Liberals, Cocoons and the Supreme Court

Thursday, March 29, AD 2012


It has been amusing to witness the left side of the blogosphere over the three days of hearings before the Supreme Court.  By and large they were absolutely certain that it was smooth sailing for ObamaCare  at the Supreme Court prior to the hearings and were dismayed when arguments against ObamaCare that seemed to gain traction were made in the oral arguments.  John Podhoretz today in the New York Post captures the surprise on the Left well:

The panicked reception in the mainstream media of the three-day Supreme Court  health-care marathon is a delightful reminder of the nearly impenetrable  parochialism of American liberals.

They’re so convinced of their own correctness — and so determined to believe  conservatives are either a) corrupt, b) stupid or c) deluded — that they find  themselves repeatedly astonished to discover conservatives are in fact capable  of a) advancing and defending their own powerful arguments, b) effectively  countering weak liberal arguments and c) exposing the soft underbelly of liberal  self-satisfaction as they do so.

That’s what happened this week. There appears to be no question in the mind  of anyone who read the transcripts or listened to the oral arguments that the  conservative lawyers and justices made mincemeat out of the Obama  administration’s advocates and the liberal members of the court.

This came as a startling shock to the liberals who write about the court.

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28 Responses to Liberals, Cocoons and the Supreme Court

  • Cocoons? Donald…that sounds…racist. I am shocked.

    I believe it’s time for a Chesterton quote:

    In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”

  • Conservatives rejoice and give thanks to God for the ability to hear and see both sides given to you without even trying. Your armor is being given you by the opposing side…and they don’t even know how willingly they do such. Emotion and doing something for something’s sake will be their undoing for it will have given us thick skins and armor, impenitrable. Hazzah!!

  • Even if the court decides by a slim 5-4 to strike down all or part of OC, Carville’s spin is that it will spark the dem base and put conservatives on the defense once again by casting them as obstructionists to universal health care. Anticipating a “loss,” the libs are already crafting a strategy that is likely to gain traction with MSM distortions.

  • Oh they will do whatever they can in any case to spark their base Joe, including appeals to racial paranoia, which is in fully swing right now. These type of demagogic appeals will occur whatever happens to ObamaCare.

    I view ObamaCare in the Supreme Court as a win-win for conservatives. If the Court upholds the law that will motivate conservatives to crawl over broken glass to case a ballot against the architect of ObamaCare. If the Court strikes ObamaCare down, then Obama is left facing the voters with a lousy economy and his signature legislative accomplishment tossed on the ashheap. Old snakehead Carville is whistling Dixie and doing so off key.

  • In my experience many people on both sides of the political spectrum live in cocoons. Just recall for a moment the dozens of insipidly naive nonsense we receive by email from conservatives who believe such nonsense precisely because the live in echo chambers.

  • I disagree Mike. The people who send out such e-mails do not write for the New York Times, adorn chairs at prestigious universities or produce films with production budgets in the millions of dollars. The cocooning of the Left is pervasive and is not restricted to fringe elements. This Pauline Kael, the late movie reviewer for the New Yorker, quote says it all:

    “I live in a rather special world. I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don’t know. They’re outside my ken. But sometimes when I’m in a theater I can feel them.”

  • There was a time when the Supreme Court was not as politicized. Virtually everyone is predicting the justices will line up along ideological lines with Kennedy the swing vote that will tilt against Obamacare.
    I recall, however, when U.S. District Court Judge John Sirica, during the Watergate scandal, ordered Richard Nixon to turn over the secret tape recordings, a ruling that was upheld 9-0 by the Supreme Court. Sirica set himself on a constitutional collision course with Nixon, who tried to invoke executive privilege and argue that the tapes were not subject to judicial scrutiny. But in a historic ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Sirica, ruling unanimously that the judiciary must have the last word in an orderly constitutional system. Political considerations were secondary back then.
    Nowadays the High Court has been corrupted by liberal poseurs who lack the intellectual and objective ability to interpret the Constitution and instead bow to their liberal god, Obama.

  • In my experience many people on both sides of the political spectrum live in cocoons.

    There is truth to that. The thing is, you can live in a starboard cocoon (strictly on the internet, nowadays), but very few people are paid a salary for so doing or distribute any tangible benefits in so doing. Not so the arts and sciences faculty, the New York Times newsroom or the Writers Guild of America.

  • I accept and agree with the distinction you are making, gents, but would point out that the conservative echo chamber I describe is not “fringe,” but fairly mainstream in conservative circles, precisely because it has a populist bent. Go to any Tea Party function if you do not believe me.

  • Commerce laws were written to regulate FREE ENTERPRIZE. Commerce, itself carries the connotation of FREE ENTERPRIZE and may be regulated by a free people through Congress. The Legislative branch of government, the Congress, makes law not the Executive branch. Uninformed law, a blank contract, is not informed consent for the people, and is not FREE ENTERPRIZE AND THEREFORE THE COMMERCE LAWS CANNOT BE INVOKED by the Federal government FOR OBAMACARE. Can the Federal Government create FREE ENTERPRIZE for the people? (The New Deal was not FREE ENTERPRIZE.)or must the people create FREE ENTERPRIZE for themselves? No, It is not the Federal Government’s authentic authority to create free enterprize.

  • I have lived my entire adult life in the academy — or should I say, l’accademia alla sinistra?

    My sense is that there are many academics who are friendly to conservative ideas, but that, in general, the typical academic knows as much about conservatism as the typical Englishman knows about baseball. It’s not a healthy situation, because we ought to be having serious conversations about the nature of the human person, the indispensable role of religion in human life both private and social, the meaning of economic “progress,” the value of the virtues, the nature of love, the scope of liberty, the difference between liberty and autonomy, the difference between liberty and license, the liberties of free associations, the meaning of the word “political” — on all these subjects, people of good will and some historical knowledge that extends beyond yesterday should be able to speak.

    But the Left is farther along on the terminal disease of Statism than the Right is. Since I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth, I don’t have to invest politics with the robes of glory. Politics is important, but it isn’t in the same league at all with things that are transcendently important — like prayer. But if Mammon and Pharaoh are all you have … then, well, then you behave like leftist entertainers and pundits and professors.

  • Great post, Tony. If you have not already I suggest you consider reading “A Secular Age” by Charles Taylor. Professor Taylor tackles many of the topics you raise and then some. It is a fairly dense academic work, but given where you live you’ll probably eat it up.

  • Mike—I don’t think Professor Esolen would be so bold, so with regards may I suggest also that you read some of Professor Esolen’s publications found in first rate Catholic publications, but particularly given your recommendation of Taylor’s book, I think you would very much enjoy “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization.”

  • A book I read with amusement and edification.

  • “Thus, when [liberals] come up against real life conservatives who are intelligent, articulate and challenge beliefs that they thought were unassailable, their reaction tends to be…”

    I suspect that liberals will far more easily admit that the Supreme Court has simply become dangerously and syncophantically right-wing  rather than admit that conservatives are able to intelligently and articulately challenge much of anything.

  • Thanks for the recommendation. I shall add it to my Kindle queue.

  • “I suspect that liberals will far more easily admit that the Supreme Court has simply become dangerously and syncophantically right-wing rather than admit that conservatives are able to intelligently and articulately challenge much of anything.”

    I rather think you are right HA, and I do hope that most liberals are that delusional.

  • ” My sense is that there are many academics who are friendly to conservative ideas, but that, in general, the typical academic knows as much about conservatism as the typical Englishman knows about baseball. It’s not a healthy situation, because we ought to be having serious conversations about:

    the nature of the human person,
    the indispensable role of religion in human life both private and social,
    the meaning of economic “progress,”
    the value of the virtues, ***
    the nature of love,
    the scope of liberty,
    the difference between liberty and autonomy,
    the difference between liberty and license,
    the liberties of free associations,
    the meaning of the word “political”

    — on all these subjects, people of good will and some historical knowledge that extends beyond yesterday should be able to speak. ”

    Rearranged the quote from above comment to emphasize some desirable Course Titles for students of higher education, or even high school term paper assignments.

  • Couldn’t conservative academics do something about this–by getting out of their own cocoons? A little more of challenging the status quo on campus? Debate. Challenge. Evangelize. Why does it seems smart conservative professors talk to other smart conservative professors.

  • That is not the case Anzlyne. Most conservative academics tend, as a group, to be very outgoing. They have no choice in the matter. They are often the only conservative professors on a campus. Robert Bork is fond of telling a story about a time when he and another professor on a campus were looked upon as crazy because they were the only two members of the faculty who were Republicans. It didn’t help that-wait for it-as Bork noted the other professor really was crazy.

  • Jim Treacher: “They’re the elderly Florida couple whose address Spike Lee tweeted because he thought it was George Zimmerman’s. Presumably because he wanted people to go there and discuss things calmly. . . . ‘Fearful for their safety, and hoping to escape the spotlight, the couple have temporarily moved to a hotel.’”

    Plus: “Somebody please try to justify this. Seriously. Tell me why this is okay. Tell me why this doesn’t matter. Tell me how this helps. Tell me how anyone involved in this fiasco expects us to just forget what they’ve said and done.”

  • Yes you are right. I woke up this morning thinking about it–I was expressing frustration I guess and feeling a bit owly…

  • Most conservative academics tend, as a group, to be very outgoing.

    A disgruntled alumni association pulled the voter registration cards of the faculty and administration of the local liberal arts college. All told, about a dozen professors and lecturers (out of 200 or so) were identified as Republicans. One or two had either checked the wrong box on the registration form or had enrolled as Republicans for some sort of ironic prank. As for the remainder, four could have been identified as such by their statements in public fora.

  • A good example of conservative academics engaging the larger culture is the Federalist Society, which has had an impact on both law schools and the courts, and which usually invites liberal professors to participate in panel discussions and conferences, which tend to be lively and thought provoking.

  • I am a member of that group, and at one of their National Lawyer Conventions( in D.C. met Lanny Davis (former Clinton counsel), and saw many other liberals and libertarians debating conservatives, etc.

  • The Federalist Society in Atlanta is quite strong, and Don’s description is spot on right. Most events offer multiple viewpoints with strong liberal representation. The forums are almost always edifying.

  • Newsbusters featured this example of the cocoon, from a NYT chat:

    Gail Collins: “I can’t believe this might be overturned. How can this law not be constitutional? The other alternatives are forcing taxpayers to cover the cost of the care in emergency rooms for people who don’t want to pay for their insurance, even if they can, or letting human beings just die on the side of the road. I can’t believe fiscal conservatives think either of those options is a good idea. Really, I have my hands over my ears. Not listening.”

    I think that both sides have to worry about the cocoon, though. As the right-wing media develop, I’ve been hearing more people on the right who aren’t exposed to the counter-arguments from the left. I think that evangelicals especially, who have their own media, schools, and entertainment, risk cutting themselves off from alternative viewpoints. (That being said, if I had kids, I’d create a bunker to keep them away from our modern culture, too.)

  • Pinky, I have two young boys. One is four years old and the baby is four months old.

    I do not want them exposed to the filth of slopular culture. Slopular culture objectifies women. Political correctness makes this view a nearly criminal offense, but both exist in the world of left wing thought because hypocrisy bother them not. It is bad enough that this had an effect on me when I was young 30 years ago and it was not nearly as bad then as it is now.

    Left wing thought is not an alternative point of view. It is a failed worldview that holds sway with those who have a false sense of intellectual superiority. This bunch confuses opinions with intelligence, and they will be with us until the end of time.

Conservatives, Liberals and Patriotism

Tuesday, July 6, AD 2010


This is in the category of water is wet and fire burns.  Gallup has released the result of a poll which shows that conservatives embrace patriotism for the US far more than liberals:

“The increase in the overall percentage of Americans calling themselves “extremely patriotic” is driven largely by seniors, Republicans, and conservatives — all of whom are significantly more likely to say so than they were in 2005. Republicans’ relatively higher identification with the “extremely patriotic” label is particularly intriguing when one considers that Democrats are currently far more likely than Republicans to say they are satisfied with the way things are going in the country (41% vs. 7%, respectively). Still, the majority of Americans in each of these subgroups say they are “extremely” or “very” patriotic.”

Go here to view the poll.  Since 2005 the number of Republicans calling themselves extremely patriotic is up 17 points, the number of conservatives doing so is up 15 points, while the number of liberals claiming to be extremely patriotic is down 4 points. 

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13 Responses to Conservatives, Liberals and Patriotism

  • But … but … but … I thought all those conservatives were “seditious” traitors because of their refusal to embrace The One and his policies.

  • Please. This merely means that “conservatives” are pro-war. It’s a sad state of affairs in this country when patriotism is equated with the military.

    The Founding Fathers would be appalled at the state of today’s conservatism.

  • “This merely means that “conservatives” are pro-war.”

    The poll said nothing about foreign policy. However I will agree that conservatives do believe the country should defend itself, and that a defense policy aping the ostrich serves it poorly. Lack of support for a foreign war is of course not an excuse for being unpatriotic. Lincoln for example opposed the Mexican War, while always being a patriot.

    As to the Founding Fathers and modern conservatism, I do think that they would be appalled at many aspects of modern life, but I also think they would appreciate the patriotism of most conservatives. The Founding Fathers found much to criticize in their society, but their critiques were always written out of love for their country.

  • Pro-military is not the same thing as pro-war. In fact, the best defense against war is to be better prepared for it than your enemy. If our military, a legitimate function of the federal government, is kept strong, voluntary, moral, resolute and leaps and bounds above all others – we probably won’t have much occasion to go to war. When we do, it would be quick and decisive. Don’t confuse war-mongering Neo-Cons, which are actually leftists and not conservative, with conservatives.

    Additionally, patriotism isn’t limited to war and military. One of the virtues of the Knights of Columbus is Patriotism, do you really think the K of C is a war-promoting fraternity?

    This poll isn’t surprising at all. The virtue of Patriotism has been asleep as we have fallen for all the temptations of modernity. BHO is bringing the modern impulse to fulfillment, and that is causing a righteous reaction from authentic conservatives. It is pretty simple.

  • It looks like conservatives are more patriotic today than they were after 9/11, which demonstrates that the conservative brand of patriotism thrives better under Kenyan rule than during war.

  • “It looks like conservatives are more patriotic today than they were after 9/11, which demonstrates that the conservative brand of patriotism thrives better under Kenyan rule than during war.”

    I think the 9/11 reference would make more sense of “2005” read “2002.” But I do suspect that Kenyan rule can help stir US patriotism for the same reason that Kremlin rule helped stir Polish Catholicism.

  • To play devil’s advocate, here, the “extremely” thing might be a sticker. It’s often used to mean “irrational” rather than “to a high degree.”

    Even I wouldn’t self-ID as “extremely patriotic” because it sounds like a set-up for the famous “my mother, drunk or sober” junk, and “very patriotic” covers it just fine.

    They do have another chart showing prior poll results, but the one for 2002 is from January and was done with the Hartwood Institute, so it’s not quite apples to apples. (No, I don’t know that snow vs fireworks would change answers, nor do I know if the Hartwood folks just paid the phone guys, but I don’t know it won’t change the result, so it must be considered.)

  • It is pretty simple, the political debate in this country is supposed to be between Federalist (Conservatives) and anti-Federalist (Libertarians) – there is no room for Liberals (Collectivists). So when Collectivists achieve the levers of power and start pulling them to tear down the Constitution, not to mention trying to kill God and His babies, again! Then it follows that Conservatives and Libertarians will become more Patriotic in an effort to return the political debate to its proper balance. Since most Republicans are conservative, then it would make sense to see Republican numbers go up, so long as you aren’t speaking to Castle or Graham and their ilk.

    I could care less that BHO is Kenyan, or not – the real issue is that he doesn’t have the heart of an American, certainly not a Patriot and he would be more at home in Communist China, so he should go be their president – just please appoint someone other than Biden or Pelosi.

  • My priorities are God, family and country.

    Maybe liberals do not believe that patriotism is a virtue.

    basically, I believe liberals are evil and seem to hate not only our country but also despise the uses many of us make of our liberties and our property.

    I think liberals hate their mothers.

  • Fuji, are you really meaning to imply that being really really patriotic is “nation worship”?


    Have you informed the Pope about the risk to his chaplains?

  • Fuji, take your neo-Confederate rantings elsewhere. You are banned from this blog.

  • 7% of Republicans are satisfied with the way things are going in this country?

    Are they soothsayers?

    I agree with Foxfier that “extremely” is a poor choice of adverb for a poll, because it has certain connotations—perhaps more so with younger people and their extreme sports and hula hoops and I-don’t-know-what—and I submit that “pretty darn” might be substituted next time around.

What the Left Cannot Supply, the Right Will Not Demand

Tuesday, June 15, AD 2010

Recently I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a series of posts looking at the recent survey purporting to know a lack of economic knowledge on the Left, with one post for each of the eight questions on the survey. As I look at the list of questions, however, a clear theme emerges, namely that liberals tend to think that the price of a good or service isn’t much affected by the supply of that good or service or visa versa. According to the survey, liberals tend to think that restricting the supply of housing doesn’t increase the price of housing (question 1), that restricting the supply of doctors (through licensing) doesn’t increase the price of doctors (question 2), and that price floors won’t decrease the supply of either rental space (question 4) or jobs (question 8).

Coincidentally, I’m currently reading a (surprisingly good) book by Paul Krugman, in which he argues that conservatives tend to minimize or dismiss the part changes in demand have on getting us into or out of recessions. Naturally this got me thinking whether one of the things separating left from right in this country is a difference in the importance of supply and demand in economic phenomenon. For the above issues, at least, liberals seem to be ready to discount the importance of supply, whereas conservatives underestimate the importance of demand.

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0 Responses to What the Left Cannot Supply, the Right Will Not Demand

  • I realize there is a standard argument that licensing restricts supply. Does it though? I think it is akin to arguing the ACT artificially restricts the supply of college students. (Admittedly, most colleges don’t require the ACT, but work with me here.) In both cases, there is a nominal fee and a background requirement, either explicit or implicit. While it is certainly true that there are people capable of going to college that don’t don’t take the ACT, there are also people capable of becoming doctors that don’t complete the formal requirements to do so. But is it truly the case that the ACT or licensing is restricting supply?

    In the case of supply, I think an example would be airline regulation. By essentially setting a price floor, money was able to be spent on R&D resulting in better aircraft over time. I think a lot of the interurban rail arguments are similar as well, where you have to have a sufficient base of supply before demand will truly kick in.

  • It’s true liberals tend to be Keynesian demand-siders and conservatives tend to be Say’s supply-siders. But you can be a Keynesian like Krugman and still get those questions right. Our political divide on economic issues seems to be primarily driven not by Keynesians and supply-siders but illiterate Keynesians and supply-siders. I bet if you get Krugman and Gary Becker in a room, they’d come out with pretty sensible economic policy roadmap.

  • The best lecture on supply and demand is

  • But is it truly the case that the ACT or licensing is restricting supply?

    Does it render the supply of providers smaller than it would otherwise be? If so (and there would not be much point to licensure if it did not) then it restricts supply and affects price.

    A more telling example than that of physicians would be certification requirements for school teachers and librarians, which are often a parody of vocational training.

  • I would imagine that the degree to which licensing restricts supply is directly proportional to how much of an obstacle the licensing is.

    If a license was as easy to procure as the ACT, it seems unlikely that it would restrict supply much — though it would do so slightly at the margins. (Arguably, the sort of college student who fails to go to college because he doesn’t get around to taking the ACT isn’t that much of a loss, academically.)

    However, when licensing requirements become steep, they restrict supply more. Librarian work is probably a decent example. My mom works as a library aide. The work she does is essentially the same as that which the librarians do (a bit more shelving and less answering questions), but the city she lives in only hires people with masters degrees in library science. Since a lot of the sort of people who want to work part time at a library are not going to go sink $30k+ and two years into getting a masters degree for it, the librarians are in comparatively short supply and highly paid (while there are lots of aides, and they’re low paid.)

    I find it hard to imagine that the masters requirement is not inflating the salary (by decreasing the supply) of librarians relative to the actual skills required.

  • The President’s speech tonight was a classic example of the utter economic ignorance that dominates the left.

    “Lets all stand in a circle, hold hands, and embrace a new “green economy”, because the time is now. Here it is, I think its coming. There, we did it, a brand new green economy.”

    Mr President, stop the BS, our country has been ripped off by false promises and promoters of junk science for years now. FOSSIL FUELS ARE BY FAR THE CHEAPEST SOURCE OF THE ENERGY AVAILABLE. If you have to subsidize something to get it to compete with fossil fuels, then its less economic. The money to subsidize it has to come from somewhere, and that means a net loss of productivity and jobs.

    A green economy is a less productive economy because our economy is more productive when energy is cheaper. He’s gonna make some green jobs, but what he isn’t telling everyone is that for each green job we’ll lose many regular jobs as even more manufacturers and businesses go somewhere else where the energy is cheaper.

  • Yes We Can!! Gulf D-Day 58, or is it 59?

    It’s tragic. Quis Ut Deus could have declared war on the Gulf. That could be very good for the Gulf.

    Kumbaya, my Lord! Kumbaya!!!!

    This is what happens when liberals, clueless college profs, people with multiple PhD’s in theology, economists of the income-redistribution-is-everything school, community agitators, ex-weather underground terrorists, etc. take over everything. Some dad-gummed fact that adults have lived with since God created us jumps out and bites them in the @$$.

    And, he fired that other gen’l. and put in snake-eater McKrystal as OIC of Afghanistan ‘war.’ Go long on the Taliban. Short US health care and the Gulf.

    It’s okay! They can always blame Bush.

  • I imagine the argument would be that while you may not see librarians and library assistants as distinct goods, those hiring them do see them as such. I’m not sure of the extent economics has seen every man as a potential supplier of goods. I’m well familiar with licensing being a bugaboo for a while.

    Does it render the supply of providers smaller than it would otherwise be? If so (and there would not be much point to licensure if it did not) then it restricts supply and affects price.

    This is of course dependent on what you want to consider supply. For example, I can supply oil changes to your car, but I haven’t increased the supply of car mechanics. Most folks outside economics see licensing as a way of legally certifying duties and providing a means of redress when incompetence occurs. Not only does a plumber who consistently allows sewer gases to enter a home get sanctioned civilly, he can be sanctioned by license loss and prevented from harming other households.

  • I’m not sure of the extent economics has seen every man as a potential supplier of goods.

    I take that back. In Econ 101, there are assumed to be no frictional costs to transitioning.

  • I’m not sure I see the analogy to the ACT. Aside from the fact that you don’t have to take the ACT to get into college, simply taking the ACT doesn’t mean you’ll get into college, whereas getting a license does mean you can work in the given field.

  • perhaps its not the licensing per se, but the entrance costs to the chosen field that does the limiting. The licensing portion, after all, is the least costly of it, unless you include the capital requirements (college and grad school) that go into getting that license. Dropping the licensing requirement for doctors would not likely reduce costs much, since it would still be prohibitively expensive for most to become.

    I suppose you may have several tiers of “doctors”, those that deal with more complicated ailments and conditions, and those treating run of the mill stuff (maybe for $30 you’d be willing to go to someone with a bachelor’s in biology if you had a headache, but willing to pay $8,000 to an M.D. for a C-section).

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25 Responses to Why I am Filing for Separation from the Democratic Party

  • Welcome to the world of independent idealism. Good to have you on board. It’s still (maybe especially) possible to be a good citizen being off the party rolls. I encourage the strategy.

  • I know exactly how you feel. I live in Washington DC, where it’s all politics, all the time. For a few years now I’ve answered the question “Are you a Republican (Democrat)?” with “I’m a Catholic.”

  • I simply must repeat what I said when you mentioned this to me privately — this is a great loss for pro-life Democrats, but God as you seem to have discerned may need your gifts and talents elsewhere for the sake of His Kingdom and, temporally speaking, for the common good.

    I need not ask to know whether I still have your support and you need not ask if you have mine. Have faith, there are sincere pro-life Catholics in the trenches my friend. You have simply chosen a new battlefield; there is only one Enemy.

  • Congratulations to you, and welcome aboard, Tim! But one question: am I completely imagining this, or didn’t you announce/decide this a couple of months ago? I thought I remembered reading a post you had written to that effect, but without all of the outlines for an independent party based on Catholic moral teaching and the Natural Law.

  • What’s wrong with the US Constitution Party?

    It’s platform is the closest to Chrcuh teaching:

    I understand, however, that it doesn’t fit the false gospel of the common good, social justice and peace at any price.

    It seems like the writer just wants a socialist party that can call itself pro-life and be Christian in name instead of advocating for a return to the truly Christian Constitutional Republic we once were.

    Why not read and study what this country was founded at insteda of trying to invent some socialist utopia. The common good didn’t work for the Church in the time of Ananias and Sapphira. It won’t work now. And I (along with many, many other Constitutionalists) shall never, ever support it.

  • Paul, it is quite arrogant to assert that people whose views are different than yours and do not think that the U.S. Constitution Party is the closest reflection of Catholic social teaching in the U.S. are merely socialists who want a “socialist party.”

    I think it is an unfair judgment of our Catholicism and our commitment to the teachings of the Church, which requires on some issues much prudential judgment that naturally creates a discussion — and not clear-cut policy positions or views we must embrace.

    Moreover the idea that the United States was ever “truly” an explicitly “Christian” constitutional republic is quite arguable. I find it hard to believe that an authentically Christian society had legal slavery rooted in irrational hate of ethnicity; other points could be made, but I think you are romanticizing history and my argument need not be taken as saying the current situation of America is better or superior but simply that the U.S. was never a “truly Christian constitutional republic” in the sense that you seem to suggest.

    Lastly the idea that people who fail to subscribe to what you have suggested have neglected to “read and study what this country” was founded on “instead of trying to invent some socialist utopia” is nonsense.

    I was not even aware that any sort of disagreement (at least it seems that way in the way you frame your argument, there appear to be only two options) with the position you offer logically implies subscription to socialism. Moreover, it is nonsensical for you to appeal to Catholic social teaching — from Leo XIII to Benedict XVI — and say that the “common good” does not work.

    It would be more credible to argue that what the political left, by and large, presents as the common good is (in your view) a pseudo-common good and the actual common good is something much different — and you could detail it with what you think would work better. But to say the common good “did not work” and will not “work now” while appealing to Catholic social teaching where that very concept is integral to the whole body of the Church’s social doctrine is unbelievably dubious. Honestly, I am not saying this to be harsh; it simply is the case.

    I suppose it is a way to look at things but it is a perspective that I would never, ever support. The political left often gets attacked for claiming to have the correct political translation of Christian values in action and I, to a considerably large degree, can concur that in the current political situation criticism is very warranted. But the political right in the GOP and in my view in conservative third parties, at present, in my view, cannot lay claim to Christian values in their entirety. Many questions are again prudential and need not be dogmaticized — perhaps it is time that we Catholics, particularly those of who choose a specific political avenue or entity, whether it be a party or some other organization, stop trying to box the Church’s teaching into acceptable political language and contrived concepts that derive primarily from secular schools of thought. It is telling when what we call “Catholic social teaching” begins to look conveniently like our party’s platform. Indeed, the Gospel easily transcends all these things.

  • Eric- thanks for your eloquent defense and support- Kevin in Texas- I have been hinting at such a move but I retained my position as vp of florida dems for life until this week- my good friend at the organization- a Catholic- had asked me to take some more time before I made a formal decision- out of respect for this great friend, I decided to wait, pray and see if the Spirit would reveal more- at this point, I really feel that being a non-partisan will be advantageous as a Catholic teacher and in trying to open channels of dialogue working on specific issues rather than risk being written off as a Democratic Party operative or Republican mole inside the Dem party. This decision just feels like a spiritual breath of fresh air- something rare in the political trenches:)

  • Tim,
    Blessings… I too left the party of my youth, however, I came from the opposite side and have landed at Independent as well.
    Wonderful defense.

  • Tim,

    Interesting post. It reads to me like you are not rejecting the Democratic party so much as you are rejecting politics per se. I think this is OK; not every Catholic is meant to act in the political sphere. But I do not think such a position can be normative. It is part of the lay vocation to transform our politics from within, and to the extent that you did this as a pro-life Democrat it was a good thing.

    I think generally speaking it is good for Catholics to consider themselves unwedded to any political party. Catholics are wedded to the truth and must understand themselves as Catholics first and then Republicans or Democrats. A Catholic can be a Republican or a Democrat, but they must be a Catholic first.

    Although I’m not thrilled that there is yet another good person giving up on American politics, I am happy to hear that someone is leaving the Democratic party, which in my opinion is virtually unsalvagable. The Democratic party is in principle the party of death.

  • Eric,

    “I find it hard to believe that an authentically Christian society had legal slavery rooted in irrational hate of ethnicity;”

    Slavery had nothing to do with “hate” as we think of it today. It was certainly based in an erroneous view of race, but it was no more hateful in 1788 than it was in 300 B.C. or so when Aristotle was justifying slavery. It was seen as a part of the natural order.

    A lot of the founding fathers, like Thomas Jefferson, struggled with the issue. So, avoid blanket condemnations in the other direction. The northern states abolished slavery right from the beginning. The southern states had “rational” economic reasons for wanting to keep it – but “rational” does not = morally right.

  • The democrat and republican parties are not the same.

    If more people voted for McCain, we’d have a chance overturning Roe v Wade with the nomimation of more good supreme court justices like Roberts and Alito, but no, we get Sotomaer and Kagan.

    Thanks alot 54% Catholics who voted for Obama or Indepedants! Like you really care about the unborn…rightttt.

    A Catholic with a well formed conscience can not in any way vote for the party of death.

  • Zach- I don’t think you are reading me correctly- I’m not giving up on American politics- I am just backing out of the Democratic party since I could not find any traction for pro-life Dems in my geographic area- I tried through offering a viable candidacy and having a presence in the local media and making contact attempts- but it didn’t happen. I decided it was best for me to purify my own end of things and come clean as an Independent who will work with partisans on the various issues of importance- but will be a non-partisan about it. In a way I am following the lead of Archbishop Chaput who was once one who identified more closely with the philosophy of governance represented by the Democratic Party, but because of the emergence of social liberalism and hardcore secularism in the heart of Democratic Party activism- he has chosen the Independent political path- and since I am a Catholic teacher myself, I think it is prudent to stake out non-partisan territory myself- not to avoid the political fight over the important issues of our times, but to be taken more seriously and to be seen as more consistent than those who seem to allow their Party loyalties to determine their political consciences. We’ll see if this decision makes sense over the longer haul- I am a Catholic first- that is my core message in all this.

  • I pray a lot and the Holy Spirit reveals a lot to me.

    When he talks to me, he starts with “Shaw, love humility, live the Gospels, obey the Ten Commandments, and adhere to the teachings of Holy Mother Church handed down from The Apostles and today from the Pope.”

    He revealed to me “Shaw, you can’t be both a democrat and be pro-life.” And, “You won’t be getting into Heaven if you vote democratic.”

    Early in 2008, this Pope gave four non-negotiables. Despicable dems are 180 degrees, and violently (47,000,000 exterminated unborn), opposed to each and every one.

  • I agree with Jasper and I’m ashamed of being a (cradle) Catholic these days, when 54% of them voted for Barack Obama, a pro-abortion and pro-infanticide politician. As a matter of fact, the Democratic Party has become the party where the Culture of Death has taken hold, and I’m glad I abandoned them over 10 years ago.

    Jasper is correct in that with the GOP, at least we got two solid, pro life, conservative Supreme Court Justices, but with Obama, we’re getting rabidly pro-abortion ones. Way to go, my brothers and sisters in the Church. Next time, please use the God-give reason you were born with and LEARN the candidates’ record on abortion!

  • Paul – Pope Benedict doesn’t agree with you

    Pope calls for ethics in world economy

    “Benedict said the search for common good must inform globalization and be the goal of progress and development, which would otherwise merely serve to produce material goods.”

  • Non-partisan? Transpartisan?

    I think there’s room for a Christian-Democratic political and social presence in the United States, and it can grow if it plays by the populist playbook, particularly the experience of the Non-Partisan League.

    Perhaps you can take the whole matter up with Oscar De Rojas? I have a hunch he has an interesting perspective on this whole thing.

  • Putting one’s faith in a political party will inevitably lead a sincere Catholic to a sense of disillusionment with politics in general. However, as a means to an end, parties may be used as an imprecise apparatus and like an imprecise apparatus they more often than not accomplish the task with less success than we would like.

    I have yet to see a practical way out of the 2 party system we have in the US that does not, as a by-product, result in one party dominance, after the other party fractures it’s base.

  • Dear Mr. Shipe,
    I was very touched by, and sympathized with, your declaration. I would like you to know that a group of citizens are forming a new centrist political party: The Christian Democratic Union of the United States (CDUSA). We are in the process of redesigning our webpage, but please use my address for any additional communication or request for information. We invite you to please advise us and be in touch with us.

    Our basic political philosophy is quite straight-forward: we are “center-left” (i.e., agree with many Democratic party positions) on most economic and political issues, while we are “center-right (i.e., agree with many Republican party positions)on most social and cultural issues. We are, essentially, the OPPOSITE of what libertarians and Tea-Party groups stand for. Indeed, we reject the labels of “liberal” or “conservative”, because these can have different meanings, depending on what standpoint you look from.
    We do hope to hear from you and your friends, and, in the meantime, remain, sincerely yours,
    Oscar de Rojas
    Executive Director
    Christian Democratic Union of the United States

  • “We are, essentially, the OPPOSITE of what libertarians and Tea-Party groups stand for.”

    That’s unfortunate. Are you sure you know what they stand for?

  • we are “center-left” (i.e., agree with many Democratic party positions) on most economic and political issues, while we are “center-right (i.e., agree with many Republican party positions)on most social and cultural issues.

    That sounds agreeable as stated. The difficulty is that ‘center-left’ on economic matters (at this time and in this country) means the continuous multiplication of patron-client relations between politicians and lobbies, in which the politician is a broker who supplies constituency groups with the fruits of the state’s extractive capacity in return for the fruits of the constituencies’ fundraising, labor, and brand-loyalty. You could call it crony capitalism, but the beneficiaries are not merely favored business sectors but also the social work industry and the public sector unions and provincial and municipal politicians. Call it crony capitalism, crony philanthropy, crony syndicalism, and patronage.

    That’s unfortunate. Are you sure you know what they stand for?

    Joe, it is somewhat disconcerting that ‘TEA’ is an acronym for ‘Taxed Enough Already’. The focus should be on the ways in which the public sector might be circumscribed. Once you have come to an understanding of the appropriate boundary of the public sector, the tax rate is implicit. Complaints about taxation per se enhance the stupidity of the political culture. One can address complaints about tax rates by reducing them, but without a willingness to circumscribe the public sector, you just get deficits. The federal government’s statement of income was in far more parlous shape when Mr. Obama took office than was the case when Mr. Reagan took office, so we no longer have the margin for an extended game of let’s pretend.

  • Thank you for the interesting comments.

    What I mean by center-left in the economic area is that we do believe in a necessary and appropriate level of government regulation of the “free market” to avoid situations of abuse such, as for example, the financial disaster that we still have not gotten out of. And, yes, we are for more progressive taxation — meaning taxing the really reach -not the middle class, certainly not the poor- to further the common good.

    The fact that there is so much cronyism, lobbying, corruption etc. in the political system is somehting that we clearly have to tackle with, but hopefully, with a more just society, these things might also become more repugnant and begin to change.

  • Art,

    Give the people a break.

    “The focus should be on the ways in which the public sector might be circumscribed.”

    There is plenty of focus on that. If you don’t know it, you haven’t interacted with the people in the movement.

    “Complaints about taxation per se enhance the stupidity of the political culture.”

    No they don’t. Statements like this just reveal the extent to which you aren’t affected by taxes. You realize that over half of the tea party is made up of one of the most unjustly-taxed brackets of income earners in America, right? We’re talking people who make somewhere between 50 and 100 thousand or so a year. They pay through the nose.

    “One can address complaints about tax rates by reducing them, but without a willingness to circumscribe the public sector, you just get deficits.”

    Why would you assume this willingness isn’t there? It is.

    “The federal government’s statement of income was in far more parlous shape when Mr. Obama took office than was the case when Mr. Reagan took office, so we no longer have the margin for an extended game of let’s pretend.”

    Again, if you don’t think the tea party acknowledges and address this, you’re really quite out of the loop. Fiscal responsibility, dealing with the debt, stopping the spending and related issues are probably more important to it than the tax rates, I would say.

  • And, yes, we are for more progressive taxation — meaning taxing the really reach -not the middle class, certainly not the poor- to further the common good.

    Um, if, by ‘the rich’, you mean a class of rentiers or latent rentiers (along with senior corporation executives), I think you will find on inspection that you are speaking of around 2.5% of the population who corral about 15% of the nation’s personal income.

    If, by the poor, you mean individuals whose wage and private pension income (w/ salaries or proprietor’s income or annuities in some few cases) is below the cost of a basket of staple commodities as calculated by federal statistical agencies, that would be perhaps 20-25% of the population who corral about 4% or so of personal income.

    The ‘middle class’ (salaried employees and small proprietors) corral north of 45% of personal income and the more prosperous wage earners corral the balance of roughly 35%. You are not going to tax any of these people? Do you plan to finance the state with lotteries?

  • My comments were not derived from my personal fiscal situation (which does include considerable tax liability, though that is none of your business).

    Federal and state income tax codes are so rococo that it is simply impossible (with any degree of thoroughness) to say from descriptive statistics which strata are being ‘unjustly taxed’ and which are not.

    I did not name the ‘Tea Party’. I am not sure to whom the moniker is attributable. It does make me anxious, however.

    I am pleased if you can find a generous slice from among the miscellany of people who are protesting who are thinking seriously about the ways in which the public sector can and should be circumscribed. Any movement has quite a mix as regards its degree of sophistication and seriousness.

    I was a witness to the political discourse engaged in by Mr. Reagan and his acolytes during the period running from about 1978 to 1989. It is not a happy precedent and is one I hope the Republic can avoid. In general, it has not been my observation that an understanding of the relative size of the public sector and the distribution of expenditures between various categories thereof is (in schematic outline) well understood even among the quarter or so of the population who follow public affairs. If there are many counter-examples in the Tea Party, that is all to the good.

  • Tim –

    I’ve also thought about a party based on Catholic Social Teaching principles that could go by the name “The Common Good Party” – which has the great benefit of being shortened simply to the Good Party, with a membership of Good People.

    I’m not nearly as politically astute or experienced as you (or Oscar) though, and very much look forward to your thoughts on how practically to develop such a political force.

    If you want/need any help from the Pacific Northwest, do let me know, and I’ll do what I can!

Political Miscellania 5/12/10

Wednesday, May 12, AD 2010

A wrap-up of various items of political interest.

1.  The video that heads this post is one of the reasons why my vote for McCain in 2008 was a two handed vote, with one hand holding my nose.  McCain has long been an ardent supporter of amnesty and open borders.  Now that he is in a tough primary race with J.D. Hayworth, he is a born again believer in locking down the border against illegal aliens.  I certainly favor in making it tougher for illegals to get across the border, but I do not favor politicians who embrace positions simply to save their political skin.  I hope that the voters in Arizona will finally bring McCain’s political career to a screeching halt  by voting for his opponent in the primary.

2.  It looks like Hawaii will soon have a new Republican Congressman.  The Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee is pulling out of Hawaii 1 and basically conceding that Republican Charles Djou will win the special election on May 22. The Democrats have two candidates running who are splitting the vote and thus allowing the Republicans to take a Congressional seat that has been in Democrat hands for two decades.

3.  The tea party movement claimed another scalp by causing the defeat of Republican Senator Bob Bennett at the Utah Gop Convention in his attempt to get the Republican nomination for a fourth term in the Senate. This should be a warning for all politicians:  this year is different, no re-nomination or re-election can be taken for granted.

4.  Faithful readers of this blog will know that I have quite a bit of respect for blogger Mickey Kaus who is taking on Senator Barbara Boxer in the Democrat primary in California.   Shockingly last week the LA Times refused to endorse Boxer:

On the Democratic side, we find that we’re no fans of incumbent Barbara Boxer. She displays less intellectual firepower or leadership than she could. We appreciate the challenge brought by Robert “Mickey” Kaus, even though he’s not a realistic contender, because he asks pertinent questions about Boxer’s “lockstep liberalism” on labor, immigration and other matters. But we can’t endorse him, because he gives no indication that he would step up to the job and away from his Democratic-gadfly persona.

To have the LA Times refuse to endorse Boxer is a strong indication of just how weak she is this election year.  She is probably strong enough to defeat Kaus (sorry Mickey!) in the primary, but there is blood in the water for the general election.

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5 Responses to Political Miscellania 5/12/10

  • Bob Bennett is a bit of an outlier. The Utah Republican party is becoming VERY VERY conservative, and there was an organized effort to push him out because of TARP and his Appropriations Committee role. It began two years ago when Jason Chaffetz beat Chris Cannon for his Congressional seat. While there may be a grassroots movement to “throw the bums out” Utah’s movement has been going on a bit longer.

  • Newsweek was put up for sale by the Washington Post last week. Last year the news magazine adopted a strategy of serving as an opinion journal of the Left. The decision has proven a disaster in the marketplace, although to be fair Newsweek has been losing money for quite a while.

    And a strange decision it was. The New York Review of Books, The Atlantic Monthly, and The New Yorker are about the only publications directed at that sort of audience which have been aught but philanthropic concerns during the lifetime of Newsweek‘s current editor, and the latter two are leavened with considerable reportage and fiction and offer little straightforward commentary. Comparing Newsweek to The New Republic also demonstrates that their is an art to producing an opinion magazine that not every collecting pool of journalists has; there would not be much point in a patron like Arthur Carter or Mortimer Zuckerman employing this crew.

  • The Hawaii election is very special to me.

    Having been raised the majority of my life in the Aloha State, we have never had a Republican elected to Honolulu’s 1st congressional district.

    Inouye’s “pre-selected” appointee, Hanabasu, is power hungry and feels entitled to that position held by the granola-eating Abercrombie.

    Case also feels a sense of entitlement, but then again, many Punahou School grads feel they are entitled to many things in life (Case is AOL founder Steve Case’s cousin; Punahou is the elite private school that silver spooned Obama attended as well).

    GOP Djou needs all the support he can get to rip that seat from the most powerful Democratic machine in the nation!

  • Re: #3… Here in WA, the state GOP (executive board) is looking at automatically endorsing whomever the GOP incumbent may be, even in the presence of a stronger, more conservative challenger… even if the PCO’s overwhelming support the challenger. It will be up to the voters both in the primary and the caucuses to decapitate weak incumbents.

  • McCain has proven he works for the people that voted him to office. The media would say this is flip flopping, I would say, any politician that thought one thing and turned around when hearing what his constituents believed, is exactly what govt is about. As for JD, well that is a long story that should not even be an issue. JD is as bad as they come…JD cannot find an endorsement, I am sure he will start paying people to say they like him! JD leaves us with many great memories, whether it be Abramoff, losing his seat to a democrat, ethical issues, issues about his lack of intelligence, being a huge blowhard, being a huge boozer, being a continuous egomaniac who does not have the experience needed to succeed in Washington (and he has already proven that to us!) I had decided JD was far too inexperienced, immature, egotistical and unethical to vote for him. McCain is the third most fiscally conservative member in Senate and that along with his integrity, we have a solid Senator.

Set Me Free (From Ideologies) Part 2

Wednesday, April 28, AD 2010


To follow up on my first installment of “Set Me Free (From Ideologies), I am going to draw again from the rich well of Pope Benedict’s powerful encyclical Caritas In Veritate.  In this case it would seem that in paragraph #25 the Pope is sounding kinda liberal if we would attempt to fit the views expressed into one or another of our American political ideologies.

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7 Responses to Set Me Free (From Ideologies) Part 2

  • It seems a greater threat to social security are underfunded public pensions including Social Security itself which all seem at risk of collapsing. Perhaps someone can comment on this.

  • We’d all do well to remember that we’re Catholic first & American second. We’re in the mess we’re in because we’ve reversed the order for the last 50 yrs.

  • “The repeated calls issued within the Church’s social doctrine, beginning with Rerum Novarum[60], for the promotion of workers’ associations that can defend their rights must therefore be honoured today even more than in the past, as a prompt and far-sighted response to the urgent need for new forms of cooperation at the international level, as well as the local level.”

    For me the key phrase is NEW forms.

    I believe the old social welfare state is a failure.

    I believe the old union model is a corrupt failure.

    And I think John Paul II made this point pretty clearly in Centesimus Annus.

    The new forms are worker ownership, or possibly even community/worker ownership of businesses. Most of them are jointly owned by workers and investors.

    The way forward, I believe, is localism and distributism. And in some places it is taking place already with good material results – but it is being guided by secular liberals who have no use for the moral teachings of the Church, by radical campus intellectuals and hippies who believe in the materialist community but reject the spiritual community in favor of atheism or spiritual anarchy.

    It is simply an empirical fact that welfare-statism doesn’t bring an end to poverty. Instead it creates the conditions and the precedents for a secular bureaucracy to further meddle in Christian families, in the education of children, even growing food on one’s own property.

    The dichotomy in politics and morality is not individualism vs. collectivism. Or rather, that is A dichotomy but not the decisive one. It is materialism vs. spirituality. The materialist community has an idea of “justice” that is based on economics and cares nothing for the corruption and pollution of souls. The spiritual community sometimes neglects the details of the material – but with the guidance of the Papal encyclicals there is no excuse for that negligence.

    The vital question is whether or not we ought to accept a full implementation of “material” or economic justice, brought to us by secular liberal hedonists who let the soul rot, who poison it with filth and perversion, or,

    whether we ought to reject it and continue to show those who understand a spiritual reality, who believe in God and especially Christ, that they also have to focus their attention on the material community.

    I opt for the latter. I want nothing from the secular liberal hedonists, from the communist revolutionaries, from the sexual perverts who staff Western governments and the United Nations. They’ve rejected God and they’ll never accept him.

    It’s easier to get good Christians to see the areas they’ve been neglecting than it is to get materialists to see the truth and reality of God and all that follows from him.

    And if you think I’ve gone off topic, you’re wrong, because its secular, atheistic, materialists who manage and administer the welfare bureaucracies of the West, whether they call themselves Democrats, Socialists, or Christian Democrats, or Labour, or whatever.


  • to gb- what I would say is what my favorite professor once said- “the best gift we can give America is our Catholic faith”- I don’t see my citizenship in the U.S. to be a detriment to my faith- America is my homeland, and America needs Catholicism to fulfill her potential as a truly great and lasting nation. We have religious liberty here in our country- that’s all we need- that means the onus is literally “on us”- I have seen first-hand as a candidate that the Catholic community is for the most part so divided up and rendered passive in the political arena- when I see how effective the pro-Israel Jewish community has been in getting organized and mobilizing and lobbying all sectors of our American society in getting their vision and agenda into play- all of this with such a small percentage of the population! And Catholics act as if there is no unifying social doctrine, and fall headlong into the same ideological traps that catch everyone else- and it makes me sick.

    It doesn’t have to be this way- we are our own worst enemy I’m convinced of that- my primary targets are politically-active Catholics who publicly identify themselves as die-hard liberals or conservatives- these folks are the ones who do the most damage- they make it impossible for the whole body of believers to unite under the direction of the entire social doctrine- they want to make every Catholic a narrow liberal or conservative- a Kennedy or a Hannity- and that is something I disagree with vehemently. I will continue to post my complaints- soon I will detail my fallout experience from my participation in an elite Catholic Democrats listserve- that is quite a story to be told another day- I am bent on taking on all loud and proud liberal and conservative Catholic political animals- for I am convinced that the way forward is one that must release the hold that ideologies have over our collective Catholic and American heads.

  • Joe H.- as always so intense and direct in your views- I don’t find your passion for disconnecting from States and Government in the Church’s actual documents such as the above Encyclical. I do think that we should go in every good direction all at once- translation- create more fair trade producer-consumer networks- drawing upon the Catholic Relief Services model, and also the worker-owned business models, and such as you describe above. But I don’t think that abandoning the Government, Trade Unions, and Multinational Corporations to the current corrupt slate of big-wigs is the best solution. I really don’t think our system is rotten, I do think we have really rotten apples floating to the top- which is why I can’t relate to anyone who celebrates a Reagan or an Obama presidency.

    I do believe that Catholics have not yet begun to fight- from my own little campaign experience I saw how wide-open the door is for solid Catholic candidates if only the Catholic community was even a little bit organized to be of some service to her own. As it is we have two types of Catholic activists- the typical political liberal and the typical political conservative- they both seem to have one overriding passion- they hate like satan the Republican or Democratic party- and all that party stands for- pretty much across the board. This reality is something that is causing me to seriously consider dropping my formal affiliation as a Democrat to become an Indy with “Common Good” as my tag- there is just too much baggage associated with the two major parties- it is like a pavlov dog response for most political animals- Catholic or otherwise. What I know is that I am going to stay close to the Church’s actual teaching documents, and Hierarchical speeches/letters and commentary- I have found that the prudential judgments on socio-economic matters coming from the Catholic Hierarchy is truly awesome- it would figure that those who are charged with coming up with the principles that underpin the social doctrine would do well in helping to apply those principles to real life circumstances. I don’t think this is clericalism because I am open to other prudential points-of-view- I just don’t find many ideologically-transcendent points-of-view around town- so I’m sticking close to Mama Church- in my family when mama talks and gives counsel to the kids they better listen up because my wife and I are on the same page- I imagine that it works that way with Christ and His Church as well.

  • “I don’t think that abandoning the Government, Trade Unions, and Multinational Corporations to the current corrupt slate of big-wigs is the best solution”

    They aren’t ours to abandon. But they are ours to reject. We need to get our resources together, make our own proposals to banks and private investors, and build our own local economies. Some have tried, many have failed, few have succeeded – more will succeed if more people rally to the cause.

    Like you, I’m an independent. I don’t care about the Republicans. I don’t care about the Democrats. I’ll vote for the pro-life candidate. Otherwise change comes from us, not from Obama, not from a bureaucracy, not from a social worker.

    “I really don’t think our system is rotten”

    I suppose we’ll have to disagree on that.

Doug Hoffman Takes Lead in Poll

Tuesday, October 27, AD 2009

Take this with more than a grain of salt, since the Club for Growth supports him, but in the latest poll by the Club for Growth Doug Hoffman, the pro-life Conservative Party candidate  in the special election in the New York 23rd Congressional District endorsed by Sarah Palin and other Republican Party luminaries, leads with 31.3% of the vote to 27% for Bill Owens the Democrat and 19.7% for the pro-abort leftist Republican Dede Scozzafava., with 22% undivided.

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10 Responses to Doug Hoffman Takes Lead in Poll

  • If anything Mr. Hoffman’s support has gone up. The question is, is it enough to lead the polls?

    I’ll believe it when I see a more credible poll. Though a 5% margin of error isn’t bad for the Conservative Party candidate.

  • “Maddeningly the Republican National Committee is pumping money into Scozzafava’s campaign and running adds against Hoffman. This is an excellent way to alienate the conservative base of the party. Idiocy, sheer idiocy.”

    THE GOP is doing what it is suppose too. At least some of them. The GOP is a party that has “moderates” too and we shall see what can of worms have been opened up by this.

    The problem is in New York and people would be much better off changing the leadership there in the party. THE prob;lem is not the National GOP.

    I hope I don’t wake up and see Republicans for Free Choice and the Olympia Snowes of the world campaigning for conservative yet pro choice “independents” against GOP pro-lifers we picked in our primary. If they do then a lot of people will not have a moral arguement against it

    I think in the long run this will backfire but again the GOP has no choice here. Unless we are taking a stand that local control of the party should be micromanaged from Washington?

  • My Lord! No other phrase captures what I am thinking other than “Idiocy!” How could the republicans be stupid? This is a telling display of how the republicans are losing voters. Pro life is 98% of the reason I vote at all yet alone republican. I wish they would get that through their heads…

  • It sounds a lot like the kind of craziness the GOP pulled on Congressman Paul in the 14th District of Texas. In ’96 they recruited the DEMOCRAT to switch parties and run as the G.O.P. -backed candidate. Paul was able to survive into the run-off , and then won by simply reminding everyone how liberal his ‘establishment’ opponent really was.

    If the Republicans insist on choosing ‘winners’ over their principles, I hope more and more people defect. They have not learned their lessons after 2006 and 2008.

  • Robert I agree with you in the need to keep the GOP as Pro-life as possible. But the problem here is not the National GOP but the New York GOP. Again do we really want the National GOP to decide what races it will fund and not fund. The local party in New York needs to change

  • jh is right. The national GOP cannot be expected to overrule the state GOP; that is just not realistic. NY conservatives cannot bolt from the GOP in favor of the NY Conservative Party and then feel entitled to get angry when the National GOP supports the GOP candidate over their own party candidate.

  • I’m nervous about the 23% that are undecided. Expect more of Scozzafava’s numbers to migrate to Hoffman and then hold your breath for the next 7-8 days!

  • The Republicans are showing their true colors – this is another momment of decision. Will the Republican party hold to authentic conservative and traditional values or will they be run by liberal, establishment Democrat-lite insiders?

    This is not a political question – it is a question of culture. Are conservatives and traditionalists strong and principled enough to rout the liars or will we be left with the choice of speedy progressives and not-so-fast progressives again?

    Goldwater, Reagan, Paul and Hoffman (and Palin) are examples of the people choosing principles over political-pragmatism. You can either change the Republican party or migrate to another. Perhaps the Conservative Party will grow and the Republican party die, or publically merge with the Democrats, rather than keep up the farce that they are two different parties. In fact, the Republicans and the Democrats are just slightly different factions of the same oligarchy.

  • NY conservatives cannot bolt from the GOP in favor of the NY Conservative Party and then feel entitled to get angry when the National GOP supports the GOP candidate over their own party candidate.

    Once more with feeling. Mr. Hoffmann is an enrolled Republican. Ten county chairmen in the North Country selected Mrs. Scozzafava as a candidate by a weighted vote among themselves per the Election Law of New York. There was no petition process or primary. The North Country is not the east side of Manhattan or Westchester. Common-and-garden Republicans can and do poll well there. The county chairmen have been playing an obscure insider game and expected (as New York pols do) that the electorate would suck it up (as that electorate generally does if you do not poison the water table or forthrightly and transparently raise their property taxes). These ten individuals cannot legitimately complain if their own committeemen flip them the bird, much less if everyone else does.

  • Art, I agree, and admit that you have a far better grasp of the facts than me. My only remaining point would be that it is difficult to expect the national GOP to ignore or overrule the decisions of the local GOP, regardless the mechanisms or machinations behind those local decisions. It would be different if the national GOP were complicit in such insider games, but no one has suggested that, but instead some seem to want to count deference to local decisions as complicity. That just strikes me as unfair and unrealistic.

6 Responses to Catholic View of the Political Community (Part 5)

  • “Careers and reputations are often deemed more important than what the natural law and common good would demand (witness the Supreme Court).”

    Good post. THough I perhaps differ with some specifics you put it. I am a NAFTA supporter(it might need to be tweeked) but I think it is on the right path. I am not sure being pro NAFTA is anti Catholic but perhaps I am reading too much into your comments.

    I am curious if you would elaborate on your Supreme Court Comment. IS there a “Catholic” way to look at Const law? If so if this goes beyond the intent of the founders is it correct that the Court take power that is not delegated to them to enforce a common good? I think Archbishop Chaput would disagee looking at recent comments. I am not saying that natural law cannot be a jurisrudence for the Const. But again the court operates in the realm in the power that is given them.

    Again I am curious about that comment

  • Actually, Carl Anderson, the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus in his book “Civilization of Love” seems to hold a somewhat similar position, jh, in regard to NAFTA.

  • “Actually, Carl Anderson, the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus in his book “Civilization of Love” seems to hold a somewhat similar position, jh, in regard to NAFTA.”

    What postion is that? Again just curious. I think NAFTA needs to be tweeked as I said but it get tiresome for me to deal with Catholics on the Far Right( the horrible NAFTA Highway conspiracy) and other conspiracy theories and those on the left with their protectionist theories.

    I am saying when we are dealing with something as complicated as the NAFTA agreement there is not one “Catholic” position.

    I very much like the above post but while it speaks of looking to the Catholic commom good it seems to imply that there is a common Catholic true response to the Federal Reserve to Iraq to Nafta.

    I think that cuts off discussion and sort of lets say undermines the true intent of his post.

  • Anderson supports NAFTA but thinks reforms are necessary. I read the book when it first came out. I would have to check.

    On the other matter, I think a distinction needs to be made. And I hope my clarifications are there. I think there is such a thing as a ‘true’ Catholic response — objectively speaking. I do not believe that all moral judgments to a given situation are equal, that would be relativism. While reasonable minds may disagree on matters of prudential judgment (and none of us are barred from receiving communion as with advocating direct intrinsic evils), the fact that we can disagree often leads in my mind to a sort of relativism where our positions on other matter are almost entirely left to our discretion. I’m not saying this is anyone’s conscious thinking, but discussion of it almost seems to suggest that.

    I think there is a ‘true’ Catholic position to the war in Iraq. I’m not prepared to say what it is. The Church does not declare definitively on it for a number of reasons, but the moral principles given to us should allow us to reach a conclusion. Who is right and who is wrong at the end of the day, we will know when we die. But this does not mean that good intentions and one’s reasons simply because one thinks them derived from church teaching and principle make them a Catholic position or a “Catholic response.” I think the true Catholic response is the one *most* in accord with objective moral norms and I cannot think that even with the diversity of Catholic positions we take, all of them are ‘true’ Catholic responses. They cannot be. Again, that would be relativism.

    Because of the lack of unbiased facts, presentation, and many factors prevent the Church from definitively saying what the Catholic position is on matters where the morality is not so obvious. As it so happens, our church leadership is just as ready to divide on what is and what is not the Catholic position on some matter. And even moreso, it is not a prudent idea pastorally to tell everyone what to think on every issue and not allow some intellectual freedom as well as attempt, in the form of trial and error, to develop in moral virtue.

    In that sense, no, there is no ‘true’ Catholic response dogmatically put forward for us to readily advocate. We have to come to the best judgment we can make that we deem best in accordance with church teaching and dialogue about it and present our case the best we can. For me, in many circumstances, it tends to be a Democratic position. It seems obvious to me in a lot of cases this best reflects the teachings of the Church. This is not the case with other Catholics. While open to being wrong (and I have adapted my opinion on a number of issues because of dialogue), I think my view is profoundly Catholic and the ‘obvious’ Catholic position until I see credible reason to think otherwise.

    I’m not accusing you of thinking a certain way. I’m just commenting in general that I think that the phrase “matters of prudential judgment” which refers to non-intrinsic evils leads to some sort of relativism among Catholics where since the Church has no “official” position, we can adapt almost any view as long as we can give it a Catholic spin — or at least this is my perception of it. Whereas, I think while there is no “official” position because it is humanly impossible to verify because of the question of the source of facts, dispute about circumstances, et al, thus all are left to prudentially come to a conclusion — which in my view means that we are all seeking the Catholic position, though, we cannot precisely say what it is — and whatever position any number of Catholic positions taken are “Catholic approaches” insofar as they are based on Church teaching, but I don’t think all views necessarily take everything into account at the proportionate level they are meant to be.

    It’s just one of the things that bother me when people talk about “non-negotiables” and matters of “prudential judgment.” I hope I articulated it well enough.

  • My own personal take on the application of general principle and worldview as presented by the more-or-less complete Catholic social doctrine- is that NAFTA-economics is flawed, not in that there is a trade agreement between nations, but that economics must involve true freedom which is not merely contractual, but moral, representative of true human freedom which is connected to the ends of Man (of all mankind)- which is the proper return to God. Economics is about more than mere cumulative desires/supply-demand- but how are all the people in the chain of economic transactions affected- be it the producers/workers, the sellers, the consumers. A good critique of this kind of critique is found in William Cavanaugh’s book – Being Consumed- and it is supported by what I have read over the years in official Catholic teachings- right up to the current encyclical.

    So- if NAFTA-economics can be generalized to say that it does not include provisions that look after the welfare of workers/farmers/small communities with the rights of subsidiarity, and the environmental health – then it is a flawed approach to trade and relations between nations. The fact that Mexico was quickly abandoned as a source of cheap human labor when China opened wide- to provide huge access to cheap and hardly “free” laborers- exposed the false myth promised by NAFTA- and we see how the Mexican people feel about NAFTA as they have voted with their feet in fleeing their country for America.

    As for the Supreme Court- I resoect Archbishop Chaput very much and haven’t read his take on how we should expect our Highest Court to involve natural law reasoning and common good outcomes into their daily work- but it seems to me from reading the social doctrine that there can be no mere positive law theory of interpretation that can replace the demands of justice inscribed in the natural laws given us by God and accessible to all, but there is a big help given us by the Church- I would recommend Prof. Rice’;s book on the Natural Law, as a good application of what the Church teaches. I would compare strict contructionist interpretation theory to a Fundamentalist reading of Scripture- not a perfect analogy of course given the uniqueness of Scripture and Catholic Magisterial guidance

  • I don’t think there can be, or ought to be, a defined “Catholic” position on EVERY single political or economic issue, for the simple reason that the Catholic Church, by definition, crosses economic and political boundaries — it’s universal; that’s what the name means! The kind of political or economic or military policies that “work” for one nation, or at one particular time in history, aren’t necessarily going to work in another nation, another culture, or at another time. So there has to be some flexibility.

    What the Catholic (Universal) Church does is set forth universal principles –protection of innocent human life, of the poor and vulnerable, of the family as the basic unit of society, and of human dignity (including religious freedom). How these basic principles are best applied at a given time and place and in a given situation is what lay people are called to figure out, and to do.

    Although the “non negotiable” issues with absolutely no room for compromise like abortion, euthanasia, and same-sex marriage get most of the attention, it seems to me that the vast majority of economic and political issues are matters of prudence about which faithful Catholics are free to disagree, and to change their minds — and this is as it should be.

4 Responses to Catholic View of the Political Community

  • “10 Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle [b] and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the LORD will not answer you in that day.”

    19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.” ”

    I’d say that the warnings about Kingship (Government), are some of the more accurate prophecies in the Bible.

  • Belloc however noted that the president of the U.S. acted as a prince [his word for the executive] and the country was thus spared the corruption and weakness of parliaments.

  • This may be rather more of a libertarian reading than you were thinking of — but one of the things that had always struck me about the list of evils surrounding having a king (which Donald quotes above) is that it underlines the trade off which communities make as they move from a society of direct personal relationships, to one of rulers, to one of laws.

    There is no state of primordial social goodness, in that humans as we know them are fallen creatures drawn to take advantage of others, but in the most basic organizational level of society we see people interacting with each other as people with direct relationships. However, in order to martial the centralized resources to achieve a certain level of power and prestige, a society must establish some sort of ruling power — which in turn is invariably abused to some extent.

    Those weilding power (whether kings or legislatures) are always capable of doing things that increase the common good — but also capable of either bumbling or actively abusing. There is, thus, a constant search for balance, whether to give more power to the ruler[s] so that they may try to improve society, or restrict their power to curtail their ability to harm society.

  • A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.

    Gerald Ford