Monthly Archives: January 2012
The 2012 presidential election cycle is truly one of the most depressing things to behold. Neither of the top two candidates in the Republican field are particularly appealing, and the incumbent President has made Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan look like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Meanwhile, for all the bluster about the Establishment choosing our candidates (a charge not wholly without merit), conservatives have done themselves no favors by engaging in ridiculous character assassinations of any candidate who is not one hundred pure and good – meaning all the candidates. Meanwhile, superficial bluster about being a conservative is taken more seriously than actual conservative governing records in big states.
To top it all off, the only conservative left in the race is barely gaining any traction, even when dismantling his opponent in exchanges such as this.
That was far from the only highlight for Santorum. While Newt and Mitt were busy tearing each other apart for every perceived slight, Rick brought some common sense into the debate.
I don’t think Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have helped themselves with their terse exchanges on illegal immigration and Fannie & Freddie.
Apparently, Rick Santorum didn’t think so either. He said there was nothing wrong with Newt using his knowledge of Congress to help advise companies and then said there was nothing wrong with Romney making money. Santorum then implored Mitt and Newt, “Leave that alone and focus on the issues,” to strong applause.
Ah, but Senator Santorum is unelectable, according to the all the wise pundits. There’s no way he could possibly be more electable than the guy who was once portrayed as the “Gingrich who stole Chrismas,” and who has a 2:1 unfavorable to favorable gap in the polls. And he’s certainly not as electable as the guy who is so darn appealing that Republicans are climbing over themselves to pick anyone else but him to be the nominee, and who has an electoral record that makes the Detroit Lions look like a juggernaut. Santorum lost his last election by 18 points, and as we all know someone that unpopular can’t ever recover. No, we need to nominate the guy who left office with a 34% favorability rating, and who didn’t lose his bid at re-election because he didn’t even bother, knowing he was going to get destroyed. Failing that, we can nominate the guy whose own caucus ran him out of Washington, DC.
But Santorum is unelectable.
We also know Santorum is also unelectable because he holds social views outside of the mainstream. For instance, Santorum has this notion that marriage is an institution for one man and one woman. This is such an insane notion that it is only shared by a majority of the American population and the current occupant of the White House. You see, the problem with Santorum is that, unlike President Obama, he really means it. As was discussed a couple of weeks ago at Creative Minority Report, Santorum is actually sincere in his beliefs. So while he might hold policy positions that are identical with the rest of the field, he is the one being mocked because, well, he actually believes what he is saying.
One of the things that occurred to me recently that only augmented my political depression is that Gingrich does hold one electoral advantage over Santorum. The fact that Gingrich is a twice-divorced man with a checkered past while Santorum is a faithfully married man and father of seven means that independents won’t fear Gingrich as much on social issues. That’s right – actually being a man of unquestioned personal morality is an electoral disadvantage, because that just makes you seem all the more scaaaaaary. Thank goodness our elections are decided by the sorts of people who think it’s just creepy that other people think that all life is precious, even lives conceived during rape.
So excuse me if I sit this dance out.
Hattip to Pat Archbold at Creative Minority Report for the video gently lampooning the twisted language employed by pro-aborts to attempt to deny the humanity of the unborn.
George Orwell, who literally wrote the book on how totalitarian regimes use language to serve evil ends, would have loved the video. Although an agnostic and an opponent of the Catholic Church, Orwell was also not only an enemy of the dishonest use of euphemisms, but also an ardent foe of abortion. This section of his novel Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936) indicates how deeply he hated abortion: Continue reading
If there is one thing that virtually anyone can tell you about Jesus, it’s that he sided with the outcasts and the oppressed. He was on the outs with the Pharisees and he hung out with tax collectors and prostitutes and Samaritans.
Simplistically applied, many people tend to take this to mean that Jesus would clearly have approved of any cause which is scorned by the wider society. Of course, we all want to imagine that Jesus is on our side, and people often feel criticism keenly, so the end result often seems to be that people consider whatever causes they consider to be important to be those which are scorned by society, and thus which Jesus would approve of.
Thus, for instance, I recall my youth group leaders back in high school explaining to us that “if Jesus were alive today” (a phrase which bugged me nearly as much as our catechist’s tendency to declare that various things would cause Jesus to “spin in his grave” if only he knew about them) he would be marching in the Gay Pride parades and in favor of environmental causes. Why? Well, he was on the side of outcasts, and those movements are the outcasts. Ask someone else, and you’d get the precise opposite: mainstream society accepts gay rights and green causes, but pro-lifers and those who support traditional marriage are “the outcasts”.
When it comes to the War of 1812, the ignorance depicted in the above video is no exaggeration. Of all our major conflicts, our Second War For Independence is the most obscure to the general public. In this bicentennial year of the beginning of the War, I will do my small bit on the blog Almost Chosen People , the American history blog that Paul Zummo and I run, to help correct this situation. The War of 1812 was an important struggle in American history for a number of reasons, a few of which are:
1. Until the War of 1812 the British tended to treat the United States as if it were a wayward colony that would ultimately become part of the British Empire again. After the War the British understood that we were an independent power and a permanent factor in their calculations.
2. The War established the United States Navy as an aggressive and resourceful combat force, unafraid to pit daring and skill against the massively more powerful Royal Navy.
3. The War ended American dreams of conquering Canada.
4. As a result of the War, the Indian tribes east of the Mississippi could no longer provide serious resistance to American expansion into the Northwest and the Southwest.
5. The Star-Spangled Banner symbolized the new surge of nationalism that the country experienced as a result of the War. Continue reading
For last night’s State of the Union Address, President Obama invited Warren Buffet’s secretary, Debbie Bosanek, to sit in the First Lady’s box during the speech and specifically promised in that speech to support tax changes in order to mend the injustice Buffet claims occurs allowing him to pay the lowest tax rate of anyone in his office, including his secretary. This line of attack is doubtless partly designed to pave the way millionaire Barrack Obama to make populist attacks on multi-millionaire Mitt Romney during the upcoming presidential campaign. Romney is, after all, very, very rich, and his income comes primarily from investments.
David Leonhardt at the NY Times asks both right-leaning economist Greg Mankiw and the left leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities to comment on this alleged tax injustice. Mankiw makes a fairly reasonable case that the reason capital gains are lower is that investment income is based on corporate profits and corporate profits have already been taxed. Companies would have more profits to pass on to investors (either as dividends or in the form of being worth more) if they didn’t pay corporate taxes, and so the tax on investment income is set lower to avoid this “double taxation”. Chuck Marr of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities must know the facts aren’t on his side, because instead of answering the question he provides a canned response about income inequality and how tax rates are lower than in the ’70s. The column is worth a read.
However, there’s another issue here which I think is worth pointing out. Progressives writing on this issue usually act as if billionaire investors such as Warren Buffet are all paying right around 15% (the capital gains rate) in taxes — Buffet claims that he pays 17.4% — and that “middle class Americans” are paying the top marginal income tax rate of 35%. Continue reading
The most recent poll by Gallup matching Newt Gingrich against Obama has Obama up by a whopping two points: 48-50. This, after a week when Gingrich has had a concerted attack by ABC to take him out as a candidate after the Marianne Gingrich non-revelation that Newt cheated on her, as she had cheated with Newt while he was married to his first wife. Gingrich has gained 4 points in the trial heat.
Of course polls of the general election at this point in a presidential election year don’t mean spit, as President Carter could attest, as he led Ronald Reagan, often by vast margins, in the trial heat polls almost all of the year in 1980. I bring up this poll now to counter-act some of the “woe is us” commentary too often seen in GOP circles currently. Obama has presided over a disastrous first term, and will likely go down to defeat in the fall. All the signs are there. To listen to some of the Republican caterwauling at the present time, one would think that Obama was a shoo-in for a second term. He isn’t and I am getting tired of the doom and pessimism brought on by a perfectly normal contested presidential nomination race. This reminds me of an event in the Battle of the Wilderness in May of 1864: Continue reading
I haven’t written much of anything about the GOP primary contest, despite the fact I have been following it closely, in part because I found myself so incredibly dissatisfied with all the candidates. However, as the field narrows and appears to be actually competitive, and various people I respect line up behind candidates, it seemed like it was time to come out of the closet as something I’m not very enthusiastic about being: a Romney supporter.
This is not because I’m particularly fond of Romney. I don’t trust him a great deal, I’m not clear how solid any of his principles are other than his conviction that he should be president, and I don’t find him particularly inspiring. As various candidates have had their five minutes of popularity for the achievement of not being Romney, I kept hoping that one of them would manage to pull ahead and show some stature. I was particularly hopeful about Rick Perry, but he just didn’t seem able to run a campaign.
So why support Romney?
I’ll start with the positive. While I’m not enthusiastic about Romney, I think that most of what the GOP needs in order to oust Obama this year is simply a credible alternative who doesn’t scare people too much. Given how bad the economy is and how unpopular some elements of his policy have been, “not Obama” can be a solidly popular candidate by that virtue alone. Continue reading
Most Catholic pro-lifers know the truth, and lament it, that if all Catholics in this country fought against abortion, the days of legalized abortion in these United States could be measured in months. Alas, that is not the case. Half the Catholics in this country routinely give their votes to the political party that is pledged to keep abortion legal, and many of these same Catholics routinely work against the pro-life movement. Curious how that segment of Catholics was observing the March for Life, I wandered over to the National Catholic Reporter and read a post, read it here, which gave paeans of praise to a post, go here to read it and the comments, by a Franciscan Brother, Daniel P. Horan, at his website, Dating God, explaining why he does not support the March for Life. It so perfectly embodies the mindset among Catholics that has enabled abortion to remain legal for the past four decades that I decided it was worthy of a fisk.
There are indeed numerous reasons to withhold support for the so-called “March for Life.” I wish here to highlight three of the reasons that I have serious reservations about the annual ‘pilgrimage’ to Washington, DC, that draws thousands of well-meaning people, the young and the old alike.
Ah, come on Brother Dan, the use of the term “so-called” as an adjective to modify something that one does not approve of is so cliché. You can certainly do better than that!
Ah, but before I go further, I feel as though I need to qualify that last sentence. While the generational divide is usually traversed by a diverse representation of different ages and from idealistic youth and young adults to the more narrowly focused and opinion-concretized geriatric crowd, there is very little racial and ethnic diversity represented.
People on the left are as obsessed as any Ku Kluxer with skin color. Intellectual diversity however, never seems to be of much concern to them.
Anticipating the likely unhappy responses in what will appear in the comment section below, I suppose it is necessary to acknowledge that there are indeed African-American, Latino/a and Asian women and men who arrive for the events of the annual pilgrimage.
Yeah, Brother Dan lots of ’em, a fact that you would know if you bothered attending the March.
However, their numbers reflect that category into which they are so blindly corralled in this country – a minority. The sea of protesters (and that is what they are) is overwhelmingly white and that is not an insignificant dimension of the event.
Once again the obsession with race. The marchers Brother Dan want to save all the unborn, no matter what their skin color.
Among the various reasons one might chose to omit him or herself from participation, I wish to highlight three: (a) the event’s moniker is incomplete at best and disingenuous at worst, (b) the mode of protest has proven ineffective, and, following the second point, (c) the ‘march’ and its related events is a self-serving exercise in self-righteousness, self-congratulatory grandstanding and disinterest in the most pressing matters of human rights and dignity in our world today.
If stopping the slaying of the most innocent and defenseless among is not the most pressing matter of human rights and dignity in the world today, I wonder what is? I am sure Brother Dan will enlighten us!
To begin, I have no problem with people of faith taking a public stance against abortion.
Big of you Brother Dan!
You will never find me supporting abortion legislation nor encouraging those with and for whom I minister as a Roman Catholic cleric to support abortion.
Just casting aspersions from the side lines against those fighting against this manifest evil.
I believe it is a legitimate issue against which, as a Christian and Roman Catholic, I feel should be a thematic feature of social transformation.
“A thematic feature of social transformation”, whatever the heck that is supposed to mean.
However, it is not, at all, the most important issue, nor is it the single issue upon which Catholics – or anyone – should focus in an exclusive manner.
Why not? Most great evils in this world have been removed due to a single-minded focus upon a particular evil for a time. The crusade against slavery in this country comes immediately to mind. Continue reading
Frederick Douglass, the black abolitionist of 19th century America and Daniel O’Connell, the Liberator, who led the fight to gain the right to vote for Irish Catholics in 19th century Ireland, have always been two of my heroes. Most Americans tend to be unaware of the connection between them.
Throughout his life Daniel O’Connell had been an opponent of slavery, and made his sentiments known at every opportunity, calling upon Irish-Americans to attack the “Peculiar Institution”. He was frequently quoted by opponents of slavery in the United States. While a boy and a slave, Douglass had heard one of his masters curse O’Connell for attacking slavery, and Douglass knew that he must love O’Connell if his master hated him so. In 1846 Douglass went to Ireland for four months and went on a speaking tour. O’ Connell was seventy-one and had just one more year to live. Douglass was a mere twenty-eight. However, a firm friendship quickly sprung up between them. O’Connell, perhaps the finest orator of a nation known for oratory, heard the eloquent Douglass speak in Dublin and proclaimed him the “Black O’Connell”.
The wretched condition of most of the Irish moved and shocked Douglass as this passage he wrote in a letter to William Lloyd Garrison on March 27, 1846 reveals:
The spectacle that affected me most, and made the most vivid impression on my mind, of the extreme poverty and wretchedness of the poor of Dublin, was the frequency with which I met little children in the street at a late hour of the night, covered with filthy rags, and seated upon cold stone steps, or in corners, leaning against brick walls, fast asleep, with none to look upon them, none to care for them. If they have parents, they have become vicious, and have abandoned them. Poor creatures! they are left without help, to find their way through a frowning world—a world that seems to regard them as intruders, and to be punished as such. God help the poor! An infidel might ask, in view of these facts, with confusing effect—Where is your religion that takes care for the poor—for the widow and fatherless—where are its votaries—what are they doing? The answer to this would be, if properly given, wasting their energies in useless debate on hollow creeds and points of doctrine, which, when settled, neither make one hair white nor black. In conversation with some who were such rigid adherents to their faith that they would scarce be seen in company with those who differed from them in any point of their creed, I have heard them quote the text in palliation of their neglect, “The poor shall not cease out of the land”! During my stay in Dublin, I took occasion to visit the huts of the poor in its vicinity—and of all places to witness human misery, ignorance, degradation, filth and wretchedness, an Irish hut is pre-eminent. It seems to be constructed to promote the very reverse of every thing like domestic comfort. If I were to describe one, it would appear about as follows: Four mud walls about six feet high, occupying a space of ground about ten feet square, covered or thatched with straw—a mud chimney at one end, reaching about a foot above the roof—without apartments or divisions of any kind—without floor, without windows, and sometimes without a chimney—a piece of pine board laid on the top of a box or an old chest— a pile of straw covered with dirty garments, which it would puzzle any one to determine the original part of any one of them—a picture representing the crucifixion of Christ, pasted on the most conspicuous place on the wall—a few broken dishes stuck up in a corner—an iron pot, or the half of an iron pot, in one corner of the chimney—a little peat in the fireplace, aggravating one occasionally with a glimpse of fire, but sending out very little heat—a man and his wife and five children, and a pig. In front of the door-way, and within a step of it, is a hole three or four feet deep, and ten or twelve feet in circumference; into this hole all the filth and dirt of the hut are put, for careful preservation. This is frequently covered with a green scum, which at times stands in bubbles, as decomposition goes on. Here you have an Irish hut or cabin, such as millions of the people of Ireland live in. And some live in worse than these. Men and women, married and single, old and young, lie down together, in much the same degradation as the American slaves. I see much here to remind me of my former condition, and I confess I should be ashamed to lift up my voice against American slavery, but that I know the cause of humanity is one the world over. He who really and truly feels for the American slave, cannot steel his heart to the woes of others; and he who thinks himself an abolitionist, yet cannot enter into the wrongs of others, has yet to find a true foundation for his anti-slavery faith.
It is a tribute both to Frederick Douglass and Daniel O’Connell that their compassion was not limited to people like them, but extended to victims of injustice far removed from them.
In his memoirs published in 1882, Douglass recalled O’Connell: Continue reading
A statement yesterday from President Obama:
As we mark the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we must remember that this Supreme Court decision not only protects a woman’s health and reproductive freedom, but also affirms a broader principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters. I remain committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose and this fundamental constitutional right. While this is a sensitive and often divisive issue- no matter what our views, we must stay united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant woman and mothers, reduce the need for abortion, encourage healthy relationships, and promote adoption. And as we remember this historic anniversary, we must also continue our efforts to ensure that our daughters have the same rights, freedoms, and opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams.
In a sensitive area such as this, involving as it does issues over which reasonable men may easily and heatedly differ, I cannot accept the Court’s exercise of its clear power of choice by interposing a constitutional barrier to state efforts to protect human life and by investing mothers and doctors with the constitutionally protected right to extinguish it.
Justice Byron White-Dissent in Roe v. Wade (January 22, 1973)
SAY not the struggle naught availeth,
The labour and the wounds are vain,
The enemy faints not, nor faileth,
And as things have been they remain.
If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars;
It may be, in yon smoke conceal’d,
Your comrades chase e’en now the fliers,
And, but for you, possess the field.
For while the tired waves, vainly breaking,
Seem here no painful inch to gain,
Far back, through creeks and inlets making,
Comes silent, flooding in, the main.
And not by eastern windows only,
When daylight comes, comes in the light;
In front the sun climbs slow, how slowly!
But westward, look, the land is bright
Arthur Hugh Clough
The South Carolina victory speech of Newt Gingrich last night. Most such primary victory speeches are fairly forgettable efforts and the Gingrich speech was largely no exception except at one point in the speech. Go to 12: 30 on the video, and watch Gingrich lambaste many elites in our society for their anti-religious bigotry. Gingrich has raised the issue of anti-Catholic bigotry in particular, and anti-Christian bigotry in general, before in this campaign, go here to read his earlier comments, and he may have hit on the sleeper issue of the year in this campaign. With the words of Pope Benedict, go here to read them, warning last week about the lessening of religious freedom in this country, this is a message whose time is now upon us. Continue reading
It’s looking like a fairly sizable victory for the former Speaker of the House. So much for Romney’s inevitability.
Open thread for discussion. Please keep it civil.
It all seemed so simple for Mitt Romney, a/k/a the Weathervane, just a week ago. He had won New Hampshire by a wide margin and he was ahead by more than 10 points according to most polls in South Carolina. He was poised to win the Palmetto State, and then on to Florida at the end of January. After three victories in a row, the primaries would be effectively over and he could concentrate on the battle in the Fall. Tonight Gingrich was declared the winner immediately after the close of the polls, crushing Romney, who had outspent Newt two to one, and who enjoyed the support of the South Carolina GOP establishment. What happened?
It started to unravel last Monday in the first of the South Carolina debates, where Gingrich performed superbly, and Romney acted like a deer that had wandered into the debate, frozen by the television lights and unable to answer any questions coherently about the release of his taxes.
On Tuesday Sarah Palin announced that if she lived in South Carolina she would be voting for Gingrich, to keep the primary process going. Her husband had endorsed Gingrich the week before.
All week Romney kept fumbling over the tax return issue, finally announcing that he would release his current tax return sometime in the Spring, and sheepishly mentioning that his effective tax rate was 15% due to most of his income being from investments. His campaign continued to seem unable to respond to Gingrich attacks on Romney’s employment at Bain Capital. Romney made a major faux pas when he stated that he had earned very little from speaking fees in 2010 and early 2011. It turned out that the very little money was 374k, fortifying his image as an out of touch rich guy. A very bad week for the Weathervane.
On Thursday Newt had an electric moment at the beginning of the second of the South Carolina debates. Go here to read all about it. This enhanced Gingrich’s image as a champion debater, and a fighter, taking no guff from a liberal media bent on destroying him. This was tailor-made to appeal to Conservatives, and Gingrich should send a public thank you to John King and CNN for allowing him to use them as a punching bag. On Friday Perry dropped out and endorsed Gingrich, noting that Gingrich was not perfect, and emphasizing the redemptive power of religion. If Perry had been as eloquent during his participation in the debates, he would now be the de facto Republican nominee.
So, what does this all mean? Continue reading
Say to your Son that I am His.
Through Him all my sins are lost:
Forgive me, as Mary Egypt was,
Or, so they say, Theophilus,
Who by your grace was still blameless,
Though he vowed the Devil a guest.
Protect me always from like excess,
Virgin, who bore, without a cry,
Christ whom we celebrate at Mass.
In this faith let me live and die.
Something for the weekend. Song of the Vagabonds sung by the Robert Shaw chorale. Song of the Vagabonds is the showstopper song in the 1925 operetta The Vagabond King by Rudolph Friml. The operetta is an imaginative fantasy set in 15th Century Paris where Louis XI, the Spider King, makes Francois Villon, brilliant poet and petty thief, Marshal of France for a day after he criticizes Louis. Villon must defeat the Burgundian Army besieging Paris or be hanged. Villon rallies the Paris rabble, his people, and defeats the Burgundians. He wins the woman he loves and goes into exile for her. Alas, not a syllable is true to history. Continue reading
Remember, check all umbrellas, treat all gatherings of birds with suspicion and never trust anyone with constant herring breath.