A Comment Not Fit For Publication at Vox Nova

Sunday, February 28, AD 2010

Apparently, when Michael Iafrate accuses this blog of promoting ‘Christo-fascism’, the following response (in its entirety) is inappropriate:

I’ll simply repeat my long-standing objection to your use of the term fascism:

http://the-american-catholic.com/2009/12/05/ole-timey-country-simple-christmas/#comment-27594

Michael is free, of course, to conduct his comment threads as he likes, but it seems self-evidently ridiculous (not to mention uncivil) to write a post calling people names, and then delete responses challenging that description.  This is a shame, as it makes it very easy to dismiss even his legitimate criticisms. In any case, here is a link to the post which originally drew Michael’s ire.

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153 Responses to A Comment Not Fit For Publication at Vox Nova

  • That is my reaction to your post also Catholic Anarchist.

  • Apparently Michael has now posted a (somewhat longer) response in the comments at Vox Nova, which I’ll reprint here:

    John Henry – I realize that you take issue with my application of the term “fascist” to the views of some of your co-bloggers. That’s fine and you have made your point. Further comments on this will be deleted.

    I find it truly funny, though, that while you were over here protesting my use of the word as it applies to your blog, your co-blogger Tito posted this.

    It’s truly great to have your blog as such a great example of what is wrong with u.s. Catholicism. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried!

    In response to Michael (as his moderation of comment threads over there makes conversation impossible in that forum), I’ll note that:

    1) I don’t mind name-calling so much as the refusal to make any attempt to justify the charge.

    2) I would like to be able to state my points, rather than having them mis-characterized by Michael. It is not that I object to him calling people ‘fascists’. It’s that he hasn’t provided any evidence to justify the accusation, and in the past he’s displayed a remarkable confusion about what the word even means.

    3) It’s just lame to call people names, then delete the comments when they respond.

    4) I thought the timing of Tito’s post was amusing, but that’s not really relevant to his weird reaction to Don’s post.

  • It’s upsetting because it’s not possible to have a conversation with Michael, yet he seems to want to have one with us. (sorry for the third person if you’re reading this, Michael)

    It’s very difficult to understand him because he has a hyper-personalized (idiosyncratic) definition of every word he uses. e.g. everything said or done in defense of America is “fascist”, where the term fascist is expanded to include any American with a shred of Patriotism. For Michael, there is only one American patriot – the dissident and revolutionary. He sees nothing salvageable in America’s political or cultural makeup. America is corrupt at its foundation, its very nature, and as such that nature must be destroyed and replaced with something. Nevermind what that something is (it’s too difficult to specify).

    The worst part is that he accuses us of making all these mistakes, of nation worship, etc, and we cannot understand them. Whether its different vocabularies or whether it’s because we are part of “the system” I cannot say.

    But it’s clear that he has a passionate hatred for everything American and every person who would defend what is good about America.

  • Because we all know that simply posting a piece of historical music is fascist…

  • I agree with your last paragraph, Zach.

  • Michael is liberal. And that is exactly what’s wrong with the Catholic Church in the US.

    I am Catholic. And as such I believe in what the Founding Fathers of these United States tried to do: create a Christian Constitutional Republic, NOT a secular atheist humanist national democracy that the Obamination of Desolation is turning this country into with the help of faux Catholics of the liberal pursuasion: Pelosi, Biden, Kerry, Leahy, etc.

    I say again: the best anti-American liberal democrat so-called Catholic is the defeated, muzzled and emasculated one.

    And I truly mean that. I have no time for liberal heretics and apostates.

  • BTW, please call me fascist.

    Please!

    Please!

    Please!

    😀

  • I thought Michael wasn’t going to read this blog anymore.

  • It’s upsetting because it’s not possible to have a conversation with Michael…

    Zach – What a strange comment, considering the multiple conversations we have had for some time now, some via email.

  • Par for the course for MI. His anti-military bigotry is a regular staple at Vox Nova.

  • John Henry – I don’t see much point in rehashing our disagreements about the meaning of “fascism.”

    I don’t mind name-calling so much as the refusal to make any attempt to justify the charge.

    I haven’t refused anything. We’ve discussed this issue publicly before. I just don’t see much point in doing so again when the use of that term is not a central feature of the post whose comments I was moderating.

    …he hasn’t provided any evidence to justify the accusation, and in the past he’s displayed a remarkable confusion about what the word even means.

    You can link to my comments about fascism and call them “confused,” but it is more likely that you are the one who is confused. There is considerable debate about the use of the word fascism and folks on the right and the left use it in reference to one another. You shouldn’t be surprised at my usage, not should you find it confusing. I can send you some reading material to help you see where I cam coming from if it will make you less confused.

    Let me respond to a few more inaccuracies (ed: from other commenters):

    It’s very difficult to understand him because he has a hyper-personalized (idiosyncratic) definition of every word he uses. e.g. everything said or done in defense of America is “fascist”, where the term fascist is expanded to include any American with a shred of Patriotism.

    This is not true on multiple counts. First, if you think my understanding of the word “fascism” is “hyper-personalized,” perhaps you need to get out more. Second, I have restricted my use of the term “fascist” to one, maybe two, individuals on this blog. I certainly do not equate patriotism with fascism. If I did I’d have to condemn about 98% of the people I know as fascists. I have in fact blogged at VN about the positive characteristics of patriotism (delinked from the nation-state, of course, but this is patriotism nonetheless).

    For Michael, there is only one American patriot – the dissident and revolutionary. He sees nothing salvageable in America’s political or cultural makeup.

    If I don’t see anything “salvageable,” why do you think I have an interest in radical social movements in Appalachia? In the american peace tradition? Dorothy Day? Howard Zinn? The Berrigan brothers? WHy does it surprise you that I think american radicalism is the only form of patriotism worth a damn? The status quo in america is corrupt. If the american ideals you want to uphold so badly mean anything at all to you, you would have to be a radical in some sense because those ideals are not being realized. A patriotism that simply wants to preserve the status quo or some kind of “olden days” is worthless.

    The worst part is that he accuses us of making all these mistakes, of nation worship, etc, and we cannot understand them.

    I don’t know who the “we”/”us” are, but you are right that many americans (yes, even Christians) simply cannot understand the idolatrous nature american civil religiosity. It’s that pernicious dualism that we always end up talking about, Zach. It allows you (plural you) to hold two sets of religious allegiances at once. But we know what Jesus said about God and mammon.

    But it’s clear that he has a passionate hatred for everything American and every person who would defend what is good about America.

    Again, over the top nonsense. It’s overkill to say that I have a “passionate hatred for everything American and every person who would defend what is good about America.” It’s an overreaction to say such things when I clearly express deep love and affection for various things american. But such overreaction, such defensiveness, springs from a deep attachment (perhaps a religious attachment) to the idea of “america” that you can’t seem to bear any sort of real criticism without spinning off into “HE HATES EVERYTHING ABOUT AMERICA” jibberish.

    Par for the course for MI. His anti-military bigotry is a regular staple at Vox Nova.

    One of the few truthful things said in this thread. Congrats, Mr. Gormley! I am anti-military and I say so with regularity on the blog.

  • I had long had difficulty reading Vox Nova in general, and gave up entirely about a year ago. It was not so much that the posts got to me because of their generally liberal position. It was more the self-righteous tones that slowly began to accompany almost every post. I have not been back lately, but given the comments, I suspect it has not improved.

  • Jonathan,

    Nice pic for your icon!

    Who is it?

  • If you think Michael is liberal, you clearly don’t understand liberalism. Here’s a hint – the general tendency of this blog is in an ultra-liberal direction. That might not be the standard definition of the liberalism in the US, but it does represent “liberalism” as the old enemy of the Church.

  • “t was more the self-righteous tones that slowly began to accompany almost every post. I have not been back lately, but given the comments, I suspect it has not improved.”

    The irony!

  • Tito,

    George Mason – I appreciate the Federalist (then, anti-federalist) leanings of his writings. 🙂

    And thank you for proving my point, Henry.

    –Jonathan

  • Here is the irony, as indicated by that thread as elsewhere on this topic:

    michael not only doesn’t make an effort to understand the term “fascism,” but persists in applying it to his enemies. This is rather curious, especially when coming from one claiming the positions of the Left, broadly defined…..because fascism was, and is, a movement of the Left, broadly defined!

    The early theorists and political practitioners of fascism understood themselves to be of the Left, and several were socialist newspaper editors. So let’s leave behind the modern epithet, which has come to have no meaning whatsoever, and come to understand the many points of history one could highlight here, and which were highlighted in John Henry’s link.

    The two chief currents of modern, Western “conservative” thought are throne/altar/traditionalism and economic liberalism. Both of these strands would be toxic to the fascist operating at times when it was a serious, coherent system of thought and action. The fascist was nationalist (which can certainly be a part of “rightist” political thought, broadly defined), statist, and against traditionalism. (As we see in the split with the communists – socialism in one country v. socialism international).

    So if michael wishes to call someone a fascist today, he should look to the Left. And if he were in Britain, he could (properly) criticize the BNP, which draws quite a lot of their support from Labour voters and Labour areas.

  • …because fascism was, and is, a movement of the Left, broadly defined!

    Hilarious!

  • Hilarious!

    Historically accurate. Are you either capable or willing to discuss it like adults?

    I’ll start.

    Mussolini was the first political leader to implement the theories of fasces. The theories began with socialist newspaper editors about three decades before.

    These were its characteristics: corportism/statism, hyper-nationalism, hatred of democracy, egalitarianism, the values of enlightenment and modernism, collective organization, cult of the leader, love of symbols, and the engagement of violence.

    These were its chief inspirations: popular science, Marx, Sorel, and Nietzsche.

    I repeat: fascism was, and is, a movement of the Left, broadly defined. This was also how its early writers, and political leaders, understood themselves.

    Now: are you either capable or willing of not having a tantrum in your e-engagement? Are you either capable or willing of setting aside the name-calling, hatreds, and hostility, and actually engaging in definition, historical example, and socio-political context? If so, let’s do it.

  • I don’t see much point in rehashing our disagreements about the meaning of “fascism.”

    I don’t either – that’s why I linked to our previous discussion to provide context, rather than writing a lengthy comment about fascism in response to your post. But you’re the one, after all, who brought it up by saying this blog promotes ‘Christo-fascism’. As you deleted the comment linking to our previous discussion – and several others, none of which were offensive in any respect – the only conclusion I can draw is that what you’re really saying is that you want to be able to call people names, but you don’t want to go through the tedious exercise of actually explaining what you mean by those names or engaging in any sort of dialogue. That’s all well and good; as I said above, you’re free to play games with the comment approval button and carefully script the narrative in your combox. Don’t pretend that this is true, though:

    I haven’t refused anything.

    You certainly have: You both refused to publish comments responding to your accusation of fascism, and then refused to engage in a civil discussion about your use of the term. As to your comments about my alleged ‘confusion,’ they strike me as just another tiresome rhetorical device: you are quite happy to call someone a ‘fascist’ or ‘confused’, but curiously reluctant to engage in a conversation beyond the level of general insults. It is much, much easier, of course, to allege that someone is confused and offer to assist them, than to explain your definition of fascism or actually point out an error in theirs, but, then, the former approach is a bit of a cheap dodge isn’t it?

  • I admire yall for continuing to attempt to debate and comment at Vox Nova. I have almost completely moved it out of my blog rotation. I don’t mind reading opinions and perspectives different from mine, but condescension drips from many of the posts. I enjoy Kyle’s posts and RCM’s posts back when she contributed, but wading through the rest of it got to be too much of a chore. I’m sure there are other decent posters that I am leaving out. What cemented my decision to stop visiting regularly is the massive censorship of comments. It is their blog so they can do what they want, but the deletion of every third comment to preserve the “proper” dialog makes them look small and the threads unreadable.

  • Sam Rocha is the only Vox Nova author I read with any interest. The rest are basically leftist shills.

  • “One of the few truthful things said in this thread. Congrats, Mr. Gormley! I am anti-military and I say so with regularity on the blog.”

    Bigotry being a sin one would figure that this isn’t something to be boastful of…

  • Jenny

    Here is a clue; in most blogs, such moderation happens. The irony is that so many of my comments have been deleted on TAC and then lies said as to why. But hey, let’s not let the reality of the net get in the way of your false representation of facts.

  • Karlson, no lies have been ever told about any of your comments that have been deleted.

  • I don’t know how other blogs are run. Comments may be deleted daily, randomly, or accidentally. My concern as a reader and very occasional commenter is that the threads are readable and the flow of ideas is followable.

    I do know that on Vox Nova there is a cascade of deleted comments with annotations explaining why the comments were unworthy and deleted followed by other comments responding to the now deleted post. In my opinion, it makes the threads unreadable and, thus, not worth my time. And, after all, mine is the only opinion that matters when I decide which blogs to spend my time reading.

    You also nicely demonstrate my dislike of the overall tone at Vox Nova. I state my opinion about the choppy threads and you promptly call me a liar. I’m not sure what I falsely represented. Are comments not regularly deleted at Vox Nova in a very noticeable way?

  • Donald

    That is not true. Many have been, and people have seen it.

    Jenny

    As for comments being deleted, since it happens everywhere, I guess you can’t read the internet? Seriously, many places don’t even allow comments. The fact that some are deleted should be neither here nor there, but it is interesting that those who complain about it only do so for some examples of it, not the whole. Which goes to show it is not the deletion of the comment which is the issue.

  • Jenny,

    Don’t waste your time arguing with these frustrated tin-pot commissars. They’re all bark and no bite, which is why they will never having anything more than comment boxes to dominate.

  • Karlson, as far as I can tell three of your comments have been deleted. Here is what was said on those three instances:

    Tito Edwards
    the-american-catholic.com/
    2009/02/07 at 1:21pm
    Henry K.,

    You need to grow up. I deleted another uncharitable comment of yours.

    30 #
    Tito Edwards
    the-american-catholic.com/
    2009/02/06 at 4:16pm
    I’ve deleted two uncharitable comments.

    To be fair to Henry K. & MM, I was poking fun at MM’s SUV posting over at VN. If Henry K. would have taken the time to be prudent and read the entire sentence instead of stopping at “dissident”, he would have understood that I was joking about the SUV posting of MM. I wasn’t trying to be vicious as Henry K (& MM) were insinuating.

    Their perception of intended malice would have been justified if the intent was there. It wasn’t.

    Enough said.

    Donald R. McClarey
    2009/04/03 at 3:42pm
    I deleted your last comment Mr. Karlson. Your mischaracterization of what Mr. Petrik was saying crossed a line. I am also placing you in moderation for the time being.

  • I think the basic point is that authors have discretion over their comboxes. It’s a bad system, but it’s better than most of the alternatives. At the same time, bloggers should recognize that they open themselves to criticism if they act capriciously.

    Henry certainly abuses comment moderation imo on occasion, although Michael is by far the most committed to ensuring no unapproved message disturbs his name-calling. I tend to have more of a laissez-faire attitude towards comments (I don’t think I’ve ever deleted any of Henry’s comments, for instance), but not everyone feels that way, and they are well within their rights, just as Jenny has every right as a reader to dislike the policy. Why Henry feels the need to behave so boorishly in response to her criticism I can’t say. Some VN threads are about as organic and authentic as a professional wrestling match, complete with pre-decided winners and losers based on what comments are allowed through. But that’s their call and its only some of the writers; Kyle, and Sam, and Brett, and even MM are generally fairly reasonable, particularly the first three.

    Joe – I think you are being uncharitable, and I don’t really understand why. The best response to condescension and contempt is rarely to respond in kind.

  • I’ve deleted one or two of his comments before as well – when they violate our rules of conduct, which to me aren’t for show.

    Why do they even bother coming here? Whatever truth may be present in their arguments is completely obscured beneath the mounds of hatred and contempt they hold for anyone who doesn’t already agree with them.

  • Donald

    There have been many instances, and Tito would write something, and it would be up before he deleted it. It has happened to many of us too. I would get emails from some people when he did it to them. It is quite common in here. But that is the last I will mention it. But I do find it interesting people wonder why there is a discussion of this when the whole post here is about VN and comments.

  • Regardless of what Henry says, I will choose not to get involved in mud-slinging.

    Unlike the other blog, we here allow all comments to be posted, as long as they follow the comments policy.

  • Michael, what I meant about the conversation bit was this: we talk back and forth, but we never really understand each other. And as far as me needing to get out more, I think it’s more likely that we just disagree about what fascist means. I’d follow jonathanjones on this issue.

    On equating patriotism with fascism: I see this as the only possible explanation for your reading of Don’s comments, and your insistence on calling him a fascist. That post had nothing to do with fascism or anything religious but you insist on seeing something that is not there. Hence I think you have expanded the term to be essentially meaningless.

    I still think what I said about your understanding of American patriotism holds true, although I cede the point you make about theoretical patriotism de-coupled from the nation state. Again this is theoretically possible but not possible in practice (i.e. in reality), because America and the rest of the world is organized into nation-states.

    And concerning your putative love for things America: Dorothy Day, Howard Zinn, and The Berrigan brothers love nothing distinctively American. It’s not possible to say you love something but that your love is dependent upon your hope for it’s total transformation into something else. In this case, you no longer love the original thing but something else entirely.

    And you’re right: the American ideals that I love are not being put into practice. But the ideas I love are American. They are not Western European or Latin American.

    Finally, the us/we refers to the contributors on this blog, as opposed to you. I do not hold two religious allegiances. I do not worship mammon. Jesus Christ is my only King.

  • Henry certainly abuses comment moderation imo on occasion, although Michael is by far the most committed to ensuring no unapproved message disturbs his name-calling.

    How would you have any idea what comments I moderate? I in fact let most comments through. Perhaps you’re simply irritated that some of your comments get deleted. Note that the only comments of yours that I deleted in that thread were comments in which you intentionally tried to continue a conversation that I said we weren’t going to have. You had fair warning and posted 2, maybe 3 more times comments that were virtually identical. You’re welcome to do that, but don’t call me unreasonable for not putting up with it.

  • Zach –

    And as far as me needing to get out more, I think it’s more likely that we just disagree about what fascist means.

    Well then say that. Don’t say that my view of fascism is “hyper-personalized” or “idiosyncratic.” You know well where I am coming from.

    …I cede the point you make about theoretical patriotism de-coupled from the nation state. Again this is theoretically possible but not possible in practice (i.e. in reality), because America and the rest of the world is organized into nation-states.

    This comment simply ignores reality. The world is not organized only by nation-states. Are native North Americans not able to be patriotic? They have no nation-state. Neither do Palestinians. I’ve blogged before about my love for the region that I come from. Has little to do with it being located within the boundaries of something called “america.” The nation-state system is an imposition.

    And concerning your putative love for things America: Dorothy Day, Howard Zinn, and The Berrigan brothers love nothing distinctively American.

    What?

    It’s not possible to say you love something but that your love is dependent upon your hope for it’s total transformation into something else. In this case, you no longer love the original thing but something else entirely.

    And what is the “original thing” called “america” that I am supposed to love? Where is it? What is it? How do I locate it? What you say in this comment is true with regard to persons, not with abstractions like nation-states.

    And you’re right: the American ideals that I love are not being put into practice. But the ideas I love are American. They are not Western European or Latin American.

    Can you list for me these ideals that are “american-only”? Why are you opposing “american” and “Latin American”?

    I do not hold two religious allegiances. I do not worship mammon. Jesus Christ is my only King.

    We can say these sorts of things all we like. But the fact is, you and most of the writers on this blog casually approve of american soldiers killing in the name of the nation-state. You celebrate it. I do not see any of you blogging about the glories of killing for the church or for Jesus Christ. The things you are willing to kill and die for are the things you worship. We can see what Donald worships. What do you worship?

  • Michael is patriotic he consistently spells America will a small “a”, ie, america.

  • But the fact is, you and most of the writers on this blog casually approve of american soldiers killing in the name of the nation-state. You celebrate it. I do not see any of you blogging about the glories of killing for the church or for Jesus Christ. The things you are willing to kill and die for are the things you worship. We can see what Donald worships. What do you worship?

    This strikes me as a remarkably poorly thought out set of statements.

    First off “celebrating” something and “casually approving” of it would seem to be mutually exclusive. Second, while you might, given your proclivities, assume from silence that “most writers on this blog” casually approve of “american soldiers killing in the name of the nation-state” since we don’t run around denouncing it all the time, it seems hard to claim that we “celebrate” such a thing when killing is a topic very little discussed and never to my knowledge praised on the blog. Perhaps in your own mind any post which mentions soldiers or the military in anything other than a negative fashion is “celebrating killing in the name of the nation-state”, but others can’t really be resonsible for what goes on in your own mind, only for what they actually write.

    More fascinating by far is your assertion: The things you are willing to kill and die for are the things you worship.

    Why are we to believe this to be true?

    I would hope that you, at least, would agree with all of us here that it is the duty of Christians, if necessary, to die the death of a martyr rather than to deny our faith in Jesus Christ. So certainly, in some cases, people die for Him whom they worship. But it is also reasonable to expect a parent to be willing to die to save his or her children. Does that mean that parents worship children? Christ tells us that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Does that mean we worship our friends? Police, firemen and other rescue workers must risk, at times, losing their lives in defense of residents in their communities they don’t even know. Does that mean that they worship all residents in their communities?

    And do you really want, as a pacifist, to hold up “the glories of killing for the church or for Jesus Christ” as a positive good? To the extent that killing sometimes necessary to preserve that which is worth preserving, perhaps there are some situations where this might be necessary. And it is true that most of us here would probably defend the justice of the Crusades, which as I recall you consider to be “Christo-fascist”. But why even bring this up as a criteria for belief? One assumes that as a good pacifist you would explicitly not be willing to kill for the Church (whatever that may be taken to mean), so why suggest that being willing to kill in defense of something is proof of what one worships, since by that criteria you worship nothing?

  • How would you have any idea what comments I moderate? I in fact let most comments through. Perhaps you’re simply irritated that some of your comments get deleted. Note that the only comments of yours that I deleted in that thread were comments in which you intentionally tried to continue a conversation that I said we weren’t going to have. You had fair warning and posted 2, maybe 3 more times comments that were virtually identical. You’re welcome to do that, but don’t call me unreasonable for not putting up with it.

    Not that anyone cares at this point, but this is a lie, and it’s ridiculous anyway. My comments were deleted prior to any notice from Michael that commenting in response to accusations he made in his post was somehow inappropriate. Seriously, Michael, “I don’t want to ‘put up with’ responding to people I insult in my posts,” is your response?

  • So……no dispute about the meaning and history of fascism, a movement of the Left that Stalin successfully rebranded as “right wing” (which to him, as with Trotsky, it was) ? If there is no dispute, then perhaps those bloggers on the Left that wish to use the term for their name calling will correct their error.

  • First off “celebrating” something and “casually approving” of it would seem to be mutually exclusive.

    Not at all. americans mindlessly celebrate all sorts of things.

    Second, while you might, given your proclivities, assume from silence that “most writers on this blog” casually approve of “american soldiers killing in the name of the nation-state” since we don’t run around denouncing it all the time, it seems hard to claim that we “celebrate” such a thing when killing is a topic very little discussed and never to my knowledge praised on the blog.

    You do know about a guy named Donald who blogs for you, right? Ever read his posts?

    As for the killing and dying for what you worship, you don’t seem to be thinking too clearly… you’re twisting, turning, avoiding the obvious.

    Not that anyone cares at this point, but this is a lie, and it’s a ridiculous anyway. My comments were deleted prior to any notice from Michael that he considered responding in the comments to accusations he made in his post, was somehow an inappropriate topic of conversation.

    It’s not a “lie.” I deleted your comment due to its content and immediately told you why it was deleted and that it was not going to be a topic of conversation. You posted at least two more comments, identical to that one, and I deleted them.

  • You do know about a guy named Donald who blogs for you, right? Ever read his posts?

    He blogs with me, not for me. And yes, I read Donald’s posts with interest — and apparently with much better reading comprehension than you do. I am unaware of any of Donald’s posts in which he celebrated killing in the name of the nation state.

    As for the killing and dying for what you worship, you don’t seem to be thinking too clearly… you’re twisting, turning, avoiding the obvious.

    No, I’m pointing out that your statement was totally incoherant. If you think that it holds any meaning which is reasonable, you are certainly welcome to explicate it. However, responding simply by saying that others are “twisting, turning, avoiding the obvious” conveys nothing other than “I still think I’m right, but I’m unable to explain why, so I think I’ll try to issue some self-satisfied taunts.”

  • You call it “reading comprehension.” I call it rationalization.

  • I’m unclear about what you think I’m “lying” about.

  • It’s very difficult to understand him because he has a hyper-personalized (idiosyncratic) definition of every word he uses. e.g. everything said or done in defense of America is “fascist”, where the term fascist is expanded to include any American with a shred of Patriotism. For Michael, there is only one American patriot – the dissident and revolutionary. He sees nothing salvageable in America’s political or cultural makeup. America is corrupt at its foundation, its very nature, and as such that nature must be destroyed and replaced with something. Nevermind what that something is (it’s too difficult to specify).

    Zach nails it. For me, the greatest evidence of Western decadence is its absolute self-hatred, which is not found in other cultures, no matter how imperialist or gory their pasts (ie. Japan). The self-loathing leftist can see no good in American civilization. An extremely secular leftist (ie. Dawkins) can see no good in Western civilization and its traditional Christian faith at all – Christianity is nothing but sickness, oppression, sexism, etc. Michael I. is a Catholic (and I certainly do not doubt his belief in God), so he can not condemn Western Civilization as a whole. Instead, he directs his self-loathing at American Christianity, American culture, “imperialism” and so on. Those of us on the right honor our heritage while recognizing America has certainly fallen short many times of the ideals Americans profess to hold dear; it does not mean those ideals are ignorable any more than the ideals of Christianity are ignorable because Christians frequently fail to live up to them.

    Michael I. is to be pitied and prayed for: a man who hates his own country and his own heritage and finds the majority of his countrymen and women contemptible instead of basically decent human beings who err is not a man I envy. He, like other leftists, mistakes his self-righteous, sick self-loathing for virtue. It is not.

    Joe Hargrave, in contrast, is a man I have frequently disagreed with (except on abortion issues), but Joe, you make me think and reassess my own positions. I am probably a bit less economically libertarian than I used to be because of Joe’s cogent arguments. But then I have never doubted Joe’s love of country. He doesn’t come across as a man who despises his fellow Americans. I remember a 60’s leftist who said later that his fellow leftists had never learned “it’s impossible to change a country if you hate it.” Michael I. has never learned that lesson.

  • So “rationalization” is understanding what people actually write, rather than imputing to them all sorts of things they don’t actually write because you despise them. Got it…

    I must say, Michael, that I’m really glad that I already knew several pacifists — in person and online — before I ran across you. While I do not agree with pacifism, when it is held sincerely it is an idealistic and noble view. I never would have imagined, prior to running into your corner of the blogsphere, that it could we warped into a ideology entirely characterized by hate.

  • Donald: BTW, here’s an example of the small-minded, “killer” Americans we are apparently supposed to loathe.

    I moved this weekend into my first home; a condo I absolutely love. The cable guy came today. I had never set up cable before and was warned that if the cable man said he’d be here at 9:30 a.m. it would probably be 9:30 p.m. when he’d show up. The cable man called at 9 a.m., said he’d be here at 9:30 and – was here at exactly 9:30. I chatted with him and found he was an Army vet, a sergeant and Iraq War vet who had to leave the service because of hearing loss. He is now an independent contractor who is going to school part-time. He shrugged when I complimented him on his promptness; “You have to be on time in the Army,” he said. “I’m still finding civilian life to be – sorry – sort of undisciplined and lax.” He told me his MOS and said during most of his time in Iraq, he had helped build schools. I gave the gentleman a decent tip and thanked him for his service.

    That’s the sort of bloodthirsty jingoistic redneck the whole world is afraid of? My latest brief encounter with one of our vets confirmed my opinion that they are the salt of the earth and the most decent of men.

  • Donna – Parroting the “he hates everything about america” nonsense. I addressed this above. Being critical — being ultra-critical — does not equal “hating” america. Please, for your own sake, think a little bit.

    Darwin – You, too, parroting the “hate” stuff. Where I am being “hateful” exactly?

  • To clarify, for perhaps the 100th time, my “hatred” of the u.s. military is precisely because of what it does to persons — both the persons who enlist and the persons the soldiers end up massacring.

  • That has been my experience with most veterans also Donna. As to the Catholic Anarchist, I will once more repeat Sir Walter Scott:

    “Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
    Who never to himself hath said,
    “This is my own, my native land!”
    Whose heart hath ne’er within him burned,
    As home his footsteps he hath turned,
    From wandering on a foreign strand!
    If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
    For him no Minstrel raptures swell;
    High though his titles, proud his name,
    Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;
    Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
    The wretch, concentred all in self,
    Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
    And, doubly dying, shall go down
    To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
    Unwept, unhonoured, and unsung.”

  • You, too, parroting the “hate” stuff. Where I am being “hateful” exactly?

    Actually, FWIW, I don’t think you hate the US particularly — I meant more generally that your thinking seems primarily defined by who you despise. Yes, you talk every so often about solidarity with the poor and the suffering, but the poor and suffering are curiously absent from your writing. Occasionally, you write about someone you admire, but it’s almost always in the context of the person despising the same people and institutions you despise. Thus, you’ve written about your admiration for Martin Luther King, yet your post on his birthday was simply a little known quote from him about how the US was the greatest source of violence and oppression in the world at the time and a warning that you would delete any comments from people daring to say anything positive about the US in relation to MLK. Or you admire Howard Zinn, but all one ever hears about him is that he denounced the same people you denounce. (Is that the sum total of his achievement? Denouncing?)

    By contrast, Don’s series of posts on military chaplains which seems to so raise you indignation focuses on people that Don admires: priests who displayed extreme personal bravery, not in pursuit of ‘killing in the name of the nation state’, not to carry a gun, but to go unarmed into the thick of battle to tend to the wounded and dying and provide last rites. Now, I suppose one can agree or disagree with the claim that these men are admirable for carrying the cross rather than the sword, and going at extreme risk to themselves to bring the sacraments to those “in the valley of death”, but it is at the very least very clear what Don admires, and that it is a positive action, not the mere denouncing of someone else’s action.

    When I say that your seem oddly centered on hate as someone who is supposedly a pacifist, I simply mean that your ideology seems entirely focused on what your reject (and typically reject in terms that demean and dehumanize the people you dislike “Christo-fascist”, “death-dealing”, “death-worshiping”, “baby-worshiping”, etc.) and to only reference positive action in the most vague terms. Perhaps it’s only a function of your online persona and you present a much more balanced approach in person. But whatever the reason, it does the causes you endorse a great disservice in your interactions online with all but those who already agree with you in the strongest terms and share your disdain for all others.

    my “hatred” of the u.s. military is precisely because of what it does to persons — both the persons who enlist and the persons the soldiers end up massacring.

    I think people would see that as more credible if you seemed to have any concern about the people who would end up being massacred if soldiers weren’t there to protect them. If the once concern is expressed with no acknowledgment that the other ever exists, it starts to look far more like ideology (and a callous one at that) than any concern for people.

  • DC, that last comment of yours is a very good description of MI’s blogging style.

    I’m fascinated by the AC/VN feud in theory (I’d love to get the history behind it), but I’m utterly bored by it in practice. The feud brings out the worst in both camps. The thing is, every site has trolls, and if a site has too many of them it dies on the vine. This shouldn’t surprise anyone.

    But as Catholic sites, AC and VN have a greater obligation to promote charity and particularly to avoid feuds with Catholics who are not spreading heresy. I have seen misrepresentations and rudeness, but I don’t remember seeing a flat-out heresy. Heresies should be condemned and corrected, because they’re deceptive, but bad behaviour can be deleted or left to stand on its own, because it testifies to its own sinfulness.

  • Donna,

    “Joe Hargrave, in contrast, is a man I have frequently disagreed with (except on abortion issues), but Joe, you make me think and reassess my own positions. I am probably a bit less economically libertarian than I used to be because of Joe’s cogent arguments. But then I have never doubted Joe’s love of country. He doesn’t come across as a man who despises his fellow Americans. I remember a 60’s leftist who said later that his fellow leftists had never learned “it’s impossible to change a country if you hate it.” Michael I. has never learned that lesson.”

    What can I say but that this made my day?

    🙂

  • Let me also add this: I’m a little more politically libertarian because of folks such as yourself and others here. I used to have a sort of disdain, and then a sort of indifference, towards the Constitution. Not anymore.

    I think we’re helping each other find the right amount of libertarianism, not too little, and not too much.

  • I agree with Pinky. Perhaps the AC/VN feud would be best served not by a serious of posts which snipe at the symptoms of the disagreement, but by actually engaging in a debate on the core issue seemingly in dispute: what is the proper response of a Catholic to the United States of America in 2010?

    That, or put Tito & MI in a cage fight. Either one would work to settle the feud 😉

    P.S. I don’t actually think they should fight, and I don’t condone violence. Just in case that was unclear.

  • For the record, the dispute is not between MI and I.

    Plus due to my reversion to my faith, I prefer to go to a third party and resolve this like Christians. Though I have no dispute with the good MI.

    But I appreciate the humor and sadly six years ago I would have accepted the offer. Probably a chess board inside the cage match and the first to win nine 1/2 games takes the title!

  • Tito:

    I will take a chess match over a cage match any day! Chess is excellent. That is all. 🙂

  • Michael Denton has a good question and it deserves a good answer. What is the proper response of a Catholic to American life today? Maybe we can do a series where we all answer this question. It would be interesting.

    If I had to answer in one word, that word would be: pray

  • MRD,

    I used to play a lot of chess.

    I even taught a neighbor and his two sisters how to play chess. They ended up being US Chess amateur champions and where I stopped playing competitively after high school.

    🙂

  • what is the proper response of a Catholic to the United States of America in 2010?

    The same atitude that all patriots should have. Love for the nation and working to correct defects in the republic. Of course, the problem then is that people will differ on what the defects are, and the remedies needed to correct the perceived defects. However, thus it has ever been. That is why we have elections and why we debate issues that are in contention.

    In regard to a feud between Vox Nova and The American Catholic, I think it is more appropriate to say that bad blood exists between a few members of that blog and some of the members of this blog. Most of the members of Vox Nova I have no problem with.

  • I agree that the ‘feud’ idea is overblown. Michael wrote a post in which he said that this blog promotes ‘Christo-fascism’; I responded to the post with the comment above and another comment, both of which Michael deleted, neither of which was in the least uncivil. I thought deleting comments in response to such a serious charge was a breach of blog etiquette and basic civility, so I wrote this post. After publishing this post, I noticed Michael had written a response, which I responded to in the comments here. None of the other writers here are responsible for my response, although (unsurprisingly) many of have expressed agreement in the comments that Michael conducts himself poorly.

    I do not impute Michael’s incivility to any of the other contributors at VN, all of whom are far, far more charitable and committed to dialogue than he is, and most of whom are scrupulously fair in both their comments about others and their comment moderation. Admittedly I used the title ‘Vox Nova’ in the post; I had originally planned to use his name rather than the blog’s (I probably should have in retrospect), but my intention was to minimize the effect on Michael’s Google footprint, as he is a grad student and at some point will be looking for a job. Also, it is the VN comment policy which forms part of the background of my complaint. In any case, as Don says, the ‘feud,’ such as it is, is between individuals rather than blogs – and a minority of the individuals at that.

    Also, at the risk of outing myself as a militaristic ‘fascist,’ let me just say that chess boxing is awesome.

  • Joe: glad to have made your day:-) While I am no fan of the nanny state, I find extreme libertarians distasteful too – and not just because of their pro-abort stance. I just worry more about the nanny staters because there are far more of them and they actually hold power. You could probably fit all the hard-core Ayn Rand fans in the US into a couple of football stadiums and have seats left over.

    Michael I.: Sorry if I misread you. However, you have in the past characterized your ideological opponents as “Christo-fascists”, war-lovers, flag-worshippers and what not, so the mischaracterizations and oversimplifications do not come from one side alone. Surely you can understand how labeling normal expressions of patriotism idolatry might just make a reader get the notion you hate your native land. I agree with Pinky that DC wrote an excellent post about how you come across online. You might be a heck of a nice guy in person for all I know, but all I know of you is your online persona, which is relentlessly negative and abrasive and guaranteed to raise hackles.

    Can I ask you if there anything about the US that you love or admire? I don’t mean the Blue Ridge Mountains in the fall or the Grand Canyon or the NYC skyline. Do you find any of its institutions or any aspects of its history worthy of admiration? Because if you’ve ever said anything positive about the US, I’ve missed it.

  • Tito, once you stop going around calling me pro-choice and an “alleged” Catholic, THEN you can truthfully say that you have no dispute with me.

    Darwin, well and good. But then say that I am all critique and say nothing “positive,” which is s fair enough criticism for sure. Don’t be lazy and just tar me as “hateful.”

    Donna, as an anarchist you would expect that I do not have much if anything positive to say about american institutions. The positive parts of u.s. history are precisely the parts when the people themselves point out new ways of relating, new paths to justice, etc. As I am something of a personalist, what I find “positive” about america is precisely the PEOPLE. Despite our bloody and unjust history, some people are able to break out and prefigure another way. This is what I love about America. (capitalization was intentional there!)

  • MI,

    You voted for the most pro-abortion president in the history of the United States. How can you not be pro-abortion?

  • Tito,

    As far as I know, Michael did not vote for Obama; also, even if he did, the act of voting for Obama does not make someone pro-abortion.

  • Tito,

    I have a number of problems with Michael’s ideology and behavior (shared with many who have spoken thus far). That said, I think comments like your last one are both unhelpful and illogical. It does not follow that one must be pro-abortion to vote for a pro-abort candidate. If that’s the case, then anyone who voted for Bush are against abortion except in case of rape, incest, and life of the mother. That’s simply not true. A vote like that is a calculation that we make. As wrong headed and unacceptible that position is, it’s far better than what the other side holds.

    I imagine you must feel some of the frustration some of us feel when hearing some Catholics pontificate on morality and public policy while they seem to weigh everything from an arbitrary minimum wage law to farm subsidies higher than abortion, but that’s really another issue.

    Bottom line, shortcuts in reasoning and arguing like that are just as invalid and uncharitable as those we see from the other side. Just sayin’.

  • John Henry,

    He stated as much while he was in Canada and submitted an early vote for Obama. He has never denied this.

    John Henry and Rick Lugari,

    If MI says he is a Catholic and is well aware of the position of the Church as well as the Fifth Commandment then he is a pro-abortionist.

    I try to live a simple life as a child. The teachings of Jesus are without nuance nor gray areas. If you guys continue to obfuscate the Truth in order to have your precious dialogue with deviants and dissidents that will never change their mind because they feel intellectually superior to God’s children as well as to you, then so be it.

    As for me, I will have a clean conscious because I live as best as I can possible live by God’s commandments.

    You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Mat 5:48)

    “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (cf. Mat 18:3)

  • Just to be clear.

    Michael Iafrate has voted for the most pro-abortion president in the history of the United States of America

    If you guys have a problem with that because it touches on your delicate sensitivities as being “illogical” and “unhelpful” then I guess it’s a free country and you guys can deal with your tortured conscious to the best of your abilities.

    Just sayin’.

  • Tito

    How can you have a pure conscience if you purposefully misrepresent someone else, who has told you several times they are not what you claim?

    Should I call everyone who voted for GW Bush pro-torture? Pro-unjust war? Obviously neither is the case. Some people who voted for him might have been but the fact is a vote does not represent that one agrees with everything said and believed by the one who receives the vote.

    Thou shalt not give false witness is a big one, Tito. Look into it.

  • You know, Henry, after sifting through the quantity of verbiage some folk produce on that subject, I am not sure I mind being called ‘pro-torture’; I am inclined to suggest to officers of the Central Intelligence Agency that they cease waterboarding in favor of recordings of the readings of the collected thoughts of Mark P. Shea.

  • I’ll make a pre-emptive move, and request no further torture discussions in the comments of this post; I don’t have time to moderate a torture thread today. Other than that, fire away.

  • In response to Michael Denton’s question, I thought the whole point of this site was to discuss what it means to be a Catholic in contemporary America. VN, on the other hand, is about being a Catholic progressive, so there are bound to be disagreements.

    On another subject, I just found out about chess-boxing a week ago, following a link on the Wikipedia article about biathlon. It’s kind of freaky to see it mentioned here. Maybe there’s a groundswell.

  • Pinky, you’re right about the purpose of this site. It could be argued that the goal of this post is to make a point about the conditions necessary for the type of conversations Michael D. requests; dialogue is impossible when comments directly responsive to the post are deleted. Alternatively, it could be argued that this type of meta-discussion about Michael’s self-admitted lack of constructive commentary – and unwillingness even to publish dissenting comments – does not advance that purpose.

    Obviously, my goal was the former – if Michael is going to call people fascists, I believe he should allow them to respond as long as they do so civilly – but I appreciate your and Michael D.’s suggestion that this is unhelpful (although Michael D.’s views on this seem to have evolved – no one’s written more about Michael I. than him and this observation remains true as ever).

  • John Henry:

    I was referring less to the post and more to the overall discussion, both in this combox and in general in the “ac/vn feud.” Obviously you can point out that an opponent is being unfair by deleting comments.

    I’m not sure why you think my views have evolved, or which views you refer to.

    I’m kind of flattered that you think I’ve written more on Michael I than anyone else. Although that probably was true at one point, I don’t know if it’s true anymore, especially if you consider comboxes (though your link brought back some memories). My last post on him was a joke post imploring him to become a Saints fan when they played the Patriots. If you’re right, perhaps I’m an expert in Michael I., which at least would make me an expert in something. 🙂

  • It’s a good point, Michael.

    Thanks for taking a break from riveting cases on 18th century English contract law to lend your expertise. 😉

  • My first year in law school I wouldn’t have had the strength to blog, even if blogs had been with us at that time. I was very happy when that particular academic year ended. Second year was much better and Third Year was easier than my undergrad years.

  • Ha. Yeah, in retrospect it’s probably not a coincidence that I started blogging 3L year – and haven’t posted nearly as much since.

  • To say my blogging during my 1L has been sporadic would be rather generous. I do it randomly, though usually when I have something worth writing I’m too busy and when I have the time there’s nothing worthwhile for blogging.

  • OK, I plead ignorance.

    What does 3L and 1L mean?

  • 1L = First year law student. 3L = Third year law student.

    Lawyers and law students are overly fond of using expressions no one else understands. And, in fact, on occasion the Supreme Court has been known to conjure up entirely new meanings for words on the spot.

  • Aw, shucks, its not just lawyers. We here in the CoC spent part of today updating the POR and reconciling differences between ladders and the MSP/MPP. 😉

  • DC,

    I’ll bite, could you explain those acronyms?

    John Henry,

    Thanks for the explanation!

  • No one can out-gibberish attorneys. I spent my morning at 341 meetings, and in the afternoon worked on a complex and tedious forcible entry and detainer.

  • Center of Competence (there’s for humility)
    Plan Of Record
    ladders = a tool for recording orders that a customer will place but hasn’t placed yet
    Master Sales Plan
    Maser Procurement Plan

    Though actually, I’m not sure that helps that much…

  • Darwin:

    I think it actually made it worse once you explained, which is exactly how I feel in all my law classes, so it was a pretty good comparison! 😉

  • Tito – Yes it’s great to see that you have no dispute with me. If it is your goal to become like a child, consider yourself wildly successful!

  • Donna – I did think of one american institution that I respect: Gibson Guitars.

    In all seriousness, one more point about your last comment. You are concerned about the way I characterize “normal” expressions of patriotism. But this is precisely what is up for discussion: what is “normal” and why do we judge it to be so? If americans DID get off track and move into ultra-nationalism (what I am calling fascism) how would we know? Mainstream Germans didn’t know.

  • Center of Competence (there’s for humility)

    Wow, that is humble! In my world, all our Centers are of Excellence.

  • “No one can out-gibberish attorneys.”

    Having worked in both worlds, I can say with confidence that lawyer-speak has nothing on corporate-speak when it comes to gibberish.

  • “If the agency determined that the petitioner is an adopted person, if the department of health informed the agency either that the file of releases does not contain a release or releases filed by one or both of the petitioner’s biological parents that authorize the release of identifying information to him and does not contain a release or releases filed by any biological sibling that authorizes the release of specified information to him or that the file of releases contains at least one such release but a withdrawal of release has been filed that negates each such release, if the agency did not inform the court that it had determined that one or both of the petitioner’s biological parents as indicated on the petitioner’s original birth record were deceased, and if the court did not determine that one or both of the petitioner’s biological parents as indicated on that record were deceased, the judge shall order that the petition remain pending until withdrawn by the petitioner and order the department of health to note its pendency in the file of releases according to the surname of the petitioner as set forth in his original birth record; shall inform the petitioner that he is an adopted person and, if known, of the county in which the adoption proceedings occurred; shall inform the petitioner that information regarding his name by birth and the identity of his biological parents and biological siblings may not be released at that time because the file of releases at that time does not contain an effective release that authorizes the release of any such information to him; and shall inform the petitioner that, upon the subsequent filing of a release by or the death of either of his biological parents, or the subsequent filing of a release by any of his biological siblings, the petition will be acted upon within thirty days of the filing in accordance with division (E) of this section.”

    Res ipsa loquitur. 🙂

  • That may well be the case, Jay. Probably because lawyers rely on Latin terms a lot and while those may seem gibberish to many, they have a precise and relevant meaning. Corporate speak is sometimes just legitimate shortcuts, but often times it’s just silly euphemisms.

  • MI,

    Your kind words keep me warm at night.

  • If americans DID get off track and move into ultra-nationalism (what I am calling fascism) how would we know? Mainstream Germans didn’t know.

    This doesn’t strike me as gelling with what mainstream Germans wrote during the 30s and 40s. Many if not most people were entirely aware that the National Socialists were ulta-nationalistic — it’s just that at first many people didn’t think that was a big problem, and as it became a big problem people weren’t sure how to get off the bus and hoped that if they kept their heads down it would all be okay.

    The claim that a country could become primarily fascist and almost no one would notice is a lot harder to credit. Perhaps more credible would be the claim that the US has become dangerously imperialistic. You could draw a parallel and claim that the US now is like the Brittain was in the 1800s, exerting domination over many and yet generally convinced that it was doing the world a favor by doing so. But the fascism claim just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Fascism was not a subtle ideology, it’s not the sort of thing most people would miss. And it involves more than people putting out the stars and stripes three days a year and putting yellow ribbon or flag magnets on their cars.

  • Holy smokes! I have been missing out — big time! I don’t even know where to begin. I am already tired, though; unless we are really going to have cage/chess matches. If that is the case, then, sign me up for the cage!

    Pax et bonum,

    Sam

  • If americans DID get off track and move into ultra-nationalism (what I am calling fascism) how would we know? Mainstream Germans didn’t know.

    I don’t think there’s much evidence for that view. Ordinary Germans were well aware that Hitler was an ultra-nationalist. To take an illustrative example, In ‘Salt of the Earth,’ then-Cardinal Ratzinger describes how his father (a small-town rural constable) would frequently denounce Hitler and his nationalism throughout the late 1930’s in private, and took a different and even more rural job so as to be as far removed from the Nazi’s as possible. If the analogous small town Sheriff in the middle of Idaho knows about it, so does everyone else. Now, many Germans did not expect Hitler to act on his ultra-nationalistic rhetoric in the way he did, but they certainly weren’t unaware of his ultra-nationalism. It wasn’t Hitler’s ideology that caught them by surprise, it was his actions – and it was similarly his actions that caught most of the European leadership by surpise even though they were also familiar with his ideology. People seemed to think “surely, he can’t be that crazy…” But he was.

  • Sam R.,

    Lucha libre AND chess in a cage match!

  • John,

    I’m sure many people were saying that about then candidate Obama, he can’t be THAT liberal.

  • John Henry,

    Some sheriff’s in small town Idaho would take a man like Hitler out to the woods and come back alone. 😉

  • Lucha libre sounds wonderful. I’ll begin looking ofr a mask and spandex.

    A small caveat here, as many of you know (because you raised some formidable objections at times) VN has staked-out very strong objection to liberalism. Given that record, it might not be a fruitful dialectic to try to engage.

    But let’s get back to lucha libre and killing Hitler!

    —Sam

  • Any chance you could elaborate on that a little bit Sam? “Liberalism,” I’m afraid, is a term with a number of different meanings. I think Alan Wolfe’s argument that individual autonomy is the foundational principle of liberalism is the most useful starting point; but that idea can be cashed out in so many different ways (for instance, anarchism could be considered a natural offshoot of liberalism using that principle, so, too, MM’s insistence that the state is the best instrument to meet the needs of the individual). I guess what I’m asking is what definition of liberalism are you using,and why does that definition rule out a ‘fruitful dialectic’. In my experience, different temperments and differing levels of willingness to consider opposing points of view are the chief obstacles to discussion; when people are open to communicating – actually willing to do it – then different dialectics can be explored easily enough in the course of the conversation.

    Additionally, it seems to me you are implicitly assuming that there is some sort of serious difference between all of the contributors of VN and all the contributors of AC, rather than differences between individual contributors. So I guess your comment sounds to me like 1) All VN people are against X (which we haven’t defined); 2) All AC people are for X (which, again, we haven’t defined and likely isn’t true); and 3) X has such an important impact on our intellectual outlooks or dialectics that conversation is impossible. So I guess I’ll start with: what do you mean by X?

  • Meanwhile, certain people from VN simulatenously accuse TAC of being “fascist” and “liberal” – and I don’t think they do so on the basis of Jonah Goldberg’s thesis. It’s just the smear of the moment.

    Don’t support Obamacare = nihilism, individualism, liberalism
    Support the troops = nationalism, quasi-fascism and fascism

    Ironically, most fascists historically would have probably supported Obamacare, all other things being equal, while many radical individualists and liberals have opposed wars. In further irony, few people have been more critical of liberalism in history than fascists.

    But why would inconvenient truths such as those stand in the way of a good smear? Idiots in this country call the tea party people FASCIST for wanting smaller government, lower taxes, and states rights! That isn’t just a lie – its an Orwellian, Big Brother style lie, a lie so absurd and obscene that it threatens to shatter your mind apart at the very notion that a person could even utter it.

  • I hadn’t thought of that. Minion and Iafrate need to get their talking points aligned.

  • Joe is exactly right on fascism. It was a statist movement of the Left (which is how the theorists of fascism understood themselves, and why there could be easy alliances, as well as fierce battles, with socialists and Communists – they competed for the same constituencies).

    I again repeat my call for michael to engage the substance of this point. And if he won’t or can’t, fine – but drop the epithet.

    Concerning liberalism: Its almost impossible to reduce liberalism to a single theoretical position. And I seriously doubt, now that the Enlightenment bottle has been popped, that an anthropocentric, rather than a theological, view of human affairs as it concerns human potential will fade from the debates of the cousins of right and left liberalism (freedom v. equality). All Western political parties are knee deep in liberalism, and perhaps necessarily so insofar as they value democractic processes. (And so, for example, although I am firmly of the traditionalist Right and oppose liberalism ala Jim Kalb, it cannot be escaped because I participate in the polis).

  • Though, to be fair, the Church was competing for the same constituencies as well.

    That’s the one thing I don’t like about the “liberal fascism” thesis – it seems to be based in an idea that individualism ought to be a perfectly adequate alternative to communism and fascism, to various forms of “collectivism.” The individualist-collectivist dichotomy is as false as our modern Democrat-Republican dichotomy.

    The truth is that both communism and fascism recognize the same things that the Church and classical political theory recognize as well.

    So we have to be careful with this. All of these schools of thought recognize the reality of class tension and class warfare, and seek to deal with it in their own ways.

  • Well I seem to have gotten into some trouble for being too breezy. Here is what I mean by ‘X’:

    Henry and I (and perhaps others) have written several posts against liberalism. I even titled on of them “Don’t forget, liberalism is bad.” Since we did that, and since many of the contributors of VN mostly agree outright or are friendly to that view, then, it would be hard to stick the label ‘liberalism’—especially to myself or Henry—without being equally as careful.

    I always think of myself politically as something like a leftist conservative or a postmodern theocrat. Sounds really slippery, but my writing explains it better—but not exhaustively, to be sure. I won’t cite it here because, frankly, I don’t get so wound up in com boxes, for the most part. (Unless, I am happen to be in a tizzy with Mr. hargrave over abortion, ha! Cheers, Joe!)

    I came here mostly because I heard there were chances to wrestle. Maybe I just got my hopes up. What happened to lucha libre? Should I give on VN and AC in spandex and glittery masks?

    Peace,

    Sam

  • While its true that the Church made its peace with the umbrella term “statism,” I don’t think its accurate to state that the Church was competing with them in a socio-political sense (both Communism and Fascism were “modernist” and mostly secular….). But you are right to caution that all three had disdain for classical liberalism, and that a dualist political dichotomy misses a lot.

    Goldberg’s book made him more libertarian, and I think that’s part of the point that should be highlighted when one delves into the history. Those on the Left should drop “fascist,” because it is a term of Leftist DNA. In the Western democracies and quasi-democracies from which the term came (I’m thinking of, for example, the Hapsburgs and those admiring the Papal States, and three cheers for them), the Fascists were strongly opposed to the two chief currents of what came to be developed as of the “Right” : throne and altar, and economic liberalism (even as those two things don’t go together very well.)

  • Jonathan

    Except you are wrong— hence Franco.

  • And, we don’t have go talk about Franco. We can go with Joseph de Maistre (and I am a fan of his thought, even if I see the dangers of it). Isaiah Berlin has discussed Maistre’s relationship with Facism (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/article-preview?article_id=3510) — and while I think he is wrong in his interpretation of Maistre, he is right in saying how Maistre’s thought was looked to and used by the Facists. This highlights how Facism WAS a thing of the right and adapted the problematic aspects of the right (and I say this as one who is of the right).

    Indeed, The Doctrine of Facism suggested itself as being of the right!

  • Bring a more substantive argument, Henry.

    From my prior definition of fascism, a short analysis of Franco:

    -corportism/statism, ok, check
    -hyper-nationalism, check
    -hatred of democracy, sure, check
    -egalitarianism, no
    -the values of enlightenment and modernism, no
    -collective organization and cult of the leader, love of symbols, and the engagement of violence, fine, check

    So in this quick analysis, two of the five most important characteristics of fascism are missing (and the violence point should be put in the context of horrific Communist violence). It could be argued that from the 1920, when Mussolini as the heir to Sorel began to fade and the socialists fought more fiercely amongst themselves, that fascism moved to the (nationalist, traditionalist) “Right.” But this is an awkward argument, because Franco did not claim socialist/fascist theorists as intellectual predecessors, and because he only retained some of the characterists of how fascists developed and understood themselves in the (strongly modernist) first few decades of fascist organizations.

  • “Except you are wrong–hence Franco.”

    That begs the question of whether Franco was, in fact, a fascist. His distrust of the truly fascist Falange, and his sidelining of that movement after the Civil War argues otherwise. Yes, the JONS existed as a part of Franco’s postwar government, but not in the way its founders envisioned. He fused the Falange with the Carlists, for pete’s sake–talk about oil and water.

    Franco was an authoritarian monarchist with the prejudices and bedrock worldview of the 19th Century Spanish Catholicism that formed him. His political thought went no further than that, and it’s hard to argue otherwise.

  • Dale

    Whether or not he was Facist is not the question, really. Look carefully what Jonathan suggested: that the Facists didn’t like “crown and altar.” But they did work with Franco, who wanted to restore “crown and altar.” Indeed, the “crown and altar” types like Maistre (through others like Schmitt) have indeed had an influence on Maistre and shows the association of Facism with the right.

  • “have indeed had an influence on Facism” even

  • Franco despised politicians, whatever their political orientation. He often said that politics and politicians were destroying Spain. (Looking at the history of Spain during the 19th and early 20th centuries I think Franco had a point.) Franco used the Falange as he used the Carlists, instruments for his purposes, but nothing more. Franco, as Dale stated, was an old style Spanish monarchist. He viewed himself as a caretaker for a monarchy that would eventually be restored, although he had no illusions about monarchs as individuals. I think as a political philosophy Franco despised Fascism almost as much as he despised Communism. It was no accident, as the Marxists used to say, that when Franco sent off the Azul Division to fight on the Russian Front, he made sure it was led by regular officers but that the ranks were packed with volunteers from the Falange.

  • Nazi and Fascist support for Franco no more makes Franco a true fascist than Soviet support for any number of parties – including the Democratic Party – makes them communist.

    That is just geopolitics – you support the party within a country that is most likely to be sympathetic to your aims. So no, fascists did not support “crown and altar”, but they always opposed Bolshevism – as did “crown and altar” types.

    In fact, Franco did not enter the Axis and strove to keep Spain out of the war.

    Most importantly, though, the Church supported Franco and Salazar, because they protected the Church against the far greater threat of communism and left-anarchism.

    Oh, and one more thing: Johnathan, Franco was not a corporatist. The economic ideas of the Falange were discarded by the 1950s and Franco implemented the policies of the IMF and World Bank, which in that context actually produced a Spanish economic miracle, and saw Spain’s position in the world economy rise to 9th place.

    Franco, like Pinochet, combined the full laissez-faire agenda with a military regime. And under these conditions, I might also add, the worlds greatest and most successful workers’ cooperative, the Mondragon, came into existence.

  • Joe

    Once again, the suggestion was that the Facists were of the left and couldn’t stand the “throne and altar types.” My point is that their association with Franco says otherwise. Notice, again, I didn’t call Franco a Facist — I said he presented a problem to Jonathan’s claims about Facists.

    And again, I have shown where one can find the common ground if one wants to look.

  • Henry,

    I responded to that. I said,

    “So no, fascists did not support “crown and altar”, but they always opposed Bolshevism – as did “crown and altar” types.”

    I made it clear that this was simply an anti-Bolshevik alliance. Their association with Franco only says one thing: that they were united in their opposition to Bolshevism. That’s all it was ever about.

    If you look at the Nazi anthem, the Horst Wessel song, there’s a part about their comrades shot by “the red front and reactionaries” – by reactionaries, they mean precisely the throne and altar types. Hitler rails against them in Mein Kampf. And Franco and Salazar both understood this.

    So, again, it is wrong to mistake a purely political alliance for ideological agreement. The enemy of my enemy is my friend – that’s how things work in politics.

  • Joe

    The Facists gave support to Franco. So they did support the crown and altar types. And if one studies their association with Franco, it was more than merely one dealing with communism.

    You really need to read Mussolini, who said “fascism, which did not fear to call itself reactionary…” Seriously, I don’t think you have looked at him at all.

  • Hence, Mussolini: “Fascism, which did not fear to call itself reactionary when many liberals of today were prone before the triumphant beast (Democracy), has not today any impediment against declaring itself illiberal and anti-liberal…” (Gerarchia, March 1923)

  • Henry,

    Here we go again, with your monumental arrogance and historical ignorance.

    I specifically acknowledged the historical fact of fascist/nazi support for “crown and altar types” – I didn’t deny it.

    What I disagreed with was the significance you place on that. You are trying to say it has ideological significance – I’m saying it was anti-Bolshevik alliance. No, Hitler and Mussolini did not want a Bolshevik Spain in their rear in the event of a war against the Soviet Union, for which Hitler had been planning for many years. That has nothing to do with their ideological attitude towards “throne and altar.” Do you understand nothing about geopolitics?

    “And if one studies their association with Franco, it was more than merely one dealing with communism.”

    Oh really? What did you study? Bring up specific examples before you accuse others of not knowing history. I’ve read the Doctrine of Fascism and Mein Kampf. Maybe you have too – but logic has never been your strong point, so it doesn’t matter what you read if you don’t understand the meaning behind it.

    Look at Mussolini’s words: it did not fear to CALL ITSELF reactionary. Meaning, fascism is always politically pragmatic; it will call itself reactionary, it will defend the traditional religion of a nation, it will do all sorts of things to ingratiate itself to the people.

    Vis a vis liberalism and communism, fascism may well have been “reactionary”; compared to throne-and-altar ideology, it was radically progressive, which is EXACTLY WHY Franco and Salazar rejected fascism, which is why far-right parties in other European countries were always split between fascist and reactionary wings.

    Finally, what does Fascism’s opposition to liberalism have to do with anything? I’ve acknowledged a hundred times that fascism was a mortal enemy of liberalism – but that alone doesn’t suffice to make it “reactionary.” Fascism combines progressive and reactionary ideas, just like, I might add, the Catholic Church and distributism do.

  • From the Doctrine of Fascism:

    ” If liberalism spells individualism, Fascism spells government. The Fascist State is, however, a unique and original creation. It is not reactionary but revolutionary, for it anticipates the solution of certain universal problems which have been raised elsewhere, in the political field by the splitting up of parties, the usurpation of power by parliaments, the irresponsibility of assemblies; in the economic field by the increasingly numerous and important functions discharged by trade unions and trade associations with their disputes and ententes, affecting both capital and labor; in the ethical field by the need felt for order, discipline, obedience to the moral dictates of patriotism.”

    Oh, but what does Mussolini, the founder of fascism, know next to Professor Karlson, against whom no one’s opinions or thoughts can stand!

    Do you ever get tired of being wrong?

  • Joe

    You didn’t prove me wrong at all. Of course I quote Mussolini and you didn’t even recognize it. The fact that it comes out of the right and develops into something new doesn’t mean it doesn’t come from the right. The fact that you take another quote doesn’t make mine wrong. It is not either-or.

  • Joe, fair enough. Henry, the socialist-laden founders of fascism understood themselves to be of that which they were, the modernist and progressive Left. Details tomorrow, busy today.

  • Henry,

    Are you serious? You’re either the most illiterate, or most dishonest person I have ever encountered on these forums.

    With regard to the Mussolini quote you say I “didn’t even recognize”, I actually said:

    “Look at Mussolini’s words: it did not fear to CALL ITSELF reactionary. Meaning, fascism is always politically pragmatic; it will call itself reactionary, it will defend the traditional religion of a nation, it will do all sorts of things to ingratiate itself to the people.”

    So I did recognize it. Illiteracy, or dishonesty?

    Secondly, I DID PROVE YOU WRONG. Mussolini’s words:

    ” The Fascist State is, however, a unique and original creation. It is not reactionary but revolutionary”

    ” The Fascist State is, however, a unique and original creation. It is not reactionary but revolutionary”

    ” The Fascist State is, however, a unique and original creation. It is not reactionary but revolutionary”

    How many times do you need to read it? How illiterate or dishonest can you be? YOUR quote only has Mussolini saying that fascists will CALL themselves “reactionaries” – when that is what the politics of the moment call for. In the ACTUAL DOCTRINE, the actual founding document of Italian fascism (not to mention Mein Kampf), it is clearly established that fascism is a revolutionary ideology.

    Just give it up, Henry. You’re out of your element, you know nothing about this history or these ideas, this isn’t your theology class or whatever it is you teach. Stick with what you know and stop trying to pretend that you know more than Johnathan or I about political theory.

  • From the Appendix of the Doctrine of Fascism:

    ” In spite of the theories of conservation and renovation, of tradition and progress expounded by the right and the left, we do not cling desperately to the past as to a last board of salvation: yet we do not dash headlong into the seductive mists of the future. (Breve preludio, in Diuturna, Milano, Alpes, 1930, p. 14). `negation, eternal immobility, mean damnation. I am all for motion. I am, one who marches on (E. Ludwig, Talks with Mussolini, Lot Jon, Allen and Unwin, 1932, p. 203).”

    This is yet more proof that fascism is neither right nor left, doctrinaire reactionary or progressive. It is as Mussolini always maintained, unique and original, combining what it wants in its own way.

  • Joe

    Yes, I know nothing about history and the connection between the right with facism which is why I have highlighted some major examples (who you ignore). You take one passage and make everything out of it, without seeing how it connects to the rest. It is clear, you really think you know much. But I would recommend to you as I did what I recommended to Jonathan: read Isaiah Berlin on Maistre and his relationship to Facism. You can go to many other sources if you want, but Berlin is one I know Jonathan respects — which is why I pointed him out. Seriously, this IS something I know.

  • Stanley Payne is the foremost historian of fascism. He “defines” fascism by noting common features among the varieties.

    “Stanley G. Payne’s Fascism: Comparison and Definition (1980) uses a lengthy itemized list of characteristics to identify fascism, including:[13]

    the creation of an authoritarian state
    a regulated, state-integrated economic sector
    fascist symbolism
    anti-liberalism
    anti-communism
    anti-conservatism.
    As the common aim of all fascist movements he sees elimination of the autonomy, or in some cases the existence of, large-scale capitalism.”

  • Henry,

    “You take one passage and make everything out of it, without seeing how it connects to the rest.”

    That passage comes directly out of the Doctrine of Fascism, which is the summary of Italian fascism written by the man who invented it. That statement is actual in accordance with the rest of that work, it is a perfect summation of it.

    How can you even speak of me “ignoring” things when you systematically and deliberately ignore those facts which falsify your hypothesis? Your quotes only establish one thing: that Mussolini was willing to say what needed to be said. In the Doctrine, where isn’t talking about rhetorical strategy but the philosophical foundations of fascism, he says something else. It is YOU who is ignoring context so that you can pretend to look like you know something.

    What Isaiah Berlin had to say about Maistre has nothing to do with whether or not fascist support for Franco implies, suggests, or proves an ideological connection between them (which is the only claim of yours I took issue with) – if that was Berlin’s argument, then he was as wrong as you are.

    The differences between falangism, fascism, and Nazism were all clearly understood and articulated by the proponents of each school.

    There’s only one group that lumps them all together for one reason: leftist revolutionaries, because all of these groupings are hostile to them, so it is to their advantage to have everyone believe that they are indistinguishable and the same.

  • Oh, and by the way, I provided more than one quote – did you miss the second one, or did you forget how to count?

    I could provide more quotes from The Doctrine, from Mein Kampf, from Mosley’s writings, probably even from Lincoln freaking Rockwell to dispel this silly argument.

    Look how Mosley’s BUF copied the Horst Wessel song:

    “Against vested powers, Red Front, and massed ranks of reaction,
    We lead the fight for freedom and for bread!”

    How much more clear can it get? Fascism is neither reactionary or progressive, left or right – it is what it needs to be in the moment to secure the loyalty of the masses.

  • Henry,

    This is not your field. It is Joe’s field. A good tactic in these situations is, “Stop digging.”

  • DC

    LOL. There has been no “digging.” What there has been, however, is Joe really showing himself without the background — which really is necessary for any proper hermeneutic so as not to proof text. I’ve suggested a few sources to look into for the background — because, well, surprise surprise, I’ve actually studied the matter. And his ignorance of why theology engages this issue and studies it ALSO demonstrates his lack of understanding in the area.

    But I will leave it at that. I’ve given things which have been ignored because they went over Joe’s head. He quotes out of context because he fails hermeneutics. I have explained the meaning already — but he wants to make it as if Facism is ex nihilo and there was no connection to the right. Strange and only two ways one can do that.

  • Henry,

    You’ve made a complete fool of yourself here, and using the word “hermeneutic” can’t save you.

    I only challenged one claim you made – that fascist support for Franco implied, suggested or proved an ideological linkage between fascism and “throne and altar ideology.”

    In case you don’t remember, this was your claim:

    “Once again, the suggestion was that the Facists were of the left and couldn’t stand the “throne and altar types.” My point is that their association with Franco says otherwise.”

    It was this claim that I proceeded to show was completely wrong, based on extensive quotations from the founding document of fascism, which you apparently have never read. In fact its pretty obvious to me that you are relying on second – maybe third hand – sources to inform your view of fascism. (Way to spell “FASCISTS” by the way – I guess you fail spelling!)

    I do want to address your Orwellian claims, though, not because I think you’ll benefit but because your toxic lies should not go unanswered.

    “I’ve given things which have been ignored because they went over Joe’s head.”

    You’re a liar. You quoted one source to support your claim that Mussolini was a reactionary (and provided a link to a lecture that one has to pay to read – though that lecture has nothing to do with the specific point you made that I was challenging).

    The one source you quoted, I directly addressed, multiple times. So that’s lie number one shot down.

    Next:

    “He quotes out of context because he fails hermeneutics.”

    You gave absolutely no context for your Mussolini quote about fascists being willing to “call itself” reactionary; I gave you two full paragraphs from Mussolini’s fascist manifesto that directly demonstrate the opposite, and I could produce more upon request.

    If you’re going to use isolated quotes from second-hand sources, what gives you the right to make these absurd claims about me for giving you full quotes from the original source? You didn’t offer us any “hermeneutics” – you lazily offered up one quote and didn’t even try to construct a rational argument using facts and historical context to support it, as I did, talking about the geopolitical situation leading up to WWII.

    So, you’ve lied, and failed again. That’s two lies.

    ” I have explained the meaning already — but he wants to make it as if Facism is ex nihilo and there was no connection to the right. ”

    And now we come to lie number three. First of all, I’ve said repeatedly that fascism combined reactionary and progressive ideas. Obviously that means there is some connection to “the right.”

    What I denied and rejected was one simple thing – that fascist support for Franco at all suggested, implied, or proved a concrete ideological relationship, as you asserted. I gave you the context for that support, an anti-Bolshevik political alliance. I pointed out – something you didn’t deny – that Franco and Salazar explicitly rejected fascism as modernist, that many right wing parties split over the issue of fascism being a neo-pagan technocracy opposed to traditional religion, economics, and social values.

    In your ineptitude, or your malicious, hateful lying, you ignored all of that. I think its really more your gross incompetence than malice, but there’s got to be some of that as well.

    Fascism is not “ex nihilo” – Mussolini even explicitly declares that no ideology is completely original or unique, every one is constructed on the basis of old ideas. At the same time there is a new and original way in which fascism blends existing ideas – which is why Mussolini said that fascism is revolutionary, not reactionary.

    So, once again, you’re wrong. And in a pathetic and ridiculous attempt to save face rather than owning up to your mistakes, you resort to the most bizzare and easily debunked lies. You really ought to be completely ashamed of yourself.

  • Oh, and then there was this dubious claim:

    “Indeed, The Doctrine of Facism suggested itself as being of the right!”

    How do you know that? Where was the “hermeneutics” on that one? The Doctrine of Fascism (you know, Fascism with an “S”), only mentions “the right” once; and when it does show up it is in “scare quotes”, you know, “like these”, to indicate that one can take it or leave it.

    It’s obvious from an actual reading of the document, especially when Mussolini twice rejects reaction as the basis of fascism, that fascism is only considered to be a “right” ideology from the standpoint of communism and liberalism, which everyone knows are “left.”

    Nowhere in that document does Mussolini identify in some sort of positive and consistent way with “the right.”

    Here is what he says:

    “We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the ” right “, a Fascist century. If the XIXth century was the century of the individual (liberalism implies individualism) we are free to believe that this is the “collective” century, and therefore the century of the State. ”

    So, not only is “right” in scare quotes, there is also a total rejection of individualism, an embrace of collectivism and of the State – all positions that many people who self-identify as “rightists” absolutely reject. So maybe there is a legitimate dispute as to what is the true legacy of “the right”, but in any case, it is clear that Mussolini mostly uninterested in establishing fascism as “right wing”, especially in the CONTEXT of the OTHER QUOTES I provided.

    BUT

    There’s one more quote, since you’re so cracked up on the idea that fascism is related to Maistre, that I should have included before – good thing I saw it now! If this doesn’t clear the air, I don’t know what will.

    ” The Fascist negation of socialism, democracy, liberalism, should not, however, be interpreted as implying a desire to drive the world backwards to positions occupied prior to 1789, a year commonly referred to as that which opened the demo-liberal century. History does not travel backwards. The Fascist doctrine has not taken De Maistre as its prophet.”

    One more time:

    “History does not travel backwards. The Fascist doctrine has not taken De Maistre as its prophet.”

    Followed by:

    “Monarchical absolutism is of the past, and so is ecclesiolatry. Dead and done for are feudal privileges and the division of society into closed, uncommunicating castes.”

    Right! Which is exactly what Franco believed too, I guess. Oh wait…

  • And while we’re on the topic of Maistre and Berlin, you might want to check out this book review.

    http://www.mmisi.org/ma/43_02/craiutu.pdf

    “A Modern Maistre is therefore useful in debunking the uncritically accepted myth of Maistre as a precursor of fascism, even if it remains true that, secularized and transformed by the scoundrels who claimed to be his heirs, Maistre’s teachings proved dangerous. After demonstrating that Maistre was not a decisionist a la Carl Schmitt, Bradley observes that“traditionalism and fascism were in manyways antithetical” and correctly identifies the huge gap between the traditionalist Right and the radical, fascist Right in thetwentieth century. Those who defended monarchy and tradition in early nineteenth-century France were not modern in the proper sense of the word because they lacked the brutality of the moderns, their infatuation with innovation, and their passion for remaking the old world according to an entirely rational scheme. “Fascism,”writes Bradley, “affirms the new, the modern (al-though in a grotesquely distorted form), not traditional custom.”

    Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time Berlin was just plain wrong about something. Johnathan may respect him, and others might – I must say that I’ve never particularly cared for his style.

  • It looks like Joe has not read what Henry said, and Joe is arguing against a strawman.

  • Henry,

    I’ve given things which have been ignored because they went over Joe’s head. He quotes out of context because he fails hermeneutics.

    Um, no. You produced a single Mussolini quote, which even so didn’t make your case very well, and then doggedly insisted that it proved your point despite more wide-ranging discussion and quoting from Mussolini from Joe.

    Certainly, fascism did not spring up ex nihilo, nothing does. But your claim that it is more an outgrowth of the right than the left only works in a sense that would allow one to reduce everything to a product of the right, in that the “right” represents the influences that came before while the “left” represents their more modern manifestations. At which point you claim would be true, but trivially so.

    But I did get a major laugh out of “because he fails hermeneutics”. The way that word gets butchered in the Catholic blogsphere is pretty sad, but this newly invented playground usage is one of the funniest yet. I think this ranks up there close to the fellow who showed up and told Joe, “You fail ontologically.”

  • Interloper,

    I challenge you to back that up. Or are you just someone Henry ran and cried to so you decided to show up to give him a pat on the back?

    I read and quoted what Henry said several times:

    “Once again, the suggestion was that the Facists were of the left and couldn’t stand the “throne and altar types.” My point is that their association with Franco says otherwise.”

    The “suggestion”, made by someone else, was entirely right in the context of fascism’s rise – the Doctrine and Mein Kampf make that abundantly clear.

    The fact that professor Karlson introduces that is supposed to somehow contradict the claim is explained by other factors: an anti-Bolshevik political alliance. (Have you all forgotten that the USSR was supporting the communists in Spain?) It does not “say otherwise.”

    Mussolini’s direct disavowal of Maistre and the work of other students of his thought also throws a lot of doubt on his other claim: “Maistre’s thought was looked to and used by the Facists.” Though granted, that’s not Henry’s argument, but Isaiah Berlin’s – and its an argument that’s flawed at best. If its to be used, it probably best be left to someone who knows what they are talking about, i.e., not Henry.

    So, “Interloper”, whoever you are, are you game? Can you see now that I do read what Professor Karlson has to say, and that I have valid reasons for disagreeing? Or are you part of a mindless, thoughtless cheering squadron summoned up for moral support? (at least mine gives reasons for their understanding of events!)

  • What? The folks at The American Catholic can’t demonstrate characteristics of fascism and liberalism at the same time? Are you kidding? Fascism itsef was/is never consistent. It has contradictory elements. Are you suggesting that you folks are entirely consistent in your views and positions? Please. The contradictions of american conservatism are well known and most of you exhibit all of them. The fascist ones among you are likewise inconsistent and contradictory.

    For the fellow who suggested MM and I get out “talking points” together, let me point out that MM have never agreed on everything. I disagree with him on a lot of things.

  • Alright, back to the topic at hand.

    Why do I make my statements about fascism?

    Let us look at this document, highlighted by the outstanding British conservative M. Oakeshott:

    http://www.constitution.org/tyr/mussolini.htm

    This is a progressive, modernist, socialist-style document through and through.

    “Therefore, for the Fascist, everything is in the State, and nothing human or spiritual exists, much less has value,-outside the State.”

    “There is no concept of the State which is not fundamentally a concept of life: philosophy or intuition, a system of ideas which develops logically or is gathered up into a vision or into a faith, but which is always, at least virtually, an organic conception of the world.”

    Ect. ect. ect., and lots more where this came from.

    Fascism from Italy (where it was born and bred by socialists) was the first systematic leftist (and nationalist, these two terms used to go hand in hand) opposition to the imperialistic Moscow-centric communism.

    Joe and Dale and others have adequately handeled the Franco question. If one wishes to make the charge of Franco, they must accept the use this word as a descriptive term as something done very awkwardly.

    So many other points as well. Where does the name Benito come from for the political founder of fascism? Benito Jaurez, the revolutionary. Benito, like his father, was a fanatical socialist who adapted his internationalism to an Italian populace.

    The one reference I would recommend off the top of my head is the chapter “From Marxism to Fascist Statism” in Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn’s “Leftism Revisited.”

    E.v.K-L was a true European conservative who hated all revolutionaries (making him an awkward fit for American conservatives and their economic liberalism). He knew his fascism, which destroyed homelands, and provides a wealth of information about these leftist movements from a perspective we can hardly imagine. (If you have JSTOR access, look him up there too.)

    Anyway, there’s a lot to say on this topic – particularly about how ideologues like michael continue to fall into the Stalinist trick (literally, this was a Stalinist trick) of labeling revolutionary and modernist movements of the Left that they hated because it took away from their own power as “right-wing.” Fascism WAS “right-wing” to Stalin because it was nationalist (and again, nationalism was for several decades until the end of the Second World War a vital part of the Western Left broadly defined), but only the ignorant would persist in applying “fascist” to those of the center-right today. It does not fit, because the two strongest currents of the DNA of the center-right in Western liberal nation-states today is economic liberalism and throne and altar traditionalism.

  • “What? The folks at The American Catholic can’t demonstrate characteristics of fascism and liberalism at the same time? Are you kidding? Fascism itsef was/is never consistent.”

    Is this how you try to rationalize calling everything you don’t like “fascist”? By making it an essentially vague and useless term?

    Aside from the fact that I disagree with you about fascism’s consistency, it is simply a fact that one of the things the fascists were explicit about – Mussolini, Hitler, Mosley, et. al. – was their hatred of liberalism, which they equated with individualism, the antithesis of their own ideology, which was collectivist.

    Given that history, no, a person really can’t be a true liberal and a true fascist at the same time. In the mind of an uneducated person led astray by a duplicitous manipulator, perhaps – a person, say who uses political terms as swear words to try and discredit opponents instead of historically defined categories.

  • michael,

    Once again your comment makes no sense outside of the evidently overwhelming desire to berate and name-call your “opponents.”

    Fascism was a coherent, systematic, and well thought out political philosophy (particularly in Italy, the fascist country that was greatly admired by American leftists and self-styled progressives for many years) and governing guide – until Hitler betrayed Stalin.

    That all of this has gone down the memory hole, particularly in light of the Communist rebranding of the term, should not excuse ignorance. Find a new epithet – it would be shocking should you lack creativity on that front.

  • I mean, what “thone and altar” movement comes up with this lightning bolt thing for a symbol?
    buf

  • This video of Mosley repeating that British fascists were revolutionaries might help too:

  • Joe – We all know that the explicit statements of a political movement should not be considered the be-all and end-all of the views that it held. The “explicit statements” of republican “pro-lifers” or of “anti-war” democrats should be proof enough of that.

    Fascism, likewise, has always had contradictory elements.

  • Even if that’s true, movement that calls itself revolutionary, takes power, and proves through its policies that it is carrying out a social revolution, is probably revolutionary too. Just because it isn’t an egalitarian or proletarian revolution doesn’t mean it isn’t a revolution.

    At any rate the argument that the fascists, especially Mussolini, Hitler, Mosley, are primarily “of the right” (if by “right” we mean reactionary and/or traditional) is an argument that doesn’t hold water.

    Nor do I fully agree with Johnathan in saying that they are “of the left.” Nor do I agree with you that they are “contradictory” – at least not in the sense of a logical contradiction.

    If you mean there are antagonistic elements, sure. Antagonism and contradiction are two different things, a distinction that is lost on a lot of people.

    I generally think people should be allowed to define themselves, that unless there is some glaring and obvious logical contradiction, which there isn’t in these cases.

  • Jonathan,

    It does not fit, because the two strongest currents of the DNA of the center-right in Western liberal nation-states today is economic liberalism and throne and altar traditionalism.

    I’m wondering if I can poke at this a bit in a spirit of inquiry. Would you say that it’s specifically throne and altar traditionalism which is still a force in the center right in Western liberal nation-states today? Maybe I’m thinking in a heavily American context, but I’m not sure where one would find much throne and altar left to support.

    Traditionalism is certainly a stream of thinking on the right, but it seems to me that it’s cultural/moral/religious traditionalism more broadly defined, encompassing everything from people who still believe that marriage has as an essential element the rearing of children to those who want to see explicit acknowledgment of religion in the public square to agricultural/craftsman traditionalists to any number of other tradition-oriented concerns. But is anyone serious really running around seeking the return of confessional states or monarchies?

    Franky, the few “monarchists” I know are distinctly un-traditional in their approach to politics and culture. It seems more a result of having read too much Fantasy at a formative age than any real rooting in tradition.

  • Darwin, I was writing in the context of Western nation-states since the French Revolution, which I consider the beginning of modern politics. I will address the point more fully on Monday.

  • Darwin,

    To address your points more specifically, and let us generalize crudely:

    I would not say that it’s specifically throne and altar traditionalism which is still a force in the modern center-right of Western states. These states are liberal through and through, left-liberal (equality) and right-liberal (freedom) always in tension. These center-right parties and voters have little resemblance to the “Old Right” (following Sen. Taft, who was “leftist” on some questions such as public housing but hated Wilsonianism and advocated for an epistemological modesty in approaching policy).

    These liberal arguments were in direct opposition to fascism (but note that “progressive” arguments were not!). To flesh out the definition of fascism already stated above, and again recommending von Kuehnelt-Leddihn:

    Fascism was the cult of state organized unity, and it was a movement of centralized planning, group identification, and willing obedience to a charismatic leader. This movement was collectivist and authoritarian – large, intrusive, and modernist, a rallying point to or a substitute for commonality, an organism that should nearly always respond when people “hurt.”

    Fascism should be understood as a supercharged nationalistic statism, finding its theoretical wellsprings in Hegelian historicism and Rousseau’s protean “general will,” Nietzschean will-to-power — all of which overturned the older liberalism of Locke, the Enlightenment, and the American Founders.

    Your points about traditionalism are well and good, but also inconsiderate of the context of the times when fascism was ascendant (Nietzsche and Georges Sorel plus modernist, progressive state planning – roughly the first three decades of the 20th Century). In addition to Western liberalism (mostly “classical”), the other “rightist” opposition was throne and altar traditionalism. One need not claim it is now a big part of the “right” (I don’t, even as I also lament the Palin-style populism) to recognize that such traditionalism WAS a big influence in the West, and still survives on the right in Europe. Less so in America, certainly, but then again we are a revolutionary country founded upon abstracted principles, not blood and soil.

    So two strands of the “right” were chief enemies of fascism, the socialist-laden, modernist, authoritarian theory of governance and political practice that ran roughshod over throne and altar and was defeated by Western liberalism.

  • Thanks, Jonathan. I see what you’re saying now. I think I’d been slipping on the term “modern” and forgetting that when we talk fascism we are (in the real world) talking primarily about the ’20s through the ’40s.

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Fr. Frank Pavone Defends John Carr of the USCCB

Saturday, February 6, AD 2010

Here is the text:

I received some inquiries recently regarding John Carr, who serves as the Executive Director of the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development at the United States Catholic Bishops’ Conference. The inquiries, stemming from controversies over the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and the Center for Community Change, essentially asked if John is pro-life and committed to the goal of securing protection for the lives of unborn children.

Because I am in a position to answer that question, and because of the fact that hurting people’s reputations never serves our cause, let me state for the record that the answer to that question is “Yes.”

I have had many opportunities to talk to and listen to John over the years, in public and in private, to read his articles, and to discuss our common goal of seeing social justice and peace applied to our neighbors in the womb. His record is clear, and unlike some others, when he talks about justice and peace and human development, he does not fail to include the unborn.

I share with you below his own comments, as well as those of Richard Doerflinger, the Associate Director of the Secretariat for Pro-life Activities of the US Bishops’ Conference. As we work together to resolve the problems that do exist in our Church and in our culture, let’s do so with great caution to preserve the good reputation to which all of our colleagues have a right.

Fr. Frank Pavone

The statements referenced in the letter can be found here.

Update: Additionally, Catholic News Service reports that many bishops have come forward to defend Mr. Carr.

Update 2: Tom Peters has a level-headed take on the matter here. In particular, I think his observations regarding “RealCatholicTV” are worthy of consideration:

The situation has not been helped, either, by the sensationalist reporting at RealCatholicTV.com, which in a recent report claimed that the allegations of misconduct at the CCHD was what Pope Paul VI was referring to when he warned that the “smoke of Satan has found its way into the Church” … seriously? I don’t follow RCTV directly but the American Catholic does.

As I’ve said before, I agree with Mr. Peters (and many of our commenters) regarding RCTV. I do not doubt that the folks at RCTV are well-intentioned. Similarly, I do not doubt that there are some problems with CCHD and the USCCB. I simply think the RCTV coverage of this scandal has been too sensationalistic, and that their reporting should not be relied upon without independent verification.

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82 Responses to Fr. Frank Pavone Defends John Carr of the USCCB

  • Let’s keep the issues straight here!! Nobody is questioning John Carr’s personal beliefs. What is in question is how he can work for, support, and promote organizations directly opposed to authentic Church teaching.

  • What I find sad is this: what exactly is charity? People are saying “defend CCHD” and “just start giving to other Catholic charities.” Ok, but does that mean the other Catholic charities will not be giving money to people which end up giving material support for evil? Obviously all charity has that potential; give money to the homeless beggar on the street, and they might buy crack with it. Does it mean we should not try to help him? Some might say “give him food.”

    Fine, but then that means he can afford buying the crack the next time someone gives him money!

    Using the logic being given, that means you are still promoting crack!

    That’s the problem with this argument. It ignores that all charity as charity is going to give opportunity for evil.

    Jesus gave charity to a centurion of all people. And samaritans to boot. Imagine what 1st century Jewish bloggers would have done with that! “Is there no end to the evil this Jesus fellow won’t support? He helps Roman occupation! The soldiers are given support!” etc.

  • defend CCHD should have been defund

  • I wonder if this “guilt by association” thing isn’t getting a bit out of hand. By the logic being applied here, any Catholic who works or has ever worked for the state or federal governments (like me) “supports” a “pro abortion” organization (even if their job has absolutely nothing to do with abortion, same sex marriage, etc.) and is a source of “scandal” who has no business participating in any parish or diocesan endeavor or in any apostolate. Maybe I should quit this blog before Real Catholic TV decides that I’m a source of scandal to readers?

  • Henry,

    You are a liberal, left wing Marxist. Period. To your kind, there is only one gospel, the false gospel of social justice, the common good and peace at any price.

    But in reality (where you obviously don’t live) there is only one true Justice: God’s Justice, and if we continue to tolerate abortion, gay filth and all manner of putrid, sinful refuse, then we can and should expect the full measure of God’s justice.

    CCHD has funded pro-abortion, pro-gay rights groups. Period. And USCCB defends it. How horrible! Don’t you understand anything? You don’t get social justice, the common good, and peace without repentance and conversion first. Read 2nd Chronicles 7:14 and Matthew 6:33. Righteousness, holiness and virtue must come first, and have to come first before all these social and economic problems we have can possibly get fixed.

    I have zero tolerance for any of you liberals. You never discuss turning away from sin as THE prerequisite. What did Jesus say in conclusion to the woman caught in adultery? GO AND SIN NO MORE.

    Do you get it, liberal? Do you?

  • This is not to deny, of course, that there are some big problems with CCHD, but simply to emphasize what Fr. Pavone said, that it doesn’t give us license to play the guilt by association card against everyone that works there.

  • On Father Pavone’s blog, there is this comment which I believe is pertinent:

    “Benedicta says:
    February 5, 2010 at 12:03 pm
    The question of whether or not John Carr is pro-life is a straw dog. That’s not the problem the Reform CCHD coalition has been pointing to. They are saying that despite his attitudes towards abortion, he was in a leadership position with an organization (CCC) many of who’s member organizations (and most likely it’s stated mission, too?) had very “progessive” positions on gay and reproductive rights. Many of these groups were and still are funded by CCHD.

    This was sort of inevitable because CCHD’s mission forces them into such coalitions. They don’t do direct charity. They are commissioned to work with community organizing groups battling the causes of poverty. These types of groups are traditionally leftist and the left eschews the human rights of the unborn. I should know, I was one of them. To prove the point – is CCHD funding any chastity or anti-abortion grassroots groups? If there are such groups to fund, why bother to fund those that compromise church teaching? The connections are there between promiscuity, availability of abortion, as a backup to it, and poverty if you don’t abort after being brainwashed into promiscuity. Read Wilcox et al.

    People have recognized CCHD’s strong connections with Alinsky-style and/or founded organizations for years. No ones’s questioning Carr’s pro-life position. Only how he (read USCCB) carries it out politically. We at the grassroots – who struggle every day with Culture of Death’s brainwashing of our neighbors and friends – are waiting for the bishops (John Carr’s bosses) to take the bull by the horns. Perhaps these entanglements with “the dark side” are part of what’s keeping their hands tied.”

    As I have indicate before, rather than huffing and puffing at critics, the USCCB should be explaining certain things, among them:

    They should explain why they were shoveling money into an organization that one of their staffers served as the head of. Can they even spell “conflict of interest”? Rather than attacking the people who are bringing this to light they should be ramping up their own investigation. They might also wish to explain why Carr omitted noting his involvement with the CCC from his USCCB bio. They might also explain why Tom Chabolla, associate director of CCHD programs until 2008, and who worked under Carr, took Carr’s place on the CCC board after Carr left, during a time period when the CCC became involved in pro-abortion advocacy, and whether Chabolla and Carr maintained contacts about the CCC. Chabolla since leaving the CCHD is now assistant to the President of the Service Employees International Union. Finally, perhaps they can explain why, when this all came to light, the first reaction from the CCHD was to scrub their website of all mention of ties with the CCC.

    In regard to the CCHD, Tom Chabolla concerns me far more than John Carr. Chabolla’s involvement with the CCC and the CCHD while the CCC was becoming involved in pro-abortion advocacy, and his subsequent attempts to convince Catholics to vote for Obama, notwithstanding Obama’s strident pro-abortion stance, leads me to wonder how many CCHD staffers share the Church’s opposition to abortion, and how this plays out in regard to the groups that are funded.

    http://onelacatholic.blogspot.com/2008/11/ex-mahony-official-touts-obama-in.html

    Time for the USCCB to stop shooting the messengers and to conduct internal investigations and clean house.

  • Paul, do not personally attack fellow commenters. That is not helpful. I share your concerns to the full regarding CCHD, but you can express them without attacking Karlson personally.

  • “Henry,

    You are a liberal, left wing Marxist. Period. To your kind, there is only one gospel, the false gospel of social justice, the common good and peace at any price.”

    Paul.

    First of all, I’m not a liberal. Second, I’m not a Marxist. Third, Catholic Social Teaching is a part of the Catholic Church and its teaching. False Gospel? No. Christ calls us to charity. That’s the truth. Justice is God’s — right indeed. But that is truth in charity. God’s justice doesn’t demand us to ignore the needs of people just because they sin. The common good is indeed why Christ died. And peace at any price — Christ gave the ultimate price.

  • Elaine Krewer

    That’s exactly the kind of point I’ve been trying to make. This is mere guilt by association which is fallacious; and if one follows through with this, anyone who does any work with anyone can be found to be associated with sinners and doing things which ultimately helps people to sin in one way or another. Of course, Voris would do well to remember the principle of double effect.

  • I agree with you John Henry that Thomas Peters has a level headed take on the situation. I agree with his recommendation that the CCHD needs to be defunded.

    “Here’s my take: I think there are real problems with how the CCHD allocates its money. I must seriously question why the USCCB even needs to have such a department. There are, after all, so many excellent Catholic charities that disburse money, so I see no reason why Catholics ought to continue giving money to an organization that has now repeatedly been shown to have misused funds in the past (ACORN, for instance). And remember – these are funds that come from the pockets of Catholics in the pews.

    My personal hope, at this time, is to see the CCHD not reformed, but defunded, even though I highly doubt this will happen.”

    Time for the Bishops to find another mechanism to help the poor, and this time through Catholic organizations loyal to the Magisterium.

  • I am glad Fr. Pavone spoke up in defense of John Carr; Pavone is a straight shooter, and it’s not the first time I have known him to rise to the defense of people attacked as insufficiently Catholic for our self-styled guardians of orthodoxy. But I also find it ironic that Fr. Pavone is regarded as more of an authority on authentic Catholic teaching than our own bishops are. The Church teaches us very clearly where we should look for guidance on faith and morals. The “guru shopping” in which our religious right-wing so often engage is just another form of the cafeteria Catholicism they claim to deplore.

  • It seems to me that the CCHD has outlived its moment. The impetus behind its creation is gone, and the problems with some of the charities associated with it demonstrate that there are major problems with CCHD that have not been addressed. Perhaps the people in charge of it really can’t address the problems, because their method of carrying out the aims of Catholic Social Teaching doesn’t allow them to address these new or formerly less significant problems — the things the sort of organization CCHD funds do today have shifted from what they did 30 years ago.

    Some of the charities CCHD fund in our Archdiocese do excellent things — others, not so much. Should the good ones lose their funding because of the problematic ones? That is what defunding CCHD would mean. But unless the bishops and their offices do their investigations, those of us who see what is wrong with the problematic ones are left with only two choices: donate or don’t donate. Especially because our contributions don’t go only to our own dioceses, but are pooled and distributed throughout the country, it’s important for us to discern the best use of our “talents and treasures,” as the social justice people like to say.

    Giving money to or volunteering with charities who further the aims of Catholic Social Teaching is required of us as Catholics. Giving money to a particular charity recommended by the bishops is not.

  • The last I looked, CCHD proceeds were usually divided 75 percent to the national organization and 25 percent kept in the diocese where collected for local organizations. Why not just drop the national collection and make it all local? Some dioceses may still fund questionable projects that way but at least the more orthodox ones won’t have to.

  • If this is “guilt by association,” then could someone please explain to me what business people like Paul Booth, Fr. Thomas Reese, or Dr. Diana Hayes have at a USCCB-sponsored event?

    http://www.pewsitter.com/view_news_id_28931.php

  • “I do not doubt that the folks at RCTV are well-intentioned.”

    A fascinating choice of words. Good intentions are the close bedfellows of the skulls of bishops, so prominently mentioned in these reports.

    Heck, gossipmongers have good intentions, too. That doesn’t make them moral or even accurate in their reporting.

    The fact is that many bloggers and countless Catholic commentators have been duped by this issue. You’ve been led deeply into the sin of calumny, and isn’t it a good thing Lent is close to arrival? No concern about getting dates, facts, and people straight. And even an otherwise-reliable organ like OSV had to do considerable backtracking. Why any sensible person would rely on internet video gossip masquerading as television for reliable information is beyond me. Regular tv journalism isn’t real news these days, so I can’t imagine folks with no pretense of journalism would count for anything more.

    The movement to defund the CCHD is just frowny-faced Catholic Republicans simmering that they never had the good idea of addressing the systemic problems that lead too many unfortunate individuals into needing charity. I’m sure if conservatives ever bothered to come up with a small-guv plan to address the root problems of poverty, they would get a CCHD grant. Heck, you may even end up as poster children if you played your cards right.

    Meanwhile, thanks a whole lot for painting pro-lifers as mindless, insensitive, and sinful detractors. You’ve just set the movement back another several months. Who cares about the money? You haven’t given to the CCHD in years, if ever. You’ve just been cooperating with evil to snipe at your own, and tossed another few hundred thousand of the unborn into the trash heap.

    What about an investigation of RealCatholicTV? How do we know thesefolks aren’t on the PP or NARAL payroll?

  • Nice attempt to avoid discussing any of the relevant issues Todd.

  • Todd,

    Attack the messenger.

    Old bag of tricks for liberals.

  • “Many bishops” comes in the guise of three left-wing bishops.

    Yes, we’ll see what other bishops steps forward to defend a compromised executive such as John Carr.

    John Henry,

    You failed to point out that it is not the stance of John Carr, but his conflict of interest that is in question.

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  • Unfortunately for the Cause, Donald, Tito, the issue was made to be John Carr. And now that that line of attack has shown itself to be pretty impotent, I think it’s quite correct to shine some light on gossipmongers. If that makes it uncomfy for you, I’m not sympathetic. Usually when people do sinful things, there are consequences–and I don’t mean in the afterlife.

    But if you want to stick to the original post, since when do good intentions make up for sin?

  • Todd,

    That is amazing commentary from a guy who is an open dissident Catholic and voted for President Obama, the most pro-abortion president in the history of the United States of America.

    If being called a gossip-monger is to report the conflict of interest of John Carr with CCC then we’ll let you live in bizarro world.

    You being unsympathetic shows again that you are a Catholic in name only.

  • Tito, it’s a classic strategy of human (not liberal) denial to attack the messenger. You do need a history lesson since I would count at least two presidents as more pro-abortion than Mr Obama: Mr Nixon, because it was largely his SCOTUS, and Mr Clinton who was a tad more enthusiastic than the current president.

    I know it stings to get taken to task on morals by a liberal, but there you have it …

  • Tito, no interest in addressing the moral relevancy of “well-intentioned” sinners, eh? I don’t mind straying off topic, if you don’t.

  • Todd,

    This isn’t my post.

    It’s my esteemed colleague John Henry’s post.

    As for “well-intentioned sinners”, what do you mean and to what reference?

  • Nixon was pro-abortion because it was “his” Supreme Court that decided Roe? That’s a bit of a stretch.

    Let’s see, of the 7 justices who decided in favor of Roe only 3 (Burger, Blackmun, and Powell) were Nixon appointees. Marshall was appointed by LBJ; Stewart and Brennan were Eisenhower appointees; and Douglas’ appointment went all the way back to FDR. Dissenters Rehnquist and White were appointed, respectively, by Nixon and JFK.

  • Also, don’t forget that SCOTUS justices have minds of their own and often disappoint the presidents who appoint them assuming they will be reliable “conservative” or “liberal” votes. Earl Warren did that to Ike, and Sandra Day O’Connor did the same to Reagan.

    As for Clinton, yes, he did indeed push for FOCA and for repeal of the Mexico City Policy, and for a national healthcare plan — I unfortunately don’t recall whether it was supposed to include abortion coverage or not — but what else did he do that made him “more enthusiastic” a pro-abort than Obama?

  • “I’m sure if conservatives ever bothered to come up with a small-guv plan to address the root problems of poverty, they would get a CCHD grant. ”

    They have. It’s called letting people keep the money they earn (instead of giving it to the government through taxation) so that they can better support their families, spend more on housing and other goods, and so that those who are inclined can start businesses and projects that create jobs, which in turn, lift more people out of poverty. A prominent conservative who “addressed the root causes of poverty” very well was the late Jack Kemp.

    Another very prominent small-guv or no-guv idea for addressing the root causes of poverty is the notion that people should get married BEFORE having sex and thereby having children (which can happen regardless of whether they have access to contraception or not; no method is 100 percent foolproof, other than abstinence). Single parenthood is one of the major “root causes” of poverty.

    I’m not a hard core anti-government or “all taxes are evil” libertarian by any means, but liberal programs and ideas aren’t the only ones that benefit the poor.

  • Todd, your statement that Nixon was more pro-abortion than Obama is laughable and demonstrates the lengths to which you will go to rationalize your positions. And on balance the notion that Clinton was a bigger pro-abort than Obama does not wash either.

  • I’ve decided to withhold my weekly parish offering until the Bishops get their act together on this issue of funding groups that promote murder-in-the-womb and pro-homosexual lifestyles because, even if I withhold donations from CCHD specific collections, how can I trust that the bishops aren’t giving money to these groups from their general funds or some other fund that my donations have gone to?

    Instead, I’ll give targeted funds for parish-specific collections such as energy, building fund etc. but also to worthy, faithful, and transparent pro-life and lay religious groups – in reparation for some of the damage that is being done. I will no longer allow my money (God’s money) to be funneled to the culture of death. I’ve lost trust for now.

    American Life League: http://www.all.org
    Human Lifer International: http://www.hli.org

  • “There are times when an abortion is necessary. I know that. When you have a black and a white,” he told an aide, before adding, “Or a rape.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/24/us/politics/24nixon.html

    That promotes the use of abortion, not just leaves it as a choice. Seems to be more pro-abortion than Obama’s “leave it be as a choice.” He wanted inter-racial babies killed. That’s pro-abortion and not just pro-choice.

  • Spelling correction:

    Human Life International: http://www.hli.org

  • “Unfortunately for the Cause, Donald, Tito, the issue was made to be John Carr.”

    Nice try Todd. The issue was always USCCB funding of groups like the CCC. The groups bringing this to light took pains to note that they were not attacking John Carr’s personal bona fides:

    “Once again, please keep in mind that in no way are we stating or implying that any bishop or staff member of the USCCB holds pro-abortion views. We have conversed and exchanged correspondence on a number of occasions with USCCB staff and have nothing but the highest regard for the strength of their convictions. However, we cannot avoid the conclusion that there is a disturbing pattern of cooperation between the USCCB and organizations that do not share the same fundamental vision of human dignity as the Catholic Church.”

    http://bellarmineveritasministry.org/

  • Nixon indeed said years after he had left office that he had no problem with abortion being legal, but that the government should not pay for it. That is a far cry from Obama’s position that the government should always pick up the tab when women cannot afford the hit fees on their offspring.

    This was the stand that Nixon took publicly on abortion while he was president on April 3, 1971:

    “HISTORICALLY, laws regulating abortion in the United States have been the province of States, not the Federal Government. That remains the situation today, as one State after another takes up this question, debates it, and decides it. That is where the decisions should be made.

    Partly for that reason, I have directed that the policy on abortions at American military bases in the United States be made to correspond with the laws of the States where those bases are located. If the laws in a particular State restrict abortions, the rules at the military base hospitals are to correspond to that law.

    The effect of this directive is to reverse service regulations issued last summer, which had liberalized the rules on abortions at military hospitals. The new ruling supersedes this–and has been put into effect by the Secretary of Defense.

    But while this matter is being debated in State capitals and weighed by various courts, the country has a right to know my personal views.

    From personal and religious beliefs I consider abortion an unacceptable form of population control. Further, unrestricted abortion policies, or abortion on demand, I cannot square with my personal belief in the sanctity of human life–including the life of the yet unborn. For, surely, the unborn have rights also, recognized in law, recognized even in principles expounded by the United Nations.

    Ours is a nation with a Judeo-Christian heritage. It is also a nation with serious social problems–problems of malnutrition, of broken homes, of poverty, and of delinquency. But none of these problems justifies such a solution.

    A good and generous people will not opt, in my view, for this kind of alternative to its social dilemmas. Rather, it will open its hearts and homes to the unwanted children of its own, as it has done for the unwanted millions of other lands.”

  • “Once again, please keep in mind that in no way are we stating or implying that any bishop or staff member of the USCCB holds pro-abortion views. We have conversed and exchanged correspondence on a number of occasions with USCCB staff and have nothing but the highest regard for the strength of their convictions. However, we cannot avoid the conclusion that there is a disturbing pattern of cooperation between the USCCB and organizations that do not share the same fundamental vision of human dignity as the Catholic Church.”

    And who are they to make this decision? As I pointed out, will they judge Jesus guilty of supporting Roman occupation in Jerusalem? Of the Samaritans for his promotion of the good Samaritan? Will they tell people who pay sinners the money they are owed for working, because they pay sinners, they are cooperating with evil and should rather not pay until the sinner stops sinning? That’s the issue. People who get charity will often be sinners; giving them charity is not the promotion of sin. Otherwise God is the biggest sinner of them all.

  • Nixon said abortion is necessary for inter-racial couples. And you say he isn’t pro-abortion? Who cares who pays for it! It’s not the paying of it but the demanding of it as necessary which indicates someone far more pro-abortion than someone who doesn’t demand any abortions!

  • So I take TAC is now guilty of being pro-aborts and Catholics in name only because some people on here are now defending Nixon!

    See how this works?

  • Henry, it seems to me that what Nixon was expressing was the reverse of the “personally opposed, but” stance you often see today. Apparently, Nixon was “personally in favor, but” for what he considered “hard cases.” But in the same taped conversation, he expressed concern that legalized abortion on demand would lead to “permissiveness” and to a breakdown of the family.

    In any event that remark, distasteful as it is, comes from a private conversation with an aide that was never made public until long after his death. In his PUBLIC statements and policy moves Nixon never endorsed legalized abortion on demand, as far as I know, whereas Clinton and now Obama have.

  • I’m sure if conservatives ever bothered to come up with a small-guv plan to address the root problems of poverty, they would get a CCHD grant.

    If I am not mistaken, Milton Friedman’s first article on the negative income tax hit the presses in 1962; I doubt the Catholic Campaign for Human Development ever noticed.

  • Don, thanks for the clarification.

    Apparently Nixon was more amenable to legalized abortion than I realized (I was only 10 years old when he left office and wasn’t paying attention to his abortion views at the time), but still, his stance is a far cry from what Obama is pushing today. Also, there is no evidence that Nixon ever sought as a matter of public policy to “demand” that interracial couples abort their children; that was merely his own personal preference.

    I’m not “defending” Nixon or his point of view, by the way, just pointing out that it can’t justly be compared to what Obama is doing via the healthcare plan, removal of conscience protections, revocation of Mexico City Policy, and expressed support of FOCA or something similar.

  • Elaine in his public stance as President, and in his actions as President, Nixon always acted against abortion. This is a far cry from Obama who is publicly and privately in favor of abortion. Karlson, of course, as usual, is carrying water for the Left and Obama in attempting to obscure this point.

  • So, it’s ok for him to say it is necessary for people to have abortions and he ends up not being pro-abortion? Very odd indeed. But I expect it. The same people who talk the talk end up bowing before the GOP before it is over.

  • If it were Obama who had said it and not Nixon, or if it were John Carr instead of Nixon, you can be assured both would be used by the people who defend him now. It is more important to point out the defense of Nixon’s “it is necessary to kill them” speech puts the people doing so not only in cooperation with evil but in its promotion!

  • Karlson, I am sure you are not so obtuse as to fail to understand the difference between a private opinion revealed more than a decade after Nixon’s death and his public statements and policies as President. Nice try however in attempting to run interference for the most pro-abortion President in our nation’s history.

  • Like I said, Nixon was “personally in favor, but” when it came to abortion. He didn’t feel he could “impose his personal views” FAVORING abortion on the nation or on individual state governments that weren’t ready to accept them.

  • The most pro-abortion president? Pretty sure that would be Nixon. Let’s keep in mind that the original drive to decriminalize abortion came from Republicans lobbied by the medical establishment.

    Lies about John Carr. Misguided errors about CCHD. Not tracking important dates like the establishment of the CCHD in 1970. The real question is: why do we even bother with conservatives these days? Completely unreliable.

  • Todd, still trying to salve your conscience for your vote for Obama, the most pro-abortion President in our nation’s history? Your attempt to rewrite history is as misguided as your vote. The move to legalize abortion was overwhelmingly from the radical feminists, the group that still owns body and soul your party on the issue of abortion.

  • “Let’s keep in mind that the original drive to decriminalize abortion came from Republicans lobbied by the medical establishment.”

    The Republicans in question were probably the more liberal leaning ones like Nelson Rockefeller, not Nixon, who relied heavily on a conservative “Southern strategy” to get elected.

  • As I said, the defense for President Nixon here and his stand on abortion and his belief it was necessary to kill interracial children says enough. It really does. It’s all it takes to do an expose. Ask Voris.

  • I guess you truly are much more obtuse than I thought Karlson.

  • Henry,

    You seem to reserve a special level of irrationality and intentional obtuseness for moments when you think you have some “gotcha” against conservatives. It would probably be a good idea if, when you have this feeling of “Ha! Now I have them saying something truly ludicrous,” you went off and did something else for a while, because these exercises never do you much credit.

    But to address the substance:

    No one here has defended the Nixon quote or claimed that Nixon is a role model on the abortion issue — what people have objected to is Todd rather strange claim that Nixon was a more pro-abortion president than Obama. (And come to that, that Clinton was — by just about any measure other than the wishes of his more deceived supporters, one would have to see Obama as more pro-abortion than Clinton. If you want a figure more pro-abortion than Obama, you’re going to have to go for someone like Barbara Boxer.)

    Your interpretation of Nixon’s comment (a comment which, as I said, is reprehensible) seems selective and intentionally obtuse. On the face of it, it would seem pretty clear that Nixon was listing of situations in which he thought that people might justifiably demand access to abortion because they considered it “necessary”. That interracial children was the first example that came to his mind certainly does him no credit, but one can hardly argue that Obama’s views are substantively different on issues of abortion being “necessary”. Think of the implication: Does Obama think that abortion is (as he claims) a regrettable and unfortunate thing, but insist that it should be allowed even though he believes it it’s never actually necessary (as in the only right thing to do) for someone to have one? In other words, he thinks that abortion is bad, but he insists that it be available at all times despite it’s being, at any given point, entirely optional? Surely not. If he insists that abortion be available he clearly thinks that in some cases people will find it necessary to have one. Indeed, if he thinks that it’s entirely optional as a medical and personal procedure (like what? teeth whitening? breast augmentation?) and yet nevertheless insists on its absolute availability over the moral concerns that he’s expressed, that actually puts him in a far worse light than if one accepts that he thinks it is at times a “necessary evil”.

    Goodness, what do they teach them in school these days?

  • DH,

    I’ve decided to withhold my weekly parish offering until the Bishops get their act together on this issue of funding groups that promote murder-in-the-womb and pro-homosexual lifestyles because, even if I withhold donations from CCHD specific collections, how can I trust that the bishops aren’t giving money to these groups from their general funds or some other fund that my donations have gone to?

    Weekly collections go primarily to the local parish, with roughly 10% usually going to your local diocese. They do not go to the USCCB or to other national programs. I would strongly recommend against refusing to support your parish because of a fairly minor USCCB program.

  • I think Obama’s statement that babies conceived of unplanned pregnanacies are a burden is quite contrary to Catholic Social Teaching also. We know he jokes about the Special Olympics in public. Who knows what he says in private.

    Bottom line about CCHD, just like we should not reward researchers who aborted babies with stem cell funding we should not reward organizations that fund anti-life, anti-family policies.

  • Todd, still trying to salve your conscience for your vote for Obama,

    I will wager it goes deeper than that.

  • Todd,

    The movement to defund the CCHD is just frowny-faced Catholic Republicans simmering that they never had the good idea of addressing the systemic problems that lead too many unfortunate individuals into needing charity. I’m sure if conservatives ever bothered to come up with a small-guv plan to address the root problems of poverty, they would get a CCHD grant. Heck, you may even end up as poster children if you played your cards right.

    This is just a dumb attack. (Sheesh, why is it that you’ve become so much more politically bitter since your guy won? It’s supposed to work the other way around.) Conservatives are widely supportive of small businesses, which is where most new jobs in the country show up. (While the more regulatory approach pushed by progressives normally helps large corporations keep small businesses from playing — though progressives often don’t seem to realize this.)

    The beef that a lot of conservatives have with the CCHD is twofold. First, they tend to fund some programs which run by organizations which also have programs which are directly contrary to Catholic teaching. Second, conservatives are not always as optimistic that funding groups which often just “raise awareness” or help people petition the government for things actually do all that much to “break the cycle of poverty” as compared to directly helping them with immediate necessities so they can get back on their feet or support themselves, or helping get businesses off the ground which actually provide people with employment. The former of these is a pretty good target for charitable work, the latter often doesn’t work out so well. (If you give people grants to start a business, because they don’t have investors and can’t get a small business loan, it often turns out the reason they couldn’t get a small business loan or investors is that their business plan wasn’t all that viable in the first place.)

  • DC

    When someone says “but still, his stance is a far cry from what Obama is pushing today,” and using that to make Obama is worse — yes, they are positing a defense of Nixon in relation to Obama. The problem is one said abortion is a choice, the other, necessity. And the people who are acting like “abortion is a necessity” is no big deal in comparison to someone saying “choice” show again the politics. This is not “gotcha.” This is just applying the standards in these threads. Wasn’t it the Peters piece which said “cooperation with evil” is evil? Cooperation with Nixon, who thinks killing innocent children is a necessity, falls under this, no?

    Of course many people see through this. What you call irrationality is the whole point. This whole “scandal” and the means by which it gathers evidence is irrational.

    This has nothing to do with “conservative” or “liberal,” because again, the so-called conservatives here are quite liberal (small government) indeed!

  • “onservatives are widely supportive of small businesses” even when they give cooperation for abortion (see health care insurance).

  • Henry,

    This is precisely where you intentionally being obtuse: It takes a massive stretch to argue that the Nixon quote meant “necessary” in the sense of “we must force this person to have an abortion whether they like it or not, because it’s an absolute necessity for society”. Whereas if one accepts the quote to mean that there are situations in which people will feel abortion to be their only option — then he means exactly the same as what Obama says.

    And what the heck are you talking about with “cooperation with Nixon”? The guy is dead, has long been politically irrelevant, and no one is taking him as a guide for modern conservative policy.

    I’ve not no interest in defending Nixon or his ideas about abortion, but claiming that he is “more pro-abortion” than Obama makes no sense when Nixon’s policies were far more anti-abortion than Obama’s and even this utterly reprehensible quote says nothing that Obama wouldn’t say himself (other than the underlying racism.)

    “onservatives are widely supportive of small businesses” even when they give cooperation for abortion (see health care insurance).

    Again, your “gotchas” are invariably foolish. Are you saying that conservatives would do better to only support small businesses which refuse to provide health insurance? Or are you claiming that being in favor or an economic environment which makes it easy for small businesses to establish and thrive somehow encourages them to elect to cover abortions in their insurance policies? I suppose the test case would be: Ask yourself, would conservatives prefer a small business which provided health insurance to its workers which excluded abortion, or a small business which provided health insurance to its workers that included abortion. If you answer the latter, you have a case.

  • One person says abortion is necessary; the other says it is up to the people, and the one who says it is necessary is less pro-abortion. I get it!

    What I learn on here.

    Yes. I’m obtuse! Teach me more!

  • DC

    “Again, your “gotchas” are invariably foolish. Are you saying that conservatives would do better to only support small businesses which refuse to provide health insurance?”

    Let’s take this one by one. STOP USING THE WORD CONSERVATIVE. False word. Next, I am saying the “scandal” with the USCCB is valid, than this applies across board. And sorry to point out, all the people supporting companies which have health insurance that gives abortion is “cooperation with evil” and “funding abortion.” What is difficult to see in this? Why is it that the same people who always speak about political point of views never do anything with the real promoters of abortion — the insurance companies? Why no laws to stop this? Why the constant funding of it? Why?

  • You people just slay me: tie yourselves up in knots to justify your relativism. Personally, I have no problem with my vote for Mr Obama. There was no real pro-life distinction coming from Mr McCain, especially on matters in government hands like ESCR and torture. So I voted for the Illinois senator. So what? Lots of independents voted for him. He was a bit too conservative for my tastes, but there wasn’t a real third party choice, in my view.

    Getting back to Fr Pavone’s defense of Mr Carr, let’s face it: the anti-CCHD crowd had no compunction about throwing a fellow pro-lifer under the bus, and trying to justify the lies and exaggerations to get it done. And you can ask yourselves: how many unborn people did it save? How many converts did you make for the cause? All because you’ve redefined “scandal” to mean something that bothers you.

    Jeez, with conservatives like you, I have no reason at all to be angry or bitter. All I have to do is visit here every week or so, point out your moral errors, get under your skins, and I have my entertainment.

    Take the last word, gents. You’ve worked hard enough in the trenches of relativism to earn it. Give us another justification or two, then watch the religious event of the day.

  • Translation Todd: you do not give a damn about abortion.

    “Take the last word gents.”

    You inevitably say that Todd, and you inevitably come back to comment on this blog.

  • Karlson is unable to distinguish between a President who makes a private pro-abortion statement and who makes public statements and policies against abortion, and the current incumbent who makes private and public statements in favor of abortion and who is dedicated to pro-abortion policies. Grad students have sadly declined in reasoning capacity.

  • Actually the latest turn in this thread is quite funny when you think about it. People are sincerely debating who is worse, Obama or Nixon and it was the Obama supporters who introduced that extremely low bar.

    I’m no fan of either, but clearly Nixon’s despicable “necessary” term wasn’t calling for a mandate and is more in keeping with Obama’s line about not wanting his kids punished with an unwanted child. It’s the same mentality of feeling the need to sacrifice the unborn for to avoid a consequence or perceived loss of good.

  • “Take the last word gents.”

    You also convieniently forget about the one “lady” blog member among these “gents” who completely agreed with the initial premise of this thread — that the attacks on John Carr and his past affiliation were not really valid criticisms of CCHD. However, that doesn’t change the fact that there are still lots of OTHER reasons to be critical of CCHD.

  • Elaine, I am sure that the implication that Todd is a sexist will pierce his conscience to the quick, and I mean that sincerely!

  • Also, I question the wisdom of voting for an Illinois senator for any office above dogcatcher 🙂

  • One person says abortion is necessary; the other says it is up to the people, and the one who says it is necessary is less pro-abortion

    One of the great things about the internet is that you’re never quite sure where a comment thread will go. I have to say, I didn’t expect the topic of Nixon, Obama, and abortion to dominate this thread. But since it has, I’ll just say I think Henry’s argument is based on an exceptionally weird reading of the word ‘necessary’. It’s obvious that Nixon means ‘in some circumstances abortion has to be available,’ rather than something like ‘abortion is necessary in all such cases.’ He was talking about how abortion laws should be structured, not opining about when people need to get abortions (my assumption is that not even Nixon would tell a woman who had been raped that she had to get an abortion). I can’t imagine how Henry could understand it otherwise. As to Obama, he certainly has the most extreme public record on abortion of any U.S. President, although on the plus side of the ledger, he is probably not a racist (like Nixon).

  • Getting back to Fr Pavone’s defense of Mr Carr, let’s face it: the anti-CCHD crowd had no compunction about throwing a fellow pro-lifer under the bus, and trying to justify the lies and exaggerations to get it done. And you can ask yourselves: how many unborn people did it save? How many converts did you make for the cause? All because you’ve redefined “scandal” to mean something that bothers you.

    You know, reading this last comment of Todd’s I’m getting the impression that he thinks that John Henry was attacking Fr. Pavone in writing this post. Which, if true, is certainly amusing.

  • Which, if true, is certainly amusing.

    Yeah, I had to laugh, when Todd told me above that I had “been led deeply into the sin of calumny, and isn’t it a good thing Lent is close to arrival?”

    This, for posting Fr. Pavone’s defense of John Carr and saying not a negative word about anyone other than the RCTV folks. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to him that my post is primarily a defense of John Carr of the USCCB, and a response to some of the USCCB’s less disciplined critics. Oh well, I guess Todd wanted to upbraid somebody and my post caught his eye.

  • that not even Nixon would tell a woman who had been raped that she

    Mr. Nixon was rather vindictive about the opposition and was willing to countenance unprofessional behavior and violations of the law to get at them. Regrettably, he was in a position to see that such things were done: Morton Halperin’s phone was tapped and the pornographer who produced Tricia’s Wedding got his tax returns audited. It could have been worse.

    http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1P2-860866.html

    Mr. Nixon’s mundane life was, however, free of severe blemishes. Most of us are not in a position to have someone raked over the coals by the U.S. Attorney, and its a good thing too.

  • The most frustrating part, John Henry, is that your response will be met with silence.

    I wish it were not so.

  • I’m a bit late to this discussion, but nevertheless it takes an appalling lack of judgement to suggest that Obama is not the most radical, pro-abort, “Party of Death” candidate ever to step foot in the Oval Office

    It is an unfortunate fact but no one in the history of the POTUS has uttered these words except for one man, who is Barack H. Obama:

    “But if they [my daughters] make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby”

    http://www.whatswrongwiththeworld.net/ObamaBaby.jpg

    His position is so far outside of the mainstream that as an IL Senator he voted against the Infant Born Alive Protection Act. Let it be known that this man despises life and has actively used his political power in a way directly in conflict with Church Teaching on Natural & Moral Law.

  • If you recall, Nixon was close to being impeached by the House of Representatives for several counts of abuse of power. He resigned because he thought that, even if he could get (1/3 + 1) of the Senate to vote for acquital, the efforts focused on the trial would leave the nation weakened against foreign opponents for an extended period.
    By the time W. Clinton was impeached, the possible threat from other nations had receded to the point that the nation could endure a couple of months of distraction with little or no harm in foreign affairs.
    The reaction of the Senate at the time of Clinton’s impeachment in effect was “Lying about sex? Everybody does it, so the fact that Pres. Clinton did it is no big deal.”
    If bloggers who favor Pres. Obama’s policies want to compare him with Pres. Nixon, I see no problem with that.
    TeaPot562

  • Here’s something to remember, John: there is a thread of conversation in here, and you should look to one of your co-bloggers and how they entered into it. Then you might appreciate Todd’s responses. He didn’t say you did anything; there was a conversation and he was responding to that.

  • John Henry is surely reading all the comments. He’s a sharp guy and has gotten me to rethink some of my decisions.

    He’s just being prudent.

  • Well, Teapot562, there are disputes between authorities over the severity of Clinton’s offences per the positive law. The tainted Lawrence Walsh said Kenneth Starr’s line of inquiry was outlandish and Richard Posner said that prosecutorial discretion would not have saved Clinton had he been an ordinary citizen and that the federal sentancing prescribed 30 to 37 months in prison for the sort of offences of which he was guilty. Please note also that Clinton was disbarred, that Susan McDougal spent 18 months in jail rather than testify at grand jury proceedings, and that James McDougal died before his testimony could be offered to a petty jury.

    Please note also that Clinton has retained throughout a degree of respect in certain circles that Nixon never re-acquired.

  • Well the bottom line remains, the CCHD remains a major source of scandal today regardless of what Nixon said forty years ago.

  • I’m with Phillip on this still.

  • 1. I admire Fr. Pavone, but he has plenty of his own issues (saying it’s OK to vote for a pro-choice Republican over a pro-life Democrat, supporting the NRLC’s “keep abortion legal as long as possible” agenda with its numerous compromises, supporting the do-nothing “partial birth abortion ban”, etc.) In other words, I admire Fr. Pavone for what he himself says and does. I’m not a fan of the organizations he chooses to support, especially when his career was springboarded by Judie Brown to begin with.
    2. I think it’s *very* important to distinguish between “the bishops” and “the USCCB,” which is a useless bureaucracy in DC that, in the end, has very little to do with “the bishops.” The merger of the old “NCCB” with the old “USCC” (where all these problematic associations occur) is the real problem, IMO.
    3. There is a big difference between charity, social justice and political activism. Charity is a personal choice. The merit in charity is in one person’s free will decision to perform an act of love for another person. Jesus acted in charity to centurions and Samaritans, but He did so in love for them as indiviuals, to help them as people. He did not support them qua being centurions or Samaritans.

    Social justice is the remediation of economic ills the way criminal justice is the remediation of interpersonal ills.

    Much of this funding question has to do with neither. It has to do with the bishops giving money to activist organizations when they should be giving that money directly to people who need it. I would have just as much problem with the USCCB funding NRLC as ACORN.

    When we give our money to the Church, our expectation is that that money will go to actually help people or build up the Church. I’d rather tthe USCCB fund crisis pregnancy centers and adoption agencies than fund ALL or NRLC. If they want to support the poor, send the money directly to shelters and food pantries. Better yet, give the money back to Catholic religious orders that engage in these ministries.

    Imagine if this money were just paid back to Catholic schools, hospitals and ministries, instead of paid to secular organizations.

    4. Yes, “Guilt by association” is a bit overdone. But much of this goes beyond “guilt by association.” We’re talking about organizations that actively support agendas contrary to the faith, and officials at USCCB who have either worked for those organizations or served on their boards of directors, etc.

  • Re: John Carr: “Tell me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you what you are.” Fr. Pavone is a good priest but a very naive one. Or perhaps he fears the power of the USCCB.

  • Mike,

    There is no need for that type of demonization of the USCCB. Although I don’t agree with the direction they’re heading, I don’t find it necessary to degrade it.

11 Responses to A Good Republican

  • Indeed, he is foremost a good Catholic.

  • Wow. That is an absolutely outstanding speech.

  • Oh, I should add btw, I’m not implying that voting for the health care reform bill is what makes Cao a ‘good’ Republican. I just thought the speech was remarkable for a Congressperson.

    At the same time, his vote on health care reform was an interesting, principled, and risky stand to take. It seems to me that as a strategic matter, it’s smart for a committed pro-lifer (as Cao appears to be) to offer his vote for health care reform in exchange for the Stupak language that appeared in the House bill. After all, it appeared the bill was going to pass either way; a substantial pro-life change like the Stupak amendment was a real achievement. I’d say Cao deserves a lot of support from the pro-life movement, particularly if he ends up facing a challenge in the primaries. It’s great to see people like him and Stupak working together across the aisle to protect human rights.

  • I would vote for Representative Cao because I think he is a remarkable Catholic attentive to the common good. He, in fact, went to Mass before the vote and prayed for God’s guidance.

  • So how do we get him in the Oval Office?

  • With friends like this who needs enemies.

    Why do we have such faithful, pro-life advocates who don’t have the foresight to realize that socialized medicine in the United States would, with near certainty, lead to an increase in the # of abortions as well as to a blatant disregard for the conscience of Catholic healthcare professionals?

    He may be a Mother Theresa at heart but his head is stuck in the clouds.

  • That is not the case by necessity, particularly with language barring that from happening by the letter of the law…

  • Certainly it is not by necessity, on that we can all agree.

    On the other hand, it is not by necessity that the Democratic Party is the “party of death” either but history has taught us that it is so.

    I only wish that the good Congressman’s exemplary moral courage wouldn’t outpace his prudence.

  • “I only wish that the good Congressman’s exemplary moral courage wouldn’t outpace his prudence.”

    Congressman Cao’s district is 67 percent balck and very DEM

    He has that tough road of representing his District and then deciding what core belief of his will he fall on his sword before.

    Plus it was not helping that Obama adminsitration seemed to be holding crucial projects hostage in New Orleans

  • Eric Brown-
    given the record of any law restricting abortions in most any form, it’s a good bet that any baby-protecting language would be shot, gutted and hung up to cure before benefits even became available. (depressingly….)

  • While I applaud his convictions, the problem with any piece of legislation (and law in general) is that it is never static. A future amendment, when Cao has moved on or is even further outnumbered, can undo everything that has been done. Once the beast gets in place, it can always be tweeked to meet the goals of those who hold the reigns.

Scott Brown: Good News for Obama 2012?

Wednesday, January 20, AD 2010

At first glance, it would appear that Scott Brown’s unlikely victory is bad news for President Obama’s long-term political future. Senator-elect Brown explicitly ran against the current health care reform bill, favoring federalist experimentation rather than a one-size-fits-all national approach. As health care reform was the central focus of President Obama’s first year in office, and Massachusettes is one of the most liberal states in the country, Brown’s victory there is a clear repudiation of the leadership of President Obama and Congressional Democrats during the past year. Nevertheless, I think a case could be made that Scott Brown’s victory will help the President in the long run. There are three main reasons:

1) Brown’s victory was too stunning to ignore. No one would have predicted it even a month ago, and I was still skeptical yesterday that Massachusetts was going to elect a Republican senator for the first time since 1972 – and to replace Ted Kennedy, of all people. Congressional Democratic leadership and the Administration will no longer be able to convince Blue Dog Democrats they know best and that Obama will be able to leverage his popularity to preserve their seats. That card has been played – not only in Massachusetts, but also in Virginia and New Jersey – and it wasn’t  a winner. This means that the Administration and the Congressional leadership will have to adjust their strategy, and pay more attention to voter sentiment. It’s probably too late at this point for this to help the Democrats much in November; they will take a well-deserved beating in this election. Nevertheless, it’s a lesson the Obama Administration will keep in mind going forward, just as the Clinton Administration pivoted after the Hillarycare debacle. President Obama will be forced to govern more like the moderate, fiscally responsible Democrat he campaigned as. And that is likely to increase his odds of re-election.

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8 Responses to Scott Brown: Good News for Obama 2012?

  • I think you may have a good point here. I don’t really see the GOP putting up a strong candidates in 2012 at this point, and as we saw with Clinton in the 90s, while partisans may not like it, the electorate seems to be quite happy with a president whose personality they’re fond of and a congress of the opposite party. Indeed, many Democrats now take a fair amount of pride in the fairly moderate legislation which made its way through in 94-00.

  • Well we shall see. I sort of disagree with Darwin that the GOP recruiting class of 2012 is not strong. I seem to be hearing different.

    In fact when we look at the last three elections NJ, VA, and now MASS it appears the canidiates have been very very strong. The VA Governors race was very very disciplined.

    THe questions as you point out is What will Obama do. Can he do a Clinton? I am not sure. One thing about the Obama adminsitration that has shocked me is how he acted as n EXECUTIVE. He basically made Reid and Pelosi co- Prime Ministers. Further Clinton had the experience of being chastized early on by the voters in Arkasnas. A lesson he learned from . Does Obama have that experience.

    We shall see

  • Let me just clarify: I think we may very well see strong GOP candidates for the house and senate in 2010 and 2012, I just don’t see a strong presidential candidate to unseat Obama.

  • Oh Ok. Well you might be right. Again 2012 is so far away anything can happen.

    Though I am gaining interest in this Governor from Indiana. I hear he is good and might sort of be the new fresh face.

  • Scott Brown for president 2012? Who could have predicted his win yesterday?

  • “I am gaining interest in this Governor from Indiana”

    You mean Mitch Daniels, who is creating quite a buzz. He seems to have done pretty well as far as keeping his state solvent despite the recession. A lot of Illinois residents wouldn’t mind borrowing him 🙂

    Don’t forget Tim Pawlenty or Bobby Jindal either.

    It seems as if ALL the strongest potential GOP contenders for 2012 are governors – can’t think of any Senators or Congressmen who stand out. Has that ever happened before?

  • The only difference between Scott Brown and Obama is the letter behind the name. They are both liberals.

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.

    http://larison.org/2007/01/27/to-oppose-servility/

    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.

A Perfect Post

Wednesday, December 9, AD 2009

Occasionally one runs across a post that’s particularly nicely done. I think Matthew Boudway’s recent reflections on a column by Clifford Longley on the new atheists comes dangerously close to perfect. It’s brief, highlights an interesting article, and adds a thoughtful perspective that provides more depth to the article it cites. Here’s a snippet:

[In response to Richard Dawkins’s claim that it is wrong to “indoctrinate tiny children in the religion of their parents, and to slap religious labels on them,”]

“There is no such thing as value-free parenting,” Longley writes…Longley proposes this as an argument about parenting, but it is hard to see why it wouldn’t also apply to education. If the argument doesn’t apply to education, why doesn’t it? If it does — and if it is a good argument — then people of faith have a compelling reason not to send their children to schools where the subject of religion qua religion is carefully avoided. One could, I suppose, argue that the tacit message of such schools is that religion is too important to get mixed up with the tedious but necessary stuff of primary education, but of course public schools approach important matters all the time, and cannot avoid doing so.

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Women Religious: No Transparency Necessary

Monday, November 30, AD 2009

I have to say, I’ve been a little surprised by the reaction of many left-leaning Catholics to the Apostolic Visitation of women’s religious congregations. If history is any guide, whether inside the Church or outside, a resistance to third party scrutiny is not a sign of organizational vitality. This resistance is particularly odd in an ecclesiastical context, where one would have thought the bonds of communion between the Holy See and religious orders are fairly strong. Moreover, the reasons proffered for refusing to answer the questions range from unconvincing (‘they don’t understand us’) to the self-indulgently bizarre (‘Women religious…are asking if there is a “Ghandian or Martin Luther King way” to deal with violence they felt is being done to them’). In any case, I think it would be good to offer prayers on their behalf. There are clearly difficult issues here that need to be resolved; and it seems to me that the reaction to the Apostolic Visitation has gone a long way towards demonstrating the need for it in the first place.

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13 Responses to Women Religious: No Transparency Necessary

  • Fairly strong? Recently declared saints like Mother Guerin and Mary McKillop had their share of battles with non-saintly bishops. Is it charitable to suggest some men were deeply envious of women and their apostoaltes?

    I agree with your comment on the statement in which Gandhi’s name was misspelled. I’m fine with women religious refusing cooperation in the way that was asked. Questions from Rome have already been withdrawn because they were inappropriate. But the damage seems to have been already done.

  • If the women in the LCWR were really spiritual and not Marxist liberal New Agers, then their objection(s) to the bishop(s) might be understandable. But as it is, the LCWR goes to great lengths to admonish us to save the whales and the rain forests, and act with pluralism, all the while ignoring the fact that Obamacare will murder millions of babies on the taxpayers dime. No – there’s no excuse for the liberal trash in the LCWR. These Marxists should repent or be purged from the Church.

  • Whoa, whoa, whoa. I read one comment and was startled, and then the next only to be startled all the more!

    To Todd: As far as I know, members of the LCWR are, by virtue of being religious communities of pontifical, rather than diocesan, right, directly responsible to the Vatican. These visitations are a normal, periodic thing. I was in seminary when we were visitated (lol). On one hand, it was a very big deal. Every single seminarian in the world was interviewed. A bishop met with me for 15-20 minutes and just wanted to hear whatever came to mind about the seminary. He asked some specific questions, too, ranging from the quality of the food and opportunities for exercise, to, shall we say, ones that offered opportunity for considerable more discomfort? They sat in on our classes and house Masses. They ate their meals with us and impressed me by their ability to listen and blend in. It was easy to forget that they are something like the modern equivalent of the Inquisition. The seminary I attended for 3 1/2 years before leaving (I am a layman) gave, as far as I could tell, no occasion for concern. Consequently, things went very smoothly and it was no big deal. Stonewalling makes no sense if there is nothing to hide.

    It’s not an invasion of privacy because there isn’t a right to call oneself Catholic publicly, use funds donated by the Catholic people, and then say, “Hey, how I operated as a Catholic is private.” That’s not a right – it’s a hypocritical self-contradiction.

    The second comment bothered me because of its eagerness to purge human beings made in the image and likeness of God. Excommunication, etc., is extraordinarily serious. The “good old days” aren’t coming back, and certainly not by that method. Things will only get harder and harder. What is happening, quietly around the edges, is that the Church is waking up. Not only are our bishops getting serious and our laypeople getting educated, but some folks who had naively strayed are starting to see the destruction wrought by ideologies they hold, and are second guessing themselves. There are bishops who could not bring themselves to mention contraception in the catechisms they wrote, who now write beautifully about the evils of such things. There are women religious who chucked their habits that now are rediscovering the rosary and the Holy Mass.

    Precisely because the Church and the world do not depend on me, I do not have to get angry about the things going on in them. Talk about purging usually comes from reddened faces, in my experience. Instead, I can take Jesus at his word (Mt 16:18) and (barring obvious malfeasance) trust those he has given us to govern.

    Paul, I enjoyed the “No Thanks, I Already Have a Messiah,” bumpersticker on your blog. Let’s follow Him, and not get too worked up about miscreants – God will take care of them.

  • The fact that groups representing 99% of women religious in the States (in the coverage I read anyway) are, at best, partially complying makes me want to see the questions for myself. I’d be much more comfortable judging this response if I knew more about what they were responding to.

  • Brett, the offensive and violent forms are here and here.

  • Is it charitable to suggest some men were deeply envious of women and their apostoaltes?

    Some years ago, I had a conversation with a member of the Congregation of St. Joseph. She said the median age in her order was 70 and that the number of women who had entered in 1961 and 1962 exceeded by a factor of two the number who had entered since 1970. Somehow I do not think that that is an apostolate of which ‘some men’ would be envious. (Given that the population of women religious has declined by two-thirds since 1965, I would doubt that the experience of the Congregation of St. Joseph is unusual).

    I agree with your comment on the statement in which Gandhi’s name was misspelled.

    ?

    I’m fine with women religious refusing cooperation in the way that was asked. Questions from Rome have already been withdrawn because they were inappropriate. But the damage seems to have been already done.

    If they had not accommodated these broads by excising the questions, you’d have accused them of rigidity.

  • Those forms that Rick linked to are no more offensive than a census form. Silly.

  • Wow. All you have to do is declare perfectly legitimate questions–that make you uncomfortable–to be “violent,” and you are not only justified in not answering, but you can feign moral superiority at being “above” such violence. And rather than look to the Church for your example of peace, you look outside. How telling is this response?

    People who defend the dying orders’ decision to disobey, how do you justify this defense? Since when is transparency a bad thing? When did their oaths of obedience become obsolete? Who thinks that any Catholic religious order has the right to deny any accountability to the institution to which it belongs?

  • Todd – Are you suggesting that the Apostolic Visitation is inappropriate? If so, I am curious about why.

    Paul – I think women religious are owed a great more respect than the type of derision your comment displays. Obviously, I don’t think they are beyond criticism, but caricaturing them as ‘Marxist New-Agers’ is unhelpful.

    Brett – It’s a good point; at same time, the forms don’t seem that offensive to me, and it’s surprising that a better explanation for the noncompliance has not been provided.

    Rick – Thanks for posting the questionnaires.

  • Todd – Are you suggesting that the Apostolic Visitation is inappropriate? If so, I am curious about why.

    He is suggesting that apostolic visitations should proceed at the discretion of those being visited, FWER. He is also suggesting that everything is ship-shape in and among women religious, and pay no attention to those actuarial tables.

  • …or those labyrinths, yoga centers, liturgical dance studios, etc, etc, etc.

  • The questionnaires are perfectly harmless. The tone is similar to that of an auditor going through the books.

    And…resistance to answering the questions raises the same eyebrows that would be raised by resistance to an audit.

  • Their resistance is even more disturbing in light of the questionaires. The first half (Part A) appears to have been composed by CARA, which does superb survey work for the Church (and is affiliated with Georgetown). It simply asks for statistics regarding postulants and currently vowed sisters. What, exactly, is the problem?

    The second set is slightly more personal, but hardly “violence” to their charism (or what’s left of it, given the resistance). What harm comes from an honest, transparent response?

    The only “violence” here is what the recalcitrant sisters are doing to the English language. Either they are part of the broader Church (and are thus accountable to her), or they are not. The passive-aggressive rebellion does not speak of a healthy relationship to the rest of us.

Fundamentalism Reclaimed

Sunday, November 29, AD 2009

One would be hard-pressed to find a term more frequently abused in recent years than ‘fundamentalism’. More often an insult than anything else, it’s been used to describe figures ranging from Pope Benedict XVI to Richard Dawkins to Osama bin Laden. One refreshing exception to this imprecision is Cardinal George of Chicago, who offers what I think is a fairly useful definition in his recent book:

“Fundamentalism is a self-consciously noncritical reassertion of identity and autonomy by selecting certain antimodern, antiglobal dimensions of local (especially religious) identity, and making them both the pillars upon which identity is built and the boundary against further global encroachment.”

What I like most about this definition is that it is descriptive rather than pejorative. It restores a content to the word beyond lazy journalistic slang for ‘someone I don’t like.’ For instance, Richard Dawkins is not a fundamentalist. He may base his identity on what appears to me to be an insufficiently self-critical foundation, but he is neither antimodern, nor antiglobal, nor entirely noncritical. Similarly, as any familiarity with his writings will attest, neither is Pope Benedict XVI.

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3 Responses to Fundamentalism Reclaimed

  • I am looking forward to this book. Thanks again for you balanced perspective John Henry.

  • Western and Russian interference in the Middle East has often been anything but beneficial.

    I’ll grant your premise about the Russians. However, until a lot more Middle Easterners take up a Bedoin lifestyle circa the 19th century the complaints about “Western interference” are a sham.

  • Micha,

    Of course a lot of the complaints of fundamentalists are a bit of a sham, or hypocritical, in that they are not consistent with their rejections of modernity.

    John Henry, thanks for the sneak peek into Cardinal George’s book. It’s on my Amazon wishlist, but your excerpt of it and the subsequent discussion have caused me to move it to the top.

Thoughts on 'Climategate'

Tuesday, November 24, AD 2009

I think Prof. Ilya Somin at the Volokh Conspiracy outlines a sensible approach to the recent ‘Climategate’ scandal:

Most of us, however, lack expertise on climate issues. And our knowledge of complex issues we don’t have personal expertise on is largely based on social validation. For example, I think that Einsteinian physics is generally more correct than Newtonian physics, even though I know very little about either. Why? Because that’s the overwhelming consensus of professional physicists, and I have no reason to believe that their conclusions should be discounted as biased or otherwise driven by considerations other than truth-seeking. My views of climate science were (and are) based on similar considerations. I thought that global warming was probably a genuine and serious problem because that is what the overwhelming majority of relevant scientists seem to believe, and I generally didn’t doubt their objectivity.

At the very least, the Climategate revelations should weaken our confidence in the above conclusion. At least some of the prominent scholars in the field seem driven at least in part by ideology, and willing to use intimidation to keep contrarian views from being published, even if the articles in question meet normal peer review standards. Absent such tactics, it’s possible that more contrarian research would be published in professional journals and the consensus in the field would be less firm. To be completely clear, I don’t think that either ideological motivation or even intimidation tactics prove that these scientists’ views are wrong. Their research should be assessed on its own merits, irrespective of their motivations for conducting it. However, these things should affect the degree to which we defer to their conclusions merely based on their authority as disinterested experts.

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19 Responses to Thoughts on 'Climategate'

  • “We would need a lot more evidence than this to reasonably dismiss the scientific consensus on climate change.”

    I guess we need quite a few more whistleblowers. I imagine that there has been a mass culling of e-mails among many of the proponents of global warming since this story broke. The scientists involved in climategate are pretty big names among climatologists and I doubt if their attitudes and methods are sui generis.

  • A sensible approach indeed.

  • Yes, reasonable. But I think there’s still more reason for concern. It would take very little incorrect (intentionally) data by a handful of these agenda driven scientists to corrupt the entire body of research. Much like a simple math error early on gets built upon and with every additional operation you get further from the correct answer.

    If the discussion was confined to scientific inquiry and understanding, I don’t think many lay people would be concerned about it. It becomes problematic when it’s used as a political weapon by some in an attempt effect broad and inorganic change of the social order – that which they have tried and failed to can’t achieve based on the merit.

  • Iowahawk never lacks for material these days.

    Rich L. pinpoints the problem – it’s one thing to believe that we should be good stewards of the earth and quite another to attempt to transform the entire social order. What disturbs me about the whole AGW thing is that some of its more fanatical adherents have substituted Gaia for God. Several months ago, I read of couples in the UK who bragged about having themselves sterilized to ensure they wouldn’t add any nasty little polluters to the population. At its extreme end, environmentalism strikes me as deeply anti-human. (I was going to say ‘pagan’ but the ancient pagans had fertility rites!)

  • As Blackadder noted recently, mainstream conservatism has increasingly been associated with views that can be described as ‘anti-science’ in recent years.

    You can describe them that way, but the concept is underdeveloped.

  • If any scientist “manipulates” their data their credentials should be revoked. Period.

    This situation should be thoroughly investigated. There should be “zero tolerance” for such behavior. Of what value is “peer review” when those who are “objective” are among the corrupt? I wonder how “objective” any investigation will be anyway?

    With the strong political/social attachments of many scientists, being at the behest of different organizations, inside and outside government to fund their “research”, is this actually surprising?

    Are there still people who really think that honesty is a driving force in society that means more than the bottom line? You are naive.

    There is ALWAYS some end, which is NOT synonymous with the pursuit of truth, operative in all endeavors. This indictment includes the Catholic Church as well. Corruption is everywhere.

    When intelligent whistleblowers, with significant experience in what they are trying to expose, are ignored and suppressed out of hand because what they are saying could severely impact the “status quo”, this is what you get. People get what they deserve.
    The “complainer” is sometimes correct.

  • Apparently the scientists involved in climategate were using a very poorly coded computer program as part of their efforts to measure global warming.

    http://www.di2.nu/200911/23a.htm

    The bottom line:

    “Inappropriate programming language usage.
    Totally nuts shell tricks.
    Hard coded constant files.
    Incoherent file naming conventions.
    Use of program library subroutines that appear to be
    far from ideal in how they do things when they work,
    do not produce an answer consistent with other way to calculate the same thing, but which fail at undefined times, and where when the function fails the program silently continues without reporting the error.

  • I am one of those sceptics because of how they sell Global Warming. They sell it like it is a pathology which is in the field of medince. Biomedical studies is a science, it increases the body of knowledge. What does it prove when in the Artic when a huge chunck of ice falls into the ocean. They measure the CO2 in the ice or in immissions and determine it is causing it. Pathology uses words like suffering, wound, unrepairable, but in cell pathology as I understand you always take into consideration the word healing

  • Part of the problem with the scientists involved as I understand it, is that they would not provide their data when requested and even talked about deleting it. Professionally unethical and very, very, very suspect.

  • Such has happenen in medical publications before. The journels which published the studies retracted the articles and published the reasons why. Similar should happen now if the scientists cannot present their data for independent review.

  • Let me see if I have this straight: We have some folks in the scientific community acting in an unscientific manner in furtherance of a particular agenda, and yet it is the skeptics of that agenda who, once again, are dismissed as “anti science”. The whole “I’m shocked that people continue to think in this ‘anti-scientific’ way” meme is wearing thin.

    In fact, I’m shocked that any rational person – other than those (1) pushing a particular socio-political agenda for which “global warming” proves to be a particularly convenient bogeyman or (2) pretending to be “more rational than thou” in order to impress somebody – continues to unquestioningly buy into the “science” of so-called “global warming”.

  • I was intentionally provocative with that previous post. As offensive as it may be to be accused of buying into global warming in order to either push an agenda or impress someone, it is far more offensive to skeptics of “global warming” to be accused of being “anti science”.

  • Jay,

    I don’t really think the ‘who’s insulted more’ argument is worth having. If you think that CO2 emissions are not a long-term problem (contra the scientific consensus), that’s your call, although I’m disinclined to rely on your expertise in this area. As I see it, there are three basic questions around climate change:

    1) Are CO2 emissions a long term threat to the environment? My understanding is that there is a lot of evidence suggesting they are.

    2) Can we develop models that allow us to predict with some specificity – beyond the insight that they can be a serious long term problem – how CO2 emissions interact with the environment and will affect it in the future? I think the Climategate e-mails suggest we are not as far along on this as many previously thought; at the very least, there are reasons to be skeptical.

    3) Given that CO2 emissions are a threat, what is the appropriate political response? On this question I basically side with Jim Manzi, who accepts the scientific consensus that CO2 emissions are a problem, but thinks that they are a manageable risk, which we will be able to more effectively address through technological advances and economic growth, rather than through draconian and ineffective political half-measures.

    If you have a problem with the standard views in the global warming community to questions 2 & 3, then we’re in basic agreement, although I may be somewhat less skeptical than you about question 2. If you have a problem with question 1, then I think you’re venturing into ‘anti-science’ territory – and I think this could be a real problem for conservatives at some point. As the post indicates, I don’t pretend to be an expert in this area. I think Prof. Somin outlines a reasonable way for non-experts to approach Climategate. Feel free to disagree, but I don’t think speculating about my motives does much to advance the conversation.

  • Brought to you by Climategate:

    a) data manipulation
    b) subversion of the peer review process
    c) intimidation of science journal editors
    d) persecution of skeptics
    e) revelations of a non-consensus internal to CRU models and data
    f) communications through an unelected UN panel stacked and hand-picked by CRU members
    g) millions of dollars of grant money at stake
    h) destruction of data
    i) obstruction of the freedom of information act
    j) unprofessional conduct

    I can not support the largest wealth transfer in human history based on a science so full of arrogance and pettiness. The probability of error in this group appear extreme as demonstrated by the collective conduct. Rationality has not been their primary behavior.

    Respectfully.
    John Q. Public

  • Time is getting short and it is coming down to the fact, that soon ( December 7 to December 18 ) I will have to pray to my Lord, to maintain our freedoms and that God, not allow our leaders to sign the Copenhagen Treaty, which will take away our liberties, let go and let God-this being a challenge to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ? However, while there is still time to prevent the loss of a lifetime, perhaps loss of life it’s self – I will do what I am able to fight for our freedoms! The whole Climate Change agenda is a proven fraud and racketeering, but the United Nations and Globalist governments don’t care as that is just the excuse instrument they have used to ensnare us! Has everybody out there become a tree hugger? Anyone out there want to fight and maintain their freedom anymore? Please do all you can to preserve freedom in North America!
    Check out what Government is doing behind your back at: : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VebOTc-7shU

    To request that PM Harper doesn’t sign the Copenhagen Treaty, thereby causing Canadians to lose their Sovereignty and Freedom email the PM at: [email protected]

    Any lawyers want to help out by filing this Copenhagen Treaty be classified as an illegal Treaty to help save Freedom in North America? ( Unlimited Promotion Opportunity Here For a Law firm to Gain a favorable high profile credibility! )

  • “Climategate” started out when there appeared on the Internet a collection of e-mails of a group of climatologists who work in the University of East Anglia in England. These documents reveal that some climatologists of international preeminence have manipulated the data of their investigations and have strongly tried to discredit climatologists who are not convinced that the increasing quantities of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere are the cause of global warming.

    It is true that a majority of the scientists who study climatic tendencies in our atmosphere have arrived at the conclusion that the world’s climate is changing, and they have convinced a group of politicians, some of whom are politically powerful, of the truth of their conclusions.

    A minority, however, is skeptical. Some believe that recent data that suggest that the average temperature of the atmosphere is going up can be explained by natural variations in solar radiation and that global warming is a temporary phenomenon. Others believe that the historical evidence indicating that the temperature of the atmosphere is going up at a dangerous rate is simply not reliable.

    Such lacks of agreement are common in the sciences. They are reduced and eventually eliminated with the accumulation of new evidence and of more refined theories or even by completely new ones. Such debates can persist for a period of decades. Academics often throw invective at one another in these debates. But typically this does not mean much.

    But the case of climate change is different. If the evidence indicates that global warming is progressive, is caused principally by our industrial processes, and will probably cause disastrous changes in our atmosphere before the end of the twenty-first century, then we do not have the time to verify precisely if this evidence is reliable. Such a process would be a question of many years of new investigations. And if the alarmist climatologists are right, such a delay would be tragic for all humanity.

    The difficulty is that economic and climatologic systems are very complicated. They are not like celestial mechanics, which involves only the interaction of gravity and centrifugal force, and efforts to construct computerized models to describe these complicated systems simply cannot include all the factors that are influential in the evolution of these complicated systems.

    All this does not necessarily indicate that the alarmist climatologists are not right. But it really means that if global warming is occurring, we cannot know exactly what will be the average temperature of our atmosphere in the year 2100 and what will be the average sea level of the world’s ocean in that year.

    It also means that we cannot be confident that efforts by the industrialized countries to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere will have a significant influence on the evolution of the world’s climate.

    Alas, the reduction of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere would be very costly and would greatly change the lives of all the inhabitants of our planet–with the possibility (perhaps even the probability!) that all these efforts will be completely useless.

    Harleigh Kyson Jr.

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Healthcare & Subsidiarity: Two Interpretations

Thursday, October 29, AD 2009

I’ve been thinking a bit about the principle of subsidiarity recently as it relates to health care reform. To provide some context, here is the Catechism on subsidiarity:

1883 Socialization also presents dangers. Excessive intervention by the state can threaten personal freedom and initiative. The teaching of the Church has elaborated the principle of subsidiarity, according to which “a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to co- ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good.”7

1885 The principle of subsidiarity is opposed to all forms of collectivism. It sets limits for state intervention. It aims at harmonizing the relationships between individuals and societies. It tends toward the establishment of true international order.

Despite the rancor which sometimes surrounds the health care debate in the Catholic blogosphere, it seems to me that the basic issue is different prudential judgments regarding the application of the principle of subsidiarity. I’m a bit torn between two ways to apply subsidiarity in this particular circumstance, and so I thought it might be worthwhile to explore the different positions as I understand them. 

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15 Responses to Healthcare & Subsidiarity: Two Interpretations

  • If we’re going to have to have some sort of socialized health care, why not offer vouchers to state governments. There the state legislators can deal with socialized medicine better and more effectively than the federal government.

    Granted it’s still the government, but at least each state will have different levels of socialized health care that they wish.

    For example, Massachusetts and Hawaii have something similar to what House Speaker Pelosi want to offer. Why not instead of creating one huge bureaucracy, just offer vouchers for state governments that have some sort of statewide health care system.

  • John Henry,

    Your division of the two positions are well taken and are roughly on the mark. But I think they are a bit oversimplified — or rather, I think the ‘Position 2’ is not as accurate as ‘Position 1’. The former is precisely on point; I hold Position 2 and that is not how I would describe it (or how I think most people who hold that position would describe it).

    Now I’m not saying that Catholics or anyone else must hold my view (and I hope they would extend me the same charity).

    This is how I put it when I discussed it previously:

    The principle of subsidiarity requires that social goods be met by the most local and most efficient means. This means, hypothetically speaking, if the government and private sector can both do the same task with equal efficiency in regard to one matter, it is most prudent to allow the private sector to do it and allocate government resources and energy elsewhere. But if the most local medium cannot accomplish this task, then a higher authority is obligated to offer assistance. It is a morally preferable that given the availability of health care in contemporary society, everyone should be able to both afford and receive quality health care. The private sector alone has not been able to meet this task. The cost of caring for the sick (which includes pregnant women) are so much greater than for those who are less sickly that insurance companies have strong incentives to find ways to insure only the healthy—basically, pricing the sick out of the market. As a result, it is arguably valid for the government to seek to carefully de-incentivize this.

    So far from being a rejection of subsidiarity, it is applying it appropriately to the situation. Subsidiarity is a hard principle to reconcile with solidarity and I think at times we end up with one at the expense of the others.

    So the natural question becomes this: what is ‘socialization’ and ‘collectivism’?

    I think the lack of a clear, concrete definition makes this subject to debate — no matter how tempted we are to impose a definition for the Magisterium.

    One might run into a problem with other guidelines laid out in the Catechism:

    “In the beginning God entrusted the earth and its resources to the common stewardship of mankind to take care of them, master them by labor, and enjoy their fruits. The goods of creation are destined for the whole human race. However, the earth is divided up among men to assure the security of their lives, endangered by poverty and threatened by violence. The appropriation of property is legitimate for guaranteeing the freedom and dignity of persons and for helping each of them to meet his basic needs and the needs of those in his charge. It should allow for a natural solidarity to develop between men,” (2402).

    “Political authority has the right and duty to regulate the legitimate exercise of the right to ownership for the sake of the common good,” (2406).

    My basic point here — and this is not a blanket endorsement of mainstream Democratic proposals to health care, on the contrary — is that solidary and subsidiarity seem to be at war in contemporary political discourse.

    Now if ‘collectivism’ and ‘socialization’ means a movement toward statist socio-economic policies then most certainly the principle of subsidiarity opposes this tendency firmly.

    But…

    I have become weary of appeals to subsidiarity because I find some Catholics’ understanding of the principle to be problematic in that it evolves into a totally libertarian, social Darwinistic perspective. Historically not far removed from the rise of communism and socialism, government intervention (perhaps rightly) is regarded with suspicion.

    The turning point, which I think is not at all Catholic, is when any social interest or collective good that is not totally privatized is suspicious. In some ways (and I cannot go into much detail here), but I find this thinking to be deeply rooted in legal positivist absolutism and social contract theory. In other words, it is the abandonment of ‘ought’ — I have no duties or obligations with my money unless I (as a free and autonomous person) say so. Taxation is hardly legitimate; it is “government theft” — using my money without my permission or explicit sanction from the social contract, which I must agree to.

    This tendency, from this perspective, travels into the question of collective responsibilities and interests (as well as personal ones) in regard to health care.

    I’m not sure if all of this thinking can be reconciled with the Church’s teaching. Certainly an argument can be made by what the mainstream of Democrats proposals being put forth.

    Good post Henry.

  • Tito,

    Yours is a good question. I’ll write the legislation and you go began to lobby other Congressmen to vote with us.

  • I tend toward position 1; however, I think if we are confining this to subsidiarity then the current proposals are in clear violation. Government has a history of and a tendency to ruin the things it states to do. Far too often the results are practically opposite of the stated intentions. Why should we think this would be different?

    Additionally, we already have socialized health care and it is a disaster so how can we think that growing it and centralizing it more will result in anything other than an increase in the magnitude and quantity of the problems.

    Subsidiarity as federalism allows 50 sovereign jurisdictions to compete with one another, copy the positive, and eliminate the negative. One single decision maker leaves nothing with which to compare the benefits and the pitfalls.

    This does not rule out government’s role even at the federal level because it may have to negotiate concerns between the states, provided they cannot work them out themselves.

    For example, Maryland allows abortion in the state provided health plans and mandates that private carriers offer abortion in their plans. Virginia forbids abortion. What is to stop Virginians from crossing the border to procure abortions? If Maryland and Virginia cannot resolve this problem then it would fall to the federal government. Of course, that does not mean that the VA/MD decision should apply to Illinois and Wisconsin. [This can be any other issue, abortion came to mind because John Henry said don’t think about pink elephants so all I can think about is pink elephants]

    As for position number two: The fact that medical care is a right because it can acutely address the health of the human person does not mean that ALL medical or ALL health care is a right. Nevertheless, a minimum level should be provided to everyone who CANNOT provide it for themselves. This does not mean that the medical care, health care, medical insurance, etc. of those who CAN provide for themselves should be interfered with. If the free market is at the disposal of those individuals, which will be the majority, is working well, then it must be left alone. General tax revenue, not necessarily income tax, will be adequate for providing the care for the truly indigent who are not cared for by charities. This is reserved for the truly poor (through no fault of their own) and the uninsurable (through no fault of their own). This will be a small minority of the citizenry of the USA.

    It is a far greater mistake to provide care for all at the expense of some because that is unsustainable and eventually no one will have any medical care whatsoever. As for doing something as opposed to doing nothing: Agreed. However, that something should be to remove the restrictions on the truly enterprising medical, health and insurance providers and to stop rewarding the rent-seeking corporations that used the government to impose these restrictions in the first place. Additionally without addressing the monopoly of the Federal Reserve and their perpetual inflation of the money supply as well as the trial lawyers, all other efforts to ‘fix’ health care are irrelevant.

  • I want to add that Tito directly points out an overlooked distinction that I think could have been the real compromise on this issue — in America, there is not just a federal government, there are 50 state governments that are indeed more local.

    We use the term ‘government’ but I sense we’re often alluding to the federal government.

  • Eric,

    I’d be more than happy to work with you on this. Shoot, I’ll even register as a Democrat, so you and I can both be marginalized for our fervent faith together!

  • Tito and Eric,

    Good points. It is equally important to note that we also have county and local governments. The governing authority closest to the indigent that need to be served is going to be more personal and less beaurcratic, therefore more effective.

    Additionally, local charities and charitable individuals would have more opportunity to fill the gap and probably even leave the governments out of it.

    At the federal level government is far more prone to end up serving itself with little to no recourse for the people at large. Centralization tends to oligarchy.

  • American Knight,

    And then states can decide to pass the money down to county governments or issue refunds to their state citizens.

    On another note, AK, time for you to put up a pic. Those modernist-abstract gravatars do you no justice.

  • Isn’t it important to note here the word “cannot”? Not “will not” or “are not,” but “cannot” is important to subsidiarity. Most states offer some sort of insurance to the unemployed / underemployed (I know this…my children are on it…).

    Of course, this question seems to turn on a matter of semantics. If one insists that the issue is “everyone has federal insurance” than ipso facto, no state can possibly meet the demands. On the other hand, many states do insure the needy, and many uninsured could afford their own health care, which seems to meet the demands of subsidiarity nicely.

  • Why stop at the state level? Give the vouchers to the individuals.

  • Jonathan,

    Excellent point. Like my earlier comment, Massachusetts and Hawaii already offer something like this to some degree.

    RestrainedRadical,

    That would be my favorite, send the vouchers directly to the individuals.

  • John/Tito

    Reading a little deeper nay help this discussion.

    The section on Subsidiarity runs from 1881 to 1885 and the COMPENDIUM
    OF THE SOCIAL DOCTRINE OF THE CHURCH, chapter IV section four has a more detailed discussion.

    185. Subsidiarity is among the most constant and characteristic directives of the Church’s social doctrine and has been present since the first great social encyclical. It is impossible to promote the dignity of the person without showing concern for the family, groups, associations, local territorial realities; in short, for that aggregate of economic, social, cultural, sports-oriented, recreational, professional and political expressions to which people spontaneously give life and which make it possible for them to achieve effective social growth.

    Snip

    186. The necessity of defending and promoting the original expressions of social life is emphasized by the Church in the Encyclical Quadragesimo Anno, in which the principle of subsidiarity is indicated as Nb>a most important principle of “social philosophy”.

    Snip

    On the basis of this principle, all societies of a superior order must adopt attitudes of help (“subsidium”) — therefore of support, promotion, development — with respect to lower-order societies.

    Subsidiarity, understood in the positive sense as economic, institutional or juridical assistance offered to lesser social entities, entails a corresponding series of negative implications that require the State to refrain from anything that would de facto restrict the existential space of the smaller essential cells of society. Their initiative, freedom and responsibility must not be supplanted.

    Bold text emphasis is mine.

    I think the principle of subsidiarity says a little more than saying if the lower unit can do it better it should be done at the lower level and the reverse for the higher level. Intermediate social institutions often have the right to their own decision making and operation. The fact that the higher level of society may not agree with the decisions is irrelevant, unless the problems caused rise to the level of harming the common good.

    The principle of subsidiary is rooted in the need to protect human dignity, an institution that is to large, and with out effective intermediate levels makes the individual to an anonymous cog that has no dignity. The larger unit may in an economic sense be more efficient, but if locating a funciton there tends to harm human dignity the less efficient lower level would be preferred. A good example is that while the Pope is the head of the church the bishops have authority in their own right and the Pope should not intervene in the internal operations of their diocese under normal circumstances no matter how much he disagrees. I think we all know of seveal dioceses where the ocal bishops prunential decisions scream of stupidity, but in fact the bishop, was acting in good faith with in the confines of the faith.

    When considering the common good the Churches Social teaching is that the common good protects the individual, even the least individual. Many secular people using the term see it as meaning abanding the least individual for the more efficient operation of society. Thus some secualar persons see abortion as promoting the common good by getting rid of marginal individuals. But their language is often reminiscent of Catholic teaching if one is not listening carefully, though they are often (unknowingly) promoting the opposite.

    I think that the principle of subsidiarity requires a substantial level of evidece that, not mearly health care can be run on a national level, and run more economic efficientcy at the national level but than othe levels but that it provides for individuls and their doctors to make good health care decions on the indivudual basis. I find the case lacking.

    It seems to me, that even in the doubtful case that all the claims for National Health care could be met, it would de facto restrict the existential space of the smaller essential cells of society to effectivly provide healt care to individuals.

  • There are several important prudential arguments as to why National Health Care is not a good choice from a Subsidiarity position.

    Economy of scale. Consolidating operations of any type can produce an economy of scale that allows for more efficient and effective operation. But sooner or later you reach a point of diminishing returns where the additional consolidation starts reducing efficiency and effectiveness. It seems to that part of the problem with health care is that the current organizations providing it are long past the point of diminishing returns. Further consolidation would only increase the inefficiency and effectiveness of heath care delivery.

    Predatory pricing. Monopolies engage in predatory pricing unless there something to stop them. This is often because the normal pressures on an organization push the monopoly in that direction, rather than a premeditated sense of greed. Part of the high cost of heath care that parts of the health care system are limited or quasi monopolies. Moving heath care into a monopoly can only increase this effect. Government regulation can often restrict monopolies but when the government is the operator of the monopoly the regulator and the operator are the same and the regulator function loses. No necessarily greed, just the effect of thousands of decisions responding to normal operatons.

    Living wage. The proposal will move about 20% of the economy into the governmental sector. The government gets money by taxes, even if they are called something else. Yes paying taxes is a duty, but those who levy the taxes have duties to insure they are just and do not cause harm, certainly they should not be so high as to reduce wages to the point that they are no longer a living wage. How this is to be prevented does not seem to be a major item of discussion or consideration by supporters. But a shift of this size could easily do this or cause other distortions not consistent with Catholic social teaching.

    Human dignity. R.J. Rummel, Professor Emeritus of the University of Hawaii, is one of the worlds experts on mass murder (not just genocide) by governments. His conclusion of alife time of study is that the single predictor of government committed mass is the unchallenged ability to do it. This has nothing to do with ideology, if the ability is there sooner or later it will happen. A national health care system will give that kind of unchallenged authority to the government. Not that people set out to do that, or the establishment of “death panels,” but dening care, providing poorer care of even providing fatal drugs will be an easy solution to many day to day problems. Any one who could challenge these decisions is appointed by the same people making the decisions and under the same pressures. Even if things to not rise to the level that Dr. Rommel’s theory would predict, decisions contary to the human dignity of the patients will become more and more common.
    See his power Kills website and his book Death by Government

  • Hank, excellent comments. I was especially struck by the last part of your post.

    Earlier this week, I came across this post at Belmont Club. Now, that is a secular (albeit conservative) blog and I have no idea if the author, Richard Fernandez, is a believing Christian or not. And the blog post was about the rise of the BNP in the UK, not healthcare. Nonetheless, I think this comment connects to the points you have made:

    For as long as man imagined himself to be sacred and accountable to the Creator he stood at the center of polity. The state was there to serve him and not the reverse. Today he has lost that central place and is no more or less than a collection of curiously animated chemical substances with a market value of less then fifty dollars which the state has deigned to keep alive until some bureaucratic panel decides it is too expensive to do so. Just as Global Warming can be understood at one level as an attempt to bring nature into the purview of politics, it is impossible to understand the Left’s fixation with abortion except as a sacramental affirmation of the state’s power over man. The strident insistence on abortion on demand goes way beyond any conceivable need to prevent backroom abortions, or even an affirmation of a woman’s right to choose. It is really an absolute display of the power of politics over life. Abortion’s principal utility is as a stake driven through the heart of the notion of human sacredness, which once performed, ought to prevent its revival entirely.

    That is why I wonder about left-leaning Catholics who seem to assume that a large nanny state will happily co-exist with religion. The larger the state gets, the more it will view religious groups not as valuable co-partners, but as threats to the state’s authority. Forget the Bible and the Pope – the government will tell you what is right and wrong.

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What He Said

Friday, October 2, AD 2009

Here’s Prof. David Post at the Volokh Conspiracy describing politics through an analogy to sports (the easiest way to explain anything to me):

I then said something like – “but it does seem like the overall level of defense is improving all over – I see so many great plays these days . . .” before I recognized how stupid a comment that was.  Of course I was seeing more great defensive plays than I had 10 or 20 years before – because 10 or 20 years before there had been no Sportscenter (or equivalent).  In 1992 (or whenever exactly this was), I could turn on the TV and catch 20 or 30 minutes of great highlights every night, including 5 or 6 truly spectacular defensive plays; in 1980, or 1960, to see 5 or 6 truly spectacular defensive plays, you had to watch 20 or 25 hours of baseball, minimum.  [That’s what ESPN was doing, in effect – watching 10 or 12 games simultaneously and pulling out the highlights].  It was just my mind playing a trick on me; I had unconsciously made a very simple mistake.  The way in which I was perceiving the world of baseball had, with Sportscenter, changed fundamentally, but I hadn’t taken that into account.  Without thinking about it, I had plugged into a simple formula:  Old Days:             5 spectacular plays in 25 hours of baseball watching. New Days:          5 spectacular plays in ½ hour of baseball watching. And I had reached the obvious (and obviously wrong, on reflection) conclusion that the rate of spectacular playmaking had gone up.

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17 Responses to What He Said

  • I think there’s a lot to that — plus just that people have a short political memory. When you want to talk about sheer political bile, there’s nothing like the first 40 years of the country.

  • Yeah, back when U.S. Presidents(!) wrote stuff like “the tree of liberty needs to be watered from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

  • Or when both parties made it a practice to openly question the parentage and sexual practices of the other party’s candidates in mainstream newspapers.

  • Said by Thomas Jefferson. I suspect if he had actually served in the Continental Army and participated in a battle or two he wouldn’t have been so glib about bloodshed.

    I think the political bile in our country probably reached a peak just before the Civil War. Of course it has never been particularly genteel. Truman would sometimes refer to some Republicans as fascists and Republicans would refer to Dean Acheson, Truman’s Secretary of State, a strong anti-Communist, as the “Red Dean”.

  • I agree with this theory, but an alternative view is: the anonymity of the Internet allows for more unvarnished airing of thoughts – ?

  • Well, I think there are many things going on. But I also do believe that conspiracy theories are becoming quite popular and easily spread via the internet; and once you get the theory out, the solution is “revolt” or “coup.”

    If you want to see an example of this, read the following thread from Godlikeproductions (a rather freaky place, and yet, apparently of great influence on the dark corners of the internet):

    http://www.godlikeproductions.com/forum1/message891244/pg1

  • An awful lot of politics is best understood by analogy to team sports.

  • Is our team winning?

  • Henry, you do manage to dig up the weirdest stuff. Maybe it’s influential in your circles, but I doubt if anyone else here has ever heard of that website.

  • Anon

    Godlikeproductions is currently in the throes of a major anti-Obama campaign, and is a source of many “tea party” and “Glen Beck” fans. It’s that kind of crowd. I run into all kinds of things and groups on the internet. But this is a rather big forum. I like looking at what the kook/conspiracy people are talking about — because, a few weeks later, much of what they say becomes talking points.

    I think it was someone there who originally made the first Obama-Joker poster, btw. I could be wrong, but I know that was the claim I saw.

  • Plus, look at the number of page views a day — it’s huge. Currently: 381,411 with 762 users online — at one time. This is not a small place.

  • I must admit I’ve never even been to this site and y’all didn’t get my curiousity up. I will observe one thing though. It is easy to write off the ‘conspiracy theorists’ but are we to assume all conspiracies are just kooky hypotheses? Is it possible that some are plausible theories?

    I don’t think that thinking aliens spawned man in the days before history, or even kidnapped people in the 1950s or simply blame it on the Jews is sane. Those are obviously kooky. I am referring to plausible conspiracies.

    Obviously the biggest real conspiracy is sited in Ephesians 6:12, but how is it manifested? Wouldn’t it make sense that evil men are conspiring to bring about Satan’s reign?

    McCarthy exposed the Communist conspiracy (it is still going on though). The Federal Reserve is a conspiracy. Watergate was a conspiracy. The diamond market is a conspiracy. There must be more. The difficulty is sorting the truth from myth, but I think we have to be careful not to dismiss all conspiracy theories as kooky. I am sure the conspirators like all the dissinformation and kooky theories becuase it provides them cover.

    For example Area 51, a favorit among UFO enthusiasts. I am fairly confident that their are no space aliens there, but something secret is going on. Maybe they developed the stealth technology there and used the alien cover up to keep the Sovs and other enemies confused. I’m OK with that, one of the few things I think government should keep secret is defense tech and defense intel, with Congressional oversight though – but we shouldn’t know about. That is a benign ‘conspiracy’ becuase it benefits national security. Are there others? Are some sinister?

    We have to be prudent and use proper discernment but I think outright dismissal is just as bad a mistake.

    I could be wrong because the Great Gazoo just dictated this whole post to me and he invented a machine that will destroy the space-time continuum.

  • Henry,

    A forum that has 700 people online at a time may be “not small”, but in the context of the US population, it’s certainly not large either. Plugging it into Alexa and comparing it to sites like freerepublic.com and redstate.com, it looks like godlikeproductions.com has a fair amount of traffic, though much of it from the same people visiting again and again. Comparing it to several other political and news sites, it shows up, but it’s pretty small fries.

    http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/foxnews.com+godlikeproductions.com+freerepublic.com+dailykos.com+huffingtonpost.com

    As for who came up with the Obama as Joker image, that one was broken by the mainstream media: It was a Kucinich supporter in Chicago.

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2009/08/obama-joker-artist.html

  • DC

    When talking about big, it is of course in relation to the internet. Quantcast rates it 4992 in the top 5000, and says it reaches 325K people a month. godlikeproductions.com

    http://www.quantcast.com/godlikeproductions.com

    Second, that doesn’t say he is not a member of GLP.

  • Another thing that might be playing into the effect you note is that folks are more and more willing to speak up with uneducated and/or poorly sourced opinions– for example, the other day I saw my dad get mad at the TV for the first time _EVER_ when he was looking for a news program to watch in some rare free time– MSNBC was doing a thing on the mustang roundups, and the “expert” they were interviewing stated that if these “wild animals” weren’t “saved,” they’d be butchered for dog meat right in that very state. It’s been illegal to butcher horses for years in the US, as dad knows because of the horrific abuse it results in.
    Dad didn’t get upset until the newscaster treated such a flat-ignorant statement as gospel truth– basic fact-checking should’ve stopped that, and it wasn’t even a live interview. They just couldn’t be bothered to fact-check the person they were interviewing as an expert.

    If a cable news company spreads such at best ignorant information, of course there’s going to be a lot more folks who believe deeply, honestly and honorably things that are in no way shape or form related to objective reality, just because they have a tainted information source. (Don’t get me started on Wiki…..)

  • Henry,

    Ah, thanks for setting them up on quantcast (or at least, their data wasn’t available on there last night.)

    Interesting data on what other sites those folks are into:

    Affinity
    zetatalk.com 164.0x
    whatdoesitmean.com 134.0x
    urbansurvival.com 129.1x
    surfingtheapocalypse… 128.0x
    mt.net 100.4x
    rumormillnews.com 100.3x
    conspiracyplanet.com 94.8x
    theforbiddenknowledg… 91.5x

    Looks like it appeals to a pretty generic conspiracy demographic more than a right wing one, though that doesn’t mean that among conspiracy theorists they aren’t more right leaning than left leaning. (Though of course, when you get that fringy, the two wings tend to meet. For instance, the “what if McCain is a Manchurian candidate” meme you were interested in back during the election held appeal for both right wing and left wing crazies, as I recall. Indeed, now I look at it, one of your sources was NewsMax. Might want to find better reading material…)

    300k estimated people viewing a month is certainly a large number, though of course smaller than the 1 million people per month for NationalReview.com and the 8.8 million per month for FoxNews.com. (And showing where Americas real priorities are, a full 16 million hit ESPN.com every month and 82 million hit YouTube.)

    I’ll agree it’s disturbing that 0.1% of the US population per month bother with such conspiracy mongering, though I suppose we can hope that many of them are reasonable people who just happen to follow a google link and then high tail it away with disgust once they look around a bit.

    Still, that it gets any attention at all I suppose just goes to show why no one ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the American public.

  • I’ll agree it’s disturbing that 0.1% of the US population per month bother with such conspiracy mongering, though I suppose we can hope that many of them are reasonable people who just happen to follow a google link and then high tail it away with disgust once they look around a bit.

    Don’t underestimate the entertainment value, either– I adore “Coast to Coast AM” and “PID Radio” and “Cryptomundo,” among other hidden knowlege type media… of course, I also use to like buying “Weekly World News.” (Batboy!)
    Just because folks are visiting doesn’t mean they’re agreeing.

    I kind of wonder what the effect of identity blocking measures would be on the site metrics, too– if it’s raw click-throughs, then folks who are visiting the same page several times will inflate the number, while if it’s visits-per-IP-in-a-day, the folks worried about being tracked will inflate the numbers, as would folks who click through at work and home. The more fringe-ie folks are more likely to use measures to keep from being tracked….

On Glenn Beck & Other Crazy People

Monday, September 28, AD 2009

I am allergic to political cable tv shows, talk radio, and nightly news. I cannot watch or listen to these programs for longer than fifteen minutes without subjecting anyone within earshot to a lengthy rant. And so I won’t pretend to be deeply familiar with Glenn Beck’s work. Instead, I’ll rely on Joe Carter at First Things:

There isn’t much I could add to the criticisms—from the left, right, and center—that have been made against him in the last few weeks. His recent comments have shown that he’s a naked opportunist who will say anything to get attention: If he’s on his television show on Fox he’ll pander to the audience by saying that President Obama is a racist who is ushering in an age of socialism, if not the apocalypse; then, when he is in front of Katie Couric and CBS News, he says that John McCain would have been worse for the country than Obama (which begs the question, “What exactly is worse than the socialist/communist/fascist apocalypse?”).

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100 Responses to On Glenn Beck & Other Crazy People

  • If anything, we need to keep in mind the media is not in this for us or for the ‘good.’ The media is in the drama business and will promote any sort of mass hysteria.

    You are absolutely right, Eric. When all is said and done, the raison d’etre for these programs is to sell dishwasher detergent. Perhaps Joe will have some comments about the degradations of capitalism to insert here (and they would have merit).What I find frustrating is that some Catholic conservatives either look the other way, or, worse, defend this type of cynical ratings ploy. And, of course, it goes without saying that the same is true of many Catholic liberals.

  • Apologies, Eric. It looks like I quoted part of a comment you decided to delete. If it’s ok with you, I’ll leave that quote in my comment (if not, feel free to delete the comment).

  • It’s fine John Henry. I was deleting my comment about Republicans and ended up deleting the whole thing and was too lazy to move ‘back’ so the changes would not go into effect. I just let everything be deleted. 🙂

  • Glenn Beck is trying to get the people of this country to wake up! he is doing a far better job of
    telling the truth and mobilizing folks to educate themselves on the Constitution than are many in the media. He is the parent of a child with severe cerebral palsy. Who the hell are you to judge him?
    Why don’t you get the lumber out of your own eye first before removing the speck in your neighbor’s???

  • I don’t much appreciate sensationalism from Glenn Beck, any more than sensationalism in attacking him as has been done above and on First Things. I think, John Henry if you consider a few of the sources of your post, aside from First Things you’d find that you’re actually pulling data from the loonies on the left, to attack who you’re calling a loon on the right.

    That said, I won’t defend Beck, though many of the complaints are based on out of context quotes.

    I will say, as one who sympathizes with his notion of restoring a government actually based on the founding documents, I do have some concerns about the 9/12 movement, and Glenn Beck, as well as the “5000 year leap”. I’ve just started reading it and so will perhaps have more to say another time.

  • For those interested, ‘Kate Sullivan’ is a new commenter who has never commented on any other thread. I think it’s likely that she is either a Democratic astro-turfer (who else would suggest the medical condition of one of Beck’s children places him beyond criticism?), or an overly enthusiastic Beck supporter using Google Alerts (a la the kind Joe Carter described above). All of which is a long way of saying, respond at your own risk.

  • KateSullivan: Now that is a heroic statement, honestly, we need to know what is going on. That is for certain.

    I don’t think mentioning someone has a child is saying they are beyond criticism. It’s saying, hey, he’s probably a good guy. No, I wouldn’t go marking anyone, especially with a Catholic name like “Sullivan” as saying they have found this through some questionable means. It doesn’t change the fact, that her remarks are right on the mark.

    Fox showed this morning how some public school around San Francisco showed some sort of gay oriented cartoon to kids. This is a very random example, however, I do believe it points to the fact, that we do need people out there telling us what is going on.

    I’m not into Glenn Beck, I like Hannity a lot. I don’t really get into Beck’s show that much but I’ve heard good things from him. This James Trafficant was on Hannity’s radio show today and I understand was going to be on tv. Something about Trafficant being a former congressman who got sent to prison. I have heard of him but don’t know his story.

  • Beck goes on it seems about some things, once being an alcoholic, etc. But I’ve heard him speaking about the existence of God! Spot on! It was about the first time I ever heard him as they were playing his show during the evening hours and he did indeed testify. So, although, some odd quotes seem to be taken out on him and I haven’t read his book, I’d like to see these quotes about his faith quoted. I think I’ve heard he’s a Mormon but again, he really hasn’t caught my interest that much but I don’t find fault with him. I do admit he may say somethings that sound like kneejerk reactions and seem to be made too rashly.

  • John, I tend to agree with you on political cable TV shows and talk radio, although I’ve found a singular exception to the talk radio phenomenon, a conservative who is principled and not simply in it to “sell soap”: Dennis Prager. He’s an observant Jew and a neo-con to some degree (mugged by reality as a young adult, etc.), but his show focuses only about 50% of the time on politics. The rest is society, religion, ethics, and the most random topics that tickle his fancy. For example, his producer and best friend, Allen, has the hobby of collecting honey from around the world, so once a week or so he’ll have a “honey update.” He also has an excellent segment for an hour every Friday called the “Happiness Hour,” which completely eschews political topics and focuses on the human condition.

    As a Catholic I find his views on some sexual issues too libertine (e.g., he thinks men looking at girlie magazines is normal and should be encouraged by wives to keep their husbands from straying), but otherwise he is an honest and very wise man who really enjoys digging deeply into issues and debating/discussing them with callers and guests representing a wide variety of viewpoints. Limbaugh, Beck and Hannity can’t hold a candle to him intellectually, or I would even say as hosts.

  • Beck is an entertainer above all and not to my taste. However, his popularity in the ratings is I think more attributable to the fact that he covers stories that the mainstream media simply ignores. For example he led the charge against Van Jones in the Obama administration. The first story in the New York Times about the Van Jones affair was published on the day when he resigned.

    http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/politics/Why-did-the-press-ignore-the-Van-Jones-scandal_-8210602-57658222.html

    When clowns are reporting the news because journalists are too biased to do so, people are going to be tuning in to the clowns.

  • , is there even any political benefit to defending this type of lunacy?

    I don’t really like Beck, but I don’t think the criticisms of him are completely fair. So while I will continue to not watch his television show, I don’t think jumping on anti-Beck bandwagons are completely worthwhile, not when there are much more important things to worry about. Then again, I don’t begin every day wondering how I can suck up to people who disagree with me.

  • So I express disagreement with you, Paul….and your response is to accuse me of sucking up to people I disagree with? Was I too polite? If you want me to go further, I could say something like “you’re lame and noncommittal attempts to defend Beck because he happens to be a Republican are an embarrassment, and the ‘let’s talk about something else’ routine with an ad hominem and an et tu quoque tossed in on the side reminds me of a certain Minion.

    I suppose we could trade insults and I could try and exonerate myself from the charge of being a suck up. But that’s not a very interesting subject. I’d rather just reiterate the questions I asked in the post: why do you think people like Beck are successful? Do you think there is a political benefit from this nonsense, and, even if there is, should Catholics be defending him?

  • Awww, John, did I touch a nerve? Frankly, I don’t really care about this topic, and I’m not going to delve further into this stupidity. But I’ll leave you free to criticize Beck and Limbaugh – that’s a really important priority. I mean it’s not like there are people out there defending human cloning or other things which actually may affect our lives.

    So fight the good fight, you crazy culture warrior you.

    BTW, Beck’s not even a Republican, but why waste some good sanctimony.

  • I don’t think I’ve watched Glenn Beck more than two or three times. I have explained in the past why I cannot stand even to listen to Rush Limbaugh for more than a few minutes at a time so I’m probably not missing anything by not watching Glenn Beck.

    Years ago I was chatting with a DRE in the parish I was attending at the time. He mentioned that he had once aspired to be a writer of political satire but eventually gave it up because, and I quote, “it kills your soul eventually.” And this was before the internet and blogging really took off.

    One only has to look at the effect the “take no prisoners” approach to political discourse has at times even on people like us, who are for the most part conscientious Catholics, to see what he meant. ;-(

  • The “gasoline” incident, which I just watched for the first time, would have played much better as an SNL sketch. When you can’t tell the difference between a real show and an SNL parody version, something’s wrong!

  • Paul,

    It’s true of almost every post in the history of the blogosphere that it could be devoted to something more important. If you’re not interested in a subject, just don’t comment….

  • When clowns are reporting the news because journalists are too biased to do so, people are going to be tuning in to the clowns.

    It’s a good point. The Times coverage, or, rather, lack thereof, of the Van Jones and Acorn scandals has been inexcusable. To rephrase what you said slightly, if all journalists are clowns, the ones with the most outlandish outfits will capture the viewers.

  • Never heard Beck, myself. Those who find talk radio obnoxious might try listening to William Bennett’s show occasionally. It’s generally civil and smarter than your average bear.

  • What I’m curious about is why people find this type of nonsense appealing. After all, it’s fairly obvious that elections are determined by independents and swing voters.

    People do not play those angles when they elect what to listen to on the radio. Crude radio programming is a function of declining standards of taste. The question which has been unanswered for upwards of forty years is where the bottom is.

  • Watched Beck a few times a couple of years ago. Have listened a few times on radio. Listened a few more times since the left has erected him as the new boogie man (no more Bushitler and railroading Limbaugh hasn’t worked.) Stopped listening again after a couple of shows. Too conspiritorial and over the top. Not as bad as an Olberman or Maddow. Actually more sane than them. But who will critcize the latter two?
    Has his good points. Very pro-family. And then there’s this about Obama’s asinine commment on “a baby as punishment”:

    “This is the amazing thing. This is what you can — this is what you need to take away from Barack Obama on this. What you learned from Barack Obama in, you know, I don’t want them punished with a baby is this: That he sees children as a punishment, not for everybody but for some children are a punishment. Others, children is a blessing. A child is a blessing because you are trying. You are trying to avoid it. So it’s a punishment. The point is the baby becomes an “It.” The baby is just it. So he doesn’t see the sanctity of life is something that can punish you or bless you. I’m sorry but that’s an abomination in the eyes of God as I would see it. I can’t imagine how a baby could punish you. A baby is a gift at all times. A baby is the closest to perfection that we get at all times. We should be striving to be more like that innocent child than trying to just say, I don’t want them to be punished by a baby.”

    So on this point he is a lot more sane than our President.

  • As far as Glen Beck and the value or spectacle of his cable TV show ranting, one needs only to acknowledge some of the very obvious results he has produced, some would say almost single handedly but it is safe to say that he had assistance from Hannity and Limbaugh.

    Washington DC was recently deluged with throngs of “common folks” who came from all over American to protest the sudden new intrusion of big government into their lives and openly express their objections to the policies of the current administration as well as the desire to protect the nation they love from the onslaught of a socialist agenda. Limbaugh had been educating the public and Hannity had called for the freedom express across the country but Don’t even attempt to deny that, especially if you admit you didn’t bother to watch it unfold.

    The president’s beloved and highly praised favorite community organization which he worked for and ignited his political career, ACORN, was involved in voter fraud and voter intimidation charges during the recent election. The MSM had little or nothing to say while several states had lawsuits pending against them. Many Americans who were paying attention to the issues had every right to believe ACORN had more in its agenda than “voter registration”. So who do we thank for exposing the deception and outright corruption we now know was part of Obama’s beloved before but suddenly now not that much aware of what was going on at ACORN? No one more so than the GB show!

    The agenda set for the very inexperienced Barack Obama was obviously too big for him to handle, community organizing was child’s play next to being president, so he needed lots of help if it was to “fundamentally change” America and establish his personal goal of redistribution overnight as intended. Enter the far left’s most radical group of elitists and Marxist leaning liberals along with the usual batch of Washington insiders. The anointed one, possibly at the urging of the many “catholic” cronies flocking to help the most pro-abortion president in history, quickly assembled and incorporated “Czar City” for “The One”. These Bishops of Bureaucracy were given lots of money and the power to spend it anywhere to further the Marxist inspired presidents “social justice” initiatives. Oops! The Audacity of Arrogance, scum rose to the surface. Van Jones the race baiting self proclaimed Communists somehow had taken a seat beside the president as the MSM continues to ignore their job. So how will the American people be privileged to the truth?
    Enter Glen Beck! You can’t deny he has been accused of personally exposing this heavy handed Obamination.

    Now as far as Beck sounding crazy and causing a ruckus, well a while back I seem to remember the liberals in their inevitable way of trying to persuade the hearts of Christians to their point of view to compare them to Jesus the “radical” as a “community organizer”.
    Now children , back to reality on the count of three 1 2 3
    Mmm Mmm Mmm Barack Hussein Obama Mmm Mmm Mmm

  • For the record I really don’t like any of the talking heads on TV or radio, Beck, Hannity, Limbaugh, Levin, O’Reilly, Meadows, etc.. How anybody can listen to an a**-**** like Levin for more than 30 seconds is beyond me. There use to be a time in the early ’90’s when I found Limbaough to be extremely entertaining, but then he began to believe his own press and merely became the drug and vice addicted shill of the Republican party.

    However, I find it extremely interesting that Beck was never criticized by fellow “conservatives” as long as he was defending the Bush war and torture atrocities and Bush’s building an ofincreasingly bigger and intrusive Federal government and called crazy those on the right those who criticised Bush, e.g. Ron Paul, crazy.

    It is only now that Beck is increasing in his criticism of the Republican party that he is being increasingly criticised by his fellow “conservatives”. He has had the audacity to point out that big givernment is not the fault of Democrats alone. Would McCain have been worse than Obama – yes, because he would have advanced basically the same programs – perhaps at a slower pace and under different names – but he would not have faced resistance from the Republicans and conservatives because he was one of them. Just as Nixon was able to flush Taiwan down the toilet because he was an “anti-communist” and Bush was able to push Socialist corporate bail -outs through with minimal Republican opposition. Government continues to grow no matter who is in power. Presidents continue to accumulate executive powers no matter what party they belong to. They just use different rataionalizations and move at different speeds.

  • John Henry,


    When clowns are reporting the news because journalists are too biased to do so, people are going to be tuning in to the clowns.

    It’s a good point. The Times coverage, or, rather, lack thereof, of the Van Jones and Acorn scandals has been inexcusable. To rephrase what you said slightly, if all journalists are clowns, the ones with the most outlandish outfits will capture the viewers.

    You didn’t rephrase what he said, you changed it. Regardless of a degree of ‘clownishness’, people listen to Beck because of the news that the MSM does not present.

  • All right, let me try this with a little bit less snark. Here’s where I’m coming from – I am not a particular fan of Beck. I used to listen to his radio show from time to time when he was on in DC, and he wasn’t quite as, well, crazy as he is now. He hasn’t been on in this market for probably about a year, and the Fox show is on at a time when I am almost never home. This was the first time I had seen much of it, and I am not really impressed. I think he is hyperbolic, and frankly his idol seems to be William Shatner at least when it comes to over-acting.

    My only point is that I think there is an over-reaction against him as well. I really don’t see him as being any kind of particular threat to the well-being of the republic, nor am I much concerned that he’s doing the conservative cause any significant harm. In the grand scheme of things, he probably attracts as many people as he repels, and perhaps actually gains more, but I can’t prove that one way or the other. When there are so many worse pundits out there – people who are advocating things like cloning and genetic engineering and all sorts of horrible things, why waste this much ink on people like Beck. I recognize that not all blogging has to be about one thing – you can certainly castigate me for putting up posts about the red zone channel rather than the situation in Honduras. But when I see these kinds of posts again and again, it gets wearying.

    One last thing. I found your reaction a little funny because when I cross-posted my thoughts on Back on Southern Appeal, his defenders acted as though I had blasphemed. And now your reaction is to say that I am (tepidly) defending him. It’s all a matter of perspective I guess.

  • JH,

    If you’re not interested in a subject, just don’t comment….

    It’s you’re thread man, but a comment to the extent that too much concern is placed in an area to the distraction of others is a completely legitimate opinion that deserves to be heard.

  • Awakaman: I was not aware that the Congressionally Approved Iraq War is exclusively Bush’s War. Furthermore, we do see the Washington Post has in fact, defended the use of enhanced torture techniques versus the unpatriotic Americans who would not mind seeing our citizens blown to smithereens.

  • TomNSDAPSVDP:

    I agree TomNSDAPSVDP the Democrats have just as much blood on their hands as the Republicans do for these unjust and bloody wars. War=bigger and stronger federal government and that is something to which both parties can agree.

    So, TomNSDAPSVDP, the Washington post is now your Magisterium? How special! Who are these unpatriotic Americans you’d like to have enhanced torture techniques used on? I’m sure that your list would differ from that of the Obama administration. Please give specific instances where American lives have been saved through the use of torture.

  • John Henry said: “If you’re not interested in a subject, just don’t comment.”

    One could hardly blame Paul for commenting when it was YOU who linked to his post and, unfairly in my view, accused him of offering “tepid support” for someone of whom he had been somewhat critical.

    Paul said: “It’s all a matter of perspective I guess”

    Paul,
    It’s a matter of triangulation. If Tony A looks bad, and you, on the other end of the political spectrum, get compared to him (i.e. you also look bad), then guess who comes out smelling like a rose by comparison?

    There are a lot of Douthat/Dreher/Brooks/Frum copycats popping up these days. They see the mileage that those guys have gotten from triangulating to make themselves look “reasonable” by comparison.

    John Henry and I have discussed this before, and we’ve both made our positions on the matter clear. I certainly wish him no ill will, and we probably agree on far more than we disagree, but I disagree with him on how he chooses to handle these particular situations.

    For the record, I didn’t even know what Beck looked like until I saw a photo of him on the internet a few weeks back. I don’t watch Fox News (or any TV news programming for that matter). And I don’t listen to (nor do I particularly care for) Rush Limbaugh. So, on that basis, I hope it is clear that I am not offering “tepid support” for any of them.

    I agree with you, Paul, that this triangulation BS wherein a few self-appointed “reasonable” conservatives feel they must denounce “those people” in order to maintain some semblance of credibility (with whoever they’re trying to remain credible) is beyond wearying.

    I have absolutely no connection to the afore-mentioned media personalities or organizations because they are not even on my radar screen. I don’t care for them, but neither do I feel particularly compelled to denounce them either. And those who act as though I have some such obligation are playing with a sick form of guilt by association. I won’t denounce Fox or Beck or Limbaugh, primarily, because I don’t dance to their drummer in the first place (so why should I feel so compelled since they’re no reflection upon me to begin with?) And I won’t denounce Fox or Beck or Limbaugh, secondarily, because neither do I dance to the drummer of their detractors.

    I’m not playing that game.

  • Jay Anderson,

    You (and Donald) articulated my feelings exactly.

    I’d like to throw in there Mark Shea who seems to get a lot of traction attacking traditional Catholics and conservatives on the most minuscule of issues.

  • Awakaman can not argue, NSDAP stands for Nazi. I will not address you! But when you fly lies which is the reason for this person’s sordid and sorry personal attacks I will address it.

    Anti-War Nuts say torture: Well, it would be torture to even go to a minimum security prison. I am sorry that you can not make any kind of argument without resorting to the most vile personal attacks.

    And by the way, you take issue with my using the word “Unpatriotic Americans”, well you started it by saying “Bush’s War” when European Intelligence showed Saddam was trying to get everything to make Weapons of Mass Destruction. Likewise, is labelling torture the same kind of technique.

    http://www.commentarymagazine.com/viewarticle.cfm/morality-and-enhanced-interrogation-techniques-15125

    The Washington Post indeed does represent a liberal view in this nation. If they see Enhanced Interogation as having thwarted terrorists attacks, it shows you really are digging to start hurling personal attacks at someone. Better to keep your closed and narrow mind to yourself.

  • Awakaman: My heritage is Polish. There is no country that felt the wrath of the Nazis more and murdered many of on par with their other victims, Jews, Gypsies etc.

    SVDP get it through your mind means St. Vincent De Paul of Charity.

    You have no shame and you have no integrity.

  • John Henry,

    I agree with you on this topic in full.

    Glen Beck is an embarrassment. I dislike him for the same reason I dislike Sarah Palin: his appeal is to the mob, to the lower and baser instincts in man.

    Appeals to man’s lower nature are almost always more profitable than any attempt to elevate or enlighten. Like Sarah Palin, Glen Beck doesn’t challenge you. If you agree with him, you’ll love him. If you don’t, you’ll hate him. But one thing you’ll probably never do with either of those two is say, “hmm, I never thought of it that way before”, or “hmm, now there’s an idea that, even though I am of the opposite political persuasion, I think I can accept”.

    This I understand, for all movements need such types. The troops must be rallied. But as in all things, there is a hierarchy of priorities. When rallying the troops becomes of far greater importance than trying to build a broader tent, priorities are out of order.

    Neither the Republican Party nor conservatism – in spite of whatever anger at Obama might be unleashed in 2010 (backlash is always out there) – will not survive in the long run if its public face is Palin/Beck. It will rightfully be regarded as a shrinking sect of angry, aging, white reactionaries who won’t surrender even an inch of ground for the sake of political progress.

    Obama’s appeals to common ground might sound hollow to some, and he may not even take them that seriously himself, but they still need to be made. Political polarization is NOT something we want. As Catholics we cannot compromise on life issues – on everything else, we really must reject party lines and forge new solutions.

  • Tom:

    My grandparents came from Poland also. My grandfather fought in the anti-bolshevik wars after WWI. I agree that Poland suffered greatly under Nazism due to torture and war. But the lesson I learned from that was not to engage in such tactics with others no matter what the supposed justification.

    Invoking the name of St. Vincent DePaul of Charity to advance war and torture? How can you seriously ask who lacks shame and intgrity here? May SVDP pray for you.

    Well, I’ve sidetracked these comments enough. Back to work.

  • Joe,

    t will rightfully be regarded as a shrinking sect of angry, aging, white reactionaries who won’t surrender even an inch of ground for the sake of political progress.

    tell it to the million or so people who marched on the Capitol a couple weeks ago.

    You’re a thoughtful guy Joe, look beyond the emotion, and see what the underlying principles he’s putting out there are.

    9 Principles, 12 Values

    9 Principles, 12 Values

    The 9 Principles
    1. America Is Good.

    2. I believe in God and He is the Center of my Life.
    God “The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.” from George Washington’s first Inaugural address.

    3. I must always try to be a more honest person than I was yesterday.
    Honesty “I hope that I shall always possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider to be the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.” George Washington

    4. The family is sacred. My spouse and I are the ultimate authority, not the government.
    Marriage/Family “It is in the love of one’s family only that heartfelt happiness is known. By a law of our nature, we cannot be happy without the endearing connections of a family.” Thomas Jefferson

    5. If you break the law you pay the penalty. Justice is blind and no one is above it.
    Justice “I deem one of the essential principles of our government… equal and exact justice to all men of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political.” Thomas Jefferson

    6. I have a right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, but there is no guarantee of equal results.
    Life, Liberty, & The Pursuit of Happiness “Everyone has a natural right to choose that vocation in life which he thinks most likely to give him comfortable subsistence.” Thomas Jefferson

    7. I work hard for what I have and I will share it with who I want to. Government cannot force me to be charitable.
    Charity “It is not everyone who asketh that deserveth charity; all however, are worth of the inquiry or the deserving may suffer.” George Washington

    8. It is not un-American for me to disagree with authority or to share my personal opinion.
    On your right to disagree “In a free and republican government, you cannot restrain the voice of the multitude; every man will speak as he thinks, or more properly without thinking.” George Washington

    9. The government works for me. I do not answer to them, they answer to me.
    Who works for whom? “I consider the people who constitute a society or a nation as the source of all authority in that nation.” Thomas Jefferson

    The 12 Values
    * Honesty
    * Reverence
    * Hope
    * Thrift
    * Humility
    * Charity
    * Sincerity
    * Moderation
    * Hard Work
    * Courage
    * Personal Responsibility
    * Gratitude

    I’m not sure if you agree with all of them, but they’re worth discussing. It would be much better to look at this rationally then to just jump on the bandwagon of visceral reaction.

    I started reading “The 5000 Year Leap”, while I am cautious about it, so far it’s very good, I’ll have more to say about that later.

    For the record: I listen to Laura Ingraham, Bill Bennett, Michael Medved, Mike Gallagher, and Hugh Hewitt mostly, along with Praeger sometimes. I take each one with varying grains of salt. I don’t watch or listen to Beck’s show, nor Hannity very often. My interest is mainly about principles, not particular policies.

  • Ok, lets look at these nine principles.

    1. It depends. To take that as axiomatic is simply impossible. America has done evil things – one can say that slavery wasn’t unique to America but what I think was unique was the Constitutional reduction of black people to something less than human, something no classical slave society ever did so formally. Then there is the treatment of Native Americans. And there are a few other issues. Point is – America is not built on goodness alone, and NO country is.

    2. As far as I am concerned, it is idolatrous to have this as number 2 behind “America is good”. God is good – America is made up of human beings with free will who can and often have chosen evil, like all other peoples in all other countries.

    3. Ok.

    4. Ok – but society (meaning neighbors and extended family, if not the state as well) has a right to intervene in cases of manifest abuse and neglect.

    5. Ok, provided only that the punishment is proportionate to the crime. Justice can be blind but it must also be, to what extent it can, merciful.

    6. Of course. No one really wants equal results. Even Marxists don’t want equal results. What I want is an established minimum and maximum within which there can be variation.

    7. Everyone has a moral obligation to contribute to the common good, including, but not limited to, the payment of taxes. That is in the Catechism and cannot be thrown aside.

    Catholic social teaching has established that the state has a role to play in promoting the common good. Government cannot force you to be charitable in your heart, but it can morally compel you to contribute to the common good. HOW the money is spent, we can debate, yes – but NOT whether or not it is moral to collect and distribute it at all.

    If you wish to have it out on this particular topic, my recommendation is that we do it on a new post that I will make upon your request.

    8. Of course.

    9. That sounds nice, but I don’t make any plan of action on that premise.

  • For me, it’s not about party. I’m a member of no political party. I denounce plenty of so-called “conservative” postitions on the issues when I disagree with them (which is a lot, by the way – see, e.g., immigration, waterboarding, war, etc.). But I denounce them on my own terms, not as part of someone else’s feeding frenzy.

    I’m just not into playing the game, which, at its core, is a sort of guilt by association: you MUST denounce this person or else have the face of your entire movement tarnished (i.e. you don’t want to be one of the “other crazy people” alongside Beck/Limbaugh/Palin/etc., do you?). It’s Alinsky 101 (actually, it’s Alinky’s Rule 12):

    “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)”

    Demonization. Sorry, not going there, whether it’s President Obama being demonized or Governor Palin being demonized. Or whether it’s Fox, Beck, and Limbaugh or MSNBC, Olbermann, and Maddow.

    I don’t see the need to continue to denounce and demonize and disassociate. And I’m not going to do it. Or at least not on someone else’s terms and as part of someone else’s agenda because they think I need to speak up lest I be “tarnished” by association.

  • “But I denounce them on my own terms, not as part of someone else’s feeding frenzy.”

    I respect that fully. For my part I don’t demand denunciations of a person in order to befriend them or work with them. I don’t like Sarah Palin but there are plenty of people who like her that I do like.

    So I’m with you on this 🙂

  • Beck certainly was not responsible for calling Obama a racist just for the remark of calling Police stupid, however, when you combine that with Obama making “Special Olympics” jokes on that one late night show, I definitely consider that a bigotted statement against challenged individuals. Likewise, sometimes bigotry is okay as the course, crude remarks Letterman made about Sarah Palin who to her credit, after Obama’s attack on handicapped children, Palin said how special her child was who was inflicted. Liberals tend to dislike someone who did not opt for their sacrament of abortion. She challenges their secular beliefs. Making jokes about mentally or physically challenged people just appeals to the lowest and most crude instincts of mob mentality.

    Gerald Ford never was a stumbler in any way, yet, Saturday Night Live had no problem doing all of those skits and Chevy Chase himself said that was to help elect a new president. With the Mainstream Media so biased, Glenn Beck and his like offer a valid alternative. This is what the left does not like, counter opinions.

  • What Jay said.

  • One could hardly blame Paul for commenting when it was YOU who linked to his post and, unfairly in my view, accused him of offering “tepid support” for someone of whom he had been somewhat critical.

    Ok…did you miss the part where Paul left three comments and wrote a post for two different blogs about a subject, then insulted me for talking about it? I wasn’t criticizing him for commenting, but rather for commenting multiple times about how irrelevant it was, having posted on the subject himself. If it’s that irrelevant and not worth talking about…then why is he talking about it so much?

    It’s a matter of triangulation. If Tony A looks bad, and you, on the other end of the political spectrum, get compared to him (i.e. you also look bad), then guess who comes out smelling like a rose by comparison?

    This is just b.s. I criticized Paul’s method of disputation – an ad hominem and a ‘let’s talk about something else’. Sure I pointed out that it is the exact same thing Tony A does, but it wasn’t to make myself look good. It was because Paul’s argument was erroneous in the same way Tony A’s are. I’m not trying to curry favor with anyone (unlike, for example, Conor Friedersdorf, who’s trying to make a career out of this).

    There are a lot of Douthat/Dreher/Brooks/Frum copycats popping up these days. They see the mileage that those guys have gotten from triangulating to make themselves look “reasonable” by comparison.

    Again, this is b.s. I’m not writing to get paid or to make a name for myself or to get mileage, any more than you’re writing to improve you’re street cred. Blogs are completely irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. I get no benefit from this, I’m just expressing my opinion.

    For the record, I didn’t even know what Beck looked like until I saw a photo of him on the internet a few weeks back. I don’t watch Fox News (or any TV news programming for that matter). And I don’t listen to (nor do I particularly care for) Rush Limbaugh. So, on that basis, I hope it is clear that I am not offering “tepid support” for any of them.

    For someone trying not to support them, you sure are intent on attacking anyone who criticizes them.

    I agree with you, Paul, that this triangulation BS wherein a few self-appointed “reasonable” conservatives feel they must denounce “those people” in order to maintain some semblance of credibility (with whoever they’re trying to remain credible) is beyond wearying.

    Again, my on-line credibility is not the issue; the issue is that I find people like Beck repulsive. Listening and watching that stuff is like taking a long, hot bath in a large tub of stupid. Some people can’t tell the difference, but imo the people who can should point out that these types of shows are pernicious.

    I have absolutely no connection to the afore-mentioned media personalities or organizations because they are not even on my radar screen. I don’t care for them, but neither do I feel particularly compelled to denounce them either. And those who act as though I have some such obligation are playing with a sick form of guilt by association. I won’t denounce Fox or Beck or Limbaugh, primarily, because I don’t dance to their drummer in the first place (so why should I feel so compelled since they’re no reflection upon me to begin with?) And I won’t denounce Fox or Beck or Limbaugh, secondarily, because neither do I dance to the drummer of their detractors. I’m not playing that game.

    Yeah, but you are playing the game, Jay. You’re just as involved as anyone else. You just wrote several hundred words and two comments attacking me for criticizing them. I didn’t bring you up in the post or link to you; you just decided to comment. I didn’t implicate you. If you want to criticize people including me for criticizing Beck, be my guest. But don’t claim that I’m trying to force you to comment, then say you won’t comment, then comment, and then criticize me for forcing you to comment when I never addressed you in the first place.

  • John Henry:

    I actually took the time to read *all* of the combox entries before I responded to your post, to ensure that I wasn’t merely parroting someone else’s much more sage rendition.

    I have a problem with, not just you, but *anyone* criticizing a public figure like Beck or Limbaugh with no background for doing so. It’s as bad as the mischaracterization of the Church that goes on every day by folks who don’t know what we teach and believe (only what they’ve been told or *assume* we teach or believe).

    I think it’s a good idea to listen to someone for a time before lambasting them as “crazy”. Does Beck have some “interesting” ways of presenting info? Sure. Does he employ theatrical devices to make his point(s)? Sure. But is he the political right’s equivalent of a 9-11 truther? I don’t think so.

    Beck’s criticism of Vann Jones was, by all appearances, spot-on. His analysis of things that are going on in the Obama administration? At least plausible (I found this morning’s exposition of the relationship between the President and the head of the development organization responsible for Chicago’s Olympic bid interesting, to say the least).

    Glenn Beck is a radio personality. He is not a mouthpiece for the Republican party, in my estimation, mainly because he criticizes them too much. But all of that falls into the realm of Personal Opinion, and is not germaine to the discussion.

    What *is* germaine is this: how can we, as followers of Christ, publicly lambast even a *public* figure only on the basis of third-party testimony? I’m not sure, but it seems like that would be scandalous, at minimum.

    Here’s my challenge: Listen to him for a week or two. Actually spend the time separating the things that are said for their comedic value, and things that are put forward seriously. The man’s show tag-line is “The fusion of information…and entertainment>” It is up to *us*, as listeners/viewers, to discern the line between the two. N’est-ce pas?

  • Btw, let me be clear that Jay and I probably agree on 80%-90% of matters related to public policy. We’re basically having a meta-level disagreement about how debate plays out in the public sphere; I don’t think it’s completely unimportant (obviously), but it’s pretty small beer in the grand scheme of things. Maybe it would be better discussed over a large Shiner’s than in a com-box.

  • Ok…did you miss the part where Paul left three comments and wrote a post for two different blogs about a subject, then insulted me for talking about it?

    I wrote one post, then simply put it on another blog. That’s not writing two posts. And I’m not insulting you for talking about it, I am criticizing you for harping on the evils of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh when there are other more important issues to tackle.

    This is just b.s. I criticized Paul’s method of disputation – an ad hominem and a ‘let’s talk about something else’.

    For someone trying not to support them, you sure are intent on attacking anyone who criticizes them.

    You see, this is your problem, John. You express all this sanctimony about civility in discourse, and then you basically excoriate anyone who doesn’t feel exactly as passionately about the issue as you. Jay, myself, Donald and others have all said the same thing – we don’t much care for Beck, but we don’t think that he merits the derision thrown his way. And for that we’re labeled as defenders of Beck because we simply don’t hate him and think him as dangerous as you do. This is like all of the BDS-afflicted leftists who made it sound like anyone who didn’t hate Bush with as much passion as they did was a Bush sycophant.

    the issue is that I find people like Beck repulsive.

    That’s your prerogative. Where you go off the rails, again, is getting all huffy when we don’t exactly share your sentiment.

  • Well, I have read about Beck, but I have never watched his show. Too busy at the office when his show is being broadcast. This thread has awakened my curiosity. I guess if we are going to debate the man it might be a good idea to have a sample of his show. Here he is on Obama’s science czar.

  • I wrote one post, then simply put it on another blog.

    In other words, you wrote “a post for two different blogs,” right? What am I missing there?

    I am criticizing you for harping on the evils of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh when there are other more important issues to tackle.

    Again, Paul. There are nearly always more important issues to tackle. The same could be said of nearly every post in the history of this or any other blog. As I said, I don’t find this criticism particularly helpful.

    you basically excoriate anyone who doesn’t feel exactly as passionately about the issue as you.

    Uh, no. I didn’t excoriate anyone. I said I thought Beck deserved more criticism than you provided. And I objected to you taking personal shots at me rather than addressing the subject matter of the post.

    And for that we’re labeled as defenders of Beck because we simply don’t hate him and think him as dangerous as you do.

    That’s a complete distortion, Paul. First of all, I didn’t say anything about Don, much less label him a defender of Beck. I agreed with and quoted his comment above approvingly. I didn’t call Jay a defender of Beck, although I may have implied above after he he accused me of being an opportunistic triangulator for having the temerity to criticize Beck. With regard to you, I said that your post amounted to a tepid defense of Beck. Feel free to dispute that characterization. But don’t accuse me of saying things I didn’t say about people I didn’t say them about.

    This is like all of the BDS-afflicted leftists who made it sound like anyone who didn’t hate Bush with as much passion as they did was a Bush sycophant.

    Well, it might be like that if I said the things you accuse me of saying. But I didn’t.

  • Chip,

    I appreciate your comments, and that you took the time to read through the thread. As I said, I am not deeply familiar with Beck, but I have seen several clips of him, and I’ve read quite a bit about him. I was careful in the post to link to several people who are more familiar with his work. I will try as you suggest to catch his show once or twice in the next two weeks – I’m on travel for work, so it should be manageable. I probably won’t post on this again, though. I find the weird dynamic of people attacking me for criticizing Beck, even though they don’t want to be called defenders of Beck a little wearying.

  • But don’t accuse me of saying things I didn’t say about people I didn’t say them about.

    Whatever John. You malign my motives, accuse me of not providing quite a Catholic enough critique of Beck, and generally distort what I have written, but far be it from me to accuse you of saying things you haven’t said. It’s getting cold here in the north, and I can use the warm glow of your sanctimony to keep me comfortable.

  • Joe Hargrave Tuesday, September 29, 2009 A.D. at 11:01 am
    “John Henry,
    “Glen Beck is an embarrassment. I dislike him for the same reason I dislike Sarah Palin: his appeal is to the mob, to the lower and baser instincts in man”.

    Interesting. GKC remarked that it the mob – with its low and basic instincts – [lege human instincts] – which is the basis of democracy.

  • Paul,

    I appreciate you rescuing me from having a monopoly on sanctimony. You did accuse me of saying things I didn’t say; and I invited you to correct my interpretation of your remarks. Why the attitude?

  • Joe,

    I think I would have preferred that Gov. Palin and her daughter ignore requests for interviews from People magazine. That aside, just what is ‘low’ and ‘base’ about her?

  • Joe Hargrave writes Tuesday, September 29, 2009 A.D.
    “I don’t like Sarah Palin but there are plenty of people who like her that I do like”.

    If I may respectfully suggest, all this talk about liking someone or not liking them is more fit for a television psychology afternoon show. [I name no names].

    What has “like” or “dislike” to do with the discussion? Do you dislike Mrs. Palin because of her hairdo? her glasses?

    Come, come. Get off the personal reaction and discuss the issues.

  • Why the attitude?

    Gee, can’t think of any reasons.

    And, even if there are political benefits, shouldn’t we see more Catholics denouncing people like Beck, rather than offering tepid defenses?

    attempts to defend Beck because he happens to be a Republican

    So you impugn my Catholic credentials because I refuse to condemn Beck (I hardly defended him – if what I said is a defense I’d hate to see how you’d react to this post), but that’s neither here nor there. You then falsely accuse me of coming to Beck’s defense because he’s a Republican, which is ridiculous especially if you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time. I have absolutely no qualms about attacking Republicans, and for about a six month stretch this year I think I put up more posts attacking the GOP than the President, which I now kind of regret.

    Finally, I am somewhat, I don’t know, bemused that you spend so much time attacking Beck for his over-the-top rhetoric, yet in this very thread you have one commenter calling another a Nazi, and that you pass over in silence.

  • “I find the weird dynamic of people attacking me for criticizing Beck, even though they don’t want to be called defenders of Beck, a little wearying.”

    It’s not the criticism of Beck. At least not for me.

    For me, it’s the notion that people are feeling compelled to “denounce” people like Beck or else be seen as offering “tepid defenses” or, worse, being cast as part of a “crazy fringe”. For example, I saw a clip the other day where Joe Scarborough said that every time he had a prominent Republican or conservative on his show he was going to put them on the spot and get them on the record either denouncing Beck or else being seen as expressing support for him. (Never mind that it’s my understanding that Beck isn’t even a Republican or a conservative.) That’s just a form of guilt by association. Next, I suppose Scarborough will ask them when they stopped beating their wives.

    And it’s not that I don’t want to be called a defender of Beck, it’s that I wouldn’t even know what I was defending if I were defending him (I’ve never watched him … I didn’t even watch Don’s video posted above). It’s not that I don’t want to be called a defender of Beck; it’s that I’m not actually defending him.

    My whole point is that the denunciation game is getting wearying. I’m tired of watching what can only be called a “movement” on the right to cast out the “wrong kind” of conservatives. Whether it’s calling Palin “a cancer” (by Brooks) or Bob Novak being called unpatriotic (by Frum, not to mention any number of recent Frum attacks on those whose “conservative” credentials are far more impeccable than anything Frum has to offer).

    Ideas and policies, I’m all up for discussing and even denouncing. Personalities? Not so much.

  • Thanks Jay, for putting it a little more eloquently than I did.

  • Thanks, Don, for posting the video. My mother absolutely adores Beck and has been admonishing me to watch him all year. Now I can finally say that I have! And he did a pretty nice job taking down Holdren and Erlich.

    Beck may be a first class jerk and opportunist, heck if I know. But let me ask you this, John Henry. Why not spend some time taking down Holdren rather than going after putative crazy people. The truth is Beck isn’t a danger to anyone, really, but Holdren is.

  • As a person who sometimes listens to Beck and Limbaugh, and finds them entertaining and informative, I admit I get a kick out of their outrageousness . Not being Republican, (or even American) I perhaps miss what the benefit of going after these guys might be. Is there one?

    Personally I appreciate that I have someone to listen to that has some of the same concerns I do about the culture of death and the repression of personal freedom… and they give me the occasional belly laugh as well.

    I have to say, as a Canadian, I don’t much care for the ‘David Frum’ approach. Seems to me there should be lots of room for free expression without unnecessary chastisement by ‘intellectual’ elites. Also, as a (non-aligned small-c) conservative Canadian I perhaps enjoy the vicarious employment of free expression a bit more than Beck’s detractors do.

    pax

  • Is Glenn Beck the problem with conservatism today?

    I don’t think so. Popular pundits play toward popular opinion – they always have and they always will. You have to consider them for what they are. They’re not austere scholars; they’re part entertainers, part opinion-makers.

    Anyone who takes them more seriously than this, I think, is mistaken.

  • Don’t mind Awakaman’s remarks. I should not have said unpatriotic Americans but on the other hand, it was way off topic. Dennis Miller is probably correct in saying something like “who cares about these Terrorists”… that’s fine, we heard last week, Abortion was legal per the Constitution just the way, Slavery was legal per the constitution, a Slave was 2/3rds of a human being. This is what the Democrats stood for. Are we making progress??

  • I don’t have cable. I have only seen YouTube clips of Beck and since those are taken out of context I am not going to express an opinion until I actually see his show. I don’t feel qualified to say much about Limbaugh either, since I’ve only spent about 5 minutes of my life listening to him. Contrary to what many liberals seem to think, all conservatives are not spoon-fed opinions by Beck and Limbaugh.

    However, Beck performed a great service by reporting on the Van Jones story and ACORN. What’s the greater evil here – that Beck may sometimes say extreme things or that certain ACORN workers did not appear to have much of a problem with 13 year old prostitutes? Who else was reporting on those stories? Not the “respectable” NY Times.

  • I am not trying to change the subject, but what I am really finding disturbing today is how many in Hollywood are defending admitted rapist Roman Polanski on the grounds that he is a great artist who has suffered tragedies in his life, etc.

    Whoopi Goldberg saying that the drugging and forcible sodomizing of a 13 year old was not “rape rape” is many degrees more disturbing than anything Beck has said.

    HuffPo has quite a few articles up defending Polanski. The heartening thing is that HuffPo’s own liberal readers disagree and are (mostly) agreed that Polanski should face the music.

    The dividing line on this one does not appear to be left/right but the artistic/media elite vs. everyone else. Don’t any of those people have daughters?

  • TomSVDP,
    It looks to me like awakaman Godwin’s Law’ed himself out of relevance early on, actually. Such overreaction to a little criticism betokens a mighty thin skin.

  • Off-topic or not, Donna–Amen! And a very intriguing observation about the divide.

  • Glenn Beck, by his own admission is NOT a journalist. He is an entertaining commentator. The frightening things is that he is a better journalist than most who claim to be.

    If anyone expects to agree with everything he says then they are going to be sorely dissappointed – that just isn’t possible.

    For most of us on this site it is ABSOLUTELY impossible. He is a Mormon convert. Nevertheless, he is an America loving patriot and he is right about many issues. Republicans suck. Democrats suck. And the rest of us DO SURROUND THEM.

    Do I like his 912 project? Not really, but then again I am more informed than most people. I also happen to be a news junkie. Not everyone’s cup of tea. That’s OK. What Beck has been able to do is amazing. People that had no interest in politics. People who don’t know the difference between Iran and Iraq, those who haven’t read the Constitution, etc. are NOW paying attention and getting active. That is great becuase we are duty-bound to participate in our own governance.

    If you defend him rabidly all the time you are probably nuts, if you attack him rabidly all the time you are definitely nuts. If you can respect his influence and that it is mostly positive and beneficial then you have seen his show, read his books and/or listened to him on the radio.

    If you haven’t then you are buying into the packaged spin and sound bites about him. The fact that everyone is attacking him, tells me he’s on to something and the twisted, lost, confused leftist anti-God establishment in this country is scared.

    Good.

    Also, do not confuse the messenger and the message. Beck has an odd sense of humor and some honest quircks that belong on a radio morning show and not prime time TV. I get it — I enjoy it. Some won’t. Don’t let that make you miss what he says. Sometimes, he’s off his rocker. Most of the time, he makes a great deal of sense.

  • Donna V.

    The Holy Father tells us to watch out for the dictatorship of relativism. That dictatorship already owns Hollyweird.

    Polanski didn’t rape the 13 year-old girl. She wanted it. As the adult he obviously knew that before he proceeded to violate her. We Americans are so prude. What’s wrong with a little underage sex?

    If you think the above is sick then you haven’t seen a Hollywierd movie in the last two decades. This is exactly what they promote. How can they see anything wrong with what he did since that is what their craft is all about these days.

    That’s like asking the toilet to be offended because there is fecal matter in it.

  • Um, no more comments about Polanski here. Jay did a good post on it earlier today; I’d refer you there if you want to talk about it. Here’s the link:

    http://proecclesia.blogspot.com/

  • Here are my final thoughts on the post.

    1) I appreciate everyone’s comments.

    2) I intended the post to prompt a non-partisan discussion about a) what people find appealing about people like Beck; b) whether such personalities help or hurt their cause; c) how Catholics should view such theatrical political commentary (I think it’s pernicious). The discussion kind of touched on those topics at points, but for the most part it failed, and I’ll take primary responsibility for that. At the same time, many of the comments were quite thought-provoking, so I think the post was at least an interesting failure.

    3) I apologize to Paul if I misrepresented his post (we disagree about that, but I may just be too stubborn to see that I was wrong…if I was wrong 😉 )

    4) Have a good night all.

  • Art,

    Palin uses crude gimmicks to enhance her appeal to “Joe six-pack”, to use the phrase she used. She challenges no one’s beliefs, does not demonstrate that she has even a rudimentary grasp of the positions and philosophy of her opponents, does not clearly articulate her reasons for taking the positions that she does, takes her own positions for granted and thus does not develop convincing rhetoric to promote them among the electorate, and was appallingly unprepared for the rigors of a political campaign.

    Instead she trades on slogans, on physical gestures such as winking, on folksy turns of phrase, and other mindless gimmicks to make an appeal to a culture that is hostile to anyone who “sounds too smart”. Her ignorance and lack of erudition were actually celebrated by many of her fans as evidence of her “authenticity”, and her whole candidacy lent legitimacy to the completely erroneous notion that our leaders ought to be “just like us”.

    It is sad and unfortunate that so many educated people in this country are so hostile to traditional values, but I am quite positive that we can do better than Sarah Palin. I don’t want a leader who is just like “Joe six-pack” or who primarily appeals to “Joe six-pack”. I don’t want “Joe six-pack” in charge of the country. “Joe six-pack” needs to be challenged and elevated, not placated and coddled.

    Gabriel Austin,

    Please stop the needless nitpicking and hair-splitting with words. Expressing like or dislike is not logically connected to emotion or subjectivity. It does not logically imply something petty or vain.

    It is a simple way of expressing the fact that I do not believe that Mrs. Palin ought to be the or even a leader or spokesperson for traditional moral values, that there are many who are more experienced, more articulate, and more intelligent than her that are suited for the task, that her presence on a conservative platform diminishes its potential effectiveness.

    Rather than state all of that each time to satisfy the petty nitpicking of people who automatically ascribe inferior or demeaning motives to anyone who dares criticize one of their beloved political icons, in a sentence that actually has nothing to do with my opinions of Mrs. Palin but rather with the fact that I actually don’t reject a person as an intelligent or decent human being because they actually do like her because I think reasonable people can disagree on this topic, I choose, for the purposes of expediency only, to say that “I don’t like her”.

    But way to completely misread the sentence, invent motives for me I don’t hold, imply feelings for me that I don’t have, in a petty and ultimately unnecessary attempt to defend the honor of Mrs. Palin. You have a lot to be proud of.

  • Actually Joe Palin challenges the beliefs of those who currently consider themselves the cultural elite of our society. Consider their reaction to Trig and her decision to bring a Downs Syndrome baby into this world. Their beliefs need challenging much more than those of the people who do most of the work in our society, as demonstrated most repulsively by the defense of some elites of the child rapist Polanski.

    Since resigning as governor she has helped derail ObamaCare, given an impressive address in Hong Kong, begun emerging as a leader in the Republican campaign to retake Congress in 2010 and is now poised to have a best-selling memoir Going Rogue. With the epic fail of the Obama Administration, and at this point I think that is a given, I believe she will be a formidable candidate for the White House in 2012, if she wishes it. I view her as the politician with the greatest potential I have seen since the first time I saw Reagan give a speech in 1968.

  • Don,

    I don’t reject the possibility that Palin can polish herself and become the sort of candidate I could accept.

    But I absolutely detest gimmicks and pandering, I loathe all celebrations of ignorance, I am not at all convinced that Palin is capable of making the sort of appeal that is absolutely necessary to independents, moderates, and conservative leaning Democrats, and I wouldn’t count the Obama administration totally defeated within its first year. Bill Clinton was thwarted on healthcare and the Democrats were swept out of power during his first term, but was still reelected. That could play itself out again.

    I don’t care what anyone says – love or hate Obama on the issues, he presented his positions skillfully and respectfully during the campaign. He brought an element to political discourse during the campaign that I appreciated very much, in spite of disagreeing with him so vehemently on life issues. I give credit where it is manifestly due, and criticism likewise.

    Now if comments like that are going to earn me insults and petty, vicious attacks, (I know they won’t from you, Don) I think that’s really sad. I know they’re coming, I know that writing article after article in defense of life and Church teaching will mean nothing next to one kind word for Obama and one criticism of Palin, but, that’s the way it is.

    So here I am, ready to catch your refuse. Fling it boldly!

  • As always Joe I respect your opinion. In regard to Obama I have always regarded him as a glib empty suit and that is still my opinion. His policies are the same liberal bromides that have been staples of the left of the Democrat party for decades. Note how he simply repeats the same message about health care ad nauseum. The man is unable to adapt to the fact that his health campaign is flailing and he needs to try different tactics. The same thing could be said about the stimulus package that manifestly did not stimulate the economy. He appears to have great difficulty in knowing what to do next if his initial plans fail. His overall inability to get his policies through a Congress dominated by his party illustrates both his lack of experience and his unwillingness or inability to develop an effective legislative stragegy. A turn in the economy could save him in 2012, but with his current policies I expect mini-recoveries followed by rapid recessions. There is nothing in the current business environment to encourage long lasting recovery and the government is doing everything possible to make that environment worse. I also, and I pray I am mistaken, expect serious foreign disasters and domestic terrorist attacks, and I think Obama is ill-equipped to deal with either.

    As for Palin her next test will come in 2010 as she hits the campaign trail for Republicans. Reagan honed his oratorical skills stumping for Goldwater in 64 and I expect Palin to do the same next year, assuming she still wishes to be a force in politics, and I suspect she does. I disagree that Palin celebrates ignorance. What she recognizes however is that elite opinion and that of most Americans radically diverge on almost every issue of substance confronting the nation. This divide I think is one of the salient facts in our current national life, and I believe Palin understands that. I will be curious to read her memoir and see how she addresses this point.

  • I know it’s a little late in the debate, but I want to offer an apology to John Henry for accusing him of “triangulation”. In my zeal to defend Paul – whose post on Beck I still maintain was unfairly described – I crossed the line and impugned John Henry’s motives.

    There is no doubt in my mind that there is a certain sort of “conservative” pundit who makes their living engaging in such “triangulation” to make themselves more palatable to their more liberal readers. I refer, of course to the aforementioned Douthat/Dreher/Brooks/Frum/etc. In fact, on occasion, some if not all, have admitted to such a strategy. Douthat, for example, has written:

    “There is unquestionably a sense in which center-right scriveners who work for institutions more liberal than they (or merely exist in a climate more liberal than they) have both personal and professional incentives to criticize their own side as often as they do the other one, and to advance arguments and strike attitudes that drive more committed partisans up the wall. I’m flattered that Julian Sanchez’s list of conservative writers in this position includes David Brooks and, well, me, but I think it’s pretty easy to come up with a longer tally – it would include everyone from Rod Dreher (one of the very few explicitly-conservative writers at Beliefnet and the Dallas Morning News, I believe) to Christopher Buckley (Forbes FYI editor, New Yorker contributor, and now Daily Beast blogger) to various other (Peggy Noonan, Tucker Carlson, Joe Scarborough, etc.) with one foot in the right-wing intelligentsia and one foot in the MSM… And while I’m sure that these writers and talkers are striving for objectivity in all things and at all times, I’m also acutely aware, from my own experience, of the way that peer effects – the desire to be perceived as the “reasonable conservative” by friends and peers, the positive reinforcement from liberal readers, etc. – can subtly influence the topics one chooses to write about and the tone one chooses to take.”

    That is “triangulation” any way you look at it. John Henry, on the other hand, I know to be genuinely interested in raising the tone of dialogue and maintaining civility in discourse. I have no doubts that his principle concern in writing this post is that he is worried that people like Beck are poisoning the political well.

    It was wrong of me, therefore, to insinuate that he had ulterior motives such as “triangulating” to make himself appear more reasonable than the rest of the herd. For that, I apologize.

  • Is it time to close the comments on this? 🙂

  • I apologize to Paul if I misrepresented his post (we disagree about that, but I may just be too stubborn to see that I was wrong…if I was wrong 😉 )

    No worries John. I replied immediately with snark rather than engage your post. As I said, I actually found it funny more than anything considering the feedback I received on Southern Appeal. So I apologize to you for derailing the conversation.

  • John Henry,

    I thought the discussion was pretty fruitful and engaging.

    Awesome job in keeping us all on our toes!

  • love or hate Obama on the issues, he presented his positions skillfully and respectfully during the campaign.

    The trouble, Joe, is that ‘presenting his positions’ is what he does. You will in vain look at his career in law and teaching for the achievement of any professional benchmarks. He never founded a law practice, never was granted a partnership in any extant practice, never was granted tenure or hired for aught but an adjunct position in the academy, and has only one very brief scholarly publication to his credit (penned when he was a student). Bill Clinton, Michael Dukakis, and Jimmy Carter had superintended state governments with tens of thousands on the payroll; B.O. has run voter registration campaigns. As legislators, Bill Bradley was notable for persistent promotion of tax simplification and Albert Gore for a running critique of the prevailing wisdom in the Democratic Party on foreign policy and the use of force; B.O. was notable for absences and voting ‘present’.

    Palin uses crude gimmicks to enhance her appeal to “Joe six-pack”, to use the phrase she used.

    Which?

    She challenges no one’s beliefs,

    Joe, the neuralgic reaction to this woman is an indication that her public remarks are a challenge to a certain subculture.

    does not demonstrate that she has even a rudimentary grasp of the positions and philosophy of her opponents, does not clearly articulate her reasons for taking the positions that she does, takes her own positions for granted and thus does not develop convincing rhetoric to promote them among the electorate,

    I draw a blank, Joe. Not in my lifetime have campaign speeches ever been occasions for discourses in political theory. That aside, Gov. Palin’s entry into political life was in the realm of municipal administration, where explicit references to architectonic principles is fairly unusual.

    and was appallingly unprepared for the rigors of a political campaign.

    ?

    Instead she trades on slogans, on physical gestures such as winking, on folksy turns of phrase, and other mindless gimmicks to make an appeal to a culture that is hostile to anyone who “sounds too smart”.

    Some years ago the psychologist Margaret Singer was asked to provide some expert testimony at the trial of Patricia Hearst, most particularly to examine various communications from the Symbionese Liberation Army to ascertain who among them was the author of each. She said her own longitudinal research indicated that people’s verbal styles were fixed fairly early in life, by age 17, in fact. I will wager she has been using the same turns of phrase for 25 years or more.

  • Art,

    So then you agree – Obama presents his positions well. That’s all I contend.

    As for Palin, you are being easy on her to the point of what I think is, and please pardon my saying so, absurdity.

    All one has to do is contrast her response to questions about abortion to a candidate like Mike Huckabee. Your trying to let her off the hook by arguing that campaign speeches are not occasions for political theory is simply unbelievable. If all she is suited for is administration, then she should stick to administration and stop pretending that she can lead. A leader MUST have a grasp of “architectonic principles”, must be able to articulate clearly why what they advocate is objectively good – at least in order to win my respect and support.

    I don’t want a mayor who can talk folksy with the commoners. I want a person who understands and can articulate clearly what he is fighting for and why he is fighting for it. Palin does not provide that.

    Aphorisms and sound bites repeated ad nauseum about “big government”, “high taxes”, and “cutting spending” are as appealing to me as a bucket of puke.

    As for the final paragraph, do you really, honestly expect me to swallow any of that? All of Palin’s appeals to “Joe six-pack” are politically calculated down to the last muscle movement.

    I don’t know why you and others seek to stretch your own credibility to the breaking point in defending this woman, but I refuse to play along. If and when she shows some refinement, class, and genuine passion beyond the same old stupid red-meat slogans, I will give her another chance. Until then, make mine Huckabee.

  • Thanks to Paul, Jay, and Tito for their comments above. I was in meetings this morning, so I couldn’t respond sooner. In the future, I’ll try and provide a more focused discussion (and I’ll try not to lose my temper and impugn motives so easily).

    I would close comments now…but actually, I’m not sure how – and if Joe and Art Deco want to continue their discussion, Joe’s a contributor and can monitor that going forward.

  • More, more.

    I like the banter about Obama as ‘articulate’ and ‘effective’ – whatever that means — I think he stammers and hmms and uhs a great deal and cannot articulate an idea that isn’t some begnign sounding socialist slogan. He doesn’t even give credit to Chavez (Julio not Hugo) for, ‘si se pueda’.

    Palin may not be the ideal ‘conservative’ candidate but I think she is effective and genuine. The future is yet to be written but I think that an honest and genuine leader is exactly what this government needs if it is to be true to its Constitutionally mandated mission.

    Remember that if the Executive were to act as the Constitution dictates their power is severly curtailed – for that matter so is Congress’. Without the heady appeal of increasing power bordering on absolutism we’d have more leadership like Cincinatus than Ceasar.

    Palin is cast in the Cincinatus mold. Obama is cast in the Manchurian candidate mold.

  • Regardless of what conservative elites say about Palin, she has “it” and the American people respond to her.

    Peggy Noonan can eat her crabcakes and crumpets until the cows come home for all I care.

  • Joe Hargrave writes Tuesday 29 Sept.
    “Gabriel Austin,
    Please stop the needless nitpicking and hair-splitting with words. Expressing like or dislike is not logically connected to emotion or subjectivity.

    The word is expressive of emotion.

    “It does not logically imply something petty or vain”.

    Never said it did, but you seem to “feel” that it does.

    “[It is a simple way of expressing the fact that] I do not believe that Mrs. Palin ought to be the or even a leader or spokesperson for traditional moral values, that there are many who are more experienced, more articulate, and more intelligent than her that are suited for the task, that her presence on a conservative platform diminishes its potential effectiveness”.

    Now all you had to do is delete the first part and begin with “I do not believe…”. And then you can give reasons. [As against the unnamed others, it my opinion that her defense of her Down baby is a major experience. It seems to have raised the hackles of the non-maternal female talking-heads: “How dare she keep a Down’s baby”?].

    I had thought that I was doing you a favor by pointing out a lapse from logic into emotion. And that you are viscerally reacting against Joe Sixpack. All things told I believe that the instincts of Joe Sixpack are sounder than those of poorly educated college students. And much of that depends on making clear distinctions {“nitpicking]. It was the genius of GKC that he spent his life nitpicking. Must be where I picked up the habit.

  • Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize I was dealing with the next GK.

    “The word is expressive of emotion.”

    Really? I wasn’t informed that preferences were the equivalent of emotions now.

    “Never said it did, but you seem to “feel” that it does.”

    So you didn’t mean to imply that by suggesting that my comment reminded you of, I think, Dr. Phil? Oh I see, that was a compliment. How silly of me to have mistaken your charitable compliment with an implication of pettiness.

    “it my opinion that her defense of her Down baby is a major experience”

    That is not a qualification for office or leadership of a political movement, no matter how admirable a thing it may be.

    “I had thought that I was doing you a favor by pointing out a lapse from logic into emotion”

    Right!

    “All things told I believe that the instincts of Joe Sixpack are sounder than those of poorly educated college students.”

    I’d say they suffer from different problems, and that we are fortunate that there are more options than these.

    “And much of that depends on making clear distinctions”

    That had nothing to do with your post. No one is more on top of making clear distinctions than I. In fact, I’ll make one right now – a clear distinction between making a clear distinction, and nitpicking for the sake of scoring cheap points in a round of comboxing.

  • Noonan is a classic neo-con. Don’t be fooled by the word conservative in neo-con — they aren’t conservative. They are the same ilk that is on the left they are simply employing a pincer move to flank us on both sides.

    Fair-minded people will run from the ‘extremist’ neo-cons o the right and we will fall hard into the hands of their ‘opponents’ on the left.

    It is far better for us to stay away from extremists like Palin and Beck as well as extremists like Van Jones and Valerie Jarrett. We should just stay right in the middle where it is safe and we aren’t too hot or too cold.

    Oh, wait, I remember Someone telling me that He hates lukewarm more than hot and cold. He promised to spit me out of His mouth for being lukewarm, middle-of-the-road. . .mediocre. Hmm. Makes you think.

    Neo-cons and lefty-loony liberals are on the same side and this false Left/Right dichotomy, created during the Reign of Terror!!!! is not real.

    Assuming you want to use a right-left model. Then the right is anarchy and the left is absolutism. Both stink. What we need is a balanced approach, um, sort-a, kind-a like the one some wise, old, dead, white guys came up with.

    Defending it extremely isn’t a vice. The Constitution has no tolerance for neo-cons, like Noonan, or liberal/progessive/socialist/fascist/communists.

    The discussion about Palin and Obama seems to center around which one of them is better at articulating this point. Are we in America today, Constitutionalists, or are we anti-Constitutionalists?

  • Hey now, don’t put Noonan on us neo-cons. Someone who’s been reflecting on the golden past since end the end of the Reagan administration is hardly “neo”.

    Nor am I clear how you see neo-cons as being the same as liberals. If you were to go for a rough definition, neo-cons are conservatives who are not isolationist (and in some cases are actively interventionalist) in regards to foreign policy. One might also specify that they’re free market in economic orientation — to the extent that some paleo or traditional conservatives are protectionists. That’s about all the “neo” generally can be taken to predict in regards to distinguishing “neo-cons” from conservatives as a whole.

  • All these labels are confusing. You’d think that was the point. Oh, wait a minute it is the point.

    I like simple things.

    As far as the visible political spectrum is concerned I see it flanked by no authority and supreme authority. I don’t like either option and frankly each pole has a heavy gravitational pull. Commies, et al suck you toward the black hole of absolutism. There is no such thing as a little communism unless it is a tactic to get you more communism.

    No authority is absolute chaos, look at the lefties protesting the G20 meetings and all the violence and problems they created. Now if it wasn’t for their anarcho-communism, they may actually have gotten the nice “joe six-pack” tea party folks to join them. Becuae the G20 disaster is just another supernational organization seeking to take us to absolutism.

    Either way the devil wins – at least for a little while.

    So what are we to do? We need to look beyond the visibile political spectrum and look at the invisible.

    First order is to obey God and His law. For us that is the Magesterium, Tradition and Scripture. For others – it is a ‘personal’ relationship with Christ (I don’t know how much more personal you can get than eating Him). Either way, we know that He is the King and the only true sovreign. So how do we square that with the temporal order. Promote FREEDOM. Freedom to choose Him, or not. That can only exist in a Christian culture.

    So first order of business is respect the Christian basis for our Republic no matter what religious, or non-religious beliefs people have. Next, set up a temporal sovreign authority that is checked and limited by RULES and SEPERATION of powers. Then defend it — becuase it will be attacked – perpetually.

    If these two things, which we already have, are respected then the shades of political discourse eb and flow along a narrow spectrum becuase they have to be within the limits of the Constitution and God’s Law.

    That excludes all forms of communism (socialism, fascism, etc.). So the difference betweent he so-called left and right would be rather thin, as it is now, the difference is both parties would be much farther to the right, with their eye above.

    Our politics is inherently CONSERVATIVE and LIBERAL. It is conservative in that we wish to conserve that which has been handed to us. Adam gave away our freedom and Christ returned it – that is conservative. We are liberal becuase we are conserving freedom, which is liberty, which is liberal.

    Essentially, we have a broad range of freedom but it has limits. In that simple range, we are as liberal as we want to be so long as we remain within the conservarive boundries that we’ve been given.

    All this other stuff, is window dressing. We are arguing about whether government should give us a tax break or a tax hike. If they should give us a little more or a little less socialist security. We argue about if we should go to war in the Balkans or in Iraq. It is a fool’s game.

    Neo-cons, paleo-cons, liberals, progressive, blue dogs, blah, blah, blah. Come on. I’m not buying it.

    God or no God.

    Abortion or Life.

    Private Property or Communism.

    It is all about extremes, the shades in the middle are put there by someone who wants us lost and confused becuase he is mired in darkness.

    I opt out.

  • Oh, and Noonan is a neo-con. So there.

  • It seems the White House watches Glenn Beck. Also is concerned with “Fox News Lies.”

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/Reality-Check-Turning-a-Point-of-Pride-into-a-Moment-of-Shame/

  • I don’t care if Noonan is a neo-con – her column on Palin’s departure from the political scene was one of the most agreeable things I have ever read.

  • I tend to agree with some of American Knight’s sentiments.

    Neocons are not conservative in any way; they are not merely interventionist and free-marketers (as how DarwinCatholic has defined them, which by themselves, aren’t really bad qualities) but, more importantly –and worse, are for BIG GOVERNMENT!

    Moreover, they are far more dangerous than anything on theh Left.

    Because neocons tend to disguise themselves as being seemingly conservative, they are the ones actually responsible for moving conservatism farther & farther towards the Left, just how the many policies of Bush Jr. did!

    Hence, the sad and sorry state of genuine Conservatism today!

  • I don’t care if Noonan is a neo-con – her column on Palin’s departure from the political scene was one of the most agreeable things I have ever read.

    Hmmm. I found it bitter, catty and vile — and that even as someone who doesn’t think that Sarah Palin has a political future (or necessarily should) at this point.

    But I suppose that starts to get rather far off the topic.

  • “I found it bitter, catty and vile”

    I think that pretty well sums up the pretentious Peggy Noonan. For those who think Darwin exaggerates here is the Noonan rant.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124716984620819351.html

    “What she is, is a seemingly very nice middle-class girl with ambition, appetite and no sense of personal limits.” In other words, how could this Alaskan multiple mom with a degree from a no name school accomplish more than the superbly accomplished Peggy Noonan who has four honorary doctorates, and who, next month, will sell more copies of her book than Noonan could if she lived for a thousand years. I expect another Noonan anti-Palin column about that time.

  • Stuart Schwartz has a mediation on Noonan’s obsession with Palin.

    http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/07/peggy_noonan_sarah_palin_jealo.html

  • If you take the major issues of the day they are boiled down to two simple things.

    Is more government the answer, or, is even more government the answer?

    I don’t like either option. Government is not the answer. Government is simply the handing over of our individual, God-given sovreignty to keep our appetites in check. Note that is a very, very limited definition of checking appetites.

    They do NOT get to decide what I eat unless it is another human being, or some such horror. If I want trans-fat I can choose to eat trans-fat. If that kills me, that is my choice and I’ll be called to judgement on it. If I choose to eat another human being, then first I have to kill them or steal their body. That is not a dietary problem, that is murder or theft and we have laws agains those because God forbids them in His Law.

    That is pretty simple. Anyone can wrap their brain around that. The problem is the Left wants to tell me what I can and can’t eat and the ‘free-traders’ on the Right want 1000 page treaties to determine where I can get foreign food from and destroy domestic production in the process. Neither activity is legitimately allowed by our Constitution.

    This is what Glenn Beck has hit on, and although I am a fan becuase I think he is well intentioned and entertaining, I am not foolish enough to think that he is some kind of hero or leader. He’s a guy with a TV and radio show. Often he makes sense. Usually he entertains me.

    His appeal is that we need to return God to His rightful place as the true sovreign of our country (it is a whole other discussion to address the fact that he is a Mormon, essentially a poly-thiestic, false religion – but he might not know that). He also does his best to encourage others to adhere to the Constitution. People are responding, either positively becuase in their gut they know that is right, or negatively becuase they are so mired in darkness that they actually hate the USA and probably God too.

    If we simply follow the rules of order, both eternal (God’s Law) and temporal (the Constitution) our life together will be better, or at least not as bad. The attacks, both foreign and domestic, will NEVER stop. Which is where most libertarians lose it becuase their God is the market. God made the market, but the market is not God. Neo-cons lose it becuase they want more government (as e. pointed out above) but they want it to use for ‘good’ as they define, or rather don’t define it. Right, trust me, let me have all the power, I will be a ‘good’ dictator not like that other guy. Come on, who buys that? Liberals lose it because they want government to be God.

    True conservatism is about adhering as closely to the Constitution and the Commandments as possible and being prepared for a vigorous defense of both. Defense is first religious, then cultural, then intellectual and finally sanctioned force. Not adventurism, not isolationism and not necessarily non-agression. It is certainly situational and the closest adherance we can maintain to just war doctorine will be best and mistakes will be made becuase we’re idiots. But at least we would know what we are fighting for – to perserve our Constitution and the freedom to worship God.

    Beck’s popularity is stemming from the fact that he articulates that and he does it in a way that appeals to a wide, relatively unintellectual, yet, intelligent audience. An audience that would be far more intelligent if they were not educated in the government schools of the leftists and the neo-cons. Derida sucks and so does Straus.

  • What was so wrong with Noonan’s so-called “rant”?

    Besides, what she said at the beginning:

    It is an opportunity they should take. They mean to rebuild a great party. They need to do it on solid ground.

    …is precisely what the Republican Party needs to do: rebuild the base by reclaiming its Conservatism, indeed, its very identity.

  • the ‘free-traders’ on the Right want 1000 page treaties to determine where I can get foreign food from and destroy domestic production in the process.

    Actually, the free traders on the right want simple, open trade with no tariffs or restrictions except for a few banned substances perhaps (weapons, fissionable materials, etc.) What results from them trying to work this out with established interests is a 1000 page “free trade” document. But if you look at actual free traders (say, Milton Freedman) they don’t seek 1000 page free trade deals, they seek free trade.

    But I will give you that Beck is populist. It’s just that that is exactly why I don’t like him or consider him a real conservative.

  • No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.

    No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another: nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another.

    Article 1, Section 9

    That is all it takes to create a free-trade zone. Congress also has the power to charge a fee to all economic entities outside of the “US free trade zone”. As long as they are uniform across all actors and industries then that is a far preferable way to raise government revenue than taxing us.

    Now I agree that has become a ‘conservative’ principle, but the Republicans, as a party only pander to this. McCain kept talking about being a free-trader during the campaign, in the words of Joe Wilson, “He lies”. So although it is technically correct that free traders are on the right, the Republicans who tell us they are on the right, don’t qualify as authentic free-traders, they are managed-traders just like the Demoncrats on the left, except that they pick and chose different criteria and granted, for the most part, they can be better trusted to protect national security. I say for the most part becuase so-called Republicans like, Ike, gave away so much that we may as well have raised the hammer and sickle above the White House.

    As far as Beck goes, yes, he is somewhat of a populist, a neo-populaist if you will. He is relatively conservative, but that is a slippery label for him. He is most certainly an entertainer. He is not going away, his popularity will increase and so will his influence and that has dangerous consequences, not becuase he is dangerous, but becuase it means that people are playing follow the leader again and not thinking for themselves and not reading and following the rules.

    This Republic was made for a moral and (Christian) religious people who are educated enough to know what the Constitution actually states.

    Immoral, irreligious and dumb mobs will lose their freedom for a charismatic and powerful figure-head who will be managed by the trans-national banking elite. Oh, wait, I think that is already happening.

  • American Knight:

    This Republic was made for a moral and (Christian) religious people who are educated enough to know what the Constitution actually states.

    You might want to re-educate yourself on American History as well as the Constitution; in particular, Article 1, Section 9, among other things.

  • e.,

    Huh?

    Since I quoted Article 1, Section 9 in the previous post the only thing I can think is that you disagree with my interpretation of it, yet, you quote another section of my post that has nothing to do with that section.

    The part you quoted was in reference to John Adams and I think he may have known a thing or two about the Constitution and its context.

    Please clarify.

  • …Peggy Noonan…

    I’ve already was suspicious of her hallow Catholicism, and when she went after Governor Palin the ruse was over.

    She is out of touch with mainstream America, or at least the underclass and unrepresentative. Her many guffaws (I thought the mic was off excuse) pretty much nailed it for me that she talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk.

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Chutes, Ladders, & Progressivism

Monday, September 21, AD 2009

I came across this comment a while back, and I think it summarizes the experience of many of my fellow law and MBA classmates (all of whom are recent graduates or current students):

I don’t know how it was elsewhere, but the game my friends and I were sold had breezy constant ladders and shallow painless chutes. Now the ladders are falling apart or growing queues, and the chutes have proved to be sudden and devastating.

Now, on the one hand, it’s almost never rational to expect wonderful career opportunities to be awaiting one at every turn. And the graduates he’s talking about – people with sparkling resumes from the most prestigious undergrad and graduate schools – are hardly Dickens-level sympathetic protagonists. On the other hand, endless career opportunities are what many grad school admission offices are selling. And for many students and recent graduates of these institutions, six figures in debt with rapidly eroding job prospects,  the recession has been a rather traumatic experience.  This is certain to have a number of consequences, but I’ve been idly speculating that twenty to thirty years down the line, when they will be in a position to influence public policy, these individuals are likely to be more sympathetic than they might otherwise to redistributive policies. And, as it turns out, there is actually a recent academic study from the National Bureau of Economic Research that supports this idea. Here is the abstract:

Do generations growing up during recessions have different socio-economic beliefs than generations growing up in good times? We study the relationship between recessions and beliefs by matching macroeconomic shocks during early adulthood with self-reported answers from the General Social Survey. Using time and regional variations in macroeconomic conditions to identify the effect of recessions on beliefs, we show that individuals growing up during recessions tend to believe that success in life depends more on luck than on effort, support more government redistribution, but are less confident in public institutions.  Moreover, we find that recessions have a long-lasting effect on individuals’ beliefs.

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3 Responses to Chutes, Ladders, & Progressivism

  • Good point, John. I suppose the other influencing factor might be how quick and what kind of a recovery we see in the years to come.

  • After this administration I expect the political pendulum to swing strongly against anything smacking of government redistribution of wealth for a good long while. In this administration I think we will see a New Deal that is a flat failure. (It is arguable that the first New Deal was also a flat failure but such was not the opinion of a solid voting majority of the American public.)

  • I was more thinking of the different ways that economic downturns seem to have affected people. My dad’s parents were both 19 in 1929, so they had a very, very depression era mentality. Nothing was ever thrown away which might be useful, a huge emphasis on savings and paying off debt, always working extra hard and squirreling things away for the expected next crash.

    Compare that to people who weathered the 1980/1982 recession, or like me who came out of college in the post 9/11 slow-down. Maybe my co-workers and I are way a-typical, but aside from a tendency to brag back and forth over beer about layoffs that we’ve seen or experienced, seeing a couple years of rough employment doesn’t seem to have slowed anyone down much or changed their habits.

    I think the big determining factor will be: in 2015 or 2020, will people remember long years of uncertainty and hard times, and feel like they need to save all the time and avoid debt in order to be prepared for the next one, or will they talk about how they worked up from the bottom and had it as hard as everyone, but from the vantage point of having basically “caught up” within 2-3 years?

Rush Limbaugh, Race Baiter

Wednesday, September 16, AD 2009

I have to say, I try to keep my expectations for political personalities on the radio and television low. But this is pretty appalling:

It’s Obama’s America, is it not? Obama’s America, white kids getting beat up on school buses now. You put your kids on a school bus, you expect safety but in Obama’s America the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering, “Yay, right on, right on, right on, right on,” and, of course, everybody says the white kid deserved it, he was born a racist, he’s white. Newsweek magazine told us this. We know that white students are destroying civility on buses, white students destroying civility in classrooms all over America, white congressmen destroying civility in the House of Representatives.

Let me get this straight, according to Rush: 1) Obama approves or is responsible somehow for white kids getting beat up on school busses. 2) Obama approves or is responsible somehow for people cheering while white kids get beat up on school busses; 3) Obama approves or is responsible somehow for the idea that white kids are all racists and deserve to get beat up on school busses; and 4) Somehow there is a connection to be drawn here to Joe Wilson’s intemperate outburst during Obama’s speach the other night.

How do people listen to this stuff?

H/T: The American Scene

Update: Re-reading the transcript again, I still think Rush is race-baiting, although not in the sense my comments above suggest. I don’t think Rush was actually intending to make a direct comment on Obama, much less about busses and school children. Rather, he was engaging in a caricature of lefty  outrage over various political and racial issues (e.g. Jimmy Carter’s recent remarks) . I think this type of caricature is irresponsible and foments racial tensions, even if Rush’s intention was just to foment partisan outrage. Race is a highly charged issue with good reason given our country’s history, and the risks of misinterpretation are very high. Accordingly, I think it is irresponsible and, in some sense, race-baiting, to belittle these concerns and treat them as if they were trivial. While I don’t want to be humorless or disingenuous, I agree with Megan McArdle that 1) if so many missed it, it’s not a very good satire; 2) what Rush is actually doing is quite bad enough.

Also, for those interested, Michael Iafrate thinks that many of the commenters in this thread are racists. I have not allowed his comments to come through because I do not think they will lead to a productive discussion here, and I will delete any comments that respond to Michael’s accusation. If you would like to discuss these issues with Michael, he blogs at Vox Nova and Catholic Anarchy.

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65 Responses to Rush Limbaugh, Race Baiter