5 Responses to Great Jesuits 1: The Ark and The Dove

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43 Responses to Common Good, Common Sense Economics

  • Is it possible that the frequency and destructiveness of hurricanes hitting Florida and the propensity for Floridians to build their houses “upon the sand” is a factor in the high cost of house insurance there?

    Just a thought.

  • ps. is house insurance REALLY a “necessity”??? Is living in Hurricane ravaged Florida when you can’t afford insurance or to rebuild out of pocket a “necessity”? Lot’s of low cost housing and jobs in Texas, come on over.

  • Unrestrained markets work really well when it comes to most products and services — if a restaurant is too pricey, you can just drive past it.

    But it’s different when we’re dealing with the things that all people must have to pursue their personal happiness in community with others.

    Those include infrastructure, healthy air, food and water….

    Don’t restaurants serve food?

  • Matt:

    You probably should get smacked for those comments. A few points:

    I’m pretty sure Texas suffers natural disasters (tornadoes, droughts, hurricanes, etc.) that you guys are quite thrilled to have the federal government and insurance companies come in and pay for. If insurance companies started preventing you from having insurance, so that you’re a disaster away from having nothing, I’m pretty sure you’d be a little upset.

    “Just move?” You say that so casually. Moving away from your home, culture, and family isn’t a joyful thing. It’s not a conservative thing either, unless you’re just pretending about all the stuff about community and family and tradition, etc.

    Every community has its dangers, but every person is born into that community. Whether it’s the blizzards in the north, earthquakes in the west, tornadoes in the midwest and texas, or hurricanes in the south people should be able to purchase insurance for their homes and possessions at a reasonable rate and have those companies treat them fairly.

    Telling them to move or live without insurance shows a lack of understanding and charity.

  • Michael Denton,

    You probably should get smacked for those comments. A few points

    just like a lefty, resorting to such behaviour when arguments fail.

    I’m pretty sure Texas suffers natural disasters (tornadoes, droughts, hurricanes, etc.) that you guys are quite thrilled to have the federal government and insurance companies come in and pay for.

    Well personally I’m generally opposed to FEMA, but I’m in favor of insurance companies paying out to those insured who have suffered losses. While we do have natural disasters, the overwhelming majority of Texans do not live in areas which are regularly inundated. Those that do wish to live upon the sand, should pay for insurance based on their risk, or pay for their own repairs.

    If insurance companies started preventing you from having insurance, so that you’re a disaster away from having nothing, I’m pretty sure you’d be a little upset.

    Insurance companies aren’t preventing anyone from doing anything. They are simply not offering services. DO you think every business should offer services to everyone regardless of the cost of doing so??? That’s absurd.

    “Just move?” You say that so casually. Moving away from your home, culture, and family isn’t a joyful thing. It’s not a conservative thing either, unless you’re just pretending about all the stuff about community and family and tradition, etc.

    I didn’t say it casually, but it must be said. If you can’t find work, or afford to live where you have been living, you MUST move to support your family, that is a MORAL obligation. It’s not the governments responsibility to make every region affordable so that you can live where you chose regardless of ability to pay. That IS conservative.

    Every community has its dangers, but every person is born into that community. Whether it’s the blizzards in the north, earthquakes in the west, tornadoes in the midwest and texas, or hurricanes in the south people should be able to purchase insurance for their homes and possessions at a reasonable rate and have those companies treat them fairly.

    Of course the companies must treat people fairly, but why do you think hurricane insurance is so expensive in Florida, and less so elsewhere? What is a “reasonable rate” for insurance? It’s the risk of loss * the amount of losses, simple as that, higher risk (such as hurricane’s in florida) means higher rates. Are you saying that people who live in the Mid-West should subsidize Floridians to be insured for losses in a hurricane?

    Telling them to move or live without insurance shows a lack of understanding and charity.

    Not in the slightest, it’s just common sense.

    ps. I’m not suggesting there aren’t legitimate gripes with how insurance companies deal with people, it’s the nature of the demands being made above that are erroneous.

  • Home insurance is essential if you want a state/nation of home owners according to how our mortgage system is set up- this is so that if catastrophe hits you don’t decimate whole neighborhoods by having destroyed homes left abandoned and rotting next door I suppose- if someone has a better idea for continuity for home owners then that might be worthy to hear about. But this post is really meant to connect up with the Pope’s encyclical, so try and keep your proposed solutions based upon something from that authoritative source.

    The exact list of what is essential to live a decent life here in America may vary- but what about the main points here?

  • Just move? You say that so casually.

    To be fair, there are those territories below sea level that most assuredly will suffer repeat disasters, where homes should never have been built in the first place.

    Is it really reasonable that billions of dollars be devoted to the rebuilding of homes, etc. in areas that will simply end up experiencing the same disasters all over again the following years?

  • just like a lefty, resorting to such behaviour when arguments fail.

    Did you just call me a lefty? If so, I am certainly not. I am proud son of the state of Louisiana, which is why i took offense to your ignorance and indifference. As it is attitudes like yours that have left many of my neighbors destitute, the adjoining neighborhoods abandoned, and the city of New Orleans struggling, allow me the indulgence of being upset.

    Well personally I’m generally opposed to FEMA, but I’m in favor of insurance companies paying out to those insured who have suffered losses. While we do have natural disasters, the overwhelming majority of Texans do not live in areas which are regularly inundated. Those that do wish to live upon the sand, should pay for insurance based on their risk, or pay for their own repairs.

    Without trying to wade into the mess of what “personally I’m generally opposed” is supposed to mean, the assertion that Texas is a utopian place immune to nature is laughable. Even not considering Houston, Galveston, and Corpus Christi which suffer from hurricane danger, Texas routinely suffers tragedy from nature.

    Insurance companies aren’t preventing anyone from doing anything. They are simply not offering services. DO you think every business should offer services to everyone regardless of the cost of doing so??? That’s absurd.

    Nonsense. You need insurance to get a mortgage; you need a mortgage to buy a house. No insurance=no mortgage=no house. If the insurance companies gouge prices, then they are most certainly forcing people to move.

    As for them offering services regardless of the cost, I’d think you’d be hard pressed to find that the insurance companies are really charging appropriate prices. After all, in the year following Rita & Katrina, the insurance companies made billions. They’re not hurting and they’re certainly making enough money to not have to raise prices they way they did.

    I didn’t say it casually, but it must be said. If you can’t find work, or afford to live where you have been living, you MUST move to support your family, that is a MORAL obligation. It’s not the governments responsibility to make every region affordable so that you can live where you chose regardless of ability to pay. That IS conservative.

    No, you sound so upset and heartbroken that families have to be torn apart and communities abandoned. Indeed, it is clear that you feel our pain.

    It is most certainly the obligation of government to preserve the community when it threatened by companies gouging prices. It is NOT conservative or Catholic to allow big corporations to become the arbiters of what is moral and to allow them free reign. It is is a legitimate use of governmental authority to step in and ensure that the insurance companies are charging appropriate rates.

    Of course the companies must treat people fairly, but why do you think hurricane insurance is so expensive in Florida, and less so elsewhere? What is a “reasonable rate” for insurance? It’s the risk of loss * the amount of losses, simple as that, higher risk (such as hurricane’s in florida) means higher rates. Are you saying that people who live in the Mid-West should subsidize Floridians to be insured for losses in a hurricane?

    I’m not saying the rates in Florida should be the same as in everywhere else. You live on the beach you have higher rates, just like if you drive more recklessly you have high rates. that’s understandable. The problem is when insurance companies are pricing out entire cities and communities. Not everyone “lives on the sand” as you fancifully put it.

    I think they should be reasonable and affordable. As far as what those rates are, I’m not an insurance adjuster, but I can tell you that a 100% hike is probably not justified, which is usually what happens after a storm. If it is, then the government should step in and make sure that they can subsidize those rates. After all, the people in Louisiana and Florida often live so close “to the sand” in order to provide oil for Texan Suburbans and shipping portals for Midwestern farmers. Louisiana gladly subsidizes other states when they have an emergency and it’s not unreasonable to expect the same kindness.

    So don’t give me this nonsense about your indignity about helping people pay for insurance or with the government making sure the prices charged are fair.

    I’m not suggesting there aren’t legitimate gripes with how insurance companies deal with people, it’s the nature of the demands being made above that are erroneous.

    Mention State farm or Allstate in any gathering space in the state of Louisiana, and you’ll understand “legitimate gripes.” For example, the insurance companies changed their mind about how high they wanted certain houses raised, so that all of sudden some people houses which originally met minimum requirements were now 2 inches too tall and were denied coverage.

    Communities and their heritage and families are more important than the profit-margins of insurance companies.

  • On the issue of home insurance, my question would be this: Tim says in his editorial that “the big insurance providers don’t truly compete against one another on price.” If this is true (and it would be interesting to hear how he knows this) the obvious question is why not? After all, presumably people would prefer to pay less on home insurance rather than more. Why doesn’t some insurance company reduce their prices and take all their competitors’ business?

    I used to live in Florida and in fact the area in which I lived was hit by a major hurricane while I was there. It was a gorgeous area and there were many beautiful houses right up against the beach. It was a nice way to live, but building so close to the water meant that the chances were greater you were going to get flooded or your house would be destroyed in a storm. If you are willing to pay for that in the form of higher premiums, I have no problem with that (and if you can’t afford to, then I’m sorry but owning beachfront property is not a human right). The problem comes when people expect others to subsidize their repairs and/or restrict the ability of insurance companies to charge them higher premiums based on their higher risk. At that point you create a situation where people in less desirable neighborhoods are effectively paying extra so that folks in good neighborhoods can keep their nice houses, which is not only unfair but also encourages more risky building.

  • “the big insurance providers don’t truly compete against one another on price.”

    I’ll only add that my actuary friends would be fascinated by this line of argument – and unemployed if it were accurate. A complaint about high housing insurance premiums is basically an argument that other people should be paying more to subsidize your residential choices; it’s nice when other people pay for stuff for you obviously, but it’s often unfair to them.

  • To be fair, there are those territories below sea level that most assuredly will suffer repeat disasters, where homes should never have been built in the first place.

    Those homes are not all the homes of the wealthy who want an ocean view, as view and Blackadder seem to suggest. Most of the homes affected are the homes of the poorer who are trying to be closer to the resources (fishing & oil) which the rest of the country depends upon.

    Is it really reasonable that billions of dollars be devoted to the rebuilding of homes, etc. in areas that will simply end up experiencing the same disasters all over again the following years?

    Unless you’d be happy to have the price of oil, fish, etc. factor in the increased cost of transportation for workers, then yes, it is. People rebuild in Tornado Alley all the time; the city of San Francisco and Los Angeles are begging to be destroyed by an earthquake, yet people only complain about New Orleans and Florida residents being selfish for wanting protection for insurance gouging.

  • Michael,

    I just don’t see the logic in committing billions of dollars to rebuilding efforts for homes built in territories below sea level since most assuredly (by nature) they’ll simply suffer the same catastrophes all over again the following year, with not only disasters wreaked on homes but lost of lives as well.

  • Unless you’d be happy to have the price of oil, fish, etc. factor in the increased cost of transportation for workers, then yes, it is…

    Is there any reason why these costs shouldn’t be factored in?

    People rebuild in Tornado Alley all the time; the city of San Francisco and Los Angeles are begging to be destroyed by an earthquake, yet people only complain about New Orleans and Florida residents being selfish for wanting protection for insurance gouging.

    So, are you suggesting that private insurance companies are acting irrationally? In other words, that they are either taking risks they shouldn’t be taking in San Francisco/LA/Tornado Alley or that they are irrationally conservative in protecting themselves from exposure in N.O. or FL? If so, it’s odd that you think you are better at predicting these things than the actuaries/etc. who do this full time. Maybe the difference is related to the actual risks involved…why do you think it isn’t?

  • With respect, earthquakes, while they do happen in places like Los Angeles and San Francisco, do not happen with such assured frequency as do those disasters wreaked in places located in territories below sea level which seem to occur almost annually, if not every other year.

  • People rebuild in Tornado Alley all the time.

    True enough. And as I said before, if people are willing to accept the costs of doing this is the form of increased premiums, I have no problem. That goes for people in Kansas and California and Texas and Florida and Louisiana and anywhere else.

  • I want to build a house on the edge of a live volcano that is currently covered with snow; I plan to build right beneath an enormous snow flurry that would turn into the world’s largest known avalanche upon the slightest disturbance. This is a very delicate operation. Unfortunately, insurance companies are so mean that they want me to pay higher rates. I demand that someone else subsidize my insurance. It’s only fair.

  • The bit about how the big home insurers don’t really compete on pricing was something that was concluded during the Florida Today sponsered forum with experts- it was the conclusion drawn by the chief investigative reporter and no one challenged it- so I used that line in my column to see if there was any denial from other sources from within the industry or elsewhere- no one wrote in or blogged in to dispute it- so I don’t know- I’m not privy to the insides of the big insurance companies any more than I am with Big Oil- but it certainly has been the case in Florida that all the majors that were here had similar rate hikes and also made a lot of money even after the hurricanes hit- and I compare this to oil companies who seem to arrive at similar prices and then also set record profits- it would seem that with all the profit margins someone would take a big price dip to gather in more customers- but it hasn’t happened- it is very hard to prove monopoly abuses, but certainly there can be many unspoken agreements to keep all the big players extremely profitable while the average consumer is left with little of no choice. In Florida we have had Citizens insurance which is the place of last resort, but the rules were drawn up that Citizens could NOT be priced lower than the private companies.

    Now I am not claiming that all areas should be developed for homes- there can certainly be discretion when deciding whether permits should be granted in the first place- or second place when homes are repeatedly hit by violent storms predictably.

    Wow- this whole blog has turned into an insurance deal- I’d like to see some application of the pope’s encyclical for my own edification- I want to reflect an authentic Catholic worldview that is my goal- so let’s not bog down into a single issue complaint that has more to do with Florida living and politics than with the bigger picture perhaps. Though I do think I hit on an issue that has many people upset and looking for the right solutions- all of us who are homeowners anyway.

  • it certainly has been the case in Florida that all the majors that were here had similar rate hikes and also made a lot of money even after the hurricanes hit- and I compare this to oil companies who seem to arrive at similar prices and then also set record profits- it would seem that with all the profit margins someone would take a big price dip to gather in more customers- but it hasn’t happened

    I don’t know much about how insurance companies operate in Florida, but the average profit on a gallon of gas is less than $.10. You’d think that if oil companies were colluding together to set prices they would set it higher than that (an alternate explanation for the similarity in prices is that there is very little to differentiate gasoline other than price, and comparing prices is fairly easy).

  • Tim:

    Sorry to have helped hijack the post; I do think what you said has a lot in common with the pope’s encyclical.

    S.B.

    You’re embarrassing yourself. Your example has nothing in common with the situation of a functioning and productive community that has existed for hundreds of years. Moving on.

    Blackadder

    True enough. And as I said before, if people are willing to accept the costs of doing this is the form of increased premiums, I have no problem. That goes for people in Kansas and California and Texas and Florida and Louisiana and anywhere else.

    Yes, but just b/c we should have increased premiums does not mean all increases are justified and all levels are justified. If tornado or earthquake rates got to the point or pricing out large sections of Tornado Alley or Los Angeles, I’d have a problem and would like to see the government step in.

    e.

    With respect, earthquakes, while they do happen in places like Los Angeles and San Francisco, do not happen with such assured frequency as do those disasters wreaked in places located in territories below sea level which seem to occur almost annually, if not every other year.

    I don’t think the frequency conceptions you have are accurate. New Orleans has been devastated by a hurricane so badly I think 3 times since 1900 (Katrina, Betsy, and what I think is the Labor Day hurricane in the 20s). That’s hardly “frequent.”

    One might argue that if global warming is created by human action, then the frequency is not the fault of location as the higher temperatures have led to higher hurricane numbers. One could also argue that the damage done has been increased the negligence of the farmers up north who allow the toxins in the fertilizer to drift down here and destroy our wetlands, which for centuries were natural barriers that minimized hurricane damages. These argues could say that the location has been made less suitable not due to the stupidity of the people of New Orleans but the actions of others.

    In short, I don’t think it’s terribly unfair for New Orleans to ask for help against price gouging from insurance hurricanes just b/c of their location.

    So, are you suggesting that private insurance companies are acting irrationally? In other words, that they are either taking risks they shouldn’t be taking in San Francisco/LA/Tornado Alley or that they are irrationally conservative in protecting themselves from exposure in N.O. or FL? If so, it’s odd that you think you are better at predicting these things than the actuaries/etc. who do this full time. Maybe the difference is related to the actual risks involved…why do you think it isn’t?

    Do I believe insurance companies are human and therefore can act irrationally and dare I say greedily? Let me think…YES!

    I mean, perhaps your actuaries are above sin but if they can figure out they can charge a much higher price and get away with it, even if it’s mostly just to increase their own wealth, then yes, I think they’ll do it.

    Companies acting greedily and needing regulation…it’s almost like I read that somewhere yesterday…something about Caritas in the title…

  • Michael — it’s just a reductio ad absurdum. The principle is the same, though, as the notion that people who choose to live in high-risk areas should have their insurance subsidized by folks elsewhere.

    For those of you calling for regulation: Are you aware of the existence of state insurance departments that already regulate rates and services quite thoroughly? For Florida, see http://www.floir.com/pcfr/is_pcpr_index.aspx and http://www.floir.com/pc/oir_pcfo_index.aspx

  • Do I believe insurance companies are human and therefore can act irrationally and dare I say greedily? Let me think…YES!

    I mean, perhaps your actuaries are above sin but if they can figure out they can charge a much higher price and get away with it, even if it’s mostly just to increase their own wealth, then yes, I think they’ll do it.

    Michael, that’s a silly distortion of my question. You are alleging insurance companies are acting irrationally: you’ve provided no evidence for this assertion, and, as far as I can tell, have no basis from which to make this determination other than you feel the premiums are too high. There are three interpretations of the fact of high premiums: 1) the insurance companies are right and you are wrong about the risk profile of the properties; 2) You are right, and they are mistaken – that N.O. is actually a wonderful haven of profit opportunity for a smart insurer who correctly evaluates the risk and prices out their competitors; 3) You are right, and the insurance companies know it; they are breaking the law, engaging in collusion, and overlooking a great opportunity for profit out of pure spite. You’ve selected option 3. Is there any particular reason why?

  • Why ascribe something to sin that might more readily be explained by probability? Just asking.

  • Michael,

    Trying not to focus on the insurance aspect here, but I wonder what you think of this. First let me say that I’m a big proponent of family and community, and of the common man being able to go about living his life. And not to seem cold hearted about the plight of those from New Orleans, but is it not a valid consideration that N.O. was an experiment that failed, that this is one part of nature that man shouldn’t try overcoming? I mean, do the people of Chernobyl have the right to demand that the region be scraped down 10 feet, the soil hauled out, and the city rebuilt? I don’t think there’s much difference, really. N.O. belongs just as much to the sea as it does the land. Perhaps society would have been better off letting her go.

    I have mixed thoughts on the matter, but i think it’s a valid consideration and if so, to what extent does the rest of society have an obligation to support it?

  • John Henry,

    Well said.

    Doesn’t option 3 seem highly unlikely given the scrutiny that state regulators place on insurance companies? If there is evidence of collusion, where is it? That’s a serious charge that requires more than “I just feel that premiums are too high.”

  • If tornado or earthquake rates got to the point or pricing out large sections of Tornado Alley or Los Angeles, I’d have a problem and would like to see the government step in.

    I’m not sure I get the logic here. Presumably you agree that there are some areas in which people just shouldn’t live because the costs of disasters that will befall people living there are too high. I would think that if the cost of insuring against such disaster in a particular place becomes prohibitively expensive for most people, that might be an indication that that place is in one of those areas.

    Do I believe insurance companies are human and therefore can act irrationally and dare I say greedily? Let me think…YES!

    There’s a difference between acting irrationally and acting greedily. Greed can’t explain why insurance companies would be undercharging people in California.

    To put it another way, my understanding is that while home insurance in Florida costs more than the national average, the cost of car insurance is not much higher than usual. Not only that, but in some cases it is the same companies selling the car and house insurance. It could be that these insurance companies are really greedy whenever they deal with house insurance but inexplicably become non-greedy when the subject turns to cars. But that seems unlikely. Another possibility is that the costs of insuring houses in Florida are just higher than average, and the higher insurance premiums are a reflection of that.

  • John Henry:

    You have no reason to assume that they are acting rationally yet you seem incredulous that I could postulate such a theory, so it’s not a distortion.

    Yet you assume that they are quite reasonable. I see I’ll have to go back and look up some numbers, but the fact is that insurance companies had lower rates and were making plenty of money in New Orleans long before Katrina. It’s the same city; the protections are even better than before. Heck, until Monday when the levee broke New Orleans was in the clear. The risk is the same, yet the prices are now sky high or inaccessible. I don’t think it’s that unreasonable to think that the insurance companies saw an excuse to do a price hike that isn’t entirely justified by need or risk.

    SB:

    It’s not a reduction ad absurdum, it’s a false analogy. As for the insurance departments, I’m well aware of them. Louisiana has a long history of commissioner department being bribed by the rational and innocent insurance companies and going to jail for it.

    Rick:

    While I appreciate your effort at being kind, there really isn’t a way to not be cold-hearted when telling someone their city should be in the sea. But I do appreciate the effort, so I’ll answer your question.

    There’s a MR-GO canal, a federal project pushed by shipping interests that ended up providing a canal right for the water to flow into New Orleans East. That is an example of man not respecting nature, as is some of the projects that have damaged the wetlands. So man’s arrogance plays a part, but that does not mean NO is a failed experiment. NO has survived the British, fires, and hurricanes before. Other cities have been rebuilt before. They have been rebuilt

    1) b/c lessons were learned to help ward off the impact of future disasters. This is true in this case. The MR-GO is being closed and filled, more effort is trying to put into wetland conservation (LA had negotiate hard to get money from LA oil revenue that the feds were taking to pay for it, speaking of things that are not LA’s fault, but that’s another issue), the levees were rebuilt, homes in flood-prone areas are being raised. The levees have been restored and we’re looking into ways to further improve them.

    2) A city, especially New Orleans, cannot be replaced. It would be a great loss to the US if New Orleans is lost. Not only does it represent a different culture from anywhere in the US (part of why it’s maltreated as opposed to say Miami, which is in an even dumber spot), it represents a valuable culture. Especially for Catholics: how many other cities point to a cathedral as its main monument? Sure, Mardi gras has gotten out of hand but there is a rich Catholic culture here, one that preserves many things that ought to be preserved. Whether it’s London, Chicago, or Los Angeles, losing a city means losing a lot. Of course, I haven’t even begun to discuss the impacts on the economy losing NO would have. From the oil fields largely serviced by headquarters in NO to the shipping from the Mississippi, etc. NO is a valuable asset. Thomas Jefferson seemed to think so, at least.

    So yeah, I don’t think it’s a given that NO belongs to the sea.

  • Blackadder:

    You’re putting me in false position. I’m not arguing that NO rates shouldn’t be higher than other places; I’m saying that they’re too high.

    As far as insurance departments, 1) we have Republicans in office who is they want higher office try to look good big-business and 2) insurance companies threaten to leave the state, in which case LA has to take over insurance coverage. Maybe I’m not conservative enough for most of you, but I’d rather State Farm than the state of Louisiana be my insurance provider.

    In all, I don’t think many of you quite comprehend the scope of what we’re talking about. We’re not talking about some beachfront homes here; look up a map of New Orleans and see how large it is. 500,000 people before Katrina in new Orleans alone; 1.3 in the metro area I believe. Moving does not mean moving a mile or two to higher ground; moving means an hour away if you’re lucky. That you guys can’t understand or even try to sympathize that is amazing for a group of so-called Catholics who claim to practice charity.

  • So the regulators are not to be trusted, then. Therefore what we need is… more regulation?

  • P.S. to Blackadder:

    There’s a difference between acting irrationally and acting greedily.

    To sin is irrational according to Catholic conceptions of reason, therefore greed is irrational and in fact in long-term situations undermines the economic good. See Caritas in Veritate for details.

  • j. christian:

    we need stronger ethics codes which oh by the way Bobby Jindal got done last year while Palin was out looking at Russia from her house.

    Besides, I didn’t ask for another layer of bureaucracy; I’m not a liberal. I just want the people to do the jobs they have now.

  • Michael,

    A couple of points.

    First, if you want people’s sympathy, I’m not sure calling them “so-called Catholics” is a good strategy.

    Second, all greed may be irrational but not all irrationality is greed. In particular, if an insurance company is undercharging people in California, that may be irrational, but it’s hard to argue it’s motivated by greed.

    Third, you say that you’re fine with people being charged higher premiums based on risk but that the rates in New Orleans are too high. Okay. But so far as I’ve seen, you’ve offered no reason for thinking that this is so. Personally I have no idea how high a premium for a house in New Orleans should be. I know nothing about the costs, probabilities, or other factors that are involved. I do know, however, that the insurance companies employ people who do know about such things, and whose job it is to calculate how much a given policy is expected to cost. I also know that, if the calculations turn out to be wrong, the insurance companies stand to lose a whole lot of money. I’m therefore inclined to think that the market rate for insurance is about what it should be absent some reason to think otherwise (greed, you’ll note, is not a reason as it should make a company more desirous of getting the calculations right, not less).

  • The insurance rates on New Orelans are a issue. Sadly too many people see the area of New Orelans as the French Quarter and notheing more. It is a major port and is large part the start of the working Coast that stretches across Louisiana. When I say working Coast I am talking the fact that much of MAerica Seafoold inhustry, transport, and oli and gas needs are met by people that have to live on it. Itr can’t be done by robots.

    Louisina folks including those in New Orleans contribute much to the Economic and National Security of the United States. I hope this problem is dealt with

  • “I just don’t see the logic in committing billions of dollars to rebuilding efforts for homes built in territories below sea level since most assuredly (by nature) they’ll simply suffer the same catastrophes all over again the following year, with not only disasters wreaked on homes but lost of lives as well.”

    Most people do not relaize this but a nice boit of New Orelans is not belwo sea level. That being said this a working Coast

    THe consern should be immediate massive intervention to save the Coast which if not is going to be a huge econolic and ecological disaster for the nation

  • Blackadder:

    First, so called Catholics is a fairly gentle term for what was going through my mind, but I shouldn’t have said it. Regardless, I do not think it is a stretch to say that the indifference towards mass amounts of people having to uproot themselves does not show a strong Catholic example

    Second, allright, let’s give you a number. http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/housing/closetohome/2007-10-29-new-orleans-housing_N.htm

    For a $175,000 home, a buyer will have to shell out $4,200 to $4,800 a year for insurance, says Lisa Heindel, an agent at Latter & Blum Realtors. Before the hurricane, the cost was about $1,200 annually.

    I believe Texas was around 1,000 for insurance.

    Maybe I’m crazy, but did the risk really triple or quadruple after the storm? Is is possible, just possible that the insurance companies took advantage of situation to make money?

    One course, one could ask if the rate changed so much and they’re right now, how they could screw up so badly before the storm? Maybe in fact, the market forces don’t quite work out all the time.

  • “After all, the people in Louisiana and Florida often live so close “to the sand” in order to provide oil for Texan Suburbans and shipping portals for Midwestern farmers. Louisiana gladly subsidizes other states when they have an emergency and it’s not unreasonable to expect the same kindness. ”

    Michael he hit ot right on the nose. FOr all the talk of environemnt Louisiana is rarely mentioned. And don’t get me started on the idiotic Corp of Engineers that drives me insane.

    Much of the flooding we can lay right at their feet. The Nation is served by things like the Intracoastal Canal which has a had side effect of tearing up the wetlands which has increased flooding. But the nations shipping sinterest still go through it while people go why do yall folks live down there

  • I’ll confess to not having followed this whole thread in detail, this having been a busy day, but the following two thoughts might be useful in regards to the discussion of homeowners insurance:

    – Speaking as a Los Angeles native: After the Northridge quake in the mid 90s, a lot of homeowners insurance companies operating in California dropped nearly all earthquake coverage and offer separate earthquake coverage at additional cost (if they offer it at all.) This means that many Californians are sitting on a potential economic time bomb.

    – As someone who deals with statistics at work all the time: the fact of the matter is that we are not nearly as good at predicting infrequent events as we think we are. Even now, with three data points in the last century, the fact of the matter is that insurance companies do not have a very good idea whether they are over or under charging for homeowners insurance in LA. They took a major bath with Katrina, and they’re hoping that they have it right now, but they really don’t know.

    – If you think about what insurance is, it’s a promise to replace a home and its contents. So insuring a 175k home is a promise to replace up to 200k in total value of house and possessions. So if it’s being priced at 4k per year, that means that the insurance company is betting they’d have to pay out roughly once every fifty years on average.

  • Somewhere out there is my lost posting! I do think this insurance discussion is a good one- it shows that there are many things to consider- the business end, the homeowner’s ability to pay for insurance, the profits of companies, the role of regulators, the development question in areas where nature is often very destructive, and the overall morality for all of those involved in these sorts of transactions, with the common good the ultimate focal point for Catholics and all people of good will.

  • “After all, the people in Louisiana and Florida often live so close “to the sand” in order to provide oil for Texan Suburbans

    What world do you live in? There is no oil or gas pipelines that flow into Texas from NO. We have plenty of oil and gas here thank you very much. Our workers live close to the cost, but mostly not on Galveston Island.

    Louisiana gladly subsidizes other states when they have an emergency and it’s not unreasonable to expect the same kindness. ”

    Yes, and, you may or may not recall it, but those Texans you’re dissin sent more of it then just about anyone else. We took the homeless in with deep generosity.

    The problem with New Orleans (and Louisiana) go way beyond being a bowl that wants to fill with water. It is deeply corrupt (though much improved of late). That’s the real reason that so many died, and so much was lost. Your mayor failed to act in evacuating his people, and so many were stranded, and all the buses destroyed. The governor failed to call in the necessary resources and grant authority to bring in the federal resources being offered. Many policeman deserted, some became looters, and not a few turned out to be not real at all, just a way for some corrupt individual to collect their paycheck.

    Before you respond. None of the corruption is by the hard workers in the oil, shipping and fishery industries, but they take some blame for continuing to put up with the problem.

    ps. who was that congressmen who had a freezer full of cash, and STILL got re-elected in LA?

  • t is deeply corrupt (though much improved of late). That’s the real reason that so many died, and so much was lost. Your mayor failed to act in evacuating his people, and so many were stranded, and all the buses destroyed. The governor failed to call in the necessary resources and grant authority to bring in the federal resources being offered. Many policeman deserted, some became looters, and not a few turned out to be not real at all, just a way for some corrupt individual to collect their paycheck.

    I would differ with you on the state of the police force (most did stay, there were a few who committed suicide, sadly). I think being abandoned in the middle of a natural disaster zone with precious few resources is a tremendously tall order, and while there were lessons learned I think most New Orleanians came away with a better view of the force overall.

    On the government side, while the buses was a terrible decision, just think about how much experience people have with evacuating entire cities. Something is bound to go wrong. Additionally, a lot of people just don’t leave. They don’t want to. They’d rather wait it out, despite warnings.

    The government should have been better, I’d agree.

    To your ps: William Jefferson, who was re-elected primarily b/c all the Republicans voted for him instead of his rabidly pro-abortion opponent. Of course, he was ousted in 2008 for Catholic Congressman Cao and his trial is happening right now I believe.

  • most did stay

    granted, and good for those who did! That, nor anything else you said disagrees with what I said.

  • For a $175,000 home, a buyer will have to shell out $4,200 to $4,800 a year for insurance, says Lisa Heindel, an agent at Latter & Blum Realtors. Before the hurricane, the cost was about $1,200 annually.

    Maybe I’m crazy, but did the risk really triple or quadruple after the storm? Is is possible, just possible that the insurance companies took advantage of situation to make money?

    Why is it hard to believe that would have gone up this much? Katrina, after all, was a fairly major event.

    Insurance companies are in the business of making money. If they aren’t constrained by things like competition or supply and demand in setting their rates, then why weren’t they charging four grand for a policy before the storm? If an insurance company could make money selling policies at a rate most people are willing and able to pay, why would they set rates at a level most people are unwilling and unable to pay? Why, in fact, would companies be refusing to write new policies in certain areas at all, regardless of price? If there motive is making money, then that doesn’t make much sense. You don’t make money by pricing all your customers out of the market. The idea that all the insurance companies would do this, and that no company would step in and offer lower rates to get these potential customers, is just implausible. Saying that the insurance companies are greedy and only care about making money makes it more implausible, not less.

  • the insurance company is betting they’d have to pay out roughly once every fifty years

    Thanks for the von Neumann-Morgenstern napkin calculation, Darwin. Very good point; this would be the “actuarially fair” zero profit premium, of course. And how many hurricanes have hit New Orleans in recorded memory? Three or four since the Louisiana purchase? Sounds like the new rates are probably closer to reality.

  • I have some differing views on the matter I suppose.

    I need food, water, and access to shelter. eating beens drinking well water and living in a shanty is sufficient to meet all of my needs. i don’t “need” electricity or a vehicle, unless I live real far from my job. and if my shanty gets blown over by a hurricane I can rebuild it out of my own pocket probably.

A Plan For Palin, A New Contract With America?

Wednesday, July 8, AD 2009

Sarah Palin

[Updates at the bottom of his post]

Governor Sarah Palin recently announced her resignation as governor of the great state of Alaska and there has been a flurry of analysis of her motives, her character, and her future plans.  Some of this analysis were sincere, others were borderline antagonistic.

This is all occurring in the midst of an Obama presidency steering both Democratic controlled chambers of Congress that have substantially increased spending and enlarged the government to the detriment of our freedoms.  Couple this with the lack of a clear Republican plan to challenge all of this, the American people are in need of a leader to guide us out of this wilderness.

I believe Governor Palin can and should play this important role.  She stated in her final address as governor of Alaska that she wants to do what’s best for her state.  If she is a person of principle and a patriot then it is logical to presume that she wants what’s best for America.  And what’s best for America right now is to have a strong and vigorous counterweight to the liberal agenda of President Obama and his enablers in the Congress.

The plan that Governor Palin should pursue is to proactively lead Americans to take back Congress as part of the pact with America.  She should do what then House Leader Newt Gingrich did in 1994 with the Republican Party’s Contract with America that gave the Republicans control of the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years.

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115 Responses to A Plan For Palin, A New Contract With America?

  • Wow, my first co-post!

  • With due respect my friends,

    I couldn’t disagree more. I do not believe Sarah Palin is a political figure that the majority of Americans outside the active conservative movement will take seriously. I know the pain of supporting such a candidate since I’m a fan of Huckabee. But I think he has a better shot than Palin at being the conservative candidate that the rest of America might listen to.

    The politics of right-wing indignation will not win an election, least of all against Obama. No matter how righteously we trumpet our causes, the only way to beat Obama is to appeal to more people than he did, not make a narrow segment of the population feel more emboldened in their isolation.

    What is needed is a candidate who can transform Cartias Veritate into a political platform and bring life issues together with economic ideas (and perhaps even more importantly, economic rhetoric) that the vast majority of Americans do not believe are completely discredited by the last 30 years.

  • Joe,

    We are advocating she lead the fight to take back Congress in 2010. Not run for president.

  • Even so, most of what I said applies.

  • Joe,

    Huckabee doesn’t have the national standing that Palin has. Nor can he draw the crowds and grab America’s attention.

    Palin isn’t running for office, she’ll be campaigning for congressional representatives and senators.

    You have valid points, but their for Huckabee’s run at the presidency, not for taking back Congress.

  • Joe Hargrave,

    I do not believe Sarah Palin is a political figure that the majority of Americans outside the active conservative movement will take seriously

    Wishful thinking don’t make it so Joe.

    The politics of right-wing indignation will not win an election, least of all against Obama. No matter how righteously we trumpet our causes, the only way to beat Obama is to appeal to more people than he did, not make a narrow segment of the population feel more emboldened in their isolation.

    Who said anything about “right-wing” indignation? That’s not the message at all. Read the link regarding Contract with America, it’s not about right-wing or indignation.

    As far as narrow? Actually 40% of Americans identify themselves as conservative, conversely, less then 25% as liberal or progressive. Besides the fact, despite the rantings of various liberal, and elitist pundits, Palin appeals very significantly to moderates. That doesn’t necessarily translate to a presidential election but it helps to overcome the massive liberal media bias which often prevents the conservative message from getting out.

    I know the pain of supporting such a candidate since I’m a fan of Huckabee. But I think he has a better shot than Palin at being the conservative candidate that the rest of America might listen to.

    Joe, I think you may have accidentally posted to the wrong thread. What Tito and I are saying is that Palin’s mission is not (or at least ought not) to run for office in 2012, but to work towards rallying the country against socialism in 2010.

    I’m a huge fan of Huckabee too, and he’s already working towards this, but he doesn’t draw, and electrify a crowd like Sarah Palin does.

    As to 2012, I’m as reticent as you about Sarah Palin. Unlike liberals, I do care about experience and so, when the field is set, I’ll support the candidate I think will do the best job, and it might not be Palin. If she did get nominated, she would have my full-throated support in any event.

  • I like Sarah Palin because she is a regular person, and she isn’t a regular politician. Cf. the YouTube of John Edwards working on getting his hair just right for an appearance, or, even worse, Barrack Obama transferring out of my alma mater because he needed a “bigger stage.” In other words, he was already planning to run for President when he was still a teenager. People like that scare me, if only because it is so clear that they are driven by personal ambition than by any concept of serving others. Those kinds of people (and they are found in both parties) are a challenge to both faith based values and to a republican (note the lower case!) form of government.

    Palin is the modern day Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. She has been snatched out of obscurity to appear on the big screen. As I said, I like the fact that she isn’t a professional, poofed up, packaged politician, who tries to make everyone think that she agrees with them. Barrack Obama has been quoted as saying that he has a “gift” of being able to do that, a gift that I find repulsive, not because of his positions, but because he finds that sort of skill to be a positive.

    But, having said that, we get poofed up pols because that’s what the public buys, unfortunately, or, at least, that’s the perception. Yes, Mitt Romney, John Edwards and Hilary Clinton failed, but Barrack Obama succeeded and the perception from the chattering classes is that is the aura that’s required.

    Some argue that the priority for processed bread politicians comes from “main stream media” and their liberal biases, but I think there’s more to it than that. Main stream media clearly did not like either Bush, for example, and they love Clinton and Obama, but all four ended up getting elected. This makes me believe that the public sees being a smooth talking politician as a minimum criteria for holding public office. The press likes to talk about maverick politicians, but they don’t get elected very often (and when they do, there’s almost always an unusual circumstance.) Perhaps you’ve seen the putdowns of Palin as “trailer trash,” not looking or acting like a “real leader.”

    So can Sarah Palin survive in national politics without becoming an ‘every hair in place’ politician? I hope she can but I fear that she doesn’t have the internal fortitude to ignore the sniping from outside the Republican base. As “Mr. Dooley” wrote over 100 years ago, “politics ain’t bean bag.” It’s a blood sport, always has been, always will be, which is one of the reasons I choose not to play myself. Perhaps she can channel Margaret Thatcher, the “green grocer’s daughter” who became Prime Minister and saved Britain from becoming Argentina. Remember how Ronald Reagan would respond to vitriol with a small smile and saying “Well, now there you go again….”

    Palin can not succeed by becoming an attack dog, even in response to what will undoubtedly be heavy personal attacks. That’s not presidential but it’s also not what the country needs.

  • “Unlike liberals, I do care about experience and so, when the field is set, I’ll support the candidate I think will do the best job, and it might not be Palin.”

    I appreciate your honest perspective.

  • Patrick Duffy,

    I agree with you 100% of what you wrote.

    The mainstream media certainly has it out for Governor Palin.

    The main point of the posting is that Governor Palin can make a significant contribution towards taking back one or both chambers of Congress and that as a lightning rod for all the open seats.

  • I know it is popular on both sides to assume the media has an political agenda (amazing how they can be so far-left and far-right, depending on who you listen to, at the same time!), and I’m sure it does. I definitely pick up a cosmopolitan upper-class liberal ‘bias’ from most reporters and anchors.

    But the media will generally treat people the way people treat it. Yes, some candidates and political figures will have to work harder than others due to the biases. But it can be done. John McCain had a great relationship with the press before he started playing the role of “angry conservative” to play to the base. Palin practically declared war on the media before the media even knew who she was at the convention.

    So its a dreadful loop, but I do believe it starts with the candidate (or figure or whoever). The right-wing base doesn’t like the press – having the press hate you gives you right-wing street cred. Will anyone deny this? Will anyone deny that the day Wolf Blitzer is gushing over your speech or your interview is the day a significant number of potential conservative voters tune out?

    The problem is that most of the country isn’t THAT conservative, Matt’s statistics aside. “Conservative” may mean any number of things (I identify more with conservatism today than I ever have in my life). I think the segement of the population that really hates the media a priori is a) not big enough to care about placating, but b) loud enough to make it seem to potential candidates that they are big enough to placate.

    So, I think cultivating a healthy relationship with the press corps and the anchors, instead of an oppositional attitude for the sake of impressing your buddies (which is what it really seems to come down to), goes a long way. McCain used to know it, Huckabee knows it, any successful politician figures it out. The first aggressive and overconfident, and then later closed-off, defensive Palin strategy with the press was absolutely disastrous. If she does want to be a serious political leader, this childish game has to end.

  • I don’t think Palin is the ticket (for Congress, President or whatever). Palin has been drawing crowds, but are they crowds drawn to her or repulsed by something? I think it is the latter.

    That is, Palin represents a rejection, primarily of the politics of Obama and, to a different degree, of John McCain. Palin breathed life in a segment that expected to be entirely ignored and was frustrated by everything it saw. Palin represented a rejection of that.

    The problem is the conservatives need more than that. Decrying socialism isn’t the answer. Something needs to be done, a vision has to be propounded (Caritas in Veritate, anybody?), and someone needs to lead FOR it, not just merely AGAINST something.

    Palin from what I’ve seen has done well capitalizing on the feelings of many Americans who don’t like what’s going on, but she has not done well in showing them a new place to go. She could, and I would be happy to see it, but for right now she’s just not what we need.

    Moreover, for her family’s sake I kinda hope she lays low for a while. Let them breathe a little bit, lest the pressure destroy it ala Jon & Kate.

  • Michael,

    I’m proposing that she help candidates win back Congress, not run for Congress.

    Assume that crowds are there because they reject something, what other politician can do that? Easy, no one but Governor Palin.

    By the way, where’s your Tiger icon ID?

  • Joe Hargrave,

    I know it is popular on both sides to assume the media has an political agenda (amazing how they can be so far-left and far-right, depending on who you listen to, at the same time!), and I’m sure it does. I definitely pick up a cosmopolitan upper-class liberal ‘bias’ from most reporters and anchors.

    But the media will generally treat people the way people treat it. Yes, some candidates and political figures will have to work harder than others due to the biases. But it can be done. John McCain had a great relationship with the press before he started playing the role of “angry conservative” to play to the base. Palin practically declared war on the media before the media even knew who she was at the convention.

    With all do respect, that’s a load of crap. First of all, you’re denying human nature. It’s clear that 90% who work in the media are self admittedly liberal. SO you suggest that they do not act in a biased fashion, unless the subject objects to their transparent lack of objectivity? That’s just not true. The media bias is deep and transparent and it doesn’t matter what the target does. Case in point Bush’s administration was never hostile towards the media and yet was subjected in latter years to massive bias.

    The press was friendly with McCain because he was seen as a moderate, his major sin was going up against Obama, and then bringing in a solid conservative to take the cake. Frankly, they didn’t really go after him anyway, they ignored him (see the coverage on his trips abroad vs Obama’s) which is far worse.

    So its a dreadful loop, but I do believe it starts with the candidate (or figure or whoever). The right-wing base doesn’t like the press – having the press hate you gives you right-wing street cred. Will anyone deny this? Will anyone deny that the day Wolf Blitzer is gushing over your speech or your interview is the day a significant number of potential conservative voters tune out?

    We conservatives like a skeptical but unbiased press. We don’t like to see them gush over anyone frankly, and if a liberal media person gushes over you it’s obvious that you have said something they like, which is probably a bad sign. For example, since Chavez likes Obama’s position on Hondura’s impeached president being returned to power, it’s probably a bad sign.

    The problem is that most of the country isn’t THAT conservative, Matt’s statistics aside. “Conservative” may mean any number of things (I identify more with conservatism today than I ever have in my life). I think the segement of the population that really hates the media a priori is a) not big enough to care about placating, but b) loud enough to make it seem to potential candidates that they are big enough to placate.

    So what? It’s not about hating or not hating the media. The only point I made about media bias is that the Palin overcomes it by getting press wherever she goes. The coverage tends to let the message out, and the vile reactions from press pundits become transparent to the conservatives and moderates.

    So, I think cultivating a healthy relationship with the press corps and the anchors, instead of an oppositional attitude for the sake of impressing your buddies (which is what it really seems to come down to), goes a long way. McCain used to know it, Huckabee knows it, any successful politician figures it out. The first aggressive and overconfident, and then later closed-off, defensive Palin strategy with the press was absolutely disastrous. If she does want to be a serious political leader, this childish game has to end.

    As I said, this is not about antagonizing the press, so much as antagonizing the Obama administration to throw them off their stride, and make their true positions more obvious. Heck, even Helen Thomas has started attacking them for their deceptive actions.

  • “As I said, this is not about antagonizing the press, so much as antagonizing the Obama administration to throw them off their stride”

    If by “this” you mean the initial post, I agree. But two other folks brought up the media angle, so I wanted to comment on that.

  • Also…

    “The media bias is deep and transparent and it doesn’t matter what the target does. Case in point Bush’s administration was never hostile towards the media and yet was subjected in latter years to massive bias.”

    Notice you say, “in latter years”. The relationship deteriorated for a number of reason, but you have to admit, so did the relationship between the Bush administration and the majority of Americans. His approval ratings were abysmal in the ‘latter years’ – why kind of press isn’t going to reflect that in some way?

    The truth is that in the beginning Bush, like McCain, got alone with the press corps. Bush knew how to tell a joke and lighten the mood. He was quite affable with reporters. But as the war dragged on and the administration became more defensive, the media pounced. This always happens – it never pays to be defensive and combative with the media.

    And, like I also acknowledged, because of the bias, some people have to work harder than others. Conservatives have to work harder than liberals. I don’t deny the bias, I don’t deny its influence, I just say, it isn’t insurmountable.

  • I will resist the temptation to point out how ridiculous Palin is, and how she really knows nothing about policy, but I do want to take you to task for the this statement “substantially increased spending and enlarged the government to the detriment of our freedoms.”

    (1) How much is spending and the deficit set to increase over the medium-term and how much is attributible to Obama’s discretionary policies as opposed to the effects of autmomatic stabilizers, cyclical changes in tax elasticities, and the dymanic effects of Bush’s 3 major deficit-enhancing measures (war, tax cuts, medicare part d)?

    (2) The single largest item in the federal government is military spending (which accounts for almost a quarter of total spending). Do you support cutting this drastically to reduce government and enhance your “freedom”?

    (3) What freedoms are you talking about exactly?

    (4) How does this notion of freedom fit with the Catholic notion of freedom which is less concerned with individual automomy and more with serving of what is good and just?

  • Tito:

    I’m proposing that she help candidates win back Congress, not run for Congress.

    I know, though I see I may have been unclear on that. I was responding more to the idea that Palin can be an effective leader for the Republican party.

    Assume that crowds are there because they reject something, what other politician can do that? Easy, no one but Governor Palin.

    True, but the point isn’t merely to draw crowds. It’s to win back the trust of the American people and to persuade people that the conservative movement, particularly the social conservative movement, is not a lost cause. I don’t think Palin can do that; indeed the media has used to her to portray the opposite, and is in fact an sign of a dying cause.

    By the way, where’s your Tiger icon ID?

    I will try to remember to do it tonight. I just hesitate to try to do wordpress while on the work computer.

  • Michael,

    I will try to remember to do it tonight. I just hesitate to try to do wordpress while on the work computer.

    You have a job? In this economy?

    sign of a dying cause

    Only time will tell on this point, but you can’t deny she is helping get out the vote.

    Let’s play on your premise that she only brings out conservatives, remember that the GOP just needs to invigorate the base to come out, not unlike Senator McCain who did nothing to inspire the faithful until he nominated Governor Palin. And her nomination pulled McCain over Obama for the first time in the polling only to drop back when the economy began showing signs of recession.

  • Morning’s Minion,

    I will resist the temptation to point out how ridiculous Palin is, and how she really knows nothing about policy,

    Awesome, thanks for demonstrating the vileness of the response from liberal/leftist/progressives.

    but I do want to take you to task for the this statement “substantially increased spending and enlarged the government to the detriment of our freedoms.”

    (1) How much is spending and the deficit set to increase over the medium-term and how much is attributible to Obama’s discretionary policies as opposed to the effects of autmomatic stabilizers, cyclical changes in tax elasticities, and the dymanic effects of Bush’s 3 major deficit-enhancing measures (war, tax cuts, medicare part d)?


    (2) The single largest item in the federal government is military spending (which accounts for almost a quarter of total spending). Do you support cutting this drastically to reduce government and enhance your “freedom”?

    No. Military spending, and foreign policy spending only infringe on our rights in so far as we have to work to pay for them. Conversely domestic programs almost always involve additional infringements on our liberties.

    (3) What freedoms are you talking about exactly?

    Freedom from government tyrany. A government that is big enough to see to all you need, is powerful enough to take all you have.

    (4) How does this notion of freedom fit with the Catholic notion of freedom which is less concerned with individual automomy and more with serving of what is good and just?

    Perfectly. If the government takes so much of my income for entitlement programs and various other waste, I am not free to give any portion of it to worthy causes, such as caring for my family, seeing to the needs of the Church and effectively aiding the poor.

    Also, the type of government influence your glorious leader is pushing is often immoral (condoms in the schools, funding of abortion etc.).

  • Joe Hargrave,

    “As I said, this is not about antagonizing the press, so much as antagonizing the Obama administration to throw them off their stride”

    If by “this” you mean the initial post, I agree. But two other folks brought up the media angle, so I wanted to comment on that.

    Which posting or comment suggests that antagonizing the press is what this is about?

    “The media bias is deep and transparent and it doesn’t matter what the target does. Case in point Bush’s administration was never hostile towards the media and yet was subjected in latter years to massive bias.”

    Notice you say, “in latter years”. The relationship deteriorated for a number of reason, but you have to admit, so did the relationship between the Bush administration and the majority of Americans. His approval ratings were abysmal in the ‘latter years’ – why kind of press isn’t going to reflect that in some way?

    The media was strongly against Bush by the time of his reelection, obviously far in advance of his popular support being severely downgraded. Either way, he never did get antagonistic towards them. Did you ever consider that the media bias was part of the reason that popular opinion turned against him?

    The truth is that in the beginning Bush, like McCain, got alone with the press corps. Bush knew how to tell a joke and lighten the mood. He was quite affable with reporters. But as the war dragged on and the administration became more defensive, the media pounced.

    No, that’s just not the case. Tony Snow was always affable with reporters, and so was Bush. They never got antagonistic (granted that Tony Snow’s successor was far less effective than he was, but it was a feeding frenzy of hatred by then).

    This always happens – it never pays to be defensive and combative with the media.

    It hasn’t hurt Obama much YET.

    And, like I also acknowledged, because of the bias, some people have to work harder than others. Conservatives have to work harder than liberals. I don’t deny the bias, I don’t deny its influence, I just say, it isn’t insurmountable.

    absolutely. A troll like Gore can get all the press he wants, but a solid conservative generally can’t get a fair shake, so we work harder… like having Palin hold rallies and address the public directly.

  • MM:

    cyclical changes in tax elasticities

    Now I feel stupid. Pray tell, oh minion, what the heck does that mean? lol.

  • With all due respect (is that still the preferred precursor to expressing strong disagreement?), I’m not sure how you can watch Palin resignation speech or the Couric interviews and think she is equipped to effectively present alternative policies. She attracts coverage, but it’s rarely favorable, and she’s actively disliked by a fairly large segment of the population. Unlike Gingrich she’s hardly a policy wonk, and I’ve never heard her articulate a new or creative policy proposal. Frankly, I am looking forward to not having to endure any more speeches like the one she gave last Friday – and, of course, I hope being out of the limelight will give her and her family some peace.

  • John Henry,

    She is disliked by a fringe of Democratic leftist and some Republican elitists.

  • John Henry,

    you’re right, she’s not a policy wonk. So what? The policies she espouses are bang on, and she has done a good job of rallying conservatives and moderates, and that’s exactly what she should do. Whether she can show an ability to be everything that is needed in a president remains to be seen, in the meantime, she can help save the nation from socialism.

  • Matt,

    While you raise some interesting points; don’t you even find it the least disconcerting that she is incapable of even thinking on her feet, which I would think would be a necessary attribute for someone serving the highest office in the land?

  • She is disliked by a fringe of Democratic leftist and some Republican elitists.

    Well, I’m not sure which I am…here’s mixed evidence for your thesis from Gallup:

    A new USA Today/Gallup poll conducted Monday night finds a core of 19% of U.S. voters who say they are “very likely” to vote for her should she run, and an additional 24% who are somewhat likely to do so, giving her a decent reservoir of potential support to build upon. However, nearly as many voters (41%) currently say they would be not at all likely to vote for her.

    I guess it’s no surprise that she’s polarizing, but 41% is a pretty high “not likely at all” rating.

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/121514/Americans-Political-Future-Palin.aspx

  • Media bias is a strange animal… Almost as strange as legal bias.

    Law school was a surprising thing to me because I did not suspect that virtually EVERY law professor is a far left leaning wack-job and that the majority of them lean far to the conservative end of the spectrum when it comes to economics and private property. This is to say that law professors, and to a lesser extent, lawyers in general, tend to be socially leftist and rightist on economics.

    I raise this point because I think the same can be said of the vast majority of the media. On the one hand, they desperately need and seek advertising dollars which prevents them from reporting on economic abuses that would push away advertisers and, on the other, they are overwhelmingly rampant social liberals so their affinity is to liberal causes such as homosexual “rights,” abortion on demand, destruction of institutions, and secularization.

    Joe, with respect, the GOP can grovel for positive attention all it wants and it will never be more than a punch-line on late-night TV. We cannot count on and should not court the media as the Dems do. Our vindication lies in actually being RIGHT about the value of traditional institutions, controlling expenses, minimizing government interference, and championing Americanism in the world.

    NOTHING sells like being right.

  • People underestimate Palin. Good. They did the same to Ronald Reagan. In 2008 John McCain dropped 11 points among white men from the totals of Bush in 2004. He dropped only 4 points among white women. The diffence was solely Palin. Without her McCain would have been lucky to crack 40%.

    As Obama’s polls continue to shrink, Palin has an opportunity if she has the stomach for the absolutely outrageous venom heaped upon her and her family by the deranged left. I am not convinced yet that she wants the office of President enough to continue to endure the type of truly despicable attacks she has been under since McCain chose her for Veep. However, with the economy tanking as badly as I think it will under Obama, I suspect Palin will be formidable if she chooses to run in 2012. She is not a conventional politician and by 2012 that is what the country will be crying out for.

  • Donald,

    Puhleeze! Palin is NO Ronald Reagan.

    Pay respect to the memory of the man — especially in our current times where his name is being soiled by the like of folks who’ve even drawn comparison between he and Obama, a Pro-abortionist fiend.

  • e., when it comes to political skills, Palin is definitely Ronald Reagan in a skirt. If she runs for political office again, at the end of the campaign we can compare notes on this point.

  • Don,

    Did you watch the resignation speech? I’ve never seen a successful national politician, let alone Reagan (or Clinton, or Obama, or either Bush) string together such a rambling mess of contradictions and ill-conceived metaphors. I’m baffled by the Reagan comparison; what am I missing?

  • Donald,

    I’ve not ever encountered an interview with Ronald Reagan being as disasterous as most conducted with Palin.

    Even in the neocon networks such as Fox, she appeared regrettably clueless, even with what seemed to me like prepared remarks by her — as it happened to be the case even in her debates, which is amongst the very things that made her appear to me as an automaton of sorts; very mechanical — hardly Reaganesque at all.

    Yet, your insistence that she actually is gives me slight pause and, strangely enough, some glimmer of hope that perhaps I may myself have somehow underestimated her.

    Still, with all the public spectacles I’ve managed to catch of her (and, believe you me, I hardly pay much attention to the MSM, spin doctors, and what have you; for example, I usually watch entire interviews/debates themselves — live, if possible), her performance often seemed deplorably subpar.

    We’ll just have to wait and see, I guess.

  • A political natural John Henry. The crowds last year that came out to see Palin were huge and easily compared with most of Obama’s crowds. Her convention speech was the best I have ever heard since Reagan, and given under the most unfavorable of circumstances. She demolished Biden, yeah I realize maybe that wasn’t too hard!, in the Veep debate last year. She has a loyal and devoted following even after a losing campaign. She draws attention like no other political figure since Reagan, with the exception of Obama. That she becomes tongue tied occasionally is of no more moment than Obama’s dependence on a teleprompter. When you are a natural at politics, as in so many areas of life, the normal rules simply do not apply.

  • Donald:

    I was born after Reagan became president, so forgive my lack of history, but did Reagan have to quit the governorship of California?

  • Donald,

    “She demolished Biden…”

    As much as I detest Biden, just which debate are you actually referring to here?

  • Matt,

    “Which posting or comment suggests that antagonizing the press is what this is about?”

    For heaven’s sake, Matt, what in my posts suggests that I made such a claim?

    “No, that’s just not the case. Tony Snow was always affable with reporters, and so was Bush.”

    Tony Snow, who came in after Fleischer and McClellan, and after things for the Bush administration had already gone sour.

    “A troll like Gore can get all the press he wants”

    The media skewered Gore in 2000, though – they kept repeating the stupid lie that he claimed he invented the Internet, when any honest person who reads the full quote sees that he only claimed a role in supporting it, which in fact he did.

    They did the same thing with McCain inventing the Blackberry, only by then, he had so many other (Palin) problems that it was irrelevant.

    And don’t forget what they did to Howard Dean either, with that scream.

  • This is becoming an amusing exchange of irrelevancies. If someone will tell me who is going to win the World Series in a few months, I would be grateful for the information. It will surely be better based than most of the verbiage about 2010 [much less 2012].

    It is interesting to read the term “trailer trash” applied to Mrs. Palin. It happens [accidentally, believe me] that I do know a fair number of reporters and “media people”, having lived in NYC for 70 years. One unmistakeable characteristic is the effort to avoid being taken for “lower class” or “suburban”.

    Becoming a member of the Century Association is taken as a summum bonum. It is astonishing how many boys from Brooklyn have made the effort to go to Harvard.

    It must surely be apparent that the puffed-up hairdo’s of the television commentators [of both sexes] bespeak an emphasis on appearances. It’s OK for women because “a woman’s hair is her glory” [St. Paul].

  • e. check out Reagan’s performance in the first debate with Mondale in 84. Reagan was a trooper but even he had an off day. However, it really didn’t matter because Reagan was a politcal natural too. Bill Clinton had the same gift. Some people are just preternaturally good at politics and I believe Palin is one of them.

  • Matt: “thanks for demonstrating the vileness of the response from liberal/leftist/progressives”

    Matt, from your answer to my questions, you are steeped in liberalism. Yours is an undiluted form of that individualist ideology so condemned by the Church in past centuries. Catholism is about unity, the inherent one-ness of the human race united in communion, and that implies we look out for the common good, not our own individual self interest. In other words, we are persons before individuals. If that’s your position, defend it, but stop pretending you are something you are not.

    On Palin — I really hope your precious Republican party nominates her. Please do — you will almost guarantee an Obama landslde. But I should not be so smug. This is no joke. Rather, it really reflects poorly on people who embrace a leader one is is no unfit for leadership, judged by temperament and (most importantly) by ability to understand the basics of policy. If this is democracy, then I’ll take monarchy, thank you very much.

  • John Henry,

    I think I may have been too “simplistic”, so don’t take any offense. You fall in the good Christian category which I believe the USA Today polling data failed to represent.

    Nonetheless, Governor Palin has “it”. She can draw crowds and fire up the base very well.

    That’s all we need from her at the least when it comes to the 2010 midterms. Believe me, she will do a very well if not exceptionally well come election time in 2010.

    I for one will enjoy anyone and the media to continue to denigrate her for lack of policy, executive, [insert here] experience while she mops up moderate and vulnerable democrats in the congressional and senatorial elections of 2010!

  • “Rather, it really reflects poorly on people who embrace a leader one is is no unfit for leadership, judged by temperament and (most importantly) by ability to understand the basics of policy.”

    I have to agree. Palin is just embarrassing. It saddens me to think that the future of life and family issues could be tied to her performance as a candidate or a party leader.

    However, if by 2012 she cleans up her act, maybe receives some coaching on how to interact with the media, stops the ridiculous attempts at being “folksy” (one wink and I’m done), displays some sort of progress on economic thinking beyond the standard, discredited, and absolutely annoying platitudes about taxes and government spending, and is able to articulate the pro-life case beyond “I would choose life”, then, we’ll see.

  • Joe, John Henry — I couldn’t agree more, as always.

    I would, however, like to advise against tossing around terms like “right-wing”, “leftist”, “elitist,” etc. It really fails to move the debate forward, but rather halts it for petty back-and-forth slanders where cheap slogan and the age-old talking points are thrown back and forth.

    Can a Catholic debate, please look different than one in the American mainstream?

    To a very particular point made, I’m neither a “Democratic leftist or a Republican elitist” and I’m no fan of Sarah Palin. I don’t think marked generalizations assist such a point.

  • Joe, I think you are failing to apply your formula for politics to the GOP.

    If I understand you correctly, you are articulating the fairly well established common wisdom of being inclusive in politics. To assume a common metaphor for this, you are suggesting that the “umbrella” of the GOP must be broad enough to invite in those who share views on social causes that are further afield than opposition to abortion and those whose economic interests embrace a robust role for government in providing for the poor and disadvantaged. (I take this from the present discussion and other posts and comments of yours that I have read. If I got it wrong, please correct me.)

    However, it is precisely for this reason that you should be happy to have Sarah Palin in the fold.

    My wife did not donate a dime or in any way work to get a candidate elected until Gov. Palin entered the race. Frankly, she was a bit “ho-hum” about even going to the polls for John McCain. It was Sarah Palin’s ability to speak plainly and to the issues that my wife truly cares about that woke her up and excited her about the 2008 race.

    If you truly believe that the GOP umbrella needs to be broader then there must be a place for the “folksy, honest” people under it.

    Oh… And Matt… Speaking of the inarticulate and snarky, have you read what you have written?

  • Matt, My apologies. I meant to tag “Morning Minion” with the last line.

  • I will speculate that the difficulty that Gov. Palin had last fall is attributable largely to her history. Only a modest minority of those who have been on national tickets in the last 70-odd years have had any history as candidates or office-holders in the realm of local politics, and those that did (e.g. Hubert Humphrey and Spiro Agnew and Harry Truman) generally hailed from metropolitan counties and had hundreds of thousands of constituents. Robert Dole cut his teeth in small town and rural politics; however, he has all but admitted his party affiliation was a function of personal ambition and he stood for election as county attorney in 1952 in lieu of setting up shop in private practice. Gov. Palin is thus nearly alone among those on national tickets in recent decades whose political education and interest concerned the sort of commonplace concretes that local officials (most particulary small town mayors) deal with. It is doubtful, given her background, that she is the sort who invests a whole mess of time in conceptual thinking about matters for which she is not palpably responsible at that moment.

    So, what you had was this woman who had a considerable measure of experience in the realms of hiring, firing, budgets, capital improvement projects, public education, the commercial fishing business, the intersection of state government and the oil business, &c. being asked questions about matters she (one suspects) had not had much occasion to think about because it was not her job to do so. Someone else might have spent their spare time cogitating (intelligently or no) on aspects of the federal tax code or the interminable wars between Israel and the Arab states; Gov. Palin’s hobbies run to hunting and sports.

    Ronald Reagan had (by the time he entered office) some serious intellectual deficiencies. While he may have been less intelligent than Gerald Ford or George Bush pere, he had an interest in political ideas and in the schema of policy that they lacked. Robert Kuttner referred to him as a ‘hedgehog’ – a man who held self-consciously to a short list of principles he knew how to apply in assessing policy. I suspect if carefully questioned, Gov. Palin would reveal herself to be unlike either Gerald Ford (a political professional who enjoyed the daily business of political life but had no well articulated convictions and little demonstrated ability to think outside of whatever box the accumulated history of policy had placed him in) or Ronald Reagan (the conviction politician): someone with a strong (if not articulated) cultural-political orientation that colors her reactions to things but also someone whose interest is very much in the tangible world around her, not in abstractions like ‘the Soviet threat’ or ‘the free market’.

    (memo to ‘e.’, when you have under your belt 21 years raising kids and 12 years running public agencies, you are not properly dismissed as a ‘pin up girl’).

  • Well, I’m not sure if anyone would deny that Sarah Palin can speak plainly and to the issues. However, personally, I do not identify with her and I don’t agree with a number of her positions. So, it is hard-pressed for me, as others, to be drawn by her presence. I think that’s the point. In fact, I would rather she lay low for a while.

    In regard to the post itself, I think there would have to be a re-establishment of credibility in regard to the “Republican message of small government, fiscal responsibility, moral values, and security to the American people.”

    It was under the Bush Administration that the government expanded and operated in a fiscally irresponsible manner. In terms of “moral values,” I’m terribly skeptical because I’m usually disturbed in regard to moral priorities or the conclusion of many ethical judgments. If anything, Gov. Sanford might stand in the way of credibility. Though, it would not be fair to project his personal problems on to the entire GOP brand. And in terms of security, I don’t have a real sense of more or less safety between the two Administrations. If anything, I’m more favorable to Obama’s approach to foreign policy, particularly regarding the Middle East, if not just for the tone of reconciliation against the “us” versus “them” mentality. But that is my personal view, of which, I am not “absolutizing.”

    So, I think that’s a hard sell, even to moderates.

  • “Ronald Reagan had (by the time he entered office) some serious intellectual deficiencies.”

    No wonder the man was virtually responsible for reshaping the face of the whole known world then, ending the Cold War, amongst many of other notable & historic feats the man is famously known for (and rightly, too).

    Don’t get me wrong; the man certainly had his failings. Still, there is nothing in Palin that even remotely resembles any of his more endearing qualities (with all due respect to Donald, of course).

  • e., I think you would be hard pressed to find a more devoted fan of Ronald Wilson Reagan than me. If there were space, his face should be carved on Mount Rushmore in my opinion. However, he often got facts wrong in his speeches. The Left made a cottage industry out of this foible. It didn’t make a dime’s worth of difference to most of the American public.

    Like Reagan Palin is hated, truly despised, by the Left in this country. (For me that is an endearing quality!) Like Reagan Palin has a large and devoted following within the rank and file of the party. Like Reagan she also has many enemies within the party leadership. Like Reagan she can draw mass crowds to her speeches as few other politicians can. Like Reagan she draws attention and excitement. She obviously needs a bit more seasoning, like Reagan did in 68 when he made an abortive attempt for the GOP nomination for President, but I think she will gain this seasoning on the campaign trail in 2010 as she becomes the de facto leader of a Republican comeback. (I think such a comeback is assured if the economy tanks into a deeper recession as I fear). Time, as it always does, will tell.

  • “However, it is precisely for this reason that you should be happy to have Sarah Palin in the fold.”

    I don’t see why. Palin mouthed the same tired old rhetoric about taxes and government spending during the campaign. She contributed nothing new or original to the American political debate. What did she do except talk tough and wink for the camera?

    All of the tough talk about taxes and government spending is absolutely toxic. I’m sick of it and the majority of Americans are sick of it. Most Americans think the rich should pay more, that progressive taxes are just, that there should be some redistribution of wealth – and absolutely reject the retarded notion that any such redistribution amounts to “socialism”.

    Personally, I put the integrity of society and the common good above any notion that we are “punishing success”. It is the collective labor of the entire world that makes wealth possible. Good ideas and good management are absolutely worthless without dedicated labor. Everyone who plays a role in making this society function should be able to live in it with dignity and comfort, even if it means a few less billionaires. And that is exactly what Pope Benedict argues in CV, when he says:

    “The world’s wealth is growing in absolute terms, but inequalities are on the increase. In rich countries, new sectors of society are succumbing to poverty and new forms of poverty are emerging. In poorer areas some groups enjoy a sort of “superdevelopment” of a wasteful and consumerist kind which forms an unacceptable contrast with the ongoing situations of dehumanizing deprivation. “The scandal of glaring inequalities” continues.(22)”

    It is an unacceptable contrast, and until Palin or some other GOP candidate says it and believes it (Huckabee doesn’t even say it as candidly as I think he should), I and millions of others will continue to tune them out. We’re done with it, see? Done with the “rich people make the world go ’round so they deserve everything”. It isn’t envy. It’s a legitimate desire for justice and fairness necessary for the functioning of an orderly society, and I thank God our Pope proclaims it from on high.

  • If someone like Obama who had zero executive experience, even less so than Governor Palin, can get elected, then the inverse is possible. Especially when Governor Palin can draw and energize the base.

    I think many of you make “some” valid points, but you’re missing the big picture. The point of the posting is to show that Governor Palin is not running for Congress but can help campaign.

    She will deliver congress to the GOP.

    And to Eric’s point of the Bush record, the Democrats in Congress had an even worse approval rating than Bush, yet they were able to win large margins in both the House and the Senate.

    Many of the arguments don’t hold water because they have been proven to be both wrong and inaccurate. The GOP can win on fiscal responsibility, small government, moral values, and security. Governor Palin needs to do what she is more than capable of doing and that is bring the base to the Polls.

  • Donald:

    I wasn’t suggesting otherwise; in fact, I actually took you to be (quite rightly) my superior better in that regard (i.e., knowledge about Reagan) than anything else (as, in the past, you’ve demonstrated to be quite the aficionado for all things American History).

    In fact, that is the very reason which gave me pause in my own conclusion about Palin.

    Although, I personally may still have reservations about the validity about such a comparison; that doesn’t negate the fact that you are far more superbly equipped to perform such comparison and, indeed, might even be correct in your assessment.

    I don’t dismiss the seemingly inescapable charisma of Palin, which speaks to the enormous crowds she seems to draw; it’s just that I still don’t think, to me, she even measures up to the large, even intimidatingly dominating figure that Reagan is to me.

  • Thank you for your gracious comment e. There will always be only one Reagan. My comparison with Palin and Reagan was only as to political skills.

  • No wonder the man was virtually responsible for reshaping the face of the whole known world then, ending the Cold War, amongst many of other notable & historic feats the man is famously known for (and rightly, too).

    Please see the memoirs of David Stockman and Donald T. Regan on the daily business of contending with Mr. Reagan’s mind, such as it was. While I would not deny Mr. Reagan made some good contingent decisions, it is hardly obvious that the collapse of morale among the political class of Soviet Russia is attributable to his works, much less his works alone. Among the skeptics on this point is Paul Hollander, who is hardly a McGovernite sentimentalist (see http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_gw?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=paul+hollander&x=0&y=0).

    Don’t get me wrong; the man certainly had his failings. Still, there is nothing in Palin that even remotely resembles any of his more endearing qualities (with all due respect to Donald, of course).

    Endearing? Affable, perhaps. I would refer you not only to Donald T. Regan (who had an axe to grind), but also to the opinions of Lyn Nofziger, who did not. Mr. Reagan built an abnormally affectionate marriage with a woman who was not the sweetest person God ever created. However, he manifested little ability or interest in building authentic friendships. Mr. Nofziger said the man was a loner at heart, and did not really need friends; Regan offered that neither Mr. Reagan nor his wife were loyal to people. The contrast with Richard Nixon, who was anything but a people person but who had a small but devoted circle of friends and whose immediate associates (Rose Mary Woods, Manolo Sanchez, Ronald Ziegler, and even Henry Kissinger in a qualified sort of way) were likewise devoted, is stark.

    Your children have minds of their own, and one ought be very careful about holding parents culpable for the sins of their offspring. That having been said, the buffoonery of all four of his children is disconcerting. How could that have happened?

  • If there were space, [Reagan’s] face should be carved on Mount Rushmore in my opinion.

    Actually, armed with a little talent and a lot of dynamite someone could easily replace Jefferson with Reagan. I’m sure Paul would be happy to take up a collection.
    😉

  • Joe… Such passion against those who disagree is unbecoming.

    You slander those of us who believe, with equal conviction, that redistribution of wealth amounts to little less than ripping the fabric of the modern world out from under it. You may believe that these supposed “rich” should be soaked and a cushion placed under society so that no one can fall too hard but there are many fewer of you than there are of us who are not so sure that Capitalism ought to be shoved under the Progressive bus.

    I am have never argued that Capitalism was a perfect system. It is simply the best economic system that the world has ever known and has delivered, over the last 400 years increasingly greater and better distributed benefits than you give it credit for doing. At its core, Capitalism requires that a person be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

    Now, if you are saying that people in the modern world universally, or at least very broadly, want the more brutish qualities of our economic system mitigated, then I am with you. However, that argument carries with it necessary discussions of government intrusiveness, utility of tax codes, and natural law fairness.

    For my part, I look continue to earn and save and invest with sincere hopes that I can acquire sufficient assets to care for my family, one day retire, and give generously through the whole. Those goals do not lend themselves well to a government that sees my earnings as unfairly acquired because I earn more than someone else.

    Furthermore, the Progressivism of which you speak is one of the most worn out and tired themes in the Western world. It is the title given to populist and utopian movements by their adherents who envision a perfect world based upon love and sharing. It is this “perfectability” that is the downfall of EVERY Progressive movement.

    It doesn’t appear that you have noticed that the Sons of Adam are a pretty sorry lot. We are base, cruel, self-centered, wretched creatures, undeserving of any of the blessings we enjoy. For these reasons, Progressive movements are ALWAYS doomed to failure.

    Only systems that acknowledge the baser realities of human kind accomplish anything at all. So it is with Capitalism which harnesses itself to the human impulse to acquire and preserve.

    I mean no disrespect but the Progressive thing is incredibly juvenile and it is astounding that generation after generation has to endure a new version of it. Time and time again mankind is invited to sign on, sacrifice, and suffer only to discover that the leaders of every one of these movements are just as greedy, mean spirited, thick headed, and self serving as any other person has ever been.

    All Progressivism gets us is a delay in human progress, a diversion from a straighter path towards a more universal prosperity.

  • G-Veg,

    My passion is for what is right and just. I don’t mind reasonable disagreement, though I’ll stand by my remark that equating all wealth redistribution with ‘socialism’ is stupid (and would make the Church a socialist institution). If I did have a problem with disagreement, I wouldn’t contribute to this blog.

    “It is simply the best economic system that the world has ever known and has delivered, over the last 400 years increasingly greater and better distributed benefits than you give it credit for doing.”

    I completely disagree. This system only is what it is because institutions both secular and religious held it to moral account. Without the intervention of the Church and secular labor movements we would have ended up with Herbert Spencer’s vision of Social Darwinism.

    “For my part, I look continue to earn and save and invest with sincere hopes that I can acquire sufficient assets to care for my family, one day retire, and give generously through the whole.”

    Do you need a billion dollars to do that? No. If you aren’t in the category of people who the Pope describes as taking part in this “superdevelopment”, in these obscene displays of wealth that generate a contrast he calls “unacceptable”, then what is the problem?

    “Furthermore, the Progressivism of which you speak is one of the most worn out and tired themes in the Western world. ”

    Did I ever use the word “Progressiveism”? I’m a distributist, not a “progressive”. I believe in wealth redistribution with the specific aim of helping people help themselves. It has nothing to do, for instance, with welfare or other forms of bureaucratic assistance. I might share the same means as “progressives” but I have a different end.

    “Only systems that acknowledge the baser realities of human kind accomplish anything at all. So it is with Capitalism which harnesses itself to the human impulse to acquire and preserve.”

    Someone tell the Pope, then. It is one thing to acknowledge “baser realities”, it is another thing to endorse an economic system that thrives on them. Part of the problem with unregulated markets is that they appeal relentlessly to man’s lower nature – to violent, sexual, exploitative instincts – instead of cultivating the higher nature. It is easier to exploit and manipulate the lower nature, to create addiction instead of fostering self-control.

    I have certainly never proposed any utopian project, but merely proposed that an already-existing model that works receive the help and support of the political establishment. Part of that means a decentralization of wealth and power.

    “All Progressivism gets us is a delay in human progress, a diversion from a straighter path towards a more universal prosperity.”

    Define “human progress”. Is it just a build up of material wealth? If so, then your perspective couldn’t be more distant from that of the Church’s. Benedict spoke at length about the moral and spiritual poverty of many in the West even in the presence of great wealth.

    Is he just blowing smoke? There is a delay in human progress alright – it comes from the apologists of concentrated wealth and power, defenders of the status quo of obscene inequalities and the subordination of every aspect of economic life to the maximization of profit. That is what holds humanity back.

  • Morning’s Minion, you are one prideful dude. Try some humility, man.

  • Joe,

    Forgive me for equating your positions with the Progressivism that is so popular in America right now. I am having a hard time differentiating between the two since I am quite familiar with the other and only passingly familiar with your views.

    Perhaps I am misreading you and, thereby, doing an injustice.

    At its core, I believe that Man’s fallen nature is a permanent and unyielding bar to perfection by other than Christ. I accept this condition as the truth at the center of the Bible.

    Since Man is utterly contemptible, no institution or other creation of Man can be enduring. The pyramids fall, the canals fill up, and the lofty thoughts of man blow away like dust in a storm.

    Nothing endures.

    I think we agree on this baseline; indeed, I don’t think one can call oneself a Christian and believe otherwise.

    On what basis then should man create?

    Forgive me for not having read the teachings of the Church as fully as I should for this discussion. I have never made a study of the encyclicals and find it quite difficult to simply complete my devotions and regular religious obligations. It is my hope that, one day, I will have the time and ability to become better acquainted with the deeper teachings of the Church.

    For now, I will simply take you at your word on what those encyclicals say since you have the credentials to assert at least some of their meanings.

    So, then, Pope Benedict XVI calls us to integrate economic systems, social responsibilities, and our faith. Very good.

    Shouldn’t we begin with reason informed by experience? After all, the Gospels call us to the optimal, not the mundane.

    Consider, for example, Christ’s response to the wealthy young man who crowed about having lived the Law throughout his life. Christ congratulated him and then told him to do one thing more; give everything up and follow Christ.

    I don’t think Jesus was telling this young man to metaphorically follow Him. I think He was telling the young man to do as Peter and James had done – drop everything and follow Christ!

    This is the optimal, the saintly, the “as close to perfect as Man can come in this life.” Nowhere in the Gospels does Christ call us to do less than the optimal so, if one is to live out the Gospels fully, nothing short of a perfect following of Him, setting aside ambitions and duties of this life, will do. We should all, if we are true followers of Christ, become religious – oh, not the kind that are prideful about having followed Him but more like Paul – fully aware of how flawed and unworthy he was and yet utterly devoted, awaiting his death with anticipation, like a bridegroom on the morning of his wedding.

    Unfortunately, I am not Paul. I am not even Thomas with his doubting nature. I am more like Judas in that I KNOW what is true but choose a darker path because it is easier and, in the short term, seems more reasonable. The bad news is I have company… a LOT of company.

    The company that I keep is a hypocritical lot. It makes oaths that it doesn’t intend to keep, it steals, swindles, lies, injures, and maligns. It is a prideful, boastful, hedonistic camp which seeks every manner of evil, while trying to appear good and right. It masks its evil in the language of the good to give it power and authority.

    I keep evil company.

    Man cannot be perfected by other than Christ and man-made institutions are ALWAYS corrupt. We create those institutions anyway because reason dictates that we must have order if we are to survive. That order is set in our baser inclinations because, at its root, that is what Man IS – base and awful.

    Basing institutions on man’s better nature has never been other than utopian. This sort of “take from the rich and give to the poor” exists only on paper. The reality is more like Animal Farm than Robin Hood.

    I, therefore, spark whenever in get a whiff of progressivism because, at its core, any institution that is set upon the “better nature of man” is set on a sand bar a mile off the beach. Call it pragmatic or jaundiced but human experience seems to bear out the truth that ONLY by letting a man keep what he produces will he continue to produce.

    The result of this uncomfortable truth is that fewer persons are hungry, homeless, ignorant, or enslaved in 2008 than in 1900. This is the product of two things and two things alone: Capitalism and Representative Democracy.

  • On a another note. Someone said something very interesting to me today. It really might not matter all that which of the well qualified Republicans run in 2012. We may win the same way Reagan did:

    Reagan vs. Carter October 28, 1980

    ask yourself, are you better off than you were four years ago? Is it easier for you to go and buy things in the stores than it was four years ago? Is there more or less unemployment in the country than there was four years ago? Is America as respected throughout the world as it was? Do you feel that our security is as safe, that we’re as strong as we were four years ago?

  • “I, therefore, spark whenever in get a whiff of progressivism because, at its core, any institution that is set upon the “better nature of man” is set on a sand bar a mile off the beach. Call it pragmatic or jaundiced but human experience seems to bear out the truth that ONLY by letting a man keep what he produces will he continue to produce.”

    Then that is an argument for wealth redistribution, since labor contributes as much to the wealth of nations as any other factor. I don’t believe in absolute equality but I do believe that there is a material minimum below which a human being’s dignity is not respected, and I think it was summed up nicely as Benedict talked about the “decent work” in CV.

    The long-term health of society, at any rate, demands that everyone contribute to its maintenance. Man can produce nothing in isolation. He can sell nothing in isolation. Man always functions as a part of society, as a part of a culture and a community. I certainly don’t believe in taking more from a person than he needs to life a comfortable and dignified existence. But I have no qualms about setting limits on what is obviously an excess beyond these conditions.

    If the future of humanity is inseparable from allowing the top 1% of Americans or the top 1% of the world to accumulate unlimited wealth, then humanity has no future. We have rule by sociopathy, a rule that says, “I will do nothing for my fellow man, for society, for the planet, unless I can live as a mortal God”. This attitude is unjustifiable and I refuse to believe that there aren’t enough good men and women, Christians, believers, and even secularists with both the intelligence and the moral sense to make the world run without holding it hostage.

    “The result of this uncomfortable truth is that fewer persons are hungry, homeless, ignorant, or enslaved in 2008 than in 1900. This is the product of two things and two things alone: Capitalism and Representative Democracy.”

    It’s the product of technological development, to be sure – but if you look at all of the societies besides America that have industrialized, the American right does not typically consider their governments to be “capitalist”. Europe, Canada, Japan, East Asia – all developed under mixed regimes that leaned far more towards government management than free enterprise for most of their formative years. Only after long periods of state-guided development did liberalization become an attractive option.

    And I repeat that even these things would not have sufficed without the moral influence of Christianity and even the pressure of revolutionary movements such as Marxism (which served as a prompt for the development of Catholic social teaching in the firt place). Capitalism on its own did not generate justice and prosperity for all. It took decades of bitter political struggles and moral condemnations to create a society that curbed the worst excesses of this system.

  • I do not take issue with the immorality of acquiring wealth. Christ was explicit in his condemnation of wealth acquisition and the early Christian adherence to “from each according to his gifts and to each according to his needs” was extolled in Acts. Further, there is intellectual resonance to the idea that, while our nature is so base and depraved as to DESERVE nothing, that we are blessed beyond our deserving calls us to be charitable with that which was freely given to us.

    This is a question of morality and it is noble and right and good.

    If Man were noble and right and good, we could craft a system of government and economics around that theme and all would be well. Unfortunately, Man is not of that mold and, that you have not taken issue with any of my characterization of his base nature or the conclusions one must reach about it, suggests we are in agreement on that point too.

    So, what we are talking about is TWO systems for Man: one that is based upon what we are called to do and one which is based upon what we are want to do.

    I will leave the “called to” to you since this is clearly the realm of the theoretical and spiritual. It informs and calls but has, in human experience, had little direct success in this world.

    The “want to do” is the realm of reason and experience.

    Contrary to your assertion above, efforts to mitigate the worst effects of Capitalism were not tied to love or charity but to rational reactions to violence, danger to the system of economics and government. We PERMITTED labor unions, not because it was “right” or “noble” – that was merely the spin put on it after the fact – but because workers threatened to bring the system of economics down through destruction of the means of production and distribution.

    In each and every case, the mitigation of capitalist excess has been the product of accomodation so as to avoid danger to the system as a whole. These accomodations are little more than mediciney cough syrup for a sore economic throat.

    This does, indeed, argue for greater distribution of wealth, but for no more than is necessary to accomodate the demand and restore the system to a fully working order. Nor is this an evaluation of “rightness,” but merely an application of reason.

    It may be that Western Capitalism is in the throes of another illness and that the sickness has reached Representative Democracy as well. We may need to mitigate the harms of Capitalism and Representative Democracy by taking on greater distribution of wealth and control over policy making. However, too much of anything is dangerous.

    Too much medicine can kill. Too much redistribution brings production to a hault and too much Democracy can lead to anarchy.

    Joe, it does not appear that we are disagreeing about the need to distribute wealth from a moral point of view. I agree with you on that score. We are disagreeing about HOW MUCH redistribution our economic system can take and still remain viable.

    Since you bring it up, our socialist allies across the pond went too far down the road of distribution and, when it killed thier economic progress, began the long march back. This is not a path we should follow since we already know where it leads. We should also be careful to recognize that the brightest minds in Socialist thought were and are European. That they couldn’t make it work is not a reflection on their lack of committment or competence but on the impossibility of the underlying system.

    Again, Man is advanced in material goods ONLY by being able to keep the benefits of his labor. Coupled with a shared control over the political system that makes and maintains law, Man is able to amass wealth with which to fulfil his obligations.

    Ask such a one to give up the benefit of that bargain and keep only what he needs and, like the wealth man before Christ, he walks away.

    Please continue to call us to the good and the right but recognize that we live in THIS world and that our imperfect nature makes that pill a hard one to swallow.

  • Matt,

    Reagan:

    “Ask yourself, are you better off than you were four years ago? Is it easier for you to go and buy things in the stores than it was four years ago? Is there more or less unemployment in the country than there was four years ago? Is America as respected throughout the world as it was? Do you feel that our security is as safe, that we’re as strong as we were four years ago?”

    The Catholic Bishops:

    Politics in this election year and beyond should be about an old idea with new power–the common good. The central question should not be, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” It should be, “How can ‘we’–all of us, especially the weak and vulnerable–be better off in the years ahead? How can we protect and promote human life and dignity? How can we pursue greater justice and peace?”

    In the face of all these challenges, we offer once again a simple image–a table.2 Who has a place at the table of life? Where is the place at the table for a million of our nation’s children who are destroyed every year before they are born? How can we secure a place at the table for the hungry and those who lack health care in our own land and around the world? Where is the place at the table for those in our world who lack the freedom to practice their faith or stand up for what they believe? How do we ensure that families in our inner cities and rural communities, in barrios in Latin America and villages in Africa and Asia have a place at the table–enough to eat, decent work and wages, education for their children, adequate health care and housing, and most of all, hope for the future?

    We remember especially the people who are now missing at the table of life–those lost in the terror of September 11, in the service of our nation, and in the bloody conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East, and Africa.

    A table is also a place where important decisions are made in our communities, nation, and world. How can the poorest people on Earth and those who are vulnerable in our land, including immigrants and those who suffer discrimination, have a real place at the tables where policies and priorities are set?

    I’m sure Reagan was getting there 🙂

  • Eric,

    if the majority of people are worse off than they were 4 years ago, they should not be foolish enough to recommend continuing on the same path. That’s what Reagan said, that’s the point. How is it good for the “common good” if most people are worse off??? It can’t be, it isn’t.

  • While left-wing media bias does exist, I worry that some conservatives use it as an excuse to dismiss any criticism, justified or not, and to stoop to the same level as those whom they criticize.

  • Elaine,

    I don’t detect that at all. Fox news had plenty of criticism for President Bush, and conservatives did not dismiss it, in fact many conservatives were deeply critical of Bush.

    On the other hand…. Yesterday President Obama out and out lied about meeting his wife at college when they met at a prestigious law firm, while she was strolling NYC with a $6000 purse… mainstream media? chirp, chirp, chirp… not a word, and that includes Fox as far as I can tell.

    In any event. Some here think that media was brought up in order to attack them, or that it’s an excuse for not getting the message out. Go back and read the post, media was only brought up as an obstacle that Sarah Palin’s high profile helps to overcome. No excuses, just a plan for going forward. I know this is tough to swallow for Palin-haters, but look at the alternative…

  • It bears repeating… I am not pushing Palin for president at this time, there are others out there that I believe would do a better job, I don’t know if this move helps her or not, I’m concerned principally with halting the advance of socialism in 2010 and will worry about 2012 once we see the ground.

  • mea culpa here, regarding the story on Michelle’s purse….she was NOT carrying a $6000 purse around NYC…

    It was in fact a clutch, and it was being carried in Russia… oh, it’s alligator and made in Italy!

    http://www.nydailynews.com/lifestyle/fashion/2009/07/09/2009-07-09_michelle_obama_flashes_expensive_taste_carries_5950_black_bag_alligator_russia_.html

  • Is Palin winkin’ at Tito and Matt personally?
    You betcha.

    And you two America lovers, remember, in a full court press and as a point guard, you have to keep your eye on the basket and pass the ball whenever necessary. Especially if the press is by the evil media, who just won’t listen to what you are clearly sayin’. Cuz these days, of course, omly dead fish go with the flow. Support the troops.

  • Matt,

    It depends on what “well off” meets and what “most” means. If the majority of America is “well off” and there are those who are living in a standard contrary to their dignity, then the “common good” has not been met. That was my only point.

  • No way, said the White House, which countered that the First Lady was carrying an $875 VBH patent leather clutch.

    $875 for a purse?

  • Maybe she’ll leave it in Ghana as a means of redistributing wealth. 😉

  • Uhhhh… guys, I hate to break it to you; but back in university, I had went with an Asian girl that purchased a purse (and practically everything else) at around that price at the Mall.

    It isn’t really all that exceptionally remarkable; at least, when it comes to high-maint. girls, that is.

  • Eric Brown,
    It depends on what “well off” meets and what “most” means. If the majority of America is “well off” and there are those who are living in a standard contrary to their dignity, then the “common good” has not been met. That was my only point.

    Who said anything about “well off”??? I said better off. If the majority is not better off than they were 4 years ago, then it almost certainly means that the common good has NOT been served.

    Given the context “most” has only one meaning Eric: It means the majority; 50%+1; more than not, etc.

  • ps. sorry for passing on the erroneous news on the “purse”… it seems funny though, that this wife of a man of the people i walking around with even an $875 purse….I guess she got her student loans paid off finally. Is an $875 purse worse than a $400 haircut, or no?

    any word on the supposed “meeting” in college before they met?

  • Matt,

    ps. sorry for passing on the erroneous news on the purse; it seems funny though, that this wife of a man of the people i walking around with even an $875 purse;.I guess she got her student loans paid off finally.

    1. Where bad journalism often report erroneous facts at almost a regular basis; at the very least, you’ve acknowledged your error rather than avoiding such admission.

    2. Kindly take a course that will somehow remedy your penchant for grammatical infelicities, as I had no clue whatsoever at what you were attempting to express in your above comment, my friend. ;^)

  • Matt,

    If consistently the same, lets say, 51% of the country asks itself: am I better off? And the answer is repeatedly ‘yes,’ and for the other 49% it is repeatedly ‘no’ — and that bottom 49% includes much of the middle class and the poor, then the questions the Bishops ask Catholics to think of are more than relevant.

    My point was, someone can ask the “I” question and get one answer that doesn’t *necessarily* square them on voting for a political entity that might best serve the common good. That’s why I would not rather everyone individually ask the “I” question but rather look at society comprehensively and actually be willing not to seize the opportunity to be “better off” if it as the expense of going before and progressing ahead of those being crushed at the margins of society.

    In other words, I think the question can be — not is, but can be — a selfish question. Hence, I liked the Bishops’ approach better.

  • e.,

    kindly take a course in skydiving.

    Eric,

    f consistently the same, lets say, 51% of the country asks itself: am I better off? And the answer is repeatedly ‘yes,’ and for the other 49% it is repeatedly ‘no’ — and that bottom 49% includes much of the middle class and the poor, then the questions the Bishops ask Catholics to think of are more than relevant.

    Yes, in your bizarro world theoretical example, it would not be the common good, but reality is that this would never be the case, at least not the one we’re addressing. Bad economies ultimately hurt the poor disproportionately worse than the “well off”.

    in other words, I think the question can be — not is, but can be — a selfish question. Hence, I liked the Bishops’ approach better.

    I was not proposing that good Catholics need to have the “am I better off than I was 4 years ago speech”. Good Catholics NEVER vote for rabid pro-abortionists like President Obama, the “am I better off” is directed at those who vote based on some other value system.

    In any event the USCCB approach is designed to not say anything so as to leave open the possibility of supporting the rabid pro-abortionist, President Obama.

  • Matt,

    Why are you such an abrasive person to dialogue with? Can you not find charitable terms or craft sentences using diction that is not condescending, or at least, can be perceived that way?

    In the first sentence, you could have made the same point leaving out “bizarro world.”

    I understand the effects of bad economies on the poor and vulnerable.

    Secondly, I have no idea where I was endorsing the “voting for rabid pro-abortionists like President Obama.”

    It was unclear to me that the “am I better off” is directed at “some other value system” because I thought you were giving credit to the words of Reagan, which I thought you were identifying as a valuable insight. Correct me, if I’m wrong.

    Moreover, we disagree on the USCCB. We’ll leave it at that. The problem is not the text, it is catechesis. I, again, fail to see how President Obama fits into this discussion.

    Though, I’d really prefer it that you dialogue with me differently or just not reply. Thank you.

  • Matt:

    e. – kindly take a course in skydiving.

    So long as you don’t deprive me of my parachute.

    Eric:

    “bizarro world”

    Actually, not to add to whatever lingering antagonism you might yourself be experiencing; however, your example even to me appeared something of the “bizarro world” as well — especially considering the stats you provided (51% vs. 49%) where even a real world standard error of +/-3% would have rendered them essentially equal.

  • My point in using the numbers had nothing to do with statistics or raw data. It was merely the point that the “common good” was not achieved directly in answering the question — of how “well off am I?” My problem was that this orientation is toward personal success and does not immediately put at the forefront of one’s consciousness, the common good. Wherein fact, one’s material and financial success — becoming more well off — could be at the expense of those less fortunate. I would not seek to move ahead and be more “well off” than I was four years ago if that were the case. I would rather prioritize helping those crushing at the margins of society rise up first. I didn’t think the question adequately addressed the problem or was the first question one should ask before voting.

    And that the “common good” could not have be said to have been met even if the slimmest majority (51-49) were more “well off” than they were four years ago. Thus, I wanted to re-emphasize, the universality of the common good and indicate — whether Matt argued it or not — that it is not merely the status of the majority. So, perhaps, that clears up the misunderstanding. I can admit that the example might not have served my point greatly. Thank you for good constructive criticism.

    However, I don’t think it really makes me more tolerable of the way Matt talks to people on this blog.

  • Eric,

    aren’t you really just the pot calling the kettle black? I mean honestly, look at your own log first.

  • Speaking of media bias. Yesterday a supreme court justice made a stunning revelation of belief that Roe could be used as a means of eugenic abortion against populations that we “don’t want to have too many of”. The mainstream media response? Chirp, chirp, chirp…

    Was it that evil right wing nasty Scalia? or the non-black Clarence Thomas? Nope, if it was one of them you can be assured it would be the lead story on all networks, and front page of all papers.

    Justice Ginsberg originally thought Roe v Wade was about control of undesirable populations

    Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.

  • Peggy Noonon on Ms. Palin:

    In television interviews she was out of her depth in a shallow pool. She was limited in her ability to explain and defend her positions, and sometimes in knowing them. She couldn’t say what she read because she didn’t read anything. She was utterly unconcerned by all this and seemed in fact rather proud of it: It was evidence of her authenticity. She experienced criticism as both partisan and cruel because she could see no truth in any of it. She wasn’t thoughtful enough to know she wasn’t thoughtful enough. Her presentation up to the end has been scattered, illogical, manipulative and self-referential to the point of self-reverence. “I’m not wired that way,” “I’m not a quitter,” “I’m standing up for our values.” I’m, I’m, I’m.

  • Peggy Noonan has proven herself to be a conservative elitist. She generally has made herself begin falling further into irrelevancy.

  • It seems to me that there are several elements in this discussion which are being overlooked.
    Now the purpose of charity is not to help the poor [who will always be with us]. The chief purpose is to help ourselves get into heaven. We must above all learn to share personally, as our mothers taught us when we quite small.
    Government largess is merely taking from us willy nilly to distribute at the whim of a bureaucrat [including the USCCB bureaucracy]. The danger in this was noted by Chesterton some 80 years ago: it was maintaining people on the dole with cinemas to keep them happy. Bread and circuses it was called by the Romans, trying to placate the mobs. It is curious how this human trait surfaces regularly. Consider the football hoodlums in England, who are mostly on the dole.

  • If elitism now means only the hope for semi-coherent explanations and remotely credible narratives, then its stature sure has fallen of late.

  • Beyond the Palin: Why the GOP is falling out of love with gun-toting, churchgoing, working-class whites.

    http://www.newsweek.com/id/206098

    The conservative opinion elite is divided—irreconcilably so—about Sarah Palin’s decision to quit the Alaska governorship. One faction says good riddance: The Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer had already judged her unfit for national office 24 hours before her announcement, and The New York Times’s Ross Douthat now refers to her “brief sojourn on the national stage” in the past tense. On the other side, the Post’s William Kristol called Palin’s quitting a “high-risk move” designed to catapult her to greater public prominence. Taking the longer view, though, the clash is symptomatic of the deepest strategic debate in Republican circles since the disciples of the Reagan revolution captured Congress in 1994.

    For decades it has remained a Republican article of faith: white, lower-middle-class, “heartland” masses, fundamentally socially conservative, were an inexhaustible electoral resource. So much so that Bill Clinton made re-earning their trust—he called them the Americans who “worked hard and played by the rules”—the central challenge in rebuilding Democratic fortunes in the 1990s. And in 2008 the somewhat aristocratic John McCain seemed to regard bringing these folks back into the Republican fold so imperative that he was moved to make the election’s most exciting strategic move: drafting churchgoing, gun-toting unknown Sarah Palin onto the GOP ticket.

    But beneath the surface, some Republicans have been chafing at the ideological wages of right-wing populism. In intel-lectual circles, writers like David Brooks and Richard Brookhiser have argued for a conservatism inspired by Alexander Hamilton, the least democratic of the Founding Fathers, over one spiritually rooted in Thomas Jefferson, the most democratic. After Barack Obama’s victory, you heard thinkers like author and federal judge Richard Posner lamenting on his blog that “the face of the Republican Party had become Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber. Conservative intellectuals had no party.”

  • “[R]ight wing populism” – heh.

    Yep… I ges we is all figur’d out now. We jus caint think as good as all them smurt folks in thu R’publican Party. We shuld probly jus go out an shoot aselves.

    What a load of crap!!! Like there would even BE a GOP representative in office of the “rank-and-file” Republicans stayed home on election day. Give me a break!

    What moron wants social conservatives who believe in the 2nd Amendment and the fundamental duty to work and defend their country to leave the party? Surely the supposed intellectuals to which the article alludes make up a miniscule percentage of the GOP strategists.

    Frankly, this sounds like more media nonsense; unresearched speculation, put into the information stream to fill space until the next big story.

  • Without social conservatives the GOP would be lucky to elect 50 members of the House of Representatives. They are not a wing of the party, they are the core of the party. Of course many social conservatives are also economic conservatives and advocates of a strong national defense. I certainly fit in this category. The people interviewed by Newsweek for this type of bilge are the same sort of “leaders” who have zero involvement with the Republican party. Attending a local meeting of the Republican party in most of the nation would be an eye-opening experience for them. At the grass roots level social conservatives easily make up 60-70 percent of local Republican chairmen and women, precinct committee heads, etc.

  • Matt,

    I never judged you as a person. I judged an action. I’ll gladly do an examination of conscience, if you’ll join me in it.

  • I believe that not enough attention has been given to the idea of conservative. I do not mean the intellectual toy represented by writers. I mean the simple fact that most people will, of necessity, be conservative.

    If you own a house, do you want someone to redraw the boundaries regularly? Do you not want schools where children can learn the basics? Do we not want streets properly maintained?

    I was surprised that Mr. Obama was not elected by a larger margin. The most serious argument for his election was, I believe, the simple “throw the bums out”. They have made a mess. He can’t be any worse.

    I have also heard the oft-repeated “most catholics” voted for Mr. Obama. I think the most in “most catholics” had to do with the marriage vow, and what we may call the rules spelled out in Humanae Vitae. Perhaps one had to be there to recognize the shock that the Holy Father caused by disallowing the pill. The “most catholics” wanted the benefits of the pill, which if does not work leads to abortion. Recognizing what “most catholics” wanted, the bishops pulled back. They blew it. Msgr. George Kelly described this cowardice very clearly.
    “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” (I Corinthians 14:8].

  • Gabriel,

    I am interested in your point but I am not sure that I understand.

    Could you delve into two points more fully?

    1. Are you suggesting that “conservative” means something quite basic that most Americans would sign onto but that has been stated too obliquely or are you saying that there are two concepts of “conservative,” one that is tied to the preservation of one’s position and one that is the rallying cry of the GOP?

    2. Are you saying that American Catholics rejected papal authority as early as the 1960s because of birth control?

  • “It’s apparent that President Obama is thin skinned and narcissistic…

    Should not you say this instead about the woman who cried daily about criticism and quit as a result?

  • Do you have a precise quotation in mind, Mark DeFrancisis?

    I watched her speech and she made mention of the staff time that went in to filling Freedom of Information requests, the legal bills she and her husband now have to pay, and, in one sentence, that her older children did not care for the ridicule of her youngest son. She also said her family preferred she do something else and she herself was of the view that the task was not properly handled by her anymore. All of this was delivered quite briefly and amiably enough; the speech was 19 minutes long and consisted mostly of boosterish cotton candy. How does this disposition qualify as ‘narcissistic’? (Presuming you do not understand ‘narcissism’ to mean a deficit of concision).

  • G-Veg Says Friday, July 10, 2009 A.D. at 4:40 pm
    “Gabriel,
    I am interested in your point but I am not sure that I understand.
    Could you delve into two points more fully?

    “1. Are you suggesting that “conservative” means something quite basic that most Americans would sign onto but that has been stated too obliquely …

    Consider the facts of daily routine. Would not [do not] most people prefer that things do not change continuously, but that most [almost all] things remain the same so that we may plan our lives.

    “or are you saying that there are two concepts of conservative,” one that is tied to the preservation of one’s position and one that is the rallying cry of the GOP?”

    I disbelieve that the GOP as a party worries much about the basic concerns of people. The makers and breakers are too far removed from these concerns. Until recently, such preserves as the Detroit of General Motors were Republican territory. Now the failing companies are failing, and the big money is going to the Democratic Party; which has largely rewarded the money mavens.

    “2. Are you saying that American Catholics rejected papal authority as early as the 1960s because of birth control?”

    Absolutely. Consider the difference in tone between Garry Wills’ two books: POLITICS AND CATHOLIC FREEDOM [1964] and BARE RUINED CHOIRS [1972]. Have a look at Msgr. George Kelly’s various books. He lays the blame at the doorstep of the bishops, who were too pusillanimous to insist on the truth of HUMANAE VITAE which chiefly echoed the previous encyclicals of Pius XI and Pius XII. It was the cause of the great sea change in Catholicism in the U.S.

  • This is perhaps not the string to bring up the matter of immigration, but might we discuss that? I confess – son of an immigrant – that I have no solutions, nor even clear ideas. I abominate what I understand to be the general Republican position [quietly shared by many Democrats] of keep ’em out.
    I recall that FDR once addressed a meeting of the DAR “Fellow immigrants…”.
    And with the discussion of the economy, perhaps one could recall that many of the New Deal programs were the suggestions of Herbert Hoover, who had been so successful in preventing mass starvation in Europe after the 1914;18 War. FDR kept the country in depression with his tight money policies in 1937.

  • Gabriel,

    are you referring to foreigners entering the country illegally (or violating the terms of their entry), or legal immigration? Those are two separate issues. For the most part Republicans are in favor of enforcing the laws on the books. Most Republicans are in favor of allowing immigration through legal channels. On the other hand most believe, legal immigration must be curtailed due to the vast number who are here illegally. Immigration limits are based on the job market and ability to assimilate, which is greatly affected by illegals.

  • I think there is a well publicized cadre of persons who hold the “keep em out” view. This, I think, is a pretty small group but the media LOVES the xenophobe, the racist, the anti-semite, etc. so they get press out of keeping with their numbers. it doesn’t hurt that xenophobia fits into the myth of “nativist, right-wing, militia.”

    There are, as Mr. McDonald states, at least two separate issues and we conflate them at the cost of confusion and paralysis. The number of persons admitted lawfully and the ease of that admission to permanent residence is a separate issue from “what to do with those who are present without lawful status.”

    As to the first, there are fair questions as to how many visas should be granted in each category, whether those awaiting visas should be permitted to enter the United States as a sort of “temporary permanent resident,” whether the Diversity Lottery Program should continue or not, what to do with the fraud in Asylum and Refugee programs, and whether the immigration reforms of 1996 rendered too many persons deportable for criminal offenses. (There are many more issues than I listed here.) The key here is that there is a LOT of room for political compromise because the data is easily available and there is a lot of common ground between immigration advocates and those who favor strict immigration enforcement.

    Far less agreement is possible on the issue of those present in the US in violation of law.

    There are lots of issues that would have to be covered in any fair analysis but I would like to concentrate on two of the most problematic:

    1. How many persons are unlawfully present? I would suggest that the 12 million number that is thrown about is utterly invalid. This number may not be knowable with certainty but a review of the statistics and models set forth by immigration advocates and the government through the Office of Immigration Statistics reveals the significant lack of information on which all sides of the debate hang their hats. We need information and it is nothing short of dereliction of duty on the part of Congress over the last 20 years that no meaningful studies have been budgeted for and no significant hearings have been held to determine this number. It matters because, for any policy to be effective, it must be aligned to its purpose and whether there are 6, 12, or 30 million persons whose status needs to be regularized, makes a big difference.

    2. Simple is better and none of the proposals have sufficient simplicity that those affected can determine whether or not they qualify without legal aid. The more complicated the plan, the less likely it is to be effectively and fairly administered. So too, complex plans invite fraud.

    The short of it is that this is an incredibly complicated issue and, while I appreciate and share the Church’s desire for justice and fairness, both sides of the debate engage in outright lies and manipulations to create fear and anger in hopes of driving the politics. Meanwhile, Congress has done absolutely nothing to determine the true situation or inform the public.

    For these reasons, and many others, I favor doing nothing. The system is not so broken that it cannot wait for the kind of up-front work that leads to good policy.

  • Update:
    Palin’s audacity of the unconventional
    But whereas pundits have now almost uniformly written her off, 70% in a new USA Today/Gallup poll say Palin’s resignation has “no effect” on their opinion of her. Of the remainder, 9 percent say they now see her “more favorably” and 17 percent “less favorably.”

    Moreover, in the same poll, 43 percent (and 72 percent of Republicans) say they would at least “somewhat likely” vote for her if she runs in 2012.

  • G-veg,

    I largely agree with your For these reasons, and many others, I favor doing nothing. The system is not so broken that it cannot wait for the kind of up-front work that leads to good policy.

    Can you clarify what you mean by “doing nothing”?

    In my mind it is absolutely critical that the porous border be resolved, this is not a reform, but simply enforcing the existing laws. Continuing the moderate expansion of interior enforcement seems like the right thing to do as well, especially focused on lawbreakers, and that includes employers who hire foreigners illegally. No mass deportations should be pursued as that would not be good for anybody. As it is now, each deportation from the interior should be judged on the specific situation, those caught at or near the border should continue to be expedited.

  • Matt McDonald Says Sunday, July 12, 2009 A.D. at 2:53
    “Gabriel,
    are you referring to foreigners entering the country illegally (or violating the terms of their entry), or legal immigration? Those are two separate issues. For the most part Republicans are in favor of enforcing the laws on the books. Most Republicans are in favor of allowing immigration through legal channels. On the other hand most believe, legal immigration must be curtailed due to the vast number who are here illegally. Immigration limits are based on the job market and ability to assimilate, which is greatly affected by illegals”.

    Allowing [which I am uncertain is true] that there are 11 million illegal immigrants, how does this affect the 300 million population of the U.S.
    Put another way, might not the 11 million be a good replacement for the 40 million killed by abortion?
    I believe that one must rethink the whole question of immigration. Not only what does it mean to be illegally in this country, but what does it mean to be here legally.
    I add to this [perhaps just to confuse the issue] a note I read a few years back that some small towns in the Mid West were willing to subside farmers who took over abandoned farms.

  • G-Veg Says Sunday, July 12, 2009 A.D. at 5:52 pm
    “I think there is a well publicized cadre of persons who hold the “keep em out” view. This, I think, is a pretty small group but the media LOVES the xenophobe, the racist, the anti-semite, etc. so they get press out of keeping with their numbers. it doesn’t hurt that xenophobia fits into the myth of “nativist, right-wing, militia.”

    To which add the views of a Supreme Court justice, views which are not uncommon in educated liberal circles.

    “it is nothing short of dereliction of duty on the part of Congress over the last 20 years…”.

    Are you accusing our only professional criminal class of dereliction of duty?

  • Gabriel,

    Allowing [which I am uncertain is true] that there are 11 million illegal immigrants, how does this affect the 300 million population of the U.S.</i<

    How does what affect the 300 million? Their continued presence, growth in those numbers, or mass deportation of them all? I don't know what you're asking about.

    Put another way, might not the 11 million be a good replacement for the 40 million killed by abortion?

    A replacement perhaps, but not a good one, no. You can replace 40 million American children with 11 million Mexican etc. children. Economically, socially, culturally, people are not interchangeable. It’s a big question mark on the math anyway. Some studies suggest that abortion tends to delay having born children, more than it actually eliminates born children. A woman has an abortion and then two kids and has her tubes tied has no net difference on regeneration rates than just having two children who are allowed to be born.

    I believe that one must rethink the whole question of immigration. Not only what does it mean to be illegally in this country, but what does it mean to be here legally.

    I don’t see how or why? Certainly our demographic problems (regardless of the major cause) impact our need for immigration, but that doesn’t change the fact that those who apply legally, in justice and fairness should be welcomed first, and that a system which allows uncontrolled immigration is untenable in the current situation.

    I add to this [perhaps just to confuse the issue] a note I read a few years back that some small towns in the Mid West were willing to subside farmers who took over abandoned farms.

    Of course, and if there was a shortage of immigrants, as their was in various areas in the past, then benefits would be paid to those with the requisite attributes willing to come.

    It sounds like you’re arguing in favor of expanded legal immigration, which few disagree with, except that it must be acknowledged that each foreigner illegally present is holding a place which should go to a citizen or legal immigrant.

  • If immigration “amnesty” is the act of regularizing someone’s status so that they can lawfully remain in the US, then the US has engaged in at least three of them.

    Section 249 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides for the “registration” of persons who can demonstrate that they were here prior to 1972. It does not limit the number of persons who can acquire such registration and is relatively simple in that it provides permanent residence, in line with every other “greencard” holder, without hurdles particular to that program.

    Section 245A of the INA provided for the “legalization” of aliens who were living and working in the US prior to 1986. It did not limit the number of persons who could acquire “legalization” of their status but was a complicated political compromise in that one first acquired “temporary” status and then petitioned for permanent residence. There also were a number of document hurdles that had to be overcome by the applicant and permanent bars to the use of information against applicants by the government.

    Section 245(i) of the INA provided for a form of penalty whereby aliens who had “entered without inspection” (EWI) could pay a penalty and adjust their status into one of the already existing classifications (e.g. IR6 – Spouse of an USC, DV6 Diversity Lottery Winner, etc.)

    I am suggesting that the earlier amnesty attempt, by providing a simple acknowledgment that those unlawfully present are “connected” to the US through business or personal relationships in such a way that their admission to permanent residence is better for the US than their continued unlawful presence. By making eligibility simple – “can you document to a reasonable degree of certainty that you were physically present in the US for more than a visit prior to…?”, eligibility was easy to ascertain, there was no need for expensive legal counsel, there was little impetus to falsify documentation, and the “first come, first served” approach gave some semblance of order to the proceeding. By leaving the section in place and not “sunsetting” it, Congress cut off potential litigation by providing an effectively “permanent” resolution.

    245A cuts the other way in that a more deeply flawed section of law is difficult to imagine. It required documentation of seasons worked in the US from private individuals and corporations; thereby spawning an industry, dedicated to providing false documents. It was so complicated that even the eligible dared not go it alone, thereby enriching lawyers and bringing the most crooked of them out of the woodwork. The fraud was so bad that the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) had, by 1991, so many applications designated as “probable fraud” that Congress worked with the Administration to require a mass approval of known fraud cases, simply to “clear the deck.” Worst of all, the Act specifically barred the use of false statements or submission of fraudulent documents against the applicants in any administrative proceeding. By creating a “sunset” date, Congress embroiled the INS and her descendant agency, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in litigation that was only finally resolved, after having spent millions in litigation fees, last year.

    245(i) had some good points about it in that it didn’t try to create any new classifications (as did 245A) and didn’t place any new eligibility criteria on the applicants. It also, in some ways, “paid for itself” in that the fee was designed to be higher than the costs of adjudication. However, it also invited a massive amount of fraud because there remained a significant bar to admission as a permanent resident if you entered the US through fraud but eradicated the bar for an EWI. The result is that those who entered through fraud engaged in a second fraud in order to claim to have entered without inspection.

    Any immigration reform, to my mind, must be simple and easy to understand and apply for. If it requires a lawyer to figure out or help one document eligibility for, it is too complicated. In order for this, or any immigration reform to work we need to know, within a few million or so, how many potential applicants there will be.

    The present immigration system, with all of its flaws, appears to meet the needs of the vast majority of the persons seeking status through lawful means. Forgive me if it sounds cold but there are consequences to violating the law and having to live in fear of being found out is among them. So, I would rather take the system that we have, with all of its flaws than take on another half-baked “reform.”

    As to what I mean by the comment that we ought to leave things as they are until Congress does its job investigating and legislating, I am only too happy to have the laws enforced in addition to waiting Congress out.

  • We should immediately terminate the tide of incoming immigrants; especially those of particular races and religions — most especially, since it egregiously contaminates what remains of our pristine American lands of the remaining citizenry of genuine colonial descent.

    Remember when America failed to take action in the past and allowed unrestricted entry of the vile Romanists, who now unfortunately plague our lands and have even multiplied that infestation of papist centers of indoctrination, otherwise known as Catholic schools?

    If only the Americans were faithful enough took take certain necessary action and advocated much needed provisions as the Blaine Amendment!

    Therefore, I implore the faithful American citizens of this blog to prevent the same travesty from occuring as regards current immigration!

    We failed preventing the Papists to infect our lands; do you really want the Mexicans, the Puerto Ricans and, even worse, the Muslims to do so to such extent as well???

    The following link serves as a poignant reminder to a particularly ominous portrait that should’ve been rightly hailed as an ultimatum to all fellow American patriots, but unfortunately seemingly largely ignored by most:


    “The American River Ganges,” Harper’s Weekly,
    September 30, 1871, p.916. Wood engraving.

    By the middle of the nineteenth century, large numbers of Catholic children had withdrawn from the significantly Protestant American public schools to attend newly organized Roman Catholic schools. With a large and influential Irish Catholic constituency, the powerful New York City Democratic machine centered at Tammany Hall persuaded the Democratic state legislature to provide public support for the Irish schools. A firestorm of controversy ensued, especially in states like Ohio and Illinois,where the Catholic hierarchy had made similar requests. The controversy re-ignited smouldering Republican nativism, a policy of protecting the interests of indigenous residents against immigrants; and it suddenly became attractive as a vote-getter since that Reconstruction issues appeared to have been resolved. Tammany politicians are shown dropping little children into the “American River Ganges,” infested with crocodilian bishops. The American flag flies upside down, the universal signal of distress, from the ruins of a public school. Linking Roman Catholicism to the Ganges, the sacred river of Hinduism, suggested its exotic un-Americanism and also linked it with what Americans then considered a primitive and fanatical religion.

    Remember, as a wise man once said — those who do not learn from the Past are doomed to repeat it!

  • Uh, e? Do you mean to imply that the discussion has taken some sort of a “nativist” turn? I don’t see it so the joke is lost on me.

  • G-Veg: You must look up the meaning of sarcastic [or is it ironic?]. What is charming about the American Ganges, is the assumption that America began with the Protestant invasion, includng the importation of slaves, an English trade. [I am old enough to recall hearing that there were Bible readings [KJVersion] at the beginning of lasses in rural New Jersey in 1948].

    Having written which, I thank you for your citations from the current immigration law[s].
    My efforts have been directed at an attempt to get a more solid [political? moral? religious?] basis for the attitude towards immigration. On what basis should it be permitted? on what basis refused?

    There is that peculiar echo of the Declaration in the Constitution which bestowed citizenship on babies born within the U.S. [or on U.S. ships, &c]. Alaso that it is not possible to renounce [or have terminated] such citizenship.

  • Gabriel Austin:

    Much obliged; at least, somebody was clever enough to get it.

    Also, I am also grateful with much of your contributions, which provides some rather interesting facts (as did, admittedly, G-Veg).

  • e.,

    I understood the sarcasm but could not figure out who the attack was aimed at.

    What can I say, rubes like me are often confounded by the machinations of the wise.

  • You are just too subtle for us e.!

  • Gabriel,

    I am not qualified to speak to the Church’s teachings on immigration. There are contributors to this blog who may be qualified, but I am not one of them.

    If I have anything to offer the discussion, it is based upon my knowledge, such as it is, on the legal and practical matters that attend the American immigration system.

    As to the question of citizenship, there are four basic premises to US Citizenship: Law of the Land, Law of the Blood, Naturalization, and Derivation.

    From inception, American citizenship law embraced the idea that one born on our territory derived citizenship from that accident and that one born to Americans anywhere were Americans by virtue of the blood in their veins. (This statement is oversimplified because it was only in the second half of the 20th century that the blood of a woman transmitted citizenship in the same manner as that of an American man.)

    Naturalization and derivation have evolved and the authority to grant citizenship has changed between entities many times in our history. At present, the authority is shared between the Executive Branch and the Judiciary.

    Renouncing US citizenship is easier than you think it is just not often done. The process is administered through the Department of State. (I think this is because, if one could renounce one’s citizenship here in the US, one would become deportable. What a mess that would be!!!) Most of the cases I have encountered were of draft dodgers from the Vietnam era who went to Canada, renounced their citizenship and then sought to reclaim it as they aged. I have also encountered individuals who renounced citizenship in order to obtain exclusive citizenship overseas in order to shield their assets from taxation.

    Again, it is not often done so this is probably not a significant issue of law to concentrate on. More interesting is the notion that intending immigrants come to the US pregnant so that their child can be born a citizen and act as a sort of “anchor” to their own residence.

    Like most characterizations, there is some truth to it and significant misrepresentation.

    I have encountered individuals who did precisely this for precisely this reason. However, US immigration law is more complicated than this and, while it may sway an immigration judge where there is discretion, one still must be eligible for a visa to begin with.

    In most cases that I have dealt with, they wanted their children to have US citizenship because they wanted an irrevocable guarantee for their children’s futures. All in all, this is a laudable impulse and, from a practical point of view, it is not a bad choice. In particular, this is a good choice for those who, though unlawfully present themselves, have brothers and sisters in the States legally who could raise their children if they were, themselves, deported.

    Any other questions? (I’m kinda liking the chance to share.)

  • First point: could this thread be opened independently of Mrs. Palin [whom I like, and especially compared to the present incumbent and his horde of hangers-on].

    Secondo: on renunciation. An U.S. citizen moved to Israel, voted in elections, paid taxes, &c. One day she wanted to visit the U.S. and applied for her passport. This was denied her by the State Dept. as she had voted &c&c. The Supreme Court slapped the State Dept on the wrist, noting that nothing in the Constitution gives a basis for denying citizenship. [The problem that could arise is if she took arms against the U.S. That would be liable to get her hanged].

    I [more or less] understand the rest [including that descendants of Lafayette, for example, are automatically citizens because he was].

    But what I am aiming at is an attempt to derive a basis for the claim to citizenship on a more general ground. What might be a good reason[s] to bestow citizenship? What might be good reasons to deny it?

    If I understand correctly, political suppression back in the old country might be a good reason for such bestowal, but severe poverty is not. If I may say, that distinction stinks to high heaven and further. Consider the slums of the Latin American countries. Consider the slums of Puerto Rico.

  • Gabriel,

    If I understand correctly, political suppression back in the old country might be a good reason for such bestowal, but severe poverty is not. If I may say, that distinction stinks to high heaven and further. Consider the slums of the Latin American countries. Consider the slums of Puerto Rico.

    none of these issues are considered reasons to grant citizenship currently, nor should they ever. They are grounds to consider refugee status or some other immigrant classification, which may ultimately lead to citizenship.

  • Gabriel,

    I don’t know the particular case that you reference but I will be happy to look at it if you can give me a citation.

    There is a difference between “renunciation of citizenship” and “rejection of a citizenship claim.” Individuals who already possess citizenship can renounce it through the Dept. of State overseas. it is an affirmative act by the holder of the benefit. Those who do not possess citizenship or who seek evidence of their citizenship may have their citizenship applications or applications for evidence of citizenship denied or rejected. This happens through US Citizenship and Immigration Services and through the Dept. of State.

    I would rather not speculate about the circumstances that you cite and would rather read teh story and comment thereafter.

    The reasons for granting citizenship to those born on US soil are many. Historically, it was tied to the idea that Man naturally has an affinity for the soil of his birth and those ties bind him in a way that makes him particularly interested in its defense. Similar reasons attach to the Law of the Blood.

    As applied to the US, even in the early period of our Republic, the percentage of immigrants among our citizenry was very high and the ties of blood and land were too exclusive. The essential American character is one of ties by ideals and ideas and America has been fairly liberal in granting permission to immigrate and acquire citizenship.

    As was sarcastically noted above, America hasn’t been as welcoming when large groups seek to immigrate as when individuals come in small, almost imperceptible numbers. Each time a “wave” of immigration occurs the Majority express a dilution of the essential American character. Each time, these groups assimilated and the America that followed their admission to full citizenship thrived.

    We should be quite protective of the “immigrant” nature of America. Unquestionably, there are significant benefits in terms of demographics and economics to a robust immigration regime. For these reasons, I favor a liberal immigration policy that invites persons from as broadly as possible, subject to the appropriate checks to verify that they are not known criminals, terrorists, etc.

    A harder question is whether we should create bars to persons whose ability to contribute to America is hampered by personal traits of general concern such as disease, old age, and handicaps. As a Christian, I see a problem with exclusion of those most in need of the benefits of a modern social network. However, there is this tugging at my conscience for the concern that America should not be used solely for the benefit of the immigrant, that there must be an expectation that the immigrant is giving as much as they are getting from our Republic. (Elderly refugees fit squarely in this concern set.)

    Citizenship, as was noted by Matt, is a secondary question, based first on the admission of an alien for permanent residence. In the public debate, I see “a path to citizenship” as a bit of a red herring since we are really talking about permanent residence.

An Encyclical Prediction

Tuesday, July 7, AD 2009

Thus far I’ve only had the chance to read the first couple pages of Caritas in Veritate, however seeing the first rounds of blog and media reaction rolling forth from both sides of the Catholic political spectrum I would like to indulge in revisitting a prediction from the beginning of the year:

9. The much discussed social encyclical will finally be issued — and all sides of the Catholic political spectrum will within several days claim that it supports the positions they already held.

Regardless of one’s political position, if the main thing one gets from reading the encyclical is, “I am right, and my opponents are all fools or villains” then you probably aren’t reading very carefully. Hopefully most Catholics taking the time to discuss Caritas in Veritate will take the time to read at a deeper level than that.

Continue reading...

41 Responses to An Encyclical Prediction

  • Then you’re probably not. 🙂

  • Then we will lecture you on the effects of confirmation bias and intellectual pride, Henry. 😉

    That said, I think Weigel’s proposed hermeneutic is problematic:

    But then there are those passages to be marked in red — the passages that reflect Justice and Peace ideas and approaches that Benedict evidently believed he had to try and accommodate.

    Um, shouldn’t we read the document as an expression of Benedict’s considered opinion, rather than assuming any parts we dislike were reluctant concessions?

  • Amen, Darwin.

    Poking around the libertarian sites I frequent, the anti-Catholic bigots along with the ignorant have already started coming out of the woodwork. No doubt something similar will occur on the left, who will go ga-ga over any phrase that can be interpreted as a tacit endorsement of state intervention.

    I’ve only had a chance to read the opening sections myself, but hope to post my thoughts on this important encyclical from a more libertarian, free market POV…

  • But what if I were?

    In all seriousness, the idea that one cannot have been right beforehand is indicative of an idea which goes against the nature of the encyclical itself: the idea that this is a leap away from tradition, and something entirely new, outside of the bounds of what has existed within the Church until this time. This, however, is not the case.

    That many people are not within the “right” or “left” divide, and have consistently rejected it, should itself place them more comfortably within the position of being one who can already be seen as following the dictates of the encyclical itself. Now, I would say, most Americans are not too familiar with all the theological, economic, and philosophical presuppositions within Benedict’s writings, and so it would make it more difficult for an average person to know what to expect; on the other hand, one who actively engages Benedict and his sources, and has watched him and his work within the social doctrine for decades, will not be surprised here. Really.

  • Weigel’s approach is…um…nope, can’t think of any PG words to describe it. The idea that Benedict is too weak to stand up to the liberal forces inside the Vatican is so preposterous…

  • In all seriousness, the idea that one cannot have been right beforehand…

    Henry, I apologize for not being clearer: I was completely, entirely kidding. I haven’t seen anything that surprising from this encyclical (so far – I’m not finished yet) either.

  • JH

    I will agree — those who predetermine that the encyclical is to be read within a hermeneutic of suspicion, to distance themselves from the challenges within to fit their own bias, that is erroneous. This is true not only for Weigel; Novak certainly has this problem. Now, I don’t think I would expect many on the “left” (using the American idea) would say that Benedict’s position is identical with theirs, but they would admit there is debate between him and them, but I guess, it is possible some from them will come up and say “it is in perfect agreement with us.” Please, if you find such, show me!

  • What a perfect post, both for Weigel and his mirror image on the left (the MMs of the world).

  • Henry,

    I don’t really look at this from a left/right perspective. There are good faith attempts to interpret a document, and even good faith arguments to discredit other interpretations, and then there are outright dismissals of portions of the document (e.g. Weigel). I see little distinction between the ‘left’ and the ‘right’ here, but I’d be relieved and happy to see America trumpeting the pro-life portions of the encyclical.

  • Having read and discussed the encyclical with Katerina, it does not seem that the encyclical can be spun to support neo-liberalism. I think this fact is displayed in Weigel’s piece where he parses out that with which he agrees (the “Benedictine” parts) and those with which he does not (the Justice and Peace parts). Kat and I are also in agreement that the strong sections on respect for human life and the reaffirmation of the singular importance of Humanae Vitae means that the encyclical cannot be hijacked by those who want to emphasize only the strictly economic parts of the encyclical. Pope Benedict XVI brilliantly tied morality and social doctrine together in such a way that the encyclical makes little sense without the respect for life sections. Like Weigel, those who want to argue otherwise are going to have to concoct some narrative about how some sections of the encyclical are more important or more true than others, the latter of which can be disregarded.

    In any case, I think that the Church’s traditional critique of Marxism is now met with a solid critique of neo-liberalism. The emphasis distributive justice, solidarity among diverse populations, and transnational juridical frameworks for global markets sounds very much like social democracy to me (which would make sense given Bavaria’s politics). But I do not say any of this with certainty, so don’t hold it against me!

  • M.J. (it’s going to take me a while to get used to the new handle) was too polite to link to it, but here’s his full length post on the encyclical:

    http://evangelicalcatholicism.wordpress.com/2009/07/07/the-authority-of-catholic-social-teaching-why-should-catholics-take-the-new-encylical-seriously/

    I haven’t finished it, but it’s worthwhile reading.

  • Henry,

    In all seriousness, the idea that one cannot have been right beforehand is indicative of an idea which goes against the nature of the encyclical itself: the idea that this is a leap away from tradition, and something entirely new, outside of the bounds of what has existed within the Church until this time. This, however, is not the case.

    Well, I think it depends very much what one means by “right beforehand” — and I’ll be the first to admit that being excessively pithy results in being far less precise.

    I’ll admit that I’m saying this while only 10% done reading the encyclical, so perhaps this one will abandon the mold followed by all previous CST, but I would very strongly suspect that if anyone believes that CiV clearly and definitely endorses a particular political/economic program and structure is probably reading his assumptions into it. There are, in the many times and places where Catholicism has found itself, many ways of pursuing a just society, and there is not one form which we as Catholics must endorse in all times and places. This is what makes CST very different from all the utopian -isms which are floating around the modern political consciousness.

    This is the sense in which I would predict that if someone with a particular political agenda reads the encyclical and immediately thinks, “This proves I’m right and everyone else is wrong,” he’s misreading it.

    Also you ask:

    Now, I don’t think I would expect many on the “left” (using the American idea) would say that Benedict’s position is identical with theirs, but they would admit there is debate between him and them, but I guess, it is possible some from them will come up and say “it is in perfect agreement with us.” Please, if you find such, show me!

    I don’t know about “in perfect agreement with us”, but there seems to be a certain amount of “the pope used some words we like, so he must be endorsing our political agenda” thinking in comments such as this one:

    This is so clear, there’s no way to spin this one.

    Distributive justice? Redistribution of wealth? Isn’t that what Obama was attacked for? Same words that Benedict uses.

    Similar comments in the creation that appears on the Commonweal blog thus far.

  • The Encyclical rather strikes me like a variant of the song from the play A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum: “Something for everyone, an encyclical tonight!” I found parts that I liked, parts that I didn’t like, parts I found confusing and parts I found literally incomprehensible. Other parts I found nice, like reforming the UN, but as likely of accomplishment as Ahmadinejad announcing his conversion to the True Faith. Ah well, something new to battle about for awhile on Saint Blogs.

    Here is Weigel’s take since his name was mentioned above:
    http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NTdkYjU3MDE2YTdhZTE4NWIyN2FkY2U5YTFkM2ZiMmE=&w=MA==

  • Weigel again?

    Just how many neocons infest TAC?

  • Charming, e.

  • e., you really don’t want to be the first person to be placed in moderation by both Joe and me in the history of The American Catholic do you?

  • Charming, e.

    As is Weigel’s notoriously biased account of the Good Pope’s encyclical; claiming that the good parts must have assuredly been from His Holiness himself (imagine that?) while the rest the he found disagreeable (and even, to some extent, tried to discredit and even demonized) were merely products inserted by some clueless, cryptic cosa nostrain the Vatican that Benedict had to somehow accomodate.

    That whole dismissive attitude of his towards such sections seems only to corroborate all the more his wont to color Pope Benedict’s encylical into little more than his lil’ ass upon which he seeks to sit upon and ride all the way to Jerusalem — making the pontiff’s profound work into nothing more than a pawn to advance his end game.

  • Donald:

    Surely, you don’t regard Weigel as some sort of gold standard that all most pay homage to?

    Did you even read his review with some modest degree of impartiality?

    The man surreptitiously attempted to turn the encyclical to something less, making those elements within it that he agreed with as coming from the Pope himself, while those he found distasteful the product of some phantom menace in the Vatican.

    Please tell me that you are ‘Catholic’ and not given to this rather coarse hermeneutic that’s notoriously based on left/right polity rather than ‘Christian’ ideal, which latter this encyclical quite rightly attempted to address.

  • I can tell this debate is going to be fun.. 🙂

    And I had such high hopes for my post on advertising this morning. Ha! Who am I to compete with a new encyclical!

  • Its like Farah Fawcett competing with Michael Jackson.

  • e, I would agree that it is far too easy to assume that what one likes in an encyclical is the pure papal teaching and what one dislikes is caused by bureaucrats in the Vatican. However, in modern times most encyclicals have had heavy involvement from the various departments of the Vatican.

    I truly hope the tourism section is the product of a Vatican bureaucrat:

    “An illustration of the significance of this problem is offered by the phenomenon of international tourism[141], which can be a major factor in economic development and cultural growth, but can also become an occasion for exploitation and moral degradation. The current situation offers unique opportunities for the economic aspects of development — that is to say the flow of money and the emergence of a significant amount of local enterprise — to be combined with the cultural aspects, chief among which is education. In many cases this is what happens, but in other cases international tourism has a negative educational impact both for the tourist and the local populace. The latter are often exposed to immoral or even perverted forms of conduct, as in the case of so-called sex tourism, to which many human beings are sacrificed even at a tender age. It is sad to note that this activity often takes place with the support of local governments, with silence from those in the tourists’ countries of origin, and with the complicity of many of the tour operators. Even in less extreme cases, international tourism often follows a consumerist and hedonistic pattern, as a form of escapism planned in a manner typical of the countries of origin, and therefore not conducive to authentic encounter between persons and cultures. We need, therefore, to develop a different type of tourism that has the ability to promote genuine mutual understanding, without taking away from the element of rest and healthy recreation. Tourism of this type needs to increase, partly through closer coordination with the experience gained from international cooperation and enterprise for development.”

    That struck me as just plain odd to be in a papal encyclical. Of course all it comes out in the name of the Pope, but parts of the encyclical have a committee feel to me.

  • e., I didn’t say I agreed with everything that Weigel said. He was being treated above in this thread as if he were a leper, and frankly nothing he wrote I haven’t seen written by many commentators whenever an ecyclical comes out. As I noted in my last comment, most modern encyclicals are very much a group effort, and I don’t think it is particularly scandalous to conjecture which department in the Vatican influenced the Pope to add a section in an encyclical.

  • By the way Anthony I did like your post and I hope we will see further posts from you for AC.

  • Thanks, Don. I’m coming to really enjoy the site.

  • Donald:

    Out of profound respect for you, rather than press the issue further and engage in more depth examination of the various particulars concerning the matter (as doing thus would ultimately and most assuredly earn me certain excommunication beyond the already seething vitriol against me by Joe et al.), I shall pass up the polemics.

  • Hey, come on e, I haven’t seethed anything at you lately.

    I don’t hold grudges. Water under the bridge.

  • Yeah, sorry, Anthony. I’d thought it would take people couple days to digest the encyclical and we could get the advertising piece in before the storm. Silly me. 🙂

    Hopefully we’ll get back to it — or perhaps I’ll repost in a week or two if it gets totally lost in the shuffle.

  • I want to get back to it, Darwin and Anthony. So with three of us interested, it will happen 🙂

  • Thank you e. All comments about the encyclical right now should, I think, be taken as very preliminary observations. There is a lot in it, and one read through as I have done, only allows me to have some very general impressions. I look forward to analyses from all sides in the days to come, especially in regard to passages I find confusing.

  • For those with vocations and current states in life which allow more study: I would like to state that I had pictured a quiet evening of having dinner, reading to the kids, and then reading the encyclical. However, there has been a minor change in plans, which involves several hours scrubbing marker off the wood floors with a series of Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, and scrupulously avoiding beating my children.

    St. Paul was right when he said that a man who has a wife and children and mortgage and floors finds himself distracted from the work of the lord at times. Consider this consolation all ye single people.

    Any commentary from me will be at a later date. 🙁

  • Your predicament Darwin reminds me of the time I went out to our front room and found my then 3 year old sons had decided that the rocking horse needed a ring around it drawn in shrimp sauce. Shrimp sauce on green carpet makes for a striking contrast. My first words to my wife were to ask her to please take the lads up to their room before I cleaned the mess up as I didn’t trust myself with them at that particular moment.

  • Tsk tsk, Darwin. At times like these it’s important to ask, “what would Jesus do?” Thing is, the answer is in the new encyclical, so why not just beat the kids and make them clean it up? After all, you’re just going to find the necessary justification for doing that in the encyclical. 😉

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  • The emphasis distributive justice, solidarity among diverse populations, and transnational juridical frameworks for global markets sounds very much like social democracy to me (which would make sense given Bavaria’s politics).

    This bothers me. Shouldn’t it bother you? It makes the encyclical sound less like a timeless set of principles, and much more like a product of a particular set of prejudices and assumptions common to people who lived in a particular time and place (i.e., old Western European men who grew up in the 20th century).

  • It makes the encyclical sound less like a timeless set of principles, and much more like a product of a particular set of prejudices and assumptions common to people who lived in a particular time and place (i.e., old Western European men who grew up in the 20th century).

    Of course, a social encyclical is going to contain BOTH timeless principles AND inductively established principles that are more relate to specific, historical circumstances. Also, a social encyclical will contain the application of both kinds of principles to historical events. I don’t see any problem with any of that. As for how this particular encyclical sounds, I don’t know about the whole old men from Western Europe thing, but it does seem to me that Benedict XVI accord primacy to some general political and economic solutions that are inspired by current European political thought (particularly social democracy). However, the encyclical avoids specific, technical policy proposals, which is why I don’t think it can be described as similar to old European policy options.

    Apropos of the discussion further up this thread, I wrote a response to the Weigel piece.

    [ed. updated the name for you Pol…er, I mean MJ – JH]

  • Sorry, old combox habits brought back Policraticus!

  • MJAndew/MJ Andrew/Policratius/Michael Joseph:

    You are confusing me in what is obviously a malicious plot by you to take revenge on me and others for your anger against JPII & Centesimus Annus. I am blocking out all your nicknames in red ink and will gold only Policratius, which I have arbitrarily determined to be the only name that you really intend and that is not the product of Katerina and your other friends, who you clearly are only catering to because you are a gentle young man.

  • Denton–

    That was pretty funny.

    I apologize for the collage of blogging names. I used “Policraticus” because I was often mistaken at Vox Nova for “Michael I.” (since I was “Michael J.”). At EC, I went back to Michael Joseph, but tacked on my confirmation name. I think I am now stable.

  • MJ Andrew:

    Glad you enjoyed it. I do recall several times being confused, wondering when you became an anarchist.

  • ut it does seem to me that Benedict XVI accord primacy to some general political and economic solutions that are inspired by current European political thought (particularly social democracy).

    Well, imagine a 19th century encyclical pronouncing French colonialism the best form of political/economic system; or a Renaissance encyclical saying that small city-states were the way to go; or an earlier encyclical saying that serfdom and monarchy were best situated to implement Catholic principles; or a 4th century homage to Constantine and the Roman Empire. If such encyclicals existed, we’d all look back and wince at the Church’s unthinking assumption that a very time-bound and place-bound system of government was “the” Catholic system.

    Is it really plausible that just now, 20 centuries after Christ, a bunch of mostly secular Europeans came up with the one golden system of government and economics that just happens to be what the Catholic Church was searching for all of these years? Church leaders who grew up under that European system of government just happened, by sheer coincidence, to come to the belief that the system in which they are most comfortable is the one that God has ordained?

4 Responses to Guest Post: The Church, Advertising and the Junk We Don't Need

  • I am interested in commenting on this more extensively, but I have too much to get done today. For now, consider what Benedict wrote in Caritas Veritate:

    “A link has often been noted between claims to a “right to excess”, and even to transgression and vice, within affluent societies, and the lack of food, drinkable water, basic instruction and elementary health care in areas of the underdeveloped world and on the outskirts of large metropolitan centres. The link consists in this: individual rights, when detached from a framework of duties which grants them their full meaning, can run wild, leading to an escalation of demands which is effectively unlimited and indiscriminate.”

    I would argue that advertising often does exacerbate this situation.

    I would also note that, like practically every other economic phenomenon, advertising can be used for good. Ethics in Advertising makes that point and so does Benedict.

  • Today is a crazy day for me between work and the new encylical… I have a feeling the libertarian blogs are going to freak.

    I’ve only read the opening, but so far I have a ton of questions about Caritas in Veritate…

  • Interesting topic—great post. Thank you!

  • I am reminded of when anti-smoking ads were on t.v. From what I remember (cloudy at best) was that these ads helped _reduce_ smoking in the general population. But when government outlawed cigarette ads on t.v. they had to pull the anti-smoking ads as well. Of course, they are teaching that smoking is unhealthy at schools now, but I remember how clever those ads on t.v. were.

    What if government could make those “public service” ads regarding saving, looking for quality rather than buying “by name”, and other “ethical” ads combating the advertisements of cheap/unwholesome goods? Or perhaps consumer groups (like Consumer Reports, Nadar’s consumer protection agency?) could start an “ad branch” and make advertisements with similar goals.

14 Responses to Caritas in Veritate Is Here

  • Thanks for having this set up first thing this morning. It made my day being able to find the new encyclical so easily.

  • Quick off the dime John Henry! Well done!

  • We will be analyzing this one for a very long time!

    Struck by this portion thus far:

    “Some non-governmental Organizations work actively to spread abortion, at times promoting the practice of sterilization in poor countries, in some cases not even informing the women concerned. Moreover, there is reason to suspect that development aid is sometimes linked to specific health-care policies which de facto involve the imposition of strong birth control measures. Further grounds for concern are laws permitting euthanasia as well as pressure from lobby groups, nationally and internationally, in favour of its juridical recognition.

    Openness to life is at the centre of true development. When a society moves towards the denial or suppression of life, it ends up no longer finding the necessary motivation and energy to strive for man’s true good. If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of a new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away[67]. The acceptance of life strengthens moral fibre and makes people capable of mutual help. By cultivating openness to life, wealthy peoples can better understand the needs of poor ones, they can avoid employing huge economic and intellectual resources to satisfy the selfish desires of their own citizens, and instead, they can promote virtuous action within the perspective of production that is morally sound and marked by solidarity, respecting the fundamental right to life of every people and every individual.”

  • This is a very interesting passage:

    “What is needed, therefore, is a market that permits the free operation, in conditions of equal opportunity, of enterprises in pursuit of different institutional ends. Alongside profit-oriented private enterprise and the various types of public enterprise, there must be room for commercial entities based on mutualist principles and pursuing social ends to take root and express themselves. It is from their reciprocal encounter in the marketplace that one may expect hybrid forms of commercial behaviour to emerge, and hence an attentiveness to ways of civilizing the economy. Charity in truth, in this case, requires that shape and structure be given to those types of economic initiative which, without rejecting profit, aim at a higher goal than the mere logic of the exchange of equivalents, of profit as an end in itself.”

  • Agreed Don. I thought Joe, in particular, would also appreciate this section:

    39…When both the logic of the market and the logic of the State come to an agreement that each will continue to exercise a monopoly over its respective area of influence, in the long term much is lost: solidarity in relations between citizens, participation and adherence, actions of gratuitousness, all of which stand in contrast with giving in order to acquire (the logic of exchange) and giving through duty (the logic of public obligation, imposed by State law). In order to defeat underdevelopment, action is required not only on improving exchange-based transactions and implanting public welfare structures, but above all on gradually increasing openness, in a world context, to forms of economic activity marked by quotas of gratuitousness and communion. The exclusively binary model of market-plus-State is corrosive of society, while economic forms based on solidarity, which find their natural home in civil society without being restricted to it, build up society. The market of gratuitousness does not exist, and attitudes of gratuitousness cannot be established by law. Yet both the market and politics need individuals who are open to reciprocal gift.

  • Where’s the part about how people should vote for Obama?

  • I’m halfway through it, taking extensive notes. I’m going to post on it, if not tonight, then tomorrow. Until then I won’t be around much.

    So far, I must say, it is everything I hoped it would be 🙂

  • I had to put this one up as possibly my favorite passage not directly dealing with the economy (and even then, its way up there):

    “In order to protect nature, it is not enough to intervene with economic incentives or deterrents; not even an apposite education is sufficient. These are important steps, but the decisive issue is the overall moral tenor of society. If there is a lack of respect for the right to life and to a natural death, if human conception, gestation and birth are made artificial, if human embryos are sacrificed to research, the conscience of society ends up losing the concept of human ecology and, along with it, that of environmental ecology. It is contradictory to insist that future generations respect the natural environment when our educational systems and laws do not help them to respect themselves. The book of nature is one and indivisible: it takes in not only the environment but also life, sexuality, marriage, the family, social relations: in a word, integral human development. Our duties towards the environment are linked to our duties towards the human person, considered in himself and in relation to others. It would be wrong to uphold one set of duties while trampling on the other. Herein lies a grave contradiction in our mentality and practice today: one which demeans the person, disrupts the environment and damages society.”

  • Here is one passage I find very meaningful:

    “76. One aspect of the contemporary technological mindset is the tendency to consider the problems and emotions of the interior life from a purely psychological point of view, even to the point of neurological reductionism. In this way man’s interiority is emptied of its meaning and gradually our awareness of the human soul’s ontological depths, as probed by the saints, is lost. The question of development is closely bound up with our understanding of the human soul, insofar as we often reduce the self to the psyche and confuse the soul’s health with emotional well-being. These over-simplifications stem from a profound failure to understand the spiritual life, and they obscure the fact that the development of individuals and peoples depends partly on the resolution of problems of a spiritual nature. Development must include not just material growth but also spiritual growth, since the human person is a “unity of body and soul”[156], born of God’s creative love and destined for eternal life. The human being develops when he grows in the spirit, when his soul comes to know itself and the truths that God has implanted deep within, when he enters into dialogue with himself and his Creator. When he is far away from God, man is unsettled and ill at ease. Social and psychological alienation and the many neuroses that afflict affluent societies are attributable in part to spiritual factors. A prosperous society, highly developed in material terms but weighing heavily on the soul, is not of itself conducive to authentic development. The new forms of slavery to drugs and the lack of hope into which so many people fall can be explained not only in sociological and psychological terms but also in essentially spiritual terms. The emptiness in which the soul feels abandoned, despite the availability of countless therapies for body and psyche, leads to suffering. There cannot be holistic development and universal common good unless people’s spiritual and moral welfare is taken into account, considered in their totality as body and soul.”

  • Unfortunately, my work schedule is such today that I won’t have the chance to get beyond the first few paragraphs of Caritas in Veritate that I’ve read so far until this evening. However, as others get farther into it an begin to discuss, I’d be curious what various people think of these remarks by Amy Welborn as Via Media:

    I have to say right out that I am never sure what the ultimate point and effect of an encyclical like this is. It is a mix between analysis of very specific global situations ranging from the financial crisis to migration to unions to the welfare state and some quite wonderful, clearly Benedict-written passages about the nature of human life, especially human life in community.

    I wonder if arguments about the former – about the accuracy of the analysis, the sufficiency of the evidence and data – will overwhelm the latter, which is really what we should be looking to a Pope for. Don’t think I’m saying religious figures – Popes included – shook stick to the “purely religious” stuff – whatever that means. I am just not sure if contemporary Catholic pronouncements touching on current issues have quite mastered the task of effectively bringing the Gospel into the fray while at the same time acknowledging the limitations of received data and analysis. This encyclical actually does better than some in its attempt to look at every side of issues and the prevalence of original sin and the law of unintended consequences. But I wonder if the detail and specificity it contains is necessary.

    Link.

  • I think John Paul II in Solicitudo Rei Socialis or Centesimus Annus discussed that any such document is necessarily based on economic, historical and sociological data. As such, there is a limit to the infallibility of its conclusions. There are of course set principles that are established including subsidiarity, solidarity, preferential option for the poor etc.

    The trick is sorting out which is which and how to apply to the current world situation. Thus will flow differing interpretations.

  • One aspect of the contemporary technological mindset is the tendency to consider the problems and emotions of the interior life from a purely psychological point of view, even to the point of neurological reductionism.

    To me, this seems to also address certain Christians who tend to use Christ as some sort of ‘consumer product’; that is, to be used as nothing more than a psychological pick-me up but never really anything having to do with acquiring that kind of spiritual life that the saints themselves aspired to but, more so, merely a utilitarian tool to ease one’s psyche.

  • so far it seems like a great condiment… but dinner, still, has yet to be served.

Iran: The Revolutionary Guards In Charge

Tuesday, July 7, AD 2009

Free IranHattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. No doubt in part a response to the declaration on Saturday of the prestigious Association of Researchers and Teachers of Qum that the election was illegitimate, spokesmen of the Revolutionary Guards, formally known as the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution, announced on Sunday that the Guards had taken charge of all security in Iran and that no further debate over the Presidential election would be tolerated.

The Shia revolution of 1979 was based on the idea that a government controlled by the mullahs, motivated by pure Islam, would provide the best form of government in Iran.  Now each day brings more news of mullahs speaking out against the current regime in control of Iran.

“Over the weekend, Grand Ayatollah Assadolah Bayat Zanjani launched a broadside against the mass arrest of reformist activists and protesters.”

“Every healthy mind casts doubt on the way the election was held,” said the high-ranking cleric in a statement distributed online. “More regrettable are post-election large-scale arrests, newspaper censorship and website filtering, and above all the martyrdom of our countrymen whom they describe as rioters.”

The walls are closing in on Ahmadinejad, a former Revolutionary Guards member, and his puppet masters.  Mullahs speaking out have destroyed any remaining illusion that this regime is blessed by God.  The Revolutionary Guards is the last remaining support that this government has, and, if the Guards falter,  Ahmadinejad, Supreme Leader Khamenei and their cronies better have their bags packed and a plane warming up.  This could all happen quite swiftly.  The Resistance has called for mass rallies on Thursday.  If the dissident mullahs join them, the Iranians could witness mullahs being beaten by Revolutionary Guards.  Once that happens, I think armed revolt will not be far off.

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4 Responses to Iran: The Revolutionary Guards In Charge

  • Thank you for posting on this. I get nearly all my news on Iran from this site.

    Do you have an estimate on what are the odds that the Iranian government falls? Each day I fear that the revolution will be snuffed, but it only seems to get stronger. God bless the Iranian people.

  • Steve, with the mullahs speaking out my guess is that there is at least an 80% chance of the regime falling. Ahmadinejad and the Supreme Leader, reminds me of “Fearless Leader” in the old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons!, have managed the amazing feat of unifying, temporarily, in opposition, both those sick of the rule of the mullahs and many of those same mullahs! Doubtless many members of the Revolutionary Guards are beginning to think about the day, perhaps not far off, when they wake up to learn that the Supreme Leader and Ahmadinejad have fled Iran and they are left holding the bag and subject to the revenge of angry mobs. Watch for fissures developing in the ranks of the Guards if mass rallies on Thursday develop into mass riots.

  • 80% is a pretty high chance, but I pray that it is even higher.

    If, and it’s a big IF still, if the regime falls, I still see the mullahs (the rebel mullahs) in charge, but with Khamenei and Admanejhad fleeing the country or under house arrest.

Rhetoric, Abortion and Abraham Lincoln

Monday, July 6, AD 2009

Lincoln and son

Regular readers of this blog know that I am a big fan of Father Z at What Does The Prayer Really Say.  Today he has a post on calls to tone down the rhetoric of those who oppose abortion.  He eloquently explains here why he probably will not heed these calls.  Let me associate myself with Father Z’s remarks.  I have a great many interests and a great many opinions on a lot of issues, but for me abortion will always be THE ISSUE.  I am never going to stop speaking out against the obscenity of abortion.  I will never stop making abortion THE ISSUE on which I vote.  Sometimes in life you simply have to call a spade a spade, and to call abortion the deliberate taking of innocent human life.

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12 Responses to Rhetoric, Abortion and Abraham Lincoln

  • Great post.

  • I have believed for a long time that pro-lifers could learn a lot from Lincoln’s approach to slavery. He never wavered in his belief that slavery was wrong and his carefully crafted arguments against it were designed to win over people who didn’t agree with him, rather than just “preaching to the choir”.

    The irony is, however, that in 1860 most abolitionists regarded Lincoln as too “soft” on slavery since he did NOT insist upon its immediate abolition everywhere, nor did he condemn Southerners or slaveowners as harshly as they did. Moreover, once the Civil War broke out, he made it clear that preserving the Union was “THE ISSUE” for him more than slavery. This is evident in his wording of the Emancipation Proclamation to exclude border slave states still loyal to the Union (so as not to alienate their slave owning residents).

    Although Lincoln did make political compromises on slavery that abolitionists did not approve of, in the end, he is the president who gets the credit for having freed the slaves. Likewise, the president on whose watch legalized abortion on demand finally comes to an end may not be what we expect — he or she may NOT have a 100 percent pro-life voting record, and may not even be a conservative or a Republican.

  • Sigh. Disingenuous, much? African-American slaves were always human beings with a right to as much self-actualization as anyone else. Fetuses, on the other hand, are not only *not* human beings with a right to self-actualization, but they are *incapable* of self-actualization. In fact, you might even call self-actualization a fetal condition incompatible with life.

    It’s so junior-high-debate-club to try to draw a parallel between slavery and abortion, but at least you avoided the easy Hitler points, so that’s something… I guess.

  • Jillian,
    what do you mean by “self-actualization”

  • Jillian, fetuses are perfectly capable of self-actualization IF they are allowed to live long enough to be born! You were once a fetus yourself, and yet you managed to become self-actualized, so I wouldn’t say that condition is “incompatible with life.” Actually, by your definition, African-American slaves were not “always human beings” because THEY all were fetuses at some point in their existence too.

    Maybe the reason it’s “so junior high debate club” to draw a parallel between slavery and abortion is because the parallels are obvious enough for even 12-year-olds to see? A particular group of beings belonging to the species Homo sapiens is declared, by law, not to be persons and not to have any rights, based on certain “scientific” arguments of the era. (There were plenty of scholars and scientists in the 19th century lined up to provide “proof” that African-Americans were inferior to whites and incapable of rational thought or action, and that slavery was absolutely necessary for their own good as well as that of white society.)

  • Ouchy, that’s a bit close. Sure to bring out some folks swinging the personal attack bat.

    Jillian-
    self-actualization is the *final* thing in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs; claiming that because someone, at this very moment, isn’t able to fulfill:
    Needs for Self-Actualization
    When all of the foregoing needs are satisfied, then and only then are the needs for self-actualization activated. Maslow describes self-actualization as a person’s need to be and do that which the person was “born to do.” “A musician must make music, an artist must paint, and a poet must write.” These needs make themselves felt in signs of restlessness. The person feels on edge, tense, lacking something, in short, restless. If a person is hungry, unsafe, not loved or accepted, or lacking self-esteem, it is very easy to know what the person is restless about. It is not always clear what a person wants when there is a need for self-actualization.

    If we’re going for the assertion-without-anything-to-back-it-up tactic– which is so grade school, but you chose the field– then a fetus is a human being with as much of a right to not be killed as any random person on the street.

    Laws may not acknowledge that fact, but they didn’t allow for self-actualization of slaves, either.

    It’s so junior-high-debate-club to try to draw a parallel between slavery and abortion, but at least you avoided the easy Hitler points, so that’s something…

    So refute them, by either logic or showing a flaw in the logic.
    If it’s so simple that a 12 year old can do it, why haven’t you?

  • -Obama has attempted to brand himself as a modern day lincoln — its a shame he hasn’t shown pres lincoln’s spine and character to protect the most weak

    later this week Obama will meet the Pope may the Holy Father boldly teach the chosen one

  • “Fetuses, on the other hand, are not only *not* human beings with a right to self-actualization, but they are *incapable* of self-actualization.”

    Jillian, the problem isn’t self-actualization of unborn children but the self-rationalization that pro-aborts such as yourself engage in in order to blind yourselves to the taking of innocent human life. Thank you for providing an object lesson of the infinite capacity of human beings to justify evil for the sake of self-interest.

  • “Moreover, once the Civil War broke out, he made it clear that preserving the Union was “THE ISSUE” for him more than slavery.”

    True Elaine, up until the Emancipation Proclamation. After that he indicated on several occasions that the two non-negotiables for him on ending the war were the restoration of the Union and the abolition of slavery. Frederick Douglass was correct in his comments about Lincoln on this point:

    “His great mission was to accomplish two things: first, to save his country from dismemberment and ruin; and, second, to free his country from the great crime of slavery. To do one or the other, or both, he must have the earnest sympathy and the powerful cooperation of his loyal fellow-countrymen. Without this primary and essential condition to success his efforts must have been vain and utterly fruitless. Had he put the abolition of slavery before the salvation of the Union, he would have inevitably driven from him a powerful class of the American people and rendered resistance to rebellion impossible. Viewed from the genuine abolition ground, Mr. Lincoln seemed tardy, cold, dull, and indifferent; but measuring him by the sentiment of his country, a sentiment he was bound as a statesman to consult, he was swift, zealous, radical, and determined.”

  • “Viewed from the genuine abolition ground, Mr. Lincoln seemed tardy, cold, dull, and indifferent; but measuring him by the sentiment of his country, a sentiment he was bound as a statesman to consult, he was swift, zealous, radical, and determined.”

    As Douglass points out, Lincoln was a politician and an elected official and he had to walk a fine line between determination to carry out his goals and the necessity of making sure enough of the public stayed on board to make that possible. This of necessity requires some degree of compromise.

    I would seriously like to see some officeholder or politician take the same approach to abortion that Lincoln took toward slavery. Has anyone ever actually done or attempted this? It would be interesting to see what kind of reaction he or she would receive. More likely than not, pro-lifers would be upset with him or her because he/she was too soft, while the pro-abort crowd would label this person as radically “anti-choice” and paint them as someone willing to toss pregnant women in jail for having miscarriages, or some other ridiculous charge.

  • Excellent post, with a most useful Lincoln quote.

  • So Jillian.

    At what point in your life did you become “self-actuallised”?

    Fetuses on the other hand are not only *not* human beings with a right to self-actualization….

    Does the *not* refer to the fetus not being a human being, or does it apply to the adjectival phrase as well?
    If you believe the fetus is not a human being, at what stage does it change its “nature” to become a human being?

    Humanity does not depend on “self-actualization”.

A Just War

Monday, July 6, AD 2009

 

 

 

Based on the just war doctrine first enunciated by Saint Augustine, the American Revolution was a just war.

 

Over the centuries the precise content of the just war doctrine has varied.  The classic definition of it by Saint Thomas Aquinas is set forth in Part II, Question 40 of his Summa Theologica:

“I answer that, In order for a war to be just, three things are necessary. First, the authority of the sovereign by whose command the war is to be waged. For it is not the business of a private individual to declare war, because he can seek for redress of his rights from the tribunal of his superior. Moreover it is not the business of a private individual to summon together the people, which has to be done in wartime. And as the care of the common weal is committed to those who are in authority, it is their business to watch over the common weal of the city, kingdom or province subject to them. And just as it is lawful for them to have recourse to the sword in defending that common weal against internal disturbances, when they punish evil-doers, according to the words of the Apostle (Rm. 13:4): “He beareth not the sword in vain: for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil”; so too, it is their business to have recourse to the sword of war in defending the common weal against external enemies. Hence it is said to those who are in authority (Ps. 81:4): “Rescue the poor: and deliver the needy out of the hand of the sinner”; and for this reason Augustine says (Contra Faust. xxii, 75): “The natural order conducive to peace among mortals demands that the power to declare and counsel war should be in the hands of those who hold the supreme authority.”

Secondly, a just cause is required, namely that those who are attacked, should be attacked because they deserve it on account of some fault. Wherefore Augustine says (Questions. in Hept., qu. x, super Jos.): “A just war is wont to be described as one that avenges wrongs, when a nation or state has to be punished, for refusing to make amends for the wrongs inflicted by its subjects, or to restore what it has seized unjustly.”

Thirdly, it is necessary that the belligerents should have a rightful intention, so that they intend the advancement of good, or the avoidance of evil. Hence Augustine says (De Verb. Dom. [*The words quoted are to be found not in St. Augustine’s works, but Can. Apud. Caus. xxiii, qu. 1]): “True religion looks upon as peaceful those wars that are waged not for motives of aggrandizement, or cruelty, but with the object of securing peace, of punishing evil-doers, and of uplifting the good.” For it may happen that the war is declared by the legitimate authority, and for a just cause, and yet be rendered unlawful through a wicked intention. Hence Augustine says (Contra Faust. xxii, 74): “The passion for inflicting harm, the cruel thirst for vengeance, an unpacific and relentless spirit, the fever of revolt, the lust of power, and such like things, all these are rightly condemned in war.”

The most recent formulation of the Just War doctrine for the Church is set forth in the Catechism at 2309:

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25 Responses to A Just War

  • Good post, Don. My concerns about the actual justness of the war have always been found in two areas. Given that some of the leading patriots (mostly in MA) like Samuel Adams could rightfully be called rabbel-rousers. Sam Adams was nowhere nearly as thoughtful and principled as his cousin John, but did have a gift of zealous leadership. On the whole I think his contribution is problematic from a Catholic standpoint.

    The other issue ties into the above. Were things really becoming that bad for the colonists? Were they overreacting to legitimate governing decisions? Objectively, it’s hard to say for sure. I always tend to soothe my doubts by considering April 19, 1775. The justice/injustice of all prior affairs become somewhat suspended at that point. General Gage’s actions were an act of war – at the very least a deliberate provocation to war – and the results could have been easily foreseen by any reasonable man.

    Now after a week of discussions and arguments on this blog I’m doubting my doubts. I think you and others have done a good job arguing that the escalations by the crown over the previous decade were not only unjust, but knowingly intended to harm and/or provoke the colonists, and were only to increase in number and severity. But I guess in the end it’s the words of Edmund Burke’s that tend to exonerate the colonists and condemn the king and parliament.

    Good series of posts, sir.

  • I think I agree with all Burke’s arguments. My doubts as to the justice of the war center, I guess, around whether it was really appropriate for the colonists to get all that worked up about the state of taxation in the first place. Historically, I can see why they did. And once they objected, the British crown seemingly did everything in their power to push the colonists further and further in the path towards war.

    But while I can agree that the taxes were without precedent in the colonies and were imposed in a fashion which the colonists had decent reasons for considering unjust, there’s a part of me that wants to say that the level of taxation was simply not worth getting that upset about.

    That may be a case of overly imposing a modern set of experiences and expectations, however.

    That’s a quibble, though. Very well written and researched post. Thank you.

  • I think the biggest problem you’re going to have in justifying the Revolution is in #4. While the imposed taxes were unjust, they were hardly that damaging save in principle. Do taxes justify killing? This is exactly what the Church would demand under #4, so that the good obtained outweighs the evil done. I hardly think so. Moreover, Aquinas is very clear that rebellions themselves are very dangerous, as the loss of order and the resulting chaos is very bad for a society (particularly its unity), thus meaning that rebellions have to meet the very highest standards in order to be considered just. The intrinsic ills of rebellion have to be added to the evils that would have to be outweighed by the good accomplished by independence.

    It’s also worth noting that just b/c the English were provoking us to war doesn’t mean we’re justifying in fighting it. All that means is that England is fighting an unjust war (which I think is VERY clear), not that we’re fighting a just one. Two opposing sides can be engaged in an unjust war against each other at the same time.

    Finally, the reason they have the “chance of success” is that as you can see in Aquinas, there is a sense that the war has to benefit the overall common good. Fighting a losing war b/c of a principle is only going to do further damage to the society. Of course, this is one of the most difficult standards to discern but I think it’s a very necessary one.

  • Very good points Michael.

  • Thank you for your kind comments Rick and for your kind comments Darwin.

    In reference to your comments Michael, I think the Americans were fighting to retain the right to rule themselves and I agree with them that this is a right worth fighting for. As to the Angelic Doctor and rebellions, what has to be taken into account in the American Revolution is that the colonialists were very much fighting to preserve the status quo initially. If King George and Parliament had simply passed an Act in 1775 confirming the status quo prior to the Stamp Act, the Americans will be only taxed by their legislatures and the legislatures have the sole power to legislate in regard to the internal affairs of the colonists, all but a few of the Patriots would have been willing to accept it. No such offer was made, and Independence came about because it became clear to most Americans that the status quo they yearned for would never be granted to them by George III.

  • Two opposing sides can be engaged in an unjust war against each other at the same time.

    I can see how this could be true in certain kinds of situations (say you have two tribal/ethnic groups both trying to ethnic cleanse the others) but in general it would seem to me that if someone wages a unjust aggression against you, wouldn’t it fairly obviously be just to resist that unjust aggression?

    Is there something I’m missing there?

  • I think the Americans were fighting to retain the right to rule themselves and I agree with them that this is a right worth fighting for.

    Yes, it is worth fighting for but is it worth killing over? This is not an issue of a foreign country attempting to take over; this is an example of a jurisdictional battle between the colonial assemblies and Parliament. It’s notable that the Burke quote you give suggests that Parliament would have to grant those rights to the colonists, not that those rights existed before the French & Indian war.

    Furthermore, Aquinas specifically discusses that the presence of a tyrant is not sufficient to justify war & rebellion, as it is possible that God has allowed the tyrant as a punishment for the sins of the people. Thus, in Aquinas’s mind, the tyrant has to be exceptionally bad (at war with his own people, essentially) to justify revolt.

    To put this in perspective, would any state or group of states be conducting a just rebellion due to the federal government’s usurpation of states rights and excessive taxes?

    People are going to die, including innocent people. While that number is not large, that doesn’t matter. Just war doctrine is not a consequentialist theory. To engage is war, to take a life, always requires dire circumstances and no other resorts. That is a very high standard, one which a tax and jurisdictional dispute is hard pressed to meet.

    As to the Angelic Doctor and rebellions, what has to be taken into account in the American Revolution is that the colonialists were very much fighting to preserve the status quo initially. If King George and Parliament had simply passed an Act in 1775 confirming the status quo prior to the Stamp Act, the Americans will be only taxed by their legislatures and the legislatures have the sole power to legislate in regard to the internal affairs of the colonists, all but a few of the Patriots would have been willing to accept it. No such offer was made, and Independence came about because it became clear to most Americans that the status quo they yearned for would never be granted to them by George III.

    I don’t think that quite gets to what Aquinas is saying. He argues that a rejection of the ruling order necessarily leads one to chaos as well undermines the unity of a society. The brother against brother idea is something that horrifies Aquinas, as the division of a society at such root undermines the community as a whole. This makes it difficult for such critical institutions as the community, family, and Church to function properly, thus endangering their ability to provide the necessary framework for man to function, thrive and ultimate receive salvation. Thus Aquinas takes care to argue that rebellion is only permissible in the worst of situations.

    While the colonists were being harmed and treated unjustly, I don’t think they were so mistreated as to justify war.

  • Thus, in Aquinas’s mind, the tyrant has to be exceptionally bad (at war with his own people, essentially) to justify revolt.

    This is precisely why the events of April 19, 1775 is so important. Whether the acts of the king and parliament previously were intended to be oppressive or provocative it became hard to consider them any but at that point. Great Britain began to wage war against the colonial population that night. They hoped to chop the colonial head off in one fast swipe and declare an easy victory. That didn’t happen and they got a very surprising ass-kicking. The war was on from that point forward.

  • Darwin

    I can see how this could be true in certain kinds of situations (say you have two tribal/ethnic groups both trying to ethnic cleanse the others) but in general it would seem to me that if someone wages a unjust aggression against you, wouldn’t it fairly obviously be just to resist that unjust aggression?

    Is there something I’m missing there?

    Well, the just war theory is designed around making sure the war is serving the interests of peace and the common good. So if one fights a war with no chance of winning, even against an unjust aggressor, you’re not serving the interests of peace and the common good; you’re just fighting to fight.

    If you fight a war, particularly in the modern age, that’s going to be exceptionally bloody, it may not be just. Nuclear war is a good example of this. If for example fighting a war required fighting a nuclear war, along with Armageddon that comes with as a result, it wouldn’t be just to fight back.

    Finally, the intention of securing peace has to be there. For example, the Soviets in WWII were repelling an unjust German invasion, however the intention was not to restore peace but to extend the Soviet landholdings.

    Using those criteria, you can see how it’s possible for two sides to be engaging in just war against each other. You could probably plug many other wars into the equation as well.

    It might also be helpful to think about the difference between Lockean justification of revolution/war and Thomistic ones. Locke believed that any violation of the social contract (i.e. rights violation) moved us back into the state of nature, a place where any attack justified killing. We have to be careful to avoid that thinking, as it’s prevalent especially in the narrative justifying the Revolution in American textbooks. Thomas on the other hand takes a much more cautious approach, seeking always to encourage people to peace whereas Locke would lead many people more to war.

    I think your question is good and it shows the difficulty of the just war theory. It very much leads to many scenarios where one has to turn the other cheek.

  • Rick

    This is precisely why the events of April 19, 1775 is so important. Whether the acts of the king and parliament previously were intended to be oppressive or provocative it became hard to consider them any but at that point. Great Britain began to wage war against the colonial population that night. They hoped to chop the colonial head off in one fast swipe and declare an easy victory. That didn’t happen and they got a very surprising ass-kicking. The war was on from that point forward.
    This is good. Y’all are making good points. By the way, I lean towards the American Revolution being unjust but I may be wrong. I do think the American narrative of the war is unjust, but you’re getting to why it might actually be just. Allow me to challenge you a little bit here.

    The problem you’ll have is that Britain was responding to an act of rebellion. That is, the rebellion/war was already happening to some extent. I don’t know that I can say attacking a rebellious group that’s stockpiling weapons is necessarily a oppressive action; most governments should act when that’s going on.

    So I don’t you can say “England attacked, therefore rebellion was justified” b/c England attacked b/c of the rebellion that was already present unless you separate them someone (i.e. Before England attacked Concord, the rebellion was unjust but the methods England used showed that in fact England had created a war against its own people, justifying martial defense). I suppose it’s possible, but it seems rather difficult. But I’m open to your response.

  • After the first paragraph, there should be no italics. Mea culpa.

  • “Yes, it is worth fighting for but is it worth killing over?”

    Without a doubt in my mind. In the case of the Americans they were being told that although they had thought they ruled themselves, Parliament, at any time, could alter their government and impose any laws they chose. This was far more than a jurisdictional dispute. It went to the heart of whether the colonialists were free men, or mere subjects who had no voice in their government.

    “as it is possible that God has allowed the tyrant as a punishment for the sins of the people.”

    With all due respect to the Angelic Doctor one could just as easily suppose that God brings a tyrant forth to provoke a rebellion in order to serve His purposes. The motives that can be ascribed to God for human events are endless and I think resting public policy on an assertion that something is “God’s Will” is normally a mistake since the will of God is often exceptionally inscrutable in my experience.

    “To put this in perspective, would any state or group of states be conducting a just rebellion due to the federal government’s usurpation of states rights and excessive taxes?”

    Sure under these conditions. The Federal government imposes new taxes on only the Midwestern States. These states are stripped of representation in Congress. When legislatures and citizens protest the unfairness of this, federal legislation is enacted ensuring that all state officials in these states will be appointed by the President and that the legislatures will meet in session only when these new officials say that they will. A Declaratory Act is passed by Congress stating that the Midwestern States are subject to the laws passed by Congress in all things, any acts of the legislatures or the state constitutions notwithstanding. In the meantime Chicago, the hotbed of resistance, is garrisoned by federal troops. Under these conditions I would be willing to place my 52 year old carcass at the disposal of the state forces of Illinois organizing to fight this.

  • “He argues that a rejection of the ruling order necessarily leads one to chaos as well undermines the unity of a society.”

    Yes, but in the case of the colonies they had been ruling themselves since the inception of the colonies. It was George III and Parliament who were disturbing the ruling order.

  • On Burke, Peter Stanlis and the sadly departed Francis Canavan SJ have written much worth reading about him and North America.

    What a genius he was…..

  • Thanks, Michael. First:

    I don’t know that I can say attacking a rebellious group that’s stockpiling weapons is necessarily a oppressive action; most governments should act when that’s going on.

    I think it’s important to consider time and place. Just because our modern society has been so blessed by material prosperity, relative peace, etc. AND due to those things has become a little whacked about how it views firearms and weapons, that we need to be careful how we consider an act of disarming a population – and how to view “stockpiling weapons”.

    To our modern ears “stockpiling weapons” sounds like something a doomsday cult does in preparation for Armageddon. However, colonial America was still basically frontier living. Firearms were absolutely necessary for harvesting wildlife as well as defending oneself. Remember, the army of the colonies was a citizen militia that was raised and supported in part by Great Britain (who used these very militias to fight her battles with the Indians). Stockpiling weapons was an ongoing business, it was necessary and a constant thing all along.

    You don’t have to be a member of the Sons of Liberty – or even be terribly sympathetic to them – to be very distraught about the idea of the imperial government sending out regulars to confiscate your weapons store. The mounting tensions regardless of who was at fault for what and when leave one with little choice but to assign nefarious motives to that act.

    After all, just because General Gage had the authority to do it, doesn’t make it just. There are limits to what a government can do its citizens, right? Personally I think they crossed the line and I think it’s pretty obvious the citizens (not just the SoL) of the day thought so too.

  • Thanks for fixing my last post.

    Rick:

    My history may be fuzzy, but it was clear that they weren’t stockpiling just for hunting or Indians, but for resistance to the Brits, right? I’m all for the 2nd amendment and all that, but I think stockpiling against the government is a serious act of rebellion.

    Donald:

    Without a doubt in my mind. In the case of the Americans they were being told that although they had thought they ruled themselves, Parliament, at any time, could alter their government and impose any laws they chose. This was far more than a jurisdictional dispute. It went to the heart of whether the colonialists were free men, or mere subjects who had no voice in their government.

    This is Aquinas’s thoughts.Summa II Q42 A II.

    Reply to Objection 3. A tyrannical government is not just, because it is directed, not to the common good, but to the private good of the ruler, as the Philosopher states (Polit. iii, 5; Ethic. viii, 10). Consequently there is no sedition in disturbing a government of this kind, unless indeed the tyrant’s rule be disturbed so inordinately, that his subjects suffer greater harm from the consequent disturbance than from the tyrant’s government. Ondeed it is the tyrant rather that is guilty of sedition, since he encourages discord and sedition among his subjects, that he may lord over them more securely; for this is tyranny, being conducive to the private good of the ruler, and to the injury of the multitude.

    What I’m challenging you on is this. That while England may have been tyrannical, that the disturbance that came from the colonist’s resistance was greater than the harm done from England, thus meaning that the overall common good was harmed and the war was unjust. We may get to an impasse here, but I think you’ll need to show not only that England was being tyrannical, but that it was of such devastating tyranny as to justify war.

    With all due respect to the Angelic Doctor one could just as easily suppose that God brings a tyrant forth to provoke a rebellion in order to serve His purposes. The motives that can be ascribed to God for human events are endless and I think resting public policy on an assertion that something is “God’s Will” is normally a mistake since the will of God is often exceptionally inscrutable in my experience.

    I think Aquinas’s point is to give one pause before assuming that jettisoning the tyrant is the will of God b/c he is a tyrant and is in sin, which is the way Locke looks at it. Of course God may will that the tyran be defeated, but he may not, which is why it is very important to look at the other tenets of the just war theory; namely the amount of damage being done by the tyrant compared to the amount of damage done by a violent rebellion.

    As to the federal v. states example, it may also be important to remember that the colonists were not innocent in all this. There were quite a few of them, especially anti-Catholic Sam Adams, who were actively seeking to provoke war. The Boston Tea Party is such an action. While the Brits overreacted, it’s not like most of their moves were out of the blue and solely after a desire to grab power, but to try to retain order.

    Of course, how much each action was for order and how much for power of Parliament is a difficult trick, which is why these decisions are very complicated and require much prayer.

    P.S. Thanks to the both of you for arguing in a charitable manner. It’s rare to see it on blogs, and so I like to compliment it when I see it.

  • Michael, I guess I’m disputing the the term “stockpiling” and then using it as a means to show ill intent on behalf of the colonists. The arsenal at Concord was already in existence prior to this lead up and was not something anyone would have considered threatening or an ominous sign. That the militia may have felt threatened by the actions of the British and were solicitous about keeping the munition stores full and safe is not an act of aggression or an imminent threat. I guess what I’m trying to say is the arsenal at Concord was the default and prior to the escalations was actually something the British looked favorably upon.

    I’m trying to be careful to not utilize biased rhetoric in support of my position, though I know I basically just did. However, I did try to use it in support of genuine argument. I can only explain feeling the need to use that is that I think your characterization is laden with it the other way.

  • Rick:

    I’m trying to be careful to not utilize biased rhetoric in support of my position, though I know I basically just did. However, I did try to use it in support of genuine argument.

    Absolutely. I hope I didn’t give the impression I thought otherwise. I thought your observation was a good one and one I need to keep in mind.

    Michael, I guess I’m disputing the the term “stockpiling” and then using it as a means to show ill intent on behalf of the colonists. The arsenal at Concord was already in existence prior to this lead up and was not something anyone would have considered threatening or an ominous sign. That the militia may have felt threatened by the actions of the British and were solicitous about keeping the munition stores full and safe is not an act of aggression or an imminent threat. I guess what I’m trying to say is the arsenal at Concord was the default and prior to the escalations was actually something the British looked favorably upon.

    That’s what I was asking. Namely, was the purpose or level of the munitions such to be an obvious threat to the Brits. Now I will need to go do some research on my own to look more into what the situation was in Concord. Do you have any links or sources that may be helpful in this regard?

  • Michael, I breezed through a couple wiki entries and am satisfied enough with the content to stand here feeling both confirmed and corrected.

    The Minutemen entry is adequate enough to get a feel of the militia system and it’s history and how it was effected by the building crisis with the Crown (see the section about the revolutionary period). I think this is relevant to understand that the militias weren’t merely an organized revolutionary outlaws and that they were by nature armed by themselves and that was the status quo.

    Read about the Powder Alarm to see how things were and how they changed during the British escalations. Here is where I was wrong. I stated that the Concord arsenal predated these events. It did not. I thought Concord contained one of the magazines that were emptied and munitions hidden. Apparently the munitions came from another town to be hidden there.

    See the Lexington and Concord entry for details on the British intentions to confiscate the colonist’s arms and the hunt for the cannon and munitions. Oh, and the fires set too.

    IDK, it’s hard for me to not consider those events as an act of war.

  • When we consider the justice of the colonists cause, we should do well not to forget their opposition to the Quebec act and to limits on their ability to encroach on territory that the British crown had yielded, in treaties, to Indian tribes. I’m not sure how these causes, the justice of which is, at the least, suspect, would affect the overall jus ad bellum of the Revolution, but the do seem like they need to be considered.

  • I believe that by “there must be a serious prospect of success” can be interpreted to mean whether the intended consequences will be met without any unintended adverse consequences which are just as bad if not worse then the evils being fought. For example, World War II may have eliminated the Nazis but resulted in a great part of Europe falling under the yoke of Communism for over 60 years.

    As Howard Zinn once wrote:

    We’ve got to rethink this question of war and come to the conclusion that war cannot be accepted, no matter what the reasons given, or the excuse: liberty, democracy; this, that. War is by definition the indiscriminate killing of huge numbers of people for ends that are uncertain. Think about means and ends, and apply it to war. The means are horrible, certainly. The ends, uncertain. That alone should make you hesitate.

  • Awakaman, while your point is not lost on me, and I have great sympathy regarding the fate of Eastern Europe post-war, I think WWII is poor support for your point. I think FDR selling out Eastern Europe to Stalin was basically immoral, imprudent, unnecessary and unwise. However, the fate of those people would have been no better had the Axis Powers not been defeated, plus much of Western Europe and a good chunk of Asia and other parts of the world would have suffered the same fate. And since Western Europe and the US prevailed and were able to stand as a successful contrasting example – and as a stumbling block to Communist expansion – those 60 years may have been a drop in the bucket in comparison to what might have been. I don’t like playing “what-if” all that much, but I think these are reasonable observations and conclusions.

  • Rick:

    You state that the “fate of these people would have been no better had the Axis Powers not been defeated” but the point of my previous post was maybe they would not have been in a better position under the Axis then the Communists but a lot fewer of them would have been dead as a result of a four year war of attrition.

    “[T]hose 60 years may have been a drop in the bucket compared to what might have been?” I think the most probable result of non-British/French/US intervention would have been a prolonged war of attrition between Germany and the USSR which woud have resulted in the collapse of both regiemes.

    Finally, what do you mean by the US prevailed

  • No, awakaman, without a doubt one of them would have prevailed, probably the Nazis without lendlease to the USSR and the western bombing campaign that tied down so much of the Luftwaffe in the West, not to mention a third of the Wehrmacht that, without western opposition, could have been deployed against the USSR. Then the West would probably have faced a Nazi regime armed with nuclear ICBMs circa 1952.

  • Hand hit the submit button prior to finishing:

    Finallhy what do you mean by “the US prevailed and were able to stand as a successful contrasting example.” How so? By showing that we were willing to kill alot of our own troops, others troops and a lot of innocent civilians in the name of “liberty and freedom/” By showing that we were willing to enter into an alliance with one evil in order to defeat another? Sure the Axis were defeated but excuse me if I view the post WWII world as much worse than the ante bellum world – and that applies to the effect the prolonged and expanded war had on areas of the world which were not ceaded to Stalin and Mao after the war.

Major Development in Iran

Sunday, July 5, AD 2009

Free Iran

Yesterday the most important group of clerics in Iran, the Association of Researchers and Teachers of Qum, called the Presidential election in Iran illegitimate.  It is now impossible for the Iranian regime to claim the Iranian Resistance is restricted to a handful of malcontents or foreign agents.  This is the grimmest news yet since the election for the Iranian regime, and the best news that the Resistance has received.  Good analysis here at Hot Air by Ed Morrissey.  Now the Iranian regime has to decide if they are going to arrest and hang these clerics who have been the mainstay of the regime as they have been hanging protesters.  The clerics speaking out indicates clearing that there is a strong division among the ruling elites in Iran as to whether Ahmadinejad and his puppet masters can stay in power.  This coming week could be decisive in Iran.

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Charles Carroll: Our Catholic Founding Father

Saturday, July 4, AD 2009

Charles Carroll of Carrollton was a delegate to the Continental Congress and later United States Senator for Maryland. He was also the only Catholic to have signed the The Declaration of Independence. One of the wealthiest men in the colonies, it is reported that — upon fixing his signature,

a member standing near observed, “There go a few millions,” and all admitted that few risked as much, in a material sense, than the wealthy Marylander.

(The Life of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, 1737-1832, by Kate Mason Rowland).

A new biography, American Cicero: The Life of Charles Carroll (Lives of the Founders) (ISI) will be published in February 2010. (Tip of the hat to Carl Olson). The author, Dr. Bradley J. Birzer, was recently interviewed by the Washington Times:

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Ending the Revolution

Saturday, July 4, AD 2009

The 4th of July is the primary patriotic holiday of our country, and yet the event it commemorates (the publication of the Declaration of Independence) was just the first step on our road to nationhood. Although the Second Continental Congress ratified the Declaration of Independence in 1776, the Articles of Confederation were not adopted until November of 1777 and were not ratified until March of 1781 — the year that the Revolutionary War was finally won, with the surrender of General Cornwallis in Yorktown. Yet the Articles turned out to be a fairly unworkable practical form of government, and Shay’s Rebellion of 1786-1787 demonstrated that to many of the new country’s citizens, armed revolt was still a standard form of political expression.

The ratification of the US Constitution in March of 1789 represented a significant step, creating a stronger central government with more clearly defined powers, and a model for federal constitutions to this day. Yet, whether the words on paper could be translated into a lasting and stable government remained yet to be seen.

To my mind, one of the major milestones was reached in 1794, when President Washington put down the Whiskey Rebellion.

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