The Solid South Goes for Trump

Wednesday, March 16, AD 2016

Donald Trump’s clean sweep of southeastern states has taken many pundits by surprise, but it shouldn’t have. Trump’s performance in the south among evangelical voters is actually quite in keeping with the strain of evangelical conservatism prevalent in the bible belt.

Many moons ago in a prior blogging life I wrote a multi-part series detailing the different strands of American conservatism, and reading it now I may have forecasted the rise of Trump. First, I noted a type of conservatism (cranky conservatism) that seems to typify the Trump voter.

On the other end of the spectrum, the paleo-conservatives and crankycons seem to hate everything.  And yet they are most comfortable with populist schemes that betray the Framers’ original plans.  Their anti-elitism runs so deep that they would bequeath to the masses enormous power.  Their enemies are the ghouls in the academies with their fancy ideas.  But while they would have you believe that they are the true inheritors of the conservative mantle, their philosophy is a deep betrayal of the republican tradition.  Their ultimate designs are no less radical than the hated neocons they so regularly disparage.

Sounds like a typical Trump supporter to me.

As related to religion and conservatism, this is what I wrote back in 2005 (please ignore the horrible misspelling of hear as “here”):

Traditional conservatism is generally less concerned about the temporal world.  This strain of conservatism dates to Augustine, who saw utopian schemes for the foolishness that they were.  Thus, it should come as no surprise that the intellectual impetus behind this brand usually comes from the Roman Catholic Church, or its near neighbors in the Episcopalian version.  Buckley, Kirk, Ponnuru, Reagan: all thinkers who are Catholic or whose religion was close to that of Roman Catholicism.  This is no mere coincidence.

We here a lot about religion and the conservative movement, and indeed religion has played a crucial role in all conservative parties throughout the world.  But what many fail to understand, principally because they fail to understand Christianity is that there are crucial differences in the religious outlook of Evangelicals and Catholics, and these differences play out in the political world.  The steadfast pessimism of the Catholic faith is mirrored in the political outlook of most conservative Catholics.  They see this as a fallen world.  And while we should strive to make this world as good as we can, our expectations for the temporal world should not be so high.  Consequently, we should not put much stock in government and its ability to change the world.

I am not as well-versed in Evangelical religion to speak authoritatively, but it seems to me that the Evangelicals are much more optimistic about reshaping this earthly realm.  Their fervor for conversion seeps into their political consciousness, thus they have grander visions for reform than does the Catholic conservative.

It would be easy to simply paint as the essential demarcation in conservative thought as the interplay between Catholic and Evangelical theology.  It would be easy because it is essentially correct.  We share many of the same values, but at some point there is a rift in our fundamental vision of the government because there is a fundamental rift in our theological outlook.  That is not to say that all Catholics are all of a particular political stripe, and all Evangelicals of another.  But if one wants to understand the divergence in American conservative thought, there would be worse starting points than this examination of the difference between Catholicism and Evangelical religion.

None of the developments of the previous decade has changed my thinking on these matters. To be sure, not all Evangelicals are utopian, nor are all Catholic conservatives necessarily fierce opponents of “big government.” Indeed the lone remaining standard bearer of traditional conservatism is Ted Cruz, a fervent Evangelical himself. Yet the populist appeal of Trump in the south indicates there is something to this distinction. Meanwhile Cruz has done better in the southwest and midwest, areas of the country that have a more libertarian hue and better represent the traditional strain of conservatism.

Contrary to the narrative, this primary is far from over. Trump is likely to be the nominee, but Cruz still has a fighting chance. This is the ultimate showdown of the two types of conservatism I detailed many years ago. Regardless of who wins, I believe we’re just seeing the beginnings of a much fiercer war for the heart of conservatism.

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11 Responses to The Solid South Goes for Trump

  • Eight years ago there was a lot of talk about how the Republicans would turn toward libertarianism in order to win the presidency again. After eight years of Obama, they would drop their losing social issues and then return to power as libertarians.
    I always thought this was wrong. I thought that eight years later we would see a big movement toward economic nationalism (anti-free trade, anti-immigration) that would be combined with not reducing the size of the government. Essentially the opposite of what libertarians propose on economic issues.
    These views on fiscal issues would need to be combined with views on social issues. Here was where I was wrong. I figured the person would be a fairly conventional social conservative as we see them today (anti-abortion, pro-guns, etc.). What we got was George Wallace 2.0 (racism, talk of crime, downplaying of abortion and gay marriage).
    I was thinking someone in the mold of Mike Huckabee, not what we have in Donald Trump. Not that I would have been happy with Huckabee, as I am a more conventional conservative and free trader. However, in the general I could probably have supported him because of the social issues. With Trump I don’t even have that.

  • Reading this again now, Paul, I am reminded of how quickly and seamlessly I adopted your articulations. Ultimately, what you four gave me was a way to express what I had come to understand to be true. For that, I am most grateful.

  • Thomas Sowell – conflict of visions – might be time to read that, Paul. 😉 Oh and if we’re compiling list of conservatives – Sowell [unknown], Jonah Goldberg [secular jew], Kevin Williamson [catholic], Charlie Cooke [atheist], John Derbyshire [atheist], John C Wright [catholic] (off the top of my head) – actually maybe we should establish what our criteria is. Ponnuru is the one that throws me off your list since he’s pretty “recent” as far as writings go (otherwise I agree with the Kirk-Buckley-Reagen).
    As I’ve seen, there’s nothing really dividing the anointed vs tragic (Sowell’s terms) and certainly nothing endemic to any Christian branch that inoculates against either style (need we go fishing on Shea’s facebook or the st blogs for plenty of examples of what we might call utopian Catholics?)
    I think the answer may simply be pride. Utopians ultimately believe themselves or their systems far better and more capable than they can ever be

  • Ted Cruz and his preacher father Rafael Cruz propose a different kind of “let’s change this world” ideology. Trump preaches something like the prosperity gospel of Joel Olsteen, Joyce Meyer and Creflo Dollar: “We’re gonna’ make America great again / you name you claim it.” Cruz is a Seven Mountains Dominionist. Such Dominionists believe God has called on his elect (i.e., these Protestant fundamentalists) to punish secular society and redistribute wealth from the ungodly to the godly. I have watched You Tube videos of Rafael actually preaching stuff like that, and then praying over his son, saying that he is anointed to become one of these Godly kings who will do exactly that.
    We are rightly repelled by Trump’s foul mouth, uncouthed antics, his ignorance of conservative principles and American history, and his personal life of philandering and adultery. But we should also be concerned about giving the reigns to a Seven Mountains Dominionist. Of course, of the two, I prefer Cruz. He mouths words about Constitutional adherence and so far has a good trackk record. Yet when push comes to shove after he’s given the reigns of the Presidency, let’s see what he is going to do.
    Of course, the GOP could have a brokered convention and give the nomination to Mitt Romney who for Mormons would be the fulfillment of Joseph Smith’s White Horse Prophecy (yeah, I know that the LDS Church disavowed that prophecy in 1916, I think, but nevertheless, let’s see what happens).

  • My Catholic faith is not pessimistic, Jesus lived died and rose to bring hope. That is what the Mass is about… And we are given the mission to go out and give the Good News. Catholics know from the spiritual and corporal works of mercy that we are to do good works to a good effect for Love. The Catholic outlook is one of doers, of people who know that faith is reasonable and that faithful reason can make the difference in the lives of people even in this vale of tears.
    There used to be a common canard about catholic guilt – a Protestant view of Catholic understanding – seeing Catholicism as pessimistic may be similar more secular misunderstanding of accepting God’s will about what can’t be changed
    Catholic faith is optimistic- not the cockeyed optimism of the health and wealth preachers, but the optimism that made Catholics facing plagues build hospitals, and fight the Crusades, and build great schools.
    As far as the so called evangelicals of the south going for Trump, I think they are just that- so called.
    Cranks are cranks anywhere but the Catholic viewpoint has had a positive effect on thinking evangelicals and on the world.
    Catholics know that God is good and that we are called to the same. We are not concerned about conservatism for conservatism’s sake, but for the sake of what it is conservatism today is protecting.

  • Such Dominionists believe God has called on his elect (i.e., these Protestant fundamentalists) to punish secular society and redistribute wealth from the ungodly to the godly.,/blockquote>
    Good. He ought then to get along fabulously with Catholic preferential-option-for-the-poor social justice warriors.
    He said exacerbatedly

  • If I’ve learned anything during this primary, it’s that I was clearly wrong about the meaning of Evangelical. I thought it had something to do with living the commandments and being pro-life and things of that nature. Obviously if Donald Trump can be their standard bearer I was wrong.

  • Folks, evangelical Protestantism is a heresy. That does not mean that all Protestant evangelicals are wilfully heretical. But it is an error against the Faith – many errors in fact. For instance, they deny the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. True, most of them so deny because they were taught error from birth and know nothing else. But their errors are fundamental and at the very root of authentic Christianity. So of course they surround a demogogue like Trump who offers fruition of the prosperity gospel nonsense which the likes of Joel Olsteen teach.
    Catholics are similar when they go all liberal and embrace the social justice nonsense of Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama. It’s the same prosperity gospel idiocy just with a different name. And those Catholics similarly to their Protestant brethren likely don’t really believe in the real presence, either. It’s just a communal cracker after all. If they believed, then they would not abort and contracept like their Protestant cousins.

  • And I like to wear black and tan on St. Patrick’s Day.


  • Good analysis Paul Z. Now instantly to the bottom line. I think Trump and Cruz would be just the right ticket to compromise the internal Republican war and settle Hillary’s hash. It would be in both their interest to make this happen soon. As far as religion is concerned the two of them are about as religious as the Pope.


    @ Donna Ann.
    I came across this today.
    Might help to shed some light on evangelical trump-pet.

Lowry on Lincoln

Thursday, June 6, AD 2013

Rich Lowry has written a brilliant article (and also evidently a book) defending Abraham Lincoln from his critics on the right. He meticulously goes through the charges that certain people on the fringe right level at Lincoln and rebuts them one by one. For example, on the charge that Lincoln was a great centralizer out to destroy the states, Lowry notes that Lincoln’s view of the nation was little different than James Madison. Madison, like Lincoln, fought against the ideas of the likes of John Calhoun, who had defended the doctrine of nullification and asserted the supremacy of the states. As for secession, Lowry makes a point that I have often made regarding the right of the confederate states to rebel:

In his anti-Lincoln tract The Real Lincoln, Thomas DiLorenzo argues that secession is as American as apple pie. “The United States were founded by secessionists,” he insists, “and began with a document, the Declaration, that justified the secession of the American states.” No. The country was founded by revolutionaries and the Declaration justified an act of revolution. No one denies the right of revolution. Madison said that revolution was an “extra & ultra constitutional right.” Even Lincoln, in his First Inaugural Address, concedes the point: “If, by the mere force of numbers, a majority should deprive a minority of any clearly written constitutional right, it might, in a moral point of view, justify revolution — certainly would, if such right were a vital one.”


The friends of secession aren’t eager to invoke the right to revolution, though. For one thing, when a revolution fails, you hang. For another, the Declaration says a revolution shouldn’t be undertaken “for light and transient causes,” but only when a people have suffered “a long train of abuses and usurpations.” What was the train in 1860 and 1861? Seven southern states left the Union before Lincoln was inaugurated. The South had dominated the federal government for decades. Abuses and usurpations? It’s more like lose an election and go home.

He also takes on the likes of Ron Paul, who has asserted that Lincoln could have used the power of the purse to free the slaves rather than fighting a bloody civil war. Lowry writes:

They come up with fanciful alternatives to military conflict. Ron Paul wonders why Lincoln didn’t forestall the war by simply buying up and freeing the slaves. With his usual sense of realism, Paul ignores the fact that Lincoln repeatedly advanced schemes for just such a compensated emancipation. Lincoln argued for these proposals as “the cheapest and most humane way to end the war.” But except in the District of Columbia, they went precisely . . . nowhere. The border states weren’t selling, let alone the South. Even little Delaware, which was selected as a test case because in 1860 it had only 587 slaveholders out of a white population of 90,500, couldn’t be persuaded to cash out of slavery. One plan proposed by Lincoln would have paid $400 or so per slave and achieved full abolition by 1893. A version of the scheme failed in the state’s legislature.

Lowry addresses Lincoln’s war measures, and notes that Lincoln simply used the legitimate powers that were prescribed in the Constitution.

When it comes to the idea that Lincoln’s administration birthed the welfare state, Lowry destroys that argument.

Yet another favorite count against Lincoln on the Right is that he was the midwife for the birth of the modern welfare state — a false claim also made by progressives bent on appropriating him for their own purposes. The war necessarily entailed the growth and centralization of the state, but this hardly makes Lincoln a forerunner to FDR or LBJ. The income tax required to fund the war, instituted in 1861 and soon made into a progressive tax with higher rates for the wealthy, was a temporary measure eliminated in 1872. Wars are expensive. In 1860, the federal budget was well under $100 million. By the end of the war, it was more than $1 billion. But the budget dropped back down to $300 million, excluding payments on the debt, within five years of the end of the war.


To see in any of this the makings of the modern welfare state requires a leap of imagination. In the midst of the war, the State Department had all of 33 employees. The famous instances of government activism not directly related to the war — the subsidies to railroads, the Homestead Act — were a far cry from the massive transfer programs instituted in the 20th century. The railroads got land and loan guarantees but were a genuinely transformational technology often, though not always, providing an economic benefit. The Homestead Act, as Lincoln historian Allen Guelzo argues, can be viewed as a gigantic privatization of public lands, which were sold off at a cut rate to people willing to improve their plots.


In the North during the war, historian Richard Franklin Bensel points out, the industrial and agricultural sectors ran free of government controls. The labor force, although tapped for manpower for the war, was relatively unmolested. The government became entangled with the financial system, but that system was also becoming more modern, sophisticated, and free of European influence. Given its vitality and wealth, the North could wage the war without subjecting itself to heavy-handed command-and-control policies. Compared with the overmatched Confederacy, it was a laissez-faire haven.

Indeed federal government spending as a percentage of GDP increased to approximately 15 percent at the height of the Civil War, but came crashing down to about a 5 percent level immediately after its conclusion, where it remained until the Wilson administration. (Correction – see comments, spending was even lower, and remained low but for WWI until the Great Depression.)

If anything Lincoln was a Hamiltonian conservative. He believed in a strong national government to be sure, but one essentially limited in scope. It’s rather fitting considering that it was Hamilton’s political enemy – Thomas Jefferson – who Lincoln held up as a hero. It is also rather ironic that often those on the right who deride Lincoln are the same who glorify Jefferson. Perhaps that is a subject also worthy of deeper study.



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16 Responses to Lowry on Lincoln

  • but came crashing down to about a 5 percent level immediately after its conclusion, where it remained until the Wilson administration.

    Federal expenditure during the fiscal year concluding in 1916 was around ~1.4%. It stood at around 13% per annum at the peak of the 1st World War and then was whittled down to a level of 1.7% during the fiscal year concluding in 1929.

  • You are correct Art. I misread the historical chart I was looking at.

  • Ron Paul wonders why Lincoln didn’t forestall the war by simply buying up and freeing the slaves.

    13% = share of the labor force accounted for by slaves
    67% = share of domestic income accounted for by labor (guess from hist values)
    .55 = ratio of productivity of slave labor to the mean (guess)

    Therefore = 4.8% of domestic product attributable to slave labor.

    p/e ratio = 15.87 (cribbed from securities markets)

    15.87 x 4.8 = 76% of domestic product;

    however, the slaveholders would have to pay taxes to service the federal debt. About a quarter of Southern households owned slaves. In our own time, the most affluent quarter of the population corrals about 60% of disposable income ‘ere the assessment of taxes. About 40% of the population lived in the slave states. Ergo, a guess that 24% of the revenue stream to service the posited redemption bonds would come from quondam slaveholder households. Therefore,

    100% of gdp = gross value of posited redemption bond issue.

    Slapping together some figures from the economic historian T.J. Weiss and others, it would appear that nominal gdp in 1860 might have been around
    $3.5 bn, or about $885 per slave. That would be the mean price; presumably a working buck would command much more. (This assumes that Southern slaveholders would regard it as a purely economic transaction and also not insist on a risk premium taking into account the possibility of default on posited redemption bonds or, alternatively, inflation of the currency).

    N.B, given the economic consequence of federal spending as it was in the ante-bellum period, it is a reasonable guess that federal spending as a ratio of domestic product would have had to have roughly quadrupled after such a redemption, with 3/4 of federal revenues devoted to servicing redemption bonds.

    (I imagine Stanley Engerman has cooked up some serious figures).

  • I see that the Neo-Confederate nutcases are out in full force in the comments to Lowry’s article with their usual ignorance of history, refusal to respond to facts and contempt for anyone who does not share their hatred for our Sixteenth President.

  • Just read somewheres that the US is the only country that suffered a civil war to end slavery. Go figure.

  • I see that the Neo-Confederate nutcases are out in full force in the comments

    Don, I didn’t even bother scanning the comments because I knew they would be, especially when I saw the article had about 1,000 comments.

  • The fact that one doesn’t worship the 16th POTUS does not mean that one hates the man.

  • I guess whoever wrote what you read was bone ignorant of history T-Shaw and never heard of the many slave revolts throughout history, Haiti, or how the slave revolt in Guyana in 1823 helped lead to the abolition of slavery in the British Empire. There were several slave revolts in the South, but the reaction of the slave holders was to spearhead the movement to destroy the Union, and to attempt to create a country, the Confederacy, brought into existence solely to defend the precious right to hold other human beings in bondage.

  • “The fact that one doesn’t worship the 16th POTUS does not mean that one hates the man.”

    “Worship” T.Shaw? Neo-Confederates routinely refer to Abraham Lincoln as a Marxist dictator. Their irrationality and ignorance is a never ending source of wonder for me. One can be critical of Lincoln without being a crank, but overwhelmingly the criticism of Lincoln comes today from people who can at best be charitably described as cranks, although I think far worse terms would be usually more accurate.

  • As of now, there are 1,248 comments on Mr. Lowry’s article. I think the more provocative submissions at National Review generally garner a few score. Lowry is not an acerbic character, quite the contrary. One might suggest that people find that the thesis advanced implicates them in a very personal way.

  • I try to not hate anybody. The warden is making it really difficult.

  • Re: civil war to free slaves – I’m guessing that revolts don’t count. It does happen that slaves try to attain their freedom, but I don’t know of any other case where non-slaves rose up politically to free the slaves, leading to a civil war.

    Re: secession versus revolution – That’s seems like a distinction without a difference. The Americans (rightly) believed that their government no longer represented them, and they split from it. The Confederates (wrongly) believed the same.

  • I didn’t think National Review hds 1,248 readers.

    I learn something every day. Today, I learned about the “common ground” between Nat Turner’s gang and the Northern Army.

  • You publish something critical of fringe history, you get 1,248 readers per second, all of them angry.

  • I guess this is what happens when you insist on viewing the 19th century with 21st-century colored glasses. Conservative/libertarian Lincoln bashing comes down to, IMO, any of several things:

    1. A genuine conviction that the Nation would be better off if states had the right to secede, given the overweening power that the Federal government holds today.

    2. An assumption that any historical figure that Obama praises and compares himself to must be evil.

    3. A conviction that nothing good can possibly come from Illinois.

    4. A wish that the South had won the Civil War, either for cultural reasons or due to latent or not-so-latent racism that ultimately believes blacks should have been “kept in their place”.

    5. An assumption that “if it would be wrong for the Federal government to declare war on the states now, it must have been wrong then,” ignoring the vast differences between the current and past situations. That would be kind of like assuming that if it would be wrong to amputate a perfectly healthy limb, it must be wrong to perform said operation in ANY situation.

  • The Right, which (unlike its benighted leadership) is increasingly agitated about illegal immigration and the gang’s-of-eight efforts to put one over on the rest of the country, will be warming up to Lincoln in the decades to come with or without Lowry’s efforts.

    After all, the slaveholders were the Antebellum equivalent of the big-business interests now supporting the gang-of-eight — more concerned with cheap exploitable labor than they are about the well-being of their “workers” or the long-term prospects for this country. Ironically, despite all the efforts to pry the Confederate flag out from Billy-Bob’s cold, dead fingers, he might yet decide to pack that thing away on his own volition.

Misappropriating Burke

Thursday, May 2, AD 2013

One of the most tiresome and repeated tricks I see in political discourse is right-leaning moderates using Edmund Burke’s name in justifying big government conservatism. The latest to use Burke’s name to justify political moderation is Peter Berkowitz in his book Constitutional Conservatism: Liberty, Self-Government, and Political Moderation. Here’s a blurb from the book.

The first entrenched reality is that the era of big government is here to stay. This is particularly important for libertarians to absorb. Over the last two hundred years, society and the economy in advanced industrial nations have undergone dramatic transformations. And for three-quarters of a century, the New Deal settlement has been reshaping America’s expectations about the nation-state’s reach and role. Consequently, the U.S. federal government will continue to provide a social safety net, regulate the economy, and shoulder a substantial share of responsibility for safeguarding the social and economic bases of political equality…..the attempt to dismantle or even substantially roll back the welfare and regulatory state reflects a distinctly unconservative refusal to ground political goals in political realities.”

And here’s a blurb from Harvey Mansfield.

Peter Berkowitz makes a match between Edmund Burke and the American Founders to give ‘political moderation’ a good name on our partisan battlefield. A short, effectual book with shining prose, a telling argument, and a lasting message. –Harvey C. Mansfield, Harvard University

Jeffrey Lord takes on Berkowtiz as well as Jennifer Rubin, Joe Scarborough and others who are preaching the value of capitulation moderation. As usual, Lord does a fantastic job of eviscerating the case for moderation. First, addressing the blurb quoted above, Lord writes:

So the New Deal is now the Founding principle of America? And attempts to “dismantle or even substantially” roll back the New Deal “reflects a distinctly unconservative refusal to ground political goals in political realities”?


Even Bill Clinton waxed Reaganesque when he said in that famous 1995 State of the Union message that “the era of Big Government is over.”

Berkowitz’s thinking — which Rubin shares — is a pluperfect example of what led a couple generations of American leaders to believe the Soviet Union was here to stay. Those were the folks rolling their eyes in their supposed sophistication when President Reagan insisted the Soviets were headed to the “ash heap of history.” Only to watch astonished as the Berlin Wall came down followed shortly thereafter by the Soviet flag over the Kremlin. Precisely as Reagan predicted.

Lord further examines how this bedrock principle and the programs created by the New Deal are crashing around us. As he writes:

The fact of the matter is that the New Deal is imploding all around us. With all manner of experts repeatedly warning the U.S. is being relentlessly driven towards a financial cliff, with entitlement spending on track to eventually consume first the defense budget before polishing off the entire federal budget. The fact that Democrats are tying themselves to the equivalent of an unexploded political IED is their decision.

But what, pray tell, is moderate, Republican or conservative about accepting the idea that America is headed irrevocably to bankruptcy and chaos?

There’s much more at the link as Lord explains how the social consensus keeps moving the left. “Moderation,” therefore, will only lead to more government control and, eventually, less freedom.

Jeff Goldstein also discusses Lord’s article and has more insights as well.

Lord and Goldstein both do great jobs of explaining the problems with Berkowitz’s position, but I want to focus on the admittedly more academic point, and that’s Berkowitz’s misappropriation of Burke.

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5 Responses to Misappropriating Burke

  • whenever Burke or Kirk are cited today (and they seem to be cited interchangeably by select people,) 99% of the time what follows is “I’m for the liberal position, and here’s a conservative-sounding reason why” only maybe taking it a bit slower. In that case, what’s the point — why should liberals agree that society should move slower toward the goal if you’re accepting their conclusion anyway, and why should conservatives accept the conclusion.

    Political ideologies should have come to a defined set of things that they either do/don’t accept, period, although obviously some issues are a little more complex depending on the situation. Maybe this makes politics too much like religion but far as I can see it’s the only way conservatism can avoid playing perennial catch-up to liberalism, and looking stupid protesting a change but later conceding to it.

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  • Those seeking to use Burke as a defense of Big Government need to ponder this section of Burke’s speech on Conciliation With America:

    “For, in order to prove that the Americans have no right to their liberties, we are every day endeavouring to subvert the maxims which preserve the whole spirit of our own. To prove that the Americans ought not to be free, we are obliged to depreciate the value of freedom itself; and we never seem to gain a paltry advantage over them in debate, without attacking some of those principles, or deriding some of those feelings, for which our ancestors have shed their blood.”

  • Midge Decter used to chide Richard John Neuhaus thus: “you don’t think low enough”. Consider the possibility that Scarborough is doing what he was hired to do. (One might suggest the same of Rubin, but the Washington Post Writers Group was at one time (still?) the home of George Will as it was for the two most capable liberal opinion journalists of the last three decades, Henry Mitchell and Richard Cohen).

    Betwixt and between, Dr. Berkowitz alludes to something true. In 1929, public expenditure amounted to 9.5% of gross domestic product. Reproducing the sort of political economy congenial to a metric like that would be the sustained work of a generation or more. What that metric would incorporate would be allocations to the military of Canadian dimensions, paying down most of the public debt, reducing public expenditure on law enforcement and the courts to shares found in 1980 or thereabouts (when the homicide rate was twice what it is today), limiting welfare spending to foster care and nursing homes, quite possibly ending public education, &c.

    Dr. Berkowitz sketched out some of his ideas years ago in an article and the whole project sounded inane, something I would be far to lazy to attempt to digest if distended to the length a 250 monograph. Could one of you with patience and a head for political theory give us a summary of just how Edmund Burke’s writing justifies the budget of the USDA or HUD, or covering Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac deficits for a half generation, or putting sometime lawyer Barack Obama and lapsed academic Steven Chu in the venture capital business?

Jack Kerouac, John Lennon & Bob Marley All Embraced Traditional Faith & Values In Their Latter Days

Sunday, December 2, AD 2012

Their stories are as old as time but worth repeating in this present age where so many seem to think they are too smart for God, religion and all of His love and grace. I must admit that being a fan of contemporary music and literature, I threw the stories of Jack Kerouac, John Lennon and Bob Marley’s late in life embrace of faith and tradition into my book without giving it much thought. However, I am surprised to find that so many who have read or perused my just released book, The Catholic Tide Continues to Turn have stated that they were not familiar with these stories and found them very revealing. Perhaps it is because our rebellious society has lionized figures who want to throw out God or just leave him as far distant as possible. Yet all three men realized that the traditional values, in which they were raised and the love of God they were once shown, was too important to forever jettison.

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24 Responses to Jack Kerouac, John Lennon & Bob Marley All Embraced Traditional Faith & Values In Their Latter Days

  • Thanks for this, I’m going to have to buy your books! i tried reading a biography of Kerouac and threw it away in disgust before I even got half way through; all that ‘behaviour’ with Ginsberg, Burroughs, et al. It put me off his books too, which I had enjoyed in my rebellious youth. This sheds a new light on him, for which I’m grateful; it’s never nice to have to give up on someone.

  • There has been much discussion of the “Catholic turn” in French philosophy, i.e., the way in which the most original and prominent thinkers of contemporary France seem to function within Catholic horizons: the philosophers René Girard, Pierre Manent, Jean-Luc Marion, Rémy Brague and Chantal Delsol, along with the writers Michel Tournier, Jean Raspail, Jean D’Ormesson, Max Gallo and Denis Tillinac.

    The Faith is alone capable of answering the existential challenges posed by modernity and post-modernity and more and more people are recognising this.

  • Now if you could get more than 3% of the population of France into Mass on Sunday …

  • I suspect that John Lennon had a bit more of a conservative/traditional streak than people think as evidenced by his rejection of the “overpopulation” propaganda of the time:

    Is it possible that one reason we don’t hear more about Lennon’s conservative leanings is because Yoko Ono, who has spent the last 30 + years as the keeper of his legacy a la Jackie Kennedy, wasn’t completely on board?

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  • Lennon also stated in his last interview that he was a “most religious fellow”, and that he had come to appreciate what Christ had taught in his parables. He had outgrown the childish nihilism of “Imagine”. It’s a shame that so few people knew about this.

  • Sources please? What are your sources?

  • I heard this many years ago about John Lennon, but rarely is it mentioned. Let’s hope he’s at peace with the Lord. Even in his earlier days I never felt that he was evil, just very confused. Unfortunately, his “Imagine” is still used as a socialist national anthem. I’m sure he regrets it. Also, from what I’ve read, Bob Dylan too has embraced Our Lord, though he keeps a very low profile these days.

  • Elaine, yes the whole Yoko question is one that might never be truly answered, but it certainly seems both John and Yoko were headed in very different political and religious directions. Pete, the book has extensive endnotes that reference the sources for this and every other segment of the book.

    Siobhan, Bob Dylan has always been somewhat of an enigma. After the 1963 March on Washington, he became disillusioned by the Left and some on the Left became upset at his lack of support for their causes. He never ranted against God or any particular faith as did some of his generation. In addition long before his Christian Slow Train Coming period, Dylan had lyrical references to God. Incidentally, the Slow Traing Coming album might be the finest religious album ever written and recorded by a non-religious oriented artist. Today Bob Dylan seems to be part of a Messianic Jewish group, but I am not sure anyone really knows.

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  • Imagine! John Lennon in heaven.

  • Pingback: Jack Kerouac, John Lennon & Bob Marley All Embraced Traditional Faith & Values In Their Latter Days | The American Catholic « Servus Fidelis: the faithful servant
  • I, too, have never heard about these men embracing traditional Christianity in the latter part of their lives. I am interested to learn more.

  • I read an article recently that discussed how Andy Warhol lived a devout Catholic life, though he was surrounded by people who liked to party. This was a complete surprise to me. It was a very interesting article. I recommend doing an internet search on the topic.

  • As Pete says, sources please! I have to be frank: I don’t believe any of this. It sounds too good to be true. It sounds to hard to believe. It sounds like urban myth. Please provide sources with quotes.

  • I have to admit to being slightly stunned. I have been writing articles here and other Catholic sites, as well as political sites like the National Reivew, for some time. However, never have I been sought out in this demanding of a manner, via e-mail and other communications to provide details for the sourcing of this article. The lack of faith in the conversion of souls is rather revealing. As I indicated in a previous post, this information is thoroughly provided in the endnotes of my book. However, here are a couple of links for those who fall into the category of a Doubting Thomas. Read and believe!

  • This is truly amazing. I was a huge fan of Dylan, Marley, and Lennon in high school and college. They all certainly pined for something greater than themselves in many (not all) of their songs and lyrics. Marley got me interested in the Psalms in a better way than the Christian rock music of my day, and Dylan’s Slow Train Coming stopped my in my path. After I commented to my friend’s roommate how much I loved that STC and why it was so relatively unknown, he simply said that Dylan’s music producers thought it was just too Christian or religious and they just did want to promote it. It took Dylan years to get the songs released, he explained to me.

    I am forwarding the article to all of my 80s and 90s hipster siblings. I was just so heartneded to hear Lennon reject the overpopulation myth as presented in his time. And I like how he just rejected the interviewer’s snarky retort. Thank you so much!

  • I believe it was Fulton Sheen who said that at the end of time, we’ll be surprise to see who the Lord will put to the right and who to the left. Another rock star that comes to mind is Jim Morrison, who on the surface, was a pretty bad dude (though in my younger years I was a fan of his.) I read that after he died in Paris, they discovered notebooks of his “poetry” which were later published, though one notebook they found he wrote on every page, “God help me, God help me” over and over again. Now did the evil one snatch him away before he was able to convert, or did God hear his cry and take him? Time will tell.

  • Excellent post Siobhan, Jim Morrison is one of those figures that electrifies the militant secualr left, for to them the Lizard King seems to be thumbing his nose at God or worse throughout his life. To see him scribble and plead for God to help him shows humility, another characteristic the militant secular left hates. We could go on and on about major rock stars coming full circle. For example Rick Wakeman of Yes, who not only plays benefits for Conservative Party candidates in his native England, but also has embraced his childhood church.

    If more of these stories became known, it would be blow the lid off the facade that our popular culture has tried to cultivate about faith and traditional values.The idea of John Lennon challenging Jesus or Jim Morrison getting arrested for lewd behavior on state behavior in Miami is the kind of thing the militant secular powers that be want us to remember. They don’t want to see the late in life humility shown by Lennon and Morrison and their pleas for God’s help.

  • “I was a huge fan of Dylan, Marley, and Lennon in high school and college. They all certainly pined for something greater than themselves in many (not all) of their songs and lyrics.”

    That is a quality I see in the much-maligned “Imagine” — Lennon’s attempt to envision an un-fallen world, where there would be no NEED for religion in the sense of conscious submission to beliefs or morality (it would “come naturally” to us), or nations, or possessions; where there would seem to be “no heaven” since it would be one with earth, and “no hell” because no one would go there. Of course where he went wrong was in thinking this un-fallen world could be produced purely by human effort — sort of like a child thinking that all that mumbo-jumbo about aerodynamics and airplanes was bunk and people could fly just fine without it if they simply flapped their arms hard enough.

  • Imagine there’s no Heaven. It’s easy if you try. No Hell below us, above us only sky. Imagine all the people, living for today. You, you may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one. I hope some day you’ll join us. And the world will be as one. -John Lennon.

    It’s a beautiful message. But I think it’s a little late to start claiming John Lennon for the “Traditional Religion” Team of Heavenly Pick-up Basketball.

  • Russ, you might want to check your facts. Imagine was written and recorded in 1971. John Lennon started having doubts about his utopian views by the mid 1970s. As referenced in my book, “The Catholic Tide Continues to Turn” through various sources including the links below among others, by the mid 1970s Lennon had a serious change of heart about his political and religious views. It was a full fledge change of heart by the late 70s.

  • Jean-Louis Kirouac (as baptized) and the sad reality of the mythical Jack Kerouac.

    It is on page 143 of “One and Only – The untold story of On The Road” (Gerald Nicosia & Anne Marie Santos – Viva Editions) ) that one can find the most paradoxal photo of Jack Kerouac, taken in his bedroom while looking through his photo collection of his girl friends. On the wall, in a little black frame, the Black Cross of Temperance; hanging from the luminaire, his black Rosary.

    But all that has not kept him from rejecting before her birth his only and legitimate daughter Janet (Jan) Michele Kerouac (from Joan Heverty, his second wife), an abandonned child to whom he left knowingly a whole hell of misery and sufferings.

    But it is with that myth called ON THE ROAD, written in a long fit of frustration that poor Jack continues to mystify all his fans. Read One and Only and Kerouac will never be the same… for the worst and the best.

  • “Help Me To Help Myself” – demo not included on Double Fantasy album but produced as part of that project.

    Well, I tried so hard to settle down
    But the angel of destruction keeps on houndin’ me all around
    But I know in my heart
    The leaves are shining in the sun,
    That we never realy parted.
    Oh no, oh, help me, Lord,
    Oh, help me, Lord,
    Please, help me, Lord, yeah, yeah,
    Help me to help myself,
    Help me to help myself.

    They say the Lord helps those who helps themselves,
    So I’m asking this question in the hope that you’ll be kind
    ‘Cause I know deep inside
    The leaves are shining in the sun,
    I was never satisfied
    Oh no, oh, help me, Lord,
    Please, help me, Lord, yeah, yeah
    Help me to help myself,
    Help me to help myself.

    Who knows?

5 Responses to Conservatism is Calling

  • Aside from sowing amorality, every opposite of civility, and encouraging vile, foul bigotry; he set up the following from Gateway as a loud and clear call for the economy.

    ‘ It’s Come to This… Obama: “Some Of The Businesses We Encourage Will Fail” (Video)

    Posted by Jim Hoft on Thursday, November 1, 2012, 12:25 PM

    The definition of a failed administration–

    Barack Obama told Wisconsin voters today:
    “Some of the businesses we encourage will fail.”

    Oh well, at least Obama’s donors got paid.
    80% of DOE dollars went to Obama backers.

    Over 19 of Obama’s green ventures went belly-up after receiving billions of dollars.
    Heritage reported:

    For those who only hear about these failing companies one by one, the following is a list of all the clean energy companies supported by President Obama’s stimulus that are now failing or have filed for bankruptcy. The liberal media hopes you’ve forgotten about all of them except Solyndra, but we haven’t.

    Evergreen Solar
    Solyndra (received $535 million – now bankrupt)
    Beacon Power (received $43 million)
    AES’ subsidiary Eastern Energy
    Nevada Geothermal (received $98.5 million)
    SunPower (received $1.5 billion)
    First Solar (received $1.46 billion)
    Babcock & Brown (an Australian company which received $178 million)
    Ener1 (subsidiary EnerDel received $118.5 million)
    Amonix (received 5.9 million)
    The National Renewable Energy Lab
    Fisker Automotive
    Abound Solar (received $400 million)
    Chevy Volt (taxpayers basically own GM)
    Solar Trust of America ($2.1 billion federal loan guarantee – now bankrupt)
    A123 Systems (received $279 million)
    Willard & Kelsey Solar Group (received $6 million)
    Johnson Controls (received $299 million)
    Schneider Electric (received $86 million)

    That’s 19 (that we know of so far). We also know that loans went to foreign clean energy companies (Fisker sent money to their overseas plant to develop an electric car), and that 80% of these loans went to President Obama’s campaign donors.

    And, Obama hopes you’ll believe this is a success story. ‘

  • 1st Samuel 8:7-8:

    7 The Lord said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them. 8 Like all the deeds which they have done since the day that I brought them up from Egypt even to this day—in that they have forsaken Me and served other gods—so they are doing to you also…”

    That’s the problem – the whole and entire problem. We have rejeced the Lord as our Law Giver, our King and our Judge, and now Government comes to fill the void. An evil man like Obama could have no power except that we gave it to him, just as King Saul would have had no power except that the Children of Israel demanded a King like that of other nations. Well, we got our King Saul – we got a leader just like the socialist nations of Europe.

  • Paul-
    A return of the king is underway.
    I’m not speaking of His second coming.
    I’m speaking of the increase in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. An increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
    The pendulum is swinging back to center.
    Our NW Michigan community just experienced a successful Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration campaign. Over 750 adorers have pledged to take a holy hour. Our goal was to have two adorers for each hour of each day of the week.
    The Holy Spirit came through big time.
    I know we have churches being sold and many struggling parishes throughout the country yet the armor of God is being requested.
    Is this what it takes to wake up the soldiers?
    The HHS mandate- the attack and cover-up on 9/11/12 – the endless deficit?
    I hope their awake and focused to depose the radical king on Tuesday.
    And then ask for forgiveness from Christ our King for our blatant refusal to follow Him.

  • Thank you, Philip. I need reminding about Who is still on the Throne.

  • Paul-
    Your welcome. I enjoy your tremendous faith and intellect of which I am humbled.
    Our Bishop Bernard Hebda will be celebrating the mass on Nov.25th at the opening of our program for Perpetual E.A. at St. Francis where The King will be open to all adorers.
    That date is the feast day of Jesus Christ the KING!

    Praise Him the everlasting Lamb of God.

Question: If they trust women, why don’t they trust mothers?

Wednesday, May 30, AD 2012

SHOCKER: Teens need their mothers. Mothers can help their daughters. Even in crisis.

There’s an article forthcoming in the journal Economic Inquiry by Professors of Economics, Joseph Sabia and Daniel Rees, that shows parental notification or consent laws are associated with a 15 to 25 percent reduction in suicides committed by 15- through 17-year-old women. The researchers analyzed National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health data collected from 1987 to 2003 and found results that are consistent with the hypothesis that laws requiring parental involvement increase the “expected cost of having unprotected sex,” and, consequently, protect the well-being of young females. (Hey, they’re economists.)

Here’s the reasoning, taken from this paper by the same authors.

  • Researchers have already found, using state-level data from 1981 through 1998, that parental involvement laws reduced teen gonorrhea rates 12 to 20 percent among teen females. (Klick and Strattman, 2008)
  • Other recent studies provide evidence that female adolescents who become sexually active at an early age are more likely to suffer from the symptoms of depression. (Hallfors et al. 2004; Sabia and Rees 2008)
  • Research has shown that multiple sex partners increased the likelihood of substance abuse. (Howard et al. 2004)
  • It is also been found that adolescent females who had multiple sex partners were 10 times more likely to develop the symptoms of major depression than those who remained abstinent. (Hallfors et al. 2005)
  • There was no evidence of a similar relationship between male multiple partners and adolescent depression. (Hallfors et al. 2005)

So the hypothesis is: If parental involvement laws discourage minors from risky lifestyles that affect their physical health, then they would promote emotional health of teenage females as well. Analyzing suicide rates will give an indication since there have been many studies that link depression and suicide. The national suicide data was analyzed and that’s exactly what they found – a supporting correlation. Parental involvement laws correlate with fewer suicides. Further in support, there was no evidence of a similar relationship among male adolescents, and no correlation between parental involvement laws and suicide for older women because, well, neither group would be affected by those laws.

Makes sense, right? You’re probably thinking, “Did we need to pass those laws, wait and see what happened, and then count suicides?” No, we didn’t, and there’d be at least some justice if the people opposing those laws would take notice.

You’d think someone who really cares about women would be able to take an objective view of this data and consider it as an appeal to our collective conscience. You’d think someone who parrots, “Trust Women!” would be consistent enough to also trust mothers who are raising teens. When the state comes between teens and their parents, it just follows that the adolescents will not be as close to their parents as they ought to be.

This only affirms what we already know. Parents of teen girls can be trusted – should be trusted for the psychological benefit of a daughter in crisis. The abortion advocate community doesn’t seem as concerned about young women, though, as they are about politics and agendas. They instead say that people just want to make it harder for teens to have abortions, and that teens have a “fear of abuse” from unrelenting parents. Oh, and they’ll say something about how correlation doesn’t equal causation, revealing that they either are ignorant of analytical methods or, even worse, knowledgeable of them but dishonest when the results don’t fit their predetermined conclusions. Some will even say that teen women should be trusted to make their own decisions even when the decision for these desperate young women is to end their own lives. Of course, we all know why Planned Parenthood doesn’t want the parents involved. Ac$e$$ to abortion.

So I have a little hypothesis of my own. I predict (but would love to be proven wrong) that not a single abortion advocate will come forward and honestly reassess parental consent laws even though there is no body of data to support their premise. Could they admit that maybe, just maybe, the default condition is not that most parents of teens are abusive. Imagine!

If they trust women, why can’t they trust mothers and fathers? Where does this automatic distrust of parents come from anyway? Perhaps there’s a cost associated with believing that a mother has the right to kill her own child in the womb, and that cost is faith in people to love their children unconditionally at any point in life, even during difficult times.

H/T:  Michael J. New at National Review

Image: Microsoft Powerpoint

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5 Responses to Question: If they trust women, why don’t they trust mothers?

  • Informed sexual consent, legal maturity, begins at emancipation, like voting, driving a car and signing any kind of contract. All persons’ unalienable, endowed civil rights are held in trust for them by God, by their parents and finally by the state, in this order. A minor person becomes a ward of the court if their parents neglect or abuse their civil, unalienable rights. The court acts “in loco parentis” in the best interest of the child. A minor child, without legal informed sexual consent to give becomes pregnant. Because of her pregnancy, the court declares that the legally minor, un-emancipated pregnant child to be emancipated by the very proof that the child is a minor and incapable of making legal decisions for herself, or of giving informed sexual consent, or valid consent to any surgical operation. The court overrides any parental notification by legally kidnapping a minor child by making the minor, pregnant child a ward of the court by declaring the child emancipated by the fact of her pregnancy without proper notification of the child’s parents, who have a naturally vested legal interest in the child. The court does this to a child who may be pregnant and does so to abort the child’s parents’ grandchild.
    Overriding naturally vested parental rights entrusted to parents innocent of any proved wrongdoing is contrary to American jurisprudence and constitutes legal kidnapping by the state, false imprisonment and restraint.

  • A great post.

    “Where does this automatic distrust of parents come from anyway?”

    I think maybe distrust of parents comes along with the strengthening of the “youth culture”. Maybe some of it comes from whole gnerations going to public schools and getting together with their peer posses. When they were educated at home things were a bit different and maybe mom and dad ‘s opinion had a stronger influence.

    Charles is in charge. Two year olds are in charge.
    The two First Children of the POTUS are in charge. What do you decide about gay marriage girls? Ok.

    Children are a target market; recognized at economic deciders in families. TV and movies are more and more juvenile because that is who the customers are.

  • To be fair, there are some appalling parents out there, and many girls who have abortions got into trouble in the first place because they didn’t have trustworthy parents. But.

    But for the pure and simple public health and safety of minors, parental consent needs to be secured for any kind of serious medical event, much less for abortion. If I were pro-choice, I’d want parents to at least have as much control over abortion as over teeth cleaning.

  • I think parents who prove that they can be trusted have children who trust them. I’ve seen people with open and loving relationships and it comes from parents willing to listen instead of lecturing. If you want that kind of relationship with your child that they will come to you, you need to be the kind of person that someone would want to go to for advice. Anyone, not just your child. If you have proven yourself to be judgmental, you cannot blame a child for not going to you for advice, or with their problems. after all, would YOU go to a friend with your problems if you knew rather than listen to you they were going to force their values on you rather than take yours into account?

22 Responses to Paul Ryan and Catholic Social Teaching (Roundup)

  • It’s been a while since you’ve posted here Chris.

  • While not perfect, Ryan offers a vision that is not contrary to CST. He does seem to get it wrong when he equates subsidiarity with Federalism. However, Federalism does not seem contrary to the concept of solidarity or subsidiarity and so seems a reasonable position to hold. In fact his error seems less eggregious than the one of equating solidarity with increased state involvement, increased taxes etc. So perhaps a B+ in his understanding. (Perhaps a good a grade as most clerics unfortunately would receive.)

    A solid A however, for offering a position which is consistent with CST and challenges those who believe CST is merely a theological formulation of leftist programs or fringe, quasi-economic theories.

  • In Ayn Rand more than anyone else, did a fantastic job of explaining the morality of capitalism, the morality of individualism, and this to me is what matters most.

    Yeah, because those are two points that are really popular to defend outside of the libertarian circles and the standard Crazy Old Uncle….

    If folks have an issue with Ryan’s claim, please– explain who does it better? Not like ‘capitalism’ as a label is all that old; it’s not like the religious calls to groups over individuals haven’t been co-opted for political aims.

    I’m not going to hold my breath for a Bishop to defend the dignity of the poor when it comes to not being treated like house pets.

  • The best defense of the Ryan budget is this quote from Adam Smith:

    “When national debts have once been accumulated to a certain degree, there is scarce, I believe, a single instance of their having been fairly and completely paid. The liberation of the public revenue,if it has ever been brought about at all, has always been brought about by bankruptcy; sometimes by an avowed one, but always by a real one, though frequently by a pretend payment.”

    We reduce expenditures radically, or ultimately our economy will take a blow that we will be decades recovering from. I guarantee that in such a circumstance the poor will suffer more than any of us.

  • “We reduce expenditures radically, or ultimately our economy will take a blow that we will be decades recovering from. I guarantee that in such a circumstance the poor will suffer more than any of us.”

    This is one way to state the obvious. There is saying I used to hear all the time during my Navy days was that” S@#t rolls down hill.” I would have to say that principle applies here.

  • Note that it is possible to be guided by Catholic social teaching (which, as far as I can tell, is all that Ryan actually claimed) yet arrive at a conclusion the bishops find unsatisfactory.
    This is Ryan’s job – he undoubtably knows more about the facts and constraints of the problems than do the bishops. Many would like a solution that continues to fund entitlements as they are, but actual facts and constraints dictate that it is not possible to do that.
    The comments about ‘failing to protect the dignity of the poor’ sounds like a reflexive response. Many government programs erode that dignity; we are long overdue for an examination of the harmful effects that result. For example, school-lunch programs have expanded so much that they now cover multiple meals per day and almost everyone is eligible. Doesn’t this erode the dignity of parenthood, by removing the responsibility of feeding your own children?
    Many objected to welfare reform, too, decades ago…

  • Well, they didn’t exactly say Ryan is starving little children.

    The bishops don’t understand. The government is the problem.

    Case in point: in the first quarter 2012, the national debt expanded to $15.6 trillion. That is higher than the US gross domestic product for that date; and 1.5-times the percentage growth rate growth rate of the evil, unjust private sector GDP for which the Obama regime needs four more years to compete its destruction. Add to that unfunded commitments at the federal, state, county, and municipal levels and it’s HUGE.

    The national debt and local requirements will impoverish our children and grandchildren.

    Additionally, Re: Matthew 25 (it’s only in Matthew) doesn’t read: “I was hungry and you voted for Obama (fed me), I was thirsty and you attacked a Catholic Congressman (gave me to drink), . . . You get it.

    At the Final Judgment (Matt. 25): if you did it with other people’s money, it was not Charity.

  • Pingback: The Ryan Budget and Catholic Social Teaching « Blogs For Victory
  • It’s precisely the way he has handled the Ayn Rand story that gives me pause on defending him. It appears to me that he wants to pretend that he never held her up as a model, but the record shows otherwise. When I see Paul Ryan defending life and marriage with as much passion as he defends the dollar, I’ll be more apt to be convinced.

  • [Foxfier] “If folks have an issue with Ryan’s claim, please– explain who does it better?”

    The problem for me is that there’s too much baggage attached to ‘Atlas Shrugged’ to see a Catholic politician promoting it to the extent that Ryan has. Recalling my tortured reading, I found it to be thinly-veiled propaganda piece in which Rand’s own Objectivism is piled on pretty heavily. Egoism reigns supreme. For me, it’s difficult to extract from Rand’s book a “morality of capitalism” that isn’t already tainted by her own philosophy and anthropology. It wasn’t just the left that opposed Rand’s philosophy, but mainstream conservatism as well

    As far as individuals who Ryan might have praised as having articulated an ethic of democratic capitalism, Ryan would have made a better impression if he mentioned F.A. Hayek, Milton Friedman, or better yet, Michael Novak (The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism) and John Paul II’s Centesimus Annus.

    For Ryan to consistently wax evangelical about Ayn Rand’s and Atlas Shrugged through the past decade, only to suddenly in the past week have an about-face and disclaim that her philosophy is wholly “anti-thetical to his own” strikes me as a bit … “opportune”. Why now? — well, if genuine I’m happy about his sudden revelation.

    That said, with respect to Paul Ryan’s work in Washingon — his budget proposals, his spearheading the critique of Obamacare at the health care summit, et al., I’m supportive. Clearly, he’s one of the few who actually gives a damn about where this country is headed and wants to do something about it. To those who criticize his efforts on the budget, I agree with Professor Garnet: the onus is on them to respond to the challenges that he identifies.

    [Greg] “It’s been a while since you’ve posted here Chris.”

    Thanks. Work has been crazy, but I’m appreciative to still have the opportunity. =)

  • Fully agreed, Don (on Ryan’s pro-life record).

  • Agreed with Lisa and Christopher on their qualms re: Ryan and Atlas Shrugged. I’ve written about the book before, and there is little redeeming about the tome. As Christopher said above, there are plenty of other great works that defend capitalism much more concisely and thoroughly without being morally objectionable. That said, Ryan’s record demonstrates a solid commitment to social issues as well.

  • All I know is that letting capitalism work and a free market system seemed to create enough income for our fairly large family with enough to share with those less fortunate, the pro-life cause, Native American needs. Now since the sewage of government intervention continually seeps into every aspect of our operation we have less money, therefore less time as we have to work more off the farm jobs, longer hours for much less and are so tired we are having a hard time keeping up with any of it.
    surely you cannot think that Paul Ryan’s plan would not take care of those truly in need. That’s what the goal should be. It might be hard for people at first but if the country could get back to work and real earned income came back into the system we might be able to pull out of this. As long as we continue to be socially engineered we haven’t got a chance. I still don’t understand how BO got elected in the first place. Gotta go, have to change light bulbs in the barn, and put soap in the milkhouse sink or we’ll get kicked off Grade A. “rules” ya better not break or the “inspectors” will make your life miserable.

  • Christopher B-
    I didn’t say “articulated an ethic of democratic capitalism,” I specifically quoted the explaining the morality of capitalism, the morality of individualism.

    Others may do a better job in covering the technicalities and whys and all the things that are important once you have the idea, but Rand is accessible to those who don’t already agree.
    Terry Pratchett has a running joke about “That is a very graphic analogy which aids understanding wonderfully while being, strictly speaking, wrong in every possible way”. The more I teach folks, the more that makes perfect sense.

    Incidentally? Searching on Bing for “The Spirit of Democratic Populism” brings up zero results.

    The other examples that come to mind are Animal Farm and the various movies that have clones as main characters who are going to be killed for their organs. Inaccurate. Drama over accuracy, and world view taints them…but they humanize a view enough for people to consider the reality.

  • Yes, Rep. Ryan’s about-face is peculiar (to put it gently), but here’s hoping.

    It’s probably giving Rand entirely too much credit to call her “philosophy” a philosophy, though her enthusiasts certainly wax flatulent in their praise of her “insights.” One called her the “corrector of Aristotle,” which makes me profusely thank God that I did not have a beverage making its way to my innards at the time.

    In fact, it’s best to think of Rand as the distaff half of the coin to L. Ron Hubbard, as I said to the misguided Rand groupie. The parallels are interesting:

    both were moderately talented (if woefully unedited) writers. Each wrote science fiction, or at least future-oriented fiction, and each enjoyed considerable success in the 50s. Both developed grandiose notions about their competence outside of the field of fiction writing, and each developed what they regarded as systematic wholistic philosophies for living and interacting with fellow humans. Both still have significant, if decidedly minority, followings today, and have followers who make unsupportable claims about their intellectual legacies and the applicability of their legacies to the problems of today.

    That said (and there was more than the simple motivation to zing Rand), I think it’s a little overblown to worry about someone getting ensnared into an objectivist worldview. It’s idiosyncratic, and only seems to have worked for an egotistical horny Russian emigre’ pulp writer of the female persuasion. Most will cull from it a few bits regarding the dangers of collectivism and move on. The rest can be ignored as they toil away in their cubicles.

  • Christopher B-
    found it, “The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism;” a political conversion story probably won’t change minds unless they’ve already been prepped to at least consider the idea that they could be wrong, and the emotional impact of a story tends to do that. (Side note: haven’t read any of Rand’s stuff, I can’t stand stories that are sermons before they’re stories, and folks whose taste I trust have told me that’s what she wrote. I just know that’s a strange turn of taste, and I know a large number of formerly unthinkingly leftist folks who are now slightly less unthinking libertarians because of Rand, and some who already went through that stage and are now fairly conservative, or at least think about why they think what they think.)

  • “a political conversion story probably won’t change minds unless they’ve already been prepped to at least consider the idea that they could be wrong”

    Perhaps. (Sorry for the ‘populism’ typo earlier, corrected). But to give some credit to Novak’s work — despite it being non-fiction, it has gone through a number of underground printings and being an inin then-socialist nations in the 80’s (Communist Poland, Czechoslovakia, etc.) and changed a few minds.

    I agree with your point — giving credit where it’s due, Atlas Shrugged has probably change quite a few minds from the left-wing socialist persuasion. Even so, Rand’s “capitalist ethic” insofar as it manifests itself in her fiction seems to me too irretrievably tainted by her pure egoism and materialism, leaving no room for altruisim (or even religion). There’s a reason why mainstream conservativism sought to distance itself from it upon publication (ex. Big sister is Watching You, Whittaker Chambers National Review 1957; or more recently, Paul’s own review).

    In the end, Ayn Rand’s fiction puts forth the worst kind of stereotype of “capitalism” (and the nature of the capitalist) that you could ask for — and insofar as we do Randian’s ethic is lauded as an ideal to be pursued, liberals couldn’t ask for anything better as a target.

    Hence not the kind of work I’d envision a professed Catholic peddling to the degree that Ryan has done over the years, so I’m relieved at hearing of his “repudiation” and hope for the best.

  • (Sorry for the ‘populism’ typo earlier, corrected).

    I insert totally different words related to a topic all the time, especially when I’m talking. Part of why I love typing instead– I can go back over and re-read in hopes of catching really bad examples. Probably some kind of diagnosable thingie, if I wasn’t just fine calling it me being all flutter-brains.

    In the end, Ayn Rand’s fiction puts forth the worst kind of stereotype of “capitalism” (and the nature of the capitalist) that you could ask for — and insofar as we do Randian’s ethic is lauded as an ideal to be pursued, liberals couldn’t ask for anything better as a target.

    Agreed– but it does so in a sympathetic way. I really wish that most folks my age were objective enough to not believe the worst stereotype of “the other side” was accurate, but that isn’t so; having a book that appeals to their existing tendencies while being Kabuki Heartless Capitalism is pretty effective. College libertarians aren’t great to be around, but they beat college anarchists.

  • The World cannot embrace the truth. If it could, capitalism would need no defense.

    Capitalism may be the worst economic system, except for all the others.

    Go to the historical record. Capitalism stands apart from other so-called economic systems. Anti-capitalist nations devolved into hell holes of universal envy and mass brigandage. They had one common denominator: command economy/socialism.

    Capitalism is the cure for poverty.

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  • I believe the criticisms of Paul Ryan and his admiration for Ayn Rand are examples of jumping to false conclusions or at least jumping to “false concerns.”

    Ryan is not inconsistent when he states being influenced by Rand’s economics, yet does not accept her philosophy in toto. Moreover, based upon what Ryan proposes, it should be obvious to even the casual reader that he goes way beyond anything that Rand would approve. How about letting these actions speak for themselves instead of lamenting over Ryan’s appreciation of Randian economic principles?

    As Aquinas was said to have “baptized” Aristotle, if you take all of what Ryan proposes, plus his pro-life and other Catholic stances, etc., you don’t have to conclude that he “baptizes” Rand, but he does find ways to take what Rand teaches (as well as others) and incorporate some of those insights into an approach consistent with Catholic teaching.

    But similar to the fallacy known as Reductio ad Hitlerum, some are jumping all over Paul Ryan in what might be called Reductio ad Ayn Rand despite the fact that Paul Ryan has distanced himself from many aspects of Randian philosophy that does not square with Catholic teaching. Ryan has made the distinctions clear, his actions illustrate this, and yet some people see his admiration for Ayn Rand economics as his defining characteristic, or it is considered to be very troubling.

    Here’s a logic-type question for all those who do not believe Ryan is “Catholic enough” in his economic philosophy because of his admiration for Randian economic libertarianism, and he “should” distance himself more from Rand:

    If Ryan’s appreciation for Ayn Rand is problematic because of some Randian views that do not square with Catholic teaching, then why is it not equally problematic to accept and even praise government involvement in various programs that help the poor to some extent, since the government champions many views that don’t square with Catholic teaching?

    Double Standard?

    Omnia Vincit Veritas

    P.S. I set forth a series of questions regarding “Moralnomics and the US Bishops” at my blog. If interested, you can check it out at:

It Takes A Family

Monday, February 27, AD 2012

I recently completed Rick Santorum’s It Takes A Family.  I quipped on Twitter that had I read this before the campaign started then Santorum would have been my top Rick pick before that other Rick entered the race (though I still maintain that Governor Perry would have been an outstanding nominee, but no need to go there).  At times Santorum slips into politician speak – you know, those occasions when politicians feel compelled to tell stories of individual people in order to justify some larger agenda.  And some of the book is a little plodding, especially when he gets into wonkish mode (which fortunately is not all that often).  Those quibbles asides, there are large chunks of this book that could very well have been written by yours truly.  That isn’t meant to be a commentary on my own genius, but rather a way of saying I agree with just about everything this man has to say.

The book title really says it all.  The heart of Rick Santorum’s political philosophy is the family, meaning that to him strong families are the heart of any functioning society.  The family has been undermined both by big government programs and by the culture at large.  Santorum mocks the “village elders” who view more government programs as the solution to all problems.  Santorum acknowledges that many of the problems we face don’t have quick and easy fixes, and often no legislative action can be taken.  Santorum offers a series of small policy proposals that are aimed at giving parents and individuals in tough economic circumstances some tools to help, but he also emphasizes the doctrine of subsidiarity.  Ultimately we must rely principally on local institutions, starting with the family.

Santorum understands what even some on the right fail to appreciate, and that is we can’t divorce social issues from economics.  The breakdown of the family coincides directly with economic hardship.  If we want a healthier economy, we need healthier families.  It’s a central tenet of conservatism that is somehow ignored by large swathes of the political right.

His approach to politics can be summarized in a passage on page 341 of the hardback edition:

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10 Responses to It Takes A Family

  • What a contrast from “Dreams from My Father”. I’m voting for Rick tomorrow, May his tribe be blest.

  • By the grace and mercy of almighty God, Rick will be our next President.

  • I completely agree. If I was judging Santorum based on his books and speeches, voting for him would be trivial. The problem is his voting record does fit with what he says. Correction, doesn’t fit enough with what he says.

  • I think you make a good point here Kyle. I had a conversation last night with a Ron Paul supporter, who is a very faithful Catholic. His contentions with Rick are his support for Title X funding for Planned Parenthood (and other organizations who both provide contraception and perform abortions), his support for the Iraq War (which has been declared an unjust war by both JPII and BXVI) and his support for the use of torture. These are not pieces that mesh well with what Rick says and what he writes (and, for that matter, with the teachings of the Catholic Church). If it truly takes a family and public policies should emphasize that priority, why are we spending tax payer dollars on contraception? What assurances has he given us to prove that he will stick to his morals and principles when making public policy. He fell down on those principles when voting for Title X. George Bush talked great before his presidency, too. He didn’t deliver in dealing head on with the great social issues of our time.

  • I had a conversation last night with a Ron Paul supporter, who is a very faithful Catholic.

    Ah yes, Ron Paul supporters. I wonder what his thoughts are on the fact that Ron Paul is on record as saying that social issues should be completely off the table in this election, and that he’s basically serving no other purpose than to be Mitt Romney’s lapdog.

    his support for the Iraq War (which has been declared an unjust war by both JPII and BXVI)

    Are we really going to go down this road again where we act as though support for the Iraq war signals a break with Church teaching? Both of the popes opposed the war, it is true, but in so doing did not speak with the magisterial authority of the Church. They gave personal opinions on the matter. That is all.

    his support for the use of torture

    Only true if you consider the use of waterboarding as torture. I personally do, but it’s not an open and shut case (and NO, this is not an invitation to go down this rat hole again).

    If you’re looking for policy perfection in your candidates, you’re not going to get it. Every single politician is imperfect because all of them, contrary to the belief of some Obama voters, are human beings.

  • Thanks for the response, Paul and I’m with you on all you said. In fact, I mentioned much of this to him as well. Though I didn’t know that RP wanted all social issues off the table during the campaign.

    I guess I want to make sure that what he is saying is really what he’s going to try to give us. Funding contraception (especially giving funding to places that perform abortions) should not be allowable in his administration if he is going to try to shape this country into one that supports and promotes the family as the building block of this society.

    I believe he very well could, I just want to be reassured. His voting record doesn’t completely do that for me, but I also don’t see a better choice in the field.

  • Here’s Jay Anderson’s post talking about Ron Paul’s comments. Actually he called social issues a loser, but the sentiment is the same.

    I understand your concerns. One of the things to keep in mind is that these issues are more visible than they were during the time that Santorum was a Senator. President Santorum in 2013 would likely treat these funding considerations differently than Senator Santorum in 2003.

  • Just promising us one thing TAC, that whoever wins the nomination, if it is other than Santorum, that the end of the Obama regime is favored over internecine sniping.

  • Well, I can’t speak for my other bloggers, though I suspect most will work to defeat Obama. Personally, I have no intention of supporting Romney, but I will likely simply remain mute on the election.


Randians on the Right

Monday, February 13, AD 2012

Speaking as a former Rick Perry supporter, I promise you that not all of us are petulant brats.  I cannot speak for others, unfortunately.

Red State’s all-out assault on Santorum comes as no surprise.  This is a blog that perceives all who fail short of achieving purity as a conservative (whatever that’s supposed to mean) as heretics.  So they have taken a few incidents where Santoum fell short – and in some cases, he did cast a wrong vote or endorsed the wrong candidate – and have now transformed Santorum into some kind of statist.

The shrill attacks on Red State are to be expected.  What’s disappointing is seeing an otherwise insightful blogger like Ace of Spades hyperventilate ignorantly about Santorum.  What set Ace off was this comment by Santorum from much earlier in the campaign:

One of the things I will talk about that no president has talked about before is I think the dangers of contraception in this country, the whole sexual libertine idea … Many in the Christian faith have said, “Well, that’s okay … contraception’s okay.”

It’s not okay because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be. They’re supposed to be within marriage, for purposes that are, yes, conjugal … but also procreative. That’s the perfect way that a sexual union should happen. We take any part of that out, we diminish the act. And if you can take one part out that’s not for purposes of procreation, that’s not one of the reasons, then you diminish this very special bond between men and women, so why can’t you take other parts of that out? And all of a sudden, it becomes deconstructed to the point where it’s simply pleasure. And that’s certainly a part of it—and it’s an important part of it, don’t get me wrong—but there’s a lot of things we do for pleasure, and this is special, and it needs to be seen as special.

Ace is displeased:

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33 Responses to Randians on the Right

  • I don’t want to over-generalize here as there are obviously exceptions, but it’s hard to miss the deep resentment towards traditional morality expressed in certain quarters on the right, often by young, single individuals who are perhaps not as sympathetic to traditional conservatism as those who have moved on from that lifestyle.


    I’ve mentioned before– maybe not here, I’m not sure– but hard-line libertarianism seems to be ideology of choice for those who would be anarchists, but they like getting paid for their work.

    More sympathetically, it’s a lot easier to “win” with libertarianism– there are a few core beliefs, you don’t compromise on anything, and there’s not a lot of history to hold against it. It’s like “conservatism redesigned to use the liberal playbook.”

    Amusingly, I recently had a conversation with my husband that boiled down to him pointing out that people our age aren’t usually going to accept an obligation of the sort moral conservatism involves.

  • (You would not BELIEVE how much re-writing I put into those three paragraphs, and I’m still not quite satisfied. Five bucks says that someone shows up and decides to take offense, rather than trying to understand the point. I don’t think anyone would take the bet on your post, that’s a sucker’s bet.)

  • Paul:

    One major problem from a purely political perspective:

    One wants the GOP nominee to be able to rally the relevant camps within the GOP “big tent.”

    One of those is the libertarian-leaning portion, which at last look was about 15% of those who typically vote Republican.

    Now, the GOP-leaning libertarians are pro-life libertarians, largely. The Bill Mahr (or however that clod’s name is spelled) kind of “libertarians” define libertarianism so as to make it identical to libertinism, and all all going to vote for Obama in the end because they care only for sexual libertinism and not a whit for the liberty of the unborn or the infirm or for free markets.

    So it isn’t Santorum’s pro-life credentials that will turn off the libertarian-leaning portion of the GOP. Indeed, being pro-life is a requirement of libertarianism, if one is well-informed enough to know that a fetal human is a human.

    But Santorum has twice now stated his opposition to libertarians and libertarianism by saying they (and I quote) “believe in having no government.”

    This is a problem. It is basic ignorance of libertarianism.

    Libertarians don’t believe in no government. Libertarians believe in government’s use of violence or the threat thereof — which is to say, all government’s activity — to be limited to those areas of policy in which violence or the threat thereof is morally justified. And Libertarians believe that the only areas of policy in which violence or the threat thereof is morally justified are those involved in deterring, halting, or punishing the violation of one innocent person’s life, liberty, or property rights by another person or persons. Libertarians believe that policies directly involved with such violations offer clear and sufficient justification for violence or the threat thereof; policies indirectly or tenuously involved with such violations offer only tenuous justification for government action; and policies not even tenuously involved with such violations offer no justification for violence at all and therefore no justification for government activity.

    That’s it, in a nutshell.

    And it’s a view which resonates well with Catholic teaching in at least some ways. It recognizes that violence (whether done by an individual, or the armies of a nation-state, or by the police) is always something requiring extraordinary justification — like the requirements of a Just War. (It is morally nonsensical to have a very high threshold of justification for holding prisoner another nation’s soldiers captured at war, but a very low threshold of justification for arresting a man captured in peacetime activity.)

    I don’t think Santorum knows that this is the libertarian view. At least, his public pronouncements show no recognition of the existence of pro-life libertarians (not a majority, but a large minority). He shows no recognition of the distinction between libertarian and libertine. He shows no understanding of what libertarians think.

    And he shows no recognition of the notion that maybe something being a morally wrong thing is not, by itself, sufficient justification for outlawing it. Since outlawing it requires empowering government to use violence (to lock up those who do the morally wrong thing, and to shoot them if they try to escape), it must not merely be morally wrong, it must be morally wrong and of a character for which forcible opposition is fitting.

    Generally, that means a moral wrong which is, itself, forcible. Rape may be opposed by force; it is forcible. Theft may be opposed by force; it is forcible. Fraud may be opposed by force; it is forcible (for to make someone, through trickery, do what they otherwise would not have done is to wield intellectual force over them). Violation of legitimate contract is fraud and is therefore forcible.

    Libertarians support strong government to oppose all these kinds of evils. Santorum’s comments suggest he’s unaware of this.

    So I fear that 15% of the GOP electorate, if Santorum is the nominee, will be turned off and possibly turned away for no better reason than that Santorum is ignorant about them, and consequently believes statists’ popular libel against them.

    And libertarians (and libertarian-leaning conservatives) consequently begin to believe Santorum is a statist, who hopes not only to outlaw abortion (which he should) and Federal funding for Planned Parenthood (which he should) but also sales of condoms…all while caring not a whit about crony capitalism and corporate welfare. They begin to suspect that Santorum is fine with government using its compulsory power to pick winners, as long as they’re supporters of conservative causes.

    I don’t think a GOP nominee can win the general election, if he shows utter disregard for that whole arm of the Reagan coalition. (An increasingly larger and more youthful segment, please note.)

    So that’s a political problem. A very solvable one, I think, if the man would just show himself aware of libertarian concerns and sensitive to the moral limits of government activity, instead of just repeating ignorant misunderstandings about libertarians.

  • They need to understand that Obama must be stopped.

    That probably means nominating a GOP candidate that constantly emphasizes jobs, jobs; is not 100% of the time pounding for legalizing weed, ending all “entangling alliances”, and abolishing the Fed. Not that that is bad. But, those are not the main threats to our liberty and our way of life.

    The ones I know are really nice people. And, the Fed certainly needs to be pushed back to being the clearing house and lender of last resort for banks.

    If he gets another term, Obama pack the supreme court and repeal the Second Amendment, etc. Health care will permanently retard economic growth: you will look back on full-employment as a dream of your youth.

    If the libertarians are turned off by the GOP, Obama will get four more years to finish us off.

  • If the media can paint Santorum as a guy who wants to take away everyone’s pills and condoms, not only libertarians but many, many Protestant social conservatives (who make up the majority of socons in this country) will stay at home or vote against him. Do you think a married Baptist in Alabama who uses the Pill and sees nothing wrong with that is going to read Human Vitae or the Theology of the Body and come around to the Church’s position on BC? Heck, while I don’t believe the Guttmacher figures stating 97% of Catholics use artifical BC, let’s be honest – many, many of them do. Outside of the Tridentine Masses, I don’t see a lot of families with more than 3 kids.

    I agree that Ace willfully ignored evidence which shows Santorum is not going to ban BC; however, remember that just last week he wrote a great critique of the HHS directive. And I believe the man is pro-life as well. He’s way overreacting here, but I wouldn’t call him a heartless Randian.

    We are falling right into the trap being set for us by leftists, who want to turn the discussion away from the violation of religious freedom and make it into a debate about “ooooh, my, scary, weird Santorum wants to take your birth control pills away! The Catholics want to impose a theocracy!” That keeps the focus off of Obama’s dismal economic record.

  • Libertarians believe that the only areas of policy in which violence or the threat thereof is morally justified are those involved in deterring, halting, or punishing the violation of one innocent person’s life, liberty, or property rights by another person or persons.

    And yet the arch-typical figurehead, Ron Paul, disagrees with this when he wants to push actually killing the most innocent people possible down to a state level. About the only libertarians I know who have a sizable minority of pro-lifers are the Catholic ones; even my husband went from being a Republican leaning Libertarian to a libertarian leaning Republican before he was pro-life for non-tactical reasons.

    I’ll gladly admit some cynical amusement– as long as I’ve been politically aware, fiscal conservatives have been haranguing the “SoCons” about how they need to accept candidates who don’t agree with them on social issues to fight the liberals. Time for some Gander Sauce.

    Donna V-
    so we fight the lies the media puts out. What else would we do? We know they’re going to lie like a rug, and it looks like there are libertarian conservatives who will gladly help them spread the false claim that Santorum is coming for your Pill.

    The Catholics want to impose a theocracy!

    *lightbulb* Hey, isn’t that an angle they used against JFK?
    Can someone who actually remembers back then maybe cook up some sort of a response based on that?

  • “I’ll gladly admit some cynical amusement– as long as I’ve been politically aware, fiscal conservatives have been haranguing the “SoCons” about how they need to accept candidates who don’t agree with them on social issues to fight the liberals. Time for some Gander Sauce.”

    Yep. What you said, Foxfier.

  • Ron Paul is a fair-weather libertarian apparently. When asked about the imaginary “right to privacy” created in the Griswold case and brought to fruition in Roe v. Wade, all Paul could weakly say is that there IS a right to privacy, referring to the Fourth Amendment, which of course, specifically refers to the right against illegal search and seizure.

    Now, for such a staunch “constitutionalist” I find this very ironic.

  • I agree with Donna. The American people aren’t going to elect a guy President if he runs as an anti-contraception candidate. Saying that he only wishes to use the bully pulpit to speak out about the dangers of contraception is not, repeat not, going to reassure voters on this score. That’s not to say that Santorum is wrong on the issue. He’s not. But it’s still a view held by only a small minority of Americans. My hope is that Santorum understands this and that the comment Ace quoted was/will be an isolated lapse. Otherwise we could be in real trouble.

  • What Blackadder said. The administration is rocked back on its heels with the HHS mandate–focus on that as the social issue. Otherwise, stick with fighting on the economy and this administration’s cluelessness on it.

  • Santorum merely responds when asked about it that he supports Catholic teaching against contraception. He then notes that he has voted for government funding of contraception under TItle 10 and would not favor legislation seeking to ban contraception. The video below is from 2006:

  • Once again I will let noted Christian so-con Jeff Goldstein dismantle Ace’s arguments (language warning).

    Oh, and I see that Ace and his co-bloggers are doubling down today. Hell hath no fury like a blogger whose favorite candidate was scorned.

  • Let’s see., he says he stands by the Church teaching on contraception, but supported government funding of contraception. Sorry, Rick can’t have it both ways.

  • Of course you can Greg. I accept the teachings of the Church on divorce. That doesn’t mean if I were a legislator that I must lead a futile effort to ban divorce or strip funding from courts that hear divorce cases. I do appreciate the bleak humor of Santorum taking fire for being too hard and too soft on contraceptives. The simple truth is that there is no way on God’s green earth that contraceptives could be banned in this country at the present time, and that any candidate suggesting such would be committing political seppuku.

  • Mac, that would be a good politician.

    Santorum doesn’t have a chance.

    Obama can point to $1.81 gasoline prices the day before he took over and tout today’s $3.50 (earliest date gas hit that level)! It’ll probably be $5 a gallon by Summer. Yeah, that ought to him re-elected.

    Santorum doesn’t have a prayer.

    Obama can sing about improving unemployment rates when tent cities are rapidly expanding. That’ll get Obama re-elected.

    Hey, if they live in tents they don’t count.

    Walter Russell Mead: WH flubs BC compromise: “First the Obama administration managed to alienate both its liberal supporters and its religious critics by pushing and then pulling back its HHS contraception mandate. Now the White House has succeeded in hitting the political sour spot yet again by producing a compromise designed to placate the Catholic bishops…without consulting the Catholic bishops.”


  • Let’s see., he says he stands by the Church teaching on contraception, but supported government funding of contraception. Sorry, Rick can’t have it both ways.

    If the line item is in an appropriations bill that funds the entire foreign aid apparat, it does create rather a dilemma for the legislator (unless he favors dismantling the foreign aid apparat).

    We had a similar controversy here in New York many years ago when the question arose as to whether the Right-to-Life Party (now defunct) should refuse to endorse legislators who had voted in favor of passing the state budget. New York was the odd state that had retained Medicaid funding of abortions.

  • The American people aren’t going to elect a guy President if he runs as an anti-contraception candidate.

    Depends on who he is running against, and what the ambient circumstances are.

  • tom: The right to privacy extends to the womb. Nature’s God does not allow invasion of privacy of the unborn in the womb. Any attempt to abort the unborn is a violation of privacy in its truest sense. A murdered victim, whose body is concealed in a closet, warrants search to be rescued from the crime/crimnal without the proscribed legal warrant, because the person is dead but not annihilated. Any evidence collected from such a search without a legal warrant, revealing a murdered victim to be set free, rescued, is evidence admissible in a court of law through the sovereign personhood of the victim. Searches to find jewelry, art or anything that is not a person is illegal.

  • Oh, Don, you may accpet the teaching on divorce, but you certainly don’t understand it if you gonna go with that ridiculous line of reasoning. You see, the Church allows civil divorce. Look it up in Catechism if you don’t believe me. Not the same with contraception. I was not talking about leading an effort to criminalize contraception, but voting IN FAVOR of forcing taxpayers (many of whom are Catholics) to pick up the tab for people’s contraceptive use. This is really not much difference in substance with what the Obama administration’s HHS mandate.

  • P.S. In fact, diocesan tribunals require that petioners present a civil divorce decree before they will even begin to process requests for decree of nullity.

  • wE ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT CONTRACEPTION BAN. We are talking about the funding of contraception. On some level people using “the pill” know that it is wrong. It seems to me that they want to blame Santorum for their addiction to the pill. If they are honest, and Santorum removes funding for BC, they need to feel relief. It would not hurt if they realized that Obama’s math is different from their arithmetic. Funding for BC involves ten for Obama and one for the taxpayer. In this way, they could buy eleven times the BC for the cost of one from Obama. SANTORUM DOES NOT WANT TO BE AN ACCOMPLICE TO THEIR EMBOLISM.

  • Yeah, Ace has gone nuts on Santorum again today. I think I’ll be avoiding the HQ for a while. He did a lot of needlessly destroying of non-Perry candidates before he dropped out (I supported Perry to the bitter end. Sigh.) and now that he’s on the Romney bandwagon it’s death to the “unelectable” non-Romney’s. These threads are getting pretty vicious, too. And I’m seeing a lot of anti-Catholic and anti-general Christianity sentiment being expressed over there right now. Very disturbing.

  • “Oh, Don, you may accpet the teaching on divorce, but you certainly don’t understand it if you gonna go with that ridiculous line of reasoning.”

    Complete and total rubbish Greg, and betokens a fundamental lack of understanding of the Church on your part in regard to divorce. The catechism provisions demonstrate that:

    2382 The Lord Jesus insisted on the original intention of the Creator who willed that marriage be indissoluble. He abrogates the accommodations that had slipped into the old Law. Between the baptized, “a ratified and consummated marriage cannot be dissolved by any human power or for any reason other than death.”

    2383 The separation of spouses while maintaining the marriage bond can be legitimate in certain cases provided for by canon law. If civil divorce remains the only possible way of ensuring certain legal rights, the care of the children, or the protection of inheritance, it can be tolerated and does not constitute a moral offense.

    2384 Divorce is a grave offense against the natural law. It claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death. Divorce does injury to the covenant of salvation, of which sacramental marriage is the sign. Contracting a new union, even if it is recognized by civil law, adds to the gravity of the rupture: the remarried spouse is then in a situation of public and permanent adultery:

    If a husband, separated from his wife, approaches another woman, he is an adulterer because he makes that woman commit adultery; and the woman who lives with him is an adulteress, because she has drawn another’s husband to herself.

    2385 Divorce is immoral also because it introduces disorder into the family and into society. This disorder brings grave harm to the deserted spouse, to children traumatized by the separation of their parents and often torn between them, and because of its contagious effect which makes it truly a plague on society.

    As recently as 2002 Pope John Paul II was stating that attorneys should refuse to undertake divorce cases:

    Your criticisms of Santorum would be equally applicable to all Catholic legislators who refuse to strip funding from courts handling divorces.

  • Mandy, I agree, Ace has come a little unglued. What’s striking is that on top of the ideological differences he is motivated by this fear that Santorum can’t win (funny, since not that long ago he was arguing against Romney’s inevitability). The thing about that: Santorum’s social conservatism is in line with the majority on most things. His personal feelings about contraception are another thing, and that’s why the Dems are pivoting hard on contraception.

    I don’t normally agree much with Dick Morris, but he’s right about the Dems ceding the ground on an issue like abortion where they are increasingly out of touch with where most people are headed, and are focusing on an issue where the public would seem to be in line with their beliefs. That’s what is disappointing about what Ace is doing. He is actually conceding leftist talking points and giving them more ammo. Because if this is a debate about religious liberty, Santorum is with a majority of the people.

  • Don, because civil divorce does not invalidate sacramental marriage, a civil dorce is morally permissible under certain circumstances.

    “2383 The separation of spouses while maintaining the marriage bond can be legitimate in certain cases provided for by canon law. If civil divorce remains the only possible way of ensuring certain legal rights, the care of the children, or the protection of inheritance, it can be tolerated and does not constitute a moral offense.”

    Sacramental marriage is indissoulable whereas non-sacramental marriages can be dissolved, hence the Pauline privilege. Strictly civil marriages do not carry sacramental weight.

    This citation you provide proves my point. Now, iunless you can provide something that says the same for contraception, I’ll save you trouble because you can’t, then your shilling for Santorum on this has absolutely no basis. Whereas my calling him out does.

    As to JPII’s urging attorneys to refuse to take divroce cases, notice the qualifer “should’ as opposed to “must”. THat’s the operative word there.

    Really Don, if you are gonaa accuse me of misunderstanding Church teaching on anything, please at least take the time to learn the difference between prudential judgments and doctrinal imperatives.

  • You still miss the point Greg. The Church is against adamantly against divorce. It reluctantly allows participation in it where it is the only way to protect other rights as listed in 2383.

    John Paul’s Discourse to the Roman Rota of January 28, 2002 which I linked to indicates that clearly in this passage:

    “Among the initiatives should be those that aim at obtaining the public recognition of indissoluble marriage in the civil juridical order (cf. ibid., n. 17). Resolute opposition to any legal or administrative measures that introduce divorce or that equate de facto unions — including those between homosexuals — with marriage must be accompanied by a pro-active attitude, acting through juridical provisions that tend to improve the social recognition of true marriage in the framework of legal orders that unfortunately admit divorce.”

    In regard to contraceptives actually the Church has allowed their use in very limited circumstances in regard to disease.

    As in the case of divorce, use is permitted where it is not undertaken to reach a forbidden end: divorce or contraception, but for other purposes, custody of children or to stop the spread of disease.

  • Paul Z.,

    What kills me is that he’s doing the same purity nonsense he’s accused others of. If you don’t agree with his brand of conservatism you’re a dirty statist. His comments to you were pretty out there and he went off on the poster Y-not as well; he gave her both barrels for supposedly trying to force him to convert to Catholicism. It was bizarre.

    The thing is, even though he wrote a really good piece about the contraceptive mandate the other day, I think his disdain for whoever is not currently his candidate- in this case the target is Santorum- is so palpable right now that he’s going way over the top in his attacks implying things that were never actually said. And in the comments section- and apparently on twitter- today he even went down the Karen-Santorum-is-creepy route, using her personal past to bash the both of them, which has been off limits as far as Mrs. Obama goes over there. Because, racism. So yeah, I think it’s got a lot to do with him being angry that Perry never took and now his next candidate of choice is faltering as well. It’s a gigantic temper tantrum. On a blog.

  • No, contraception is NOT allowed even for the purposes of stopping the spread of disease. This is something both Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI made clear. In fact, when B16 made the statement regarding condoms in an interview with Peter Seewald that got spun as him giving his approval under those circumstances, he prefaces those remarks with saying that it is not morally permissible. Only that it might signal something positive regarding the INTENTIONS of those who take such a position. Don, you really need to do your homework on these issues.

  • Here is what Benedict XVI actually says. From page 119 of Light of the World:

    Question from Peter Seewald:

    “Are you saying, then, that the Catholic Church is actually not opposed to in principle to the use of condoms?”

    Answer from Pope Benedict XVI:

    “She of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution, but, in this or thast case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality.”

    And since condoms are the only form of contraception that even have the prospect of preventing disease, the idea that contraceptives, the idea that contraceptives are a morally permissible means of preventing sexually transmitted diseases even as deadly as AIDS, is not consistent with Church teaching.

    Now, Don please find a more reliable source than the NY Slimes if you are going to try and argue with me on matters of Catholic morality. Okay?

  • Actually Greg the story quoted the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Here is a link to the note in which the Congregation explained the Pope’s remark:

    “This norm belongs to the tradition of the Church and was summarized succinctly by Pope Paul VI in paragraph 14 of his Encyclical Letter Humanae vitae, when he wrote that “also to be excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means.” The idea that anyone could deduce from the words of Benedict XVI that it is somehow legitimate, in certain situations, to use condoms to avoid an unwanted pregnancy is completely arbitrary and is in no way justified either by his words or in his thought. On this issue the Pope proposes instead – and also calls the pastors of the Church to propose more often and more effectively (cf. Light of the World, p. 147) – humanly and ethically acceptable ways of behaving which respect the inseparable connection between the unitive and procreative meaning of every conjugal act, through the possible use of natural family planning in view of responsible procreation.

    On the pages in question, the Holy Father refers to the completely different case of prostitution, a type of behaviour which Christian morality has always considered gravely immoral (cf. Vatican II, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, n. 27; Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2355). The response of the entire Christian tradition – and indeed not only of the Christian tradition – to the practice of prostitution can be summed up in the words of St. Paul: “Flee from fornication” (1 Cor 6:18). The practice of prostitution should be shunned, and it is the duty of the agencies of the Church, of civil society and of the State to do all they can to liberate those involved from this practice.

    In this regard, it must be noted that the situation created by the spread of AIDS in many areas of the world has made the problem of prostitution even more serious. Those who know themselves to be infected with HIV and who therefore run the risk of infecting others, apart from committing a sin against the sixth commandment are also committing a sin against the fifth commandment – because they are consciously putting the lives of others at risk through behaviour which has repercussions on public health. In this situation, the Holy Father clearly affirms that the provision of condoms does not constitute “the real or moral solution” to the problem of AIDS and also that “the sheer fixation on the condom implies a banalization of sexuality” in that it refuses to address the mistaken human behaviour which is the root cause of the spread of the virus. In this context, however, it cannot be denied that anyone who uses a condom in order to diminish the risk posed to another person is intending to reduce the evil connected with his or her immoral activity. In this sense the Holy Father points out that the use of a condom “with the intention of reducing the risk of infection, can be a first step in a movement towards a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality.” This affirmation is clearly compatible with the Holy Father’s previous statement that this is “not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection.”

    Some commentators have interpreted the words of Benedict XVI according to the so-called theory of the “lesser evil”. This theory is, however, susceptible to proportionalistic misinterpretation (cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Veritatis splendor, n. 75-77). An action which is objectively evil, even if a lesser evil, can never be licitly willed. The Holy Father did not say – as some people have claimed – that prostitution with the use of a condom can be chosen as a lesser evil. The Church teaches that prostitution is immoral and should be shunned. However, those involved in prostitution who are HIV positive and who seek to diminish the risk of contagion by the use of a condom may be taking the first step in respecting the life of another – even if the evil of prostitution remains in all its gravity. This understanding is in full conformity with the moral theological tradition of the Church.”

  • Don,

    None this argues for the justification of the use of contraceptives even to prevent disease. Contraception is an intrinsic evil, whereas civil divorce is not. To equate the two as you have done is flat out intellectually dishonest.

  • This is the week to save ‘intellectually dishonest’ for the proclamations of the Executive Branch.

  • “None this argues for the justification of the use of contraceptives even to prevent disease. Contraception is an intrinsic evil, whereas civil divorce is not. To equate the two as you have done is flat out intellectually dishonest.”

    Reading comprehension Greg is obviously not your strong point in this debate. The prostitute in the Pope’s example clearly was not engaging in an intrinsically evil act by using the condom to prevent disease. That much is clear from this passage in the note:

    “Some commentators have interpreted the words of Benedict XVI according to the so-called theory of the “lesser evil”. This theory is, however, susceptible to proportionalistic misinterpretation (cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Veritatis splendor, n. 75-77). An action which is objectively evil, even if a lesser evil, can never be licitly willed. The Holy Father did not say – as some people have claimed – that prostitution with the use of a condom can be chosen as a lesser evil. The Church teaches that prostitution is immoral and should be shunned. However, those involved in prostitution who are HIV positive and who seek to diminish the risk of contagion by the use of a condom may be taking the first step in respecting the life of another – even if the evil of prostitution remains in all its gravity. This understanding is in full conformity with the moral theological tradition of the Church.”

    None of that would have made any sense at all if the prostitute’s use of the condom to prevent disease was intrinsically evil.

The Only Conservative Left

Friday, January 27, AD 2012

The 2012 presidential election cycle is truly one of the most depressing things to behold.  Neither of the top two candidates in the Republican field are particularly appealing, and the incumbent President has made Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan look like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.  Meanwhile, for all the bluster about the Establishment choosing our candidates (a charge not wholly without merit), conservatives have done themselves no favors by engaging in ridiculous character assassinations of any candidate who is not one hundred pure and good – meaning all the candidates.  Meanwhile, superficial bluster about being a conservative is taken more seriously than actual conservative governing records in big states.

To top it all off, the only conservative left in the race is barely gaining any traction, even when dismantling his opponent in exchanges such as this.

That was far from the only highlight for Santorum.  While Newt and Mitt were busy tearing each other apart for every perceived slight, Rick brought some common sense into the debate.

I don’t think Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have helped themselves with their terse exchanges on illegal immigration and Fannie & Freddie.

Apparently, Rick Santorum didn’t think so either. He said there was nothing wrong with Newt using his knowledge of Congress to help advise companies and then said there was nothing wrong with Romney making money. Santorum then implored Mitt and Newt, “Leave that alone and focus on the issues,” to strong applause.

Ah, but Senator Santorum is unelectable, according to the all the wise pundits.  There’s no way he could possibly be more electable than the guy who was once portrayed as the “Gingrich who stole Chrismas,” and who has a 2:1 unfavorable to favorable gap in the polls.  And he’s certainly not as electable as the guy who is so darn appealing that Republicans are climbing over themselves to pick anyone else but him to be the nominee, and who has an electoral record that makes the Detroit Lions look like a juggernaut.  Santorum lost his last election by 18 points, and as we all know someone that unpopular can’t ever recover.  No, we need to nominate the guy who left office with a 34% favorability rating, and who didn’t lose his bid at re-election because he didn’t even bother, knowing he was going to get destroyed.  Failing that, we can nominate the guy whose own caucus ran him out of Washington, DC.

But Santorum is unelectable.

We also know Santorum is also unelectable because he holds social views outside of the mainstream.  For instance, Santorum has this notion that marriage is an institution for one man and one woman.  This is such an insane notion that it is only shared by a majority of the American population and the current occupant of the White House.  You see, the problem with Santorum is that, unlike President Obama, he really means it.  As was discussed a couple of weeks ago at Creative Minority Report, Santorum is actually sincere in his beliefs.  So while he might hold policy positions that are identical with the rest of the field, he is the one being mocked because, well, he actually believes what he is saying.

One of the things that occurred to me recently that only augmented my political depression is that Gingrich does hold one electoral advantage over Santorum.  The fact that Gingrich is a twice-divorced man with a checkered past while Santorum is a faithfully married man and father of seven means that independents won’t fear Gingrich as much on social issues.  That’s right – actually being a man of unquestioned personal morality is an electoral disadvantage, because that just makes you seem all the more scaaaaaary.  Thank goodness our elections are decided by the sorts of people who think it’s just creepy that other people think that all life is precious, even lives conceived during rape.

So excuse me if I sit this dance out.

Update:  Great piece by Daniel Allott that discusses “Santorum Derangement Syndrome” and the problems that sincere politicians face.  H/t: Dale Price.

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16 Responses to The Only Conservative Left

  • As I recall Bush versus Clinton Mr Zummo, Mr Bush gained some traction from his stable marriage over against Mr Clinton. The public mood has changed a lot in some ways but disdain for Mr Obama’s sexual and medical policies are very important now. They will become more-so if Cardinal Timothy Dolan – well, as of 28 February- as head of the NCCCB gets a fire lit under] the Conference and all its members and its constituents and their flock. The insurance issue in itself and the attack on conscience is a nuke ready for ignition against all that is wrong with the current group in charge of setting policy.

  • Santorum was simply fantastic !! America should wise up.

  • Perhaps Michael Voris’ recent video on the “Five Reasons Conservatives Lost” bears on this topic:

    BTW, I would like to fuel that nuke HT was talking about with tritium and plutonium-239. I know where we can get a Subroc to do the trick! 😉

  • Apologies Paul P for using a WMD image as a pacifist. David’s smooth stone might have been better as long as it hits forehead and not ears!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • No apologies required, HT. I was in violent agreement with you either way. If a smooth stone doesn’t cut it, then we always have the subroc! 😉

    Just kidding.

  • Santorum is getting a lot of positive buzz for his debate performance last night and people are beginning to pay attention to him. His takedown of Romney on Romneycare was memorable. Romney’s stuttering non-defense (Obamacare is nothing to get mad about) was a strong indication as to why the Weathervane is the weakest candidate to go up against Obama. As compared to Romney and Gingrich, Santorum seemed to be the only adult in the room. Santorum probably will not be the nominee this time around, but he is giving a good example of intelligent, articulate conservatism and people are starting to note this.

  • Donald R. McClarey: The soul of clarity

  • “Donald R. McClarey: The soul of clarity” Or is that McClarity? kay sorry.. ButI love Santorum… I am praying he wins.

  • While I’m definitely leaning toward Santorum (if only he hadn’t come out in favor of waterboarding…), the amount of sheer vitriol that’s already been leveled against him makes me fear the heights the Derangement Syndrome would reach if he made it to the White House. (If you thought the hatred of Bush was bad…) Then again, he’s been receiving that kind of backdraft ever since he was Senator, so maybe it won’t be so bad for his health…

    As for the majority of Americans opposing same-sex marriage, I’m not so sure how long that will last, as sodomy seems to have been accepted alongside divorce, fornication, and shacking up by society as something wholesome and worthwhile. (Have you ever tried to discuss the Catholic teaching on sexuality with someone outside the Catholic sphere? Or even tried to formulate an argument in a possible effort to – gasp! – try and win them to your point of view?)

    I dunno. (And then there’s conservatives’ sometime infatuation with Ayn Rand, which brings to mind the nightmare of an America divided solely between liberals and Objectivists…)

  • Local conservative radio host here in Houston says Santorum is not a fiscal conservative. Tom Delay supports Santorum and stated he is a true all-round conservative. Have heard he is big on unions – I personally don’t care for unions.

  • I kind of like 🙂 the moon colony idea of Newt….but we need the colony up and ready prior to the election not after… so that we have an alternative.

  • HAPPY FEASTDAY today 28 JANUARY “Tommy Aquinas” -presume he is your hero ? i find myself drawing closer to Mr Santorum from my earlier views when he was good but not seemingly electable. I also operate on the Higher Side of our Humanness. The hatred spewed on him is Evil at work, as it is for any Good, witness what we did to the GOOD SHEPHERD Jesus. My prayer and hope is that the combination of positive Gospel of Life people, the disdain for 44 and his backers, and the other nebelous factors in any public debate will be swept up by the Holy Spirit who will see ” the good, the true and the beautiful ” voted to triumph. That could be Mr Santorum, or Mr Gingrich or Mr Romney. As I noted elsewhere we are not electing a replacement Messiah.

  • “Santorum is actually sincere in his beliefs. So while he might hold policy positions that are identical with the rest of the field, he is the one being mocked because, well, he actually believes what he is saying.”

    This is the key to my support for Santorum and to the media’s–yes–conspiracy to ignore him. Every Republican is obliged to make pro-life noises. Once elected, he may throw pro-lifers a few bones, but for most part ignores them. I don’t think anyone believes Santorum would behave this way, whether they support his candidacy or not.

    I share your depression over this awful primary season, Paul.

  • Santorum’s hometown newspapers – no, check that, they are disgusting rags and/or scandal sheets – have never stopped ripping into him. It seems that Santorum’s wife worked for an abortionist before she met and married Santorum. The key to all of this is to make the Santorums look like hypocrites on the pro life issue.

    These disgusting rags – the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (the socialist rag) and the Pittsburgh Tribune Review (the libertarian/anarchist rag) point out Karen Santorum’s previous life, but ignore Dr. Nathanson and Norma McCovey. It does not fit their “world view”.

    I loathe the media. Actually I don’t like it enough to loathe it.

  • PenguinsFan: We all struggle with the hate-forgive-let go struggle. I am learning to take Jesus’ advice. walking the extra mile meant that, by law, Jewish men were obliged to carry a Roman soldier’s equipment for one mile. Jesus asks them to go the extra mile, and take the sting, hate and resentment out of the forced march. We can write letters, get on the local radio talk shows if available and make our points positively to the general public and maybe influence advertisers. One never knows the effect of a simple gesture, the biblical leaven or the mustard seed that influence the end product. Prayer of course is indispensable to take on Jesus’ mind as expressed in in Phil. 2:6-11- emptying ouselves of the fasle self and take on the mind of Christ Jesus.

You Mean Rick Santorum is Not a Libertarian? Burn Him at the Stake!

Thursday, January 12, AD 2012

I’m going to need to recant my placement of RedState at the top of my favorite blogs list.  Now that Rick Santorum has emerged as probably the leading not-Mitt candidate in the GOP presidential sweepstakes, they, along with a few other conservative websites, have gone absolutely bananas over the prospect of Santorum becoming a leading candidate.  Sure, they all hate Mitt Romney, but can we truly tolerate a candidate who says extremist things like this:

This whole idea of personal autonomy, well I don’t think most conservatives hold that point of view. Some do. They have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do, government should keep our taxes down and keep our regulations low, that we shouldn’t get involved in the bedroom, we shouldn’t get involved in cultural issues. You know, people should do whatever they want. Well, that is not how traditional conservatives view the world and I think most conservatives understand that individuals can’t go it alone.

My goodness.  I can just see Santorum delivering these remarks on a balcony with a hammer and sickle proudly displayed behind him.  Did he also poound a shoe on the podium, because the man must surely be just shy of being an out and out Communist.

Jeff Emanuel has unearthed two more shocking quotes that reveal Santorum’s obvious Stalinist tendencies.

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16 Responses to You Mean Rick Santorum is Not a Libertarian? Burn Him at the Stake!

  • If only his foreign policy was less interventionist, he would be pretty close to the perfect candidate. Certainly better than Romney, but I still have concerns.

  • I, too, am getting tired of “not libertarian” being conflated with “not conservative.” Libertarianism is easier to identify and defend rhetorically, it just stinks on ice when you apply it to all of reality, instead of idealized reality…..

    I don’t think Santorum is very conservative, BUT there’s a difference between “wrong on this, that and the other thing” and “a lefty.” There’s some overlap, of course, but– like Bush– I think his wrong points are well meant. Meaning well doesn’t solve everything, but it beats a cynical desire for power.

  • Maybe traditional conservatism was more paternalistic but with advances in economic understanding, thanks more to Milton Friedman than Ayn Rand, American conservatism has become more economically libertarian.

  • In other words, don’t use that charity stuff to cede everything to unlimited government.

  • I think there is a genuine fear of more federal expansion disguised as compassionate conservatism. The author’s belief is much of the Santorum’s writings along with his legislative history advocate federal intervention where lower levels of government, or better yet non-government, institutions can do better. It’s not that federal management is always bad, but the “federal government first” attitude leads to expansion of power. I think the author would prefer governance closer to the principle of subsidiarity.

    While he did criticize Santorum’s view of governance, he also complimented him on his desire to want to help.

  • I think Jeff Goldstein knocks it out of the park here:

    GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum defends capitalism, defends Mitt Romney’s earlier engagement of capitalism on capitalistgrounds (as opposed to Romney himself, who appealed for a defense to progressive corporatism), and yet the GOP establishment and its attendant media — as well as an increasing number of sober, pragmatic, “it’s time to rally behind a single candidate” members of the conservative base — tell us that it is Santorum who is unelectable, and throw their support behind the candidate who enacted state-run health care, and who can’t even defend his own engagement in capitalism without retreating to a progressive defense.

    More at the link here.

  • Jeff, I would love to rally around Santorum, but 8 years of compassionate conservatism was hard enough to take. As crazy it sounds, sometimes I feel like rolling the dice with Romney or Ron Paul. And yes, that is crazy! Still hoping for Perry despite his having to work against media mis-portrayals of every word he says. That includes much of conservative media.

  • Read points two and three, because Jeff’s point is precisely that Santorum is not the nanny stater in this contest.

  • My opinion is based on his legislative record. He’s less a nanny stater than Romney and certainly Obama.

  • I just came across this interest article discussing the Santorum & federalism problem. It uses the issue of marriage between homosexuals to illustrate a point.

  • On economic paternalism, Santorum is mostly wrong. Better to alleviate the destruction of creative destruction than to prevent the whole thing. I understand his point that it has social dimensions but even taking that into consideration, protectionism is more harmful than free enterprise.

    On moral paternalism, Santorum is mostly right. We punish immoral behavior to the extent that it prevents more harm than it creates. We also promote moral behavior in a limited way by keeping it free from impediments. While the state may legitimately actively promote moral behavior, I don’t think the track record is great. In Europe, churches live in a culture of dependency where they get government handouts without having to work.

    Where I’m not sure what role the government should play is in quality-of-life paternalism. Smoking bans, trans fat bans, healthy eating campaigns. I.e., limiting or subsidizing amoral choices. One can argue that this sort of paternalism degrades personal initiative. On the other hand, they’re things I may admit that I am weak at controlling and therefore want some help with. Is there any CST guidance on this?

  • There is no perfect candidate and we can’t dig up Reagan and run him again. I feel like Santorum is the best candidate and I will continue to support him. one thing we must all understand is that Congress must be changed. Congress is the root of our problems. Our elected officials have been allowed to corrupt the system and continue to bankrupt our country and our childrens heritage. Don’t compromise on a Presidential candidate, support the person who best represents our beliefs even if some overpaid pundits say he/she is unelectable. And more importantly get rid of the entrenched Congresmen and send some new blood to Washington.

  • There is no perfect candidate and we can’t dig up Reagan and run him again.

    We’re Catholics. If we can dig up a pope and strip him of his vestments, this should be a small matter. Heck, I can’t see how any corpse could be a worse president that the one we have and most who are running, but Reagan’s corpse might do a pretty impressive job.


  • Sometimes, Paul Zummo, rhetorical hyperbole just leaves one looking hyper. I found your defense of Sen. Santorum and his big government conservatism unpersuasive.

    RR’s comments here make a lot of sense to me and RR’s mention of Milton Friedman should remind us all of the Invisible Foot.

    Sometime in the previous century, the federal government went beyond helping localities provide a safety net. Federal provision increasingly became a hammock for those who learned to exploit the system and is now often a sticky spider’s web that traps those who come into contact with it due to a temporary hardship. I have news for Santorum et alia, the Great Depression ended almost 70 years ago. Cease rendering the poor unto Caesar.

  • RL hits it out of the park.

    Any one of the GOP hopefuls is 100% better than that Obama nobody. Two out of three know Obama and his gangsters are very bad news for America.

    Tip to all. Cut the attacks against each other.

    The one with the best depiction of how the Obama wrecking machine is killing America is the most electable.

    Obama must go.

Debate With a Liberal

Tuesday, September 13, AD 2011

A humorous, albeit stacked, debate.  The video does illuminate one facet of the American political scene.  Educated conservatives tend to be more familiar with liberal arguments than educated liberals are with conservative arguments.  The reason for this is quite simple.  Conservatives who have been to college have exposed themselves to an institution that is overwhelmingly liberal.  If they read or view the mainstream media, once again they are exposed to liberal ideas from an institution overwhelmingly liberal.  Their entertainment comes to them from sources that tend to be liberal.  Educated conservatives in our society can no more ignore liberal ideas and arguments than they can any other annoying and ubiquitous feature of modern life;   like people having “private” conversations at the top of their lungs over cell phones, liberalism is a constant background feature.

The same is not true for educated liberals.  If they choose, and a surprising number of them so choose, they can lead their lives without ever engaging with conservative ideas and arguments.  The colleges they attend support their political beliefs, the mainstream media presupposes that their arguments are correct and entertainment, if it has political content, will usually flatter their predispositions.  In short, liberals in our society can live their lives in an ideological bubble where conservatives need not be taken seriously.

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6 Responses to Debate With a Liberal

  • what ever became of that online test that was supposed to measure how well the other side understood their opponents arguments by trying to pose as one of the others? I think that it was one for Christian vs. Atheist, but this comment reminded me of that – certainly there is one for Lib v. Con.

  • That was a sexist video! 😉

    Loved the dude’s hairdo. 🙂

  • “That was a sexist video!”

    Wait until you see a post I do about Civil War historian Amanda Foreman later this week Don! I will probably have to ban myself from TAC for a time because of it!

    “Loved the dude’s hairdo.”

    Now coming close to looking like Mr. Clean myself, I tend to refrain from casting aspersions on male hairdos (I learned long ago never to say anything negative about a woman’s appearance if I wanted to remain hale and hearty), although his hair does have a certain resemblance to a black candle flame.

  • Excellent insights, Donald. In the late ’80’s and early ’90’s, when I began having doubts about liberalism, it took some effort to ferret out conservative books and magazines in Washington, DC. After digging through magazine racks, I’d find a lone copy of National Review tucked in behind 10 copies of Mother Jones – and when I paid for it at the counter, the clerk frequently would shoot me the same sort of look a good Catholic mom would give a son caught with a Penthouse magazine. Indeed, I soon got tired of the hunt and the accusatory glances and ended up subscribing to NR, the American Spectator, and, later, the Weekly Standard. The Internet has made accessing material that is not the usual secular, liberal “conventional wisdom” so much easier and for that we should all be thankful.

    That’s why I have little patience for complaints that the Internet has created polarizing ideological and religious “ghettoes” I have noticed that the people who do the most complaining about it are those who benefited hugely from a liberal near-monopoly of news sources. They hate the “polarization” because they are not used to being challenged and fact-checked.

  • A humorous, albeit stacked, debate.

    I especially enjoyed the reference to What’s the Matter With Kansas? early in the first minute.

    “But I thought Democrats were in favor of empowering the working class.”

    “It was before the working class became anti-intellectual and began voting against their self-interest.”

    It’s not that the debate is stacked so much as shot full of truth serum.

Tea Party is the New Neocon

Thursday, September 1, AD 2011

So I guess that makes it neo-neocon.

The Washington Times reports on a poll released by Rasmussen on the relative popularity and unpopularity of various political labels.

• 38 percent of likely U.S. voters “consider it a positive” when a political candidate is described as “conservative,” 27 percent say it’s a negative.

• 37 percent say “moderate” is a positive label, 13 percent say it’s a negative.

• 32 percent say “tea party” is a positive label.

• 56 percent of Republican voters agree.

• 38 percent of voters overall say the tea party label is a negative.

• 70 percent of Democrats agree.

• 31 percent of voters overall say “progressive” is a positive label, 26 percent say its negative.

• 21 percent say “liberal” is a positive label, 38 percent say it’s a negative.

What jumped out at me is the disparity between how the term “conservative” is received versus the term “tea party.”  The positive/negative spread for “conservative” is 38/27, but it’s 32/38 for “tea party.”  Now, conservative/tea party fares better than progressive/liberal, and that is probably worth a discussion in and of itself.*  But I want to focus on the conservative versus tea party aspect of this poll for a moment.

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12 Responses to Tea Party is the New Neocon

  • Most people, regardless of political affiliation aren’t very capable of understanding nuance. They oversimplify things because they’re incapable of understanding things more fully.

  • I first heard the term “progressive” to describe the modern liberal wing of the Democratic Party in college right after I’d read That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis. In the book the “progressive element” are the bad guys who do all manner of despicable things. I’ve always found the term creepy. It has this Orwellian vagueness about it. Progress toward what exactly? I’d rather vote for a liberal any day.

  • That Hideous Strength is probably the best takedown of the “Progressive Element” that I’ve ever read, and it’s also pretty darned accurate in its depiction of what Progressivism is all about.

    It’s kind of interesting that both “conservative” and “progressive” are favorably viewed (though conservative moreso) when you consider that they are two labels that have completely opposite connotations.

  • Paul, polls ought to be taken with a grain of salt by a thinking person. But their impact in shaping public opinion cannot be underestimated. For example, one recent poll, I think conducted by Harris, asserts that roughly half the population supports so-called gay marriage. Either the polled were lying for PC’s sake or we’re in a lot deeper trouble as a society than we thought.

  • I definitely am not one to hold polling information up as sacred, but there definitely seems to be a more negative perception associated with “tea party” than “conservative.” I see this often on other blogs where “tea party” is all but a dirty word (or words).

  • AJ Grendel, on 09/02/11, remarked that, “Most people, regardless of political affiliation aren’t very capable of understanding nuance. They oversimplify things because they’re incapable of understanding things more fully.”
    Actually, I have to disagree that nothing could be further from the truth. As Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.”
    People who fully comprehend an issue can encapsulate the matter simply, while complexity is the analysis of the less comprehending.

  • The media also has done its level best to vilify conservatives and conservatism, so I don’t think the difference in popular reaction to the “tea party” label vs. the “conservative” label can be chalked up to media bias.

  • I think “tea party” has become a swear word for liberals and for big government, intellectualista, professional coservatives – that disparage the great unwashed, e.g., Sarah Palin.

    A question from one of the lesser unwashed: The obama Regime has either adopted or conformed to nearly every national security policy of the Bush Administration.

    Does anyone consider Obama a neocon?

  • ”Actually, I have to disagree that nothing could be further from the truth. As Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.”
    People who fully comprehend an issue can encapsulate the matter simply, while complexity is the analysis of the less comprehending.”

    It appears you’re taking that Einstein quote out of context, or you missed my point entirely.

    I’m not talking about people simplifying concepts, I’m talking about people lumping together largely unrelated political ideologies simply because they’ve heard them described as ‘right-wing’ or ‘left-wing’.

    When lefties try to lump AnCaps, neo-fascists, paleoconservatives, neoconservatives, libertarian conservatives, traditionalist conservatives (who are often more moderate on economic policy, but socially conservative), libertarians who favour capitalism but aren’t conservative and many other groups they see as ideological enemies together it makes them seem foolish, and also weakens their arguments, as these groups all have dramatically different ideologies.

    When right-wingers do the same to libertarian socialists, democratic socialists, various authoritarian Marxist-Leninist ideologies, progressives and social democrats all together they appear similarly foolish, and it similarly weakens their arguments, as again all of these groups tend to be dramatically different in ideologies from one another.

    And of course, lumping your enemies in with the Nazis seems to be popular with everyone.

    It seems to come down to the idea that people aren’t very comfortable with recognizing various shades of grey, or admitting that people they oppose on some issues they might agree with on others.

  • There is actually a Tea Party Caucus in Congress that, unlike others, is unwilling to even eliminate tax deductions.

  • RR: Them tea extremists (“even eliminate tax deductions”) are so evil they oppose giving the gangster government more money for socially just causes such as loaning $500,000,000-plus to the Geo. Kaisers (billionaire Obama campaign contributor) of the world to quickly go broke and default on the loans?

    Those evil tea partiers!

    That is Obama’s Enron. But, the lying, liberal media and you fabian commies will never call it “evil.”

  • PS:

    Evil, rich Americans already suffer elimination of tax deductions through the alternative minimum tax (AMT), which requires add back (and pay 26% on) of most tax deductions (except evil charitable contributions and qualifying mortgage interest). The AMT applies to couples with adjusted gross income over $250,000.

    Plus, think it over. The elimination of tax deductions will impact limo liberals in high tax, inflation ridden blue states.

Anderson on Shea on Carter

Wednesday, May 25, AD 2011

My good friend Jay Anderson at Pro Ecclesia often delivers some of the most insightful commentary on Saint Blog’s.  Here is commentary that he did today fisking Mark Shea’s observations of  Joe Carter’ post  at First Things, where Carter took a look at Generation X conservatives, and which may be read here.   This gave  Mark an opportunity to voice his disdain for forms of conservatism other than the paleocon version he embraces, and to go “O Tempora, O Mores”, over the coming generation of conservatives.  Jay’s commentary is priceless:

Mark Shea has commented on an excellent piece by Joe Carter at First Things, in which Joe seeks to define “Generation X” conservatives, who he labels “X-Cons”.

Mark begins:

He has been one of the few voices in the conservative movement to speak out of actual conservative values and not out of the Consequentialism that dominates the Thing that Used to Be Conservatism. So I was interested in his description of “X-Cons“, the rising generation of conservatives (so-called) who have been coming of age in the past decade. I think his description is accurate, rather depressing, and a further proof that Chesterton is right when he says that each revolutionary movement is a reaction to the last revolution–and that it typically knows what is wrong but not what is right. I appreciate Carter’s clear-eyed analysis and suspect that he, like me, is not altogether thrilled that this is the desperate pass in which the Thing that Used to be Conservatism now finds itself.

Later on, Mark continues:

X-Cons know little about history and their deepest influence is disk jockeys, who “taught us X-Cons to appreciate confirmation of our political views.” The perfectly reasonable thing to ask in light of this crushing diagnosis is, “What, precisely, is being conserved by such a ‘conservatism’?” A conservatism that knows nothing of engagement with ideas outside the Talk Radio Noise Machine (including engagement with ideas from its own intellectual history) and which has learned, as it’s primary lesson, “to appreciate confirmation of our political views” is a conservatism that is intellectually barren and open to manipulation by demagogues who flatter its adherents and teach them to remain safe in the echo chamber.

Mark goes further in his assessment of “X-Cons” as the dupes of demagogues:

When Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck are your intelligentsia and Buckley is a sort of a ghostly eminence gris you no longer bother listening to, one must again ask what, exactly, is being conserved by such a conservatism. Much that bills itself as anti-elitist is just a celebration of intellectual laziness and a resentment of people who have done the hard work of thought. Yes, there are pointy headed intellectuals who pride themselves on their learning. That’s not an excuse to be a wahoo who prides himself on his ignorance.

Mark concludes his analysis of Joe’s piece lamenting Joe’s acknowledgement of the fact that “X-Cons” will soon displace the generation that came before us. Joe writes:

• X-Cons will soon be replacing the Boomers as the dominant cohort within the movement. We’ll be fielding presidential candidates in 2016 and dominating elections in 2020. We are, for better and for worse, the future of the movement. And of America.

… and Mark responds:

Bleak words indeed…

My Comments:
First, let me note that I tried to leave my thoughts in comments on Mark’s blog, but the commenting tool Mark uses rejected the comment as too voluminous. Rather than breaking it up into several comments, I decided to blog my view on the matter here.

While I commend Joe on his piece at First Things, I call B.S. on at least parts of Mark’s analysis of Joe’s piece, and ESPECIALLY on some of the commenters who have responded favorably to Mark’s analysis by blaming the so-called “X-Cons” for the commenters’ decisions to continue to support the party of abortion-on-demand.

The “X-Cons” aren’t responsible for “the Thing that Used to Be Conservatism” (hereafter, “the Thing”) – in fact, we are increasingly skeptical of “the Thing” and especially the Republican Party claiming the mantle of “the Thing”. As evidence, I submit my own blog as well as a piece today at National Catholic Register by Pat Archbold (recently described by one of Mark’s sycophants as a “Republican shill”).

No, the folks responsible for bringing us huge deficits, Wilsonian foreign policy, and consequentialism dressed up as “the Thing” were decidedly NOT members of the “X” generation, but were baby boomers and even members of the so-called “Greatest Generation”. Given that fact, Mark’s assessment as “bleak words indeed” of Joe’s acknowledgement of the rise of the “X-Cons” to replace the previous generation seems completely without merit. Surely we can’t do any worse with respect to “the Thing” than the generations that have come before us. In short, given our increasing distrust of what “the Thing” has become and the party that champions it, it is the “X-Cons” who are the antidote to “the Thing”, not the purveyors of it.

In addition, rather than criticizing the “X-Cons” for rejecting elitism and embracing what they see as middle-class authenticism, why not ask whether the elites have actually served them well and, if the answer is “HELL NO!” (which it most assuredly is), whether there are better alternatives for leadership from among the “riff-raff” who actually share the values of the “X-Cons”? Mark asks what is it that is actually being conserved? Well, if you ask me, the traditional family values of protection of life, protection of the institution of the family, hard work, integrity, loyalty, etc., etc., are being protected far more on the front porches, parish halls, and town halls of flyover country than they are in the halls of academia and, yes, even on the pages of National Review. Maybe “X-Cons” see the people Mark derides as base and demogogic as being the actual preservers of the values we hold dear (i.e. they’re the ones doing the “conserving” these days), as opposed to the new generation of Buckleys who view us as so much white trash and instead embrace The One.

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35 Responses to Anderson on Shea on Carter

  • I remember Mark Shea (among all my loved ones living and dead) in my prayers night and day. That said, I basically disgree with everything he has ever posted.

    I can’t look at his stuff any longer. It’s painful.

  • The obnoxious tone of Shea’s posts are just too much, it’s best if they are avoided. Even though he knows alot about Catholicism, he doesn’t seem Catholic to me.

    I happen to think Palin would make a good President, I trust her judgement and I like her toughness.

    I think you’re right T.Shaw, let’s keep Shea in our prayers.

  • Sir, you are remarking on Mr. Anderson’s comments on Mark Shea’s (repellant) comments on Mr. Carter’s jejune column. Reminds me of a dog chasing its tail.

  • And arf to you Grouchy Penguin! 🙂

  • Mark Shea, IMO, in spite of him making orthodox and conservative noises, is basically a liberal. When you read all of his material on critical subjects, it almost always has a liberal bias to it. His stand on the death penalty is classic liberalism dressed up as Catholic orthodoxy. I say dressed up, because the Scriptures, and nearly 2000 years of Church tradition never opposed the right use of it to punish those were truly guilty of murder, treason, or rape. Yet Shea, without taking the time to listen and understand the Scriptures, tradition, and the arguements of death penalty advocates, smears anyone who favors the dp as a “death penalty maxiumist”. Heck, even God would have to be included in that description, for He was the one who instituted it in the first place!

  • is basically a liberal

    No. He is a man with personality problems grown hypertrophied with age.

  • Can’t wait to hear Shea’s response so that we can have Shea on Anderson on Shea on Carter. Maybe Joe will bring it all home with a post titled Carter on Shea on Anderson on Shea on Carter. All I ask is that Jay refrain from further comment because then the world will implode upon itself.

    I just hope that Jimmy Carter, the relatives of Bill Shea, and Louie Anderson decide against entering the fray.

    This will all probably end with Shea quoting Chesterton completely out of context and then banning someone or three from his comment box while utilizing one of the following phrases: rubberhose right, the thing thing that used to be call conservatism, stupid party, stupid evil party, evil stupid party, or maybe some kind of combination like the thing that stupidly used to be called the evil rubberhose right.

    Good times.

  • “…or maybe some kind of combination like the thing that stupidly used to be called the evil rubberhose right.”

    Quick, copyright that.

  • “Carter on Shea on Anderson on Shea on Carter”

    I like it! 🙂

  • “Carter on Shea on Anderson on Shea on Carter”

    I’m pretty sure that’s illegal in most states. But after Lawrence v. Texas, who knows anymore where (or even if) Justice Kennedy will draw the line on his “sweet mystery of life”.

  • >That said, I basically disgree with everything he has ever posted.
    So you support abortion, contraception and gay marriage? Because I know Shea was written stuff against those things.

    >Mark Shea, IMO, in spite of him making orthodox and conservative noises, is basically a liberal.
    Why? When did opposition to waterboarding and Glenn Back make one un-Catholic? True, I hate it when he moans about “Empire,” (much to the rejoicing of tyrants and actual empire-lovers* (such as the current Moscow and Beijing regimes)) everywhere but I wouldn’t say his opinions are necessarily heterodox.

    One thing I hate about the current political climate is the amount of tribalism (and subsequent mischaracterization) that goes on. “You Republicans are all science-hating misogynistic racists!” “Yeah, well that’s better than you, you Constitution-hating anti-Western terrorist-lover!” True, I’m mainly a conservative in my views, but just because I think liberals are wrong (even completely) in their views doesn’t mean I assume they have malicious intentions…

    *That is, if they actually read Mark’s blog, which I highly doubt they do.

  • I can’t look at his stuff any longer. It’s painful.

    All the more because his was one of the first sites I went to after boot camp– after not reading anything but instruction material for months.

    (I didn’t even come to this post until I noticed that, for some reason, I got a half-dozen blog hits from it… must’ve been from the comment bar or blogroll.)

  • At the risk of provoking a second Sumter, I’m going to quote Abraham Lincoln:

    “I dislike that man. I must get to know him better.”

    As a friend of Mark’s and one who has had the pleasure of meeting him on multiple occasions, it would be nice if the conversation could steer clear of speculation about personality problems and so forth.

    I’m not a fan of his “pox on everybody’s houses” approach to politics myself, but criticism is best limited to the merits and demerits of the writings themselves, as Jay has done. Psychoanalysis by DSL remains notoriously unreliable.

  • I agree, Dale, that we should focus on the merits, or lack thereof, of Mark’s writing, rather than focusing on personalities. I happen to agree with Mark on a lot (torture included), but I also disagree with him at those times in which he paints with too broad a brush, as I believe he has done here.

    And since the issue of anti-intellectualism has surfaced in the comments at Mark’s blog, let me say, for the record, that I am not anti-intellectual by any means. In fact, I’m quite proud of the fact that I have a law degree from a top-10 law school at a university founded by, arguably, this nation’s most intellectual President.

    But, that said, I don’t believe that much “conserving” is going on these days in the halls of academia or in the pages of the sorts of publications that the hoity-toity tend to patronize.

    Sufice it to say that, if I were to hold to the views that most graduates of top-10 law schools hold, I would acutally have LESS claim to objective truth (which, in my view, is what conservatism is about) than the weekly-mass-attending guy in flyover country with only a high school diploma working an hourly 9-5 job to ensure that he can support his family of 6 and struggle to send his kids to Catholic school. I’d gladly vote for that guy to represent me over the typical graduate of a top-10 law school ANY DAY.

  • And, since Mark alludes to Buckley in his post, let us not forget that it was the man himself who once said that he would rather entrust the government of the nation to the first 400 people in the Boston phone book than to the Harvard faculty.

  • I can’t find any attribution of the quote “I don’t like that man, I must get to know him better.” for Lincoln before about the 1940s; a similar quote does show up in a photographer’s magazine from 1900, though….

    You meet people, and you don’t like them at first; you say, ” I don’t like that man.” By and by you learn to know him better, and you do like him ; and usually those are the firmest friendships that begin just that way.

    It looks like one of those quotes that got twisted into something that sounded like Lincoln.

  • Well, between us my wife and I have five degrees from top colleges and universities, and we would agree with Buckley. Our experience in life has taught us the difference between someone who is well educated and someone who is wise. Too many of the well-educated elites in our society have worked overtime the past few decades to vividly demontrate the difference.

  • I don’t agree that X-cons are necessarily religious. I’ll grant they can be more comfortable being publicly religious than prior generations were, at least the evangelical ones. But there’s a large number of godless X-cons – Ayn Rand types, young Tea Partiers, pro-military agnostics, anti-government hacker wannabees, social Darwinists, Christian conservatives who drifted away from the faith, among others. They’re not going to hang out with the evangelicals and Catholics at a barbecue, but they’re all going to vote similarly. And I think that bridge-building instinct that someone labelled “merely Christian” is really merely conservative, allowing everyone a seat at the table (not the Communion table, but every other table).

  • I am glad you enjoy his company, Dale.

    I do not psychoanalyze. I merely remark on how he addresses his correspondents and how he writes about others.

    I could, of course, offer a substantive critique of what he writes, but I keep in mind Mortimer Adler’s advisories: 1.) not every text merits a line-by-line reading; 2.) they tell you not to judge a book by its cover, but the cover is what the publisher wishes you to see – first. He is a wretched rhetorician, and that is what I see – first.

  • “He is a man with personality problems grown hypertrophied with age”–is rather more than a critique of his rhetoric.

  • Shea on McClarey on Anderson on Shea on Carter:

    “I’m afraid I haven’t been following the American Catholic so I don’t know what they’ve been saying about me. Historically, they’ve mostly been upset with me for not making a complete identification between whatever the Talking Points are from the GOP this week and Church teaching. My guess is that this still cover most of the grievances they have with me, but it’s just a guess.”

    Anderson on Shea on McClarey on Anderson on Shea on Carter:

    “I’d guess the differences have more to do with hyperbole, painting with broad brushstrokes, and the creation of strawmen that bear no resemblance to the actual object being addressed in the blog post (all of which apply to the present assessment of Generation X conservatives).”

  • “Historically, they’ve mostly been upset with me for not making a complete identification between whatever the Talking Points are from the GOP this week and Church teaching. My guess is that this still cover most of the grievances they have with me, but it’s just a guess.”

    Well, I guess that statement is proof positive that Mark does not read The American Catholic.

  • Oh, but Don, it’s so much easier to caricature the sort of straw version of The American Catholic that you might find on such parody sites as Vox Nova or The Catholic Fascist than to actually address the substance of the real thing.

  • Dare we call that “intellectually lazy” Jay? 🙂

  • I like Shea’s work on doctrine. I own his book on Magesterial authority as well the one about the “Senses” of scripture. Both are great. However, I usually have a hard time stomaching his columns on politics. IMO, he builds up straw men that fit certain stereotypes and then goes medieval on them. Pass.

    As far as paleocons and “X-cons”, I guess I must fall into the latter group. I’m 31 and my observation about people of previous generations (conservative and liberal alike) is that they were/are not very politically astute. For the past 30 years or so people have been content to vote for the “right party”, be it R or D, and trust that they would do the right thing. Well, we can see where that’s gotten us. I am significantly more politically aware and involved than my parents and grandparents were, although they are starting to come around now. And I don’t trust the so-called elites to do the right thing because I’ve watched them promise, promise, promise and then turn around and stick it to us for my entire life. But apparently in Shea’s opinion, that makes me ignorant or something.

  • Speaking as an X-con, who never finished her Master’s degree in Human Resources at a non-descript private, non-profit university, I neither have the pedigree nor writing skills of the commenters on this blog. I do, however, enjoy reading the thoughts of the smart ones.

    I don’t worry about my generation being the generation that could screw politics up even more than they are already. I find it annoying, however, that entire generations of people are be blamed for anything, especially before they are even given the opportunity to indeed garner said blame. I know that I see many friends of mine losing homes they bought because they are too expensive, while baby boomers continue to live in these same exact houses for years. The boomers bought these homes many years before for an affordable price that was never 10 times their annual salary. I see people of my generation worry about obtaining their all too elusive social security and medicare benefits when they retire. I know people of my generation who never played outside as a child because their mother had to work due to their parents divorce and they never saw their baby boomer father except one weekend a month. In high school, I noticed that there were many more young white kids in the classes above me, because they weren’t aborted.

    The first thing I want to do is blame baby boomers for our financial woes, our psycholocial wounds because of the legalization of abortion and easy divorce. When I think about it, however, I realize that it is because of OUR fallen nature that we sin. The baby boomers were not the first to sin (although they did a great job of it) and my generation has and will continue to sin, especially in this broken society.

    Pointing fingers up and down generational lines, however, does nothing more than offend some sinners and absolve other sinners of their culpability. Blaming is counterproductive. With Christ there is hope.

  • Christine,

    I get your point. But it’s very hard for me not to be angry at the previous generations. I see how so many simply stuck their heads in the sand when it comes to things like SS and Medicare, always kicking the can down the road so that they can get their bennies. Now that the entitlements are going under, I see those same people complaining about how they’ve been “promised” and that we younger folks should basically just shut up and pay up (rarely put quite that harshly, but it’s always the gist).

    I have two small children. My son is 4 and my daughter is 16 months. My children and their generation are who will end up living significantly poorer lives because my parents and their parents feel they’re “owed” something. Maybe it’s uncharitable of me, but I can’t help being upset by my children’s future being squandered.

  • Speaking as a so-called X-con, a label I like even less than Gen X I can say that we are a generation that is resistant to be defined by these labels. Although the X factor has some truth to it. We are far less homogenous than previous or subsequent generations. We are a relatively small generation sandwiched between two generations of collectivists, yet we are probably more powerful because we are nimble, intelligent rather than educated, conservative rather than Republican, creators more than consumers, religious more than spiritual, leaders more than followers.

    We did grow up knowing that we survived the most dangerous place in the world, our own mothers’ wombs only to face being burned alive by the Soviet nuclear threat. Yet most of us came of age when it was Morning in America again. Have you noticed how much happier the music of the 80s is compared to the whinny, sentimental, depressing tone of today’s so-called rock and even the corporate bubble gum pop? Our musicians for the most part played real instruments. Even the movies were better, now we can only remake 70s and 80s shows, comic books and video games. Creativity is dead.

    We experienced a sanitized Catholicism and yet more of us hear the Tridintine Mass and thinks the liberals in the Church are no threat because they’ll be dead and gone soon and Gen-X priests are true soldiers of Christ. We are the triumphant remnant of orthodoxy.

    Our politics are reactionary because the work of the 20th century to destroy America from within and merge her with the USSR, which was supposed to come to completion during WWIII in our years of coming of age DID NOT happen. The timetable moved because morning came to America and the masters of the universe where not expecting it. Although the 80s and 90s seemed prosperous, we knew that the bedrock of society had been eroded and we wanted it restored. We have to battle two large anti-American, globalist, socialist age cohorts. One that has practically destroyed this country, both the Rs and the Ds and the other which is their spawn and far more violent and nihilistic and way, way dumber and more manageable by the cult of personality.

    We are hopeful and yet totally aware that we are being screwed. If this generation cannot restore authentic conservative principles and return American to where the right is traditional and the left is libertarian and they both operate under the Christian God; and the liberals are dead, in prison or exiled, then no discussion will be necessary because America will be no more.

    Trying to fit a generation like that into a neat little box like the hippies before us and the socialists after is going to prove to difficult for anyone, even us.

    All we can say is what John McLane said – yippy kai yay. . . because we will die hard.

  • I’m feelin’ ya, Mandy. I am just trying my best to forgive. It makes it harder when boomers start blame throwing in our direction.

    More chances for forgiveness. More chances at redemptive suffering.

  • Outstanding comment, American Knight! You’ve nailed it.

  • There is no such thing as an X-con.

  • “One thing I hate about the current political climate is the amount of tribalism (and subsequent mischaracterization) that goes on.”

    “X-Cons know little about history and their deepest influence is disk jockeys, who ‘taught us X-Cons to appreciate confirmation of our political views.'”

    I think this exemplifies the “tribalism” and mischaracterization that frequently passes as Catholic political thought at CAEI.

  • Thanks Jay, it is no special task that I posted that, it is what it is. I think that the so-called Gen X is a generation who wants to be who we are, who God made us to be. The Boomers before us, and the socialist Twitter Generation after us are a group-mind and they are led by the powers of this present darkness. We don’t beat to our own drum, we are truly diverse individuals who seek to obey God as a community – we beat to His drum. The generations we are sandwiched in between are not so much individuals as more of a collective hive-mind, like the Borg from Star Trek, they are guided by utility, materialism and a sense of group self-mastery without the Master.

    It may seem arrogant to boast of my generation, and naturally this does not cover all in any group, but a general trend; however, we have to acknowledge that we are the rising generation and we are tasked with the progressive restoration of tradition, orthodoxy, and the authentic conservation of principles of Truth. If we fail to do humbly do it, restoration may be impossible and the world may be plunged into a technocratic neo-feudalism, open rebellion against God and slavery to the devil.

    That is a big task for a small generation with seemingly insurmountable odds. God likes to work with the meek and humble.

Jim DeMint Speaks the Truth

Wednesday, November 10, AD 2010

When a politician says something that’s this on the money, one wonders if there is a “but” in there to soften the message.  Not with Jim DeMint:

You can’t be a fiscal conservative and not be a social conservative.

Naturally this bothers AllahPundit and some of the other shrieking libertarians at Hot Air, but DeMint is of course right. 

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7 Responses to Jim DeMint Speaks the Truth

  • Another point – one I think I made to the Cranky Conservative a while ago – is that without social conservatism, fiscal conservatism doesn’t work. The more unstable the family structure is, the bigger the safety net has to be. Even if Schwarzenegger had been the budget hawk he claimed (or intended) to be, the state has to spend a fortune on prisons and social aid. Why? Because a high percentage of people live in poverty. Why? Because social liberalism has gutted the traditional family and neighborhood structures.

  • I agree with Pinky. A return to virtue would go a long way toward alleviating many of the societal deficiencies on which the government feels the need to expend $$$ trillions. Of course, many liberals are libertines and often are morally bankrupt (want all things good except themselves; “not that there’s anything wrong with that”) and may be motivated by the desire to solidify their (dependent/desperate) voting bases . . .

    Still the dilemma: How to persuade the masses to turn away from the seven deadly sins?

    I ought to be able to ascribe from whom I obtained the following.

    Replace pride with humility
    Replace greed with generosity
    Replace envy with love
    Replace anger with kindness
    Replace lust with self-control
    Replace gluttony with temperance
    Replace sloth with zeal

  • Washington Examiner columnist (and Catholic conservative) Timothy Carney discussed this with Matt Welch of Reason a while back on Bloggingheads. He argues that the belief in limited government and in man’s fallen nature have similar philosophical roots.

  • I actually think you can be fiscal conservative and not be a social conservative. Those people are called well Libertarians (Yes I know there is among some of them a small pro-life and pro-family wing)

    These creatures exist in great numbers. The problem is they can’t get build a political coalition to get elected

  • I think it would be more precise to say that there is no necessary logical contradiction between the components of the world view of Gov. Whitman or Gov. Schwarzeneggar, but that the dynamics of political life tend to render it a sort of unstable equilibrium among working politicians (Gov. Schwarzeneggar and, to the extent you might credit him with principles, Gov. Pataki) and on occasion among opinion-mongers as well (David Frum).

  • In theory you can support the ideas of small government and social liberalism at the same time. As a practical matter, they can’t exist simultaneously though.

    It’s like supporting demilitarization and peace. Sounds great. But if the military capability is necessary to ensure peace, then you can’t have both together. Politics involves a lot of brutal trade-offs. We want to have the best colleges in the world, and all our kids to be able to graduate from them. We want to have universal health care with declining costs. We want unemployment benefits that last forever, with no incentive against seeking employment.

    Here’s my thinking. Anything that destabilizes families or neighborhoods removes the traditional local support system. This will result in widespread poverty, which can only be mitigated by the traditional local support system being reinstituted, or the creation of a new larger support system.

  • Paul,

    I only noticed this now, hence this comment appearing somewhat late.

    It is unfortunate that a lot of libertarians do have this “irrational fear.”

    They should read Edward Feser:

36 Responses to Analyzing Catholic Endorsements

  • Michael,

    This is a great post, and I agree with almost everything you say, especially:

    I have a very hard time believing Angle ought to get an endorsement over Cao under Catholic principles.

    Thomas N. Peters strikes me as very dogmatic when it comes to his conservativism (one need only peruse his posts at The American Priciples Project), which has had led to some very senseless justifications for his political and policy positions on Catholic grounds. Hence, Cao, who is, I would think, exactly the sort of candidate Peters and Catholic Vote would embrace and endorse, is not trumpeted. This, however, is par for the course for Peters. And there’s the rub: Cao voted for a bill that is contrary to Peters’ dogmatic views of the “proper role of government,” despite Cao campaigning and voting in accord with the chief tenets of Catholic morality.

    I don’t think it is a problem to be a Catholic and subscribe to many of the positions that typify American conservativism and that are not explicit directives of Catholic morality and social teaching (e.g., gun rights, certain conomic policies), though I do think a lot of these positions are untenable on philosophical and sociological grounds (but that’s for another time). The problem is when it is thought that those positions are deduced/derived from Catholic teaching, and that’s the problem with nearly all of Peters’ political commentary.

  • As you seem to indicate, it’s certainly appropriate for Catholics to endorse candidates who support Catholic teaching on non-negotiable issues of life and marriage.

    But I find it bizarre that anyone would call it “abusive” for Catholics to support political candidates that they think will help advance the public good on issues like health care, the economy, and immigration. We never said they were more important.

    As our website states, these issues are important. But they are not more important than life and family. However… they are not irrelevant either.

    Catholics should talk about what a just tax system and a just health care system would look like. If there are candidates out there that support this, why should we not support them?

    As for Rep. Joseph Cao, his campaign did not return our candidate questionnaire, which is required for our endorsement. Have them call us.

    We did however endorse Rep. Dan Lipinski, which I’m surprised you did not mention. Lipinski, like Cao, supported the health care bill with the original pro-life Stupak language. And like Cao, Lipinski refused to support the final bill which didn’t have the pro-life protections in it.

    While opposed the entire health care bill and not just the pro-abortion language, we still support Lipinski for standing true on his principles. We need to support pro-life Catholics like Lipinski or else the entire Democratic Party will be in the wilderness.

  • MJ:

    On twitter, Peters said Cao didn’t get an endorsement b/c Cao didn’t respond to some questions. Taking him at his word, it’s not as bad of an oversight.

    However, I think considering Cao is in a hotly contested seat, CV probably ought to do some following up with the Cao campaign, as Cao can use some help.

  • Yes, it is quite true that there is a problem when it is thought that positions are derived from Catholic teaching.

    Catholics have much to dislike of the right-liberalism (freedom! liberty!) that swims so strongly inside the American conservative movement (and in Britain and Australia, the parties and coalitions of the Right wear the proper labels).

    However, the cheerleading for leftist figures and policies that is justified in the name of Catholicism, as we see in the linked post as elsewhere, can truly be toxic to our discourse. First, if that ad is “racist,” well, then, what can you say? It’s a small but thuggish tactic to shut down an opponent. Have a good faith conversation about the meaning of the word? About why illegal immigration is such a big deal in border states? About how wages are impacted by the massive influx of low skilled labor in recent decades (Cesar Chavez was right about that, by the way)? NO! Bad racist so-called Catholics. Second, if that ad is noteworthy as overly heated, then the person noting that supposed fact is rather uninformed about elections – heck, there are about 10 that are “worse” (look at Grayson’s latest) just in this cycle, not to mention the very rough and tumble 19th Century, which puts even Lyndon Johnson and his daises to shame.

  • Catholics should talk about what a just tax system and a just health care system would look like. If there are candidates out there that support this, why should we not support them?

    Not going to let this slip, since you appear to be begging the question against Michael. What exactly does a “just tax system and a just health care system” look like? Can you give an example of an “unjust tax system” or an “unjust health care system” such that if an American politician were to endorse one or the other you would refuse to endorse him/her on Catholic grounds?

    As for Rep. Joseph Cao, his campaign did not return our candidate questionnaire, which is required for our endorsement. Have them call us.

    If returning your questionnaire is a necessary condition for endorsement, and assuming few candidates actually do so, then how exactly do Catholics (like me) benefit from a CV endorsement? It seems likely that you will end up providing little to no guidance to Catholics in most political contests. Further, there is obviously some asymmetry with respect to your endorsements and oppositions; it does not appear that returning a questionnaire is a necessary condition for being condemned by CatholicVote.

    While opposed the entire health care bill and not just the pro-abortion language

    This seems disingenuous, then. The health care bill that included the pro-life protections was not contrary to any Catholic moral or social principles, so your opposition to it could only be justified (if it even could have been justified in the first place) on grounds quite apart from expressed Catholic teaching. Calling yourselves “CatholicVote” while opposing policies that are not themselves in conflict with Catholic moral and social teaching is misleading and, it seems to me, partisan.

  • it’s certainly appropriate for Catholics to endorse candidates who support Catholic teaching on non-negotiable issues of life and marriage.

    No, that is not what I indicated. For a Catholic to endorse a candidate requires more than token acceptance of pro-life views on abortion and marriage, but rather a wholistic embrace of Catholic social teaching-an embrace rarely found in either party.

    For example, there’s not a word on the site about torture. How do you claim a candidate is Catholic without examining this issue?

  • Michael,

    As you point out, CV’s emaciation of Catholic social teaching and its vague reference to the “proper role of government” seems to be arbitrary.

  • Michael, you make good points (especially about that humorless crusader called Minion!). And I also respect Anh Cao a lot – my wife has donated to him, and I’ve been to fundraisers. Let’s say he’s one Republican I hope wins this year (even if I think he made the wrong prudential call on the final healthcare bill).

    You have flagged the core problem here. It is one thing to claim that some issues are more important than others, or to support somebody while holding your nose over certain issues. But the Peters brigade goes much further. While calling themselves “Catholic Vote”, they actually seize a principle about the role of government which is quite at odds with a Catholic understanding and a Catholic sensibility. While we can certainly have debates over the appropriate role of government, I think certain positions can be ruled out of bounds, and Angle’s ultra-liberalism is one of them.

    It is rooted in a philosopical principle that the Church has long condemned. To give just one of many examples, Pope Paul VI in Octogesima Adveniens warns about the attraction of liberalism as a counterweight to totalitarianism: “the very root of philosophical liberalism is an erroneous affirmation of the autonomy of the individual in his activity, his motivation and the exercise of his liberty”.

    In essence, it forsakes all notions of solidarity. In healthcare in particular, this “evil individualistic spirit” sees health as personal responsibility and opposes all notions that the fortunate must be compelled to subsidize the unfortunate. This was really at the essence of the healthcare debate. During the debate, the Peters brigade used abortion as a smokescreen to mask their true liberal position. This explains why not a single one of these people supported the House bill, which had the language on abortion approved by the USCCB. Only Cao…

  • I agree with what you say here, and MM did point out some rather questionable issues with some of Angle’s views, but I do have a hard time considering Reid pro-life. He may not be as rabid a pro-abort as some other Dems, but a Cao he is not. Yet some on VN are painting the Reid v Angle as a pro-life Dem v. pro-life Rep contest, as though there is no difference between the two on that issue.

  • but I do have a hard time considering Reid pro-life. He may not be as rabid a pro-abort as some other Dems, but a Cao he is not.

    I thought the votes MM quoted showed me enough to not trust Reid on abortion; whether Angle is more trustworthy I cannot say, as I am not from Nevada and have no real interest in the race.

    Michael, you make good points (especially about that humorless crusader called Minion!

    You know what? You want me to call you by the full name, you gotta have a shorter name. I come from a generation where if you have a name that gets more than three letters in text-speak, you’re doing pretty good 😉

    MJ & MM

    I have a hard time accepting that either party has an understanding the proper role of government. While subsidiarity does call for smaller government, it does allow for larger ones to step if there’s a problem that either can’t or isn’t being addressed by the smaller. Healthcare seems to fit that bill. However, the Dems didn’t seem really interested in constructing a system that was geared towards returning the system to more local control (local, not state). To be fair, they had a hard time constructing much of anything with the lobbyists and such, but it seems to me that both parties didn’t really represent solidiarity in that debate. Which approach did more violence to the principle is hard to tell and up for discussion-which is precisely why it’s so hard to say “x candidate is good on the issues” in this partisan environment. Both sides have some elements of social teaching in them, but neither has nearly enough to be called Catholic.

  • My position is that there are a few issues, abortion and euthanasia being among them, where there is a clear Catholic position. On most other issues the Church leaves her sons and daughters free to execise their wits and determine their own positions.

    This letter from then Cardinal Ratzinger to Cardinal McCarrick in 2004 has helped shape my thinking in this area:

    Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion. General Principles

    by Joseph Ratzinger

    1. Presenting oneself to receive Holy Communion should be a conscious decision, based on a reasoned judgement regarding one’s worthiness to do so, according to the Church’s objective criteria, asking such questions as: “Am I in full communion with the Catholic Church? Am I guilty of grave sin? Have I incurred a penalty (e.g. excommunication, interdict) that forbids me to receive Holy Communion? Have I prepared myself by fasting for at least an hour?” The practice of indiscriminately presenting oneself to receive Holy Communion, merely as a consequence of being present at Mass, is an abuse that must be corrected (cf. Instruction “Redemptionis Sacramentum,” nos. 81, 83).

    2. The Church teaches that abortion or euthanasia is a grave sin. The Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, with reference to judicial decisions or civil laws that authorise or promote abortion or euthanasia, states that there is a “grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection. […] In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to ‘take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law or vote for it’” (no. 73). Christians have a “grave obligation of conscience not to cooperate formally in practices which, even if permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to God’s law. Indeed, from the moral standpoint, it is never licit to cooperate formally in evil. […] This cooperation can never be justified either by invoking respect for the freedom of others or by appealing to the fact that civil law permits it or requires it” (no. 74).

    3. Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.

    4. Apart from an individuals’s judgement about his worthiness to present himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, the minister of Holy Communion may find himself in the situation where he must refuse to distribute Holy Communion to someone, such as in cases of a declared excommunication, a declared interdict, or an obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin (cf. can. 915).

    5. Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person’s formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his Pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist.

    6. When “these precautionary measures have not had their effect or in which they were not possible,” and the person in question, with obstinate persistence, still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, “the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it” (cf. Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts Declaration “Holy Communion and Divorced, Civilly Remarried Catholics” [2002], nos. 3-4). This decision, properly speaking, is not a sanction or a penalty. Nor is the minister of Holy Communion passing judgement on the person’s subjective guilt, but rather is reacting to the person’s public unworthiness to receive Holy Communion due to an objective situation of sin.

    [N.B. A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favour of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.]

  • I posted the folloing in the comments sectio9n of MM’s post.

    Justice is the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbor. Justice toward God is called the “virtue of religion.” Justice toward men disposes one to respect the rights of each and to establish in human relationships the harmony that promotes equity with regard to persons and to the common good. The just man, often mentioned in the Sacred Scriptures, is distinguished by habitual right thinking and the uprightness of his conduct toward his neighbor. “You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.”(Lev 19:15) “Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.(Col 4:1) Emphsis mine.

    Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 1807

    I think the discussion would be better made if took are catagoris from the Church’s teaching rather than secular political talking points.


    What is the proper due to of a government to it’s citizens?
    What is the proper due to of a government to non-citizens it has allowed to reside there.
    What is the proper due to of a government to non-citizens who have moved there in violation of it’s own laws?

    That is probably not exhaustive but to have just policy all of them must be answered in a way supports giving each his popper due.

    Without the hype Ms Angle’s add is accusing Senator Reid of wanting the Government to take from what is due citizens and lawful resident non-citizens and to give unlawfully present non-citizens more than their due.

    I do not know all the facts of the situation, and would most likely dislike them both if I did, but there is nothing inherently racist in the video. If you want to disagree with Ms Angle go ahead send some money to Senator Reid’s campaign, but the accusation of racism is over the top and not really conductive to charity.

  • “He also claims Cao did not return CV’s questions, explaining why there is no endorsement.

    Well we should be able to correct that problem down here

  • We need to support pro-life Catholics like Lipinski or else the entire Democratic Party will be in the wilderness

    A fellow named Stupak showed us all not too long ago that the promises of “pro-life” Democrats are worth less than a warm bucket of spit. I’ll not let myself be suckered again.

  • Thanks Michael for your post, though I am compelled to respond and disagree with much of what you and others have written. I do believe that the questions you raise are highly relevant to the conversation occurring within the Church today about the proper role of the laity in public life, and especially American politics. I should also note for those that don’t know, Michael has been, and continues to be, a guest blogger on and we continue to welcome his contributions (and disagreements) on our site should he choose to cross post there. was founded specifically to champion the cause of faithful citizenship from a distinctly lay perspective. As such, we seek to serve the Church by assisting the laity with material, catechetical resources, news and commentary, and tools for evangelization (videos, ads, etc) that incorporate an authentic Catholic worldview as applied to our civic life, in pursuit of the common good. To be sure, the issues that involve intrinsic evils, or questions that involve the “non-negotiable” issues are always treated as foundational, and not open to compromise or debate for Catholics. Our programming has almost exclusively been focused on the life issue, for example.

    However, it should come as no surprise that Catholic voters are confronted with a host of public policy questions where an authentic Catholic approach to a particular public policy solution is not as easily discernible. Your beef seems to focus on our use of prudence in reading Church teaching, particularly on the issue of subsidiarity, in evaluating and scoring candidates for public office. This is precisely the debate we hoped to spawn, namely, one that involves questions of prudence in the application of this foundational principle of Catholic social teaching to the questions of economic justice, taxes, immigration, health care, and other issues where Catholics in good conscience are permitted to disagree. To your credit, you acknowledge that our scoring analysis makes clear that we make no claim that Church teaching binds Catholics to vote and follow particular policy approaches on these prudential matters. That does not mean, however, that the principles and guidance of the Church should be ignored, or as some here suggest, be kept out of the public square by Catholic groups in the context of specific candidates seeking elected office.

    This is precisely where we hope to provide the laity some needed counterweight to the default socialist oriented, government-first, policy prejudices often assumed to be the more authentically “Catholic” position on many issues. We openly acknowledge our reading of Catholic social doctrine to incorporate the principle of subsidiarity in the development of policy prescriptions that seek to bring about the conditions most conducive to the common good. This reading of Church teaching, not altogether novel incidentally, leads us to advocate in many instances a more limited role for the federal government in the governance and control of policies that impact our economy, health care and so forth.

    I think it is perfectly defensible to suggest that the Church, particularly since Vatican II, and more recently the public statements from the Holy Father, urge the laity to assume a more active role in this area. Quite frankly, I continue to be disappointed in the reluctance on the part of highly competent Catholics (including many of your readers) to engage these questions head on. This is precisely the function of the laity, whom in many cases possess a level of competence or expertise in various areas (economic policy or health care delivery for example) that may exceed even that of our priests or bishops or, most certainly, the staff of the USCCB. This is in no way intended to slight our bishops, whom we serve and obey without qualification on questions of faith and morals. But it does seem to me of utmost importance that the laity assert their role, apply their insights and expertise in light of the guidance provided by the Church, and most importantly, not be afraid to say that their judgments are informed by Catholic social doctrine and tradtion. Catholic voters in return can more responsibly rely on lay groups such as mine as a place to help formulate and articulate political positions that are shaped and guided by the insights of the Church.

    Whether Sharon Angle for example should be supported by Catholics is a highly relevant question, which we unabashedly try to answer. There are some Catholics who may disagree with our judgment, but I find it odd, if not irresponsible, to suggest that Catholic laity (or groups using the word Catholic in their name) should shun such judgments.

    Finally, I think it important to propose that Catholics begin to work to overcome the “single-issue voter” critique, as if the Catholics who follow the Church’s teaching on the life issue have nothing further to contribute to the our national political conversation. We have much we can offer, and indeed must learn to articulate the ways in which the life issue is indeed foundational, by and through, our articulation of a Catholic approach to other issues. Socialist Catholic organizations have understood this for years, and have harmed the Church because, unlike you and me, they don’t truly take seriously the non-negotiable issues to begin with.

    I have written far to much for a comment box, and I could go on much further, but perhaps I should stop now and allow the discussion to continue. Your post, and the comments by your readers are indeed helpful and thought provoking. Like most here, I hope this conversation, and any success we achieve, contributes in some small way, to the New Evangelization, of which we are all a part. Any grammatical mistakes, spelling errors, or lapses in logic can be blamed on my lack of sleep from Monday night, having attended that glorious upset of the Packers at Soldier Field. Go Bears.

    But wait, a few final remarks –

    – our questionnaire that must be completed prior to any endorsement is the most extensive questionnaire that I know of. It is not multiple choice, and requires candidates to submit lengthy answers, including an explicit question asking about their opposition to torture;

    – those that read into the placement of issues on our website as indicative of the priority we place on these issues are simply looking to cause trouble; if the work we have done, and the commentary provided by Thomas and others on our site has not made plain that we believe the issues of life, marriage, and religious liberty to be foundational, then they I can’t help them.

    – Finally, the endorsements on our site do not constitute a comprehensive list of all candidates worthy of an endorsement or Catholic attention; because this is our first public foray with our PAC, we have chosen to keep our “slate” to a limited number of candidates who qualify for our endorsement, and whose races we believe to be significant

  • “A fellow named Stupak showed us all not too long ago that the promises of “pro-life” Democrats are worth less than a warm bucket of spit. I’ll not let myself be suckered again.”

    Words to live by Donna.

  • A fellow named Stupak showed us all not too long ago that the promises of “pro-life” Democrats are worth less than a warm bucket of spit. I’ll not let myself be suckered again.

    I know this debate dragged on for quite some time, and I do not wish to rehash it, but it is not at all apparent to me that Stupak betrayed any pro-life principles. Stupak remains a hero of mine and many other pro-life Catholics.

  • Well, IIRC, Stupak proposed an amendment that would have provided some pro-life protection in the health care bill, and voted for the package including the amendment (as did Cao). The Senate dumped the amendment, and when it came back to the house, Stupak voted for it w/o his amendment (Cao voted against after the amendment was dropped). So, who did his Father’s will?

  • For months Stupak, along with the Bishops and the vast majority of pro-life advocates, argued that the bill provided federal funding for abortion. He stated that he couldn’t support the bill unless it included language specifically excluding abortion. He said that, without such language, the bill was “unacceptable”.

    Then, when push came to shove, he voted for the very bill that he had previously said was “unacceptable” because it funded abortion. He chose voting with Pelosi over voting with the Bishops. Then, in defense of himself, and in speaking against Republican efforts to reintroduce HIS OWN Stupak Amendment, he smeared the very pro-lifers who had stood with him for months as not caring about health care for mothers and only caring about babies up until the time they are born:

    As if that weren’t enough, he then attacked the Bishops and other pro-lifers as “hypocrites”:

    I’d say that’s a fairly serious compromise of one’s pro-life principles.

    It’s funny because Rick Santorum is still raked over the coals (and rightfully so) for his far less egregious sell out of the pro-life cause in his support of Arlen Specter over Pat Toomey. It almost seems that every misstep by pro-life Republicans is magnified as a sell-out of epic proportion (and I happily join in on piling on the GOP when that happens). So why would we give more deference to a pro-life Democrat whose actions arguably will, if the Bishops prove to be correct, actually lead to more abortions via federal funding?

    I was one of Stupak’s biggest cheerleaders during the healthcare debate, and often referred to him as a “hero” myself. The fact that he is a Democrat made him even more of a hero in my book. I was even willing to support the final bill (a bill I otherwise opposed) had the Stupak language been inserted, and to encourage others to do so, just as a show of good faith that a Democrat who had up until then stood up for pro-life principles against the pro-abort Dem leadership would be rewarded for his actions.

    So I understand the desperate need to find true pro-life Democrat heros. But not at the expense of calling Stupak’s sell out exactly what it was – a betrayal of pro-life principles far more egregious and far-reaching in its consequences than most pro-life sell-outs.

  • Jay, Very true. Many pro-life activists were very excited about Bart Stupak for standing true to his principles. In fact, we at CatholicVote launched a video comparing him to Braveheart and encouraged people to Stand With Stupak ( The hope was that he would begin a strong and bold pro-life movement within the Democratic Party.

    Conservatives said that this was wishful thinking — that Stupak would betray the pro-life cause.

    And he did betray us. Like Jay said, he also attacked those who stood with him.

  • Nice article, Michael. To stir the pot a little, the focus on abortion and family as the greatest political issue may come into conflict with what John Paul II taught: “the one issue which most challenges our human and Christian consciences is the poverty of countless millions of men and women.”

  • “most challenges” can mean a lot of things, nate, not necessarily “this is the most important issue.” I do think the poverty around us-spiritual and material-is what spurs us into politics. What issues we address in order to cure that poverty is the question. Indeed, part of the difficulty is that in America we have artificially divided things into separate issues whereas in Catholic social teaching, as Benedict makes clear in Caritas in Veritate, all issues are part of a whole.

    This wholeness, in turn, makes voting difficult and endorsing almost impossible for Catholics in America.

  • Michael, in terms of substance, this is one of the best pieces I have read on this blog in a very long time.

  • “I was one of Stupak’s biggest cheerleaders during the healthcare debate, and often referred to him as a “hero” myself.”

    I reacted the same way Jay, a mistake I am going to do my best not to repeat.

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  • Jay,

    From this:

    He stated that he couldn’t support the bill unless it included language specifically excluding abortion. He said that, without such language, the bill was “unacceptable”.

    Then, when push came to shove, he voted for the very bill that he had previously said was “unacceptable” because it funded abortion.

    you make the following inference:

    I’d say that’s a fairly serious compromise of one’s pro-life principles.

    The inference simply does not follow. You can (rightly, I think) charge Stupak with inconsistency on the substance of the healthcare bill. But it does not follow from his inconsistency that he compromised his pro-life principles. He stated that he voted for the bill because of the Presidential Executive Order, whose content he deemed sufficient to block that content of the bill over which he objected. Now, we can debate over the efficacy and content of the PEO or whether Stupak misunderstood it, but either option would be a matter separate from the question over whether Stupak compromised his pro-life principles.

  • He stated that he voted for the bill because of the Presidential Executive Order, whose content he deemed sufficient to block that content of the bill over which he objected.

    But the statement that the executive order changed Stupak’s opinion is an obvious lie. The executive order has no effect whatsoever on the legislation; the executive order did not and could not trump the congressional legislation (as its text makes clear). I think Stupak has received more criticism than he probably deserves; I am certain his efforts did result in some marginal improvements in the ultimate shape of the legislation.

    But his performance at the end was simply a disgrace – first he bashed pro-lifers, then he lied about the significance of the executive order. There was no need for him to do this – he could have simply said – ‘look, I was bluffing to get the best pro-life deal I could in the legislation, and in the end they called my bluff’. Instead he tried to play pro-lifers for fools by claiming the executive order was significant (it wasn’t), and then kicked sand in their eyes with antagonistic comments. Certainly, he was under a lot of pressure, but let’s not pretend he behaved in an honest or praiseworthy manner. I’m discounting as unworthy of serious consideration the idea that Stupak was unaware that the executive order was meaningless – it’s possible he’s an ignoramus on matters relating to the most basic facets of his job, but I’m assuming (perhaps erroneously) that he is not.

    Lest you think I am mis-stating the significance of the order, here’s Slate and the Volokh Conspiracy puzzling over Stupak’s bizarre behavior in light of the legal effect of the order.
    “Why did Bart Stupak hold out for a meaningless executive order?”

  • I think there are two interpretations of what Stupak did.

    1) Stupak sold out. He was grandstanding to make a name for himself and to get more favor for his vote that he could trade for earmarks for his Michigan. The pro-life schtick was a sham.

    2) Stupak realized at the 11th hour that he had failed and that Obamacare would fund abortion. Hoping to at least bind the Obama administration as much as possible, he traded his vote, which he now knew was meaningless, for the EO in order to at least slow down the flow of abortion funds into the coffers until the GOP could come back and fix it.

    #1 doesn’t make much sense, because it seems to have been a gross miscalculation as everyone dislikes him now. #2 doesn’t square away with the comments he directed towards the pro-lifers who had faithfully backed him. The whole thing doesn’t quite make sense, and Stupak is still trying to argue the EO means something (he & pro-healthcare Catholics seem to be the few who think this). Until he comes clean, we can argue about it. But I think it’s possible that Stupak made a prudential error in voting for the bill in order to get the best pro-life protection he could get-which wasn’t much, if anything.

  • I just think he was sincerely pro-life and pro-health care and pro-his career. He was under a lot of pressure and made some poor choices (and voting for the bill wasn’t necessarily one of them). There is no legal basis for claiming the executive order accomplished anything. None. It’s impossible for me to believe that Stupak doesn’t know this, given that he was (theoretically) holding hostage Obama’s signature initiative for this reason. My problem is less with his actions re: voting, than how he went about it, which reflected some combination of foolishness and dishonesty, although we can disagree about how much there was of each. It’s one thing to vote for the bill. Quite another to make obviously false statements about the rationale for said vote, and attack pro-lifers in the process.

  • This:

    the statement that the executive order changed Stupak’s opinion is an obvious lie.

    Does not follow from this:

    The executive order has no effect whatsoever on the legislation; the executive order did not and could not trump the congressional legislation (as its text makes clear).

    This problematic way of drawing inferences is what I pointed out about Jay’s commment.

    There seems to me to be no grounds for the following three claims:

    1. Stupak compromised his pro-life principles (made by Jay)
    2. Stupak betrayed the pro-life cause (made by Joshua)
    3. Stupak lied (made by John)

    None of these three claims follows from the facts of the matter. Instead, each claim depends by and large on speculation about Stupak’s intentions and understanding with respect to the bill and the PEO. It may be the case that Stupak made an error of judgment about the nature and content of the PEO and its precise relation to the bill, and we could criticize him for this mistake (if he made one) and express our disappointment that he made it. But to attribute ill-will to Stupak (e.g., “he lied,” “he betrayed us”) or to claim he compromised his faith and principles is to not only go well beyond the facts we have available to us, it is to give no benefit whatsoever of the doubt to him. In that case, I question the motives behind portraying Stupak in the worst possible light (it’s hard to imagine saying anything worse about his legislative actions than that he deliberately compromised key Catholic moral principles or willingly deceived pro-lifers).

    A more charitable take on the Stupak case is that he misjudged or misunderstood what was at stake with respect to the PEO. This seems to me to be more plausible than the speculation offered in this thread.

  • A more charitable take on the Stupak case is that he misjudged or misunderstood what was at stake with respect to the PEO

    It is possible for a third way-that he understood that it was weak, but took the deal because it’s better than nothing. That doesn’t mean he betrayed his pro-life principles, but rather did what he thought best to secure the best pro-life bill he could.

    But to attribute ill-will to Stupak (e.g., “he lied,” “he betrayed us”) or to claim he compromised his faith and principles is to not only go well beyond the facts we have available to us, it is to give no benefit whatsoever of the doubt to him.

    I think his comments from the House floor really hurt a lot of his former supporters. While they could be more charitable, Stupak did also stir the fire against him and made a lot of mistakes in handling how he switched his vote so that mistrust is understandable even if not ultimately justified.

  • Stupak decided to fight the good fight, until the going got rough and then he capitulated unconditionally. Obama gave him the executive order as a figleaf, nothing more. More’s the pity if Stupak has managed to convince himself that what he did accomplished anything for the pro-life cause.

  • MJ,

    I would be willing to buy your take and to have given Stupak the benefit of the doubt had he not, after all was said and done, attacked the pro-lifers who had stood with him. Had he not called the Bishops and other pro-lifers “hypocrites” for their pointing out the worthlessness of the Executive Order.

    The evidence of Stupak’s bad faith lies not in conjecture on my part, but in his words and deeds since he switched his vote.

  • John Henry and I haven’t always agreed on everything (usually differences over form rather than substance), but I know him to be one of the more thoughtful and measured contributors here. He is not prone to harsh words about anyone, and in those very few instances where his commentary does take on an edge, it is almost never without justification.

    I also know John Henry to have once held Bart Stupak in the highest esteem.

    So, the fact that John Henry now takes this tack with regard to Stupak’s actions gives me confidence that Stupak’s critics here are not acting uncharitably or in bad faith in forming their assessments of him.

  • None of these three claims follows from the facts of the matter. Instead, each claim depends by and large on speculation about Stupak’s intentions and understanding with respect to the bill and the PEO. It may be the case that Stupak made an error of judgment about the nature and content of the PEO and its precise relation to the bill, and we could criticize him for this mistake (if he made one) and express our disappointment that he made it

    Respectfully, MJ, you seem to be ignoring the main issue and injecting doubt into the discussion about the executive order where none exists. Everyone from Ezra Klein to Slate to the conservative law profs at Volokh agree that the Executive Order carried no legal force; it did nothing to modify the law and said as much in the plain text of the Order. Stupak’s claim on that score is simply false, and your comments haven’t acknowledged that. Once we understand that his statements were clearly false, we are left with two (unflattering) conclusions:

    1) Stupak knew they were false, and was trying to save face by claiming the Executive Order had some legal force.

    2) Stupak made a deal completely misunderstanding its contents.

    As I said, I find the second explanation implausible; Stupak was holding the entire health care reform bill hostage over this issue. Either he knew or he should have known that the deal he made was meaningless. I don’t even see why 2 is really all that much more flattering than 1; is it really more flattering to portray him as an ignorant dupe than a politician caught in a tight spot who decided to lie to cover up for his reversal? Your comments suggest you think it is, but you haven’t explained why. There is no ambiguity here legally; pretending there is simply wishful thinking. As I said, Stupak has received more criticism than he deserves; that does not mean the criticisms are wholly unfounded – your comments here have been rather obtuse.

  • He is not prone to harsh words about anyone, and in those very few instances where his commentary does take on an edge, it is almost never without justification.

    I don’t really agree with this – I have wished I were more charitable towards people in comment threads (including you, as you know) many, many times – but thank you for saying it. As for Stupak, I think it was fine for him to make a prudential judgment about the health care reform bill; I just think he should have been more upfront about his reasons for doing so (or if he was being honest, he shouldn’t have agreed to a deal that he clearly didn’t understand).

Soccer's World Cup Gives Us Insights Into The Current State Of Politics & Religion

Wednesday, June 30, AD 2010

Every four years the sporting world, especially Europe, Africa and Latin America is held in rapt attention by soccer’s World Cup. It can tell us many things about the state of the world, from politics to culture and even religion, and that’s even before we get to the sporting angle. Now for purposes of full disclosure, my favorite sports are college football and college basketball, though having a mother who grew up in Germany has helped me gain some soccer knowledge. Many a book or intellectual statesman from Henry Kissinger on down the line have mused about soccer’s effect on the world, which seems to change each and every World Cup to reflect the sign of the times.

Unlike a relativistic world where social engineering has taken hold, it appears that sports are the world’s last venue where sheer work ethic and determination hold sway. Perhaps this is why sports are so popular in the world, especially Europe’ s social democracies. One should keep in mind that as high as the Super Bowl ratings are for US television, World Cup TV ratings for nations in the championship game are even higher. Let’s look at this World Cup to see what it can tell us about the state of the world.

Some of the political developments from the last World Cup were the rise of the African nations in the soccer world, perhaps reflecting the rise of the continent itself on political and religious grounds. Keep in mind tiny Ghana won the 20 and under World Championship last year defeating Brazil, quite an accomplishment. Also of note in the last World Cup was Germany’s rising national spirit as seen in public displays of flag waving, which had been a post World War II no-no for Deutschland.

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2 Responses to Soccer's World Cup Gives Us Insights Into The Current State Of Politics & Religion

  • I still see many european soccer players cross themselves entering the pitch, at least the Spanish players (and see how far they have gotten!).

  • Not everything that’s French is necessarily a loser; the fleur-de-lis, lowered in defeat in 1763 on this continent, is a symbol of the 2010 Superbowl Champion New Orleans Saints.