One Response to

Happy Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 27, AD 2008


May all of our readers have a Happy Thanksgiving!  As we thank God before eating mass quantities of turkey, cranberries, mashed potatoes, et al, perhaps one blessing we might praise the Almighty for is the skill and courage of a lot of men and women, many not too far out of their teens, who spend their Thanksgivings far from home and family so that we may live in peace and freedom.

17 Responses to Happy Thanksgiving

  • Thanksgiving is “all about the troops” over here at The American Catholic. Surprise surprise. American first, Catholic second.

  • I give thanks for you Catholic Anarchist. Your scornful attitude towards men and women who guard our freedom, most of whom have more courage in an hour than you could muster in a lifetime, illustrates well how much we owe them and how mean spirited their detractors are. Well done Catholic Anarchist for helping to draw this important lesson.

  • Donald: I am also grateful for our U.S. and coalition troops, and ask for prayers for them, including my brother, and all those working to build decent self-governance in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • I am grateful and thankful for all that our troops do.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Thank you Jonathan. My prayers for the safety of your brother.

  • Michael:

    Seriously, let it go. All Donald did was simply post a picture of American troops and offer a prayer for them, and that triggers your Pavlonian response mechanism. Is it such a horrible thing? Are you simply that depraved a human being that you can’t let such a simple thing go?

  • Donald, I said nothing against the troops. What I did was criticize your immediate linkage of the holiday with soldiering. You say nothing of the real meaning of Thanksgiving, but only saw yet another opportunity to indulge in soldier-worship. To make note of that tendency you have is NOT to display “mean spiritedness” toward them. You are the one with an obvious pathology, not me.

  • Soldier worship? Come now.

    It doesn’t strike me that anyone attempted a post about the “real meaning” of Thanksgiving, except Donald’s on the 26th repeating President Washington’s original Thanksgiving poclamation — which certainly seems to me to address the “real meaning” of the holiday.

    However, given that many of our cultural rituals around the holiday center on gathering with family around the banquet table, it strikes me as entirely natural that people’s thoughts would turn to those whom duty keeps away from their families that this time.

    (Can I guess that perhaps you thought you’d spin by American Catholics to see what “those crazy AC guys” were up to, in the way that even when I’m not actively reading Vox Nova I always have to drop by and read you annual anti-US posts on American holidays such as the 4th of July and Veterans Day? No shame in it. We all have our sick curiousities about those we seldom agree with. What will they say next?)

  • I will always be thankful for those who choose to put their lives on the line so that I can exist with a greater sense of security, for those soldiers of ours who fight the enemy on their soil so we don’t have to fight it here.

    michael, there is a very important war going on that has nothing to do with the middle east, and it looks like you have chosen the side of the bad guys.

  • I will always be thankful for those who choose to put their lives on the line so that I can exist with a greater sense of security, for those soldiers of ours who fight the enemy on their soil so we don’t have to fight it here.

    “I will always be thankful for the poor and minorities for fighting on my behalf.”

    michael, there is a very important war going on that has nothing to do with the middle east, and it looks like you have chosen the side of the bad guys.

    Thank you, Dubya.

  • Gentlemen,

    Thou shalt not feed the troll.

  • “I will always be thankful for the poor and minorities for fighting on my behalf.”

    Well Catholic Anarchist it has been thirty years since I last wore a green uniform, but when I was in we had poor, minorities, white, middle class and some rich. From my friends currently serving I have been advised that the makeup of the military remains the same, except that now the military tends to be better educated than the general population. Have you ever served in the military? From your comments regarding our troops, I suspect you have gleaned most of your ideas regarding the military from repeated viewings of Oliver Stone’s Platoon.

    “Thank you, Dubya.”

    Truest thing you are likely to say for a long time Catholic Anarchist. As the events in Mumbai illustrate, the world has a very big problem with radical islam, and the defeat of the radical Islamists in Iraq is a step in the right direction.

    I worship God, not the military. Having served in the Army I realize that troops are rarely, in Kipling’s memorable phrase, “plaster saints”. However I greatly respect those who put themselves in danger to protect my family, and I pray daily that God protect them.

  • “I will always be thankful for the poor and minorities for fighting on my behalf.”

    The Army is about 78% white, compared to an American population that is 77% white. Ever think of using Google before exposing your facile ignorance, Mikey?

  • You know why relations among ethnic groups are significantly better in the military than in civilian life? First, working toward a common goal. Second, the same barriers to entry. If you don’t pass the tests and the training, you ain’t doing it, period. So there is a lot less resentment, and you know you can count on the person next to you. No quotas, no “need” to hire more of x, y, or z. We could, and should, learn from this.

  • Jonathan,

    Don’t tell Michael I. that, that’ll destroy his parallel universe.

  • Not a fun guy, this Michael I. Don posts something nice about giving thanks to our guys and gals in uniform and Katie bar the door. Must be tough living under that skin. Doesn’t understand thanksgiving, respect, gratitude. Arrgh- making my leftover turkey curdle just thinking about him. Happy Turkey Day weekend and blessed Advent to all. You too, Mikey.

  • Michael, you’ve got me confused son, Ive never voted for any Bush, and you are still the bad guy.

Asking the Wrong Question

Wednesday, November 26, AD 2008

M.Z. over at Vox Nova has a post up entitled “No you can’t wash your hands” about voting for flawed candidates. He makes a fair point insofar as both parties support policies that are in tension, if not contradiction, with Catholic Social Teaching. Voting is basically a binary choice in American politics, and in many cases voting for either candidate constitutes material cooperation with evil. However, his description of the choice facing Catholics this past election was very puzzling. Here it is:

15 Responses to Asking the Wrong Question

  • Douthat was cribbing from Larison primarily, so yes I’m familiar. One of McCain’s first reactions to the tsunami in Myanmur was to state that we should send an invasionary force. Send troops is McCain’s hammer and every problem McCain sees is a nail. No, Obama isn’t a pacifist, and he may indeed have the most militaristic sympathies for a Democrat since Johnson, but he ain’t McCain.

  • So M.Z. basically voted for a radical pro-abort because of an impression of McCain that is little more than a caricature. Meanwhile, President-Elect Infanticide has all but signaled a continuation of the “evil” Bush regime’s foreign policy, altering it in little more than rhetoric.

    Good to see one’s priorities in order.

  • Send an invasionary force?

    As I recall, he said that we should use the Navy and Air Force to rush humanitarian aid to the area — as we have repeatedly done successfully in the past. The dictatorship in Burma didn’t want them, so basically no aid got through.

    To insist that a president McCain would have proceded to forcibly invade suggests that one is either intentionally exaggerating to the point of falsehood, or else very much carried away from reality by the hysteria of one’s new political bedfellows.

    Why the hyperbolic approach? Would “I think that the possibility of getting a few plums for union bosses and maybe even an infusion of federal cash into the Great Lakes states’ self inflicted economic black hole is plenty of reason to shelve the anti-abortion agenda” sound overly selfish?

  • Thanks Darwin. I look forward to inflated rheotic from MZ and his ilk over at Vox Nova for the next four years.

  • Looks like MZ responded while I was writing. Looks like he considers truth to be “cute.” Now that’s cute.

  • Invading Myanmar? What a crock of s***! Is that the kind of ignorance that made Catholics vote for Obama?

  • Phillip,

    I do not think it is fair to make generalizations about everyone at VN. I wouldn’t link to them if I did not respect many (if not all) of the writers.


    No need to caricature M.Z. (even if he is caricaturing McCain). Whatever M.Z.’s reasons for supporting Obama, I think it is charitable (and probably correct) to assume they were more substantive than a desire to help union bosses.

  • Look, MZ, I understand that you may consider that a rather unfair blow. But let’s be honest: Would you be any more likely to let me off if I’d spend six months actively trumpeting a rabidly pro-choice libertarian candidate (who proceeded to win, over an at least self proclaimedly anti-abortion progressive) and justified my choice by claiming that abortion wasn’t an active issue anyway and we desperately needed free trade and less regulation? And then when backed into a corner went over the top and claimed that the pacifism of the pro-life progressive would have resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths as a result of unforseen but doubtless inevitable circumstances in which our weakness resulted in new wars?

    Give me a break.

    While I’m willing to accept that you think that it will make very little difference who is president in regards to abortion, you can hardly be surprised at my thinking that your main motivation (discussed fairly honestly in the past) is the hope for lots of Keynsian help for your particular region — help which from my own economic perspective won’t even get you any benefit.

  • Fair enough, John Henry. And it is your post.

    My apologies.

  • John Henry,

    Agree. That’s why I said “…and his ilk.” Not all at VN are of his ilk. But those who are I expect will be using similar rhetoric for the next four years. And I will be correct.

  • Well, here is McCain’s actual reflections on military intervention in Burma. He strikes me as being opposed to the idea:

    On the other hand Obama during the campaign made several statements that indicated a willingness to risk a potential military clash with Pakistan:

    How any of this justifies a vote for the most radical pro-abortion president this nation has ever had eludes me.

  • My delicate eyes- and high blood pressure- compel me to avoid blogs like VN. Translations like those over here work well- sometimes the interpretations are more accurate than the original rants. So he dismisses McCain as warmonger. Oh- someone from four generations of men who have faced down war. His dad and grandpa were admirals. One son is among our heroic guys and gals in Iraq. Another son is months away from graduation at Annapolis- meaning, he may be facing battle shortly thereafter. And of course, the years of butt-kicking he underwent at the Hanoi Hilton. While Obama faced crises like oh dear I only earned a C on my law school paper. The folks who have faced down war tend to become the biggest pacifists. Because they want legit reasons for battle.

  • Of all the VN contributers, my guess is about half supported Obama, but it may have been slightly less. I think it is indisputable that he is the most radical president or major party presidential nominee on the question of abortion in American history, and I hope he fails on any point related to it, if we may project based upon his rhetoric, promises, and supporters.

  • Gents: It appears “M.Z.” took his ball and went home, a place where no one will bother to puncture his dorm-room fantasy world with facts or logic.

7 Responses to Thanksgiving 1789

Is the Country Moving Left? St. Thomas style….

Tuesday, November 25, AD 2008

Thanks to commenter Tim for the question, and my sincere apologies to St. Thomas Aquinas:

Objection 1: It seems that the country is moving to the left. In the recent election, the Democratic party picked up seats in both houses of Congress and won the Presidency.

Objection 2: A disproportionate number of younger voters voted for the Democratic party in the recent election.

Objection 3: The polling on social issues such as same-sex marriage has moved dramatically leftward over the past thirty years.

Objection 4: The recent bailouts will result in expanded government intervention in the economy.

On the contrary,

5 Responses to Is the Country Moving Left? St. Thomas style….

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  • Some “progressives” are already telling other “progressives” to shut up and stop whining as to how Obama, as a result of his appointments, seems quite a bit more “moderate” than he did during the campaign.

    Rather than a move to the Left, with Cook County Illinois Democrats now running the nation, I anticipate a move to the trough. The main characteristics of most elected officials in Cook County have been a strong interest in political patronage and an insatiable desire to get rich through “public service”. Obama and his forty plus thieves are now in charge of the treasury and the results should be hilarious and completely predicatable.

  • “predicatable.” should be predictable.

  • 1. Reply to reply to objection 1- the nation swings back and forth between the left and the right. It will do same for forseeable future. Check 2010 midterms for progress report.
    2. Young voters selected a hip cool candidate who actually uses an ipod rather than- as Jonah Goldberg suggested- the one who resembles the angry old man who regularly shouts, “you kids get off my lawn!” But they still didn’t turn out proportionate to their size. If you rely on them to get elected, you’re nutz.
    3. Two words- Prop 8. Still law unless the 4 libs on the Supremes pull Anthony Kennedy in their direction.
    4. Notice how the Congressional brethren went home for Turkey Day without goodies for GM, Ford, Chrysler. Stories of AIG execs on wild spending sprees do not make Joe and Jane Taxpayer very happy. Then the issue of cause and effect. If they were to make a difference, Secretary Paulson, why can’t we get mortgages any easier? Don’t ask Hank. Still can’t get his shoe out of his mouth.

  • I am not really using the wins and losses of the blue team or the red team as my benchmark as to where this country is headed. I get confused too easily when talking about republicans and democrats and what they are about or not about etc.

    My point is, with respect to social issues, what is the consensus today as compared to where it stood 20, 50, 100, 200 years ago? What is “socially acceptable” now compared to then? I don’t have a lot of hard data to back up my beliefs, really. True, I didn’t live 50, 100, or 200 years ago, so I have to rely on my understanding of history and my understanding of human nature–so I guess you could sort of say I just “feel it in my bones” but I see a liberalizing, a “loosening-up” if you will of social mores. And I have a really hard time seeing social mores “tightening up” within our existing political framework, polling data notwithstanding.

    With respect to economic policy, as long as there is a sizable middle class then you will see a pendulum. But when the day comes–and it is coming–that the lower classes significantly outnumber the middle and upper classes, you won’t see quite so much of a pendulum anymore. This doesn’t mean that the blue team and the red team won’t still fight it out, but the fight between the blue team and the red team will be carried out over issues that were previously fought over only within the blue team. For instance, don’t you think that ultimately the issue isn’t going to be about WHETHER there should be universal healthcare, but over the various details? I doubt anything too dramatic will happen in our lifetime, however, so please don’t regard me as some kind of alarmist or crazy doomsday type guy.

    Isn’t that already happening? Yes, there is still substantial resistance to abortion and gay marriage etc., but how long will the battle really be about WHETHER these things should be allowed, and for the mainstream won’t ultimately become a question of the details? Again, I am not saying I approve or not of either practice.

    So to say that the country moves to the left is not to say that the red team is not going to beat the blue team at some point in the future. I would suggest that the country is *ultimately* moving to the left, and that it is inevitable. But I can’t prove it, since I won’t live long enough. I can only read Polybius and see if I can find a pattern as he thought he did.

Is Religion the GOP's Downfall?

Tuesday, November 25, AD 2008

Everyone seems to have their own idea of what it is that the GOP lacks these days. Kathleen Parker seems to think that the big problem is its lack of a columnist with the prose style, intellectual rigor and cultural sensibilities of a Maureen Dowd — and in her most recent Washington Post column she tries to fill that void. [HT: Cranky Conservative]

As Republicans sort out the reasons for their defeat, they likely will overlook or dismiss the gorilla in the pulpit.

Three little letters, great big problem: G-O-D.

I’m bathing in holy water as I type.

To be more specific, the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn’t soon cometh.

Simply put: Armband religion is killing the Republican Party. And, the truth — as long as we’re setting ourselves free — is that if one were to eavesdrop on private conversations among the party intelligentsia, one would hear precisely that.

17 Responses to Is Religion the GOP's Downfall?

  • I love your blog. I’ve been searching for the perfect combination of Catholicism and conservatism for years. I’m tired of those that are too despairing but also those that are too philosophically mushy and obsequious. I appreciate the generally free-market tone as well. I used to be “anti-capitalist” until I started actually studying real economics… that and seeing how the economy works as a father and provider, rather than as a mooching, idealistic college student. Your content is timely and relevant. Socialism is no longer just another option, it’s part of the problem. God bless!

  • Darwin,

    Since you have analyzed Parker so well (which I agree with you… her ideas will have the Republicans lose more elections), can you tell me what is Noonan’s problem?

  • Dr. Dobson responds to Kathleen Parker.

    I will be charitable and assume that Ms. Parker was drunk when she wrote her screed. Surely no one sober could wish to reveal herself as a bitter bigot who, under the guise of giving suicidal advice to the GOP, spews the type of hate better reserved for the walls of a public toilet instead of a newspaper column.

  • The difference between Dowd and Parker is that Dowd has the good sense to attack the other party. I don’t think Noonan has a problem, personally. I do not agree with everything she writes, and her style is very hit-and-miss, but she is in an entirely different class (in many respects) than Parker.

  • Noonan has class, which Parker appears (at least from the few pieces I’ve read of hers lately) to lack.

    However Noonan does seem to have two problems that annoy me, though they certainly don’t keep me from sitting down with her column and the drinks column of the WSJ of a Saturday morning over coffee.

    1) She has a schoolgirl crush of sorts on Obama.

    2) Of late she seems to almost always have 3-4 themes for each column, and never quite decide which one she wants to write about.

  • Public religion defeated GOP, eh? Not the perceptions of the GOP as a party of fiscal irresponsibility, lawlessness, corruption, and deceit? Not the perceptions of the Bush Administration’s performance and the persuasiveness of the McCain campaign?

  • What defeated the GOP was the third term itch and the September financial collapse. The economy tanks and the party in power is going to take it on the chin.

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  • Doesn’t the whole debate seem a little asanine in perspective though? How would your average Republican-off-the-street of today stack up–in terms of social and moral issues–to a Democrat from the same street from 50 years ago? The political center can be determined by reference to the extremes of the right and left, but don’t we find the center marching consistently and inexorably further and further to the left? The more I see the more I think Polybius and his anacyclosis are right (no pun intended).

    Practically, religion and traditional values are not going to win a whole lot of points with the next couple generations. So Republicans will adapt, and become something else–they won’t be as far left as the Democrats, but not as far right as they are now.

  • “but don’t we find the center marching consistently and inexorably further and further to the left?”

    No. Obama for example, although I believe he is at heart a socialist, probably will not implement economic policies as far to the left as FDR. Many evangelicals were indifferent to abortion as an issue for a few years after Roe. The semi-pacifism of Carter will probably not be a guiding star of the Obama administration. The Reagan administration and the free market economics it ushered in came as a radical break with the ever increasing government involvement with the markets since FDR. The RINOS used to control the Republican party and are now a marginal fringe. Union political strength has been steadily diminishing for generations and I doubt if the Obama administration will be able to pass card check and reverse the trend. There is nothing inexorable or inevitable about politics. Many a bright new idea turns out to be merely a passing fad to be added to the closet of history.

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  • Donald, I think it is true that “consistent” wasn’t the best word choice to apply to political evolution, and I think you could have skewered me on that mistake but you were merciful (so thanks). But I do think that certain things–certain momentous social and political changes–are inevitable. It all depends on the scale of analysis–your examples, though compelling, go back about 4 generations or so.

    As you pointed out, policy and policy makers come and go. But demographics are slooooow to change. Or they have been relatively slower to change in comparison to policy. If you believe, as I do, that we can fairly accurately forecast demographic changes in the future — and — you believe that demographics have a lot to do with voter behavior, then you will be able to find a certain inevitability in our political future.

    With the way *I* percieve our demographics to be changing, I don’t see religious or moral issues being determinative in national political contests the near future. I think the GOP is losing, and I think that it was inevitable. I am not saying I am glad or sad about it, I am just stating my opinion. In 20 years I seriously doubt pro-life will be a viable campaign platform in most of the country. If that day comes, I don’t think we are ever coming back.

  • Tim,

    I disagree. I think my generation is more pro-life than the last one. Though, I do think this generation is perhaps more liberal. That doesn’t mean some of us aren’t social traditionalists.

    I think what is hurting the GOP is not the religious base, though I will admit — some of the “right wing” can be quite alienating to certain voters and I find myself annoyed with the fact that I get associated with radical biblical fundamentalists, who sometimes do not help the debate — and this isn’t to say no one from the other side hasn’t provoked them.

    Though, on several issues, I thnk the GOP has dropped the ball. Health care is one of them and it’s the one issue I go on and on about. After Clinton’s health care reform failed, the GOP took control of Congress. They had a willing president, who would have made a compromise as was done with Medicaid, Medicare, and SCHIP. No, instead they go after Clinton using tax payer dollars and turned the political arena into an angry circus.

    I recentedly looked up some statistics. Currently, in states that usually go Republican have the highest rates of Americans lacking health insurance with the opposite being true of states that traditionally go Democratic. The fact is the GOP had 12 years in control of Congress and health care wasn’t a priority to them. SCHIP, the public health program for children doesn’t get much conservative support — even in states where they get unborn children covered to encourage women to not have abortions — funding gets cut, thus so do the recepients of federal aid. How does that help fight abortion?

    Regularly, fiscal year after fiscal year, funding is cut to public education. Yet, we’re willing to borrow $10 billion dollars a month to fight a war and rebuild Iraq? My focus here is not the ‘rightness’ or ‘wrongness’ of certain policies, but the perception of priorities.

    There are plenty of Democrats — ones I know — who hold traditional Christian moral values particularly among African Americans and Hispanics. However, for whatever reason, they vote in terms of domestic and economic policies. Everyone in my household voted for Obama except for myself.

    Hispanics and African Americans, which primarily make up the majority of the bottom of the economic bracket don’t have a sense that the GOP really cares about their concerns. Overwhelmingly in this last election, these two groups went for Obama more so than in the last election. It’s one thing to say that the mechanism of government is not going to help people who are socio-economically disadvantaged, but that doesn’t mean don’t do anything. I think there’s a reason Republicans don’t come to mind when thinking of legislators who are adamant about finding some way to assist the American people, particularly the most vulnerable. This isn’t the say Democratic positions are the solutions, but if it doesn’t even seem to be a priority — and I don’t see how when fundng is being directed away from inner city schools and social programs that provide a safety net for the most vulnerable are first in line to lose funding — I think it’s difficult for the GOP to make its case for the groups that go Democratic in large numbers, particularly Hispanics who are a growing population.

    In essence, if the Republican Party without going left on “life issues” goes left on economic policies, I honestly will welcome it. Maybe then I’d switch parties.

  • The GOP did not fail. the RNC did. The GOP took over Tennessee by keeping on message and target unlike the national RNC.

  • Sarah Palin did not fail, John McCain did. Ms. Parker went into panic attack on Sarah in mid-September at the height of the attacks on her state, number of children, NRA membership, Trig, etc. Gone wobbly since then. Seems to think Democrat Lite is the way for GOP to go. Might be hanging out with Christie Todd Whitman too long. As for the need of a MoDo-style columnist- so who is Ann Coulter? Only tougher, smarter, funnier on an off day than Mo at her best. Ms. Parker- chill.

  • I’m not sure Parker would be classified as a Beltway Insider–I think she’s in NC these days and if I recall used to work for a Florida paper. I think she is mainstream Protestant of the type for whom mentioning religion in conversation is a social no-no, however. Though I’ve been a fan of her writing for years–and recent columns notwithstanding she can be quite good when she wants to be– I have often found her to be disappointingly lily-livered when it comes to contentious religious and social issues. It’s really too bad that she seems to have imploded, both as a political commentator and as a writer, over recent events. I’m at a loss to explain her reaction to Sarah Palin. One would think a student of politics could look past a candidate’s cotillion bearing.

  • The citizens of Gardner, KS are currently working to recall two members of their City Council. The recall is tied up in the courts at the moment, but it should go to a vote in March of 2010.

Catholic Campaign for Human Development – Tainted by ACORN or Still Rotten Itself?

Tuesday, November 25, AD 2008

A lone individual with a sign protesting the second collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development sets Vox Nova‘s Morning’s Minion on a tirade against Fr. Neuhaus and evangelicals:

After a moment of confusion, it suddenly dawned on me what this was about. And then I became rather angry. Yes, it was just one “whack-job”, but I was still angry. And then I thought of Fr. Richard John Neuhaus’s partially-successful attempt to align Catholics with the emergent right-wing evangelical movement, and realized that it had come to this. Catholics, including Neuhaus, were lambasting an anti-poverty program because it simply did not fit with the the ideological talking points of the hour.

As Fr. Neuhaus points out, “Ten years ago, CCHD was exposed as using the Catholic Church as a milk cow to fund organizations that frequently were actively working against the Church’s mission, especially in their support of pro-abortion activities and politicians.”

Pointing to the CCHD’s stated principles, including that it “will not consider organizations which promote or support abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty, or any other affront to human life and dignity,” Morning’s Minion dismisses Neuhaus’ concerns:

This is important as many of the critics (including Neuhaus) claim it is funding pro-abortion activities. (Yet again, the mis-use of the abortion agenda as a Trojan horse to further a distinctly less noble cause– will this ever end?)

Unfortunately, Neuhaus’ claim is true — CCHD has a disappointing history of, contrary to its stated principles, providing extensive funding for questionable political groups with agendas morally at odds with Catholic teaching.

8 Responses to Catholic Campaign for Human Development – Tainted by ACORN or Still Rotten Itself?

  • “were lambasting an anti-poverty program because it simply did not fit with the the ideological talking points of the hour.”

    Funding a far-left group that engages in voter fraud is anti-poverty? I assume that Obama’s Minion can square that particular circle.

  • I can’t think of a single orthodox Catholic I know who has ever given a dime to the CCHD.

    In fact, I have always considered it be Catholic in same spirit as Catholics for a Free Choice is Catholic. It calls itself Catholic, but after that all bets are off. In fact CCFC is most certainly far more welcome on CCHD grounds than is actually Church teaching.

  • The unfortunate reality is that CCHD is far too comfortable with groups that advocate against the unborn. This is another reason why charity should be as local as possible: Christ called us to help our neighbor, there is never a shortage of need, and the opportunity for that sort of nonsense is less.

  • I emailed the Diocese of Joliet about my disgust with CCHD. Here is the not at all reassuring reply:

    I note your concerns about the use of Catholic Campaign for Human Development funds in the Joliet Diocese, and I want to assure you that none of the local CCHD funded groups are affiliated with ACORN. As you may know, CCHD is a program developed by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to address domestic poverty. The Campaign funds projects that empower the poor to develop leadership skills and to organize so that they can be successful in their own efforts to break the cycle of poverty. All local grant applications are carefully screened by the diocesan coordinator and a CCHD committee made up of representatives from various parishes within the diocese to ensure that the objectives and actions of each funded group are consistent with Catholic Social Teaching. In addition, the Bishop endorses every project recommended for funding here in the Joliet area. National grant applications are carefully evaluated by CCHD national staff and must be approved by a group of bishops selected to oversee grants as well. Partisan activity is strictly prohibited for all grantees; any organization engaged in partisan activity is not eligible for funding. Some activities that are encouraged and eligible for funding are: community organizing, job training, legitimate voter registration initiatives, leadership development, citizenship training, and English language classes. The goal is to empower the marginalized groups within our community so that they may enjoy a more active role in shaping their own lives. In this way they can move from poverty on the fringes of society to a more fulfilling life for themselves and their families as full participating members. For a list and more information about the grants awarded here in the Joliet diocese see A full explanation regarding the mission and policies of CCHD is available at

  • I was at this Mass, and didn’t see the person with the sign. I probably would have gone up to him and given him a high-five. But MM and I don’t often see eye-to-eye on such things.

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Life Expectations, As Viewed Through the Fiat

Tuesday, November 25, AD 2008

When I consider the malaise that has spread across our nation, I ponder where it has come from. Is it a matter of a historical discomfort, so that it has always been present and is simply more noticeable now, or is it a more recent phenomenon? Part of me wants to simply assert that in the past, we were too busy worrying about survival to really bother with such concerns, and that nowadays we have so much luxury time that we can actually sit back a think about things are.

One Response to Life Expectations, As Viewed Through the Fiat

  • Thank you for this article, Ryan. I imagine a lot more can be said about the problems of an entitlement culture; hopefully you can continue to develop these thoughts.

2 Responses to Our Oldest Ally

  • We dig the current Pres, Monsieur Sarkozy. Remarkably sane and clear-thinking chap. We most definitely dig the new Madame Sarkozy- Ms. Carla can come to any old White House state dinner, with or without hubbo. But the French have had their brains marinated by too much Marxist-socialist-existentialist-other ist stuff since WW II. We have problems with their love of any American eccentric- Jerry Lewis, Mickey Roarke, any number of jazz musicians. They also provided aid and comfort to Ira Einhorn- Philly-born spouter of what is now New Age bosh. Round about 1979, he murdered girlfriend Holly Maddux, stuffed the poor child into a box, and skipped off to Europe for well nigh 20 years. Spent much of that time in Burgundy, with la belle Francaise and le good life. In ’01, I remember hearing the whooshwhooshwhoosh of helicopter blades while in downtown Philly. Ol’ Ira was finally home for long stay in le hoosegow. So I got issues with France.

  • Pingback: The Economy » Blog Archive » Manipulation on a Grand Scale- Making Hitler Look Like a Pussy Cat …

Bragging Rights

Monday, November 24, AD 2008

Goodness knows, there are lots of ways that liberals and conservatives manage to annoy each other. Still, one that has struck me recently is an odd sort of bragging rights.

One of the main divisions between these groups at this point in time is over how the less vulnerable in society are best provided with care. The liberal view is generally that comprehensive government programs should be set up to assure that everyone in society has a certain basic level of food, income, medical care, housing, babysitting, rice pudding, etc. The conservative view is generally that guaranteed government handouts create dependency and hurt people in the long run, and that short term help for those in trouble is generally better provided by family, church or private charity.

The problem comes when members of these two groups get together and start arguing about how to help others.

9 Responses to Bragging Rights

  • There’s probably an entire book that could be written about this topic. One way I’ve often thought about it is to describe it as first order vs. second order thinking. Taking the cue from math, you can take the first order derivative of something, and it can tell you one thing. But you have to take the second order derivative to know where you really are — local maximum or minimum. It’s that second order condition that completes the picture and gives you a fuller sense of where you are.

    I would characterize a lot of progressive thought as first order thinking. It often correctly identifies the problem, usually out of a conscience that is rightly ordered toward sympathy and justice, and the emotions they arouse. Unless you dig a little deeper, the immediate temptation is to resort to policy that has coercion as its underpinning. Coercive policy might or might not be warranted, and a technical review of the problem can help find the answer. (And this is true not only of economic policy, but a lot of “progressive” social policy as well).

    Second order thinking isn’t very popular, though. If it takes more than a soundbite to describe a problem and its possible solutions, it won’t get much air time. Hence the corner the conservative is often backed into: not supporting the easy fix, he looks like a curmudgeon at best. The second order inspection often reveals deeper truths that aren’t “convenient,” to coin a phrase.

    In fact, Darwin, one thing you left out from the conservative’s proposed toolkit of solutions that REALLY raises the ire of the Left is morality. Blaming the victim is not what I mean: rather, it’s a general verdict on the nature of mankind’s relationship with God that is at fault. This is a complete non-starter in most cases, and yet – religion aside – how are we ever to cease being moral creatures? We still need the language to talk about morality and rescue it from non-judgmentalism and vapid “tolerance.” There needs to be a way to salvage that tool from the kit, because so many of our economic and social ills have moral causes at their root. (Not entirely, of course, but enough to warrant at least a discussion.)

    We have to move beyond ideologies and soundbites to solve our problems. Serious, sustained thought is necessary to get at the root of the issues. The solutions will not always fit neatly into our worldviews — which is why, even as a conservative, I readily admit that there is a strong role for government to play in many areas of public policy. What the Left also needs to admit is that there are valid arguments to be made for charity, local solutions, market-based approaches, and (yes) “cultural” change on morality. I don’t think these two worldviews are mutually exclusive, yet our rhetoric almost always treats them that way.

  • There’s probably an entire book that could be written about this topic.

    There already is one.

  • Arthur Brooks and I went to the same graduate school, but I doubt that’s why we share some opinions.

  • I think that American conservatives get into trouble when ideology seeps into their solutions, because ideology implies totality – in effect, a denial of the trade-offs that do and will always dominate life. This is to say that policy gets mixed up with ideological principle (Bush’s idea that all kids can be above average in school, and that Wilsonian adventurism made up as spreading democracy to grateful peoples is a-ok). What policy should be mixed up with, instead, is conservative sentiment – against utopia, realizing that trade-offs exist, against ideology. The solutions should be flexible, and we should not be “running people out” of any center-right coalition, which is always shifting and always full of contradiction.

  • I enjoyed this piece for many reasons, not the least of which was the authors frank discussion of the obvious flaws in both viewpoints. I can see agreement with both sides but can’t help remember the frustration I felt trying to help an 18 year old with no medical insurance having an allergic reaction but not wanting an ambulance because he knew he couldn’t pay the bill. Some things may not be rights according to conservatives but how do you explain that to a self reliant 18 who in just another minute or two may not be able to breathe? In other words, theoretical discussions are nice but don’t help many people if they need help right now. Ideaologies are nice but don’t solve many problems, progressives may use coercion, but there solutions to help people.

  • “I felt trying to help an 18 year old with no medical insurance having an allergic reaction but not wanting an ambulance because he knew he couldn’t pay the bill. ”

    You call the ambulance and the 18 year old worries about the bill later. With Universal “free” Government Health Care the thrifty 18 year old will soon find that his paycheck has a lot more to worry about than an ambulance bill.

  • You missed my point. I was on the ambulance and he needed to be transported and didn’t want to go. I understand that he would have more to worry about from taxes but conservative ideology is very easy to advocate in the abstract and sometimes very difficult to advocate in the specific. The progressive ideology is just the opposite, very easy to advocate in that kind of a situation but very difficult to advocate in the abstract. This is why most people can’t answer the “what about” type arguments of most progressives.

  • “This is why most people can’t answer the “what about” type arguments of most progressives.”

    I think that’s right. It has struck me in arguments related to the automobile bail-out. Progressives are arguing ‘what about all of the people that will be out of a job?’ And conservatives are responding ‘what about the larger number of people you can’t see who will lose their jobs because the bailout involves making a terrible investment with scarce resources?’ The conservative argument is perfectly sound, and, in my view, is superior on policy grounds. But it does have the disadvantage of being more abstract (like the argument about mediating institutions and health care).

  • Micah,

    Good point.

    Another element, tying specifically into the point you make about the ambulance, is the inability of many people to think longer term.

    There was a point back in college when I specifically skipped paying health insurance for a year, on the theory that the student plan was a thousand dollars in spending that I never got anything for. It figured that that would be the year I managed to injure myself — and so spend six hundred dollars out of pocket on some doctors visits in town. It took me several weeks of kicking myself over this to realize that:
    a) I’d still actually spent less than the 1000 for the insurance
    b) I would have been able to spend much less if I’d shelled out the $120 for a doctors visit right away when I injured myself, instead of walking on it for a couple weeks and showing up when I had a badly healed wound and a tenacious infection.

    That’s one of the things that often strikes me when people talk about the, “By not having health insurance, you force people to get treated in an emergency room for the flu,” argument. It’s certainly true that what many people end up doing without insurance is waiting until things get so bad they end up having to be taken to the ER — but its a self defeating behavior.

    And yet people naturally want to avoid spending the smaller amount of money to get treated when its not an emergency yet.

Petition the United Nations to respect ALL Human Life

Monday, November 24, AD 2008

On December 10th — the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted and proclaimed by the UN General Assembly resolution 217 A (III) of 10 December 1948 — pro-abortion groups will present petitions asking the United Nation’s General Assembly to make abortion a universally recognized human right.

The Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute created an alternate petition drive that calls for government to interpret the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as protecting human life from the moment of conception to natural death.

9 Responses to Regulation & Credit Card Companies

  • I have small love for the credit card companies, as my hundreds of bankruptcy clients can attest, but you can either have easy credit with little regulation, or you can have tight credit with lots of regulation. Credit card debt is a classic unsecured debt. Those type of debts are going to have high interest rates unless the government subsidizes the loans. Who knows? Perhaps the government will be doing that in a few months. The Federal government is doing precisely the wrong thing with the bailouts, and I imagine this philosophy will spread with the government taking on additional obligations that the taxpayers will never be able to pay. Far better to let debtors, both individual and corporate take bankruptcy.

  • I am relatively open to regulation, and I hold no love for credit card companies, but capping their interest rates just drives people to pay day lenders and loan sharks, with worse outcomes than bankruptcy.

  • Pay day lender loans often have rates, in Illinois, that work out to about 345% per annum or worse.

  • Donald,

    I agree that unsecured debt is going to carry a higher interest rate, but it seems to me that it would be relatively easy to cap the interest rate at something like the the prime rate plus 6-8 percent. This would undoubtedly reduce the availability of credit to some borrowers, but many of these borrowers are simply postponing the inevitable. On average, a person who is willing to borrow at an 18% APR for a significant period of time is not in a good position to repay it.

    This would mean that people would probably have to declare bankruptcy earlier, and perhaps on the margin it would force more people into bankruptcy because of the lack of available credit. It seems to me that this might be a better outcome. People would not be able to incur as much debt, which would mean less crushing levels of debts for debtors and less write-offs for financial service companies. It would also protect individuals who are not particularly financially savvy from excessively high interest rates.


    You raise a good point about pay-day lenders. Any reform would have to encompass pay day lenders as well (necessarily with somewhat higher interest rates), so that the situation would not be made worse than it currently is.

  • “but it seems to me that it would be relatively easy to cap the interest rate at something like the the prime rate plus 6-8 percent.”

    It’s certainly very easy to do John Henry by government fiat, but it would also place credit cards out of the hands of most people who believe that they need credit. Today the prime rate is 4.00. Limit credit card rates to 10.00 or 12.00 and only people with pristine credit ratings will be able to have credit cards. Banks are in business to make money and they are not going to give unsecured loans to people with less than stellar credit histories without the ability to charge interest rates commensurate with the risk. I believe adults should be able to decide for themselves whether an interest rate on a credit card is too high. Careful buyers with good credit ratings can get low interest credit cards. For the rest, let them make the decision as to what is in their economic interest rather than have the government take that decision from them. The vast majority of credit card debt is repaid so I would submit that only a small minority of credit card holders are unable or unwilling to live up to the terms of their agreements. I prefer a society with easy credit and high interest rates on unsecured debt to government regulation which artificially lowers interest rates and dries up credit.

  • On average, a person who is willing to borrow at an 18% APR for a significant period of time is not in a good position to repay it.

    Generally speaking, an interest rate will reflect convenience (both convenience of the borrower and potential inconvenience for the lender) as part of the interest rate. One of the things about credit cards is that they allow you to take out a significant loan (up to a certain amount) at any time, and pay it back whenever you want, so long as you’re making a pretty minimal payment. That naturally increases the interest rate — both because the lender doesn’t know when they’ll get their money back, and because the borrower can take out money based on circumstances that he knows about but the lender doesn’t.

    So for instance, if I lost my job, and then we had a major medical expense, I could run up a few thousand dollars on my credit card without any clear idea of how I’d pay it, using it as a way to get a 5k loan without collateral or any fixed pay-off period and wait till I had work again — but if the lender had to evaluate me at that moment they would certainly not offer to give me 5k given that I had no income.

    In other words, it give the borrower the edge in terms of information.

    Now, I agree that credit card companies are often, to some extent, predatory in their approach. They know that if they have good enough ways of calculating who really needs money but will eventually pay it all of, they can successfully land long term borrowers who will net them a lot of interest.

    However, that the CC companies even make much money in the first place suggests that much of the time they do indeed get paid off — which means that most borrowers aren’t simply postponing the inevitable. (While nearly everyone who declares bankruptcy doubtless has lots of CC debt, most people with CC debt never declare bankruptcy.)

    I suppose a lot depends on what you mean by “significant period”. We’ve had a pair of nearly year long periods in our marriage when a combination of unexpected expenses and low income resulted in carrying a balance — though for a slightly lower interest rate.

    The trick is, I was fairly confident in my ability to earn and save my way out of those situations — but a government regulator is not really in a good position to determine if a given borrower is.

  • Donald,

    “I prefer a society with easy credit and high interest rates on unsecured debt to government regulation which artificially lowers interest rates and dries up credit.”

    As I said there is a trade-off here. I guess my problem is that credit card companies frequently (still more, pay-day loan companies) engage in predatory lending tactics that increase profitability but harm financially unsophisticated individuals. I think this is immoral in some cases, although I am not going to grab a pitchfork and start chanting ‘usury! usury!’. Just because something is immoral does not mean it should be illegal, and usum non tollit abusus.

    Nevertheless, I would be interested in looking at ways to curb the more questionable practices. As you note, this is a paternalistic approach that would constrict individual parties’ freedom to contract. I have not conducted the type of empirical studies that would be necessary to identify the best ways to change the existing law (the 6%-8% plus prime figure was intended as an example rather than a proposal). In any system there will be individuals who make irresponsible decisions with their freedom, as well as some level of regulation to protect consumers. The question is: have we struck the best balance between freedom of contract and regulation? I am not sure that we have, and I can think of explanations for that state of affairs (credit card companies likely are more effective lobbyists), but I am open to being persuaded otherwise.

  • Darwin,

    “In other words, it gives the borrower the edge in terms of information…but a government regulator is not really in a good position to determine if a given borrower is (likely to be able to pay back the money).”

    A well-thought out response (as was Donald’s). I agree, of course, that the government is not in a good position to determine if an individual borrower would be best served by additional debt. At the same time, it seems to me that there is often an information asymmetry between borrowers and credit card companies. For instance, a credit card company can increase the interest rate rather suddenly on a borrower – and borrower’s often do not consider this ex ante. In the article cited below, an individual missed one payment and immediately their interest rate increased from 9% to 30%.

    That individual was able to pay off the balance and immediately did, but those types of practices are not uncommon, and not everyone can pay off the balance that quickly. The incentive structure for credit card companies is to push people just to the verge of bankruptcy with higher interest rates, before working out a payment plan at a lower rate (e.g. somewhere between 9% and 30%). And, of course, it is the least sophisticated borrowers who are disproportionately impacted. It is fair to respond to all this that the inability of some people to manage their finances should not deprive the sensible majority of a very useful financial planning tool. I am not proposing that we do away with credit card companies; simply suggesting that this is an area (and there aren’t many) where I might support more regulation. Although I wasn’t aware of this when I wrote the post, it appears that the Federal Reserve and Congress are considering additional regulations that would take effect next year (in fact, if the article is correct, that may be one of the reasons why the interest rate for carrying a balance on our card is being raised now). It seems to me that there is a real difference in information between borrowers and credit card companies, that credit card companies often have greater bargaining power after the initial transactions, and that credit card companies are a sophisticated party with an incentive to encourage people to make unwise financial decisions. In such cases, I am more sympathetic to a higher level of regulatory oversight. In any case, it will be interesting to see what happens next year.

  • And similarly, I’m not necessarily totally against regulation of such companies per se — but it strikes me that most of the regulation ideas which are developed specifically by those wanting to “protect the poor from predatory lending” aren’t unhelpful. Maybe in part because those with that specific aim often attempt too much.

    I could potentially see things which are fairly circumscribed working well — designed more to change the weighting of the game rather than “protect” people. For instance, one might allow rate changes at most once a year and limit the amount a rate could be increased as a “penalty rate”. (Though one would need to understand this would result in higher rates over all and weigh the two possibilities.)

17 Responses to We Have No King But Jesus

  • It would be nice to see this blog put into practice this insight that we have no king but Jesus. Nice words, but there is little behind them.

  • Not even Thanksgiving is a good enough reason to take a break from unfair generalizations and polemics, eh?

  • Catholic Anarchist you never let any American holiday go by without displaying your hatred of your native land do you? I truly do pity you.

  • The Feast of Christ the King is not an American holiday, Donald.

  • But you showed up and left your comment nearly a week after the Feast of Christ the King, as part of your fuss about people’s Thanksgiving posts.

    I must admit, Michael, I’m never quite clear what it is that you consider putting Christ above king to consist of — other than sharing your personal preferences and prejudices on a range of topics. And yet, I must asume that there are many ways to grant God proper place, respect, and worship in our lives other than being Michael Iafrate.

  • Darwin, that comment made no sense. Rephrase?

  • With less intricate sentence structure:

    You often comment that others put America before Catholicism. Your comment that it would be nice if people here “had no king but Jesus” seems very much along those lines.

    Your use of this accusation often seems to amount to, “You have different opinions about American culture and politics than I do!”

    I’m not clear why differing from your assessment of American culture and politics amounts to putting America before the Church. Surely being Michael Iafrate is not the only correct way to have a correctly ordered relationship to God and Country.

  • I’m not clear why differing from your assessment of American culture and politics amounts to putting America before the Church.

    But clearly I’m not critiquing just any difference of opinion, but the fact that so many bloggers here buy into American civil religion, most especially the pseudo-worship of soldiers. Many of you have more respect for U.S. troops than you do for the U.S. bishops. That’s a problem.

  • Depends on the soldier and the bishop 🙂

  • Michael,

    Like your open support of pro-abortion Obama than you do for U.S. Bishops?

  • Michael – caricatures and insults are easy – any drunk at a baseball game can do that much. If there is a specific position that I or someone else has taken that you think indicates membership in “American civil religion”, please bring it to our attention. You may be right after all; but sweeping generalizations don’t help anybody.

  • Michael,

    While “guy into American civil religion” is a wonderfully grad-school-ish phrase of derision, I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen you convincingly make the case that your opponents participate in it, other than simply making the assertion when people express sentiments you disagree with. Nor does your claim about the “pseudo-worship of soldiers” strike me as particularly sensible. Certainly, a number of us frequently express gratitude for the sacrifices that soldiers make. I’m sure that you would agree it is not easy or pleasant to be deployed in often primitive conditions, away from family, exposed to danger, and under obedience. I think most people recognize this and are thus thankful for the sacrifices which servicemen make on their country’s behalf.

    Many of you have more respect for U.S. troops than you do for the U.S. bishops. That’s a problem.

    Again, I’m not really sure what you mean by this.

    Certainly, there are many here who have criticized the USCCB as a body or bishops individually on various issues. Surely you can hardly criticize this, as you once (to my mind wrongly) accused the entire USCCB with the exception of one eastern rite bishops of lacking male genitals, simply because you thought the bishops should have used rhetoric similar to your own about the Iraq War.

    I would wager that everyone here respects the office of bishop more than the office of soldier. The soldier’s office is to obey and to have courage, willingness to sacrifice and suffer the deprivations of being in danger far from home. The bishop’s office is to be a shepherd to the people of Christ, providing them with both teaching and the sacraments. In that much, much more is expected of an individual bishop than of an individual soldier, it can hardly be surprising that it is easy to criticize bishops for not living up to their duties.

    While people should keep this in mind, and be hesitant to criticize the bishops excessively, I don’t really see how it could even be a reasonable comparison to argue that someone has more respect for soldiers as a group than for bishops as a group. Certainly not unless someone had been so foolish as to actually state the sentiment openly.

    Your making it against people here doesn’t really strike me as any more reasonable than if I were to say that you respected Chomsky more than the bishops.

  • Many of you have more respect for U.S. troops than you do for the U.S. bishops. That’s a problem.

    A phantom one, at best. Showing respect for our troops in no way diminishes our respect for our bishops, whether we blog about it or not. Frankly, I find that our soldiers are in much more need for our prayers and support, given the danger they’re in (not just of imminent death, but psychological trauma, and spiritual decay). But I don’t see how you come off making your accusation. Our soldiers work to gain us temporal good; our bishops work to gain us eternal spiritual good. That the latter is so obviously more valuable should barely warrant comment.

    Buy into American civil religion? How so? I suppose that if you believe people here at A.C. support unjust war and torture and lining the pockets of the rich at the expense of the poor, you have reason to believe we are in error. But maybe you’ll be willing to explain how those are even part of this “American civil religion” you mentioned. And maybe you’ll consider that there’s a difference between the “religion” and the practitioners. The U.S. is against unjust war, against torture, and dedicated to helping the poor and the righting of injustices. Where is that even in conflict with the Catholic Church? I’ll concede that we’ve had people, even presidents, that have not molded well to what America stands for, but then we’re arguing about sinners and application of principles.

    It would be nice to see this blog put into practice this insight that we have no king but Jesus.

    It would be nice to see something more substantive as a comment than just a snide statement. Really, Michael, I’ve read your comments for a while, and they mostly seem to have no point but to deride. Getting more insightful statements from you is like pulling teeth. Granted, I’ll give you that some of us have not been the most charitable towards you, but if you have valid concerns about what we’re doing here at A.C., it would be far more helpful, constructive, and enlightening–both for those of us who contribute directly and those who read here looking for insight–if you took some time not just to point out flaws, but even explain how you even believe we have these flaws, and what you think we should do to fix them.

    But clearly I’m not critiquing just any difference of opinion, but the fact that so many bloggers here buy into American civil religion,

    This is exactly my concern about your comments. You simply make this brash statement with nothing around it make it insightful or helpful. Maybe I’m just dense, but when you say “American civil religion”, what are you even talking about? Such a statement is pretty vacuous because there’s not context behind it. Maybe for you, it should be obvious that it means something like “worshiping G.W. Bush as God”, but for me, when you say “American civil religion” what I think of is the religion of “me before anyone else”, “no one can interfere with my ‘sexual rights'”, “as long as it doesn’t ‘hurt’ anyone else”, and so forth.

    DC tried to involve you into an actual conversation (though arguably not the best way of going about it) of how what we’re doing here places America before Church, and you respond with just another unsubstantiated assertion that we’re, in your opinion, placing America before Church. I know I feel, and probably most others feel, that you’re stating A, and then try to prove A by restating A.

    Moreover, these discussions we could be having are some of the important discussion to have. Yet it feels too much of the time that the conversation just becomes “You’re wrong–nuh uh–yeah huh–nuh uh–yeah huh–nuh uh–yeah huh….”

  • Maybe I’m just dense, but when you say “American civil religion”, what are you even talking about? Such a statement is pretty vacuous because there’s not context behind it.

    Sure there is. “ACR” is a term with a meaning. Perhaps you could look it up instead of saying that my statement has no meaning.

  • Still waiting on an argument or evidence Michael…

  • You’ll be waiting for a long time . . . his sneers aren’t often backed up by any rational thought process.

  • That a term has a meaning does not mean that it can be applied to a person or group without justification. I can thinking of a lot of terms which I might apply to you, which you would no doubt consider to be inaccurate descriptions, despite the fact that the terms do very much have meaning.

    If you’re talking about “American civic religion” in the sense coined by Bellah in the 60s, my recollection is that this was a sociological term used to describe a shared set of ideals, values, holidays and “civic rituals”. It does not necessarily designate, as you seem to imply, worship of the state — or indeed a reverential or religious attitude towards the state at all.

    Given your general attitude towards things American I can see why you would use it as a derogatory label — and perhaps you read people who do. Sociology is not particularly my bag. But even if so, you don’t appear to be making a sociological argument, but rather imagining that you’ve come up with a rather damning indictment of the general tenor here. And at least from a general knowledge of the term, I don’t see how your statement is meaningful.

What Makes Music American?

Sunday, November 23, AD 2008

Tito and Donald have instituted a worthy tradition of posting music on the weekends here at American Catholic, and so as the weekend winds to a close I thought I would attempt by own contribution to the genre, though with a characteristically analytical slant.

I’m not sure how it is that one can say that a piece of music “sounds like” a particular country. And yet some pieces of music very clearly have a regional tone. For instance, Vaughan Williams orchestral music simply sounds like English countryside.

While I don’t think I could describe what it is that makes something sound American, the following are some of the most American-sounding pieces of music that I know of.

Jerome Moross received an Oscar nomination for the score he wrote for Big Country, the outstanding 1958 western staring Gregory Peck, Charleton Heston and Burl Ives.

The movie itself is very much worth watching, and the score is one of my favorite movie scores. This video illustrates the main theme with scenes from the movie.

16 Responses to What Makes Music American?

Canonical Options For Dealing With FOCA

Sunday, November 23, AD 2008

With President-elect Obama assembling together the most anti-life and anti-family radicals imaginable for his upcoming administration.  In addition to ignoring the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) statement* (November 12, 2008 AD) to reconsider not signing the misnomered Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA).  Along with other abortion related executive, judicial, and legislative acts, the options to combat this evil are becoming fewer for American Catholics.

With American Catholics being left to their faith for sustenance, our shepherds, the Catholic Bishops (USCCB), may need to review their canonical options for dealing with Catholic legislative support for FOCA.  The USCCB will have to engage the issue of well known “Catholic legislators supporting a specifically and gravely evil bill” as Dr. Edward Peters, a well respected canon lawyer, stated today on his blog.  Dr. Edward Peters sees four (4) canonical options in “dealing with these Catholic legislators who support FOCA” (emphasis mine):

1. Canon 915. Make plain, by public announcement and/or private contact, that a legislator’s support for FOCA qualifies as (probably formal, but certainly proximate material) cooperation with objective grave evil and that such conduct, in this case, would render one ineligible for reception of holy Communion under Canon 915.

3 Responses to Canonical Options For Dealing With FOCA

  • As Prof. Dr. Peters outlines, numerous options for our shepherds in case FOCA gets Mr. Obama’s John Hancock. The one possibility for prevention is that other issues command his attention, particularly the economy. If not, the bishops are in a significant bind. Many bold and freeswinging letters, documents, interview quotes were issued before November 4. Oops- the majority of our brethren voted with the understanding that economic issues trump the lives of unborn babies. Some quick and fast evangelization may be needed to reinforce opposition to FOCA. Never a very good idea to call for battle with no troops behind the generals.

  • Forget the troops! Be true shepherds and defend the magisterium regardless of the flock. The Bishops are wholly responsible for 54% of Catholics voting for evil by their equivocating in their ‘Faithful Citizenship’ Document. They must now act and act boldly. Forget the economy, the rich progressive benefactors, and lead, or resign. Also, the Vatican needs to be more selective when it chooses Bishops. The time for gentle politics is over. Act now and act decisively! This will seep back into what little is left the Church if no action is taken.

  • COLUMBIA, S.C. – A South Carolina Roman Catholic priest has told his parishioners that they should refrain from receiving Holy Communion if they voted for Barack Obama because the Democratic president-elect supports abortion, and

3 Responses to The Toleration Act of Maryland