A Plan For Palin, A New Contract With America?

Wednesday, July 8, AD 2009

Sarah Palin

[Updates at the bottom of his post]

Governor Sarah Palin recently announced her resignation as governor of the great state of Alaska and there has been a flurry of analysis of her motives, her character, and her future plans.  Some of this analysis were sincere, others were borderline antagonistic.

This is all occurring in the midst of an Obama presidency steering both Democratic controlled chambers of Congress that have substantially increased spending and enlarged the government to the detriment of our freedoms.  Couple this with the lack of a clear Republican plan to challenge all of this, the American people are in need of a leader to guide us out of this wilderness.

I believe Governor Palin can and should play this important role.  She stated in her final address as governor of Alaska that she wants to do what’s best for her state.  If she is a person of principle and a patriot then it is logical to presume that she wants what’s best for America.  And what’s best for America right now is to have a strong and vigorous counterweight to the liberal agenda of President Obama and his enablers in the Congress.

The plan that Governor Palin should pursue is to proactively lead Americans to take back Congress as part of the pact with America.  She should do what then House Leader Newt Gingrich did in 1994 with the Republican Party’s Contract with America that gave the Republicans control of the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years.

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115 Responses to A Plan For Palin, A New Contract With America?

  • Wow, my first co-post!

  • With due respect my friends,

    I couldn’t disagree more. I do not believe Sarah Palin is a political figure that the majority of Americans outside the active conservative movement will take seriously. I know the pain of supporting such a candidate since I’m a fan of Huckabee. But I think he has a better shot than Palin at being the conservative candidate that the rest of America might listen to.

    The politics of right-wing indignation will not win an election, least of all against Obama. No matter how righteously we trumpet our causes, the only way to beat Obama is to appeal to more people than he did, not make a narrow segment of the population feel more emboldened in their isolation.

    What is needed is a candidate who can transform Cartias Veritate into a political platform and bring life issues together with economic ideas (and perhaps even more importantly, economic rhetoric) that the vast majority of Americans do not believe are completely discredited by the last 30 years.

  • Joe,

    We are advocating she lead the fight to take back Congress in 2010. Not run for president.

  • Even so, most of what I said applies.

  • Joe,

    Huckabee doesn’t have the national standing that Palin has. Nor can he draw the crowds and grab America’s attention.

    Palin isn’t running for office, she’ll be campaigning for congressional representatives and senators.

    You have valid points, but their for Huckabee’s run at the presidency, not for taking back Congress.

  • Joe Hargrave,

    I do not believe Sarah Palin is a political figure that the majority of Americans outside the active conservative movement will take seriously

    Wishful thinking don’t make it so Joe.

    The politics of right-wing indignation will not win an election, least of all against Obama. No matter how righteously we trumpet our causes, the only way to beat Obama is to appeal to more people than he did, not make a narrow segment of the population feel more emboldened in their isolation.

    Who said anything about “right-wing” indignation? That’s not the message at all. Read the link regarding Contract with America, it’s not about right-wing or indignation.

    As far as narrow? Actually 40% of Americans identify themselves as conservative, conversely, less then 25% as liberal or progressive. Besides the fact, despite the rantings of various liberal, and elitist pundits, Palin appeals very significantly to moderates. That doesn’t necessarily translate to a presidential election but it helps to overcome the massive liberal media bias which often prevents the conservative message from getting out.

    I know the pain of supporting such a candidate since I’m a fan of Huckabee. But I think he has a better shot than Palin at being the conservative candidate that the rest of America might listen to.

    Joe, I think you may have accidentally posted to the wrong thread. What Tito and I are saying is that Palin’s mission is not (or at least ought not) to run for office in 2012, but to work towards rallying the country against socialism in 2010.

    I’m a huge fan of Huckabee too, and he’s already working towards this, but he doesn’t draw, and electrify a crowd like Sarah Palin does.

    As to 2012, I’m as reticent as you about Sarah Palin. Unlike liberals, I do care about experience and so, when the field is set, I’ll support the candidate I think will do the best job, and it might not be Palin. If she did get nominated, she would have my full-throated support in any event.

  • I like Sarah Palin because she is a regular person, and she isn’t a regular politician. Cf. the YouTube of John Edwards working on getting his hair just right for an appearance, or, even worse, Barrack Obama transferring out of my alma mater because he needed a “bigger stage.” In other words, he was already planning to run for President when he was still a teenager. People like that scare me, if only because it is so clear that they are driven by personal ambition than by any concept of serving others. Those kinds of people (and they are found in both parties) are a challenge to both faith based values and to a republican (note the lower case!) form of government.

    Palin is the modern day Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. She has been snatched out of obscurity to appear on the big screen. As I said, I like the fact that she isn’t a professional, poofed up, packaged politician, who tries to make everyone think that she agrees with them. Barrack Obama has been quoted as saying that he has a “gift” of being able to do that, a gift that I find repulsive, not because of his positions, but because he finds that sort of skill to be a positive.

    But, having said that, we get poofed up pols because that’s what the public buys, unfortunately, or, at least, that’s the perception. Yes, Mitt Romney, John Edwards and Hilary Clinton failed, but Barrack Obama succeeded and the perception from the chattering classes is that is the aura that’s required.

    Some argue that the priority for processed bread politicians comes from “main stream media” and their liberal biases, but I think there’s more to it than that. Main stream media clearly did not like either Bush, for example, and they love Clinton and Obama, but all four ended up getting elected. This makes me believe that the public sees being a smooth talking politician as a minimum criteria for holding public office. The press likes to talk about maverick politicians, but they don’t get elected very often (and when they do, there’s almost always an unusual circumstance.) Perhaps you’ve seen the putdowns of Palin as “trailer trash,” not looking or acting like a “real leader.”

    So can Sarah Palin survive in national politics without becoming an ‘every hair in place’ politician? I hope she can but I fear that she doesn’t have the internal fortitude to ignore the sniping from outside the Republican base. As “Mr. Dooley” wrote over 100 years ago, “politics ain’t bean bag.” It’s a blood sport, always has been, always will be, which is one of the reasons I choose not to play myself. Perhaps she can channel Margaret Thatcher, the “green grocer’s daughter” who became Prime Minister and saved Britain from becoming Argentina. Remember how Ronald Reagan would respond to vitriol with a small smile and saying “Well, now there you go again….”

    Palin can not succeed by becoming an attack dog, even in response to what will undoubtedly be heavy personal attacks. That’s not presidential but it’s also not what the country needs.

  • “Unlike liberals, I do care about experience and so, when the field is set, I’ll support the candidate I think will do the best job, and it might not be Palin.”

    I appreciate your honest perspective.

  • Patrick Duffy,

    I agree with you 100% of what you wrote.

    The mainstream media certainly has it out for Governor Palin.

    The main point of the posting is that Governor Palin can make a significant contribution towards taking back one or both chambers of Congress and that as a lightning rod for all the open seats.

  • I know it is popular on both sides to assume the media has an political agenda (amazing how they can be so far-left and far-right, depending on who you listen to, at the same time!), and I’m sure it does. I definitely pick up a cosmopolitan upper-class liberal ‘bias’ from most reporters and anchors.

    But the media will generally treat people the way people treat it. Yes, some candidates and political figures will have to work harder than others due to the biases. But it can be done. John McCain had a great relationship with the press before he started playing the role of “angry conservative” to play to the base. Palin practically declared war on the media before the media even knew who she was at the convention.

    So its a dreadful loop, but I do believe it starts with the candidate (or figure or whoever). The right-wing base doesn’t like the press – having the press hate you gives you right-wing street cred. Will anyone deny this? Will anyone deny that the day Wolf Blitzer is gushing over your speech or your interview is the day a significant number of potential conservative voters tune out?

    The problem is that most of the country isn’t THAT conservative, Matt’s statistics aside. “Conservative” may mean any number of things (I identify more with conservatism today than I ever have in my life). I think the segement of the population that really hates the media a priori is a) not big enough to care about placating, but b) loud enough to make it seem to potential candidates that they are big enough to placate.

    So, I think cultivating a healthy relationship with the press corps and the anchors, instead of an oppositional attitude for the sake of impressing your buddies (which is what it really seems to come down to), goes a long way. McCain used to know it, Huckabee knows it, any successful politician figures it out. The first aggressive and overconfident, and then later closed-off, defensive Palin strategy with the press was absolutely disastrous. If she does want to be a serious political leader, this childish game has to end.

  • I don’t think Palin is the ticket (for Congress, President or whatever). Palin has been drawing crowds, but are they crowds drawn to her or repulsed by something? I think it is the latter.

    That is, Palin represents a rejection, primarily of the politics of Obama and, to a different degree, of John McCain. Palin breathed life in a segment that expected to be entirely ignored and was frustrated by everything it saw. Palin represented a rejection of that.

    The problem is the conservatives need more than that. Decrying socialism isn’t the answer. Something needs to be done, a vision has to be propounded (Caritas in Veritate, anybody?), and someone needs to lead FOR it, not just merely AGAINST something.

    Palin from what I’ve seen has done well capitalizing on the feelings of many Americans who don’t like what’s going on, but she has not done well in showing them a new place to go. She could, and I would be happy to see it, but for right now she’s just not what we need.

    Moreover, for her family’s sake I kinda hope she lays low for a while. Let them breathe a little bit, lest the pressure destroy it ala Jon & Kate.

  • Michael,

    I’m proposing that she help candidates win back Congress, not run for Congress.

    Assume that crowds are there because they reject something, what other politician can do that? Easy, no one but Governor Palin.

    By the way, where’s your Tiger icon ID?

  • Joe Hargrave,

    I know it is popular on both sides to assume the media has an political agenda (amazing how they can be so far-left and far-right, depending on who you listen to, at the same time!), and I’m sure it does. I definitely pick up a cosmopolitan upper-class liberal ‘bias’ from most reporters and anchors.

    But the media will generally treat people the way people treat it. Yes, some candidates and political figures will have to work harder than others due to the biases. But it can be done. John McCain had a great relationship with the press before he started playing the role of “angry conservative” to play to the base. Palin practically declared war on the media before the media even knew who she was at the convention.

    With all do respect, that’s a load of crap. First of all, you’re denying human nature. It’s clear that 90% who work in the media are self admittedly liberal. SO you suggest that they do not act in a biased fashion, unless the subject objects to their transparent lack of objectivity? That’s just not true. The media bias is deep and transparent and it doesn’t matter what the target does. Case in point Bush’s administration was never hostile towards the media and yet was subjected in latter years to massive bias.

    The press was friendly with McCain because he was seen as a moderate, his major sin was going up against Obama, and then bringing in a solid conservative to take the cake. Frankly, they didn’t really go after him anyway, they ignored him (see the coverage on his trips abroad vs Obama’s) which is far worse.

    So its a dreadful loop, but I do believe it starts with the candidate (or figure or whoever). The right-wing base doesn’t like the press – having the press hate you gives you right-wing street cred. Will anyone deny this? Will anyone deny that the day Wolf Blitzer is gushing over your speech or your interview is the day a significant number of potential conservative voters tune out?

    We conservatives like a skeptical but unbiased press. We don’t like to see them gush over anyone frankly, and if a liberal media person gushes over you it’s obvious that you have said something they like, which is probably a bad sign. For example, since Chavez likes Obama’s position on Hondura’s impeached president being returned to power, it’s probably a bad sign.

    The problem is that most of the country isn’t THAT conservative, Matt’s statistics aside. “Conservative” may mean any number of things (I identify more with conservatism today than I ever have in my life). I think the segement of the population that really hates the media a priori is a) not big enough to care about placating, but b) loud enough to make it seem to potential candidates that they are big enough to placate.

    So what? It’s not about hating or not hating the media. The only point I made about media bias is that the Palin overcomes it by getting press wherever she goes. The coverage tends to let the message out, and the vile reactions from press pundits become transparent to the conservatives and moderates.

    So, I think cultivating a healthy relationship with the press corps and the anchors, instead of an oppositional attitude for the sake of impressing your buddies (which is what it really seems to come down to), goes a long way. McCain used to know it, Huckabee knows it, any successful politician figures it out. The first aggressive and overconfident, and then later closed-off, defensive Palin strategy with the press was absolutely disastrous. If she does want to be a serious political leader, this childish game has to end.

    As I said, this is not about antagonizing the press, so much as antagonizing the Obama administration to throw them off their stride, and make their true positions more obvious. Heck, even Helen Thomas has started attacking them for their deceptive actions.

  • “As I said, this is not about antagonizing the press, so much as antagonizing the Obama administration to throw them off their stride”

    If by “this” you mean the initial post, I agree. But two other folks brought up the media angle, so I wanted to comment on that.

  • Also…

    “The media bias is deep and transparent and it doesn’t matter what the target does. Case in point Bush’s administration was never hostile towards the media and yet was subjected in latter years to massive bias.”

    Notice you say, “in latter years”. The relationship deteriorated for a number of reason, but you have to admit, so did the relationship between the Bush administration and the majority of Americans. His approval ratings were abysmal in the ‘latter years’ – why kind of press isn’t going to reflect that in some way?

    The truth is that in the beginning Bush, like McCain, got alone with the press corps. Bush knew how to tell a joke and lighten the mood. He was quite affable with reporters. But as the war dragged on and the administration became more defensive, the media pounced. This always happens – it never pays to be defensive and combative with the media.

    And, like I also acknowledged, because of the bias, some people have to work harder than others. Conservatives have to work harder than liberals. I don’t deny the bias, I don’t deny its influence, I just say, it isn’t insurmountable.

  • I will resist the temptation to point out how ridiculous Palin is, and how she really knows nothing about policy, but I do want to take you to task for the this statement “substantially increased spending and enlarged the government to the detriment of our freedoms.”

    (1) How much is spending and the deficit set to increase over the medium-term and how much is attributible to Obama’s discretionary policies as opposed to the effects of autmomatic stabilizers, cyclical changes in tax elasticities, and the dymanic effects of Bush’s 3 major deficit-enhancing measures (war, tax cuts, medicare part d)?

    (2) The single largest item in the federal government is military spending (which accounts for almost a quarter of total spending). Do you support cutting this drastically to reduce government and enhance your “freedom”?

    (3) What freedoms are you talking about exactly?

    (4) How does this notion of freedom fit with the Catholic notion of freedom which is less concerned with individual automomy and more with serving of what is good and just?

  • Tito:

    I’m proposing that she help candidates win back Congress, not run for Congress.

    I know, though I see I may have been unclear on that. I was responding more to the idea that Palin can be an effective leader for the Republican party.

    Assume that crowds are there because they reject something, what other politician can do that? Easy, no one but Governor Palin.

    True, but the point isn’t merely to draw crowds. It’s to win back the trust of the American people and to persuade people that the conservative movement, particularly the social conservative movement, is not a lost cause. I don’t think Palin can do that; indeed the media has used to her to portray the opposite, and is in fact an sign of a dying cause.

    By the way, where’s your Tiger icon ID?

    I will try to remember to do it tonight. I just hesitate to try to do wordpress while on the work computer.

  • Michael,

    I will try to remember to do it tonight. I just hesitate to try to do wordpress while on the work computer.

    You have a job? In this economy?

    sign of a dying cause

    Only time will tell on this point, but you can’t deny she is helping get out the vote.

    Let’s play on your premise that she only brings out conservatives, remember that the GOP just needs to invigorate the base to come out, not unlike Senator McCain who did nothing to inspire the faithful until he nominated Governor Palin. And her nomination pulled McCain over Obama for the first time in the polling only to drop back when the economy began showing signs of recession.

  • Morning’s Minion,

    I will resist the temptation to point out how ridiculous Palin is, and how she really knows nothing about policy,

    Awesome, thanks for demonstrating the vileness of the response from liberal/leftist/progressives.

    but I do want to take you to task for the this statement “substantially increased spending and enlarged the government to the detriment of our freedoms.”

    (1) How much is spending and the deficit set to increase over the medium-term and how much is attributible to Obama’s discretionary policies as opposed to the effects of autmomatic stabilizers, cyclical changes in tax elasticities, and the dymanic effects of Bush’s 3 major deficit-enhancing measures (war, tax cuts, medicare part d)?


    (2) The single largest item in the federal government is military spending (which accounts for almost a quarter of total spending). Do you support cutting this drastically to reduce government and enhance your “freedom”?

    No. Military spending, and foreign policy spending only infringe on our rights in so far as we have to work to pay for them. Conversely domestic programs almost always involve additional infringements on our liberties.

    (3) What freedoms are you talking about exactly?

    Freedom from government tyrany. A government that is big enough to see to all you need, is powerful enough to take all you have.

    (4) How does this notion of freedom fit with the Catholic notion of freedom which is less concerned with individual automomy and more with serving of what is good and just?

    Perfectly. If the government takes so much of my income for entitlement programs and various other waste, I am not free to give any portion of it to worthy causes, such as caring for my family, seeing to the needs of the Church and effectively aiding the poor.

    Also, the type of government influence your glorious leader is pushing is often immoral (condoms in the schools, funding of abortion etc.).

  • Joe Hargrave,

    “As I said, this is not about antagonizing the press, so much as antagonizing the Obama administration to throw them off their stride”

    If by “this” you mean the initial post, I agree. But two other folks brought up the media angle, so I wanted to comment on that.

    Which posting or comment suggests that antagonizing the press is what this is about?

    “The media bias is deep and transparent and it doesn’t matter what the target does. Case in point Bush’s administration was never hostile towards the media and yet was subjected in latter years to massive bias.”

    Notice you say, “in latter years”. The relationship deteriorated for a number of reason, but you have to admit, so did the relationship between the Bush administration and the majority of Americans. His approval ratings were abysmal in the ‘latter years’ – why kind of press isn’t going to reflect that in some way?

    The media was strongly against Bush by the time of his reelection, obviously far in advance of his popular support being severely downgraded. Either way, he never did get antagonistic towards them. Did you ever consider that the media bias was part of the reason that popular opinion turned against him?

    The truth is that in the beginning Bush, like McCain, got alone with the press corps. Bush knew how to tell a joke and lighten the mood. He was quite affable with reporters. But as the war dragged on and the administration became more defensive, the media pounced.

    No, that’s just not the case. Tony Snow was always affable with reporters, and so was Bush. They never got antagonistic (granted that Tony Snow’s successor was far less effective than he was, but it was a feeding frenzy of hatred by then).

    This always happens – it never pays to be defensive and combative with the media.

    It hasn’t hurt Obama much YET.

    And, like I also acknowledged, because of the bias, some people have to work harder than others. Conservatives have to work harder than liberals. I don’t deny the bias, I don’t deny its influence, I just say, it isn’t insurmountable.

    absolutely. A troll like Gore can get all the press he wants, but a solid conservative generally can’t get a fair shake, so we work harder… like having Palin hold rallies and address the public directly.

  • MM:

    cyclical changes in tax elasticities

    Now I feel stupid. Pray tell, oh minion, what the heck does that mean? lol.

  • With all due respect (is that still the preferred precursor to expressing strong disagreement?), I’m not sure how you can watch Palin resignation speech or the Couric interviews and think she is equipped to effectively present alternative policies. She attracts coverage, but it’s rarely favorable, and she’s actively disliked by a fairly large segment of the population. Unlike Gingrich she’s hardly a policy wonk, and I’ve never heard her articulate a new or creative policy proposal. Frankly, I am looking forward to not having to endure any more speeches like the one she gave last Friday – and, of course, I hope being out of the limelight will give her and her family some peace.

  • John Henry,

    She is disliked by a fringe of Democratic leftist and some Republican elitists.

  • John Henry,

    you’re right, she’s not a policy wonk. So what? The policies she espouses are bang on, and she has done a good job of rallying conservatives and moderates, and that’s exactly what she should do. Whether she can show an ability to be everything that is needed in a president remains to be seen, in the meantime, she can help save the nation from socialism.

  • Matt,

    While you raise some interesting points; don’t you even find it the least disconcerting that she is incapable of even thinking on her feet, which I would think would be a necessary attribute for someone serving the highest office in the land?

  • She is disliked by a fringe of Democratic leftist and some Republican elitists.

    Well, I’m not sure which I am…here’s mixed evidence for your thesis from Gallup:

    A new USA Today/Gallup poll conducted Monday night finds a core of 19% of U.S. voters who say they are “very likely” to vote for her should she run, and an additional 24% who are somewhat likely to do so, giving her a decent reservoir of potential support to build upon. However, nearly as many voters (41%) currently say they would be not at all likely to vote for her.

    I guess it’s no surprise that she’s polarizing, but 41% is a pretty high “not likely at all” rating.

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/121514/Americans-Political-Future-Palin.aspx

  • Media bias is a strange animal… Almost as strange as legal bias.

    Law school was a surprising thing to me because I did not suspect that virtually EVERY law professor is a far left leaning wack-job and that the majority of them lean far to the conservative end of the spectrum when it comes to economics and private property. This is to say that law professors, and to a lesser extent, lawyers in general, tend to be socially leftist and rightist on economics.

    I raise this point because I think the same can be said of the vast majority of the media. On the one hand, they desperately need and seek advertising dollars which prevents them from reporting on economic abuses that would push away advertisers and, on the other, they are overwhelmingly rampant social liberals so their affinity is to liberal causes such as homosexual “rights,” abortion on demand, destruction of institutions, and secularization.

    Joe, with respect, the GOP can grovel for positive attention all it wants and it will never be more than a punch-line on late-night TV. We cannot count on and should not court the media as the Dems do. Our vindication lies in actually being RIGHT about the value of traditional institutions, controlling expenses, minimizing government interference, and championing Americanism in the world.

    NOTHING sells like being right.

  • People underestimate Palin. Good. They did the same to Ronald Reagan. In 2008 John McCain dropped 11 points among white men from the totals of Bush in 2004. He dropped only 4 points among white women. The diffence was solely Palin. Without her McCain would have been lucky to crack 40%.

    As Obama’s polls continue to shrink, Palin has an opportunity if she has the stomach for the absolutely outrageous venom heaped upon her and her family by the deranged left. I am not convinced yet that she wants the office of President enough to continue to endure the type of truly despicable attacks she has been under since McCain chose her for Veep. However, with the economy tanking as badly as I think it will under Obama, I suspect Palin will be formidable if she chooses to run in 2012. She is not a conventional politician and by 2012 that is what the country will be crying out for.

  • Donald,

    Puhleeze! Palin is NO Ronald Reagan.

    Pay respect to the memory of the man — especially in our current times where his name is being soiled by the like of folks who’ve even drawn comparison between he and Obama, a Pro-abortionist fiend.

  • e., when it comes to political skills, Palin is definitely Ronald Reagan in a skirt. If she runs for political office again, at the end of the campaign we can compare notes on this point.

  • Don,

    Did you watch the resignation speech? I’ve never seen a successful national politician, let alone Reagan (or Clinton, or Obama, or either Bush) string together such a rambling mess of contradictions and ill-conceived metaphors. I’m baffled by the Reagan comparison; what am I missing?

  • Donald,

    I’ve not ever encountered an interview with Ronald Reagan being as disasterous as most conducted with Palin.

    Even in the neocon networks such as Fox, she appeared regrettably clueless, even with what seemed to me like prepared remarks by her — as it happened to be the case even in her debates, which is amongst the very things that made her appear to me as an automaton of sorts; very mechanical — hardly Reaganesque at all.

    Yet, your insistence that she actually is gives me slight pause and, strangely enough, some glimmer of hope that perhaps I may myself have somehow underestimated her.

    Still, with all the public spectacles I’ve managed to catch of her (and, believe you me, I hardly pay much attention to the MSM, spin doctors, and what have you; for example, I usually watch entire interviews/debates themselves — live, if possible), her performance often seemed deplorably subpar.

    We’ll just have to wait and see, I guess.

  • A political natural John Henry. The crowds last year that came out to see Palin were huge and easily compared with most of Obama’s crowds. Her convention speech was the best I have ever heard since Reagan, and given under the most unfavorable of circumstances. She demolished Biden, yeah I realize maybe that wasn’t too hard!, in the Veep debate last year. She has a loyal and devoted following even after a losing campaign. She draws attention like no other political figure since Reagan, with the exception of Obama. That she becomes tongue tied occasionally is of no more moment than Obama’s dependence on a teleprompter. When you are a natural at politics, as in so many areas of life, the normal rules simply do not apply.

  • Donald:

    I was born after Reagan became president, so forgive my lack of history, but did Reagan have to quit the governorship of California?

  • Donald,

    “She demolished Biden…”

    As much as I detest Biden, just which debate are you actually referring to here?

  • Matt,

    “Which posting or comment suggests that antagonizing the press is what this is about?”

    For heaven’s sake, Matt, what in my posts suggests that I made such a claim?

    “No, that’s just not the case. Tony Snow was always affable with reporters, and so was Bush.”

    Tony Snow, who came in after Fleischer and McClellan, and after things for the Bush administration had already gone sour.

    “A troll like Gore can get all the press he wants”

    The media skewered Gore in 2000, though – they kept repeating the stupid lie that he claimed he invented the Internet, when any honest person who reads the full quote sees that he only claimed a role in supporting it, which in fact he did.

    They did the same thing with McCain inventing the Blackberry, only by then, he had so many other (Palin) problems that it was irrelevant.

    And don’t forget what they did to Howard Dean either, with that scream.

  • This is becoming an amusing exchange of irrelevancies. If someone will tell me who is going to win the World Series in a few months, I would be grateful for the information. It will surely be better based than most of the verbiage about 2010 [much less 2012].

    It is interesting to read the term “trailer trash” applied to Mrs. Palin. It happens [accidentally, believe me] that I do know a fair number of reporters and “media people”, having lived in NYC for 70 years. One unmistakeable characteristic is the effort to avoid being taken for “lower class” or “suburban”.

    Becoming a member of the Century Association is taken as a summum bonum. It is astonishing how many boys from Brooklyn have made the effort to go to Harvard.

    It must surely be apparent that the puffed-up hairdo’s of the television commentators [of both sexes] bespeak an emphasis on appearances. It’s OK for women because “a woman’s hair is her glory” [St. Paul].

  • e. check out Reagan’s performance in the first debate with Mondale in 84. Reagan was a trooper but even he had an off day. However, it really didn’t matter because Reagan was a politcal natural too. Bill Clinton had the same gift. Some people are just preternaturally good at politics and I believe Palin is one of them.

  • Matt: “thanks for demonstrating the vileness of the response from liberal/leftist/progressives”

    Matt, from your answer to my questions, you are steeped in liberalism. Yours is an undiluted form of that individualist ideology so condemned by the Church in past centuries. Catholism is about unity, the inherent one-ness of the human race united in communion, and that implies we look out for the common good, not our own individual self interest. In other words, we are persons before individuals. If that’s your position, defend it, but stop pretending you are something you are not.

    On Palin — I really hope your precious Republican party nominates her. Please do — you will almost guarantee an Obama landslde. But I should not be so smug. This is no joke. Rather, it really reflects poorly on people who embrace a leader one is is no unfit for leadership, judged by temperament and (most importantly) by ability to understand the basics of policy. If this is democracy, then I’ll take monarchy, thank you very much.

  • John Henry,

    I think I may have been too “simplistic”, so don’t take any offense. You fall in the good Christian category which I believe the USA Today polling data failed to represent.

    Nonetheless, Governor Palin has “it”. She can draw crowds and fire up the base very well.

    That’s all we need from her at the least when it comes to the 2010 midterms. Believe me, she will do a very well if not exceptionally well come election time in 2010.

    I for one will enjoy anyone and the media to continue to denigrate her for lack of policy, executive, [insert here] experience while she mops up moderate and vulnerable democrats in the congressional and senatorial elections of 2010!

  • “Rather, it really reflects poorly on people who embrace a leader one is is no unfit for leadership, judged by temperament and (most importantly) by ability to understand the basics of policy.”

    I have to agree. Palin is just embarrassing. It saddens me to think that the future of life and family issues could be tied to her performance as a candidate or a party leader.

    However, if by 2012 she cleans up her act, maybe receives some coaching on how to interact with the media, stops the ridiculous attempts at being “folksy” (one wink and I’m done), displays some sort of progress on economic thinking beyond the standard, discredited, and absolutely annoying platitudes about taxes and government spending, and is able to articulate the pro-life case beyond “I would choose life”, then, we’ll see.

  • Joe, John Henry — I couldn’t agree more, as always.

    I would, however, like to advise against tossing around terms like “right-wing”, “leftist”, “elitist,” etc. It really fails to move the debate forward, but rather halts it for petty back-and-forth slanders where cheap slogan and the age-old talking points are thrown back and forth.

    Can a Catholic debate, please look different than one in the American mainstream?

    To a very particular point made, I’m neither a “Democratic leftist or a Republican elitist” and I’m no fan of Sarah Palin. I don’t think marked generalizations assist such a point.

  • Joe, I think you are failing to apply your formula for politics to the GOP.

    If I understand you correctly, you are articulating the fairly well established common wisdom of being inclusive in politics. To assume a common metaphor for this, you are suggesting that the “umbrella” of the GOP must be broad enough to invite in those who share views on social causes that are further afield than opposition to abortion and those whose economic interests embrace a robust role for government in providing for the poor and disadvantaged. (I take this from the present discussion and other posts and comments of yours that I have read. If I got it wrong, please correct me.)

    However, it is precisely for this reason that you should be happy to have Sarah Palin in the fold.

    My wife did not donate a dime or in any way work to get a candidate elected until Gov. Palin entered the race. Frankly, she was a bit “ho-hum” about even going to the polls for John McCain. It was Sarah Palin’s ability to speak plainly and to the issues that my wife truly cares about that woke her up and excited her about the 2008 race.

    If you truly believe that the GOP umbrella needs to be broader then there must be a place for the “folksy, honest” people under it.

    Oh… And Matt… Speaking of the inarticulate and snarky, have you read what you have written?

  • Matt, My apologies. I meant to tag “Morning Minion” with the last line.

  • I will speculate that the difficulty that Gov. Palin had last fall is attributable largely to her history. Only a modest minority of those who have been on national tickets in the last 70-odd years have had any history as candidates or office-holders in the realm of local politics, and those that did (e.g. Hubert Humphrey and Spiro Agnew and Harry Truman) generally hailed from metropolitan counties and had hundreds of thousands of constituents. Robert Dole cut his teeth in small town and rural politics; however, he has all but admitted his party affiliation was a function of personal ambition and he stood for election as county attorney in 1952 in lieu of setting up shop in private practice. Gov. Palin is thus nearly alone among those on national tickets in recent decades whose political education and interest concerned the sort of commonplace concretes that local officials (most particulary small town mayors) deal with. It is doubtful, given her background, that she is the sort who invests a whole mess of time in conceptual thinking about matters for which she is not palpably responsible at that moment.

    So, what you had was this woman who had a considerable measure of experience in the realms of hiring, firing, budgets, capital improvement projects, public education, the commercial fishing business, the intersection of state government and the oil business, &c. being asked questions about matters she (one suspects) had not had much occasion to think about because it was not her job to do so. Someone else might have spent their spare time cogitating (intelligently or no) on aspects of the federal tax code or the interminable wars between Israel and the Arab states; Gov. Palin’s hobbies run to hunting and sports.

    Ronald Reagan had (by the time he entered office) some serious intellectual deficiencies. While he may have been less intelligent than Gerald Ford or George Bush pere, he had an interest in political ideas and in the schema of policy that they lacked. Robert Kuttner referred to him as a ‘hedgehog’ – a man who held self-consciously to a short list of principles he knew how to apply in assessing policy. I suspect if carefully questioned, Gov. Palin would reveal herself to be unlike either Gerald Ford (a political professional who enjoyed the daily business of political life but had no well articulated convictions and little demonstrated ability to think outside of whatever box the accumulated history of policy had placed him in) or Ronald Reagan (the conviction politician): someone with a strong (if not articulated) cultural-political orientation that colors her reactions to things but also someone whose interest is very much in the tangible world around her, not in abstractions like ‘the Soviet threat’ or ‘the free market’.

    (memo to ‘e.’, when you have under your belt 21 years raising kids and 12 years running public agencies, you are not properly dismissed as a ‘pin up girl’).

  • Well, I’m not sure if anyone would deny that Sarah Palin can speak plainly and to the issues. However, personally, I do not identify with her and I don’t agree with a number of her positions. So, it is hard-pressed for me, as others, to be drawn by her presence. I think that’s the point. In fact, I would rather she lay low for a while.

    In regard to the post itself, I think there would have to be a re-establishment of credibility in regard to the “Republican message of small government, fiscal responsibility, moral values, and security to the American people.”

    It was under the Bush Administration that the government expanded and operated in a fiscally irresponsible manner. In terms of “moral values,” I’m terribly skeptical because I’m usually disturbed in regard to moral priorities or the conclusion of many ethical judgments. If anything, Gov. Sanford might stand in the way of credibility. Though, it would not be fair to project his personal problems on to the entire GOP brand. And in terms of security, I don’t have a real sense of more or less safety between the two Administrations. If anything, I’m more favorable to Obama’s approach to foreign policy, particularly regarding the Middle East, if not just for the tone of reconciliation against the “us” versus “them” mentality. But that is my personal view, of which, I am not “absolutizing.”

    So, I think that’s a hard sell, even to moderates.

  • “Ronald Reagan had (by the time he entered office) some serious intellectual deficiencies.”

    No wonder the man was virtually responsible for reshaping the face of the whole known world then, ending the Cold War, amongst many of other notable & historic feats the man is famously known for (and rightly, too).

    Don’t get me wrong; the man certainly had his failings. Still, there is nothing in Palin that even remotely resembles any of his more endearing qualities (with all due respect to Donald, of course).

  • e., I think you would be hard pressed to find a more devoted fan of Ronald Wilson Reagan than me. If there were space, his face should be carved on Mount Rushmore in my opinion. However, he often got facts wrong in his speeches. The Left made a cottage industry out of this foible. It didn’t make a dime’s worth of difference to most of the American public.

    Like Reagan Palin is hated, truly despised, by the Left in this country. (For me that is an endearing quality!) Like Reagan Palin has a large and devoted following within the rank and file of the party. Like Reagan she also has many enemies within the party leadership. Like Reagan she can draw mass crowds to her speeches as few other politicians can. Like Reagan she draws attention and excitement. She obviously needs a bit more seasoning, like Reagan did in 68 when he made an abortive attempt for the GOP nomination for President, but I think she will gain this seasoning on the campaign trail in 2010 as she becomes the de facto leader of a Republican comeback. (I think such a comeback is assured if the economy tanks into a deeper recession as I fear). Time, as it always does, will tell.

  • “However, it is precisely for this reason that you should be happy to have Sarah Palin in the fold.”

    I don’t see why. Palin mouthed the same tired old rhetoric about taxes and government spending during the campaign. She contributed nothing new or original to the American political debate. What did she do except talk tough and wink for the camera?

    All of the tough talk about taxes and government spending is absolutely toxic. I’m sick of it and the majority of Americans are sick of it. Most Americans think the rich should pay more, that progressive taxes are just, that there should be some redistribution of wealth – and absolutely reject the retarded notion that any such redistribution amounts to “socialism”.

    Personally, I put the integrity of society and the common good above any notion that we are “punishing success”. It is the collective labor of the entire world that makes wealth possible. Good ideas and good management are absolutely worthless without dedicated labor. Everyone who plays a role in making this society function should be able to live in it with dignity and comfort, even if it means a few less billionaires. And that is exactly what Pope Benedict argues in CV, when he says:

    “The world’s wealth is growing in absolute terms, but inequalities are on the increase. In rich countries, new sectors of society are succumbing to poverty and new forms of poverty are emerging. In poorer areas some groups enjoy a sort of “superdevelopment” of a wasteful and consumerist kind which forms an unacceptable contrast with the ongoing situations of dehumanizing deprivation. “The scandal of glaring inequalities” continues.(22)”

    It is an unacceptable contrast, and until Palin or some other GOP candidate says it and believes it (Huckabee doesn’t even say it as candidly as I think he should), I and millions of others will continue to tune them out. We’re done with it, see? Done with the “rich people make the world go ’round so they deserve everything”. It isn’t envy. It’s a legitimate desire for justice and fairness necessary for the functioning of an orderly society, and I thank God our Pope proclaims it from on high.

  • If someone like Obama who had zero executive experience, even less so than Governor Palin, can get elected, then the inverse is possible. Especially when Governor Palin can draw and energize the base.

    I think many of you make “some” valid points, but you’re missing the big picture. The point of the posting is to show that Governor Palin is not running for Congress but can help campaign.

    She will deliver congress to the GOP.

    And to Eric’s point of the Bush record, the Democrats in Congress had an even worse approval rating than Bush, yet they were able to win large margins in both the House and the Senate.

    Many of the arguments don’t hold water because they have been proven to be both wrong and inaccurate. The GOP can win on fiscal responsibility, small government, moral values, and security. Governor Palin needs to do what she is more than capable of doing and that is bring the base to the Polls.

  • Donald:

    I wasn’t suggesting otherwise; in fact, I actually took you to be (quite rightly) my superior better in that regard (i.e., knowledge about Reagan) than anything else (as, in the past, you’ve demonstrated to be quite the aficionado for all things American History).

    In fact, that is the very reason which gave me pause in my own conclusion about Palin.

    Although, I personally may still have reservations about the validity about such a comparison; that doesn’t negate the fact that you are far more superbly equipped to perform such comparison and, indeed, might even be correct in your assessment.

    I don’t dismiss the seemingly inescapable charisma of Palin, which speaks to the enormous crowds she seems to draw; it’s just that I still don’t think, to me, she even measures up to the large, even intimidatingly dominating figure that Reagan is to me.

  • Thank you for your gracious comment e. There will always be only one Reagan. My comparison with Palin and Reagan was only as to political skills.

  • No wonder the man was virtually responsible for reshaping the face of the whole known world then, ending the Cold War, amongst many of other notable & historic feats the man is famously known for (and rightly, too).

    Please see the memoirs of David Stockman and Donald T. Regan on the daily business of contending with Mr. Reagan’s mind, such as it was. While I would not deny Mr. Reagan made some good contingent decisions, it is hardly obvious that the collapse of morale among the political class of Soviet Russia is attributable to his works, much less his works alone. Among the skeptics on this point is Paul Hollander, who is hardly a McGovernite sentimentalist (see http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_gw?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=paul+hollander&x=0&y=0).

    Don’t get me wrong; the man certainly had his failings. Still, there is nothing in Palin that even remotely resembles any of his more endearing qualities (with all due respect to Donald, of course).

    Endearing? Affable, perhaps. I would refer you not only to Donald T. Regan (who had an axe to grind), but also to the opinions of Lyn Nofziger, who did not. Mr. Reagan built an abnormally affectionate marriage with a woman who was not the sweetest person God ever created. However, he manifested little ability or interest in building authentic friendships. Mr. Nofziger said the man was a loner at heart, and did not really need friends; Regan offered that neither Mr. Reagan nor his wife were loyal to people. The contrast with Richard Nixon, who was anything but a people person but who had a small but devoted circle of friends and whose immediate associates (Rose Mary Woods, Manolo Sanchez, Ronald Ziegler, and even Henry Kissinger in a qualified sort of way) were likewise devoted, is stark.

    Your children have minds of their own, and one ought be very careful about holding parents culpable for the sins of their offspring. That having been said, the buffoonery of all four of his children is disconcerting. How could that have happened?

  • If there were space, [Reagan’s] face should be carved on Mount Rushmore in my opinion.

    Actually, armed with a little talent and a lot of dynamite someone could easily replace Jefferson with Reagan. I’m sure Paul would be happy to take up a collection.
    😉

  • Joe… Such passion against those who disagree is unbecoming.

    You slander those of us who believe, with equal conviction, that redistribution of wealth amounts to little less than ripping the fabric of the modern world out from under it. You may believe that these supposed “rich” should be soaked and a cushion placed under society so that no one can fall too hard but there are many fewer of you than there are of us who are not so sure that Capitalism ought to be shoved under the Progressive bus.

    I am have never argued that Capitalism was a perfect system. It is simply the best economic system that the world has ever known and has delivered, over the last 400 years increasingly greater and better distributed benefits than you give it credit for doing. At its core, Capitalism requires that a person be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

    Now, if you are saying that people in the modern world universally, or at least very broadly, want the more brutish qualities of our economic system mitigated, then I am with you. However, that argument carries with it necessary discussions of government intrusiveness, utility of tax codes, and natural law fairness.

    For my part, I look continue to earn and save and invest with sincere hopes that I can acquire sufficient assets to care for my family, one day retire, and give generously through the whole. Those goals do not lend themselves well to a government that sees my earnings as unfairly acquired because I earn more than someone else.

    Furthermore, the Progressivism of which you speak is one of the most worn out and tired themes in the Western world. It is the title given to populist and utopian movements by their adherents who envision a perfect world based upon love and sharing. It is this “perfectability” that is the downfall of EVERY Progressive movement.

    It doesn’t appear that you have noticed that the Sons of Adam are a pretty sorry lot. We are base, cruel, self-centered, wretched creatures, undeserving of any of the blessings we enjoy. For these reasons, Progressive movements are ALWAYS doomed to failure.

    Only systems that acknowledge the baser realities of human kind accomplish anything at all. So it is with Capitalism which harnesses itself to the human impulse to acquire and preserve.

    I mean no disrespect but the Progressive thing is incredibly juvenile and it is astounding that generation after generation has to endure a new version of it. Time and time again mankind is invited to sign on, sacrifice, and suffer only to discover that the leaders of every one of these movements are just as greedy, mean spirited, thick headed, and self serving as any other person has ever been.

    All Progressivism gets us is a delay in human progress, a diversion from a straighter path towards a more universal prosperity.

  • G-Veg,

    My passion is for what is right and just. I don’t mind reasonable disagreement, though I’ll stand by my remark that equating all wealth redistribution with ‘socialism’ is stupid (and would make the Church a socialist institution). If I did have a problem with disagreement, I wouldn’t contribute to this blog.

    “It is simply the best economic system that the world has ever known and has delivered, over the last 400 years increasingly greater and better distributed benefits than you give it credit for doing.”

    I completely disagree. This system only is what it is because institutions both secular and religious held it to moral account. Without the intervention of the Church and secular labor movements we would have ended up with Herbert Spencer’s vision of Social Darwinism.

    “For my part, I look continue to earn and save and invest with sincere hopes that I can acquire sufficient assets to care for my family, one day retire, and give generously through the whole.”

    Do you need a billion dollars to do that? No. If you aren’t in the category of people who the Pope describes as taking part in this “superdevelopment”, in these obscene displays of wealth that generate a contrast he calls “unacceptable”, then what is the problem?

    “Furthermore, the Progressivism of which you speak is one of the most worn out and tired themes in the Western world. ”

    Did I ever use the word “Progressiveism”? I’m a distributist, not a “progressive”. I believe in wealth redistribution with the specific aim of helping people help themselves. It has nothing to do, for instance, with welfare or other forms of bureaucratic assistance. I might share the same means as “progressives” but I have a different end.

    “Only systems that acknowledge the baser realities of human kind accomplish anything at all. So it is with Capitalism which harnesses itself to the human impulse to acquire and preserve.”

    Someone tell the Pope, then. It is one thing to acknowledge “baser realities”, it is another thing to endorse an economic system that thrives on them. Part of the problem with unregulated markets is that they appeal relentlessly to man’s lower nature – to violent, sexual, exploitative instincts – instead of cultivating the higher nature. It is easier to exploit and manipulate the lower nature, to create addiction instead of fostering self-control.

    I have certainly never proposed any utopian project, but merely proposed that an already-existing model that works receive the help and support of the political establishment. Part of that means a decentralization of wealth and power.

    “All Progressivism gets us is a delay in human progress, a diversion from a straighter path towards a more universal prosperity.”

    Define “human progress”. Is it just a build up of material wealth? If so, then your perspective couldn’t be more distant from that of the Church’s. Benedict spoke at length about the moral and spiritual poverty of many in the West even in the presence of great wealth.

    Is he just blowing smoke? There is a delay in human progress alright – it comes from the apologists of concentrated wealth and power, defenders of the status quo of obscene inequalities and the subordination of every aspect of economic life to the maximization of profit. That is what holds humanity back.

  • Morning’s Minion, you are one prideful dude. Try some humility, man.

  • Joe,

    Forgive me for equating your positions with the Progressivism that is so popular in America right now. I am having a hard time differentiating between the two since I am quite familiar with the other and only passingly familiar with your views.

    Perhaps I am misreading you and, thereby, doing an injustice.

    At its core, I believe that Man’s fallen nature is a permanent and unyielding bar to perfection by other than Christ. I accept this condition as the truth at the center of the Bible.

    Since Man is utterly contemptible, no institution or other creation of Man can be enduring. The pyramids fall, the canals fill up, and the lofty thoughts of man blow away like dust in a storm.

    Nothing endures.

    I think we agree on this baseline; indeed, I don’t think one can call oneself a Christian and believe otherwise.

    On what basis then should man create?

    Forgive me for not having read the teachings of the Church as fully as I should for this discussion. I have never made a study of the encyclicals and find it quite difficult to simply complete my devotions and regular religious obligations. It is my hope that, one day, I will have the time and ability to become better acquainted with the deeper teachings of the Church.

    For now, I will simply take you at your word on what those encyclicals say since you have the credentials to assert at least some of their meanings.

    So, then, Pope Benedict XVI calls us to integrate economic systems, social responsibilities, and our faith. Very good.

    Shouldn’t we begin with reason informed by experience? After all, the Gospels call us to the optimal, not the mundane.

    Consider, for example, Christ’s response to the wealthy young man who crowed about having lived the Law throughout his life. Christ congratulated him and then told him to do one thing more; give everything up and follow Christ.

    I don’t think Jesus was telling this young man to metaphorically follow Him. I think He was telling the young man to do as Peter and James had done – drop everything and follow Christ!

    This is the optimal, the saintly, the “as close to perfect as Man can come in this life.” Nowhere in the Gospels does Christ call us to do less than the optimal so, if one is to live out the Gospels fully, nothing short of a perfect following of Him, setting aside ambitions and duties of this life, will do. We should all, if we are true followers of Christ, become religious – oh, not the kind that are prideful about having followed Him but more like Paul – fully aware of how flawed and unworthy he was and yet utterly devoted, awaiting his death with anticipation, like a bridegroom on the morning of his wedding.

    Unfortunately, I am not Paul. I am not even Thomas with his doubting nature. I am more like Judas in that I KNOW what is true but choose a darker path because it is easier and, in the short term, seems more reasonable. The bad news is I have company… a LOT of company.

    The company that I keep is a hypocritical lot. It makes oaths that it doesn’t intend to keep, it steals, swindles, lies, injures, and maligns. It is a prideful, boastful, hedonistic camp which seeks every manner of evil, while trying to appear good and right. It masks its evil in the language of the good to give it power and authority.

    I keep evil company.

    Man cannot be perfected by other than Christ and man-made institutions are ALWAYS corrupt. We create those institutions anyway because reason dictates that we must have order if we are to survive. That order is set in our baser inclinations because, at its root, that is what Man IS – base and awful.

    Basing institutions on man’s better nature has never been other than utopian. This sort of “take from the rich and give to the poor” exists only on paper. The reality is more like Animal Farm than Robin Hood.

    I, therefore, spark whenever in get a whiff of progressivism because, at its core, any institution that is set upon the “better nature of man” is set on a sand bar a mile off the beach. Call it pragmatic or jaundiced but human experience seems to bear out the truth that ONLY by letting a man keep what he produces will he continue to produce.

    The result of this uncomfortable truth is that fewer persons are hungry, homeless, ignorant, or enslaved in 2008 than in 1900. This is the product of two things and two things alone: Capitalism and Representative Democracy.

  • On a another note. Someone said something very interesting to me today. It really might not matter all that which of the well qualified Republicans run in 2012. We may win the same way Reagan did:

    Reagan vs. Carter October 28, 1980

    ask yourself, are you better off than you were four years ago? Is it easier for you to go and buy things in the stores than it was four years ago? Is there more or less unemployment in the country than there was four years ago? Is America as respected throughout the world as it was? Do you feel that our security is as safe, that we’re as strong as we were four years ago?

  • “I, therefore, spark whenever in get a whiff of progressivism because, at its core, any institution that is set upon the “better nature of man” is set on a sand bar a mile off the beach. Call it pragmatic or jaundiced but human experience seems to bear out the truth that ONLY by letting a man keep what he produces will he continue to produce.”

    Then that is an argument for wealth redistribution, since labor contributes as much to the wealth of nations as any other factor. I don’t believe in absolute equality but I do believe that there is a material minimum below which a human being’s dignity is not respected, and I think it was summed up nicely as Benedict talked about the “decent work” in CV.

    The long-term health of society, at any rate, demands that everyone contribute to its maintenance. Man can produce nothing in isolation. He can sell nothing in isolation. Man always functions as a part of society, as a part of a culture and a community. I certainly don’t believe in taking more from a person than he needs to life a comfortable and dignified existence. But I have no qualms about setting limits on what is obviously an excess beyond these conditions.

    If the future of humanity is inseparable from allowing the top 1% of Americans or the top 1% of the world to accumulate unlimited wealth, then humanity has no future. We have rule by sociopathy, a rule that says, “I will do nothing for my fellow man, for society, for the planet, unless I can live as a mortal God”. This attitude is unjustifiable and I refuse to believe that there aren’t enough good men and women, Christians, believers, and even secularists with both the intelligence and the moral sense to make the world run without holding it hostage.

    “The result of this uncomfortable truth is that fewer persons are hungry, homeless, ignorant, or enslaved in 2008 than in 1900. This is the product of two things and two things alone: Capitalism and Representative Democracy.”

    It’s the product of technological development, to be sure – but if you look at all of the societies besides America that have industrialized, the American right does not typically consider their governments to be “capitalist”. Europe, Canada, Japan, East Asia – all developed under mixed regimes that leaned far more towards government management than free enterprise for most of their formative years. Only after long periods of state-guided development did liberalization become an attractive option.

    And I repeat that even these things would not have sufficed without the moral influence of Christianity and even the pressure of revolutionary movements such as Marxism (which served as a prompt for the development of Catholic social teaching in the firt place). Capitalism on its own did not generate justice and prosperity for all. It took decades of bitter political struggles and moral condemnations to create a society that curbed the worst excesses of this system.

  • I do not take issue with the immorality of acquiring wealth. Christ was explicit in his condemnation of wealth acquisition and the early Christian adherence to “from each according to his gifts and to each according to his needs” was extolled in Acts. Further, there is intellectual resonance to the idea that, while our nature is so base and depraved as to DESERVE nothing, that we are blessed beyond our deserving calls us to be charitable with that which was freely given to us.

    This is a question of morality and it is noble and right and good.

    If Man were noble and right and good, we could craft a system of government and economics around that theme and all would be well. Unfortunately, Man is not of that mold and, that you have not taken issue with any of my characterization of his base nature or the conclusions one must reach about it, suggests we are in agreement on that point too.

    So, what we are talking about is TWO systems for Man: one that is based upon what we are called to do and one which is based upon what we are want to do.

    I will leave the “called to” to you since this is clearly the realm of the theoretical and spiritual. It informs and calls but has, in human experience, had little direct success in this world.

    The “want to do” is the realm of reason and experience.

    Contrary to your assertion above, efforts to mitigate the worst effects of Capitalism were not tied to love or charity but to rational reactions to violence, danger to the system of economics and government. We PERMITTED labor unions, not because it was “right” or “noble” – that was merely the spin put on it after the fact – but because workers threatened to bring the system of economics down through destruction of the means of production and distribution.

    In each and every case, the mitigation of capitalist excess has been the product of accomodation so as to avoid danger to the system as a whole. These accomodations are little more than mediciney cough syrup for a sore economic throat.

    This does, indeed, argue for greater distribution of wealth, but for no more than is necessary to accomodate the demand and restore the system to a fully working order. Nor is this an evaluation of “rightness,” but merely an application of reason.

    It may be that Western Capitalism is in the throes of another illness and that the sickness has reached Representative Democracy as well. We may need to mitigate the harms of Capitalism and Representative Democracy by taking on greater distribution of wealth and control over policy making. However, too much of anything is dangerous.

    Too much medicine can kill. Too much redistribution brings production to a hault and too much Democracy can lead to anarchy.

    Joe, it does not appear that we are disagreeing about the need to distribute wealth from a moral point of view. I agree with you on that score. We are disagreeing about HOW MUCH redistribution our economic system can take and still remain viable.

    Since you bring it up, our socialist allies across the pond went too far down the road of distribution and, when it killed thier economic progress, began the long march back. This is not a path we should follow since we already know where it leads. We should also be careful to recognize that the brightest minds in Socialist thought were and are European. That they couldn’t make it work is not a reflection on their lack of committment or competence but on the impossibility of the underlying system.

    Again, Man is advanced in material goods ONLY by being able to keep the benefits of his labor. Coupled with a shared control over the political system that makes and maintains law, Man is able to amass wealth with which to fulfil his obligations.

    Ask such a one to give up the benefit of that bargain and keep only what he needs and, like the wealth man before Christ, he walks away.

    Please continue to call us to the good and the right but recognize that we live in THIS world and that our imperfect nature makes that pill a hard one to swallow.

  • Matt,

    Reagan:

    “Ask yourself, are you better off than you were four years ago? Is it easier for you to go and buy things in the stores than it was four years ago? Is there more or less unemployment in the country than there was four years ago? Is America as respected throughout the world as it was? Do you feel that our security is as safe, that we’re as strong as we were four years ago?”

    The Catholic Bishops:

    Politics in this election year and beyond should be about an old idea with new power–the common good. The central question should not be, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” It should be, “How can ‘we’–all of us, especially the weak and vulnerable–be better off in the years ahead? How can we protect and promote human life and dignity? How can we pursue greater justice and peace?”

    In the face of all these challenges, we offer once again a simple image–a table.2 Who has a place at the table of life? Where is the place at the table for a million of our nation’s children who are destroyed every year before they are born? How can we secure a place at the table for the hungry and those who lack health care in our own land and around the world? Where is the place at the table for those in our world who lack the freedom to practice their faith or stand up for what they believe? How do we ensure that families in our inner cities and rural communities, in barrios in Latin America and villages in Africa and Asia have a place at the table–enough to eat, decent work and wages, education for their children, adequate health care and housing, and most of all, hope for the future?

    We remember especially the people who are now missing at the table of life–those lost in the terror of September 11, in the service of our nation, and in the bloody conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East, and Africa.

    A table is also a place where important decisions are made in our communities, nation, and world. How can the poorest people on Earth and those who are vulnerable in our land, including immigrants and those who suffer discrimination, have a real place at the tables where policies and priorities are set?

    I’m sure Reagan was getting there 🙂

  • Eric,

    if the majority of people are worse off than they were 4 years ago, they should not be foolish enough to recommend continuing on the same path. That’s what Reagan said, that’s the point. How is it good for the “common good” if most people are worse off??? It can’t be, it isn’t.

  • While left-wing media bias does exist, I worry that some conservatives use it as an excuse to dismiss any criticism, justified or not, and to stoop to the same level as those whom they criticize.

  • Elaine,

    I don’t detect that at all. Fox news had plenty of criticism for President Bush, and conservatives did not dismiss it, in fact many conservatives were deeply critical of Bush.

    On the other hand…. Yesterday President Obama out and out lied about meeting his wife at college when they met at a prestigious law firm, while she was strolling NYC with a $6000 purse… mainstream media? chirp, chirp, chirp… not a word, and that includes Fox as far as I can tell.

    In any event. Some here think that media was brought up in order to attack them, or that it’s an excuse for not getting the message out. Go back and read the post, media was only brought up as an obstacle that Sarah Palin’s high profile helps to overcome. No excuses, just a plan for going forward. I know this is tough to swallow for Palin-haters, but look at the alternative…

  • It bears repeating… I am not pushing Palin for president at this time, there are others out there that I believe would do a better job, I don’t know if this move helps her or not, I’m concerned principally with halting the advance of socialism in 2010 and will worry about 2012 once we see the ground.

  • mea culpa here, regarding the story on Michelle’s purse….she was NOT carrying a $6000 purse around NYC…

    It was in fact a clutch, and it was being carried in Russia… oh, it’s alligator and made in Italy!

    http://www.nydailynews.com/lifestyle/fashion/2009/07/09/2009-07-09_michelle_obama_flashes_expensive_taste_carries_5950_black_bag_alligator_russia_.html

  • Is Palin winkin’ at Tito and Matt personally?
    You betcha.

    And you two America lovers, remember, in a full court press and as a point guard, you have to keep your eye on the basket and pass the ball whenever necessary. Especially if the press is by the evil media, who just won’t listen to what you are clearly sayin’. Cuz these days, of course, omly dead fish go with the flow. Support the troops.

  • Matt,

    It depends on what “well off” meets and what “most” means. If the majority of America is “well off” and there are those who are living in a standard contrary to their dignity, then the “common good” has not been met. That was my only point.

  • No way, said the White House, which countered that the First Lady was carrying an $875 VBH patent leather clutch.

    $875 for a purse?

  • Maybe she’ll leave it in Ghana as a means of redistributing wealth. 😉

  • Uhhhh… guys, I hate to break it to you; but back in university, I had went with an Asian girl that purchased a purse (and practically everything else) at around that price at the Mall.

    It isn’t really all that exceptionally remarkable; at least, when it comes to high-maint. girls, that is.

  • Eric Brown,
    It depends on what “well off” meets and what “most” means. If the majority of America is “well off” and there are those who are living in a standard contrary to their dignity, then the “common good” has not been met. That was my only point.

    Who said anything about “well off”??? I said better off. If the majority is not better off than they were 4 years ago, then it almost certainly means that the common good has NOT been served.

    Given the context “most” has only one meaning Eric: It means the majority; 50%+1; more than not, etc.

  • ps. sorry for passing on the erroneous news on the “purse”… it seems funny though, that this wife of a man of the people i walking around with even an $875 purse….I guess she got her student loans paid off finally. Is an $875 purse worse than a $400 haircut, or no?

    any word on the supposed “meeting” in college before they met?

  • Matt,

    ps. sorry for passing on the erroneous news on the purse; it seems funny though, that this wife of a man of the people i walking around with even an $875 purse;.I guess she got her student loans paid off finally.

    1. Where bad journalism often report erroneous facts at almost a regular basis; at the very least, you’ve acknowledged your error rather than avoiding such admission.

    2. Kindly take a course that will somehow remedy your penchant for grammatical infelicities, as I had no clue whatsoever at what you were attempting to express in your above comment, my friend. ;^)

  • Matt,

    If consistently the same, lets say, 51% of the country asks itself: am I better off? And the answer is repeatedly ‘yes,’ and for the other 49% it is repeatedly ‘no’ — and that bottom 49% includes much of the middle class and the poor, then the questions the Bishops ask Catholics to think of are more than relevant.

    My point was, someone can ask the “I” question and get one answer that doesn’t *necessarily* square them on voting for a political entity that might best serve the common good. That’s why I would not rather everyone individually ask the “I” question but rather look at society comprehensively and actually be willing not to seize the opportunity to be “better off” if it as the expense of going before and progressing ahead of those being crushed at the margins of society.

    In other words, I think the question can be — not is, but can be — a selfish question. Hence, I liked the Bishops’ approach better.

  • e.,

    kindly take a course in skydiving.

    Eric,

    f consistently the same, lets say, 51% of the country asks itself: am I better off? And the answer is repeatedly ‘yes,’ and for the other 49% it is repeatedly ‘no’ — and that bottom 49% includes much of the middle class and the poor, then the questions the Bishops ask Catholics to think of are more than relevant.

    Yes, in your bizarro world theoretical example, it would not be the common good, but reality is that this would never be the case, at least not the one we’re addressing. Bad economies ultimately hurt the poor disproportionately worse than the “well off”.

    in other words, I think the question can be — not is, but can be — a selfish question. Hence, I liked the Bishops’ approach better.

    I was not proposing that good Catholics need to have the “am I better off than I was 4 years ago speech”. Good Catholics NEVER vote for rabid pro-abortionists like President Obama, the “am I better off” is directed at those who vote based on some other value system.

    In any event the USCCB approach is designed to not say anything so as to leave open the possibility of supporting the rabid pro-abortionist, President Obama.

  • Matt,

    Why are you such an abrasive person to dialogue with? Can you not find charitable terms or craft sentences using diction that is not condescending, or at least, can be perceived that way?

    In the first sentence, you could have made the same point leaving out “bizarro world.”

    I understand the effects of bad economies on the poor and vulnerable.

    Secondly, I have no idea where I was endorsing the “voting for rabid pro-abortionists like President Obama.”

    It was unclear to me that the “am I better off” is directed at “some other value system” because I thought you were giving credit to the words of Reagan, which I thought you were identifying as a valuable insight. Correct me, if I’m wrong.

    Moreover, we disagree on the USCCB. We’ll leave it at that. The problem is not the text, it is catechesis. I, again, fail to see how President Obama fits into this discussion.

    Though, I’d really prefer it that you dialogue with me differently or just not reply. Thank you.

  • Matt:

    e. – kindly take a course in skydiving.

    So long as you don’t deprive me of my parachute.

    Eric:

    “bizarro world”

    Actually, not to add to whatever lingering antagonism you might yourself be experiencing; however, your example even to me appeared something of the “bizarro world” as well — especially considering the stats you provided (51% vs. 49%) where even a real world standard error of +/-3% would have rendered them essentially equal.

  • My point in using the numbers had nothing to do with statistics or raw data. It was merely the point that the “common good” was not achieved directly in answering the question — of how “well off am I?” My problem was that this orientation is toward personal success and does not immediately put at the forefront of one’s consciousness, the common good. Wherein fact, one’s material and financial success — becoming more well off — could be at the expense of those less fortunate. I would not seek to move ahead and be more “well off” than I was four years ago if that were the case. I would rather prioritize helping those crushing at the margins of society rise up first. I didn’t think the question adequately addressed the problem or was the first question one should ask before voting.

    And that the “common good” could not have be said to have been met even if the slimmest majority (51-49) were more “well off” than they were four years ago. Thus, I wanted to re-emphasize, the universality of the common good and indicate — whether Matt argued it or not — that it is not merely the status of the majority. So, perhaps, that clears up the misunderstanding. I can admit that the example might not have served my point greatly. Thank you for good constructive criticism.

    However, I don’t think it really makes me more tolerable of the way Matt talks to people on this blog.

  • Eric,

    aren’t you really just the pot calling the kettle black? I mean honestly, look at your own log first.

  • Speaking of media bias. Yesterday a supreme court justice made a stunning revelation of belief that Roe could be used as a means of eugenic abortion against populations that we “don’t want to have too many of”. The mainstream media response? Chirp, chirp, chirp…

    Was it that evil right wing nasty Scalia? or the non-black Clarence Thomas? Nope, if it was one of them you can be assured it would be the lead story on all networks, and front page of all papers.

    Justice Ginsberg originally thought Roe v Wade was about control of undesirable populations

    Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.

  • Peggy Noonon on Ms. Palin:

    In television interviews she was out of her depth in a shallow pool. She was limited in her ability to explain and defend her positions, and sometimes in knowing them. She couldn’t say what she read because she didn’t read anything. She was utterly unconcerned by all this and seemed in fact rather proud of it: It was evidence of her authenticity. She experienced criticism as both partisan and cruel because she could see no truth in any of it. She wasn’t thoughtful enough to know she wasn’t thoughtful enough. Her presentation up to the end has been scattered, illogical, manipulative and self-referential to the point of self-reverence. “I’m not wired that way,” “I’m not a quitter,” “I’m standing up for our values.” I’m, I’m, I’m.

  • Peggy Noonan has proven herself to be a conservative elitist. She generally has made herself begin falling further into irrelevancy.

  • It seems to me that there are several elements in this discussion which are being overlooked.
    Now the purpose of charity is not to help the poor [who will always be with us]. The chief purpose is to help ourselves get into heaven. We must above all learn to share personally, as our mothers taught us when we quite small.
    Government largess is merely taking from us willy nilly to distribute at the whim of a bureaucrat [including the USCCB bureaucracy]. The danger in this was noted by Chesterton some 80 years ago: it was maintaining people on the dole with cinemas to keep them happy. Bread and circuses it was called by the Romans, trying to placate the mobs. It is curious how this human trait surfaces regularly. Consider the football hoodlums in England, who are mostly on the dole.

  • If elitism now means only the hope for semi-coherent explanations and remotely credible narratives, then its stature sure has fallen of late.

  • Beyond the Palin: Why the GOP is falling out of love with gun-toting, churchgoing, working-class whites.

    http://www.newsweek.com/id/206098

    The conservative opinion elite is divided—irreconcilably so—about Sarah Palin’s decision to quit the Alaska governorship. One faction says good riddance: The Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer had already judged her unfit for national office 24 hours before her announcement, and The New York Times’s Ross Douthat now refers to her “brief sojourn on the national stage” in the past tense. On the other side, the Post’s William Kristol called Palin’s quitting a “high-risk move” designed to catapult her to greater public prominence. Taking the longer view, though, the clash is symptomatic of the deepest strategic debate in Republican circles since the disciples of the Reagan revolution captured Congress in 1994.

    For decades it has remained a Republican article of faith: white, lower-middle-class, “heartland” masses, fundamentally socially conservative, were an inexhaustible electoral resource. So much so that Bill Clinton made re-earning their trust—he called them the Americans who “worked hard and played by the rules”—the central challenge in rebuilding Democratic fortunes in the 1990s. And in 2008 the somewhat aristocratic John McCain seemed to regard bringing these folks back into the Republican fold so imperative that he was moved to make the election’s most exciting strategic move: drafting churchgoing, gun-toting unknown Sarah Palin onto the GOP ticket.

    But beneath the surface, some Republicans have been chafing at the ideological wages of right-wing populism. In intel-lectual circles, writers like David Brooks and Richard Brookhiser have argued for a conservatism inspired by Alexander Hamilton, the least democratic of the Founding Fathers, over one spiritually rooted in Thomas Jefferson, the most democratic. After Barack Obama’s victory, you heard thinkers like author and federal judge Richard Posner lamenting on his blog that “the face of the Republican Party had become Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber. Conservative intellectuals had no party.”

  • “[R]ight wing populism” – heh.

    Yep… I ges we is all figur’d out now. We jus caint think as good as all them smurt folks in thu R’publican Party. We shuld probly jus go out an shoot aselves.

    What a load of crap!!! Like there would even BE a GOP representative in office of the “rank-and-file” Republicans stayed home on election day. Give me a break!

    What moron wants social conservatives who believe in the 2nd Amendment and the fundamental duty to work and defend their country to leave the party? Surely the supposed intellectuals to which the article alludes make up a miniscule percentage of the GOP strategists.

    Frankly, this sounds like more media nonsense; unresearched speculation, put into the information stream to fill space until the next big story.

  • Without social conservatives the GOP would be lucky to elect 50 members of the House of Representatives. They are not a wing of the party, they are the core of the party. Of course many social conservatives are also economic conservatives and advocates of a strong national defense. I certainly fit in this category. The people interviewed by Newsweek for this type of bilge are the same sort of “leaders” who have zero involvement with the Republican party. Attending a local meeting of the Republican party in most of the nation would be an eye-opening experience for them. At the grass roots level social conservatives easily make up 60-70 percent of local Republican chairmen and women, precinct committee heads, etc.

  • Matt,

    I never judged you as a person. I judged an action. I’ll gladly do an examination of conscience, if you’ll join me in it.

  • I believe that not enough attention has been given to the idea of conservative. I do not mean the intellectual toy represented by writers. I mean the simple fact that most people will, of necessity, be conservative.

    If you own a house, do you want someone to redraw the boundaries regularly? Do you not want schools where children can learn the basics? Do we not want streets properly maintained?

    I was surprised that Mr. Obama was not elected by a larger margin. The most serious argument for his election was, I believe, the simple “throw the bums out”. They have made a mess. He can’t be any worse.

    I have also heard the oft-repeated “most catholics” voted for Mr. Obama. I think the most in “most catholics” had to do with the marriage vow, and what we may call the rules spelled out in Humanae Vitae. Perhaps one had to be there to recognize the shock that the Holy Father caused by disallowing the pill. The “most catholics” wanted the benefits of the pill, which if does not work leads to abortion. Recognizing what “most catholics” wanted, the bishops pulled back. They blew it. Msgr. George Kelly described this cowardice very clearly.
    “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” (I Corinthians 14:8].

  • Gabriel,

    I am interested in your point but I am not sure that I understand.

    Could you delve into two points more fully?

    1. Are you suggesting that “conservative” means something quite basic that most Americans would sign onto but that has been stated too obliquely or are you saying that there are two concepts of “conservative,” one that is tied to the preservation of one’s position and one that is the rallying cry of the GOP?

    2. Are you saying that American Catholics rejected papal authority as early as the 1960s because of birth control?

  • “It’s apparent that President Obama is thin skinned and narcissistic…

    Should not you say this instead about the woman who cried daily about criticism and quit as a result?

  • Do you have a precise quotation in mind, Mark DeFrancisis?

    I watched her speech and she made mention of the staff time that went in to filling Freedom of Information requests, the legal bills she and her husband now have to pay, and, in one sentence, that her older children did not care for the ridicule of her youngest son. She also said her family preferred she do something else and she herself was of the view that the task was not properly handled by her anymore. All of this was delivered quite briefly and amiably enough; the speech was 19 minutes long and consisted mostly of boosterish cotton candy. How does this disposition qualify as ‘narcissistic’? (Presuming you do not understand ‘narcissism’ to mean a deficit of concision).

  • G-Veg Says Friday, July 10, 2009 A.D. at 4:40 pm
    “Gabriel,
    I am interested in your point but I am not sure that I understand.
    Could you delve into two points more fully?

    “1. Are you suggesting that “conservative” means something quite basic that most Americans would sign onto but that has been stated too obliquely …

    Consider the facts of daily routine. Would not [do not] most people prefer that things do not change continuously, but that most [almost all] things remain the same so that we may plan our lives.

    “or are you saying that there are two concepts of conservative,” one that is tied to the preservation of one’s position and one that is the rallying cry of the GOP?”

    I disbelieve that the GOP as a party worries much about the basic concerns of people. The makers and breakers are too far removed from these concerns. Until recently, such preserves as the Detroit of General Motors were Republican territory. Now the failing companies are failing, and the big money is going to the Democratic Party; which has largely rewarded the money mavens.

    “2. Are you saying that American Catholics rejected papal authority as early as the 1960s because of birth control?”

    Absolutely. Consider the difference in tone between Garry Wills’ two books: POLITICS AND CATHOLIC FREEDOM [1964] and BARE RUINED CHOIRS [1972]. Have a look at Msgr. George Kelly’s various books. He lays the blame at the doorstep of the bishops, who were too pusillanimous to insist on the truth of HUMANAE VITAE which chiefly echoed the previous encyclicals of Pius XI and Pius XII. It was the cause of the great sea change in Catholicism in the U.S.

  • This is perhaps not the string to bring up the matter of immigration, but might we discuss that? I confess – son of an immigrant – that I have no solutions, nor even clear ideas. I abominate what I understand to be the general Republican position [quietly shared by many Democrats] of keep ’em out.
    I recall that FDR once addressed a meeting of the DAR “Fellow immigrants…”.
    And with the discussion of the economy, perhaps one could recall that many of the New Deal programs were the suggestions of Herbert Hoover, who had been so successful in preventing mass starvation in Europe after the 1914;18 War. FDR kept the country in depression with his tight money policies in 1937.

  • Gabriel,

    are you referring to foreigners entering the country illegally (or violating the terms of their entry), or legal immigration? Those are two separate issues. For the most part Republicans are in favor of enforcing the laws on the books. Most Republicans are in favor of allowing immigration through legal channels. On the other hand most believe, legal immigration must be curtailed due to the vast number who are here illegally. Immigration limits are based on the job market and ability to assimilate, which is greatly affected by illegals.

  • I think there is a well publicized cadre of persons who hold the “keep em out” view. This, I think, is a pretty small group but the media LOVES the xenophobe, the racist, the anti-semite, etc. so they get press out of keeping with their numbers. it doesn’t hurt that xenophobia fits into the myth of “nativist, right-wing, militia.”

    There are, as Mr. McDonald states, at least two separate issues and we conflate them at the cost of confusion and paralysis. The number of persons admitted lawfully and the ease of that admission to permanent residence is a separate issue from “what to do with those who are present without lawful status.”

    As to the first, there are fair questions as to how many visas should be granted in each category, whether those awaiting visas should be permitted to enter the United States as a sort of “temporary permanent resident,” whether the Diversity Lottery Program should continue or not, what to do with the fraud in Asylum and Refugee programs, and whether the immigration reforms of 1996 rendered too many persons deportable for criminal offenses. (There are many more issues than I listed here.) The key here is that there is a LOT of room for political compromise because the data is easily available and there is a lot of common ground between immigration advocates and those who favor strict immigration enforcement.

    Far less agreement is possible on the issue of those present in the US in violation of law.

    There are lots of issues that would have to be covered in any fair analysis but I would like to concentrate on two of the most problematic:

    1. How many persons are unlawfully present? I would suggest that the 12 million number that is thrown about is utterly invalid. This number may not be knowable with certainty but a review of the statistics and models set forth by immigration advocates and the government through the Office of Immigration Statistics reveals the significant lack of information on which all sides of the debate hang their hats. We need information and it is nothing short of dereliction of duty on the part of Congress over the last 20 years that no meaningful studies have been budgeted for and no significant hearings have been held to determine this number. It matters because, for any policy to be effective, it must be aligned to its purpose and whether there are 6, 12, or 30 million persons whose status needs to be regularized, makes a big difference.

    2. Simple is better and none of the proposals have sufficient simplicity that those affected can determine whether or not they qualify without legal aid. The more complicated the plan, the less likely it is to be effectively and fairly administered. So too, complex plans invite fraud.

    The short of it is that this is an incredibly complicated issue and, while I appreciate and share the Church’s desire for justice and fairness, both sides of the debate engage in outright lies and manipulations to create fear and anger in hopes of driving the politics. Meanwhile, Congress has done absolutely nothing to determine the true situation or inform the public.

    For these reasons, and many others, I favor doing nothing. The system is not so broken that it cannot wait for the kind of up-front work that leads to good policy.

  • Update:
    Palin’s audacity of the unconventional
    But whereas pundits have now almost uniformly written her off, 70% in a new USA Today/Gallup poll say Palin’s resignation has “no effect” on their opinion of her. Of the remainder, 9 percent say they now see her “more favorably” and 17 percent “less favorably.”

    Moreover, in the same poll, 43 percent (and 72 percent of Republicans) say they would at least “somewhat likely” vote for her if she runs in 2012.

  • G-veg,

    I largely agree with your For these reasons, and many others, I favor doing nothing. The system is not so broken that it cannot wait for the kind of up-front work that leads to good policy.

    Can you clarify what you mean by “doing nothing”?

    In my mind it is absolutely critical that the porous border be resolved, this is not a reform, but simply enforcing the existing laws. Continuing the moderate expansion of interior enforcement seems like the right thing to do as well, especially focused on lawbreakers, and that includes employers who hire foreigners illegally. No mass deportations should be pursued as that would not be good for anybody. As it is now, each deportation from the interior should be judged on the specific situation, those caught at or near the border should continue to be expedited.

  • Matt McDonald Says Sunday, July 12, 2009 A.D. at 2:53
    “Gabriel,
    are you referring to foreigners entering the country illegally (or violating the terms of their entry), or legal immigration? Those are two separate issues. For the most part Republicans are in favor of enforcing the laws on the books. Most Republicans are in favor of allowing immigration through legal channels. On the other hand most believe, legal immigration must be curtailed due to the vast number who are here illegally. Immigration limits are based on the job market and ability to assimilate, which is greatly affected by illegals”.

    Allowing [which I am uncertain is true] that there are 11 million illegal immigrants, how does this affect the 300 million population of the U.S.
    Put another way, might not the 11 million be a good replacement for the 40 million killed by abortion?
    I believe that one must rethink the whole question of immigration. Not only what does it mean to be illegally in this country, but what does it mean to be here legally.
    I add to this [perhaps just to confuse the issue] a note I read a few years back that some small towns in the Mid West were willing to subside farmers who took over abandoned farms.

  • G-Veg Says Sunday, July 12, 2009 A.D. at 5:52 pm
    “I think there is a well publicized cadre of persons who hold the “keep em out” view. This, I think, is a pretty small group but the media LOVES the xenophobe, the racist, the anti-semite, etc. so they get press out of keeping with their numbers. it doesn’t hurt that xenophobia fits into the myth of “nativist, right-wing, militia.”

    To which add the views of a Supreme Court justice, views which are not uncommon in educated liberal circles.

    “it is nothing short of dereliction of duty on the part of Congress over the last 20 years…”.

    Are you accusing our only professional criminal class of dereliction of duty?

  • Gabriel,

    Allowing [which I am uncertain is true] that there are 11 million illegal immigrants, how does this affect the 300 million population of the U.S.</i<

    How does what affect the 300 million? Their continued presence, growth in those numbers, or mass deportation of them all? I don't know what you're asking about.

    Put another way, might not the 11 million be a good replacement for the 40 million killed by abortion?

    A replacement perhaps, but not a good one, no. You can replace 40 million American children with 11 million Mexican etc. children. Economically, socially, culturally, people are not interchangeable. It’s a big question mark on the math anyway. Some studies suggest that abortion tends to delay having born children, more than it actually eliminates born children. A woman has an abortion and then two kids and has her tubes tied has no net difference on regeneration rates than just having two children who are allowed to be born.

    I believe that one must rethink the whole question of immigration. Not only what does it mean to be illegally in this country, but what does it mean to be here legally.

    I don’t see how or why? Certainly our demographic problems (regardless of the major cause) impact our need for immigration, but that doesn’t change the fact that those who apply legally, in justice and fairness should be welcomed first, and that a system which allows uncontrolled immigration is untenable in the current situation.

    I add to this [perhaps just to confuse the issue] a note I read a few years back that some small towns in the Mid West were willing to subside farmers who took over abandoned farms.

    Of course, and if there was a shortage of immigrants, as their was in various areas in the past, then benefits would be paid to those with the requisite attributes willing to come.

    It sounds like you’re arguing in favor of expanded legal immigration, which few disagree with, except that it must be acknowledged that each foreigner illegally present is holding a place which should go to a citizen or legal immigrant.

  • If immigration “amnesty” is the act of regularizing someone’s status so that they can lawfully remain in the US, then the US has engaged in at least three of them.

    Section 249 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides for the “registration” of persons who can demonstrate that they were here prior to 1972. It does not limit the number of persons who can acquire such registration and is relatively simple in that it provides permanent residence, in line with every other “greencard” holder, without hurdles particular to that program.

    Section 245A of the INA provided for the “legalization” of aliens who were living and working in the US prior to 1986. It did not limit the number of persons who could acquire “legalization” of their status but was a complicated political compromise in that one first acquired “temporary” status and then petitioned for permanent residence. There also were a number of document hurdles that had to be overcome by the applicant and permanent bars to the use of information against applicants by the government.

    Section 245(i) of the INA provided for a form of penalty whereby aliens who had “entered without inspection” (EWI) could pay a penalty and adjust their status into one of the already existing classifications (e.g. IR6 – Spouse of an USC, DV6 Diversity Lottery Winner, etc.)

    I am suggesting that the earlier amnesty attempt, by providing a simple acknowledgment that those unlawfully present are “connected” to the US through business or personal relationships in such a way that their admission to permanent residence is better for the US than their continued unlawful presence. By making eligibility simple – “can you document to a reasonable degree of certainty that you were physically present in the US for more than a visit prior to…?”, eligibility was easy to ascertain, there was no need for expensive legal counsel, there was little impetus to falsify documentation, and the “first come, first served” approach gave some semblance of order to the proceeding. By leaving the section in place and not “sunsetting” it, Congress cut off potential litigation by providing an effectively “permanent” resolution.

    245A cuts the other way in that a more deeply flawed section of law is difficult to imagine. It required documentation of seasons worked in the US from private individuals and corporations; thereby spawning an industry, dedicated to providing false documents. It was so complicated that even the eligible dared not go it alone, thereby enriching lawyers and bringing the most crooked of them out of the woodwork. The fraud was so bad that the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) had, by 1991, so many applications designated as “probable fraud” that Congress worked with the Administration to require a mass approval of known fraud cases, simply to “clear the deck.” Worst of all, the Act specifically barred the use of false statements or submission of fraudulent documents against the applicants in any administrative proceeding. By creating a “sunset” date, Congress embroiled the INS and her descendant agency, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in litigation that was only finally resolved, after having spent millions in litigation fees, last year.

    245(i) had some good points about it in that it didn’t try to create any new classifications (as did 245A) and didn’t place any new eligibility criteria on the applicants. It also, in some ways, “paid for itself” in that the fee was designed to be higher than the costs of adjudication. However, it also invited a massive amount of fraud because there remained a significant bar to admission as a permanent resident if you entered the US through fraud but eradicated the bar for an EWI. The result is that those who entered through fraud engaged in a second fraud in order to claim to have entered without inspection.

    Any immigration reform, to my mind, must be simple and easy to understand and apply for. If it requires a lawyer to figure out or help one document eligibility for, it is too complicated. In order for this, or any immigration reform to work we need to know, within a few million or so, how many potential applicants there will be.

    The present immigration system, with all of its flaws, appears to meet the needs of the vast majority of the persons seeking status through lawful means. Forgive me if it sounds cold but there are consequences to violating the law and having to live in fear of being found out is among them. So, I would rather take the system that we have, with all of its flaws than take on another half-baked “reform.”

    As to what I mean by the comment that we ought to leave things as they are until Congress does its job investigating and legislating, I am only too happy to have the laws enforced in addition to waiting Congress out.

  • We should immediately terminate the tide of incoming immigrants; especially those of particular races and religions — most especially, since it egregiously contaminates what remains of our pristine American lands of the remaining citizenry of genuine colonial descent.

    Remember when America failed to take action in the past and allowed unrestricted entry of the vile Romanists, who now unfortunately plague our lands and have even multiplied that infestation of papist centers of indoctrination, otherwise known as Catholic schools?

    If only the Americans were faithful enough took take certain necessary action and advocated much needed provisions as the Blaine Amendment!

    Therefore, I implore the faithful American citizens of this blog to prevent the same travesty from occuring as regards current immigration!

    We failed preventing the Papists to infect our lands; do you really want the Mexicans, the Puerto Ricans and, even worse, the Muslims to do so to such extent as well???

    The following link serves as a poignant reminder to a particularly ominous portrait that should’ve been rightly hailed as an ultimatum to all fellow American patriots, but unfortunately seemingly largely ignored by most:


    “The American River Ganges,” Harper’s Weekly,
    September 30, 1871, p.916. Wood engraving.

    By the middle of the nineteenth century, large numbers of Catholic children had withdrawn from the significantly Protestant American public schools to attend newly organized Roman Catholic schools. With a large and influential Irish Catholic constituency, the powerful New York City Democratic machine centered at Tammany Hall persuaded the Democratic state legislature to provide public support for the Irish schools. A firestorm of controversy ensued, especially in states like Ohio and Illinois,where the Catholic hierarchy had made similar requests. The controversy re-ignited smouldering Republican nativism, a policy of protecting the interests of indigenous residents against immigrants; and it suddenly became attractive as a vote-getter since that Reconstruction issues appeared to have been resolved. Tammany politicians are shown dropping little children into the “American River Ganges,” infested with crocodilian bishops. The American flag flies upside down, the universal signal of distress, from the ruins of a public school. Linking Roman Catholicism to the Ganges, the sacred river of Hinduism, suggested its exotic un-Americanism and also linked it with what Americans then considered a primitive and fanatical religion.

    Remember, as a wise man once said — those who do not learn from the Past are doomed to repeat it!

  • Uh, e? Do you mean to imply that the discussion has taken some sort of a “nativist” turn? I don’t see it so the joke is lost on me.

  • G-Veg: You must look up the meaning of sarcastic [or is it ironic?]. What is charming about the American Ganges, is the assumption that America began with the Protestant invasion, includng the importation of slaves, an English trade. [I am old enough to recall hearing that there were Bible readings [KJVersion] at the beginning of lasses in rural New Jersey in 1948].

    Having written which, I thank you for your citations from the current immigration law[s].
    My efforts have been directed at an attempt to get a more solid [political? moral? religious?] basis for the attitude towards immigration. On what basis should it be permitted? on what basis refused?

    There is that peculiar echo of the Declaration in the Constitution which bestowed citizenship on babies born within the U.S. [or on U.S. ships, &c]. Alaso that it is not possible to renounce [or have terminated] such citizenship.

  • Gabriel Austin:

    Much obliged; at least, somebody was clever enough to get it.

    Also, I am also grateful with much of your contributions, which provides some rather interesting facts (as did, admittedly, G-Veg).

  • e.,

    I understood the sarcasm but could not figure out who the attack was aimed at.

    What can I say, rubes like me are often confounded by the machinations of the wise.

  • You are just too subtle for us e.!

  • Gabriel,

    I am not qualified to speak to the Church’s teachings on immigration. There are contributors to this blog who may be qualified, but I am not one of them.

    If I have anything to offer the discussion, it is based upon my knowledge, such as it is, on the legal and practical matters that attend the American immigration system.

    As to the question of citizenship, there are four basic premises to US Citizenship: Law of the Land, Law of the Blood, Naturalization, and Derivation.

    From inception, American citizenship law embraced the idea that one born on our territory derived citizenship from that accident and that one born to Americans anywhere were Americans by virtue of the blood in their veins. (This statement is oversimplified because it was only in the second half of the 20th century that the blood of a woman transmitted citizenship in the same manner as that of an American man.)

    Naturalization and derivation have evolved and the authority to grant citizenship has changed between entities many times in our history. At present, the authority is shared between the Executive Branch and the Judiciary.

    Renouncing US citizenship is easier than you think it is just not often done. The process is administered through the Department of State. (I think this is because, if one could renounce one’s citizenship here in the US, one would become deportable. What a mess that would be!!!) Most of the cases I have encountered were of draft dodgers from the Vietnam era who went to Canada, renounced their citizenship and then sought to reclaim it as they aged. I have also encountered individuals who renounced citizenship in order to obtain exclusive citizenship overseas in order to shield their assets from taxation.

    Again, it is not often done so this is probably not a significant issue of law to concentrate on. More interesting is the notion that intending immigrants come to the US pregnant so that their child can be born a citizen and act as a sort of “anchor” to their own residence.

    Like most characterizations, there is some truth to it and significant misrepresentation.

    I have encountered individuals who did precisely this for precisely this reason. However, US immigration law is more complicated than this and, while it may sway an immigration judge where there is discretion, one still must be eligible for a visa to begin with.

    In most cases that I have dealt with, they wanted their children to have US citizenship because they wanted an irrevocable guarantee for their children’s futures. All in all, this is a laudable impulse and, from a practical point of view, it is not a bad choice. In particular, this is a good choice for those who, though unlawfully present themselves, have brothers and sisters in the States legally who could raise their children if they were, themselves, deported.

    Any other questions? (I’m kinda liking the chance to share.)

  • First point: could this thread be opened independently of Mrs. Palin [whom I like, and especially compared to the present incumbent and his horde of hangers-on].

    Secondo: on renunciation. An U.S. citizen moved to Israel, voted in elections, paid taxes, &c. One day she wanted to visit the U.S. and applied for her passport. This was denied her by the State Dept. as she had voted &c&c. The Supreme Court slapped the State Dept on the wrist, noting that nothing in the Constitution gives a basis for denying citizenship. [The problem that could arise is if she took arms against the U.S. That would be liable to get her hanged].

    I [more or less] understand the rest [including that descendants of Lafayette, for example, are automatically citizens because he was].

    But what I am aiming at is an attempt to derive a basis for the claim to citizenship on a more general ground. What might be a good reason[s] to bestow citizenship? What might be good reasons to deny it?

    If I understand correctly, political suppression back in the old country might be a good reason for such bestowal, but severe poverty is not. If I may say, that distinction stinks to high heaven and further. Consider the slums of the Latin American countries. Consider the slums of Puerto Rico.

  • Gabriel,

    If I understand correctly, political suppression back in the old country might be a good reason for such bestowal, but severe poverty is not. If I may say, that distinction stinks to high heaven and further. Consider the slums of the Latin American countries. Consider the slums of Puerto Rico.

    none of these issues are considered reasons to grant citizenship currently, nor should they ever. They are grounds to consider refugee status or some other immigrant classification, which may ultimately lead to citizenship.

  • Gabriel,

    I don’t know the particular case that you reference but I will be happy to look at it if you can give me a citation.

    There is a difference between “renunciation of citizenship” and “rejection of a citizenship claim.” Individuals who already possess citizenship can renounce it through the Dept. of State overseas. it is an affirmative act by the holder of the benefit. Those who do not possess citizenship or who seek evidence of their citizenship may have their citizenship applications or applications for evidence of citizenship denied or rejected. This happens through US Citizenship and Immigration Services and through the Dept. of State.

    I would rather not speculate about the circumstances that you cite and would rather read teh story and comment thereafter.

    The reasons for granting citizenship to those born on US soil are many. Historically, it was tied to the idea that Man naturally has an affinity for the soil of his birth and those ties bind him in a way that makes him particularly interested in its defense. Similar reasons attach to the Law of the Blood.

    As applied to the US, even in the early period of our Republic, the percentage of immigrants among our citizenry was very high and the ties of blood and land were too exclusive. The essential American character is one of ties by ideals and ideas and America has been fairly liberal in granting permission to immigrate and acquire citizenship.

    As was sarcastically noted above, America hasn’t been as welcoming when large groups seek to immigrate as when individuals come in small, almost imperceptible numbers. Each time a “wave” of immigration occurs the Majority express a dilution of the essential American character. Each time, these groups assimilated and the America that followed their admission to full citizenship thrived.

    We should be quite protective of the “immigrant” nature of America. Unquestionably, there are significant benefits in terms of demographics and economics to a robust immigration regime. For these reasons, I favor a liberal immigration policy that invites persons from as broadly as possible, subject to the appropriate checks to verify that they are not known criminals, terrorists, etc.

    A harder question is whether we should create bars to persons whose ability to contribute to America is hampered by personal traits of general concern such as disease, old age, and handicaps. As a Christian, I see a problem with exclusion of those most in need of the benefits of a modern social network. However, there is this tugging at my conscience for the concern that America should not be used solely for the benefit of the immigrant, that there must be an expectation that the immigrant is giving as much as they are getting from our Republic. (Elderly refugees fit squarely in this concern set.)

    Citizenship, as was noted by Matt, is a secondary question, based first on the admission of an alien for permanent residence. In the public debate, I see “a path to citizenship” as a bit of a red herring since we are really talking about permanent residence.

Jesuitical 7: Jesuits and Polarization

Friday, June 19, AD 2009

Father Drew Christiansen, SJ-Current Editor in Chief of America

Part 7 of my continuing series commenting upon the follies of modern day Jesuits.  None of the following of course applies to Jesuits who are orthodox in their faith and are often among the harshest critics of the antics perpetrated by their brethren.  An editorial in America, the Jesuit magazine, expresses concern about the dangers of polarization in the Catholic Church in America.   Father Z, the Master of the Fisk, in one of his finest efforts, gives the editorial a fisking to remember here.

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16 Responses to Jesuitical 7: Jesuits and Polarization

23 Responses to Flag Day

  • No, today we Catholics are celebrating the Feast of Corpus Christi, Christopher, not “Flag Day.”

  • $gt$lt))&gt ~J

    This one work?

  • Sheesh, Michael. Didn’t you notice that Chris himself put up a Corpus Christi post earlier today?

    Most of us are capable of noting more than one thing a day.

  • Which, by the way, is one Corpus Christi post more than michael or anyone else at Vox Nova has written.

  • Like the kid said to Geena Davis’ character in League of Their Own, “Can’t we do both?”

  • Heather – Nope. Jesus said we can’t serve two masters. Remember?

  • S.B.

    Very good observation. I would appear that Iafrate is defined more by the rejection of one master rather than the embrace of another master.

  • Observing a holiday /= “serving a master.”

  • I would appear that Iafrate is defined more by the rejection of one master rather than the embrace of another master.

    You have no basis on which to make a “point” like this.

  • You have no basis on which to make a “point” like this.

    If I were to guess, I’d say that basis would be that you spend a lot more time behaving in an un-Christian fashion towards those you think are too “nationalistic” than you do writing anything that suggests much positive attachment to Catholicism.

    That certainly doesn’t mean this impression is accurate. Many people use the internet simply as a place to blow off and thus put only their less likable characteristics on view there. However, I can at least see how someone would come to that conclusion given the comments you generally make here.

    Food for thought…

  • If I were to guess, I’d say that basis would be that you spend a lot more time behaving in an un-Christian fashion towards those you think are too “nationalistic” than you do writing anything that suggests much positive attachment to Catholicism.

    If one of the main concerns that I express on your blog and elsewhere is the PROFOUND misunderstanding of Catholicism such that these syncretistic displays of patriotic Christianity become uncritically routine, then it is not very surprising that you (and whoever else) might consider my views and approach to be “un-Christian.”

    We simply don’t agree on what Christianity even is. Food for thought…

  • Actually, I was referring to the manner of your comments more than the content. You’re often quite rude and dismissive to other people, and are much more quick to characterize and denounce than to explain or persuade.

    I must assume that we do in fact agree on what Christianity is — we both profess the same Nicean creed and adore and receive the same Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist. We are members of the same Body of Christ, follow the same earthly shepherd of the Church, worship at the same liturgy, and profess assent to the same Scriptures and Traditions.

    So it would seem to me pretty clear that you and I and all of those who write here do agree at root on what Christianity is — which is why people are put off and perplexed by your frequent characterizations of others as not really being Catholic; being syncretists; worshipping war and mammon, etc.

  • So apparently Christianity consists of dissent from moral teachings that the Church has put beyond dispute for thousands of years, while engaging in unremitting intellectual pride and outrage over faux “sins” against much more hesitant, prudential, and occasional teachings about economics (teachings that, when read out of context and exaggerated beyond all recognition, are taken to imply a firm stamp of condemnation on everything that can be called “capitalist”).

  • Darwin – Despite appearances, you and I do not agree on what Christianity is.

  • Darwin:

    For once, I’m inclined to agree with your interlocutor. I’ll even go so far as to disagree with your brotherly attempt to find common ground on the Nicene Creed.

    The two of you may recite the same Creed on Sundays, but there’s no reason to think you attach the same meanings to all the words.

  • Yeah, I guess you two are right.

    I guess this way I can at least not have concience pangs that I should step in when I see someone assailing Michael as not really being Catholic.

  • I was at a conference this weekend. A video was shown of a Richard Rohr lecture. A lot of individuals were taken in with him and his view of Catholicism. I think this is a similar case where people’s perception of what Catholicism is are quite different. Rohr and his like are on a very different wavelength.

  • You have no basis on which to make a “point” like this.

    Presumably, you mean other than your name? You freely call yourself the Catholic Anarchist. Anarchy is a rejection, an “anti” rather than a “pro,” in this case anti-government rather than pro-anything. Your Catholicism merely modifies your anarchy (hence Catholic Anarchy).

    Having read a lot of your stuff, I think it’s safe to say I very rarely if ever read anything other than you tearing something down rather than trying to propose something new, something Catholic. Indeed, you’re more focused on attacking America than promoting an alternative Catholic identity.

    Before you jump down my throat for this, allow me to point something out. SB noted that you had never posted about Corpus Christi. This is excusable; one doesn’t have to post about all the feasts. However, you constantly berate Memorial Day as a pagan alternative to All Saints Day. Yet in all your years of blogging you have not once recognized All Saints day but you post faithfully on Memorial Day. Is is that unreasonable to think that you are more concerned in truth with attacking Memorial Day with promoting All Saints Day?

    While I have no doubt that you are trying to live a Catholic life, you have allowed a small tenet of Catholicism to consume it at the very least in your blogging.

    As a result, as Darwin said, you are extraordinarily abrasive in conversations and the good parts of your message (and yes I do think you make good points sometimes, like protesting flags in the sanctuary which I initially disagreed with you on) are lost in the static.

  • Presumably, you mean other than your name? You freely call yourself the Catholic Anarchist. Anarchy is a rejection, an “anti” rather than a “pro,” in this case anti-government rather than pro-anything. Your Catholicism merely modifies your anarchy (hence Catholic Anarchy).

    I actually do not call myself “the Catholic Anarchist.” Donald calls me that. Not sure how you manage to mix the two of us up. I go by my real name.

    My website is indeed called “Catholic Anarchy,” but it’s certainly not intended to mean that “Catholic” modifies “Anarchy.” I actually thought about this for a while, as I imagined that objection would be raised. But when it came down to the sound of the name of the blog, “Catholic Anarchy” had a better ring than “Anarchist Catholic.” If I had to do it over again, maybe “Anarcho-Catholic” would have been a better choice.

    Anyway, your charge that I hold anarchism above Catholicism really holds no water. I think I have been quite clear on my blog what I mean by anarchism and why I use the term. (See the “about” page and the quote from Servant of God Dorothy Day on her use of the word “anarchism” to describe the Catholic Worker. But should you be interested in asking me questions on any positions I hold in order to “test” whether I am more of an anarchist or more of a Catholic, I’m game. I just won’t do it here in the comment box of this particular blog, as you are pushing me into some more personal territory regarding my faith. But you know my email address by now. By all means.

    Having read a lot of your stuff, I think it’s safe to say I very rarely if ever read anything other than you tearing something down rather than trying to propose something new, something Catholic. Indeed, you’re more focused on attacking America than promoting an alternative Catholic identity.

    What I propose as an alternative to americanist values is precisely historical Catholicism. The concerns I have in the blogging world are pretty specific, yes, and I am very interested in helping to expose the heresy of american patriotism. I see how you would consider that “negative.” But from my perspective, and from the perspective of Catholic and secular radicalism, “tearing down” is not negative but positive. Consider, from your own perspective, whether you would consider “tearing down” the abortion industry to be a “positive” or a “negative” thing. Maybe you’ll see what I mean.

    However, you constantly berate Memorial Day as a pagan alternative to All Saints Day. Yet in all your years of blogging you have not once recognized All Saints day but you post faithfully on Memorial Day. Is is that unreasonable to think that you are more concerned in truth with attacking Memorial Day with promoting All Saints Day?

    Again, I don’t see these things as being in conflict. My criticism of Memorial Day (which is hardly “constant,” but simply annual) is a way of shedding light on the meaning of All Saints Day. In other words, I do not “attack” Memorial Day for no reason, but to point out the meaning of Christian feasts which we simply take for granted, not fully understanding the socio-political dimension of what we are celebrating.

    While I have no doubt that you are trying to live a Catholic life, you have allowed a small tenet of Catholicism to consume it at the very least in your blogging.

    Which tenet?

    As a result, as Darwin said, you are extraordinarily abrasive in conversations and the good parts of your message (and yes I do think you make good points sometimes, like protesting flags in the sanctuary which I initially disagreed with you on) are lost in the static.

    This is a fair critique. I realize that being abrasive turns some folks off. I would choose a different tone depending on the kind of writing I am doing. Some of my influences (both theological and political) are awfully abrasive and catch similar criticism. That’s fine. I know that, in my experience, sometimes hearing a critical point of view from an “abrasive” source was just the wake-up call that I needed. But it doesn’t work for everyone, and I recognize and am fine with that.

  • Michael Iafrate, I think you have patriotism muddled with nationalism. Admittedly, so do many others, but I think your opposition to nationalism would work better if you tried to separate it from patriotism (which is encouraged by the Church, rather than nationalism, which is condemned).

  • John – Of course I realize that patriotism vs. nationalism is an important distinction. But on the contrary, I don’t think I’m the one mixing up the two. Most americans think they are “just” being patriotic, but they are in fact nationalistic.

    Yes, the Church encourages patriotism. But the patriotism encouraged by the Church need not be linked to the nation-state form, as that has only been in existence for a few centuries. I am all for being authentically patriotic, but not linking it to the nation-state. This is why I can proudly identify as Appalachian.

    I blogged about this a couple times at Vox Nova: the idea of an authentically Catholic patriotism that resists the nation-state form.

Book Review: Empires of Trust (Part I)

Tuesday, June 2, AD 2009

It may seem like overkill to write a multi-part book review, but historian Thomas F. Madden’s new Empires of Trust: How Rome Built–and America Is Building–a New World explores a thesis I’ve been interested in for some time, which has significant implications for our country’s foreign policy and the wider question of what our country is and what its place in the world ought to be.

The US has been often accused, of late, of being an empire. Madden effectively accepts that this is the case, but argues that this is not necessarily a bad thing at all. Among his first projects is to lay out three different types of empire: empires of conquest, empires of commerce, and empires of trust.

An empire of conquest is one spread by military power, in which the conquering power rules over and extracts tribute from the conquered. Classic examples would include the empires of the Assyrians, Persians, Mongols, Turks, Alexander’s Hellenistic empire, Napoleon’s empire and to an extent the Third Reich, Imperial Japan and Soviet Union. Empires of conquest are spread by war, and conquered territory is ruled either by local puppet rulers or by a transplanted military elite from the conquering power.

An empire of commerce is interested only in securing enough of a political foothold in its dominions to carry on trade, and is less concerned over political control or tribute. Examples would include the British and Dutch empires; in the ancient world the Pheonicians and Athenians; and later, medieval Venice. Empires of conquest are typified by a network of far-flung colonies directly controlled by the home country, at locations which are strategic for exploiting natural resources or trading with regional powers. They are less focused on conquering large swathes of territority than with controlling enough of a foothold (and enforcing enough stability in the surrounding area) to carry on their commerce.

The book, however, is primarily concerned with a third type of empire, the empire of trust, of which Madden gives only two examples: Rome and the United States. The term “empire of trust” itself requires some unpacking.

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3 Responses to Book Review: Empires of Trust (Part I)

The Narrow Atlantic

Friday, May 29, AD 2009

UCLA professor Peter Baldwin pens an interesting priece for the UK’s Prospect in which he argues that the differences between the US and Europe are not as great as is often claimed. Baldwin’s point of view strikes me as left of center, but his argument (mainly a comparison of statistics to see how the US really measures up to various EU countries on questions like poverty, education, environmentalism, etc.) is fairly non-ideological and the overall result is interesting.

Left open ended (though he provides a few thoughts on the matter) is the question of why both Americans and Europeans like to perceive such strong differences between themselves, and what exactly that means about the two cultures.

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One Response to The Narrow Atlantic

Religion in the U.S.

Wednesday, March 11, AD 2009

According to a recent study, the percentage of Americans who profess no religion has been increasing over the last 20 years:

The Catholic population of the United States has shifted away from the Northeast and towards the Southwest, while secularity continues to grow in strength in all regions of the country, according to a new study by the Program on Public Values at Trinity College. “The decline of Catholicism in the Northeast is nothing short of stunning,” said Barry Kosmin, a principal investigator for the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS). “Thanks to immigration and natural increase among Latinos, California now has a higher proportion of Catholics than New England.”

In broad terms, ARIS 2008 found a consolidation and strengthening of shifts signaled in the 2001 survey. The percentage of Americans claiming no religion, which jumped from 8.2 in 1990 to 14.2 in 2001, has now increased to 15 percent. Given the estimated growth of the American adult population since the last census from 207 million to 228 million, that reflects an additional 4.7 million “Nones.” Northern New England has now taken over from the Pacific Northwest as the least religious section of the country, with Vermont, at 34 percent “Nones,” leading all other states by a full 9 points.

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5 Responses to Religion in the U.S.

  • In regards to question 2), I think the immigration does in indeed mask a similar hemorrhaging of members from the Catholic Church. While I think there’s a solid core of faithful Catholics, I think it is much smaller than the numbers suggest. I think in the near future, we’ll see an even greater loss of membership as the realities of the Church teaching and governmental policy butt heads.

  • Ryan, I agree with you that we are very likely to see the Catholic faith tested in America by the exact mechanism you suggest. I pray that God will change people’s hearts and that all Catholics will open themselves to the truth. I fear that large percentages of Catholics will formally depart the Church in the next 20 years. It is hard to say how big the faithful core is or will be in the end. I think the core is stronger in Faith than given credit for, but in numbers? I find reasons for hope, but certainly seems likely that we could lose up to 90% of the self- identified Catholics.

  • Point #4 deserves further scrutiny. In period when political/economic elites avoids all things religious, will be not only greater estrangement from the faithful but legislation like that swatted down in Connecticut. Could extend to our nation’s largest fudge factory. Note all the DC insiders who frequent Sunday morning chat shows. Not likely they will slip away to their house of worship. Thus the estrangement showing up in broad scale following the Porkapalooza Bill. Might be presenting the ultimate dilemma- God or Gummint as Ultimate Source of All That Is True And Good.

  • That unbelief is plateauing while membership in most churches is fallen suggests to me that part of what we’re seeing is a failure of established churches to reach people with anything compelling. There can be a laziness and self absorbtion to people who are “religious but don’t belong to a church right now” but I think a fair amount of it is also that far too often one can go to a church for years (sadly this would seem to be as true of many Catholic parishes as of protestant churches) without getting much to hold you in the way of real teaching, and explanation of what life means other than “community” or compelling liturgy. And so people often drift away into their own home-grown, wishy washy religious belief combined with non-practice.

    I suspect it would take a significant cultural shift to break this paradigm, because while at the same time people drift away from churches because they’re not compelling, there’s also a strong cultural prejudice against evangelizing and judging — which precludes most of the compelling things that could be said.

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12 Responses to Tom Cruise, First-Rate Philosopher

  • Excellent post!

  • Thanks!

  • Unfortunately consistency is not one of the things that the American people (or indeed any people) is good at. On life issues in particular, we select for politicians with totally incoherant views on abortion — because people feel uncomfortable actually saying that abortion is right, and yet also uncomfortable saying it should be fully banned. The problem is, the middle ground is the one position which absolutely cannot be true.

  • Agreed, DC… critical thinking skills in general are somewhat lacking these days.

  • We tend to hold fast to premises, but shy away from the conclusions where those premises lead.

  • “For good or evil, Europe since the Reformation, and most especially England since the Reformation, has been in a peculiar sense the home of paradox…The most familiar is the English boasting that they are practical because they are not logical. To an ancient Greek or a Chinamen this would seem exactly like saying that London clerks excel in adding up their ledgers, because they are not accurate in their arithmetic…Since the modern world began in the sixteenth century, nobody’s system of philosophy has really corresponded to everybody’s sense of reality.”

    Chesterton, Biography of St. Thomas Aquinas.

    I’m not sure if it’s entirely fair to trace the divorce of philosophy from lived experience to the Reformation, but Moralistic Therapeutic Deism is probably the greatest of the modern heresies.

  • Europe is the canary in the mine and you can see that bird losing consciousness. With moral relativism running rampant, they are incapable of dealing with disasters. From the collapse of Yugoslavia to the institution of Sharia law. They don’t believe in God, hence they don’t believe in anything except themselves.

  • That was a great post.

    But I would like to add two things.

    1) I think it is easier to be consistent when you have no rules to follow. We Catholics get accused of being hypocritical when we do live by Jesus’ standards. But is it fair when those who accuse you do not have a standard? Who is truly being hypocritical. I believe Chesterton said something to this effect. “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.”

    2) I also understand that a lot of us in America do separate our personal faith from our public life. And I think there are a lot of reasons for that but I just name a few…. our false understanding of separation of church and state (not allowing God in schools as an example … everson v. board of education…) the idea that our personal life does not affect our public life (aka the Clinton affair)… the brainwashing of our media who repeats the drum beat of this idea… through shows, movies, music… and finally, lack of courage… being afraid to preach the Gospel in season or out of season.

  • Alasdair MacIntyre has a pithy line to describe the religious belief of the British: “God does not exist, and it is good to pray to Him on occasion.” 🙂

  • Chris,

    I love the quote…

    I would also like to add that in my second point that this division goes much deeper…. you can see it the development of the modern mind and how it divorces faith and reason.

  • I concur regarding the deeper origins of this division, Bret… I agree with those scholars who see its origins predating even the Reformation, going back to Ockham and even to Scotus before him.

    When in doubt, stick with the Dominicans. 🙂

  • “Smith — himself an evangelical — led an exhaustive study of the religious & spiritual lives of American teenagers, and his findings…found that whatever the religious beliefs professed by American teens (and, I’d argue, by adults as well), the vast majority of them ‘practiced’ what he terms ‘Moralistic Therapuetic Deism’, a worldview in which God acts as divine butler or cosmic therapist: there when I need Him, but out of the way otherwise and most of the time.”

    Oh, boy, is this a familiar scenario…

Pope Benedict on America

Wednesday, October 8, AD 2008

“From the dawn of the Republic, America’s quest for freedom has been guided by the conviction that the principles governing political and social life are intimately linked to a moral order based on the dominion of God the Creator. The framers of this nation’s founding documents drew upon this conviction when they proclaimed the “self-evident truth” that all men are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights grounded in the laws of nature and of nature’s God. The course of American history demonstrates the difficulties, the struggles, and the great intellectual and moral resolve which were demanded to shape a society which faithfully embodied these noble principles. In that process, which forged the soul of the nation, religious beliefs were a constant inspiration and driving force, as for example in the struggle against slavery and in the civil rights movement. In our time too, particularly in moments of crisis, Americans continue to find their strength in a commitment to this patrimony of shared ideals and aspirations.

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Dwight and Terrorism

Tuesday, October 7, AD 2008

I live in a small town, Dwight, Illinois, about 35 miles southwest of Joliet.  It is a lovely place, about 4400 people, set in the midst of a sea of corn and soybeans.   My wife and I moved here in 1985 and have been very happy.  Soon after we moved to Dwight I joined the local Rotary Club.  There I met Jim Oughton and his brother Richard Oughton.  Both had served in WW2, Jim as a naval officer, and Dick as a marine fighter pilot.  They were also the two richest men in town, the scions of a family that had been the wealthiest family in town for well over a century.

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17 Responses to Dwight and Terrorism

  • The Obama that welcomed this man’s help is unknown to most voters. Hopefully, they will get to know him as more of his involvement with Ayers comes to light.

  • A couple comments:

    1. The relevant actions of Ayers happened in a decade that began almost 50 years ago. To make an issue of this now is sort of like taking issue with the civil-war actions of a confederate soldier…in 1908. It’s (literally) history. Let’s you were alive in 1908 and overheard some confederate veteran speaking in 1908 of killing yankees, it would not be especially remarkable, or relevant to the present moment – “Oh, that’s just old Mr Smith – he talks like that when he’s in his cups…” or whatever.

    2. Obama is not especially close to Ayers – they both served on the board of some organization whose name escapes me, but my understanding is that Obama has denounced the long-ago actions of Ayers, which took place when Obama was 7 or 8 years old.

  • I am more interested in Obama’s ideological closeness to Mr. Ayers. I’ve just heard passing whiffs of the school project they both worked to implement. The thrust was to use the school setting to enlist students as active participants in their “social/political” movement for radical change in the country’s structure. I’ll like to know more about this aspect but am not a skilled internet researcher. God bless your work on this blog.

  • Matt Talbot,

    I wish you would have presented evidence of this.

    But when you announce your aspirations for higher office in Ayers own home and continually to meet with him AFTER distancing himself from him, what can one believe?

  • Matt Talbot, You missed the statement Ayers made on 9/11 when thousands of Americans were killed iwthout cause (very recent history not decades ago)>>>in the New York Times on September 11, 2001. ”I don’t regret setting bombs,” Bill Ayers said. ”I feel we didn’t do enough.”. He isn’t young in the picture above where the very flag and those who risk their lives defending that flag and the freedom that allows a bigoted hypocritical traitor, complicit in his girlfriend’s death, to say and do the things he does NOW as well as then. further, Obama’s first presidential eleciton party was thrown by his “not close” friend Ayers. Wake and smell the coffee Mr Talbot. Ayers and Obama are very good friends indeed!

  • This place is liable to turn dangerously close into a lynching site, as are Ms. Palin’s rallies…

    Guilt by association?!!! You better look into Todd Palin’s ties to the AIP, whose founder advocated some “sweet stuff” in regards to the USA.

  • Todd Palin is running for which office again?

  • It’s her husband…and she went to 2 conventions and addressed the group just this year…

    But the point is that this guilt by association should be beneath Catholics of good will…

  • Mark,

    First off, I think you have to be pretty hyperbolic, in a fashion which is neither helpful not wise, to assert that discussing Senator Obama’s ties to left wing radicals is “dangerously close into a lynching”. Lynching is a serious and deeply evil thing, and discussing the fact that Senator Obama chooses to work with some very unsavory people bears no resemblance to lynching at all. It would be the same as saying of a liberal site, “The discussion on this site is dangerously close to the crushing of the skulls of still living newborn children.” It’s just not a reasonable place to go.

    Secondly, there is a real issue here. In addition to his old terrorist ties, Bill Ayers has become a serious force in the left wing educational establishment, and Obama and those in his campaign have generally been supportive of this educational agenda.

    Unfortunately, we don’t get enough into substantive issues in elections such as this, and so there has been very little discussion of the educational philosophy which Ayers is behind, and which the NEA and major organizations have given far too much legitimacy. As someone who cares a lot about education, I find it doubly troubling that Ayers (clearly a seriously misguided individual) is considered “not a big deal” in all this, and that Obama has historically funnelled a lot of money and support to his educational initiatives.

  • You did not get my reference, I guess.

    Peope are yeling “kill him” at Plin rallies, whenever she resorts to such guilt by association,and calling African American reporters “uppity Negroes” and telling them to “sit down, boy.”

  • I had not heard this until you brought it up now — but googling on what you say I find a Huffington Post report that the Secret Service is investigating after this was reported _once_ at _a_ rally by Dana Milbank in one of his columns. The Secret Service had not done so earlier because none of their agents in the crowd had heard the shouting which Milbank claims occurred.

    You make it sound like this is a regular event, which is not what even the Huffington Post suggests.

    Clearly, suggesting that someone kill a presidential candidate is terribly, terribly wrong. (So is suggesting the killing of the current president — though that hasn’t stopped a few people I’ve seen on the roads from sporting “Kill Bush” bumper stickers.)

    I’m sure that you and I agree that suggesting killing a politician is wrong, as is hurling racial epithets.

    Of course, also very wrong (I’m sure you would agree with me) is the open and repeated suggestion of an Obama-supporting commedian that Governor Palin be gang-raped. From which, I think we can conclude, that idiots tend to come out at election time.

  • -the point is that this guilt by association should be beneath Catholics of good will-

    Good grief! What about the guilt by association incurred by supporting a candidate who condones child murder?

  • Mark DeFrancisis,

    Anymore defamatory, ad hominem, or degenerative comments that you post then you will be under moderation and ultimately banned if your behavior persists.

    This is your first and only warning on your unchristian behavior.

  • On Wednesday morning, John McCain’s campaign released a list of 100 former ambassadors endorsing the GOP presidential nominee.

    Second on the list, though her name is misspelled, is Leonore Annenberg, currently the president and chairman of the Annenberg Foundation and widow of ambassador and philanthropist Walter Annenberg. Ms. Annenberg was herself the “chief of protocol” at the State Department under President Reagan.

    If the last name sounds familiar, it’s because it also graces the name of the Chicago education board where Barack Obama and William Ayers sat in the room six times together.

    In recent days, the McCain-Palin ticket (and particularly Palin) has faulted Obama for having served on that board with Ayers, who was a founding member of the radical 60’s Weather Underground group when Obama was in grade school.

  • Has McCain returned this money? By your standards, he’s colluding with terrorists…..

  • Uh, no, Mark. Because Leonore Annenberg did not actively plant bombs the way Ayers did. That’s the thing that some people seem a bit unable to understand: Ayers not only did attempt to murder people via terrorism (and get his girlfriend killed in the process) but still says it was a good idea to have done so.

    And Obama didn’t just sit on the same board as him, he launched his political career at an event in Ayers’ house, worked with him on multiple projects, and funneled money to his groups.

    If tu toque (and a false one at that) is the best argument you can make in favor of your guy, it’s because your guy has a problem.

  • Darwin,

    I am not making tu toque argment. I am just revealing the desperation and vileness of the McCain-Palin campaign.

    I love seeing you contribute to the culture of life. So attractive.

25 Responses to Welcome to American Catholic

  • I’m looking forward to reading your posts.

    You might want to correct the spelling of the ‘Gaudium’ in ‘Gaudium et Spes’. I don’t think gaudiem is at all construable, ha.

  • I’m looking forward to reading your posts.

    Ditto.

  • God Bless and God Speed! Get the message out! I’m trying as best as I can, but we need more Catholics devout to the Magisterium to teach out Obama-bot Catholics.

    Glad you are here!

  • I wish you all the best with this new endeavor.

    God bless,

  • The blog looks interesting, and courage and success on your blogging endeavours. I am curious as to why your symbol includes the Anglican Saint George Cross. It is the basis of the Flag of England and the Anglican Church, why use it on an American Roman Catholic Website?

    http://www.gotogreatpanes.com/renaissance.html
    Scroll down to see Saint George’s shield.

    http://flagspot.net/flags/gb_coe.html
    This shows the flag of the Church of England.

  • Puff the Magic Dragon,

    Excellent question (or query).

    Richard the Lionheart used that crest (red cross on a white background) as he defended Christendom from the ravages of the Saracen attacks. It had become the symbol of (then) Catholic England because of the heroic exploits of King Richard.

    Thus today in defending the Church that Jesus established on earth, we Catholics in America look to protect our civic and religious rights as Catholics and use this important symbol in Catholicism as representative of our struggle here in America.

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,

    Tito

  • So you are using it in reference to the rosicrucians and/or crusaders of Richard? Gotcha.

    But – the shield of the crusaders under Richard Lionheart had a different styled cross. Might I suggest Richard’s crusader shield?

    http://www.reliks.com/merchant.ihtml?pid=1750

  • Puff,

    Now you got me thinking.

    Yes, absolutely. I might just change it to the Keys of Peter.

    Any and all suggestions will be charitably considered. Especially when it comes to the Cross.

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,

    Tito

  • Tito,
    I really like this new blog so far. You know me, I’m always looking for a good intellectual outlet. I hope you and the team keep the posts comin’!

    God bless.

  • Sarah,

    Thank you so much for those kind comments. You and Peter helped me in my knowledge of Catholicism with your RCP Study Groups. I wasn’t able to contribute much I sure learned a lot. We hope to do the same here for those interested in politics from a Christian perspective.

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,

    Tito

  • Greetings from the frontlines in So. Cal.,

    I’m not far from Joe Potillor’s stomping grounds of Cal State Fullerton. My daughter just grad’ed from there.

    I’ll pass the word of the new blog.

    Best of luck… I’ll be visiting frequently.

    WCC +<

  • WCC,

    Thank you for those kind words and support.

    We need all the help we can get (prayers included).

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,

    Tito

  • Welp, here we go.

    Think you could have made the cross any smaller in your blog’s logo?

    Looking forward to whatever becomes of this.

  • Michael,

    We’re still working on the header. I want to implement St. Michael the Archangel, but I’m having difficulty finding a nice pic to complement Sam the eagle.

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,

    Tito

  • Thanks Michael

    Where’s the Cross on Vox Nova’s website?

  • Tito – Well, as long as you have your central symbol, the eagle, front and center, you should be able to just place some more peripheral Catholic symbols around it as you see fit, as they present themselves.

    Zach – Symbols matter. I’m afraid your banner seems to speak loud and clear about the blog’s priorities and the kind of voice you hope to be. I hope you prove me wrong and that the actual posts reflect your group’s Catholicism more than its (obvious) Americanism.

  • Personally, I like the cross of St.George as it was originally the flag of Genoa(Italian) and was only adopted by the English for protection of their ships when entering the Mediterranean which the powerful Genoese fleet ruled. Later it was used by English crusaders(Catholic) for three centuries. It was also used for the flags of Milan, Frieburg, Bologna, and Barcelona(all Catholic).

    In America it was recognized as ‘God’s Flag’ and was the only flag that could fly above the national flag. Your representation does not particularly evoke the Anglican use of the flag as it was to have the coat of arms of the diocese in the canton when used by the Church of England. Pray that we do not have to wait long before Anglican truly becomes ‘Catholic’ in the true sense.

    In the meantime I think the historical significance of the flag warrants its usage particularly on an American website. Papal Keys would be nice but there really is more ‘English’ influence on the American experience than that of Rome(unfortunately).

    Ago tibi gratias pro universis beneficiis tuis, etiam ignotis

  • I want to implement St. Michael the Archangel, but I’m having difficulty finding a nice pic to complement Sam the eagle.

    Do remember that St. Michael is the leader of the heavenly armies, not the U.S. military.

  • Michael,

    Thank you for your comments.

    Lance,

    I appreciate your insight. The header is just a work in progress still, but the cross will stay, but probably into a different manifestation.

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,

    Tito

  • Michael,

    You’re right, symbols can convey information about priorities. This symbol has the flag under the Cross. I think the symbol is aesthetically pleasing although I think you’re right that the Cross could be bigger.

    I have a post on the subject of our priorities on the way. I think it will be posted tomorrow and I look forward to your comments.

    – Zach

  • Michael,

    We’ll try to be all things to all men. Just for you: Perhaps the eagle is bowing beneath the cross while gently cradling the olive branch of peace and biting Old Glory out of frustration. 😉

  • Best wishes. I enjoy exploring my faith with like minded people.

  • Wagonburner,

    Likewise.

    Engaging in constructive dialogue to better understand our faith is one of the goals of this new blog.