, believes in honest money and trusts in the freedom to succeed and the freedom to fail does more towards helping those in need than any effort to forcibly take (ie, steal) from one group and give to another. Indeed I think it does a disservice to all of society.

    Neither is liberty contrary to the Catholic faith.

    Those of us with a strong inclination towards a philosophy of liberty aren’t opposed to the aid our society needs, just where it comes from. “We” believe that the unseeable consequences will be more damaging than the small, short term benefit. Often times our analysis might appear cold and utilitarian, but its done with intent of learning the truth so that we can best spread the “Truth”! The inaction, limited role that I desire from the state does not equal indifference, and I think thats the mistake some Catholics make when evaluating free market capitalism and libertarian political thought.

    Forced charity is not charity at all, and I will always oppose it as much as I would oppose forced faith. Material charity, like any love, must be given freely because that is where it has its greatest impact! It is in that free-giving that hearts and lives can genuinely be changed, with none of the strings that coercion brings. Using our reason to better understand material reality serves the Catholic Church by lighting the pathway towards living the faith! They work together Joe, thats what I’ve been trying to tell you!

  • That is why the 1980s were as destructive as the 1960s, culturally.

    The annual attrition rate for marriages trebled in the years running from 1967 to 1979. In the decade subsequent to that, it declined. The index crime rate increased 2.8 fold during the years running from 1960 to 1980. During the succeeding decade, it was stable. The consumption of street drugs among adolescents, a problem limited to slums prior to 1965 but rampant everywhere fifteen years later, fell by half over the years running from 1980 to 1992. The decades long slide in standardized test scores administered to secondary school students came to an end around 1983….

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On Vacation

Thursday, June 18, AD 2009

On Vacation

I’m on vacation this week with my family.  Yesterday my wife and I took the kids to Brookfield Zoo, something we have been doing since 1998 when the kids were quite young .  I hope that my three sophisticated teenagers still enjoy it and are not just humoring dear old Dad.  My wife and I certainly still love going to the zoo.  A few observations:

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5 Responses to On Vacation

  • I grew up in Berwyn, IL and frequently visited the zoo throughout my childhood. It is indeed an “only in America!” type of place. I’ll have to go back and visit one of these days!

  • Is the pic of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza?

    Good posting.

  • Yep and thanks Tito.

  • I’m not generally a fan of Picasso’s work, but his Don Quixote is one of my favorite pieces of art (I like his bullfighting scenes as well).

    When my wife and I were dating a decade ago, she and her mother and sister went to Spain for a week. She asked me if I wanted her to bring me back anything. I printed out a picture of the above work of art and told her that I wanted a t-shirt with that on it and the word “Espana” beneath it.

    She actually found exactly what I wanted and brought it back to me.

  • Don Quixote sums up nicely both the glory of Spain, seeking to accomplish the seemingly impossible and stunningly doing so more than once, and also the difficulty that Spaniards have often had throughout their history in dealing with this frame of reality.