Bishop Joseph Martino: "No Social Issue Has Caused The Death Of 50 million People"

Wednesday, October 22, AD 2008

Last week InsideCatholic.com editor Deal Hudson complained about the use of the Bishops’ document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” to justify a vote for Senator Barack Obama — who as Robert P. George persuasively argued, is “not merely a pro-choice politician, but rather as the most extreme pro-abortion candidate to have ever run on a major party ticket”.

27 Responses to Bishop Joseph Martino: "No Social Issue Has Caused The Death Of 50 million People"

  • Do I detect a double standard?

    For some people, the Catholic Church and its Bishops are just a convenient tool to be used in support of their pre-existing political ideology.

  • It’s interesting that the USCCB had near universal approval, but many (61) bishops have come out to ‘clarify’ the document in their own dioceses. Do the bishops actually read what they approve?

    What is a particular issue with me is that sometimes the USCCB is treated as an alternate or parallel national ‘magisterium’. Nowhere in canon law, tradition, scripture, et al do we have a need or a proscription of an alternate magisterium.

    Is the USCCB a way that some (spine-deficient) bishops use as cover to not use their teaching position to express secularly touchy issues? I think it is used in this way by some.

  • Botean’s statement on Iraq was in continuity with the judgment of the Vatican and the USCCB, and he did not speak against the USCCB. As I said in the quote of mine you cited, what Botean did was to give pastoral weight to the view of the USCCB. Martino’s statement, on the other hand, is simply an explicit rejection of the USCCB. It’s hardly a double-standard. The two situations are entirely different.

    The real double-standard is the one I pointed to in my post on Martino.

  • What is a particular issue with me is that sometimes the USCCB is treated as an alternate or parallel national ‘magisterium’. Nowhere in canon law, tradition, scripture, et al do we have a need or a proscription of an alternate magisterium.

    The USCCB is not an “alternative” magisterium, but it is indeed part of the magisterium because it is comprised of bishops:

    “22. In dealing with new questions and in acting so that the message of Christ enlightens and guides people’s consciences in resolving new problems arising from changes in society, the Bishops assembled in the Episcopal Conference and jointly exercizing their teaching office are well aware of the limits of their pronouncements. While being official and authentic and in communion with the Apostolic See, these pronouncements do not have the characteristics of a universal magisterium. For this reason the Bishops are to be careful to avoid interfering with the doctrinal work of the Bishops of other territories, bearing in mind the wider, even world-wide, resonance which the means of social communication give to the events of a particular region.

    Taking into account that the authentic magisterium of the Bishops, namely what they teach insofar as they are invested with the authority of Christ, must always be in communion with the Head of the College and its members,(83) when the doctrinal declarations of Episcopal Conferences are approved unanimously, they may certainly be issued in the name of the Conferences themselves, and the faithful are obliged to adhere with a sense of religious respect to that authentic magisterium of their own Bishops.”

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/motu_proprio/documents/hf_jp-ii_motu-proprio_22071998_apostolos-suos_en.html

  • Michael I.,

    First of all congratulations on your newborn child. This has got to be a wonderful and momentous time in your life.

    Second of all, don’t you think you’re clouding the issue with your double-speak (double-standard). Clearly Botean went beyond the USCCB letter. He put his own opinion and conflated with Church teaching to push his particular agenda. He has every right to do so, but it is just the same still a double standard.

  • Oh man, my bad. I wasn’t paying close enough attention and thought this was another website (American Papist). Had I known it was American Catholic I would not have replied to this post. Do accept my apologies. Won’t happen again.

  • Michael I.,

    By saying that “it is PART of the Magisterium” is to lend it the same teaching authority of the Magisterium.

    If you read Pope JP2’s motu proprio carefully it says, “these pronouncements do not have the characteristics of a universal magisterium”.

    So any teaching document that comes out or approved by the USCCB is not part of the magisterium.

  • Second of all, don’t you think you’re clouding the issue with your double-speak (double-standard). Clearly Botean went beyond the USCCB letter. He put his own opinion and conflated with Church teaching to push his particular agenda.

    Yes, he went beyond it, but in continuity with it. What he did was to give specific pastoral guidance to his diocese based on 1) just war teaching and 2) the common view of the Vatican and the USCCB on the specifics of the Iraq War. His pastoral guidance was given in communion with the judgment of the Church. What Martino did was the direct opposite.

  • Good . . . your ideological pre-commitments often prevent any contribution to helpful or honest debate.

  • Michael I.,

    Thank you for your kind comments in comparison to American Papist.

  • By saying that “it is PART of the Magisterium” is to lend it the same teaching authority of the Magisterium.

    If you read Pope JP2’s motu proprio carefully it says, “these pronouncements do not have the characteristics of a universal magisterium”.

    So any teaching document that comes out or approved by the USCCB is not part of the magisterium.

    Tito, to say that the USCCB does not enjoy the authority of the “universal magisterium” means that its teaching is not applicable to the Church as a whole, but only to the Church in the region under discussion. This is obvious, because that is the entire purpose of bishops’ conferences, to teach authoritatively in a particular context. Not every USCCB teaching has the same weight, but USCCB teaching IS magisterial teaching in the context of the united states and “the faithful are obliged to adhere with a sense of religious respect to that authentic magisterium of their own Bishops.” Amazing that you can read the same words I copied there and still say that the USCCB is “not part of the magisterium.”

  • Michael I.,

    I agree that Botean’s letter is within Catholic teaching, but so did Bishop Martino’s extended comments on his particular letter did as well.

    I guess we just disagree on the semantics and/or rhetoric that was attached to the respective pronouncements.

  • Michael I.,

    Likewise. We both read the same motu proprio but come away with different understandings of the late Pope’s document.

    I think we just disagree on what the definition and the utility of what Magisterium is.

  • I agree that Botean’s letter is within Catholic teaching, but so did Bishop Martino’s extended comments on his particular letter did as well.

    Martino EXPLICITLY REJECTED the USCCB document in his comments at a parish session on Faithful Citizenship. Perhaps you missed that part.

    We both read the same motu proprio but come away with different understandings of the late Pope’s document.

    The motu proprio explicitly says that bishops’ conferences are part of the “authentic magisterium.”

    I think we just disagree on what the definition and the utility of what Magisterium is.

    I suggest you do further study on this. The magisterium is the teaching authority of the bishops in union with the Bishop of Rome. The definition is straightforward. It could even be said to be “non-negotiable,” to use language that you could understand.

  • I was just wondering. Are they going to show this video in Churches between now and November 4th?

    http://www.catholicvote.com/

    I stumbled upon this video it by accident and I doubt if most Catholics have seen it. Also, will there be a final “push” by priests in their homilies to vote for the “Culture of Life”?

  • Don’t have much time to discuss further, but I do believe Botean — as Michael Iafrate recognized in his original praise — went above and beyond the USCCB with respect to his statement on the war.

    Cardinal McCarrick, March 25 2003:

    Q: One-third of the U.S. soldiers are Catholic. For them, this war represents a moral dilemma.

    Cardinal McCarrick: Certainly. Because of this, as an episcopal conference we have been very careful not to classify their participation in the conflict as immoral, both because we are not up-to-date on all the facts that have led to the conflict, as well as because these young people do not have decision-making power.

    For Botean this was a clear certainty, and it follows — from his perspective — that the episcopal conference’s reluctance to declare participation on the part of US Catholics in the armed forces immoral was wrong.

    Botean didn’t explicitly challenge the USCCB’s statement, but he did go further.

  • I think it’s also important to be clear on Martino’s comments: Read in context (you approve of reading in context, do you not, Michael) he does not say that the USCCB document is wrong, but rather said forcefully that the USCCB document could not be used in order to undermine what he had said clearly and forcefully in his letter.

    I guess one can quibble with the way in which he chose to say that the USCCB document should not be used to undermine his teaching, but saying that he explicitly reject the document is wrong.

  • Michael I.,

    What Brendan/Darwin & Christopher said.

    Again, we can agree to disagree.

  • Cathy,

    We did post the video here on American Catholic.

    Go here:

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2008/10/11/american-catholic-2008/

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,

    Tito

  • We may be seeing the beginning of the end of the USCCB. Both as a formal organization and as a means of our shepherds to speak with one voice. The events of this year are pulling it apart- the presidential election, the likelihood of a radical pro-abortion advocate to the presidency, Pope Benedict’s lectureat their gathering, the babblings of Senator Biden and Speaker Pelosi. If 61 bishops have felt it necessary to make their own statements about abortion, citizenship and the like; if certain stellar prelates like Archbishop Chaput and Bishop Martino have been much bolder than their peers, the usual okey-doke collegiality may now be a thing of the past. Good riddance. The USCCB format may not work in an atmosphere where there will be- not might, will be- direct opposition by Obama Administration officials against the U.S. Church on Issue Number One. Different wars call for different weapons. The usual nuanced USCCB statement might be a popgun when bigger, more powerful weapons are needed.

  • I am not particularly a fan of the USCCB. It has ‘some’ useful functions, but in my opinion it has been a joke for quite awhile.

    It will be interesting how much tap-dancing the USCCB will be displaying if an Obama presidency materializes. How much certain bishops will speak up for Obama and not against his anti-life policies.

    The USCCB needs to reform or face futher scrutiny. A post may be forthcoming.

  • I guess one can quibble with the way in which he chose to say that the USCCB document should not be used to undermine his teaching, but saying that he explicitly reject the document is wrong.

    Indeed I am a fan of reading things in context. The “context” was a meeting about Faithful Citizenship in which a variety of views on who to vote for were expressed. Martino said that the USCCB document is “irrelevant.” I don’t see how you can say that this is not an explicit rejection of FS. You seem to be abusing the idea of reading “in context.”

    Tito and Gerard, the USCCB is not going anywhere. Paul VI proclaimed the importance of bishops conferences and JPII affirmed it.

  • Michael I.,

    I agree with you. I just want the USCCB to clear and coherent on Church teaching. Not muddy the water and drive over 60 bishops to issue ‘clarifications’ on documents.

  • Michael,

    Context means looking at more than one word. That he used the word “irrelevant” does not mean that he was rejecting Faithful Citizenship as a document. He has presented it as his judgement that there are currently no proportional reasons for voting for a pro-choice candidate — and has done so in a way which is certainly not contradictory to the structure of reasoning laid out by Faithful Citizenship. (I would disagree with some of the commenters above that there is anything wrong with FC as a document — other than being a bit discursive as a result of being committee written.)

    But I can certainly understand his frustration with people trying to use the document which he himself had a part in writing and approving against what he considers to be the obviousl conclusion to draw from it. (Just as you’ve been known to get a little hot under the collar when those who disagree with you about the Iraq War explain their reasoning via just war doctrine.) And I don’t think his words were in appropriate in that context.

    On the question of the USCCB which some of brought up above — I certainly don’t see reason to expect some sort of “crack up” for it in the coming years. Though the centuries, local hierarchies have always been pulled into the political and cultural turmoils of the day, and I don’t think its surprising that we see similar turmoils in the USCCB as they grapple with how to bring the US back towards something more resembling a culture of life.

  • But I can certainly understand his frustration with people trying to use the document which he himself had a part in writing and approving against what he considers to be the obviousl conclusion to draw from it.

    Actually, from what I understand, Martino decided not to attend the meeting at which FS was voted on.

  • Moral issues and Voting issues do not mix.
    To argue Morality, then to cleanly slip into Politics is an enormous and wrenching step that the Bishop wants us to believe is simple and easy.

    To vote pro-life is no guarantee that the candidate actually believes in the religious and moral import of the notion, nor that he has any intention of acting according to his beliefs.
    The Bishop seems to think that the label of pro-life being attached to a candidate is enough for the voter.
    An entire life does not render a voter capable of comprehending the complexities of God’s world; not to know why evil exists, not to know why we suffer; just dumb brutes pulling voting machine levers.

    Not to vote if a sufficiently adequate pro life candidate is not in the race means running the risk of allowing worse policies to become law under the leadership of elected officials with no input from voters who reflect on moral law.

    The Bishop’s letter is the product of a wondeful mind, which yet is simple to the point of dangerously allowing candidates under the label of pro life to be elected and to quite possibly foster pernicious policies against the general welfare.

11 Responses to The Lion of Pennsylvania

Calling a Spade an Earth-Destroying Instrument of Destruction

Tuesday, October 21, AD 2008

This started out as a reply to Chris’s “We’re All Socialists Now” post, and just kept going, so I decided to make a whole post out of it instead of clogging the comments.

There is a huge intellectual dishonesty in all of politics, in which it is never so important to simply call a spade a spade, but to distort it for political benefit. A spade to one party is the earth-tearing, vegetation-mutilating instrument of doom, while to the other party it is the vehicle of agricultural and personal independence.

22 Responses to Calling a Spade an Earth-Destroying Instrument of Destruction

  • Great post, Ryan! I especially liked your final sentence.

  • I don’t think we should give ‘other’ people power over what we make. This violates the Principle of Subsidiarity. Jesus did say we will always have the poor. To take my money away from me and giving it to the ‘State’ to redistribute smacks, rightly or wrongly, of Socialism.

    Senator Obama’s heart is in the right place, but he wants to place the decision making abilities of how to spend your hard earned money into the hands of others that may or may not spend it correctly.

    I see where you are coming from about not pigeon-holing a candidate based on his plans. But if it walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck plain and simple. To obfuscate the issue of well Senator Obama ‘means well’ and he really wants to do good with other peoples money is not going to sell to most Americans.

    Good post though.

  • Thanks, Chris. But what, no comment about the bumper-stickers?

    Tito, I have no problem with saying that Obama’s policies smack of socialism, and I disagree with his solutions almost 100%. But the thing is, depending on which side you’re on, shouting socialism either overstates or understates the problem, and like people shouting “racism!” and “bigot!”, simply working on the accusation “socialist!” shuts down honest discourse.

  • Ryan, that entire ‘graph was a great one.

    Tito, I have no philosophical issue with the federal government using *some* of my money for legitimate purposes, even of a “social safety net” variety… after all, our government is of the people, by the people, and for the people, so there is no *intrinsic* conservative objection to federal programs; the problem comes with inefficiency and unintended negative consequences, which is why the principle of subsidiarity is — as you indicate — so important. But I see no reason to be inherently opposed to federal programs, a view I occasionally (you think?) detect coming from the libertarian corner of the conservative tent.

  • No, Ryan. Obama is Jimmy Carter 2.0. Oh you might not have been around during Jimmeh’s time as president. Mortgage rates up to 19 percent. Sluggish stock market. Jimmeh telling us to just wear sweaters to conserve energy. Not to mention The Iranian Hostage Drama. Obama is a Socialist. Socialists aren’t compassionate. My City With All Its Works/pomps has been handicapped for six decades by the most onerous wage tax in this here nation. Why bedroom suburbs like King Of Prussia, Malvern, Cherry Hill have had humongous growth in last quarter century. Oh, City has had continuous Dem mayors since 1952 and City Council domination about that long. Current Mayor Michael Nutter is fine fella, three new Council members have issued strong budget-cutting suggestions they call the Freshman 15. Still the Socialist party. Hope you get a teaching job in the field for which you are receiving an edjermacation. Otherwise, stores like Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Macy’s are always hiring. In the burbs.

  • Gerard,

    I think you missed my point, or maybe I didn’t state it clearly enough. Making a slogan out of “socialist!” certainly appeals to the base. I want to cry “socialist!” myself. But in terms of winning over undecided voters, especially those who see political dishonesty everywhere, that simply doesn’t work. My sardonic remarks about slogans was meant to emphasize that we try to reduce everything to soundbites in the mistaken belief that no one is interested in knowing the details. The point is that Obama has many of the right intentions–which endears him to people–but has horrible solutions. But you can’t convince people his solutions are horrible simply by shouting “socialist!” They need to be convinced, because when they hear you shout “socialist!” they’re not going to simply roll over and say, “okay, I believe you!”

  • Gerard E.,

    You’re referring to Philadelphia right?

    I believe Detroit has had similar problems.

  • Ryan- above post stands. Get clearer.

    Tito- correctamundo. My City of Brotherly Love the home of the NL Champeen Philadelphia Phillies whoo hoo Go Phillies Go.

  • Chris Burgweld,

    I don’t doubt that we do need to the Federal government in certain roles such as national defense and for natural disasters.

    Safety nets sure, but when we start looking more and more like western europe, you better believe that we are already on our way to becoming communists.

    Mikhael Gorgechev once commented on the E.U. that they have become more successful than the Soviet Union/Warsaw Pact in their social policies than they (the Russians) could have ever imagined.

    When you get that kind of endorsement/adulation from a communist, it speaks volumes.

  • Gerard,

    I’m not sure what you’re after, then. If we’re worried about not just intent, but effectiveness, then simply crying “socialist!” to make your point is like using socialism to dig us out of poverty. The intent is in the right place, but the implementation is lacking and actually counterproductive. I agree that Obama’s policies will dig us deep into the welfare state and cripple us economically. But I didn’t write this post to talk about his policies specifically, but how we think we need slogans to save us, and how slogans obscure the issues at hand. Your description of Philadelphia’s plight under socialist management is excellent discourse on why socialism is bad, and is a huge step up from just crying “socialism!” And I don’t believe that someone supporting a socialistic model is evil and devoid of compassion. Misguided, yes; lacking information, yes; stuck in a dreamworld, yes; possessing even a corrupted form of compassion, yes. In order to convince people that socialism is wrong, you can’t simply say “socialism…baaaaaaad.” You have to have explanations. Details, not slogans.

  • Ryan- socialism never works. Inner cities or whole countries. Why Cuban cab drivers are still tooling around in 1959 DeSotos. Why the mainland Chinese people are flocking to the big cities and working their youknowwhats off. Why big cities like mine repeat the same problems while the two main daily papers- subscriptions both waaaaay down- call for more of the same solutions. Socialism takes the human spirit out of the equation. We do really well for ourselves and our families when the wraps are off. The American Dream and so forth. Capitalism is like democracy- not the best idea, but a whole lot better than anything else. Explained?

  • “socialism never works”

    Words to live by. I believe Obama and his backers wish to convert the US into a socialist state of the West European variety. Statements to the contrary are mere campaign ephemera.

  • I think the real problem is when people call an “Earth-Destroying Instrument of Destruction” a spade.

  • Gerard.

    Ah. As so many times I have experienced in life, we’re not connecting because we’re not even arguing the same issue. You want to argue “socialism is wrong”. I want to argue “shouting slogans doesn’t help a candidate in the political realm.” These aren’t even close to the same issue. And as long as you want to make the issue socialism itself, nothing I can say about my post means anything, because my post is not meant to address whether or not socialism is wrong. Similarly, I can argue until I’m blue in the face that we shouldn’t rely on cheap slogans (as good as they feel to say), and you won’t be satisfied because I’m not addressing the issue of socialism.

    If you want, I can make my next post about socialism and its evils, how it is degrading to the human because work is made for man, not man for work, and how work is one of the highest forms of thanksgiving we can give to God, and how socialism turns the whole thing upside down, treating man as purely material, crushing the human dignity by rendering meaningless work and its glorifying aspects, and how socialism leads to the utter economic collapse of a nation even without consider the dignity of a human being. But that wasn’t the topic of this post. The post was about slogans, how they do injustice to candidates, how they provide a cheap, ineffective shortcut to actually defining the issues, looking at specific policies, comparing and contrasting, and making a strong, recognizable case that one’s plan works over the other.

    I would also like to note the following: I wrote “Saying that Obama is a socialist is not calling a spade a spade; it is calling a back-hoe loader a spade…” The order there was intentional. I don’t think calling Obama a socialist is a good thing because I feel the danger he represents is so much bigger than working towards socialistic policies, as many times bigger as a back-hoe loader is bigger than a spade.

    Lastly, (and this is tongue-in-cheek), how can you say that socialism doesn’t work? It does what it purports to do–level the playing the playing field. Of course, that level is abject poverty for all…

  • Heaven knows I enjoy a good hair-splitting session over language matters. But I think part of the problem with parsing the definition of a socialist is that many people who self-identify as socialists have worldviews fairly similar to Obama’s (or perhaps to his left, if that is possible.) The definition seems to have evolved from its orginal form. It happens.

    It’s a bit like the present use of the term “anarchist.” This one really gets my goat (remember what I said about enjoying hair-splitting?) because I was always under the impression that anarchists believed in the abolition of all government. I thought of anarchists as a sort of extreme libertarian. Then I learned that “anarchism” was being embraced again on college campuses, but what was being sold as “anarchism” looked an awful lot like old-fashioned Marxism (which is anything but anarchic) to me.

  • Shoot–that was actually me.

  • Yes, I’ve been cynically amused that the new “anarchism” is basically socialism with lots of talking about how one is really far too sophisticated to believe in the “modern nation state” — but since all these rubes have inflicted one on us we might as well have it give us everything we want.

  • That sort of “anarchism” is just a pose, a faux radical stance adopted by people who, for some reason, want to think of themselves as something different from your garden-variety leftist. But yeah, an “anarchist” who supports government healthcare and gun control is just confused. It’s as if one of the colonists (in Ben Franklin’s era) had claimed to be a radical democrat, but none of his policy proposals involved voting or representation; instead, every proposal involved strengthening the monarchy and giving it more power.

  • The free market or the slave market; pick one.

  • Micha,

    Again, I don’t understand your post. Could you please explain?

    Thanks,

    Tito

  • What a load of crap!

  • d,

    No need for that type of language here. I’m sure you could have expressed yourself in a much more dignified manner.

Prayers Over Politics

Tuesday, October 21, AD 2008

 

Senator Obama is leaving the campaign trail on Thursday until Saturday to visit in Hawaii his gravely ill maternal grandmother Madelyn Dunham.  I trust that all Catholics, especially Catholics who, as I do, support Senator McCain, will pray for Madelyn Dunham and Senator Obama.  Catholics understand the neverending need for God, especially at moments of grave illness, and that all of us are totally dependent on God’s mercy, grace and love.  This is a useful reminder that people we oppose politically are still, like us, poor sinners who need our prayers, as we need theirs.

4 Responses to Prayers Over Politics

We're All Socialists Now

Monday, October 20, AD 2008

One of the things that quickly tires me is overblown political rhetoric; although it’s easy to give in to the temptation (I sure have a time or ninety), it simply serves no good purpose in advancing a civil and constructive political discourse. I’m all for making arguments for and against candidates (see the post below), but demonization is practically the standard, not the exception these days.

21 Responses to We're All Socialists Now

  • Well,

    It does not help the argument that the Democratic Socialists of America endorsed him as did the Communist Party of United States. Plus that idea of Universal Heathcare does not help either.

    Hopefully, we will not get to see how much the government will own the means of production under his administration.

  • Maybe proto-socialists would be more accurate. Though Distributists do come to mind.

  • For an exploration of Obama’s ties to the socialist New Party, Stanley Kurtz has a good overview:

    http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=OTc3NzZkZDYxODZiZjE2OTg5YWRmNDkzM2U0YTIwZGQ=&w=MA==

  • FDR ran as a fiscal conservative in 1932 believe it or not. If you want to see what a candidate will do after he wins, check his past and who he currently has around him in his inner circle of advisors.

  • Maybe it ain’t socialism … but whatever it is, it inserts the government more and more and more into our lives. Maybe, as spelled out by Jonah Goldberg in his book, it smacks more of Liberal Fascism.

  • I think one of the most key ways in which Obama’s agenda is not socialist is that his patchwork of political proposals lacks a coherent theory for the structure of society or the economy. Socialism, communism and even fascism have all had a certain kind of personal ascetic value in which the individual accepts owning less or controlling less for the glorification of the state. I suppose there’s a little bit of this in Obama’s early rhetoric, but it’s virtually disappeared since the convention.

    Instead, Obama seems to focus on a “what can the state do for you” approach for what he sees as the broad center of America. His tax proposals effectively establish government handouts for the middle class. His health care proposal involves a similar promise. And his other proposals ranging from subsidized daycare to subsidized college tuition amount to: “You shouldn’t have to pay for whatever it is that you think you need in order to achieve your lifestyle ambitions.”

    The thing is: previous attempts at collectivization have always been made in the context of lifting up a large working/peasant class while leveling the professional middle class and upper classes. Obama makes fairly little effort to level the upper classes (taxing those making over 250k about 3% more is a dumb idea in a recession, but it won’t ruin anyone’s social standing) and the “working families” he wants to help are clearly bourgeois by any historical standard. So his vision is much more consumerist than a socialist one.

    The best historical parallel I can think of is in the late Roman Republic (before the Roman mob of lower classes became a politically useful enough force to buy off) when leaders tried to buy themselves power by confiscating land and money from the largest land owners and build a political base through a combination of cash distributions to every Roman citizen and granting extra land to small farmers throughout Italy.

    It wasn’t a good idea then, and I’m quite sure it isn’t now either, but it’s something different, I think, from Socialism.

  • So his vision is much more consumerist than a socialist one.

    Precisely. But people don’t get fired up about a candidate who is “consumerist” like they do about an alleged “socialist”.

    Listen, I’m not going to deny that Obama is the most liberal Presidential nominee we’ve ever had in this country… that’s certainly true. But that doesn’t mean he’s a socialist… the word means something, and what it means doesn’t obtain in this instance. As Stanley Kurtz notes, we can just bracket the socialist issue and focus on the fact that he’s to the left of Ted Kennedy (the latter are my words, not Kurtz’s). I think it *hurts* our argument by making the socialist claim, because it reduces our credibility. Better to just emphasize what he actually *is*… it’s bad enough.

  • Chris Burgwald,

    You make an excellent point about hurting our argument.

    Emphasizing Obama’s tax & redistribute strategy can be emphasize through other rhetorical means. ‘Distributist’ or ‘Welfare State’ are words that come to mind.

    We don’t want to be hyperbolic and turn potential converts are those straddeling the fence away from a possible vote for a pro-life candidate or maybe a more socially-conscious capitalist.

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  • It is not distributist.

    Welfare spending is welfare spending, period.
    Taxation is taxation, period.

    Socialism is a scheme for the collective ownership of the means of production.
    Corporatism is a scheme for the control of the means of production by an elite. This is what we have in the States. Fascism is the authoritarian version of Corporatism.
    Distributism is a scheme whereby ownership is predominantly noted by use. There are variations, but the controlling idea is that capital cannot be independent from use.
    Capitalism is a scheme that seperates capital from use. It’s most common form is corporatism.
    Democratic Socialism is a scheme for placing the mutual aid provisions of society in control of government. This would invite a fairly long discussion, but the primary reason for the strength of democratic socialism is that democracy destablizes other institutions. For example, very few democratic countries give the Church the right to tax. Without the right to tax, providing mutual aid becomes impossible in the long run.

  • M.Z.,

    You are correct it’s not distributist. I did a little research on Chesterton and Belloc and it doesn’t cut the mustard.

    Distributism looks like a good idea on paper, I just need to learn more about it. I’m reading Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum a second time around to get a handle on it.

  • for what its worth: I live in Ireland, and I saw a sign this morning advertising a meeting of the socialists, and the topic was ‘Will Obama bring real social change?’ Evidently some socialists think its a possibility worth discussing–with the audacity of hope that he will, I suspect.

  • I would have to disagree.

    In the United States we have moved from a production economy, one where we take the raw materials from the land that is availiable to us and make things with it and sell it for a profit, to a service economy, where our skills and labor are the primary means of income. so when you talk of “means of production” what you are talking about is my labor, and since labor has no profit, what you put in is what you get out, then when you take my income ( in the forms of taxes for whatever reason) you take my labor… my only “means of production.”

    sounds like socialism to me.

  • I’d love it if someone feels they’ve got a strong enough grasp of what Chesterton and Belloc were going for with Distributism to present it cogently in a modern context on the site here — but I’ve got to admit that from what I’ve read of it (which is not nearly as much as some, I’m sure) Distributism does not strike me as something which can be taken seriously as an economic system, especially in a modern economy.

    I do think it draws from some very real ideals (localism, subsidiarity) which can and should be applied in the modern context, but I’ve yet to see anything that leads me to take Distributism seriously. Though as I say, if someone feels up to presenting it, I’d love to find that I’m wrong.

  • “I’d love it if someone feels they’ve got a strong enough grasp of what Chesterton and Belloc were going for with Distributism to present it cogently in a modern context on the site here”

    Perhaps a guest post from our former classmate, Mr. Powell? http://pennyjustice.com/about

    He is an entertaining and inventive writer, even when unpersuasive. And, as a practical proposal for economic reform, distributism is very unpersuasive.

  • Just because the specific proposals being advocated aren’t textbook socialism, it doesn’t mean that Obama and his friends aren’t socialist. It just means that those policies are merely a step on the way to socialism. Marx never advocated a one-step transition to socialism.

    Marx did, however, declare three obstacles to socialist utopia:

    1. Private property. Again, while Obama’s proposals aren’t strictly socialist, they would cause incalculable damange to an ownership society.
    2. Religion. Obama has done a great deal to bastardize Christ’s teachings. The second chapter of B16’s Jesus of Nazereth speaks of exactly what Obama is doing: using Christianity to advance a political agenda until Christianity consists of a political or social movement completely devoid of Christ.
    3. Family. We’re slowly seeing schools replace families as the foremost institution for socializing children. It’s nothing short of an effort to eliminate any pre-political societies until all you have left is the state.

    I understand what you’re saying here. But just as militaries have a tendency to “fight the last war,” it seems you’re trying to fight the last Cold War.

    And I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, but this post sounds a lot like the elitist attacks on Sarah Palin. What sort of civil constructive discourse can there be when one candidate has pledged his support for killing the unborn, the born, the disabled, and even his own grandchildren. What, might I ask, is overblown about calling that demonic?!

  • Just because the specific proposals being advocated aren’t textbook socialism, it doesn’t mean that Obama and his friends aren’t socialist.

    So how else do we judge that he’s a socialist then by his policies & statements, Steve?

    But just as militaries have a tendency to “fight the last war,” it seems you’re trying to fight the last Cold War.

    Can you elaborate?

    And I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, but this post sounds a lot like the elitist attacks on Sarah Palin.

    Another request for elaboration. 🙂

    What sort of civil constructive discourse can there be when one candidate has pledged his support for killing the unborn, the born, the disabled, and even his own grandchildren.

    Plenty of people have been convinced of the error of their ways with regard to abortion (cf. Nathanson, Bernard), and it’s often because someone persuaded them. I’ll always go back to the bees & honey vs. vinegar thing in terms of approach to those who are wrong.

    BTW, Steve, what about McCain’s position on ESCR? It certainly isn’t *as* bad as Obama’s, but I think it could be likewise considered demonic, agreed?

  • Fus01 & Brendan/Darwin,

    Yes, if someone is able to present distributism applicable to a modern economy I would also welcome a guest post.

  • Just because the specific proposals being advocated aren’t textbook socialism, it doesn’t mean that Obama and his friends aren’t socialist.

    So how else do we judge that he’s a socialist then by his policies & statements, Steve?

    I would say by the following:
    1. His proposals do seek to eliminate or at least make inroads to eliminating the three obstacles to socialism: Private property, family, religion (Bitterly clinging to religion sounds a lot to me like “opiate of the masses”).
    2. Unabashed support for hallmark causes of the socialist movement: socialized medicine, abortion, same-sex marriage
    3. His commitment to philosophical materialism
    4. Commitment to class warfare
    5. The company he kept before hitting the campaign trail

    Just a start

    But just as militaries have a tendency to “fight the last war,” it seems you’re trying to fight the last Cold War.

    Can you elaborate?

    I can concede this point, but it seemed to me as though you were indicating that because Obama policies weren’t identical to a Soviet 5-year plan, that he was automatically vindicated.

    And I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, but this post sounds a lot like the elitist attacks on Sarah Palin.

    Another request for elaboration.

    There are a lot of valid reasons for harsh critiques on the Obama-Biden ticket. Valid reasons for “demonizing” the candidates. I wonder how one can overblow infanticide?

    What sort of civil constructive discourse can there be when one candidate has pledged his support for killing the unborn, the born, the disabled, and even his own grandchildren.

    Plenty of people have been convinced of the error of their ways with regard to abortion (cf. Nathanson, Bernard), and it’s often because someone persuaded them. I’ll always go back to the bees & honey vs. vinegar thing in terms of approach to those who are wrong.

    Point taken. I don’t dispute that at all. But too many of us are willing to administer honey without defending the truth. It’s trendy to take the middle ground or be a moderate or renounce ideology in favor of “pragmatism.” And that leaves us with the bunch of unprincipled Republicans we have in the Senate. I’m not saying you fit into this category, but whenever I hear pro-lifers criticized for not being nuanced enough or demonizing opponents, my red flags go up.

    BTW, Steve, what about McCain’s position on ESCR? It certainly isn’t *as* bad as Obama’s, but I think it could be likewise considered demonic, agreed?

    What about it? I am not here to defend McCain. I don’t even like McCain. That said, I’m voting for him because I believe that ESCR is less evil than ESCR, unrestricted abortion, execution of abortion survivors, same-sex “marriage,” execution of the disabled, etc.

    Would I characterize McCain’s stance on ESCR as demonic? Sure. But there’s a reason that I’m, perhaps, willing to give ESCR proponents the benefit of the doubt. We live in a materialistic culture. Without a decent working knowledge of philosophy and theology, it is difficult for people to see a petri dish of undifferentiated cells as human life. As such, I think it’s possible for pro-lifers like McCain to mistakenly, but in good faith, support ESCR. It is in no way possible to make a good faith endorsement of cutting off a baby’s head and sucking out her brains as Obama does.

    I’m not equivocating on ESCR–I simply think it’s less obvious to the lay man that it’s an evil act.

  • Evidently I used the wrong HTML tags here…sorry for the confusion.

    [NP… I fixed them for you.]

  • Pingback: Measured rhetoric is more effective « American Catholic

The Dilemma of the PLCOS

Monday, October 20, AD 2008

It occurred to me recently that the typical Pro-Life Catholic Obama Supporter finds himself in a bit of a pickle… on the one hand, he obviously hopes (and prays?) that Senator Obama wins the presidential election; on the other hand, in order for his repeated assurances that there’s just no way that Obama’s abortion extremism will ever come to pass, he must similarly hope (and pray?) that the Illinois Senator’s party does not do as well as it appears it will, because if the Democrats do succeed in making substantial gains in the House and especially the Senate, then that abortion extremism has a very good chance of in fact becoming law.

So… go Obama, go GOP???

10 Responses to The Dilemma of the PLCOS

  • If allegedly pro-life Obama supporters are in a pickle, it is solely the problem of justifying their vote for Obama without giving away the dishonesty of their claims to be pro-life.

  • Paul, why can’t we take them at their word, instead of employing a hermeneutic of suspicion? Whatever the faulty reasoning employed by, for example, Doug Kmiec, he *does* have a track record that establishes his pro-life bona fides. The idea that one might support a particular candidate *despite* their stance on issue X — not because of it — is well-established, practically, philosophically and theologically; I, for instance, will vote for McCain *despite* his views on research on frozen embryonic human beings… I see no reason to deny that the same is possible for a PLCOS. I want to be clear: I think their reasoning is faulty & muddied; but that doesn’t mean that I presume that they are not of good faith.

    I just don’t see what value or purpose there is in impugning the motives or intentions of PLCOSs… better to focus on the error of their thinking that accuse them of being in bad faith.

  • Best not to fall into that trap in the first place. Pro-Obama Catholics are more twisted than a boxload of Philadelphia pretzels. Sometimes they almost make sense, as in Douglas Benedict Arnold Kmiec. Sometimes they just babble, as in Joe Biden, Proud ‘Pope John XXII Catholic-‘ as one can determine one’s Catholicity by a fave Pontiff. These poor deluded souls are dropping into the same hole as our esteemed bishops since oh about 1968. Time after time our bishops issued letters and statements and stuff about solidarity with the poor and social justice and the rights of the downtrodden- all good and proper. Time after time the official Dems swatted them away. Comes Cardinal Bernadin with his ‘seamless garment.’ Same back of the hand. So now we have shepherds who got their croziers from the Twin Towers, Johannes Paulus Magnus and Benedictus Wonderfulness. With the admonition to wack a few noggins once in a while with them. Thus the wonderful gusher of recent statements about human life, abortion, citizenship, stuff like that there. Highlighted by the witness of our beloved Archbishop Chaput, The Bishop For Our Time, much like Dagger John Hughes in the mid 19th century and Blessed Fulton Sheen post WW II. The Pro-Obama Catholics will be seen ultimately as useful idiots- should their idol ascend to the throne of Washington Lincoln and Slick Willie- or doofuses if the Jet Jockey gets there. We will have a massive final for all the marbles rumble on abortion in our great nation in the next three to four years. Coinciding I believe with the increasing number of Baby Boomer women no longer able to conceive and bear children. Let us see how these useful idiots choose sides. I’ve made my choice- as has Don Mac, Chris B., Tito and Company.

  • Just read an article by E. J. Dionne entitled, “A Catholic Shift to Obama?” It says a Pew Research Center survey showed Obama leading John McCain among Catholics by a margin of 55 percent to 35 percent. This concerns me a lot.

  • Unfortunately, Cathy, I’m not surprised… concerned (like you) and disappointed, but not surprised. Most Catholics have traditionally gone Democrat, and they also traditionally go with the flow.

    A lot of work remains in evangelizing and catechizing our own.

  • I don’t know that it is necessarily the case that pro-life Catholics for Obama would be routing for the GOP to take control of Congress to stymie any abortion bill. I think the PLCOS would be for a Democratic majority so that Obama’s administration can start work its miracles. I think also it has to come down to fundamental assumptions.

    From the arguments I’ve read, the two things that make Obama attractive to Catholics is his economic policies (read social justice), and the War in Iraq. If the assumption is that abortions occur predominantly because of financial concerns, then fixing the economy–or at least offering huge entitlements–should fix the abortion problem. If we feel justified in “slaughtering innocents in Iraq”, we give scandal and teach that we can kill anyone in our way, and so shutting down the slaughterhouse would send the message that it isn’t okay to slaughter the innocents. Thus Obama, despite being hugely pro-choice, would actually lead to a decrease in abortions.

    Of course, if your fundamental assumption is that people predominantly have abortions because they can’t stand the inconvenience of a kid (while enjoying all the pleasures of sex), then the whole argument above falls apart.

    I wonder which assumption is correct?

  • Ryan, I agree that it’s extremely unlikely that a PLCOS would be rooting for the GOP, but how else can they maintain their position that a President Obama wouldn’t be able to achieve his agenda with regard to ESCR (clone & kill) and abortion? If a PLCOS both supports Obama *and* a stronger Dem majority in both houses (as presumably s/he would), the almost certain consequence is the federal funding of abortion and destructive ESCR.

    I agree with you on the question of assumptions.

  • The justification comes from, I think, the notion that if the motivation isn’t there, it doesn’t matter what is on the books. (Included might also be a misguided feeling that some abortions are okay, such as when it is either abort the baby or lose both the baby and the mother.) For example, here at UW, there’s still a law that says if we ride our horses onto campus and tether them in Prexy’s Pasture, the UW President has to feed and water them. Strangely, you don’t actually see any horses tethered in the pasture (though we have now filled it with all kinds of bizarre artwork). The law is on the books, but there’s no motivation to take advantage of it.

    The PLCOS feel that if the motivation to have abortions is not there, it doesn’t matter if abortion is legal or not–no one will have one. Just as how when alcohol is legal, no one ever binge drinks, and when controlled substances are legal the fascination with them dies out and no ever uses them.

  • Regarding Kmiec specifically, I think a strong argument could be made that he is now arguing in bad faith. See, for example, his recent article in the LA Times:

    “…when these differences are great and persistent, as they unfortunately have been on abortion, the common political ideal may consist only of that space. This does not, of course, leave the right to life undecided or unprotected. Nor for that matter does the reservation of space for individual determination usurp for Caesar the things that are God’s, or vice versa. Rather, it allows this sensitive moral decision to depend on religious freedom and the voice of God as articulated in each individual’s voluntary embrace of one of many faiths.”

    Notice in this article, 1) Kmiec mischaracterizes the debate about abortion as an issue of ‘religious freedom’, 2) he advocates the ‘personally opposed’ position. As he of all people is certainly aware that Catholics are against abortion as a human rights issue rather than a ‘religious’ issue, it’s hard to maintain that he is arguing in good faith. I think earlier this year Kmiec made a number of arguments that could be held in good faith, but it seems to me that his recent statements are following the well-worn ‘personally opposed’ path of many Democrats before him.

    Perhaps this is unfair, but it strikes me as rather opportunistic for him to try and cash in on the Catholic brand by writing an book-length apologia for Obama. The only reason that the book is important is because he’s using the Catholic label, and he, in fact, misrepresents some of Obama’s past positions in the book (always in ways that are more flattering to Obama).

  • Notice in this article, 1) Kmiec mischaracterizes the debate about abortion as an issue of ‘religious freedom’, 2) he advocates the ‘personally opposed’ position.

    If I didn’t know any better, I’d suspect Kmiec of taking his talking points directly from Gerald Campbell of Vox Nova.

The Moral Content of Politics

Monday, October 20, AD 2008

Amy Welborn had a post the other day making a very important point, summing up much of what I’ve been thinking but not successfully putting into words for much of the interminable lead-up to this election. Amy asks:

[I]s Catholic politico-talk, particularly in the present moment, as most of us are engaging in it, taking place essentially on the level of vague assertions, associations and concepts? And – are we avoiding and ignoring the way that government and political processes actually work?

She singles out two particular areas in which Catholic bloggers have often imbued politics with too much weight, and thus divorced it from what it is.

2 Responses to The Moral Content of Politics

11 Responses to Biden and Def Con 1

  • Donald,

    Both you and Joe Biden may be correct. Some U.S. adversary might underestimate the conciliatory Obama and make some threating move (think Krushchev and the Cuban Missiles). Obama, needing to prove to the country that he is not a pushover, overreacts.

    They say that only Nixon could have gone to China, because he did not have to prove his anti-Communist credentials. Obama will not have that luxury, either in ideology or “toughness.”

    Either event, of course, is not a foregone conclusion, but it does give one pause . . . .

  • I share the same line of thinking, Don. I suspect we are more likely to find ourselves fighting another war(s) over the next four years under an Obama administration than a McCain administration.

  • I’m curious about your comment Darwin. I guess it depends on the baseline probabilities (.5% v. 5%, or 5% v. 15%), but it doesn’t seem very plausible to me that the U.S. will be eager to engage in any significant military commitments apart from Iraq or Afghanistan over the next 4 years. Also, I think that the idea that Obama will need to prove he’s not a pushover could mean a variety of things.

    In its more modest forms (e.g. Russian aggression in areas that are not of significant strategic interest to the U.S.), I may agree that there will be some attempt to get a read on Obama, but the likelihood of a large-scale conflict seem very remote to me. However, if it means a significant international challenge to our strategic interests, I think that is unlikely, as foreign governments are aware that the U.S. sometimes has a tendency to over-react to perceived threats, a lesson the Iraq war illustrates.

    Also, I don’t know how likely it is that Obama would overreact. He is very inexperienced, but he seems to surround himself with talented people (cf. Bush, McCain). Also, he is unlikely to feel a need to respond decisively out of insecurity, given that he likely will enjoy a convincing electoral victory, both houses of Congress, and exceptionally favorable media treatment.

  • Fair points, fus01.

    I’d tend to lean away from expecting a large scale conflict, expecting instead more of the “small vicious wars” of the Clinton era. The big possible exception to that being if Iran and Israel end up in a war, which would almost certainly end up drawing the US in to one extent or another — especially since Iran is placed right between the two theatres of operation we’re already involved in.

    The issue as I see it is that although Obama is certainly popular in the rest of the world, I get the sense one of the reasons he’s popular is that people are seeing him as a promise for the US to become more like the EU on the international scene. And no one really feels all that shy about defying the EU.

    The likely situations I would see are:

    -The Obama administration decides to attempt a humanitarian intervention in some African country (such as Sudan) and gets in way over its head — think a somewhat more drawn our corrollary to Somalia.

    -The Obama administration explicitly takes a slow track approach to letting Ukraine and George into NATO, and Russia decides to take that as license to invade one of them. My guess would be that with Georgia we’d probably leave them out to dry — with Ukraine there’d be the possibility of supporting air strikes or selling them arms. A true worst case scenario would be if the Russians attacked Poland in which case we would unquestionably have a war on our hands. But I’m thinking that unless Obama was truly imploding on the international scene, that would be unlikely.

    -Through a combination of supporting democratic elements in Pakistan (which are generally not pro-US) and agressively “rooting out” bin Ladin, we manage to involve ourselves peripherally in a Pakistani civil war. This becomes a worst case scenario if India gets sucked in because of Kashmir.

    -And the true worst case scenario: Through some combination of Iran thinking it has more latitude under an Obama presidency and Israel thinking it has to act first because it will have less explicit support, war (possibly dirty bomb or nuclear bomb) breaks out between Iran and Israel. Of all those options, that’s the one I’d see as being most likely to involve us in a large scale war.

    The big questions here are probably how competant an Obama administration turns out to be. We’ve all been told that he surrounds himself with competant people, but that was very much the wisdom about Clinton as well, and yet many of these talented people turned out to be highly inexperienced and at odds with each other (though very educated) once they actually got to Washington and tried to set up rule.

    As for whether he’d think he had to prove himself — we’ll have to see. I suspect his administration will be trying hard to retain its campaign season popularity and will find it hard to do once they hit the realities of Washington. We’ll see.

  • I think a lot of those scenarios are plausible, although I would be very surprised by full-scale hostilities between Iran and Israel, given the imbalance in nuclear capability. I am not convinced that an Obama administration would be the type of causal factor which would make it more likely that the U.S. would go to war. Unfortunately, I am as skeptical about McCain’s judgment as Obama’s. He has more experience, but I have been very unimpressed by his campaign.

    I certainly hope both that Obama will respond appropriately to international crises (if elected) and that he finds it hard to maintain his popularity once in the White House. It is hard for me to imagine the media treating him any more favorably.

  • While I’ve often been unimpressed with McCain’s campaign — I don’t think my lack of confidence in him as a campaigner spills over at all into lack of confidence in him as a potential president.

    But then, one of the things that strikes me watching McCain campaign is that he’s much more comfortable just serving the country than telling people why he ought to be elected. Obama, on the other had, seems to exist to campaign — I’m not sure what happens if he actually gets into office and has to focus on his current job rather than running for the next one.

  • Well, I think that a candidate’s campaign organization tells us something about he candidate. Bush had a very efficient, tightly-controlled organization. His presidency was fairly controlled also, and that was one of the major problems with his administration – it became insular and inflexible.

    McCain’s campaign has seemed fairly unfocused to me and uninterested in (domestic) policy. That doesn’t seem like a flaw that would disappear once McCain was in office. I agree that McCain is an awkward campaigner, but I am not sure that his rather idiosyncratic record (e.g. McCain-Feingold, his petulant swing left after W.’s election etc.) can be described as an interest in ‘serving the country’, or in self-promotion.

    I agree that we know much more about Obama’s ability to campaign (tremendous) than his ability to do anything else, but it should be acknowledged that he has run a well-disciplined, focused campaign. My worries about Obama (aside from him being the worst candidate I could imagine as a pro-lifer), are that his campaign is too insular (which stifles dissent), that he has a certain hubris or overconfidence about him which can lead to serious mistakes, and, of course, that we have no idea whether he can lead a country. Furthermore, I find the unwillingness of the press to present his background fairly, or to fact check beyond a brief call to Obama’s campaign manager very worrisome (although that could just be election-year paranoia on my part).

  • I worry about Obama’s lack of any military experience. He lacks the knowledge and the experience to weigh adequately military options presented to him by his advisors. His determination that the Surge would fail puts an exclamation mark on my lack of confidence in Obama’s ability to make good decisions in this area.

  • Well, a lot of people thought the surge would fail, and Obama had to oppose it in order to have any shot at the Democratic nomination. While I think Obama has received far too much praise for initially opposing the Iraq War (it would have been more difficult for him to support the War in his district), I think criticism of him on initially opposing the surge has been overblown.

  • “Well, a lot of people thought the surge would fail”

    Agreed, and a lot of people were wrong, unlike McCain who had been calling for a Surge strategy for years. Obama looked at the Surge as a political issue and not a military problem. However, he flatly said the Surge would fail and thereby either was making a military judgment or was simply saying it would it would fail for political purposes. My guess is that Obama was honestly giving his best opinion based upon the evidence that the Surge would fail and that concerns me.

  • Pingback: Biden Was Right « The American Catholic

Reflections on Death

Monday, October 20, AD 2008

My wife’s grandfather, Dave, died Saturday night after a long fight with a rare form of Lou Gehrig’s disease. As opposed to the more common forms that start in the appendages and work their up, this started immediately at the head and worked its way down. In his last days, he could not feed himself, speak, bathe himself, or even write to communicate with others what he needed. It was a difficult time for everyone; for my wife’s grandmother, who has divorced once and buried a second husband already; and for the rest of the family, who have felt as though they were just marking time, especially as week by week the reports of his health bore increasingly bleak news.

2 Responses to Reflections on Death

3 Responses to The War on Joe the Plumber

  • I believe I said earlier that if they’d hack Sarah Palin’s email, they’d do anything, to any of us. This sad case only demonstrates once again the evil of the left, their contempt for those whom they seek to rule, and the points out the alarming progress we are making towards the day, if it is not already here, when an ordinary citizen must know his place, and keep it, lest he suffer the penalty for trying to get above it.

    We have all been saying, as we do every four years, that this is the most important election of our lifetimes. But I really believe that the twin cases of Sarah Palin, the ordinary citizen who dared to seek high office, and Joe the Plumber, the “regular guy” (if you’ll permit me) who asked a question, really raise the stakes to something not seen in America since the Civil War, if ever: we face an election in which our most basic rights, life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, are really threatened by a candidate who would sweep them away.

  • Anybody who effectively and memorably challenges a politician will now face criticism suppression fire from partisans. Some unearthed report or factoid could cost him his job, even if the citizen hasn’t done anything wrong.

    In the world of YouTube, this will have a horrible chilling effect on public speech from Everyman.

  • Less than 24 hours after his appearnce, NPR had already made a fake commercial ridiculing him. Their expose also lied about him (they said he didn’t want to pay taxes, when he said in the interview, word for word, “you have to pay taxes, everybody has to pay taxes). Then they said he “owes $1200 back taxes.” (Only someone who has never run a business would think this is a big deal. I owe that much sometimes too. It is pretty simple and not a crime. When it turns out at the end of the year that Uncle Sam owes you a tax refund, is that a crime?)

    Really disturbed me that they would tear a private person apart like this. I can’t believe I used to be a Democrat. They are scum.

Those 'Fishy' Polls

Monday, October 20, AD 2008

If you’ve been watching only the network newscasts and CNN and MSNBC as well as reading only the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Boston Globe you would think that the U.S. presidency was all but a done deal for Senator Barack Obama to win the White House.  Poll after poll shows Senator Obama with 10, 11, and 12 point leads over Senator John McCain.  With traditional red states like Virginian and North Carolina showing Senator Obama with leads of up to eight (8) points McCain supporters should be worried.

24 Responses to Those 'Fishy' Polls

  • This analysis seems like wishing thinking through and through.

    If not, perhaps you should inform Gallup of their errors.

  • In Texas, less African Americans voted in the 2008 Democratic Primary than they did in 2004. Though most people in my family (African Americans) overwhelming support him, most of them also don’t vote.

    People who contribute to polls, also don’t always vote. Gore was up in double digits in October. People were shocked that Kerry lost in 2004.

    This race is tight. Barack Obama was scheduled to win the Texas primary according to the polls. I think Hillary Clinton won (with my help, I might add ). Obama was supposed to win Indiana, I think Clinton carried that state too.

    It seems to me that the Obama-favoring-media do in fact distort polls to give people the idea that Obama is up. I think this race is in dead heat. If he was really the “Change We Need,” he’d be up 20 points after George Bush. He isn’t.

    I’m voting tomorrow morning. I am proud that he has inspired many young people, particularly African American youth and dare them to dream of what they can be. But due to our ethical differences, I pray to God he loses every state.

  • The basic problem with the polls this cycle is that they are probably putting too many Dems into the mix. Here is a good article on the subject of partisan id and the polls:

    http://www.americanthinker.com/2008/10/understanding_current_presiden.html

  • Mark,

    History has proven otherwise so that’s why I wrote this post. I’m not saying all the polling data is comprimised, I’m just saying that there are enough errors to discount those ‘anomolies’ and made me start reading the fine print in these polls.

    Thanks for commenting.

  • If not, perhaps you should inform Gallup of their errors.

    Gallup’s traditional likely voter poll is currently showing a three point lead for Obama, 49 to 46, so it would seem that they already have sided against the network polls that show double digit leads.

    I’d say that the momentum is pretty much with Obama right now, and I’d rate the probability of an Obama victory at around 60%, but I don’t think it’s nearly the done deal that many in the MSM and left wing blogsphere (two groups that seem to increasingly converge lately) think it is.

  • I think the momentum is with McCain judging from the Real Clear Politics average falling from a 7.3 advantage Obama last week to a 4.8 advantage Obama thus far today.

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2008/president/us/general_election_mccain_vs_obama-225.html

    If as I suspect the polls are oversampling Dems, I think Obama has a real advantage of about plus two. Recent state polls are beginning to show McCain taking the lead again in red states like Ohio and Virginia, and state polls generally lag behind national numbers/

    As a special treat to all my fellow political junkies out there who just can’t get enough poll analysis, here is an excellent site:

    http://www.davidwissing.com/

  • Tito,

    Perhaps you should live in the swing states I do–PA and OH.

    ***CENSORED BY A.C. FOR INAPPROPRIATE LANGUAGE***

  • I do hope that, despite the feat of living in two states at once, you pick just one precinct in one state to actually vote in…

  • Yes Mr. DeFrancisis, no ACORN dual residency.

  • Don’t worry..I’d be purged off the voter rolls in OH either way.

    That state has a history of stealing presidential elections, you know.

  • A very fishy smell coming out of most polls these last few weeks. Don’t know what strategery they use to figure out how many numbers for Obama and how many for McCain. But thought I’d throw in the Rizzo Effect. As in Frank Rizzo, late mayor of my City With All Its Works/Pomps. Invariably, inevitably, Mr. Rizzo received bigger numbers on any Election Day than pre-elex polls indicated. The Dollar Store Messiah is still trying to clean off the mess left by the Joe The Plumber kerfuffle. He still hasn’t come clean on the relationship with William Ayers. Many investigative lights now being shown on ACORN, which will limit the mischief they can churn up, even in states like Ohio. The ol’ Jet Jockey has been sharp and tough on the podium this past week. As for Our Sarah- still drawing loads o’ folks throughout the republic. It’s not over yet. Not even close. Even Gen. Powell’s endorsement of the Dollar Store Messiah will sway, oh, about seven votes. Stay cool. Stay patient.

  • At the risk of entering feverswamp territory: Which national elections has the state of Ohio “stolen”?

  • I wouldn’t say they ‘stole’ the election, but rather were a critical asset to the party that won the state. ‘Stolen’ presupposes that Kerry was the deserved candidate of that election year and he was entitled to win.

  • 2004?

    Okay Susan Estrich

  • PRINCETON, NJ — Gallup Poll Daily tracking from Friday through Sunday gives Barack Obama an 11 percentage point lead over John McCain in the presidential vote preferences of all registered voters, 52% to 41%.

  • I haven’t read much about it since the election itself, but I seem to recall that the case the election was “stolen” in Ohio in 2004 was most charitably described as “very thin”. Exit polls to not constitute a guarantee of success.

    Nor does one alleged instance count as much of a “history”.

    Still always good to have specifics.

    And it underlines the extent to which questioned elections lead to the degredation of democracy. I would be surprised if any presidential election in the next thirty years in which the Democrats lose is not questioned as having been “stolen”, no matter how clear the case. I only hope that Republicans do not begin their own tradition in that regard if they lose this year — despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of fraudulent votes will undoubtedly be cast, mostly for Obama. It’s not worth the loss of connection to reality to go down the “stolen election” grievence trail.

  • Registered voter numbers are almost always more unreliable than likely voters ones.

    The traditional likely voter calculation released a few hours ago gives a 50/45 spread, and uptick for Obama. I’d advise taking that as your number and not pushing the bounds of reality.

  • Darwin,

    Actually a downtick from a six point advantage.

  • 52-43 w/ likely voters.

  • The 52-43 number is based on their experimental “expanded” likely voter calculation which basically assumes that this election will be unlike any previous modern election in regards to who turns out.

    I can see why you’d be a true believer in that methodology, but I’m not.

  • Rasmussen has it as a four point race down from a six point advantage for Obama yesterday.
    http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/election_20082/2008_presidential_election/daily_presidential_tracking_poll

    Rasmussen and Gallup have been amusing me all year as their polls have tended to go in opposite directions.

    Ras is a good pollster, but he has too much of a Dem advantage in partisan ID currently. He gives the Dems a 6.7 advantage. I believe the Dem advantage is probably closer to 3.5-4.

  • ‘These Obama supporters will key your car if you have a McCain bumper sticker or tear down your McCain lawn sign in the middle of the night. Nobody wants those kinds of hassles at least most people don’t. And when you live in tossup states you really need to watch out. No good liberal who is voting for McCain will put up a lawn sign for him without running the risk of being ostracized. So why bother telling pollsters the truth as well as your neighbor?”

    Tito,

    FWIW, I would have respected your analysis much more if your description of these “Brothers of Cain” were not at its heart.

    All,

    Regardless of polls, I think the race is and will be VERY CLOSE, due to a plethora of factors.

  • “Regardless of polls, I think the race is and will be VERY CLOSE, due to a plethora of factors.”

    On that Mr. DeFrancisis, at least as the race stands now, you and I are in complete agreement. Polls are at their best in placid years like 1984 or 1996. They are at their worst in non-placid years like 1948 or 1980. This year, unfortunately for all of us, is a far from placid year.

Powell for Obama

Sunday, October 19, AD 2008

I just read over at Vivificat that former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell has endorsed Barack Obama for President. To tell the truth, although Powell is a Republican, I am not surprised. I am shocked and saddened though that another African American political figure has decided o support the most pro-abortion candidate in the history of the US. Does Gen. Powell not know of the genocide of his people, not in Darfur but here in the abortion mills of America? As I stated months ago on my personal blog, as much as I would love to see a black President I can never support an African American candidate like Obama. Despite his smooth words, his downright hostility to the pro-Life cause is sickening and keeps me from ever supporting him, even if I agreed with his other economic and social policies. It saddens me to see that so few of the black electorate and elected officials care at all that the future of their community destroyed.

14 Responses to Powell for Obama

  • Michelle Malkin nails it. Powell has always been a pro-abort. It is Obama’s social liberalism that attracts Powell. Additionally Powell believes that Obama is going to win. Throughout his career Powell was famous for his caution and never sticking his neck out. That is why he waits until two weeks out with Obama ahead in the polls to announce his support.

    http://michellemalkin.com/2008/10/19/the-colin-powell-endorsement-triumph-of-hope-over-reality/

  • Colin Powell was one of my favorites instead of Dole in 1996. I even read his autobiography which was ok to read, but his life story is very fascinating. He styles himself a Rockefeller Republican. I didn’t know what that meant back then, but looking back it makes a whole lot more sense.

    On another note, I wouldn’t look at the polls right now. I think it’s much closer than the mainstream media wants us to believe.

  • Indeed Tito. In the teeth of the polls, which are beginning to close, I believe that McCain-Palin will win and that their margin of victory will be greater than the margin of victory for Bush over Kerry. For once in his life, I think Powell backed a losing horse.

  • Count on it every time; pro-aborts will stick together, and they will stick it to pro-lifers whenever they can.

  • I like Colin Powell, and I understand his concerns about the GOP (I’m not a republican and don’t agree with the party 100%). But, obviously, he doesn’t think child murder is a big deal.

  • Birds of a feather, i.e., abortion advocates, stay together.

  • Whatever one makes of Powell’s endorsement, my understanding is that he has always said he’s a pro-choice Republican. (As is, to my recollection, Secretary of State Rice.)

    So while one can certainly be disappointed with his decision, it doesn’t represent a change on the abortion issue for him. He’s apparently reconciled himself to that some time ago.

  • “Throughout his career Powell was famous for his caution and never sticking his neck out.”

    Donald, you are correct on this which is one reason i didn’t like him back when presidential rumors surrounded him. He, like Wes Clark, seemed more inerested in being political proteges than military men.

    Yes, Tito, this race is not over and I do still think McCain/Palin can eek by with a victory. Unfortuantly, I think it will be close and we may have another Florida 2000 on our hands and, I fear, violence because of it.

  • Mega Ditto’s!

    And thank you for the link. It is an honor.

    In Christ,

    -Theo

  • This is a classic dog bites man non-story. Powell was only a Republican because of career expediency. When he did his White House fellowship Nixon was the resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. He aligned himself with Republicans and advanced to the highest levels of the Army.

    As far as the pro-life implications, Powell was very clear that concern that McCain would nominate more justices who read and understand the Constitution influenced his decision.

  • Many Catholics and other good Christians are praying and fasting for this election. For my part, I find that I am frequently invoking Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Patroness of the Americas, imploring her prayers for this country to remain a stalwart of freedom for this hemisphere and to protect us all from an even more widespread slaughter of the innocent unborn.

  • General Clark always came across as one of those career minded officers who always seemed to jump into the spotlight whenever he could find it. Powell seemed less flamboyant, but also very conscious of political reality and where he could fit in. Out of all the higher up brass in the last few years, the only one I really had a sense of respect for was Gen Shelton.

  • Non-story. Powell is the D.C. Insider’s Insider. He speaks for David Broder David Rodham Gergen Margaret Carlson etc. Time for him to get a little attention. Will sway about seven votes mostly in D.C. Oh Wow General Powell Supports Obama Whoopie Doo. I got more important things to watch. Like Phillies in World Series the very surprising Tampa Bay Rays. I have my priorities y’know.

  • As in ‘Phillies AGAINST very surprising Rays.’ Whoopie doo.

8 Responses to Obama's Pie Problem

Compare and Contrast

Saturday, October 18, AD 2008

Something for the weekend.  Two versions of Franz Waxman’s immortal Ride to Dubno, aka Ride of the Cossacks:   dueling pianists and the full Hollywood treatment in the 1962 movie Taras Bulba for which the song was composed.  Great to listen to if you need an energy boost.

3 Responses to Compare and Contrast

Archbishop Chaput Weighs In Again

Friday, October 17, AD 2008

Tonight Denver’s Archbishop Charles Chaput gave an address at a dinner for the national Catholic women’s group ENDOW (Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women), in which he critiqued the arguments of Prof. Doug Kmiec in favor of voting for Senator Obama, despite his stance on abortion. A condensed and adapted version of the address can be found online here at the Witherspoon Institute’s website (the same place one can find the essay by Prof. Robert George on Obama’s abortion extremism which other contributors have previously mentioned).

14 Responses to Archbishop Chaput Weighs In Again

  • I don’t think Kmiec is pro-life, certainly not anymore. Anyone who could vote for Obama obviously doesn’t care a fig for stopping abortion.

  • I agree that it stretches charity to the point of dishonesty to say that Kmiec, Cafardi, and their ilk are voting for Obama in spite of his position on abortion. Their circumlocutions around the issue are indicative of, at best, a near-complete disinterest in the issue of abortion, as well as a total disregard for the teaching of the universal church and the American bishops (except insofar as they can take a quote out of context to support their point) on the question.

    This might actually be the case, but the observed facts are much better explained by positing the theory that Kmiec, Cafardi and the rest are simply pro-abortion. Occam’s Razor, and all that, you know.

    That Kmiec previously supported Romney for President, to my mind, merely serves now to reinforce my earlier mistrust of Romney’s alleged conversion to the pro-life side.

  • Donald & Paul, I see your point, but at this point, I still take Kmiec at their word that they are pro-life.

  • I don’t take Kmiec at his word. I think he’s just a grubby sellout. Or campaigning for a Deputy Attorney General job. Somewhat contagious this time of year. Like our PA Governor Fast Ed Rendell begging pleading imploring the state legislature to agree to a universal health care plan in the Commonwealth. Seemed to me a pursuit of HHS Secretary in the Obama Administration. The legislators in their wisdom broke camp and went home with the matter left on their desks. Oh dear. Eddie may have to complete the full final two years as governor. Such a burden to maintain one’s responsibilitiesw.

  • It vexes me. I am terribly vexed.

    A Gladiator reference?

  • 🙂 You got it, Kyle. No connection with the post… just felt like using the line to describe my puzzlement.

  • “A Gladiator reference?”

    And I didn’t get it! My mind is in neutral today.

  • I agree with Chris that while one may disagree with Obama supporters’ arguments in favor of Obama, one should not therefore dismiss their pro-life convictions. First, to do so is illogical. The conclusion that Obama Supporter X isn’t pro-life does not follow logically from the premise that he supports Obama. For example, having bad arguments or misapplying principles doesn’t necessitate having no principles. Second, I think we should strive to understand others as they understand themselves. That’s a prerequisite for honest dialogue and debate. Assuming the worst motives for people with whom one disagrees hinders the goal of persuading them.

  • I respectfully disagree with both you and Chris, Kyle. It is a trite saying, “Actions speak louder than words.”, but also a true one. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Someone who voted for a pro-slavery candidate in the 1850s forfeited the right to be called an opponent of slavery. Someone who voted for Hitler in the 1920s in Weimar Germany forfeited the right to be considered to be a foe of anti-semitism. Someone who voted for McGovern in 72 could not be considered to be a hawk on Vietnam. To talk in one manner and then to act in another tells us that the talk is only talk.

  • Donald, I plan to vote for McCain. Will I thereby lose the right to be considered a foe of ESCR?

  • I agree with Chris.

    Neither political party truly encompasses all the “right” positions. Now someone may be sincerely pro-life and decide to vote for a pro-choice candidate for what they believe to be “proportionate reasons.” We certaily (and I think we all do) believe they’re profoundly mistaken, but we cannot objectively judge the convictions in their heart solely based on their actions. Though we can say that their attempts to paint Obama as a more pro-life candidate that Catholics ought to be supporting is intellectual suicide.

  • Donald, to be clear, my previous comment wasn’t meant as a “gotcha”… as is obvious, I don’t buy the logic which would lead a pro-lifer to vote for Obama, but — as my comment indicates, and as catholicdemocrat notes — I think it’s an error to conclude that someone who votes for Obama is therefore actually in support of abortion rights. Archbishop Chaput notes that it is technically possible to vote for a pro-abortion rights candidate as a pro-lifer in good conscience, although perhaps with erroneous reasoning.

  • I don’t mind “gotcha” resonses Chris, after all I am an attorney! “Gotcha” questions and “gotcha” responses are the common coin of my profession. I do not view yours as a “gotcha” response. We simply disagree.

    I vote for McCain not because he is perfect on pro-life issues. I too deplore his stance on ESR, for instance. I vote for him because he is infinitely better than Obama on abortion and euthanasia. I am a pro-lifer as you are. For pro-lifers abortion should be a make or break issue when it comes to voting. “Pro-lifers” of the Kmiec stamp, in spite of all their talk about the evil of abortion, cast their votes for a man who will do his best to ensure that the abortion on demand regime of Roe is strengthened and made permanent. That is why I view the protestations of such people that they remain pro-life with complete disbelief.

  • Pingback: To The “Traitor,” Go The Spoils? Kmiec & The Ambassadorship « The American Catholic: Politics and Culture from a Catholic perspective

Catacombs or New Jerusalem?

Friday, October 17, AD 2008

There are two poles, I think, to Christian attitudes towards the state. 

At the one pole is a catacomb mentality.  Here Christians think of the state as an unrelievedly secular force, and they seek to render what they must unto Caesar while keeping themselves aloof from its corrupting influence. 

At the other pole is what might be termed the New Jerusalem mentality, in which the Christian sees the state as a means to achieve a more just and loving society which will reinforce virtue.

3 Responses to Catacombs or New Jerusalem?

  • I think the categories you construct here are very helpful for Catholics thinking about politics. It helps to organize our thoughts and to see that the political good is somewhere between these two extremes.

    The New Jerusalem mentality makes me think of Plato’s perfectly just regime in the Republic. In seeing the absurdity of the requirements of perfect justice, Plato helps us to realize that perfect justice is not possible in this world, and so what we should work for is much more limited. Justice in the polis first requires justice in the soul, and this is a lifelong battle every individual fights.

    I think one of the other flaws with the Catacomb approach is that it is not right for everyone. As Catholics, we cannot isolate ourselves from the world. There will be some of us who will be politically engaged, others not. We must be “for the world but not of the world”, as someone maybe said somewhere. In short: we can’t all be hermits, but hermits are important too.

  • This is well put, and captures something I have been thinking but haven’t been to express as well as you have had. The New Jerusalem approach seems to me to be the theological equivalent to the secular quest for perfection. It disregards human nature and really, in a sense, deifies man.

    I guess the follow-up that we should all pursue is how to find a happy medium between these two attitudes. Or is there a happy medium? Is the correct approach something different altogether?

  • Yeah, I really needed to have some coffee today. That’s what I get for eating meat on a Friday instead. Anyway, that first sentence was butchered, but hopefully you caught my drift.

    Thankfully the weekend begins in about ten minutes.