Venerable Pope Pius XII

Saturday, December 19, AD 2009

Pope Benedict has decreed Pope Pius XII Venerable which moves the hero Pope of World War II closer to sainthood.  I deem Pope Pius XII a hero because, confronting one of the cruelest tyrants in the lamentable chronicles of human crime, he saved hundreds of thousands of potential victims.  Millions of people alive today owe their lives to the actions of Pius XII.  Jewish historian Martin Gilbert, the world’s foremost authority on Sir Winston Churchill, and one of the most highly regarded historians of the World War II era, has stated as follows:

“Gilbert replied: “Please read my new book, ‘The Righteous.’ I’ve written extensively there about the Catholic Church, some of whose leaders played a remarkable part in the rescue of Jews, many of whose priests and […] ordinary Catholics played a remarkable part.”

“The Pope himself was denounced by Dr. Goebbels” — the Nazi propaganda minister — “for having taken the side of the Jews in the Christian message, in December 1942, where he criticized racism,” Gilbert said.

He continued: “The Pope also played a part, which I describe in some detail, in the rescue of three-quarters of the Jews of Rome, at very short notice, when the SS came in and tried to round up all 5,000, at least 4,000 of whom were given shelter in the Vatican itself and other Catholic places. …

“So I hope that my book can restore, in a way, on the foundation of historical fact, the true and wonderful achievements of Catholics in helping Jews during the war.”

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12 Responses to Venerable Pope Pius XII

  • It seems to me that the story of Eugenio Pacelli and the Roman Catholic Church of his era is the major untold story of the first-half of the 20th century. So far we have been given tantalising glimpses, a few pages worth in many books. But the subject calls for a book length treatment by a historian of the calibre of Michael Burleigh or Robert Service. For some reason most of the best history books of the last 10-15 years dealing with the period of WW11 have come from British historians, I hope that one their number will take up the challenge. For my part I am going to ask for Blessed Pius’ help in a private difficulty.

  • Burleigh would be a good historian to attempt it. His Nazi Germany: A New History, is the best one volume history I have read on the Third Reich. His Earthly Powers and Sacred Causes which examines the clash of religion and politics in Europe from the French Revolution to the War on Terror displays an immense knowledge of both religious and profane history.

  • He said the same of Pope John Paul II.


  • This is wonderful news. Venerable Pius XII, ora pro nobis.

  • Great news for a great man. Pius and John Paul, two giants of a horrific century, pray for us!!

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  • The accusations against Pius XII are totally unwarrented and often a result of disonest motivations. But I also think he is not quite the hero some portray him has. One of his grest accomplishments is that he restored a papacy to a place on the world stage that had been lost since Napoleon. But that is the point. In the 30s and 40s, the papacy did not have the role or the influence it does today.

    The great heros are the leaders of Weimer period German Catholicism, particularly the Centre Party and the Catholic Trade Unions — Blessed Nikolas Gross, Jacob Kaiser, Wilhelm Marx, etc.

  • Interesting link Recorder!

  • I am very thankful that Pope Pius XII has finally been declared Venerable. He personally did more to help the Jews of World War II than any individual allied war leader,with all of their posturing and handshaking with Stalin that needed to take place. How dare anyone question the Pope’s virtues when he was so widely acclaimed by so many after the War.

Senator Nelson Sells Out Unborn, Health Care Bill Heads to Vote

Saturday, December 19, AD 2009

(Updates at the bottom of this article.)

Harry Reid was able to make huge concessions to the state of Nebraska and bought Senator Ben Nelson’s vote a la Mary Landrieu.  The vote seems headed to the floor with all 60 votes secured to impose on American’s draconian laws that would hike insurance rates and begin the downward slope towards European style socialism.

Nelson secured full federal funding for his state to expand Medicaid coverage to all individuals below 133 percent of the federal poverty level. Other states must pay a small portion of the additional cost. He won concessions for qualifying nonprofit insurers and for Medigap providers from a new insurance tax. He also was able to roll back cuts to health savings accounts.

What’s in the bill that I’m aware of?  I’ve broken down the Washington Post article almost verbatim below:

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29 Responses to Senator Nelson Sells Out Unborn, Health Care Bill Heads to Vote

  • Senator Nelson said this, this morning:

    “Let me be clear. This cloture vote is based on the full understanding that there will be a limited conference between the Senate and the House.

    If there are material changes in that conference report different from this bill that adversely affect the agreement, I reserve the right to vote against the next cloture vote.

    Let me repeat it: I reserve the right to vote against the next cloture vote if there are material changes to this agreement in the conference report. And I will vote against it if that is the case.”

    I am not thrilled with his decision. I am happy that his mailbox is full and so is Senator Casey’s. But this is not a done deal. The legislation has to be reconciled — the slightest appeasement of liberals in the House can kill this thing in the Senate. Better yet, the abortion language is not going to fly well in the House. The first go round there were 64 Democrats to vote for the Stupak amendment and at the end of the day with 39 Democrats voting “NO”. To see this thing fail, there needs to be merely 2 upset Democrats to vote the other way.

    This isn’t over.

    Moreover, I am not surprised. Recent stories in the press suggest that Senator Nelson was being threatened. Maybe they were true. Maybe they weren’t.

    Either way, hopefully this will not succeed.

  • Eric,

    I think you’re absolutely right on this. I think Stupak and the pro-life Dems in the House will hold the line on this.

  • Let’s see. The Democrats, if they can pass this stripped down bill through the Senate, still have to convince the House Dems to scrap their much more ambitious bill. Then there will be a huge fight over the Stupak amendment.

    If this bill passes it will then not be fully implemented until 2014, coincidentally, I am sure, two years after the Presidential election of 2012.

    I do have to hand it to the Dems if they pass this for doing what I considered impossible. They have crafted a bill which is opposed by a majority of the American people, liberal Democrats and virtually all Republicans. They have all the signals known to political man flashing red and saying that this is a one way ticket to a crushing defeat in 2010. Passage of this bill will depress liberal Democrats, the base of the Democrat party, unify and inflame Republicans, and cause Independents to desert the party of the donkey en masse. Never has a political party in my lifetime labored so strenuously to implement a policy that guarantees them an extended vacation in the political wilderness. Democrats have nothing on Lemmings at the moment when it comes to survival instict.

  • I am actually more surprised that Lieberman is voting “Yes.”

    Actually I am shocked they killed the public option.


    We have Republicans defending Medicare (since when?!) and Democrats supporting insurance companies offering national plans that do not have to adhere to state laws (what the…?)

    Our Congressmen need to have their heads examined.

  • Wait…how do they expect to get a bill without a public option through the House?

  • lol Eric, good question. You already have some Dems who pledged to vote it down if abortion funding was scrapped… imagine what they will do with no public option!?

    This whole thing is going to fall apart.

  • I’m trying to understand the bill. So states will able to prohibit subsidized plans from covering abortion. In those states that will allow abortion coverage, individuals will be able to purchase abortion coverage on top of their regular coverage.

    If that’s right, I don’t see what’s so objectionable. Sure, it’s not as good as barring coverage altogether but this is not bad. Those who want abortion coverage will have to pay extra for it. In practice, few would buy the supplemental abortion insurance.

  • I am not sure if that’s how it works. I read something a moment ago suggesting people would have to send two checks — one for abortion coverage, the other for the whole policy. I think it is still account gymnastics.

    I am not sure.

  • So it depends on whether it’ll be the individual’s choice or the insurer’s choice. If the individual gets to choose whether to send that abortion check, this bill isn’t so bad. If everyone has to pay the same premium and the insurers segregate it, that’s unacceptable.

    Need more clarity.

  • Any reaction from the USCCB on this one???

  • Your blog managed to list on google search for reaction to the health care debate.

    As an Irish Catholic who use to be republican, its always distressing to encounter members of holy church who have been utterly beguiled by the evangelical right, I pray for such folks.

    While the issue of abortion is a serious moral lapse in our society, the lies and deception of the GOP and evangelicals pose a more serious danger to both the republic and freedom of faith.

    Pettifogging health care as an element of the debate over abortion is rank hypocrisy and not worthy of big or little C catholicism.

    One can only hope other Catholics who have followed the disciples of the lie into the modern GOP tent will like Paul have their eyes opened to the reality they adhere to a political theology crafted by the Father of lies and promoted by his agents in the GOP.

  • Republicans as agents of Satan? Mr. Keller, it is never a good idea to blog drunk.

  • Mr. Keller would appear to be Gerald L. Campbell’s doppelganger.

  • When I stop Chuckling, Mr. McClarey I assure both lucidity and habitual tea tootling, Nor did I offer implication all republicans serve as agents of the diabolical any more than all members of the German Army were responsible for the Holocaust,

    Art Deco’s reference to Campbell is pithy oh so pithy still I wish you both a merry Christmas

  • Well Mr. Keller, now we have Republicans compared to members of the Wehrmacht and the Holocaust. As I have said to some of my clients when they have committed some felony or misdemeanor sober, “I would prefer that you would at least have had the small excuse that you did this drunk”. And the merriest of Christmases to you.

  • Last one Donald, may I call you Donald? I’m in Phoenix and have to get ready as I prefer Saturday mass, Clients, felony? are you an attorney Don?

    Funny if you are as I find it difficult to distinguish between modern republican leaders and lawyers, both have the tendency when they lack points of authority or a cogent argument to pound the table and besmirch the character of the opposing advocate.

    Please trust me when I say unlike politicians, I will accuse directly when the occasion calls for it.

    Oh I hear the GOP has invited the John Birch society back into the fold, yea that will help.

    Really I try to treat all people as individuals worthy of respect but every time I hear Glen Beck or Sister Sarah Palin speak I think of Forest Gump, White trash is as White trash does, yea that’s going to cost a few hail Mary’s but it had to be said but at least the Merry Christmas was sincere

  • “both have the tendency when they lack points of authority or a cogent argument to pound the table and besmirch the character of the opposing advocate.”

    I am an attorney. The legal saw you are recalling is that when the facts are against you, you argue the law, when the law is against you, you argue the facts, and when both are against you, you pound the table and abuse your opponent. Mr. Keller, as you called Republicans agents of Satan and compared them to members of the Wehrmacht during the Holocaust I would suggest that it is you who have been pounding the table. Of course we also have your charming White Trash reference.

    As for the John Birch society, I can imagine few organizations with less significance for the Republican party. Back in the Fifties William F. Buckley wrote them out of the conservative movement after they accused Ike of being a Communist. Their influence on the conservative movement and the Republican party has been nil since then.

  • Yeah, it’s Campbell.

  • Oh, and Campbell’s referring to CPAC (not the GOP, but who needs facts when you have a hatchet?) having the Birchers as one of their many sponsors. They also have a gay lobbying group as a sponsor this year, so I wonder how he’d process that.

  • Well Mr. Keller or Gerald Campbell or whoever you are, I’ve deleted your last comment since it was an attempt to hijack this thread as part of your effort to convince people that Republicans are evil incarnate. Due to the content of your posts I am also banning you from this blog. Mere invective simply leads to futile combox feuds and we try to avoid that on this blog.

  • “Passage of this bill will depress liberal Democrats, the base of the Democrat party, unify and inflame Republicans, and cause Independents to desert the party of the donkey en masse.”

    I hope so, Don, but I wouldn’t count on it; never underestimate the ability of the GOP (particularly in Illinois, but this is true elsewhere also) to snatch defeat from the jaws of certain victory.

  • In Illinois Elaine I grant you, although even here I think the Republicans will gain two house seats and make take the Senate seat. As for the rest of the country, I think the Democrats are in worse shape than they were in going into the 1994 elections when the Republicans took Congress

  • This will go-down in history as but a Pyhrric victory where political costs outweigh the benefits to the Democrats… if people weren’t pissed at the power-drunk Dems before, they likely are now…

    These tools like Nelson will soon regret the day they did this for Obama, he’ll pull all these fools right-over the abyss with him… and the coming GOP majority will rescind it anyway…

  • At this stage there will be a bill with features somewhere between the House and Senate bills. Illinois will see the Dems pick up Kirk’s seat, the GOP pick up one, and even odds for the pro-choice Republican senate candidate beating the Dem.

  • I see the GOP in Illinois picking up Halvorson’s seat, Bean’s seat and Foster’s seat. They will probably lose Kirk’s seat. I think they have a decent chance of picking up Hare’s seat also. Kirk is a pro-abort which is why I oppose him in the primary and will not vote for him in the general election.

  • Eric Brown writes Saturday, December 19, 2009:
    “Our Congressmen need to have their heads examined”.

    I am at a loss to understand that a college education has failed to make an impression. A simple review of the behavior of Congress throughout the 19th and 20th Centuries would demonstrate that these behaviors are par for the course.

    Senator Nelson was bribed. So also was Senator Landrieu. What’s new about the behavior of “our only professional criminal class”?

    I suggest that we make a point of asking our senators if they voted for this “compromise” [lege sell-out. Think Munich] what they got for it for their states.

  • It is curious to consider that this bill scheduled to be signed on the day of the Holy Innocents:
    “Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”

  • Very well said Gabriel for something so tragic and sad.

One Response to Handel's Advent Messiah, Part II

In Reparation to the Blessed Virgin Mary

Thursday, December 17, AD 2009

Some swine in Auckland, New Zealand have decided to grab some cheap publicity by blaspheming the Mother of God at Christmas time.  If you want your blood to boil you may see a story about the blasphemy here.  Other than urging actions that a lawyer should not, I think the proper response to this is to repeat this prayer:

Act of Reparation to the Blessed Virgin Mary
O blessed Virgin, Mother of God, look down in mercy from heaven, where thou art enthroned as Queen, upon me, a miserable sinner, thine unworthy servant. Although I know full well my own unworthiness, yet in order to atone for the offenses that are done to thee by impious and blasphemous tongues, from the depths of my heart I praise and extol thee as the purest, the fairest, the holiest creature of all God’s handiwork. I bless thy holy name, I praise thine exalted privilege of being truly Mother of God, ever virgin, conceived without stain of sin, co-redemptrix of the human race. I bless the Eternal Father who chose thee in an especial way for His daughter; I bless the Word Incarnate who took upon Himself our nature in thy bosom and so made thee His Mother; I bless the Holy Spirit who took thee as His bride. All honor, praise and thanksgiving to the ever-blessed Trinity, who predestined thee and loved thee so exceedingly from all eternity as to exalt thee above all creatures to the most sublime heights. O Virgin, holy and merciful, obtain for all who offend thee the grace of repentance, and graciously accept this poor act of homage from me thy servant, obtaining likewise for me from thy divine Son the pardon and remission of all my sins. Amen.

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13 Responses to In Reparation to the Blessed Virgin Mary

  • I always find it helpful to remember that the people engaging in such things are doing far more harm to themselves than to Mary, me or the Church. No need to call him a swine, or anything else. As your post goes on to indicate, he needs prayer more than insults.

  • Actions as despicable as these deserve not mercy, mind you (else, we do not impose just penalty and treat these individuals as responsible agents), but above all else, in absence of (to say the least) much necessary reparation and indeed penance, may certain consequences befitting such reprehensible deeds befall the individual: more specifically, an eternal roasting of a sort at a spot in Hell where the fires never die and where his/her soul may find unending torment.

  • “No need to call him a swine, or anything else. As your post goes on to indicate, he needs prayer more than insults.”

    The perpretrators definitely need prayers. However, the description swine in this case is not an insult. It is as close to an accurate description as I could come for a family blog.

  • “Swine” is a very offensive comparison, since pigs have much more class than the perpetrators of this blasphemy.

  • A good point Subvet. I apologize to any offended porcines out there.

  • Cracking this kind of “joke” on the spur of the moment, among a group of lowlife friends while roaring drunk, is one thing. Paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars to post it on public billboards, during the Christmas season, in the most in-your-face manner possible is another. Whoever came up with this idea is one seriously disturbed puppy.

  • Hi Don.
    This has created quite a storm over here, as can be witnessed on a couple of blogs I comment on.
    Firstly, which has a post Dec.18th 10 am. entitled “Billboard defaced” , this post follows on from one the previous day entitled “Now they’re complaining about a Church”.
    This is a secular political conservative blog, but if you check the comments, it doesn’t take much to bring all the worms out of the woodwork.In the comboxes much of the vitriol is from atheists, agnostics or anti Catholic protestants. You will see some of us, including prots and reasonable non relilionists.

    Our own Catholic blog, has also discussed this yesterday.

    And now it has gone global – USA and UK. Well the Reverend (gag) Glyn Cardy, the Loony Liberal Canon of this very liberal Anglican church has had his reward. He can smile smugly to himself in the full knowledge that insulting Mary, Joeseph, Jesus and God the Father has brought him world wide “acclaim”, and his reward is as we are told in the gospels, of this world.

    Most rational kiwis, including some atheists I have seen comment, recognise this as cheap, smutty, insulting, degrading and hypocritical. Still, what can you expect from a “priest” who promotes homosexuality(may be gay himself)thinks Jesus’ conception was by Joseph or some other man, does not believe in the bodily Ressurection etc. The man isn’t even Christian to hold those beliefs.

    I guess we have to put aside the righteous anger and pray for the poor slob.

  • Thanks for the update Don. There is nothing lower than a Christian minister of any denomination who seeks cheap publicity by attacking what he is paid to support.

  • A loony liberal Anglican canon is responsible for this? Why am I not surprised? (I couldn’t bear to read the story too closely the first time around).

    Reason 12,389 for traditional Anglicans to jump the Tiber…

    Don the Kiwi, what does the local Catholic bishop think of this? Some years ago Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria, Ill. wrote several outraged letters to newspapers over some guy in the Moline, Ill. area who proposed to name his bar the “Hail Mary Sports Bar and Grill” in reference to the last-minute desperation plays American football fans sometimes refer to as “Hail Mary passes.” The bishop called that “blasphemous” and I believe the owner did decide in the end not to use that name.

    Methinks something like this billboard would be enough to make any observant Catholic bishop lose his lunch, or at least his coffee, especially if he happened to see it while driving or reading the news online….

  • Hi Donna.
    Haven’t heard anything oficial from our Catholic bishops, however it appears that the inappropriately named Arch-deacon Glyn Cardy has been censured by his Anglican bishop, and ordered to remove the sign.

    However, he’s too late. Yesterday an affronted christian painted out the offending billboard, actually while the TV cameras were there for a news item that night, and during the radio interview I listened to with Cardy yesterday afternoon, and he said the sign would be replaced.

    When the billboard was replaced today, a 70 year old woman attacked it with a knife, and cut it to bits. Then when they were going to fix it, somebody stole the thing 😆

    Cardy has condemned the vandalism: but a year ago when the Waihopai sattelite tracking station was attacked by a catholic preist and two supporters in protest against the US, and caused nearly a $1mil. damage, Glyn Cardy spoke out in support of them.( the priest and his supporters have been prosecited and are nore doing time). Cardy’s birds have come home to roost. The billboard is not going to be replaced. 🙂

    Today on David Farrar, the host, has posted “Christian Intolerance”. Now David is a good bloke, but when it comes to matters religious – particularly Catholic – I have on a couple of ocasions told him he is Waaaayy out of his depth.
    Likewise today, where he even criticised Pius X11 and his failure to censure the Nazis for their attacks on Jews.

    Further info, if you are interested, is on – the posters are predominantly catholic.

    Cheers and God bless all.
    Don Beckett

  • “When the billboard was replaced today, a 70 year old woman attacked it with a knife, and cut it to bits.”

    I can think of a few rosary saying ladies of a certain vintage in my parish who would have done precisely the same thing! 🙂

  • All of my life I’ve been puzzled by protestants who are so afraid of Mary. She is the best Mom ever. She helps me every single day with whatever comes up. What in the world is so scary about that???

  • Muslim fanatics blow up civilians on buses and SOME of these same people are willing to excuse and dismiss it on the grounds that they are poor and oppressed.

    Christians cut up a billboard that, if it depicted say Mohammed in a similar way, would start World War III and probably lay the groundwork for World War IV, and they’re “intolerant”.

    I think the destruction of this billboard is the least we can do. God bless that little old lady for having more guts than the vast majority of American Christians.

Senator Nelson Shoots Down Latest Compromise on Health Care Bill

Thursday, December 17, AD 2009

Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska said ‘no-go’ on the most recent health care bill that Harry Reid and the Democrats have compiled.  This most likely will derail President Obama’s efforts to have a Senate health care bill done by Christmas.

“As it is, without modifications, the language concerning abortion is not sufficient,”

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5 Responses to Senator Nelson Shoots Down Latest Compromise on Health Care Bill

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  • The rumor regarding Offutt Air Force Base being threatened with closure is almost certainly wrong. It was first reported by political gossip columnists who are not always reliable.

    The Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission process required by federal law takes years to complete and requires Congressional approval of any proposed list of base closings in full on a straight up or down vote.

    No military base can be closed on the orders of the POTUS alone. Even if Obama tried to start a new BRAC Commission today and get Offutt AFB placed on the closure list he would probably be long out of office before any decision was made. If Sen. Nelson says this rumor is not true I would take his word for it.

  • Actually, I need to correct my previous post.

    The BRAC process is normally initiated by either the Department of Defense or (in the most recent BRAC round in 2005) by Congress itself. The actual process of appointing the commission, visiting bases proposed for closure, making recommendations, etc. usually takes 1 to 2 years. If the POTUS approves a final list of BRAC recommendations, then Congress must either accept or reject the list in its entirety. Then the actual process of carrying out any closures on the list can take up to 5 years longer.

    My point remains, though, that the POTUS cannot unilaterally decide to close ANY military facility. If a new BRAC process were started tomorrow, it would take until at least the end of 2011 or early 2012 to get a list of proposed closures. Even the small to medium size facility closures on past BRAC lists have been controversial; an attempt to close a facility as huge and strategically significant as Offutt AFB (home of the Strategic Air Command) would be a political disaster of Biblical proportions.

  • All that being said… the bottom line is that Sen. Nelson is under tremendous pressure from the White House and from fellow Dems to change his vote, and he does urgently need our prayers and support.

  • Elaine,

    Thanks for clarifying the situation concerning the base closure. I posted the updated link that showed Senator Nelson debunking this, but as you said, he is under a tremendous amount of pressure and the left-wing zealots will do every evil thing imaginable to get their baby killing legislation in the ‘health care’ bill.

Going Rogue

Thursday, December 17, AD 2009

A guest post by Paul Zummo, originally posted at his blog, The Cranky Conservative.

It’s probably not a good idea generally to buy a book out of spite, but in some ways that is precisely what I did when I picked up Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue.  We had had a meeting at work, and several of my co-workers were amusing themselves with some anti-Palin jibes.  So at lunch time I decided to take a stroll to the local book store and pick up Palin’s book, prompting the “Oh, Sarah Palin” observation from the clerk, who must be wondering why anyone in the middle of enlightened Dupont Circle would be interested in the right-wing Neanderthal. And I have to admit that I also delayed reading the book until after I got home from Thanksgiving vacation so that I could proudly read the book on the Metro.

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7 Responses to Going Rogue

  • Great review Paul.

    As I thought she was perturbed by the questions Couric was asking her. Though her responses should have been more ‘presidential’ thank emotional.

  • I believe Mrs. Palin was caught short by the cattiness of Ms. Couric’s questions, and by her attitude.

    There is that about television interviewers / commentators which seems to lead them to think that they have enough political experience to be valuable thinkers on the political scene. They have not. They are mostly graduates of some political science [whatever that is] course, in which they learned techniques of debating, looking to score “Gotcha!” points. Their knowledge of history and of foreign countries and cultures is abominably shallow.

    I wonder how many can speak and read a foreign language.

  • Reading Palin’s book on the D.C. Metro? My, you’re a brave man, Mr. Zummo 🙂

    Gabriel: Actually, I believe most journalists, whether of the vanishing print breed or the TV kind, have “communications” degrees. I believe Canadian novelist Robertson Davies (who was a newspaper man for many years) said it takes a couple of hours tops for a bright kid to learn how to write an “inverted pyramid” news story – it’s not something you should build your education around. He thought a grounding in history, English lit, foreign languages and cultures, etc. was far better preparation for an aspiring reporter, and that the mechanics of the business should be part of the on-the-job training.

  • And I too find it heartening that she is influenced by Sowell. Reading “A Conflict of Visions” completed my own journey from left to right. The country would be in better hands if we had a president who uses Sowell, rather than Alinsky, as a guide.

    One area where I still have lingering doubts about Palin is foreign policy. Yes, she’d do better than Obama, but that’s setting the bar low. It’s a mindfield out there, and I am not sure she’s given it adequate thought. Does she say much about it in her book?

  • Donna:

    She doesn’t touch too much on foreign policy except in the context of energy policy and the need for “energy independence.” She does mention that as Governor of Alaska she did have to deal with the Canadian government on various border issues. As I said, she doesn’t get into a lot of policy detail in the book, but she doesn’t sound like a complete babe in the woods.

  • I second Donna’s endorsement of Sowell. I was first introduced to him in 1979 watching the PBS Free to Choose series hosted by Milton Friedman. He impressed me then and has never stopped. I also enjoyed his Conflict of Visions book. He truly is a first rate thinker.

Pray for the Unemployed this Advent and Christmas

Wednesday, December 16, AD 2009

In my brief life on earth I have not experienced such high unemployment amongst my family and friends this year than ever before.  As each week passes I hear of another friend or acquaintance who has lost his or her job.

This is the worst recession I have seen and I don’t see any signs that it will let up for the next 9-12 months.  So I find it appropriate that a simple request to all our readers to make time this evening prior to going to bed and include those that are unemployed, especially those with families and dependents in your prayers.

With extra time on our hands the unemployed can remain steadfastly busy by working on their faith through prayer and service.  For when work does come around there will not be time for such activities.

The following prayer is a traditional Catholic prayer that I have used from time to time due to the nature of my work of being an independent contractor and one that helps to put life in proper perspective and order:

Dear Lord Jesus Christ,
You wanted all who are weary
To come to You for support.
Lord, I am worn out
By my inability to find work.

Guide my steps to a righteous path;
Give me the patience
To find opportunities with a future.
Calm my worries and fears
As my financial responsibilities mount.
Strengthen my resolve;
Embolden my heart to open doors;
Open my eyes to see life beyond rejections.
Help me believe in me.

Let me realize other ways
To bring about Your kingdom on earth.
Let me grow as a person
That I may be worthy
For Your greater glory.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,


Saint Joseph has been especially helpful for me and I strongly recommend him for those seeking employment:

Dear Saint Joseph, you were yourself once faced with the responsibility of providing the necessities of life for Jesus and Mary. Look down with fatherly compassion upon me in my anxiety over my present inability to support my family. Please help me to find gainful employment very soon, so that this heavy burden of concern will be lifted from my heart and that I am soon able to provide for those whom God has entrusted to my care. Help us to guard against bitterness and discouragement, so that we may emerge from this trial spiritually enriched and with even greater blessings from God.


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11 Responses to Pray for the Unemployed this Advent and Christmas

  • Thank you for this post. I’ve been unemployed for six months, and I’m thankful that I have so much support from my family and friends. I often wonder, when job after job falls through for me, whether God is sending those jobs to people who simply need work more than I do. We should trust that God has a perfect plan for us, and that the right work will come at the right time, at the right place. Praise God!

    Saint Joseph, pray for us!

  • St Joseph is a powerful intercessor. Once had to sell our house quick. Old farmhouse that the real estate agent said would have almost no one interested in. Also said we wouldn’t make our asking price. In four days had two offers both above asking price. Accepted the final offer on March 19th.

  • My prayers for all the unemployed. Nate, I hope you will soon find employment in which you can exercise your considerable talents.

    Tito, these are the worst economic times I can recall in my lifetime.

  • Thank you. I’ve been underemployed for over a year and have been doing a perpetual novena to St. Joseph.

    Also, let’s pray for hasty trips to the unemployment line for our elected officials!

  • “Also, let’s pray for hasty trips to the unemployment line for our elected officials!”

    Hear! Hear!

  • I’ll say a prayer for the under- and unemployed too. We had many layoffs at my place of employment 6 months ago but things are stable – for now. My director warned us today that in another 6 months, we may be in for more belt-tightening, so I am grateful to God for having a job now. Heaven knows what 6 months will bring.

  • Nate and Steve, I’m here with ya. Right now I am earning about 1/4 what I earned monthly this time last year. That’s rough. I am also grateful for the immense support of family and friends, and for the talents and disposition that God has given me. Naturally, I am not a happy-go-lucky guy, but as the last several months of underemployment have worn on, God has given me a greater and greater sense of his presence and providence. That awareness has helped me to be confident, and even happy on a deeper-than-what’s-happening-now basis. I mean, I find myself enjoying experimenting with new recipes for rice and beans. Lolol. Believe it or not, I am actually living in the 3rd or 4th most expensive county in the country on an income below the poverty level, without having lost a pound or gone without shoes – although, mine are starting to look pretty ratty. It’s grace. Grace, grace, grace. He has blessed me with such amazing friends and family, and has given me just enough work to keep from having to beg from strangers or impose upon family.

    I have been trying to fill my time productively: resumes and job hunting, building side businesses, charitable work, odd jobs, prayer, watching favorite movies, socializing with friends, blogging, helping out neighbors. A former coworker of mine was downsized, and very quickly secured a new job. At first I was bitter, but then I realized that he probably needs it more than me. For starters, he has very little family in the area. Now, I find myself happy that he has the job rather than me – if it comes down to a cosmic either-him-or-me. God has taught me so many lessons on this sort of extended retreat.

    God is preparing for each of us just the right thing; and even now, we are exactly where he wants us. That is a consoling thought!

  • Nate, Ryan, et al,

    I’m with you guys on this as well. I have to say that the most fruitful time in my life thus far has been being unemployed.

    Right now is the best time to work on our virtues.

    My spiritual growth has developed by leaps and bounds and I am ever thankful for this.

    God does know what is best for us and we can never thank Him enough for these times.

    Patience, prudence, and faith has been the lessons I am learning these past few months and I am ever more grateful for them.

    Have a great Advent everyone!

    P.S. …and pray to send our politicians to the unemployment line, preferably all of them. They’re rich enough as it is anyways. 😉

  • Lol. You know, at first reaction, I thought the repeated prayer against our politician’s employment was a bit mean-spirited. Your last post has got me thinking, Tito.

    They have got a enough money, haven’t they? Moreover, they are, for the most part, entirely unqualified for the positions that they hold. And last of all, unemployment might teach them a thing or two. Their unemployment, moreover, would probably mean a replacement of their increasingly insane and wicked policies.

    So I’m with you – here’s to our politicians’ sanctification. Lololol.

  • This has been the worst year I can remember. My cousin and her husband both lost their jobs at the same time and there’s a 20% unemployment rate in their town. They are probably going to lose the house, the car, the truck and their marriage.

  • Hey Dymphna,

    Yeah, I have a lot of family in Michigan, where unemployment has been high since the 70s and has reached 27% in this past year. One of my uncles just landed a job after two years of unemployment and two brushes with foreclosure. When he called my mom to tell her, he was almost weeping he was so happy to have work again.

    Such times are hard ones in which to seek and find the hand of God at work. That is the concrete challenge that we face; we also need to help each other see the hand of God at work. If we fail to do so, then we will fall into despair of God’s love… we will forget he loves us. It is so hard to see that in such times. We must spend time, much time in prayer, asking not for our will, but for his, which is surely better.

Humpty Dumpty Defines Conservatism

Wednesday, December 16, AD 2009

“I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,'” Alice said.
Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t – till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!'”
“But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument,'” Alice objected.
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in a rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll 

For whatever reason, adults on the internet often fall into relabelling each others politics with all the glee that second graders find in saying, “Am not!”, “Are too!”, “Am not!” 

Sometimes, it gets downright silly, as in this comment:

Hah! Nobody has yet addressed my basic point – American arch-liberals, direct offsprings of the Enlightenment, are under some illusion that they are “conservative”. Couldn’t be more wrong. As for me, I’m an old-style Christian Democrat with not much time for rights-based individualism, the so-called separation of church and state, lassez-faire liberalism, or muscular nationalism. I’m a corporatist, I’m fully on baord with Bendict’s world political authority, and I’ll take Catholic social teaching over American Calvinist economics any day, thank you very much.
Who is supposed to be the conservative again? 

Now, let’s think for a moment on what “conservative” means, if you’re not Humpty Dumpty.

Continue reading...

47 Responses to Humpty Dumpty Defines Conservatism

  • This is a hilarious post. Apparently conservatives are not about the conservation of traditional understandings of conservatism, and instead want to redefine it all the while trying to say it is those who are conserving the tradition who are the ones redefining it.

    Sorry, the yoke’s on you.

  • DC, while there is an intellectual ancestry of contemporary conservatism which stretches back a couple centuries, the commenter is still correct that American operates with the boundaries set by the Enlightenment, and that in the context of those debates, contemporary conservatives *are* liberals in the broader sense (I’m thinking of MacIntyre’s taxonomy of radical liberals [Marxists], liberal liberals [contemporary progressives], and conservative liberals [contemporary conservatives]).

    Second, wouldn’t it be the case that a political position which sought to re-establish “pre-Enlightenment” conservatism would in justly be deemed conservative, even if it rejected aspects of the intervening 200+ years?

  • Chris,

    Agreed that all viable political movements at this point represent some form of liberalism. What I was attempting to highlight here is that we have someone comparing the two following:

    American conservatism: [social conservatism] + [18th century political and economic liberalism]
    European Christian Democrats: [social conservatism] (at least, by European standards) + [19th century political and economic liberalism]

    I’m very much unclear how one compares these two and concludes that American conservatism is more liberal than the Christian Democrat tradition.

    If the commenter’s contention was simply, “I may be liberal, but so are you, because we both draw our ideas from post-Enlightenment thought” I would have no issue. It’s claiming that American conservatism is liberal while Christian Democrats are not that I don’t think will fly.

  • Henry,

    This is a hilarious post. Apparently conservatives are not about the conservation of traditional understandings of conservatism, and instead want to redefine it all the while trying to say it is those who are conserving the tradition who are the ones redefining it.

    Perhaps it’s because you were laughing so hard when you wrote your comment, but it’s a little hard to understand what you’re actually attempting to say here. What I pointed out is that:

    1) American conservatism represents a significantly older political movement than the Christian Democratic parties do.
    2) American conservatism draws on the oldest political philosophy still surviving in America (there are no loyalist/royalist parties that I’m aware of at this time) and as such is clearly “conservative” within the American political context. Trying to transplant in a movement which evolved later in Europe for very different reasons would in no sense be “conservative”.

    In what sense can Christian Democrats be considered to be “conserving the tradition” when they represent a much more recent (and more liberal) compromise with liberalism than American conservatism (which might also be termed “classical liberalism”)?

  • I, for one, am interested in hearing more about “Bendict’s [sic] world political authority.”

  • Actually, I should ammend: The commenter’s point would make sense if one were able to tenably hold the view that Christian Democrats are entirely bypassing Liberalism and the intellectual heritage of the Englightenment (French and Scottish) and represent some sort of a revival of a pre-Englightenment political ideal.

    I’m just very unclear how one could hold this view. Christian Democracy does take some elements of traditional, pre-Enlightenment society and culture, but then, so does American conservatism, which consciously adopted ideas dating back to Aristotle, Polybius and Cicero as well as traditions of English common law. But it is also, clearly, the result of an attempt to draw together those elements from conservative, free market, progressive and socialist lines of political thought which seemed most compatible with Christianity and develop a hybrid political programme. As such, Christian Democracy draws on a great deal of progressivism and socialism, as well as classical liberalism and traditional European culture. One can hardly see it as being a return to pre-Enlightenment thought.

  • And there he goes against with the indiscriminate use of “Calvinist.” What exactly about free-market economics corresponds to the Calvinist belief in human depravity and God’s predestination? And why does MM always suppose that when he writes on the Internet, his words are being read by people who hate Protestants with such an irrational passion that merely using the label “Calvinist” — no matter how absurdly inapt — will make them recoil and become social democrats?

  • DC, your replies make sense… thanks for offering the clarification.

  • The direct ancestors of American conservatism were Whigs that advocated a cautious, rooted social and economic progress against the perceived (correctly, it turns out) radicalism of abstracted universalism.

    The argument, in other words, was within the large umbrella of liberalism. This is different from the European (non-British) conservative tradition. Yet, even though the Australians have it more right (Liberal v. Labour), there is an American conservative tradition that can properly lay claim to the word. What is awkward is that it is a defense of a revolution (actually two: 1688 and 1776). The reason this claim is proper is because it is, by comparison, not radical, and because different cultures and nations will necessarily have differing labels for similiar notions.

  • Darwin,

    My issue with this is that Christian Democracy clearly evolved beyond 19th century “liberal” economics, especially after Pius XI declared that whole edifice to be gravely immoral in Quadragesimo Anno. The development of Christian Democracy after WWII saw it turn more towards welfare-statism.

    As for this view that Benedict wants something akin to a global government, it is false. And I have to say, given what I see coming out of the UN these days, especially when it comes to population control and “family planning”, I find it hard to believe that Benedict would be on board with any of that.

    Right now the forces of globalism are almost entirely dominated by pro-abortion, pro-eugenics fanatics who believe the world is “overpopulated.” In theory I believe greater international cooperation and even, one day in the future, a planetary government would be great. In reality, I want absolutely nothing to do with a “world order” dominated by people who are so hostile to life and liberty.

    I move closer to “nationalism” because and only because America as a sovereign state has a political process through which abortion and other threats to life can be defeated – a process that we see has been increasingly abrogated in Europe, Canada, and other countries. And Pope Benedict has remarked on other occasions that he too prefers the American system when it comes to the ability Christians have to influence public policy, something sorely lacking in Europe.

  • Despite the joke, this is a deadly serious topic, and I’ll treat it as much.

    Somebody once pointed out that the Church still has not made its peace with liberalism. Perhaps not, but Christian democracy is the best attempt yet. Is Christian democracy influenced to some extent by liberalism? Without question. But it is also based on Catholic social teaching, which is the Church’s “official” answer to liberalism and modernism, at least so far.

    Remember, CST challenges and condemns both individualism and collectivism, because they are based on flawed anthropologies. American liberalism is underpinned first and foremost by the autonomy of the individual – it is this that gives rise to a strong laissez-faire ethic and the denigration of any role for government in economic life (but not in broader social life).

    But CST is not based on this underlying premise. It sees a properly defined role for govermment within the social order, geared toward the common good. It is for this reason that I believe modern Christian democracy is far more “conservative” than is American liberalism. Rememeber, the founders of CST were deeply conservative (think of Leo XIII and Pius XI). They saw a correct role for government in both economic and social affairs, and indeed – drawing subsidiarity to its logical conclusion – saw that some responsibilities should be assigned to the supra-national entity. So in this sense, I believe it does flow from what you call “pre-Enlightenment” thought.

  • But CST is not based on this underlying premise. It sees a properly defined role for govermment within the social order, geared toward the common good. It is for this reason that I believe modern Christian democracy is far more “conservative” than is American liberalism.

    I largely concur with your comment, but this aspect of your characterization would need the qualifiers of locality when in characterization of governmental organization. This is why it is so difficult, especially as one highly concerned with social issues, to make common cause with leftist politicans (and there is a lot of room for commonality with “traditionalist conservatives,” especially in areas of foreign policy and “free trade”) within the context of a liberal democracy. The tendency toward statism in that socio-political context produces terribly toxic social policy enforced at levels far beyond the local – abortion out of the democratic process through Roe, homosexual activists using the courts to bypass the democratic process, the imposition of “no fault divorce”…the list goes on.

    Now granted much of this flows from the elevation of “rights” and “autonomy,” but that does not mean that leftist/social democrat types should be such strong advocates. And I’m afraid that Christian democrat types can’t or won’t do much, in practical terms, for the cause of locality and social traditionalism.

  • S.B. Says:
    “I, for one, am interested in hearing more about “Bendict’s [sic] world political authority.”

    Here is the paragraph they are probably pointing to:

    67. In the face of the unrelenting growth of global interdependence, there is a strongly felt need, even in the midst of a global recession, for a reform of the United Nations Organization, and likewise of economic institutions and international finance, so that the concept of the family of nations can acquire real teeth. One also senses the urgent need to find innovative ways of implementing the principle of the responsibility to protect[146] and of giving poorer nations an effective voice in shared decision-making. This seems necessary in order to arrive at a political, juridical and economic order which can increase and give direction to international cooperation for the development of all peoples in solidarity. To manage the global economy; to revive economies hit by the crisis; to avoid any deterioration of the present crisis and the greater imbalances that would result; to bring about integral and timely disarmament, food security and peace; to guarantee the protection of the environment and to regulate migration: for all this, there is urgent need of a true world political authority, as my predecessor Blessed John XXIII indicated some years ago. Such an authority would need to be regulated by law, to observe consistently the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, to seek to establish the common good[147], and to make a commitment to securing authentic integral human development inspired by the values of charity in truth. Furthermore, such an authority would need to be universally recognized and to be vested with the effective power to ensure security for all, regard for justice, and respect for rights[148]. Obviously it would have to have the authority to ensure compliance with its decisions from all parties, and also with the coordinated measures adopted in various international forums. Without this, despite the great progress accomplished in various sectors, international law would risk being conditioned by the balance of power among the strongest nations. The integral development of peoples and international cooperation require the establishment of a greater degree of international ordering, marked by subsidiarity, for the management of globalization[149]. They also require the construction of a social order that at last conforms to the moral order, to the interconnection between moral and social spheres, and to the link between politics and the economic and civil spheres, as envisaged by the Charter of the United Nations.

    But if you go to the footnotes (citing to the Compendium of Social Doctrine), you’ll see a global super state is not the intent:

    441. Concern for an ordered and peaceful coexistence within the human family prompts the Magisterium to insist on the need to establish ?some universal public authority acknowledged as such by all and endowed with effective power to safeguard, on the behalf of all, security, regard for justice, and respect for rights?.[913] In the course of history, despite the changing viewpoints of the different eras, there has been a constant awareness of the need for a similar authority to respond to worldwide problems arising from the quest for the common good: it is essential that such an authority arise from mutual agreement and that it not be imposed, nor must it be understood as a kind of ?global super-State?

  • I don’t quite get the (widespread) view that Christian Democratic parties are socially conservative but economically liberal.* It’s true that CD parties (at least in Europe) tend to be more economically liberal than the Republican party, but they also tend to be more socially liberal. It’s also true that CD parties are more socially conservative than other major parties in Europe, but they also tend to be more economically conservative than those parties. CD parties basically occupy the same political space in Europe that the Republican party does in the U.S.; it’s just that because European countries tend to have more left leaning populations the center-right parties in those countries are more left leaning (both socially and economically) than is the center-right party in America.

    * For purposes of this comment I’m using ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ in their American sense.

  • Also, when MM says that he’s a Christian Democrat, it’s important to remember that he’s not talking about the existing Christian Democratic parties (just the other day he was revelling in the fact that the head of Italy’s CD party was physically assaulted).

  • “American conservatism: [social conservatism] + [18th century political and economic liberalism]”.

    Throw in support for a strong national defense and that pretty well defines me politically, along, I think, with a plurality of Republicans. To understand American conservatism, a good starting point is to compare and contrast the American and French Revolutions, and why Edmund Burke looked kindly upon the Americans and urged a war to the end against the French Revolution.

  • Is American Liberalism really “underpinned first and foremost by the autonomy of the individual?”

  • Christian Democrat? Sounds nice, but just how Christian are European Christian Democrats in 2009? Since the early post-war years the CD has become increasingly secular. MM can admire some ideal of Christian Democracy that exists solely in his head, but his version is not the one which exists in Europe today. It’s like me saying I am a member of the Whig Party. Here’s Catholic Belgian Paul Belien, writing about new EU president Herman Van Rompuy

    “In the mid-1980s, Van Rompuy, a conservative Catholic, born in 1947, was active in the youth section of the Flemish Christian-Democrat Party. He wrote books and articles about the importance of traditional values, the role of religion, the protection of the unborn life, the Christian roots of Europe and the need to preserve them,…,

    In April 1990, the King did in fact abdicate over the abortion issue, and the Christian-Democrat Party, led by Herman Van Rompuy, who had always prided himself on being a good Catholic, had one of Europe’s most liberal abortion bills signed by the college of ministers, a procedure provided by the Belgian Constitution for situations when there is no King. Then they had the King voted back on the throne the following day.;…,

    Now, Herman has moved on to lead Europe. Like Belgium, the European Union is an undemocratic institution, which needs shrewd leaders who are capable of renouncing everything they once believed in and who know how to impose decisions on the people against the will of the people. Never mind democracy, morality or the rule of law, our betters know what is good for us more than we do. And Herman is now one of our betters. He has come a long way since the days when he was disgusted with Belgian-style politics.
    Herman is like Saruman, the wise wizard in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, who went over to the other side. He used to care about the things we cared about. But no longer. He has built himself a high tower from where he rules over all of us.”

    No, none of that cursed individualism there! Also, not very much in the way of Christianity.

  • Zach: I’ve recently begin rereading Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America,” which I first read as an undergrad. Tocqueville understood that that, just as checks and balances were built into the American political system, religion and community life served as a check on individualism run riot. He wasn’t just talking about Protestants either:

    “In the United States there is no single religious doctrine which is hostile to democratic and republican institutions. All the clergy there speak the same language. Thus American Catholics are both the most obedient believers and the most independent citizens.”

  • In any event, conservatism in America is intended to conserve certain things which are here now, and to restore certain things where were here at the founding of the republic and are no longer because they were changed by “progressives.”

    Self-described conservatives vary according to which items from the founding of the republic they think need restoring, and how important they are. And, they vary according to which things currently present need conserving.

    However, inasmuch as they intend either to prevent change from the status quo — to “stand athwart history yelling stop!” in the famous (and slightly ironical) formulation — or to restore that which was lost during the 20th century, they uniformly represent a looking-back approach to social progress.

    And that instinct, to look back, makes the label “conservative” a reasonable one to apply. I suppose one could distinguish between the items where they want to keep the status quo, and those where they want to reverse 20th century changes to the status quo, by calling them “conservatism” and “restorationism” respectively. But the latter isn’t really in-use except with respect to restoring monarchies, so using it here would cause confusion.

    So I expect “conservative” is a reasonable selection of moniker, so long as the audience…

    (a.) …understands that conservatism means something different in the U.S., where it’s related to strict-constructionist Constitutional Republicanism, than in other countries, where because their history differs, it may refer to communism (Russia) or theocratism (Iran) or even monarchism (restorationism again).

    (b.) …is willing to exercise the modicum of care needed to understand how a particular speaker is using the word “conservatism,” and adapt to it without submitting overmuch to the nerdy-student’s urge to constantly correct his usage with niggling historical details that aren’t relevant to the speaker communicating his meaning.

  • You all have inspired me to write 🙂

    I’m gonna have a lot to say about all this very soon.

  • MM,

    I appreciate the serious engagement despite the humorous framing of the post.

    Somebody once pointed out that the Church still has not made its peace with liberalism. Perhaps not, but Christian democracy is the best attempt yet. Is Christian democracy influenced to some extent by liberalism? Without question. But it is also based on Catholic social teaching, which is the Church’s “official” answer to liberalism and modernism, at least so far.

    I must admit, I’m not always entirely sure what people mean when they talk about the Church not having made its peace with liberalism. Does the Church deny the ideal of providing all citizens with equal rights under the law? Does it deny the validity of representative government or the idea of legitimacy stemming from the consent of the governed in the secular realm?

    I think, at most, it can be taken to mean two things:

    1) The Church is itself not by any means a democracy, and so it does not rule itself through “liberal” means. This makes some people very angry, but it seems to me pretty much an irrelevance since the Church is clearly something wholly different in kind from secular governments. That the Church does not (indeed, cannot) rule itself via liberal forms of government is no more a statement for or against liberalism in the secular political realm than that fact that families are not ruled through liberal institutions.

    2) Arguably, in some senses our moral theology has not fully grappled with the implications of liberal political institutions. For instance, much of our moral understanding of political actions is centered around how rulers and subjects should behave, while the partly self determining, mostly subject state in which a single citizen of a representative democracy finds himself is rather less well explored.

    My impression is that you mean by saying that Christian Democracy is the best rapprochement between the Church and liberalism yet that Christian Democracy is less inimical to Christianity than socialism and communism, yet in the post-WW2 era has become strongly associated with the comprehensive welfare state, strong employment regulation, etc. That, in itself, is something Catholics can debate (and I’d rather not get sidetracked into it now) but for the present purposes, I’m not clear how that makes Christian Democracy “conservative” in that the welfare state is something which only sprang into existence post 1840 or so. And strong labor policy only began to appear several decades after that. I suppose one can argue that it was somehow in the spirit of the old Catholic monarchies, but since none of the old Catholic monarchies practices such policies (indeed, state coffers were very small by modern standards, taxes were often highly regressive, and spending was primarily military and construction) I just don’t see how the argument works.

    Remember, CST challenges and condemns both individualism and collectivism, because they are based on flawed anthropologies. American liberalism is underpinned first and foremost by the autonomy of the individual – it is this that gives rise to a strong laissez-faire ethic and the denigration of any role for government in economic life (but not in broader social life).

    I’m unclear how American liberalism is underpinned primarily by the autonomy of the individual in a way that European liberalism (and Christian Democracy in particular) is not. It’s true that the writing of the era of the founding places a strong emphases of individual liberty and due process — but that only makes sense as it was written against the backdrop of absolutism. The earliest forms of continental liberalism (circa the French Revolution) showed similar tendencies, indeed far more radical and dangerous ones which nearly all of the American founders reacted against.

    Perhaps one of the main differences here is that while the US has remained in existence and retained the same constitution for 200 years and change, the continental governments have all turned over many times during that period, with most of them now having constitutions or institutions established shortly after WW2. As such, their founding concerns have much more to do with labor relations and the problems of a mass society than do those of the US, which was overwhelmingly and agricultural society at the time of its founding and for some time after.

    Because of this political ancestry (and perhaps due to some more general social factor which seems to make European culture more subject to collective action — judging from movements good and ill over the last couple hundred years) there is a greater degree of collectivism in Christian Democracy than in American conservatism, but it seems to me far from sure that the tendency to vote oneself and one’s class greater assurance of economic security is necessarily less “individualistic” than supporting greater opportunity. What it reflects more than individualism vs. solidarity is a divergence in the degree to which people think it is possible to better themselves at all through their own effort.

  • Pingback: What Is A Conservative? « Non Nobis
  • Of course the Church has not “made its peace with liberalism”, and it never will–Catholicism and liberalism are two logically incompatible belief systems. Liberalism’s ideal is state neutrality towards competing “comprehensive” theories of the good. Practically, it means reducing society to a means for maximizing and equalizing the satisfaction of private desires. Conservatives and Christians think it inevitable and good that society should be held together and legitimated by a traditional way of life and a common, substantive vision of justice. The purpose of the state is to protect the common good (not private goods, or even their sum) and defend the moral consensus. Catholics in particular believe that God’s authority extends not only over each of us as individuals, but over corporate groups, including states.

    The contradiction between liberalism and Catholicism extends to virtually every point. Liberals are egalitarian; Catholics are corporatist and hierarchical. Catholics defend distinction of roles based on sex, age, familial relationship, and clerical status. Liberals are cosmopolitan; Catholics recognize the duty of piety towards ancestors and fatherland.

    Incidentally, the idea of “legitimacy stemming from the consent of the governed” is absurd in any realm. As real conservatives like de Maistre realized, the whole distinctive essence of authority is that you are morally obliged to obey even if you don’t want to. If I say “this person has authority over me, because I decide to grant it to him”, there is no real relationship of authority at all. As soon as I get an order I don’t like, I can just revoke my grant of consent.

  • DarwinCatholic,

    Rereading my response, I think it sounds too dismissive and disrespectful, and I apologize for that. I have enjoyed many of your postings, and I think you’re right that the Christian Democrats aren’t more conservative than American conservatives.
    I think we “Throne and Altar” types have both of you beaten in that department.

  • “As real conservatives like de Maistre realized, the whole distinctive essence of authority is that you are morally obliged to obey even if you don’t want to.”

    Hardly. Someone may have had a crown because some ancestor conquered a territory or was chosen by nobles after an old line died out, but that did not impose a moral obligation on those subject to them to obey their commands, as the multitudinous civil wars and rebellions that afflicted most monarchies attested. A monarch might well claim that a subject was morally obliged to obey him, but such a claim does not thereby create a moral obligation to obey. All government does in fact rest ultimately on the consent of the governed long term. When that consent is withheld long enough by a large enough segment of the population, any state, no matter its form of government, will ultimately totter and fall.

  • Bonald,

    I’ll certainly cede to you that Throne and Altar types are significantly more conservative that either Christian Democrats or American conservatives!

    Trying to answer major points concisely:

    – I’m not sure that Liberalism is indifferent to competing theories of the good, as it recognizes that we cannot be sure that people will correctly recognize the good. So for instance, I think there’s a very clear answer as to whether statist, universal health care is a good idea — but I’d be hesitant to be confident that, if the US had a king, the king would arrive at the correct conclusion in the matter. The virtue of Liberalism in this regard is that one can at least be sure that the majority will get what they deserve in regards to the rule of their country, even if they don’t get what’s right. Now, in that regard, I guess I’m conditionally liberal (in the classical liberal sense) in that I would, for one, make no move to demand more liberal institutions if I lived in a monarchy or aristocracy and didn’t think that the current rulers were ruling badly. But in a situation where one is forced to demand some sort of change because of bad rule, I would advocate liberal institutions over simply changing dynasties.

    – On legitimacy stemming from the consent of the governed: It strikes me as something which can only apply to the whole (or at any rate, majority) of the governed, not to individuals. The fact that I don’t like Obama does not allow me to disobey laws with impunity. I would mostly follow Socrates in Phaedo in regards to the claim that since I have so willingly lived in the US for so long, it would be immoral of me to suddenly claim that I am not governed by its laws now.

    However, even in a monarchy, there are points when victory in a dynastic war results in a different succession of rulers gaining power — essentially because the realm as a whole is willing to follow the one and not the other. And, for instance, it strikes me that by the 1860s, one could no longer really claim the the Bourbons were the “legitimate” rulers of France. They had simply lost their credibility by the time of the Second Empire. They were the descendants of kings, but they were no longer meaningfully kings.

  • When that consent is withheld long enough by a large enough segment of the population, any state, no matter its form of government, will ultimately totter and fall.

    So Stalin ruled by the consent of the governed? Who knew!

  • One might point out that deliberative institutions at all levels were prevalent in medieval Europe. They were not dependant for their operation on conceptions of legitimacy associated with John Locke being ambient in any part of the populace.

  • Well, in a sense, didn’t he?

    Sure, Stalin had a finger on a scale in the sense that anyone who expressed dissent was killed or sent to Siberia (along with a lot of people who hadn’t even expressed dissent), but didn’t it essentially amount to the fact that people were more willing to be ruled by him than to pay the price of getting rid of him?

    By comparison, Hitler was not able to maintain rule over the parts of Russia which he conquered — primarily because the USSR was successful in getting millions of people to die in order to prevent him.

    Trying to think this through, I’m coming up with a couple of possibilities as to what “consent of the governed” might be taken to mean (if it means anything):

    1) Rulers ought to rule through the consent of their subjects, in a way which their subjects do not object to, and those who rule through force/oppression instead of through consent are “illegitimate”.

    2) A ruler derives his ability to rule through the willingness of others to listen to him, regardsless of whether he achieves this through ruling well or oppression. This may be very nearly a tautology, in that it basically amounts to saying: you’re a ruler if people follow you for some reason. On the other hand it does seem to provide a working definition which both ruler and subjects could consult: You are only the ruler if, for some reason, most of your subjects actually acknowledge you to be the ruler. (If not, you’re a pretender.)

  • So the Soviet Union still exists BA, who knew? Force can work short term, and Stalin’s reign of less than three decades was short term, but ultimately any regime cannot govern when a substantial portion of the population simply refuses to give their consent over the long term to the regime.

  • I might also note that even the Nazi regime was quite concerned about German public opinion. A good example is the successful Rosenstrasse protest of German women opposing the removal of their Jewish husbands from Berlin to concentration camps in 1943.

  • but ultimately any regime cannot govern when a substantial portion of the population simply refuses to give their consent over the long term to the regime.

    Not so sure about the relation between the political class and the populace. With regard to events in Soviet Russia during the years running from 1953 to 1957, I think you see evidence toward the proposition that a totalitarian order can be unsustainable because the will to sustain it hardly exists outside its author. By one account, while Stalin was on his deathbed, Laverenti Beria stood by him reviling him.

  • “By one account, while Stalin was on his deathbed, Laverenti Beria stood by him reviling him.”

    True. Then Stalin looked as if he was going to regain consciousness and Beria began kissing his hand. Little did Beria realize, although he soon found out, that Stalin’s support was the only thing keeping him alive.

    The massive bloodletting that Stalin and Mao engaged in domestically is simply unsustainable for any society. Short term they reigned supreme, long term they damaged the communist brand fatally among most of their populations.

  • A lot of Russians thought Stalin didn’t know about the oppression they suffered under – and that if he only did, he would stop it.

  • Fair point. For such an unlikeable figure, Stalin was surprisingly beloved.

  • Traditionally the Russian peasantry would say the same thing about the Tsars. “If only the little Father knew!” Stalin’s cult of personality was a knowing attempt to place himself in the Tsar’s place. When his aged mother asked Stalin just what his job was, he responded “Well mama, do you remember the Tsars? I’m sort of like a Tsar.”

  • Force can work short term, and Stalin’s reign of less than three decades was short term

    Three decades is the short term?

    So the Soviet Union still exists BA, who knew?

    The Soviet Union didn’t cease to exist because Stalin lacked the consent of the governed, but if you want an example of a still existing totalitarianism, there’s North Korea. No doubt your answer to that will be that the North Korean regime’s days are numbered, and that eventually it too will fall based on its lack of consent by the governed. Not only does this render the claim nonfalsifiable, but it renders it somewhat vacuous as well. If all the consent of the governed idea means is that a state can’t exist without popular support for thirty, er, sixty (ninety?) years then that isn’t saying much.

  • Stalin had a finger on a scale in the sense that anyone who expressed dissent was killed or sent to Siberia (along with a lot of people who hadn’t even expressed dissent), but didn’t it essentially amount to the fact that people were more willing to be ruled by him than to pay the price of getting rid of him?

    If I hand over my money to a mugger rather than be killed by him, does that mean I have consented to his having my money?

  • “No doubt your answer to that will be that the North Korean regime’s days are numbered, and that eventually it too will fall based on its lack of consent by the governed.”

    Of course it will, and you know it. North Korea isn’t a nation but rather a vast concentration camp as indicated by the starving defectors that escape from it. It is a prime example of the devastating consequences of leaders attempting to rule without the consent of the governed: a truly Orwellian nightmare of a “nation” of prisoners ruled by a few guards. Unlike Orwell’s dystopia however, North Korea is not an example of the trend of the future but rather an example of an extreme despotism doomed to die. Rather than aiding your case BA it strengthens my contention that the consent of the governed is necessary for any regime long term. A substantial portion of any population withholding that consent for long enough is going to doom any regime. Every state if it wishes to endure long term has to get consent and acceptance from most of its population.

  • I would not say that. I think you can say that in Occidental civilization, political systems with genuine durability tend to incorporate a modicum of pluralism and make ample use of deliberative institutions and political authority exercised face-to-face. The Hohenzollern and Romanov monarchies would be the notable exceptions. It also appears that the Occidental pattern is now global (more or less).

  • I’m happy that my remarks on legitimacy have stirred up so many interesting comments. I see that several people pointed out the best argument for the “legitimacy comes from consent” position–namely that if nobody recognizes a ruler as legitimate, he is not, in fact, legitimate. I would say that authority has the interesting property of being based on recognition, but not on consent. We all recognize a duty to obey the state, whether or not we consent to it (even implicitly). Where does this duty come from? Like all authority, it comes from God. I must obey the state because, strange as it may seem, for me the U.S. government symbolizes God in His role of judge and ruler. If the state only represented the will of the majority, and not God, than my obeying it would be nothing but herd-mentality servility.

    Haven’t I just pushed the problem back one more step? What gives the U.S. this symbolic value for me rather than, say, the king of Spain? I suppose its the fact that I’m part of a people, a collective consciousness, with its distinct culture, traditions, and ways of symbolizing the world. Every people must symbolize God’s authority over them, both individually and collectively, and they do that partly through the state. To withdraw allegiance from the state would be to sever myself from my ancestors and my countrymen by removing myself from their symbolic universe. Filial piety forbids me to do this.

    I hope this makes sense.

  • “If I hand over my money to a mugger rather than be killed by him, does that mean I have consented to his having my money?”

    Yes. To live instead of die is a choice.

    But, that isn’t why people follow and obey dictators, at least not in the long-term.

    Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Castro – none of them would have been able to come to or stay in power without the support of at least the majority. Heck, Hitler was elected. He didn’t win a majority but he did win more votes than any other candidate. Even Lenin wouldn’t make a move until election results showed that a majority of Russia’s urban workers supported the Bolsheviks (even though they were overwhelmingly opposed by the rest of Russia). While they were in the minority among the group they believed they needed to win, Lenin insisted on pacifism for purely pragmatic reasons. Castro and Mao and other third world dictators had legions of followers who supported their rise and maintained their power.

    Anti-imperialism was a popular and powerful force. The hearts and minds of the young were swiftly captured and turned against skeptical or resistant parents. People believed they were breathing the air of genuine freedom – from domination by Western powers. They saw measures we would consider totalitarian and unworthy of human dignity as necessities in the struggle against imperialism.

    Sure, these totalitarian regimes will eventually collapse – new leaders that don’t have the same charisma will replace the ones that did have it. The old problems that the leaders sought to address will vanish, or their successors will make things worse than they were. It only takes a few military units to sour on the regime for the whole thing to come tumbling down.

  • “If I hand over my money to a mugger rather than be killed by him, does that mean I have consented to his having my money?”

    Yes. To live instead of die is a choice.

    By this logic rape would be impossible. Rape is sex without consent. But when a man with a gun threatens to kill a woman unless she submits, she chooses to live instead of die, which is a choice. Hence the sex is consensual, and hence not rape.

    Of course the above argument is invalid, because it just isn’t the case that you consent to something when forced into it at the point of a gun.

  • Well, first of all, it wouldn’t be impossible – if you physically pin a person down, even their choice to resist wouldn’t matter.

    In your example, how is a choice NOT being made? To say there is no choice is to say that there is literally no other possibility. This is simply false.

    Perhaps there is a difference between simply making a choice, and “consenting” – I’ll grant that. But there is a choice.

  • Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Castro – none of them would have been able to come to or stay in power without the support of at least the majority.

    There is a distinction between organizational skills and popular support. Moqtada al-Sadr was able to establish himself as a power in Iraq even though his political party has clocked in with less than 5% of the vote in competitive elections. Columbia’s insurgent groups made a brief foray into electoral politics twenty years ago and their performance suggested a base of similar size; those characters have been making a mess of Columbian public life since 1964 or therabouts..

  • In your example, how is a choice NOT being made?

    Did I say there was no choice being made? I said there was no consent.

The Bishop’s Wife

Wednesday, December 16, AD 2009

As we get closer to Christmas I am going to do a few posts on some of the more obscure Christmas movies I have enjoyed.  First up is The Bishop’s Wife from 1947.    David Niven is an Episcopalian Bishop of a struggling diocese;  Loretta Young (ironically one of the more devout Catholics in the Hollywood of her time) is his wife;  and Cary Grant is Dudley, one of the more unimportant angels in Heaven, sent by God to lend the Bishop a hand.  The film is a graceful comedy which effectively and quietly underlines the central importance of faith in God as we see in this little scene:


The film is a gem and it is a joy to watch at Christmas time.

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5 Responses to The Bishop’s Wife

Bill Moyers: Good Riddance

Tuesday, December 15, AD 2009

Bill Moyers, the sanctimonious left winger who has gotten rich at the public trough at PBS, is wrapping up Bill Moyers Journal on PBS.  Moyers has adopted the pose of an above it all sage in the past few decades.  Actually, Moyers has always remained a go-for-the-jugular-partisan, as he was when, as one of LBJ’s flunkies, he helped put together the Daisy Girl Commercial in 1964, the video above, which in essence stated that kids would die in a nuclear holocaust if Goldwater were elected.

My friend Jay Anderson at Pro Ecclesia has a do not miss send off for the Uriah Heep of PBS here.

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17 Responses to Bill Moyers: Good Riddance

  • An older co-worker told me that people would tell him in 1964 that if he voted for Goldwater, the country would be at war and there would be rioting in the streets. So, he voted for Goldwater, and sure enough, the country was at war and there was rioting in the streets!

    Good riddance to bad rubbish!

  • Ion’t agree with much of what Bill Moyers said but don’t see your column or the one you linked to as anything more than a meanspirited attack on a long career that must have added something to the discussion of ideas at least.

  • Meanspirited is a phrase actually that comes to mind when I think of Bill Moyers. As the Daisy Girl commercial indicates, Moyers was interested in a discussion of ideas about as much as a cat is interested in having a culinary debate with a mouse. His career consisted of bashing those who had the termerity of disagreeing with him, and he got rich on the public dime doing it.

  • I used to listen to the Bill Moyers Journal podcasts on iTunes and found some of them very interesting. He was NOT constantly bashing people who disagreed with him but actually did some very thoughtful interviews. So I don’t know that his whole life ought to be defined by what he did for the LBJ White House.

    Believe it or not I do actually listen to (gasp!) NPR once in a while because even with their obvious liberal bias, you get far more information and insight on many of their stories, for which they allow a decent 5 or 10 minutes of coverage, than you get from the typical highly superficial radio or national/local TV news story which runs 2 minutes at best.

    I may be a bit stuffy or old fashioned on this point but I don’t believe it’s necessarily healthy to get ALL your news ONLY from sources you agree with 100 percent of the time. Still, I’m probably the only person I know who flips the car radio back and forth between public radio and EWTN on long car trips 🙂

  • I listen to NPR Elaine, along with sources I find more congenial. I also read such rags as the Nation. Sometimes I view it as penance for my sins.

    As for Bill Moyers, his idea of balance in 2007 was to have two guests who favored impeaching Bush. That was too much even for the PBS Ombudsman who wrote:

    “So, Why Cover Impeachment, and Why Without Balance?
    To me, this was demonstrated once again by last week’s program on impeachment. This is a subject that gets almost no national media attention, especially from commercial broadcast television. Many will argue, of course, that it doesn’t get attention because it isn’t going to happen; that it has virtually no political traction, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has made clear. That is the conventional wisdom and it is probably true.

    But I would argue that it is still a newsworthy topic. So, as a viewer, I’m grateful that it is being addressed. Impeachment is a process spelled out in the Constitution for citizens to use and, although rarely used, the program reminds us that it was used against President Clinton by the House of Representatives just a decade ago for essentially lying to a federal grand jury about his sex life.

    On the other hand, there was almost a complete absence of balance, as I watched it, in the way this program presented the case for impeachment proceedings against President Bush and Vice President Cheney.

    The program featured two well-informed and articulate guests — Bruce Fein, a Constitutional scholar who wrote one of the articles of impeachment against Clinton, and John Nichols, the Washington correspondent for “The Nation,” a liberal magazine, and the author of a recent book on impeachment. The problem is that both guests favored moving ahead with impeachment proceedings.

    The only moments of balance on the show were actually provided by Moyers who, to his credit and on a couple of occasions, voiced concerns that others watching this program would have. For example, at one point he said, referring to Fein’s bill of particulars against Bush’s version of executive powers: “You’re talking about terrifying power, but this is a terrifying time. People are afraid of those abroad who want to kill us. Do you think,” Moyers then asked Nichols, “in any way that justifies the claims that Bruce just said Bush has made?”

    At another point, Moyers said: “But read that prologue of the Constitution. The first obligation is to defend the people, to defend their freedom, to defend their rights. And I hear people out there talking in their living rooms right now, Bruce and John, saying, ‘But wait a minute, you know, we’ve got these terrorists. We know. Look what happened in London just two weeks ago. We know they’re out there. Who else is looking out for us except Bush and Cheney?'”

    Moments later, Moyers challenged again, saying: “No president and no vice president have been sitting in the White House or sitting in Washington when terrorists, when killers tried to come in airplanes and crashed into the White House, crashed into the Capitol.”

    Nevertheless, there was no doubt where this program, including Moyers, was heading and it was allowed to go down that road. While Fein and Nichols laid out a range of abuses of power and the law as they see it — from usurping the power of Congress and undermining the checks and balances system to spying on American citizens, contradicting the federal statute known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, condoning torturing, jailing and sending people into foreign detention without any political or legal accountability, an so on — there were no rebuttal arguments or legal challenges other than those few Moyers interjections I mentioned.

    This was an hour-long program and it was, in many ways, an education, listening to this view of the impeachment process being laid out, whether or not you agree with it. But the program, in my view, would have been not only less vulnerable to charges of political bias, but also even more educational to more people in terms of illuminating the public about impeachment, if it had contained at the very least a succinct summary of the likely legal challenges to each of the main charges raised by the pro-impeachment process guests.

    A Less Well-Known Poll With Less Well-Known Numbers
    The scene, and tone, for what was to come was set right at the start of the hour when Moyers said, “A public opinion poll from the American Research Group reports that more than four in 10 Americans — 45 percent — favor impeachment hearings for President Bush and more than half — 54 percent — favor putting Vice President Cheney in the dock.”

    A couple of things struck me about this. One, the numbers sounded higher than I imagined or was aware of, and that polling group was not one of the major ones and did not strike me as one that was well known or often quoted in mainstream newspapers. And those numbers are very close to a majority, and are a majority when it comes to Cheney. And when there is a majority for anything, that usually means recognizable grounds for action. Also, Moyers did not say how the questions were asked, and pollsters point out that Bush’s approval ratings are so low that it is easier nowadays to get respondents to respond affirmatively to impeachment questions. I checked the questions later, and they seemed straightforward.

    Nevertheless, the numbers are quite high and, if they are close to being accurate, newly revealing. By comparison, however, a USA Today/Gallup Poll taken a few days after the ARG poll reported on July 10 that 62 percent of those polled said impeachment hearings against President Bush would not be justified, while 36 percent favored such hearings. It did not deal with Cheney.

    But even if 36 percent is the more accurate number, that is not an insignificant number and is a factor that, in my view, makes a broader public television report on the subject newsworthy. A recent article in The Boston Globe also summed up some of the things I didn’t know. For example, Democratic Party organizations in 14 states have passed resolutions supporting impeachment, as have the legislatures in nearly 80 towns and cities, and legislators in 11 states have introduced impeachment bills. The only impeachment move in Congress is against Cheney and was introduced by Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio) joined by some of the estimated 14 like-minded House lawmakers.

    So there is something going on, although how much is in doubt. And yes, it’s news and worthy of a program on public broadcasting, but one that had more balance on such a controversial subject.

    I asked PBS whether editorial guidelines about balance apply to Moyers’ program or whether his program is in some special category, and to explain PBS support and funding for the program. Here is the response:

    “Bill Moyers Journal is fully underwritten by sources other than PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The series is funded by the Partridge Foundation, the Park Foundation, The Herb Alpert Foundation and sole corporate funder Mutual of America Life Insurance Company. The title of the series, Bill Moyers Journal, signals to viewers that they can expect to encounter the strongly reasoned viewpoints of Bill Moyers and his guests. Throughout each year, Bill Moyers deals with a variety of subjects and features guests who reflect a wide diversity of perspectives. The responsibility of balance does not fall to any one episode or series. PBS seeks to present, over time, content that addresses a broad range of subjects from a variety of viewpoints. There are many different types of news and public affairs shows; each with a different format and a different goal. For PBS, these vary from a daily news program like The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer to Frontline to Washington Week and Bill Moyers Journal. While we expect all programs to strive for fairness and accuracy, we also want to accommodate a variety of approaches to subject matter in addition to a variety of viewpoints.””

    Moyers is a complete partisan shill who was clever enough to do it in soothing tones and get rich on PBS while doing so.

  • Please……give me a break. Please remember when Lee Atwater’s conversion occured. Who doesn’t think they are a genius in their 30’s.

  • “……the sanctimonious left winger who has gotten rich at the public trough……….

    Sounds like a lot of our AGW diehard scientific and political apologists who have enjoined the doomsayer prophets at Hoaxenhagen with their snouts in the trough, meanwhile getting fat on the profits.

  • The episode on LBJ a few weeks back was actually really good. But on balance, good riddance. I’d find him less irritating if he just admitted that he was a left-wing apologist. Instead he masquerades as a journalist. But I suppose that’s why liberals love him. He creates the illusion that liberal conclusions are arrived at through objective methods.

    I had a theory that Moyers was responsible for the implosion of Rev. Wright. Moyers did everything he could to introduce Wright to the public as a misrepresented saint. Wright bought into it himself before discovering that the rest of the media wasn’t going to be as easy on him as Moyers was. I don’t think Moyers is merely distasteful. He does real harm.

  • Mr. McClarey. I watched him once and once was enough. Even this discussion is more than he merits.

  • “Who doesn’t think they are a genius in their 30’s.”

    Lots of people actually. However that has nothing to do with my chief complaint against Mr. Moyers. restrainedradical puts my chief complaint well:

    “I’d find him less irritating if he just admitted that he was a left-wing apologist. Instead he masquerades as a journalist. But I suppose that’s why liberals love him. He creates the illusion that liberal conclusions are arrived at through objective methods.”

    An above board partisan I have little problem with. James Carville for example does not pretend to be objective any more than Rush Limbaugh. They are advocates for their parties and to attack them for that is like attacking a dog because it barks. The deceit is what really raises my ire in the case of Moyers.

  • I agree with Don and Restrained Radical that Moyers would be less objectionable if he were up front about his biases. I would have much less negative to say about the man were he not (1) posing as an objective journalist, (2) doing so while pushing his agenda on the public dime at PBS, (3) so vitriolic in his attacks on religious and social conservatives (dismissing all as “fundamentalists” and “religious zealots” who “loathe democracy”), and (4) being touted as some sort of “moral authority” or “conscience of the nation”.

    The guy’s a mean-spirited, sanctimonious jerk, so I get a kick out of the notion that Don and I are being “mean spirited” for calling him out on it and taking issue with the fawning coverage of Moyers as some sort of “sacred American institution, a repository of the nation’s conscience”.

  • When I was young and accepted the idea that PBS was impartial, I thought Bill Moyers was very intelligent and engaging. As I got older and saw that, gee, PBS wasn’t in the LEAST impartial, I thought that Bill Moyers was intelligent, engaging, and very biased — some of the time. Like most journalists on PBS, he seems to think that he is unbiased and to try to BE unbiased, except in issues where he believes that he is right. Then bias goes out the window. Journalists are not taught to be unbiased anymore, and they don’t value a lack of bias. The liberal version of bias has given rise to the conservative journalist, so all the news is consciously biased. It’s discouraging, really.

  • I listened to (via podcast) the “Bush impeachment” episode of Bill Moyers’ Journal. I didn’t care for the arguments raised by Nichols (and by the way Don, I agree that The Nation is a gratingly liberal rag and I rarely if ever read it even online), but Fein — who did, after all, work on the Clinton impeachment — raised some valid points. In fact some of those points — usurping power belonging to the legislative branch, undermining constitutional checks and balances — were similar to those raised in the (later) Blago impeachment proceedings.

    I agree, though, that the show would have been much better had it included someone who made equally valid arguments AGAINST impeaching Bush, and pointing out how the Clinton and Bush cases were different although superficially it might APPEAR that there was “more reason” to impeach Bush (for alleged violations of the Constitution) than Clinton (for allegedly “only” lying about his affair with Monica Lewinsky).

    I did eventually quit subscribing to the podcast after Obama’s election because most of the shows were just loaded with glowing praise of the guy and I’d had enoiugh of it. But, that doesn’t negate the fact that Moyers did some very good “Journal” shows.

  • I agree whole heartedly with Elaine Krewer. If you get your news from one source you are cheating yourself. Labeling one as a “political hack” is pointless as they are ALL political hacks and should be viewed so at the outset. If you are listening to “either side” and believing everything they say then IMHO that makes you a hack. It is up to YOU to apply the filter which for us is Catholic teaching – ALL of it – not just “moral” or just “social”.

    Sean Hannity was as wrong on contraception with Fr Eutenauer of HLI as Moyer and his merry band of “progressives” is / was with their “social Gospel” that ignores all moral teachings of the Church in the name of “alleviating poverty”.

    The Coup de grâce was Sean Hannity and Michael Moore debating interpretation of the Bible and Church teaching to defend their respective “hack” positions. It was like watching Abbot & Costello do their “Who’s on first” routine.

  • No one here is disputing that one should receive their news from multiple sources with differing perspectives. Heck, I rarely – IF EVER – watch Fox News, but watch PBS all the time. I’m also an avid listener of NPR.

    That’s part of the reason I know that Bill Moyers is NOT what his admirers claim him to be – because I’ve actually listened to what he says and how he says it.

  • You know, I wouldn’t mind a story presented by two people on the same side of the issue. The one pro / one con format gets a little shrill. So if you want to do a story about impeachment, lay out the case as solidly as you can. But don’t have every story presented from the same political viewpoint. Moyers goes to the left and the left on taxes, the left and the left on race, the left and the left on education….

    Maybe I’ve just given up on expecting my news stories unbiased. But I’d be willing to watch multiple stories with multiple biases. I mean, every Charlie Rose interview is with Tom Friedman, Ezra Klein, Paul Krugman, and/or involves quotes from those three. Can you imagine him having Ralph Reed and Mike Huckabee for a retrospective about Oral Roberts?

  • I agree with Don and Restrained Radical that Moyers would be less objectionable if he were up front about his biases.

    I will wager that Moyers does not conceptualize his biases as that, nor conceive of himself has having an authentic interlocutor outside of the circles of which he is a part. Argument is over strategy and tactics among friends. There is among those Thos. Sowell calls ‘the anointed’ an tendency to regard institutions as their possession by right and reason as their possession by default.

A Stumbling Block to School Administrators

Tuesday, December 15, AD 2009

Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.  As someone who received an undergraduate degree in the teaching of social studies, I am never very surprised when a school administration decides to engage in an act of public stupidity, however, this incident is in a class all by itself.

A second grade student at the Maxham Elementary School in Taunton, People’s Republic of Massachusetts, was sent home from school after drawing a picture of Jesus on the cross.  The student made the drawing in response to a class assignment that the students draw something that reminded them of Christmas.  Apparently the student’s dullard teacher decided that the drawing of the cross was too violent.  The school administration, in a move which hearkens back to the old Soviet Union placing dissidents in psych wards, decreed that not only would the child be sent home, but that he would have to undergo a psych evaluation.

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17 Responses to A Stumbling Block to School Administrators

  • That’s “The Peoples Republic of Taxachusetts.” Otherwise known as “the Pay State.”

  • Well it’s kind of a happy ending.

    He still had to get a psychiatric evaluation and be approved that he was “sane”.

    He did just that and “passed”.

    He then was so traumatized by the entire incident he didn’t want to return to the same school so the father is petitioning (I think he got approval) for his son to transfer.

    This is very scary. For a school administrator to cater to hate-mongering of an innocent depiction of Jesus’ crucifixion makes my blood boil.

  • I would NEVER take my child to a psychologist over this, but I learned my lesson the hard way. When my son (who was then seven) was having trouble in class, the school wouldn’t do anything until we had a complete evaluation to make sure he didn’t have psychological or emotional problems. My husband and I went for OUR evaluation with the school psychologist (“case history” stuff before he was scheduled for a trip) and were so unimpressed with her that we cancelled his eval and went to our pediatrician instead. Our son didn’t even know anything was going on. Then, when things got really ridiculous (I was observing in the classroom and the teacher was incompetent) I threatened to take him out of school and he was moved immediately. His problems were solved. I learned then not to do ANYTHING the school said (not the lesson they intended to teach) but instead to insist on my child’s rights under the law. And they wonder why parents are antagonistic! Could an 8-year-old be traumatized over this incident? You bet, depending on the kid and on how it was handled. The parents should have had a nice, calm, conversation with the principal and the teacher. And then if that didn’t work, they should simply have said that he would be back in class the next day or the school would hear from their lawyer the next day.

    All schools freak out over violence. When my son was eight he used to draw soldiers, bloody knives, spaceships shooting each other, etc. on his papers. The teachers told us that was “unacceptable” and so just told him that the school was silly about things like that, so he would have to draw those things at home. Don’t ALL little boys draw that stuff? Likewise, same year, he got a discipline point for reading an “inappropriate” book in class. When I asked the teacher what it was, she said it was a book about the Battle of Gettysburg and it had photographs of dead soldiers in it. I told her that he got it from the SCHOOL LIBRARY, so she took the discipline point away — but he still couldn’t read the book in class.

    They are all terrified of boys becoming violent. My kids are now in Catholic school, but they can’t bring in toy guns — even neon-colored plastic squirt guns — for skits and things.

  • It seems like there are plenty of news stories everyday of the public schools doing something not terribly intelligent….

    This has especially been on my mind with kids right around the corner. What a faddish wastebasket of wishful thinking many schools are… about the Kansas City case (and New Jersey, for that matter, following the court cases of the 80s) for example.

    What folly!

    What is needed is not more money but better moral foundations.

  • This is the logical result of all those “zero tolerance” anti-violence, anti-sexual harassment, and drug abuse policies that became so popular after Columbine.

    Zero tolerance policies forbidding absolutely ANY word, image, object or action that even hints at violence allow school administrators to APPEAR to be doing something about youth violence, without the bother of actually having to get to know students personally, judge each case individually, or risk being accused of racism or discrimination if the child/youth involved happens to be of a protected minority group.

    The result is that little kids get busted for drawing crucifixes, kissing girl classmates on Valentine’s Day, etc. while outside (or even inside), gang violence, suicide, drug abuse, etc. continue unabated.

    The main reason schools are “terrified of boys becoming violent” is because so many of them HAVE NO FATHERS and therefore no idea how to be real men, except by being the kind of macho jerks they see on TV or in movies.

  • Zero tolerance usually means zero brains. It allows administrators to mindlessly follow policy rather than to make real decisions, which of course is what they are supposed to be doing. True profiles in uselessness.

    I agree that public schools usually have no clue as to how to handle boys who act, well, like boys. A perfect example is a timeout. Most of the time a timeout will simply make an energetic boy bored and hostile. Much better to give him a task to accomplish, especially if it is something physical. Of course this is just common sense knowledge of the differences between girls and boys, something that seems to be verboten in public schools, but which is obvious to most parents who have spent time rearing both boys and girls.

  • I’m not a “rogue parent” at my daughters’ virtual school (where my wife is also a teacher). My emails to their former teacher (who was not accommodating my eldest’s disability) are now being quoted regularly at meetings as signs of a parent to watch out for. The latest suggestion was that parents who challenge “school policy” (which is defined as the whim the principal, a Charlestonian elitist who goes way back with Mark Sanford) could be charged with educational neglect.

  • Well … if you believe every dad trying to horn in on America’s reality tv culture …

  • Having dealt with public schools Todd both as an attorney and as a parent, I readily confess that I am more inclined to believe parents over administrators until the opposite is proven.

  • Well … if you believe every dad trying to horn in on America’s reality tv culture …

    Heard that before.

  • What Mr. McClarey said on Paul Zummo’s Cranky Conservative bears repeating: “The forces of open minded tolerance so often are represented by narrow minded bigots.”

    Quite frankly, I’m surprised “Christmas” was even mentioned, much less had an assignment attached to it.

  • “I readily confess that I am more inclined to believe parents over administrators …”

    It would seem there’s a good bit more to the story than was posted here. What’s still standing today is a he-said/they-said tussle that’s more than two weeks old. The news reports I’ve seen is that the drawing was not the one that got the young lad noticed, that there’s a history with the boy and his family, and that nobody was expelled from school. It would seem enough doubt has been thrown into this story to cause prudent observers to withhold judgment. Clearly, Donald shows us why he stayed at the attorneys’ tables and never ascended to the judiciary bench.

    In my long experience in parishes and schools, I often find that two sides in a dispute often are talking past each other and not even in agreement on the point(s) in question. It’s usually adequate enough to make the communication connection and allow diplomacy to smooth kinks in the relationship.

    What Art seems to be getting at is this: one must agree with him not only on the major points, but on every small detail of politics in situations like these. No room for dissent from the jots and tittles of the Catholic blogetariat.

    I would hold it is possible to be right (pointing out a grave moral or administrative error, for example) but to go about it in the wrong way (producing a forged document, or making oneself a threat–even just a perceived one–to a school administration). Prudence would dictate leaving the judgment to the Judge, and taking necessary precautions for one’s own children, or one’s own morality, depending on the circumstances.

  • “Clearly, Donald shows us why he stayed at the attorneys’ tables and never ascended to the judiciary bench.”

    Actually Todd, that is by choice. The legal profession is not one where all attorneys wish to be judges. Some, as in my case, make it very clear to judges who indicate that we would make a good judge that we do not wish to have to wear a black robe on the job.

    The school administration, after coming under intense media scrutiny yesterday, has a different story from the parent. That is as surprising as the sun coming up in the east or bureaucrats dodging responsibility. This incident in June 2008 indicates to me that bozos are in charge of the Taunton school system and that the parent is probably more accurate:

    “This is not the first time in recent years that a Taunton student has been sent home over a drawing. In June 2008, a fifth-grade student was suspended from Mulcahey Middle School for a day after creating a stick figure drawing that appeared to depict him shooting his teacher and a classmate.

    The Mulcahey teacher also contacted the police to take out charges in the 2008 incident.”

  • I’ve also read that there was a gun incident in that school district not too long ago. Parents themselves insist that schools be hypervigilant when it comes to the safety of their children. A one-day suspension for a blatant act of insubordination to a teacher … I’m sure you saw enough contempt of court citations in your years in the courtroom. Authority figures take authority very seriously.

    According to you, the school administration was a loser no matter what they did. If they were totally wrong, they could confess or clam up or lie. If they had justification for criticizing the lad, they could either remain silent on the matter and let the conservatives spin it, or they could offer a public rebuttal. By your statement, whether they lied or told the truth, your reaction would be the same.

    The caveat emptor in this case: if something sounds too good to be ideologically true, it probably is. Given how this story is unravelling for the father, I’d say there are a number of media and blog outlets with egg on their faces today.

  • What Art seems to be getting at is this: one must agree with him not only on the major points, but on every small detail of politics in situations like these. No room for dissent from the jots and tittles of the Catholic blogetariat.

    News to me.

    I’ve also read that there was a gun incident in that school district not too long ago.

    So we call the cops over some other kid’s droodles.

  • Part of feminizing men is to make all violence bad because boys tend to violence. Ladies, before you get upset with me, there is nothing wrong with the feminine – I love and respect my beautiful bride and the Blessed Virgin Mary – but women should be women and men should be men – equal in dignity yet different.

    Violence is not necessarily bad, or good. It just is. Drawing a picture of Christ crucified is a picture of violence – what could be more violent than Diecide?
    Mel Gibson’s movie was also violent – too violent for some tastes. Was this bad violence? I don’t think so, the worst evil was also the greatest good. There is nothing wrong with depicting Christ crucified, in fact there is everything right with it, as violent as it is. All men should wish to be Christ on His Cross.

    Boys are violent – boys like guns, swords, fights, tanks, knights, cavalry, shields, war games, etc. and that is as it should be. Our job as a society, and by logical extension our school systems, is to direct and temper that violence – not emasculate it.

    Thank God that the generation born in the 1920s was violent. They went overseas and did some violence to the Nazis – and I am pretty sure we’re all happy with how that turned out.

  • “Our job as a society, and by logical extension our school systems, is to direct and temper that violence – not emasculate it.”

    Which is exactly what a society in which vast numbers of young boys are raised without stable father figures fails to do. Even among animals like elephants, the presence of older males keeps fighting among the younger ones from getting out of hand.

    Was the World War II generation really any more “violent” than we are? I’m not so sure. Yes, boys played with guns, collected toy soldiers, and played cops, robbers, cowboys and Indians and other politically incorrect games. However if you take a look at the movies from that era, even the toughest tough guys like Bogart, Cagney, et al. used far less firepower and killed far fewer bad guys in 10 movies than, say, Bruce Willis or Arnold Schwarzenegger did in just one.

    Also, Knight, I think you overlook the fact that there are times when women can or must become “violent” in a “good” sense, particularly when defending their children from harm. Again, even among animals, a mother defending her young from real or percieved threat is often far more dangerous than the male.

I'm Buying it For my Kid. Really!

Tuesday, December 15, AD 2009

From the only reliable source of news on the net, the Onion.  One of the many joys of parenthood is that you get to play with quite a bit of really great stuff that is ostensibly purchased for your children.  Now that my youngest will be 15 in February of next year I realize that I am running out of this excuse.  I will have to find some other excuse to tide me over between the kids leaving the nest and the advent of grandchildren!

In regard to adults taking kid’s literature way, way too seriously, a wonderful spoof is Post Modern Pooh which I have found howlingly funny.  A first rate review is here.

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The Claremont Reviews Advent Interview with Fr. James V. Schall

Tuesday, December 15, AD 2009

Since 2002 Ken Masugi, a senior fellow of the Claremont Institute and lecturer in Government at Johns Hopkins University, Washington DC, has conducted Advent interviews with James V. Schall, S.J., author of over thirty books on political theory and theology. Fr. Schall teaches in the Government Department of Georgetown University.

The interviews themselves are a delight to read and span a variety of topics from current events to the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI to issues in philosophy, theology and ethics — and sometimes, in addition, what books Fr. Schall himself is reading at that particular moment in time.

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4 Responses to The Claremont Reviews Advent Interview with Fr. James V. Schall

Daniel Larison, Talking Sense

Monday, December 14, AD 2009

I’ve written about this before, but it’s nice to see Daniel Larison making the point with characteristic clarity in an interview with The Economist:

Iraq was also the policy that turned the public so sharply against President Bush prior to the 2006 mid-term elections, and those elections were and were correctly seen as a rejection of the war and Mr Bush’s handling of it. The war was the main issue of those elections, and the GOP lost control of Congress because it had identified itself completely with the war and its members in Congress continued to be its most vocal defenders. By national-security conservatives, I mean those members of the conservative movement who have a primary and overriding focus on foreign policy and national-security questions, and who typically take extremely hawkish positions. They were the leading advocates and cheerleaders for the invasion. Most movement conservatives supported the policy, but it was the national-security conservatives who drove the party into the ditch while the others went along for the ride.

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14 Responses to Daniel Larison, Talking Sense

  • Well, Larison was certainly wrong about the surge which he vehemently opposed and predicted would fail.

    The war in Iraq was quite popular until the casualties began to mount and the Bush administration appeared to have no plan to win the conflict. That is death for popular support of a war. After Rumsfeld was finally dumped, Bush listened to Petraeus and carried out a war-winning plan, but by that time it was too late. I do think however that Republican unpopularity in 2006 had more to do with the accurate perception that Republicans had been profligate in spending in Washington. The Iraq War was a major secondary factor in 2006, but I do not think it played much of a role in 2008, an election in which the economic meltdown in September was devastating to Republicans. Then the Democrats took over the White House with broad majorities in Congress and demonstrated to the Republican amateurs how true pros in wasteful and feckless spending went about things.

  • I have a hard time accepting the idea that deficit spending was a significant factor in 2006. For one thing, the deficit spending was basically half of what it was in 2004 when Bush won re-election, and it was trending downwards in 2005, 2006 and 2007. As the deficit picture was improving, Bush’s approval ratings were sliding.

  • The Iraq War was probably the main reason for the GOP losses, but there were so many factors – scandals, deficits (yeah, they were going down, but the Bush-led GOP was seen as no longer living up to conservative principles economically), an unenergetic base (thanks to the previous point), fall-out from Katrina (which ties in with administrative incompetence in Iraq as well), etc.

  • The problem with blaming Republican defeats on excessive spending is that such spending went on for years and no one really cared. It was only when the party was already hurting because of Iraq that it became an issue.

  • The Republican Party never had but quite modest pluralities in both houses of Congress. With few exceptions, it is the norm for the President’s party to lose ground during midterm elections, most particularly during midterm elections held during a second presidential term (for whatever reason). It would have been a historical oddity had the Republicans retained Congress, without regard to the ambient concerns of the electorate.

    The article to which Mr. McClarey links is instructive. Unless I am mistaken, Mr. Larison’s time in the military approximates that of Madonna Ciccone. All of his formal education has been in pre-modern history or in the liberal arts at an institution which (as we speak) offers one (1) course in either military history or national security studies. The guy must be a hell of an autodidact. I see has been adding to his portfolio skills as a diviner of public opinion as well (and the results of his dowsing are that the general public’s irritation is a precise replica of his own – Frank Luntz, your consulting business is in danger).

  • “The problem with blaming Republican defeats on excessive spending is that such spending went on for years and no one really cared. It was only when the party was already hurting because of Iraq that it became an issue.”

    Much of the Republican base has always cared. Ross Perot used that to devastating effect against George Bush in 1992. George Bush with his “compassionate conservative” spending programs exacerbated the problem. Contra Larison the response to 9-11 and the seeming victory in Iraq in 2003 helped mask this problem in the 2002 and 2004 elections. When Iraq went South, disgruntled Republicans over spending saw no reason to turn out in 2006, and there was great dissatisfaction with McCain in 2008 and his support of the Bailout Swindle of 2008. The tea parties are merely an outward manifestation of a growing concern with fiscal folly that has been building for well over a decade. Republicans ran in 1994 as the party to bring fiscal sanity to Washingon, and initially they did to some extent. The years under Bush convinced too many Republicans that there wasn’t a dime’s worth of difference between the parties on the issue of government spending. The Democrats this year have convinced many of those same Republicans that they were wrong.

  • Find me two people who voted Democrat in 2006 because the Republicans were spending too much.

  • Find me two people who voted Democrat in 2006 because the Republicans were spending too much.

    More likely, it would be people who abstained and added to the plurality of the Democrats by default.

  • Again, I don’t know that it was deficits per se, but rather a feeling that the GOP had lost its way generally on economics issues. As Art Deco noted, the primary impact there was influencing core GOP voters to stay home.

  • Well, maybe, but my guess is that it deficits were more of a second order effect. By 2006, Bush’s approval ratings had tanked, primarily because of Iraq (and Katrina). To say that deficits were the real problem or even a major one requies an explanation for

    1) Why Republican voters did turnout in 2004 when deficit spending was much higher, and why reductions in deficit spending between 04-06 convinced those voters to stay home.

    2) Why Republican voters were so different from the rest of the electorate that it wasn’t Iraq, Katrina, etc that depressed turnout when it pretty clearly was what drove most of the rest of the country.

    There’s not any way to prove this one way or the other, of course. But I think the fiscal irresponsibility account is pretty implausible as a primary driver, even if it undeniably is a first order consideration to a vocal but small contingent on the right (like, for instance, Ron Paul supporters). Most people don’t pay attention to politics much, and that’s certainly true of the deficit.

  • I have a feeling it was more of a “Change” election in 2006 than any one factor. It happens. It does nto seem fair but it is what it is.

    We should also recall in 2006 that “Joe” Lieberman” was target number one over the Iraq war and he won.

    What the various branches of the GOP and the conservative movement really hate to admit is that they were too busy fighting each other and calling each other RINOS. They seemed to have forgot there were democrat challengers. This nasty counterproductive scorched earth policy started happening around the Dubai Port controversy and just got worse. Add to that a few unfortunate scandals and the Washington Post making all out war on the VA GOP Senator and it was a bad day.

    Also another point. WE lost a ton of hispanic vote largely because we could not police our own on a highly emotional debate.

    Did the Iraq war play a role in some places. Perhaps but when I look at some blue dog victories that occured in other places the ansewer is no there.

  • Regarding fall out from Katrina. I really wonder how much that was a factor. I think on the whole the public was much more sophisticated about that. In Louisiana the GOP did not suffer for it from what I can tell. It did not show up in the Congressional races in the last two cycles

  • Larison’s argument assumes that the fiscal and defense conservatives are two separate teams.

    “Most movement conservatives supported the policy, but it was the national-security conservatives who drove the party into the ditch while the others went along for the ride.”

    That sounds like scapegoating. If all the hawks jumped off a bridge, the movement conservatives shouldn’t have followed them. In reality, hawks are movement conservatives. There may be some conservatives who promote military strength, fiscal soundness, or traditional social values more, but there’s too much overlap between their policies to identify many of them as single-issue conservatives.

    Furthermore, the invasion of Iraq didn’t harm the Bush Administration. The apparent failure in Iraq, along with the Mark Foley scandal, added to the natural midterm loss for the president’s party.

    The lack of Republican fiscal high ground was a major cause of their losses in 2008. And again, there weren’t economic conservatives who lost their way, or who are trying to spin old military failures to their advantage. The Party lost its way fiscally.

  • Y’all keep referring to Republican voters and who they voted for, I don’t get it. Republican voters always vote for Republicans. Republicans lose because non-Republican voters who tend to vote for Republican candidates may or may not vote for them depending on what they actually do.

    Iraq could have been over in 18 months if we fought it right. The problem was Rumsfeld and the liberal neo-cons that were extending the conflict for nefarious purposes. Compassionate conservatism was code for spending like Democrats to sway the liberal-leaning Hispanics because they are seen as the future of the party, since it is a forgone conclusion in Republican circles that blacks are lost to the murderous Democrats (responsible for the murder of a third of all conceived Negros over the last 40 years!). ANd white voters are being overrun by brown immigrants and lack of reproduction. This is all conventional thinking and it is wrong.

    Republicans only win by default because they are less bad than the Democrats. Of course a charismatic leader, an orchestrated economic crisis and non-conservative Republican stooge makes for a great way to intentionally lose an election and keep the money rolling in to ‘win’ next time. Gimme a break.

    There is hardly a difference between the two parties and most Americans are so ignorant of the purpose and intent of government that they will vote for the jerks that promise the most stuff or the idiots who promise not to let them, but let them anyway.

    This is a dying system, if it isn’t dead yet. How do the Republicans recover?

    Oddly enough it will be the same way the Church will. Ditch the lying, sniveling, liberal relativism and honestly stick to principles of truth and Truth. Do the right (pun intended) thing especially when it is unpopular. And be doers of the conservative principles.

    Republicans have the same choice to make as the two sons from yesterday’s Gospel reading. Are they going to keep saying the are conservative and act like slightly less liberal Democrats, or are they actually going speak moderately and behave in a principled, conservative manner?

    Republicans lose because they lie, Demoncrats win because they will double your freebies if you vote for them within the next 15 minutes. Call now for more free crap.

Obamaville Shanty Towns: Tent Cities Sprouting Up Across America

Monday, December 14, AD 2009

As the recession continue to take its toll on our fellow Americans, rendering more and more of them homeless, tent cities have begun sprouting up across this great country.  It would not be fair to blame President Obama for the predicament that our nation is in, but President Obama has done nothing to help the situation.

President Obama’s ‘stimulus package’ only rewarded government contractors with more spending.  It is also correct to point out that former President George W. Bush’s ‘stimulus package’ did nothing more than President Obama’s spending bill.

Small businesses and the private sector in general got almost zero benefit for either porkulus spending bills.  Though this recession is typical of a business cycle, there are some things that can be done to alleviate the stress the economy is undergoing and maybe expedite the expiration of the current recession.  President Obama has done neither.

So it is fitting and fair to label the tent cities that are sprouting across America as Obamavilles.

(Note: In case the above YouTube video is taken down by the Blueshirts, you can see the entire story and video here.)

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23 Responses to Obamaville Shanty Towns: Tent Cities Sprouting Up Across America

  • Perhaps this can be the campaign song for Team Obama in 2012:

  • I would like to know what you think Obama could have done differently over the past year.

    There’s so much misunderstanding over the role of fiscal policy during this recession. It was precisely the huge expansion in the public deficit that counteracted the collapse in private demand, preventing huge negative growth rates, and equally dire employment numbers. Think of it this way: we went from a deficit of 2 percent of GDP in the balance between private income and spending shifted from to a surplus of over 6 per cent – in increase in private savings by 8 percent of GDP. What do you think would have happened without the fiscal crutch?

    It’s fustrating how few people get this point. I listened last night to John King lecture Larry Summers on how government debt is exploding at the very time when households are tighening the belt. Honestly, I thought this fallacy went out with Herbert Hoover! Here’s the issue: the vast majority of the increase in debt during this recession was because of the recession (lower taxes etc). In the jargon, it comes from automatic stabilizers. You work against the stabilizers, you make the recession worse. Moxt experts quite rightly felt that the depth of the collapse in private demand justified going even further than automatic stabilizers – hence the stimulus. The standing “crowding out argument” does not work in an environment when interest rates are near zero and nobody is lending (the case of a liquidity trap).

    Anyway, have a look at this post I did on what governments did right, and 4 key fallacies surrounding this recession.

  • MM,

    he vast majority of the increase in debt during this recession was because of the recession (lower taxes etc)

    Don’t you think if there was less federal government bureaucracy and programs, instead of raising taxes, that we wouldn’t have gotten to this point?

  • MM:

    Moxt experts quite rightly felt that the depth of the collapse in private demand justified going even further than automatic stabilizers – hence the stimulus.

    Except as the author rightly pointed out that the stimulus didn’t do ANYTHING. Most of the money in the Obama stimulus has yet to be spent.

    I supported TARP under the idea that despite that it would be mishandled, the banks needed shoring up. But make no mistake, there was a ton of corruption in TARP and even more under Obama’s stimulus.

  • Think of it this way: we went from a deficit of 2 percent of GDP in the balance between private income and spending shifted from to a surplus of over 6 per cent – in increase in private savings by 8 percent of GDP. What do you think would have happened without the fiscal crutch?

    My guess is that if Congress hadn’t passed a stimulus the Fed would have engaged in more quantitative easing, and we’d be pretty much where we are now. I don’t think Obama is to blame for our current troubles, but the things he’s done haven’t been particularly helpful either.

  • It also would have been nice if they had used tax cuts, or focused a higher percentage of the spending in 2009 and 2010, rather than just handing out money to every Democratic Congressperson’s favorite pork project.

  • Tito – I don’t get your point. The recession was caused by greed in the financial sector. Government softened the blow …. dramatically. And by that I mean monetary, fiscal, and financial sector policy.

  • I reckon living in a tent in Colorado in mid winter won’t be too much fun.

  • MM,

    This is a normal business cycle. Recessions occur every 5-7 years.

    To blame anyone is like throwing darts at a dartboard.

    I was just touching on the debt. Meaning that if we had less wasteful federal programs to defund the debt would be a bit more manageable.

  • John: I take your second point, but not the first. Multiplers are much larger on the expenditure than tax side. And I never got the whole “pork” thing — that’s the whole point of stimulus. Of course, it would be nice to get some socially worthwhile investments going (greening buildings, trains etc) but that’s not really the point of stimulus. The whole “pork” fetish is really an argument for good times – when you are supposed to be building your reserves to use them in times like this.

    On the tax point, Krugman just referenced some cutting edge new research suggesting that tax cuts are a really bad idea in liquidity type situations –

  • Tito,

    No, this was not a normal business cycle. It was the buggest global slowdown since the Great Depression. The fact that a meltdown was avoided comes from policymakers learning the lessons of the Great Depression (see the chart in my post).

    On your second point, it certainly makes sense to run prudent fiscal policy in good times to store up reserves for the lean years. And the debt profile today would not look so scary if we had gone into this in good shape. But we did not – the major fiscal loosenings of the last administration were not paid for – Iraq war, tax cuts for the wealthy, medicare part D expanion. Each of these added more to the debt than any single Obama initiative, and they didn’t even pretend to pay for them.

    The key fiscal challenge is that taxes are too low for teh level of desired spending. And if you disagree, you need to be willing to cut military spending or medicare – nothing else is going to cut it.

  • Blackadder, that’s possibly right, but (i) QE doesn’t come without cost; (ii) its success has been limited – again, it comes back to the fact that monetary policy has limited value in a liquidity trap.

  • MM,

    I agree with you that taxes are too low for the level of desired spending.

    Which to me means that we need to cut more federal programs.

    We have never had an income tax at all in this country, with a couple of exceptions, until the current income tax I believe was finally imposed in 1913.

    There is nothing that warrants to take people’s hard earned money.

  • Tito,

    Much as it might hurt to admit it, MM is right here. This wasn’t an ordinary business cycle.

  • Tito:

    (1) But what programs? As I said, you can’t do this without touching the military and medicare.

    (2) Your last sentence is not fully aligned with developments in Catholic social teaching, and reflects more a laissez-faire liberalism. Remember Pope John XXII: “the economic prosperity of a nation is not so much its total assets in terms of wealth and property, as the equitable division and distribution of this wealth” (Mater Et Magistra, 1961). Powerful stuff, that!!

  • MM,

    There’s room for disagreement on taxing hard working Americans and redistributing to the proletariat in Catholic Social Teaching.

    Pope John XXIII’s teaching is not set in stone nor is it mandatory.

    And by wealth he didn’t mean taxes, he meant equitable distribution, ie, opportunities to capital, resources, etc. Not take from workers and redistribute to the proletariat.


    I’m not debating whether it’s ordinary or extraordinary (if I gave that impression, I didn’t mean to). But the fact remains it’s a business cycle that the socialist leaning Democratic Party is exploiting to further control our lives.

  • But what programs? As I said, you can’t do this without touching the military and medicare.

    Means testing Medicare and Social Security would be a start.

  • Multiplers are much larger on the expenditure than tax side.

    You will get quite an argument from some macroeconomists on that assertion.

    I would like to know what you think Obama [ie the Administation and Congress] could have done differently over the past year.

    1. Undertake a special audit of Citigroup, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo / Wachovia, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and GE Capital [?] to determine their authentic book value.

    2. Erect a fund of about $300 bn to compensate defined benefit pension funds and purchase preferred stock in insurance companies as needed, as these entities are abnormally invested in bank bonds.

    3. Prepare articles of incorporation for the successors of each of the foregoing. Each should have at least two successors – an ongoing business concern and a holding company which owns certain assets (illiquid securities, delinquent loans, and swaps & derivative). Citi, Bank of America and JP Morgan might have three successors: the dead asset holding company, their deposits-and-loans business, and their capital markets business.

    4. Recapitalize the aforementioned banks and investment firms through swapping debt (bonds, securitized receivables, l/t loans, &c) for equity in the successor corporations. If any one corporation retains a positive book value, it should be divided between its erstwhile creditors and equity holders; otherwise, the former bondholders, &c. get the whole enchilada.

    5. Call in all outstanding Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac debt and replace it with common stock. If necessary, agree antecedently to exchange the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bonds held by sovereign wealth funds abroad with U.S. Treasury debt.

    6. Suspend collection of federal payroll taxes. Phase them back in per the performance of the macroeconomy.

    7. Transfer responsibility for unemployment compensation to the federal government.

    8. Institute reductions in pay and benefits for all federal employees. Compensation would be cut each quarter in step with the decline in domestic product per capita.

    9. Remove all conditions on intergovernmental transfers from the federal government to state and local governments bar one: they have to cut the compensation of all public employees in their purview in step with the decline in per capita income in the country at large.

    10. Legislate a pre-packaged bankruptcy for General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler which would feature compensation cuts of at least a third for the workforce and legatees in return for equity shares in proportion to losses. The bondholders might get preferred stock. In lieu of making use of TARP funding, have the Federal Reserve provide a bridge loan by purchasing their commercial paper.

    11. Cut the minimum wage to $4.60 an hour.

    12. Institution a mortgage modification program along the lines suggested by Martin Feldstein (with NO means testing): those whose mortgages are held by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or banks held by the FDIC might apply for a reduction in the principal equal to the fall (since they purchased the home) in the OFHEO price index for their area; in return, their chattels could be attached and their wages garnished if they defaulted.

    13. Institution of comprehensive tax reform as part of medium term planning for a return to fiscal balance: the elimination of deductions and exemptions, the gradual replacement of the payroll tax with enhanced income levies, the gradual institution of a component which taxes an index of one’s personal consumption, and a an enhanced per-dependent credit.

    14. Introduction legislation to erect a revised financial architecture some features of which might be as follows:

    a. Divestiture of subsidiaries which hold deposits domiciled abroad;

    b. Prohibitions on the ownership of financial firms by non-financial firms, or (for more than a temporary period) of non-financial firms by financial firms.

    c. Separation of deposits-and-loans banking from securities underwriting, proprietary trading (in securities, futures, options, &c.), ‘prime brokerage’, and private equity.

    d. Separation of securities underwriting from all activities other than corporate lending.

    e. Separation of proprietary trading from all other activities.

    f. Separation of prime brokerage from all other activities.

    g. Separation of private equity from all other activities.

    h. The separation of mutual funds from retail brokerage, trust companies, and treasury services firms.

    g. The separation of mid-market, corporate, and governmental lending from mortgage, farm, consumer, and small business lending. The former would be lodged in national banks which take deposits only from governments and incorporated entities; the latter would be lodged in banks which could take deposits from anyone but would constrained to operate within geographic catchments.

    h. Erection of an exchange for trading in swaps and derivatives.

    i. Prohibition of credit default swaps and insurance on securities.

    j. Prohibition on the use of credit to purchase securities other than initial public offerings; limit the ratio of margin loans in individual portfolios to one quarter of total assets; limit the permissible leverage of hedge funds accordingly;

    k. Erection an agency similar to the FDIC to act as a receiver of bankrupt securities firms and roll them up as rapidly as possible.

    l. Prohibition on the securitization of receivables.

    m. Turning Fannie and Freddie into self-liquidating entities.

    15. Postponement of action on medical insurance UNTIL THE BLOODY BANKS ARE REPAIRED.

  • Means testing Medicare and Social Security would be a start.


  • socialist leaning Democratic Party


  • Morning’s Minion writes Monday, December 14, 2009 A.D.

    “preventing huge negative growth rates”

    I have read this phrase in several places. I have not succeeded in understanding what is “a negative growth rate”. Is it shrinking?

    [I make the point chiefly to illustrate that much discussion about matters economic has similar fine-sounding nonsensical phrases].

Military Mutiny Brewing in Iran?

Monday, December 14, AD 2009

When the Shah fell from power in 1979 it was after a year of strikes and demonstrations.  Revolutions in Iran tend to proceed at a stately pace.  After a stolen Presidential election in Iran in the late Spring, the Iranian regime found itself faced with an active and growing opposition.  The regime has been unable to crush it.  On December 7, huge demonstrations erupted throughout Iran on college campuses. Now cracks may be beginning to appear in an institution that is key for the survival of any dictatorship:  the military.  The below story was reported in Pajamas Media by Iranian exile Afshin Ellian, who fled Iran in 1983 and who is a law professor at the University of Leiden.  He is the sole source I can find for this report, so take it with a grain of salt.

On December 10, a statement signed by a number of officers and commanders of the Iranian army was released. The regular army of Iran had not been involved in the suppression of the population. The statement was signed by:

•Pilots and personnel of the aviation division of the regular army (Havanirooz)
•Commanders and personnel of the 31th artillery division of Isfahan of the regular army
•Pilots and airmen of the regular army
•Teachers of the Shaid Satari University of the regular air force
•Officers and staff of the logistics training unit the regular army
•Professors and lecturers of the Imam Ali University for officers of the regular army
•Officers, staff, and commanders of the chief of staff of the regular army

In summary, they wrote:

Together we fought in the war with our brothers in the Revolutionary Guards in order to defend the country, the people, and the honor of the nation. They also emphasize that “the value of the land means the value of the Iranian nation.” This is very interesting. ??Value of the nation.

Not abstract concepts such as Iran or Islam, but the value of the nation determines the value of the land. Therefore, the weapons of the army and RG are to be used to protect the nation: “When we fought together, we could never suspect that parts of the RG would ever use its weapons against the people.”

The last section of this brief but powerful statement will surely immortalize these brave officers: “The army is a haven for the nation and will never want to suppress the people at the request of politicians. We shall remain true to our promise not to intervene in politics. But we cannot remain silent when our fellow citizens are oppressed by tyranny.”

They go on: “Therefore, we warn the Guards who have betrayed the martyrs (from the war between Iran and Iraq) and who decided to attack the lives, the property and the honor of the citizens. We seriously warn them that if they do not leave their chosen path, they will be confronted with our tough response. The military is a haven for the nation. And we will defend the peace-loving Iranian nation against any aggression.”

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