Andrew Cuomo, Father Barron and Alexis de Tocqueville

Wednesday, January 29, AD 2014

Statue of Bigotry

Hattip to cartoonist Michael Ramirez for his brilliant Statue of Bigotry cartoon.  A guest post by commenter John By Any Other Name:

 

 

Father Robert Barron, who no one could credibly call a firebrand, had a post at National Review Online that caught my attention:

“In the course of a radio interview, Governor Andrew Cuomo blithely declared that anyone who is pro-life on the issue of abortion or who is opposed to gay marriage is “not welcome” in his state of New York. Mind you, the governor did not simply say that such people are wrong-headed or misguided; he didn’t say that they should be opposed politically or that good arguments against their position should be mounted; he said they should be actively excluded from civil society!”

The good guv’ner somewhat walked back his comments, trying to spin it that it wasn’t that people who were pro-life, pro-“assault weapons” and “anti-gay” (these were the other two descriptors Cuomo used) weren’t welcome, just that they would have a hard time winning office in the state.  Yet, Father Barron properly captures the evil of this in his observation: “they should be actively excluded from civil society!”
This is precisely what Alexis de Tocqueville was discussing in the below quote.  I stumbled across this one while looking for another quote from Democracy in America.  I confess I haven’t actually read the book, though it’s on my reading list after I finish the Knox translation of the Bible and a few other important books.  Emphasis is mine.

Tyranny in democratic republics does not proceed in the same way, however. It ignores the body and goes straight for the soul. The master no longer says: You will think as I do or die. He says: You are free not to think as I do. You may keep your life, your property, and everything else.  But from this day forth you shall be as a stranger among us. You will retain your civic privileges, but they will be of no use to you. For if you seek the votes of your fellow citizens, they will withhold them, and if you seek only their esteem, they will feign to refuse even that. You will remain among men, but you will forfeit your rights to humanity. When you approach your fellow creatures, they will shun you as one who is impure. And even those who believe in your innocence will abandon you, lest they, too, be shunned in turn. Go in peace, I will not take your life, but the life I leave you with is worse than  death.

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25 Responses to Andrew Cuomo, Father Barron and Alexis de Tocqueville

  • Andy and his father Mario are Catholic – pro-infanticide, pro-sexual perversion Catholics in public! They brag about it! Why aren’t they publicly excommunicated as St. Paul did to the sex pervert in 1st Corinthians chapter 5? Or as Hymenaeus and Alexander were excommunicated in 1st Timothy chapter 1? What is wrong with Cardinal Dolan and Bishop Hubbard? It is one thing to have private sin even sexual, fail but try to do good again. It is another to brag about and extol one’s perversion.

  • Cuomo is a thug who needs to be held responsible.

    NYS is the worst-taxed state in the US, with NJ a close second worst.

    All the libs have are class hate/war, gender, race-baiting, and sexual orientation.

    Your so-called social justice is class war with a thin vaneer of pious-sounding claptrap. (N.B. I stifled myself from typing a more colorful metaphor.)

    First they came for the Jews, and I did nothing . . .

    Do something. That could be desultory, passive resistance or emigration to remnant America.

  • “”You may keep your life, your property, and everything else. But from this day forth you shall be as a stranger among us. You will retain your civic privileges, but they will be of no use to you. For if you seek the votes of your fellow citizens, they will withhold them, and if you seek only their esteem, they will feign to refuse even that. You will remain among men, but you will forfeit your rights to humanity. When you approach your fellow creatures, they will shun you as one who is impure. And even those who believe in your innocence will abandon you, lest they, too, be shunned in turn. Go in peace, I will not take your life, but the life I leave you with is worse than death.””

    This is called white martyrdom. It may be called segregation. It is called taxation without representation. How can Andrew Cuomo represent his constituency, when he refuses to acknowledge their existence and sovereign citizenship, even as they constitute the state?
    Ostracism, also known as exile, and shunning were intended to drive evil from your midst, as called for by Moses and his law. This was mandated to maintain purity, innocence and virginity in the tribes of Israel. Innocence and purity are necessary virtues to deliver Justice. It is the duty of the state to deliver Justice. Therefore, it is the duty of the state to protect and provide for innocence and virginity. Here, Andrew Cuomo drives innocence and virginity away from our midst, making of the people a thoroughly criminal class unable to deliver Justice.
    Andrew Cuomo is an indecent and unjust man who ought to be impeached for not representing his constituency.

  • Paul W Primavera: “Andy and his father Mario are Catholic – pro-infanticide, pro-sexual perversion Catholics in public! They brag about it!”
    Andy and Mario Cuomo are wannabe pro-abortionists, wannabe homosexual sodomists. These are campaigning for the pro-abortion and pro homosexual sodomy vote and disenfranchising, disengaging and discarding their constituents. Pro-abortionists and pro-sodomists have already exiled themselves from the halls of Justice because vice and lust can never be changed into virtue and love. They have self-excommunicated themselves and probably do not receive Holy Communion. It is up to the Catholic parishioners to make sure that they do not.
    This is the end fruit of embracing: “I am personally opposed to abortion but I cannot impose my morality (or lack thereof) on anyone.” Read: “I do not do abortions and I do not commit sodomy but so, I must impose my vacuum on all of my constituents for the abortion and gay vote” Immorality imposed, constituents disavowed, bigotry enacted.

  • These are campaigning for the pro-abortion and pro homosexual sodomy vote and disenfranchising, disengaging and discarding their constituents.

    Well, if they keep winning elections, then it would seem they are not disenfranchising, disengaging and discarding their constituents, or at least not enough of them to lose office. Cesspools like NY, NJ and the Left Coast will remain what they are until those who feel marginalized “vote with their feet.” Although I would think that, politicians being what they are, the average Joe gets shafted while muckety mucks (who you would think would like to avoid such high-tax places) get back room deals to make it worth their while to stay.

  • There are the motives for the left’s long-running campaigns to control education and chuild-rearing (latest is all day pre-school); seize your guns; tax your income; and confiscate/regulate (how you use) your property.

    Gibbon “Decline and Fall . . . “ paraphrased: “An educated, well-informed populous, possessed of arms, tenacious of property, and collected into constitutional assemblies form the only balance capable of preserving a free constitution against enterprises of an aspiring prince (despotism).”

  • T Shaw is correct. Democracy is the despotism of a simple majority ignorant of principle and intent on voting themselves bread and circuses, thus are Democrats like Mario and Andy Cuomo despots. Only in a Republic does T. Shaw’s educated, well-informed populous, possessed of arms, tenacious of property, and collected into constitutional assemblies exist. Today’s populous of Facebook, reality TV and gay sex promoting Grammy Awards is NOT that populous, but rather a people with whom the likes of Caligula would be most at home.

    I hate Democracy – two wolves and one sheep voting on what is for dinner. I love liberty – a well armed, well educated sheep contesting the vote.

    Democracy – the tail side of the coin whose head is Socialism.

    Liberty – freedom – is always contrary to both Democracy (dictatorship by the majority) and autocracy (dictatorship by an autocrat).

    Democracy – 1st Samuel chapter 8 in action.

  • My father had the great misfortune to work for Mario Cuomo, He thought Mario was an egomaniacal gas-bag, who shamelessly unleashed the powers of his office on anyone (and there were several of these people) who Mario did not like. Mario personally saw to the destruction of an industry that employed thousands of people. It was an industry for which New York State was famous. Mario did not like the people running the industry. So he wrecked it, and put thousands of people out of work, and left huge, rusting, unused buildings on the horizon.
    My father said he had exposure to Andrew the evil spawn. Andrew, “man of the people” that he is, yelled and screamed at a parking lot attendant at a NYS facility, for not recognizing the then 20-something lawyer as the “Governor’s son”. My father said Andrew did this in order to impress the senior NYS officials who were with him at the time. My father was not favorably impressed.
    The Cuomo’s are a bunch of filthy, oppressive, elitist scumbags, on both a political and personal level. I moved out of New York State a long time ago. Although I am generally regarded as “the stupid one” of all my parent’s children, the fact that I got out of New York before that greasy, loudmouthed slimeball Andrew took over gives me an automatic win when I am with my siblings. So I am grateful to the Cuomo clan for that, I suppose.
    Andrew Cuomo is certifiably insane. I have no doubt that he is going to take care of himself, and as he goes down the political toilet to dwell with the Eliot Spitzers and Anthony Wieners of this world, we will all simply pray for a second flush, to somewhat alleviate the stink he left behind.

  • Not that I want to pile on . . .

    But, you won’t see this anywhere in the media.

    A. Cuomo was head of US HUD late in the Clinton maladminsitration.

    I don’t know if he has had all the copies burned, but he misspent tax money to publish a big, glossy magazine type publication touting his vast achievements as US Housing Cappo di Cappi (spelling?).

    He controlled FNMA/FHLMC/GNMA/FHA. He dictated that the mortgage agencies (government sponsored entirprises) that 50% of their trillions of $$$ home loan purchases had to be to “low-to-moderate” income borrowers.

    The rest is history.

    A. Cuomo mightily helped inflate the housing bubble, crash, and the great recession.

  • The majority voting idiots of New York State elected the imbecilic Cuomo, just as the elected his father three times.

    I invite the good, observant Catholic New Yorkers and other pro life New Yorkers of any Christian belief to pack up and get the hell out of Cuomo’s empire. Policies enacted by the NYC majority have made the most of the rest of New York State an economic disaster.

    I dread the day when Philadelphia and its suburbs lord it over the rest of Pennsylvania as NYC and its burbs do to the rest of New York State. Ed $pendell was elected twice as Pennsylvania governor with his power base in Southeastern Pennsylvania and God help us if another Filthy-delphian pol takes the Governor’s Mansion.

  • Andrew Cuomo swore an oath to uphold the Constitution on inauguration day. For Andrew Cuomo to turn around and refuse to represent some of his constituents after swearing an oath to represent all of his constituents and after taking in the citizens’ tax money is more than bigotry, it is malfeasance in office, subject to impeachment.

  • Meanwhile, back in the Land of Lincoln, we have someone who appears to be a lakefront Chicago liberal Democrat in GOP clothing — gazillionaire Bruce Rauner — going all out to buy, I mean win, the Republican primary for governor by flooding the airwaves with campaign commercials and raking in huge campaign donations.

    For reasons that would take all day to explain, I really, REALLY don’t trust this guy and if the general election ends up being Rauner vs. incompetent, bumbling Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn, I refuse to vote for either. His signature issue is reining in state employee unions and abolishing (not just reforming, but abolishing) their pensions (which is a serious issue); never mind the fact that he made a substantial chunk of his fortune off of investing… wait for it… state employee pension funds!

    By the way, Rauner contributed LOTS of money to Ed “Spendell” just a few years ago and he’s a close enough buddy of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel that their families have taken vacations together. Why he’s running as a Republican, I don’t know, unless he’s trying to make sure that the more socially conservative candidates (there are 3 others, at least 2 of whom are pro-life and pro-2nd Amendment) never get past the primary.

  • “we have someone who appears to be a lakefront Chicago liberal Democrat in GOP clothing — gazillionaire Bruce Rauner”

    You said it Elaine! His wife is a big time pro-abort. Each year she contributes $5,000.00 to Personal Pac, the pro-abort lobbying group in our state led by the fanatically anti-Catholic bigot Terry Cosgrove. Rauner’s ads manage to say precisely nothing. He is a perfect example of the one party, the Combine in John Kass’ immortal phrase, that dominate our state and use it as their personal piggy bank.

  • Meanwhile, back in the Land of Lincoln, we have someone who appears to be a lakefront Chicago liberal Democrat in GOP clothing — gazillionaire Bruce Rauner

    One gets the impression that if you all had Carol Mostly Fraud in the governor’s chair you wouldn’t have worse policy but the conduct of public business might be more amusing. Did her fiancee ever turn up or is he still on the lam?

  • Penguin’s Fan: the Mohawk Valley, the Southern Tier, and Western New York have some abiding problems but otherwise the state is in passable condition. Cuomo was returned to office in 1990 because of the state GOP’s self-destructive stupidity, which is an abiding feature of political life in New York. The electorate was so fed up with him by 1994 that they put goodfella George Pataki in office.

    And Cuomo is not an imbecile, the voters are. They could not tolerate David Patterson, who is the only normal human being who has occupied the governor’s chair in the last 30 odd years; he retired in part because his poll numbers were wretched. They’ve spurned a number of class acts over three decades (Jacob Javits, Harry Wilson, and Herbert London to name three) in order to put the likes of Alphonse d’Amato, Charles Schumer, and George Pataki in office.

    As for Cuomo, ‘borderline psychopath’ might come closer to the mark.

  • Believe it or not Art she ran for mayor of Chicago in 2010 coming in fourth. She was evicted from her home in 2012. Mostly Fraud is the living embodiment of contemporary Illinois politics.
    As far as I known Kgosie Matthews is still in the never never realm where so many people who embarrass Democrat pols seem to end up.

    http://www.rollcall.com/issues/49_45/-3374-1.html

  • She was evicted from her home in 2012.

    Well, then, she needs the work.

  • Haven’t we been hearing for years from ‘pro-abortion Catholic politicians’ that they have to represent all of their constituents? Governor Cuomo shows that ‘politically pious dribble’ to be an outright lie

  • In the interests of accuracy, Gov. Cuomo NEVER said that pro-lifers, etc. were “not welcome” or “should be excluded from civil society.” He said, in the context of a discussion of GOP politics in the state of New York, that they “had no place” there, and that “that’s not who New Yorkers are”. These statements are open to different interpretations, the most likely (and the one later confirmed by the governor himself) being that social conservatives “have no place” in the NYGOP because voters won’t vote for them. Which is, as I’ve said before, a sobering enough statement as it is. However, Fr. Barron doesn’t help his credibility by misquoting the guy.

  • (and the one later confirmed by the governor himself)

    Yeah, after he was caught. Cuomo, who is a very nasty piece of work, would put a bounty on the head of pro-lifers if he could.

  • Sorry Elaine, but the logical conclusion of Cuomo’s comments is that pro-lifers are not welcome in New York. Yes, technically the statement was about elected Republicans (or those who hope to be elected Republicans), but if pro-life Republicans are not welcome in the New York state GOP, then logically pro-lifers are without a representative voice, ergo they would be unwelcome in their own state.

  • ‘Tyranny in democratic republics … It ignores the body and goes straight for the soul.’
    Once the souls of ‘Christians’ are overcome, such as that of the lost governor, contagion rages, spreading deadly and insane symptoms of weak and mean character throughout society. The debates over what comprised the so called platform of the D party in the last ‘election’, for example, revealed the weak spot for such as the overcome heads of state to eliminate. Capitulation, apathy, ignorance, and fear keep the diseased overpaid and actively contagious, urging more to sell their souls.

  • Elaine, I submit to you that Fr. Barron wasn’t actually misquoting or taking him out of context. Also, my selection of de Tocqueville’s point about tyranny’s manifestation in a democratic republic is precisely supported by Cuomo’s original statement as well as the “clarification”. Let me line these up (hopefully the HTML works with me…):

    Cuomo: “if they are the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York. Because that is not who New Yorkers are.”

    Cuomo clarification (per the statement excerpt at Politico): “If you read the transcript, it is clear that the Governor was making the observation that an extreme right candidate cannot win statewide because this is a politically moderate state.”
    http://www.politico.com/story/2014/01/new-york-gop-ed-cox-andrew-cuomo-102436.html#ixzz2r4tibn39

    Father Barron: “he said they should be actively excluded from civil society!”

    de Tocqueville: ” For if you seek the votes of your fellow citizens, they will withhold them, and if you seek only their esteem, they will feign to refuse even that.”

    Personally, I can see how the “clarification” has the veneer of making the statement appear less offensive…but to me, I still hear the hollow ring from the application of public relations spin. Maybe I’m jaded, but that’s why I’m looking to what a host of other more learned folk are saying, including Father Barron.

    First Things chief editor R.R. Reno observed when interviewed by National Catholic Register said this:

    “My predecessor [Father] Richard John Neuhaus has the answer: When orthodoxy is optional, it will eventually be prohibited. Put differently, when moral truths are made optional so as to be ‘inclusive,’ they will eventually be prohibited,” Reno told the Register.
    […]
    “Andrew Cuomo’s remarks are telling,” said First Things’ Reno. “Yes, they were off-the-cuff and shouldn’t be taken as thought out or programmatic. But they reflect a sometimes unconscious liberal intolerance. Everybody is welcome — as long as they’re liberals. I see it as a political expression of the ‘dictatorship of relativism.’”
    http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/the-slippery-slope-of-mario-and-andrew-cuomo-and-abortion/

    In that same article by Joan Frawley Desmond, George Weigel weighed in:

    “Father Neuhaus’s observation about optional orthodoxy becoming banned orthodoxy helps a bit in explaining the slippery slope from Mario Cuomo to Andrew Cuomo. But so does a lot of obviously ineffective catechesis and preaching,” Weigel told the Register.

    “Andrew Cuomo has often talked about the portrait of Thomas More in his office. He doesn’t seem to understand that he’s playing Henry VIII (or at the very least, Thomas Cromwell), not More, in the drama of Albany.”

    And Desmond had linked to Michael Gerson at The Washington (com)Post:

    Cuomo has reached an advanced stage of political polarization: regarding one’s democratic opponents as unfit for democracy. I imagine the feeling will now (in some quarters) be returned. And so the spiral continues — sometimes leftward, sometimes rightward, ever downward.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/michael-gerson-andrew-cuomo-silences-the-opposition/2014/01/20/68d3af78-8211-11e3-8099-9181471f7aaf_story.html

    Then you have Rev. George W. Rutler over at Crisis Magazine comparing and contrasting Cuomo with Pliny the Younger (who persecuted Christians, contra Candida Moss’ “scholarship”):

    “He [Cuomo] did not threaten to throw anyone to wild beasts, but the tone of the governor of the Empire State was decidedly imperious, and the threat of having to move west of Hudson River might be unsettling to even the most devout Catholics.”
    http://www.crisismagazine.com/2014/governor-pliny-and-governor-cuomo

    I really think that the crux of the quotes, citations, and such is that Cuomo is exhibiting a social intolerance for certain types of thought. As a test, if you were to substitute, say, racism/slavery as the subject of Cuomo’s rant, I daresay virtually everyone here would be onboard with him. The Ku Klux Klan has effectively been marginalized in civil society, and that’s just and proper. But here, the same exercise is being applied to a significant minority of the state (and that same minority in New York represents various majorities elsewhere in the Union). Further, whereas the positions and views that the KKK can be regarded as objectively and morally wrong, the position and views of those, at the least, on the pro-life side are quite the opposite on the yardstick of merit. The point is that since Cuomo is unanchored from any apparent moral ground as a consequence of moral relativism, he can’t make any distinction between the two. Thus, the only consistent reaction he, like other progressives can take, is the superficial equivalence of treating pro-lifers, pro-Second Amendment types, and traditional marriage supporters.
    So I close with a final observation on James Madison from Gerson’s comments:

    While James Madison would not be surprised, he would not approve. “In all cases where a majority are united by a common interest or passion,” he warned, “the rights of the minority are in danger.” A majority, he argued, can easily become a “faction,” seeking “illicit advantage.” This is dangerous in a democracy, not only because the rights of individuals are important but also because diversity of opinion balances factions against each other. Madison hoped that U.S. leaders would help check the passions of factions rather than inciting them for political advantage, so that “reason, justice and truth can regain their authority over the public mind.”

  • Editing fail:
    Thus, the only consistent reaction he, like other progressives can take, is the superficial equivalence of treating pro-lifers, pro-Second Amendment types, and traditional marriage supporters with legitimately wrong groups that should be excluded from civil society. Let me also add another de Tocqueville quote that I think is relevant here:

    Most religions are only general, simple, and practical means of teaching men the doctrine of the immortality of the soul. That is the greatest benefit that a democratic people derives from its belief, and hence belief is more necessary to such a people than to all others. When, therefore, any religion has struck its roots deep into a democracy, beware lest you disturb them; but rather watch it carefully, as the most precious bequest of aristocratic ages.
    http://www.gutenberg.org/files/816/816-h/816-h.htm#link2HCH0036

    This appears to be the source of the quote “America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great”, frequently mis-attributed to de Tocqueville…which, while he didn’t write that, it still has the ring of truth to it.

  • “”Cuomo: “if they are the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York. Because that is not who New Yorkers are.””
    Cuomo does not get to say who New Yorkers are. That is like telling a woman to get gender reassignment, or a man to get sterilized.

Soft Tyranny

Thursday, May 31, AD 2012

Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications and to watch over their fate.  That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild.  It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing.  For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances: what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?

Was there a greater political prophet than Alexis de Tocqueville? I think not. He wrote about American society and government nearly 200 years ago, and his brilliant insights into American culture specifically and political theory more generally are as relevant today as they were when he first wrote, if not more so. It’s as though he possessed a crystal ball and saw the ascension of petty tyrants like Michael Bloomberg.

If Mayor Bloomberg gets his way, and it looks like he will, large sodas and other sugary drinks will be a thing of the past, at least at restaurants, movie theaters, cafes, and stadiums across the five boroughs.

Under the mayor’s proposed plan, drinks at these locations would not be over 16 ounces. If businesses break the rule, they’ll be hit with a $200 fine.

Thomas Farley, the city’s health commissioner, said the measure is a new way to fight obesity. He estimates that over 60 percent of New Yorkers are overweight.

Aside from the bogus statistics – I grew up in New York City, and 60% of the people are overweight only if the ideal weight is “anorexically thin” – this is yet another attempt by Nanny Bloomberg to dictate to the people of New York how to live their lives. You may remember Mayor Mike from such public health efforts as banning smoking pretty much everywhere and banning the evil known as transfats.

Even if one agrees that it is good for people to not smoke and to eat healthy, is there no end in sight to these efforts to control the daily lives of citizens? You know, other then when it comes to those same citizens aborting their children because they’re only girls.

Let’s leave aside the fact that such a ban would be futile as, after all, customers could just order multiple beverages. This is yet another effort to control behavior. Certainly this is not the most egregious assault on personal liberty in this nation’s history, but that’s sort of the point, and that was Tocqueville’s point as well. It’s the little things that get you. In other words, the real danger in democratic governments isn’t large-scale deprivations of liberty (though these are certainly possible as well), but rather the minute, insufferable attempts to manipulate people and treat others as though they were children.

That said, this story is yet another corrective to the old saw that it is social conservatives who want to control every aspect of our daily lives. If Michael Bloomberg is a social conservative, then I’m afraid to know what I’d be labeled.

But have no fear New Yorkers. Even if Mayor Mike takes your giant sodas away, at least he won’t be touching your donuts.

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7 Responses to Soft Tyranny

  • Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
    CS Lewis

  • Don’t you mean soft drink tyranny?

    I predict that large size soft drink sales in New Jersey, Long Island and Connecticut will sky rocket. And drink prices will rise because the cup manufacturers will have to make up for the lost sales in the elimination of the greater size cups, and will charge more for the smaller sizes.

  • What’s going to stop someone from buying more than one small drink?

    And I’m curious – what constitutes “obese”?

  • I don’t know where it ends either. But I still remember the days of having to smell cigarette smoke when I went out to eat, not having to anymore is very nice.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am not defending Bloombery and the soft drink police, this is just plain silly. But on the otherhand I am not sure where the “line drawn to far” is.

  • The extraordinary thing about the nanny state is that alcohol escapes regulation.

    Too much soda. No smoking. Calories must be posted. Report cards must include calculating body mass. However, drinking is OK. Working your employees to death is OK. Smoking marijuana is OK. Low-rise jeans on men is OK. And tarting up your four year old is actually good for you.

    Even if I weren’t Catholic, I’d believe in an afterlife… I just couldn’t believe this mess of a world was it.

  • Not to worry.

    When the progressives destroy the private sector, everyone will be seriously thin.

  • T. Shaw says:

    “”Not to worry.

    When the progressives destroy the private sector, everyone will be seriously thin.”

    I must agree

Soft Despotism

Wednesday, July 13, AD 2011

Alexis de Toqueville wasn’t always right, but he was almost always right. From Book One of Democracy in America:

Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing. For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances: what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?

Thus it every day renders the exercise of the free agency of man less useful and less frequent; it circumscribes the will within a narrower range and gradually robs a man of all the uses of himself. The principle of equality has prepared men for these things;it has predisposed men to endure them and often to look on them as benefits.

I live in Montgomery County, Maryland, and here they are always fashioning new ways to live up to de Tocqueville’s prophecy.

The Montgomery County Council approved a smoking ban at playgrounds and indoor common spaces on Tuesday, asking neighbors to report offenders.

The ban restricts smoking within 25 feet of playgrounds and in the shared spaces of multifamily residential buildings, such as apartment hallways or lobbies.

Two witnesses can file a complaint identifying the smoker, as well as the time and place of the violation, to start an investigation. Otherwise, a county Health and Human Services Department employee must catch a violator lighting up.

Excellent.  Not only have they all but banned smoking in your own home, but they’re also encouraging people to inform on their neighbors.  I wonder if this poster served as an inspiration to the County Council:
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23 Responses to Soft Despotism

  • Petty tyranny is like being gummed to death by a pack of aged poodles: lethal over time, incredibly tedious and profoundly silly.

    Alexis de Toqueville, the Frenchman who knew us better than we have ever known ourselves:

    “Despotism may govern without faith, but liberty cannot. How is it possible that society should escape destruction if the moral tie is not strengthened in proportion as the political tie is relaxed? And what can be done with a people who are their own masters if they are not submissive to the Deity?”

    http://almostchosenpeople.wordpress.com/2010/04/23/alexis-de-tocqueville-our-mirror/

  • Paul, I don’t like the part about ratting on your neighbors but I strongly support anti-smoking laws. It’s good public policy. My right to breathe clean air supersedes the other person’s right to blow smoke in my face.

  • I am a life long non-smoker Joe, and for the life of me I cannot see why the private market place cannot handle whether restaurants, etc, allow smoking or not. Long before there were anti-smoking laws I patronized only establishments that did not allow smoking and dining to be mixed. From the number of young people who I observe smoking, which to my mind is stupidity on stilts, I wonder just how successful this second attempt at slow motion Prohibition is.

  • Don, the comparison with Prohibition does not work. Smoking has been scientifically linked to more than 400,000 deaths a year. Tobacco is a legal product, yes, but it’s a clear detriment to the ‘general welfare,’ which our Constitution vows to promote. Alcohol, on the other hand, in moderation is not a detriment. A sip now and then does the body good. Did not Jesus turn the water into wine at the wedding feast?

    Here in WI, as you know, the anti-smoking law has been in effect for just over a year. At first, Gov. Walker took your position: Let individual businesses decide. He actually campaigned to repeal it. However, in hindsight even Walker admits it has worked well and he no longer supports repeal.

    In a compromise, however, the powerful Wisconsin Tavern League managed to squeeze in a provision that allows smoking in some outdoor areas that are well ventilated.

    So, I say, Smoke em if you got em…but do it so it does not harm others.

    Excerpt from The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel story July 4:

    “Although I did not support the original smoking ban, after listening to people across the state, it is clear to me that it works. Therefore I will not support a repeal,” Walker said in a statement.

    The SmokeFree survey shows the smoking ban enjoys support across partisan lines, with 66% of Republicans, 74% of Democrats and 80% of independents saying they favored the law.

    More than 90% of the 500 likely voters polled in mid-June say they go out to eat and drink the same or more often now that the state is smoke-free. The poll was conducted by a nonpartisan national polling firm Public Opinion Strategies.

    “The ban hasn’t hurt business at all,” said Derek Stamates, a manager at Tracks Tavern and Grille in Riverwest. “We’ve seen more families with kids coming in. It didn’t drive anyone away.”

    Here is a link to the full story:
    http://www.jsonline.com/news/wisconsin/124983484.html

  • I’m ok with banning smoking in common areas of an enclosed space. I think the same thing could be accomplished through the private sector, so maybe it’s an overreach, but not much of one. (I know, the point of this article is that soft tyrannies are made of small overreaches…but even so.)

    But parks? That doesn’t make any sense to me.

  • “Don, the comparison with Prohibition does not work. Smoking has been scientifically linked to more than 400,000 deaths a year.”

    It certainly does work Joe. Alcohol has an enormous negative impact on the US with an estimated 17.6 million alcoholics in this country. Of course we have carnage on our roads due to addiction to drink, and all the health related consequences of alcohol. I am both a non-drinker and a non-smoker, but I have always thought that a much stronger case can be had in favor of a government war against alcohol than tobacco.

  • In early 1990 I was eating lunch in our law firm dining room when one of my partners approached me with a sheet of paper in his hand and a snarky grin on his face. He handed me the paper, and I read that effective next month our law offices would be non-smoking. No debate; no partner vote; just a managing partner edict. My partner just snickered, “That’s right; freedom breaks out in Eastern Europe, and the clamp-down begins at home.” He nailed it.

  • It is tyranny. but i think the people want government tyranny. the idea of being an adult is scary to the offspring of the greatest generation and consequently to their offspring. There are no grown ups left in the United States except the remaining WWll Generation.
    This is why neither Democracy nor Libertarianism will work.

  • Don, it’s possible to consume alcohol without harming oneself or others. But smoking is altogether different. Even minimal use is harmful. The carnage that stems from alcohol is from excessive use not moderate use.

    Further, the point that conservatives miss when they rail against government interference with private business is that some regulation is necessary for the good of the general public. Taverns must be licensed by local and state authorities to make sure they comply with sanitary regs, insurance, fire laws, etc., all to protect the public. By adopting anti-smoking laws, the state is simply saying that it is one more requirement to be licensed to do business. If there is a “right” to smoke, then there ought to be a “right” to prostitute oneself, a “right” to gamble, a “right” to engage in any other vice. Freedom is not what one can do but what one ought to do. I think it was Bishop Sheen who said that.

    Moreover, there are countless laws on the books in a wider realm that one could make comparisons to, such as traffic laws. Why not let everyone drive at whatever speed they wish? After all, isn’t this an unwarranted intrusion by government on the “personal freedom” to drive as fast as we want. Clearly, traffic laws must be enforced. Does this mean that there are no accidents? Of course not. But there would be more without laws. Why not legalize all drugs, legalize all harmful activity and leave it up to everyone to decide for his or herself what is “right” and “wrong,” what is “good” and “bad.” Is this what Christians mean by free will?

    Does not Paul in Romans Chapter 13 tell us to “governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.” Should we decide which laws to obey and which to flout unless the laws of men conflict with the laws of God, as Peter said?

    Freedom is a word that everyone bandies about, but many seem to forget that freedom is not absolute and with it goes responsibility and duty.

  • fixing previous post to insert omitted word:

    Does not Paul in Romans Chapter 13 tell us to OBEY “governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.”

  • “Don, it’s possible to consume alcohol without harming oneself or others. But smoking is altogether different. Even minimal use is harmful. The carnage that stems from alcohol is from excessive use not moderate use.”

    Actually Joe I disagree with that. Most of the DUIs where I have represented individuals have not involved alcoholics. Alcohol not infrequently plays a role in many of the dissolution cases that I have handled and, once again, usually do not rise to the level of alcoholism. Compare and contrast that with someone who dies at 75 from a cancer that may be smoking related. I think the ill effects of alcohol are often far more immediate than the ill effects of tobacco.

    The trouble with a nanny state is that it diminishes freedom and treats us all like children. If I do not want to smell cigarette smoke when I eat I am quite able to give my patronage to businesses that do not allow smoking without the government having to intervene. Acting as nanny necessitates a large, bullying and expensive government. The modern nanny state in this country reminds me of this line from the Declaration of Independence:

    “He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.”

    We have gone well beyond common sense in this area, and I think time is overripe for the pendulumn to swing back from this madness.

    As for Saint Paul:

    “Let every soul be subject to higher powers: for there is no power but from God: and those that are, are ordained of God. Therefore he that resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God. And they that resist, purchase to themselves damnation. For princes are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil.”

    That particular passage has been cited by worthless tyrant after worthless tyrant down through the centuries. What Saint Paul was obviously trying to counteract were people who were attempting to claim that being a Christian freed one from secular authority. Saint Paul was not giving a blank check to every idiot idea emanating from government as the Church makes clear in the Catechism:

    “2238 Those subject to authority should regard those in authority as representatives of God, who has made them stewards of his gifts:”Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution. . . . Live as free men, yet without using your freedom as a pretext for evil; but live as servants of God.”Their loyal collaboration includes the right, and at times the duty, to voice their just criticisms of that which seems harmful to the dignity of persons and to the good of the community.”

    “2242 The citizen is obliged in conscience not to follow the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order, to the fundamental rights of persons or the teachings of the Gospel. Refusing obedience to civil authorities, when their demands are contrary to those of an upright conscience, finds its justification in the distinction between serving God and serving the political community. “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” “We must obey God rather than men”

    When citizens are under the oppression of a public authority which oversteps its competence, they should still not refuse to give or to do what is objectively demanded of them by the common good; but it is legitimate for them to defend their own rights and those of their fellow citizens against the abuse of this authority within the limits of the natural law and the Law of the Gospel.”

  • Then I suppose it boils down to one man’s vice being another man’s virtue. I’m not enamored of the Nanny State either. Certainly, there are limits on what government should regulate and salt use (see NYC) is not one of them.

    But if government is We the People, then let the people decide. And in the case of smoking, a vast majority want it controlled in some fashion. Let me ask you, Don, should I be allowed to blast my stereo with my windows open at 3 in the morning? Shoot fireworks off anywhere? Discharge my gun within city limits, the 2nd amendment notwithstanding. Ad infinitum.

    Of course, this is argument and not proof so further discussion is pointless. Example:

    1. a) You should not smoke (individual action, individual decision)
    b) because smoking is harmful (generally accepted wisdom that health is good). The argument is neither a) advice nor b) moral or economical judgment, but the connection between the two. An argument uses always the connective because. An argument is not an explanation. It does not connect two events, cause and effect, who already took place, but a possible individual action and it’s beneficial outcome. An argument is not a proof. A proof is logical and cognitive concept; an argument is a praxeologic concept. A proof changes our knowledge ; an argument determines us to act.

  • “But if government is We the People, then let the people decide.”

    In regard to the Nanny State, I think We the People have little say. It is rather politicians seeking votes from particular pressure groups, and, as an added bonus, swelling the rolls of government employment and revenue from fines and taxes.

    “He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.”

    It is no accident, as the Marxists used to say, that the worst of this type of rubbish comes from blue states and blue cities. Government has more than enough essential tasks to do, many of which government is failing to do adequately at the present time, without treating adults as if they are unruly first graders who must be micromanaged.

  • Don, seems like we can’t keep Ben Franklin’s Republic. Maybe what we need is a good king with a sharp axe. 😀

  • Oh, one last point (maybe): Since there are apparent limits to the universe but none to human stupidity, I have little faith of heaven on earth. It is indeed disheartening to find that most citizens do not know the difference between a YIELD and STOP sign. 😛

  • We need government Joe because men aren’t angels. That obvious fact is also an argument, as the Founding Fathers understood, to keep government small and limited.

  • The worst, but better than every other as Churchill said, Don? Not so sure.

  • “Freedom’s just another word for “nothin’ left to lose.” Janis Joplin.

    “All attempts to create Heaven on Earth result in Hell on Earth.” Camus

  • George Washington, “Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”

  • Long as we’re dropping quotes, here’s one my Catholic friends may like:

    Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought. — Pope John Paul II

  • “The advice you give us does not spring from a full knowledge of the situation. You know one half of what is involved, but not the other half. You understand well enough what slavery is, but freedom you have never experienced, so you do not know if it tastes sweet or bitter. If you ever did come to experience it, you would advise us to fight for it not with spears only, but with axes too.”

    Herodotus

  • “The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental or SPIRITUAL [emphasis added]. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest.” John Stuart Mill

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