What's Empathy Got To Do With It?

Friday, May 8, AD 2009

Doug Kmiec has a rather bizarre article up at America entitled The Case For Empathy: Why a Much-Maligned Value Is a Crucial Qualification for the Supreme Court. If the article is any indication, I suppose we should be thankful Obama didn’t make any off-hand remarks suggesting ‘creativity’ or ‘imagination’ were traits he would look for in a potential Supreme Court justice, if only because it might have lead to more essays like this one. After some preliminary gushing about, you guessed it, empathy, Kmiec explains what an empathetic justice would accomplish:

To do this, it is possible that [Obama] will mine for legal talent in unusual places, but it is more likely he will attempt to find a nominee with appellate court experience whose skill set also shows the capability of challenging methods of interpretation that otherwise wouldn’t give empathy the time of day. If Obama succeeds even with this more limited challenge,he will have exploded the notion  that swapping out a Souter for a new, most likely younger and intellectually energetic, justice is without effect.

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11 Responses to What's Empathy Got To Do With It?

  • Nice job dismantling what is just a mess of a column. Kmiec manages to somehow sink further and further. It’s truly remarkable.

  • I assume that Kmiec believes all of this intellectual prostitution he is currently engaging in, repudiating wholesale intellectual positions he held throughout his adult life, will ultimately gain him a federal judgeship or some other plumb from the current administration. Trading self-respect for advancement is always a poor, not to say pathetic, bargain.

  • I think it’s time we simply stop paying attention to Mr. Kmiec. To call him a hack would be generous. Far too many words have been wasted on him already.

  • Don,

    I am not sure what Kmiec’s purpose is, and I would like to think he is not just angling for a spot on the federal bench. People do change their minds, and sometimes those changes are dramatic.

    That said, based on my (admittedly limited) observations of legal academia, Kmiec’s arguments are an embarrassment to the profession. I can’t imagine any of the professors I’ve had over the past three years writing this type of nonsense, regardless of their political persuasion. Kmiec should be extended some sympathy given that he is writing for a non-specialist audience, but even that is no excuse for the type of misstatements and shoddy argumentation on display here, particularly since these views are diametrically opposed to views he held less than two years ago.

  • Until he starts making the barest acknowledgment that he’s done a 180 on principles and views held until the Adventus Obamus, he’s not entitled to the benefit of any doubts.

    And I agree, John: this essay is absolute pablum. The principle of “empathy” is entirely situational and subjective. Take Heller: “Well, you know, Doug, I empathize with people who don’t have efficient police protection and private security forces guarding their gated suburban communities. Whose empathy is entitled to more weight in the law?”

    Oh, and I love how he refers to Obama’s record as a law professor without giving any examples to bolster his point. This essay is embarrassingly empty propaganda for Obama. Which is probably why America was so eager to publish it.

  • Where is all his talk of Natural Law!!! DO people recall in many of his Catholic Online articles and other places Kmiec would always put in several paragraphs that he believs the law should the Natural Law as seein the Declaration of Independence and esp Right to Life as being inaleiable

    Where is that here? Now it was nonsense to think that Obam would give us a Natural law judge in the first place and Kmiec never explined how it would happen

    But looking through this entire article where is the natural law theme.

    In fact as to SOuter , who was a huge postivist and did his thesis on Justice Holmes) there is no mention of that.

  • In reading through comments on another blog, I learned that Prof. Kmiec has Parkinson’s disease. Here is a link and some excerpts to an article he recently wrote about Parkinson’s and embryonic stem cell research:

    http://www.catholic.org/politics/story.php?id=32655

    Over time, however, all Parkinson’s patients know that after a short span the medication fails and we also know what that means. We have uncomfortably witnessed our future in the lives of longer suffering brothers and sisters…So you would think that when President Obama, for whom it was my privilege to campaign, gives permission for embryonic stem cell research that some say holds a Parkinson’s cure that I would be grateful and encouraged. Yet, I am not. While I believe the President’s desire to separate science and politics is well considered, there can be no separation from ethics,

    To avoid cooperating with an intrinsic evil, this trembling hand is not to take hold of any medicine or participate in any medical treatment advanced by research involving the destruction of a human embryo. Easier said than done – or by me, even written down. But then, in this Easter time we are reminded that we belong to a Church where the very son of God allowed himself to be put to death so that others might live.

    The article contains, naturally, some defenses of the Obama administration, but I think perhaps I will make a conscious effort to display more sympathy for Prof. Kmiec (if not for some of his arguments) in the future. Anyone with such a difficult and debilitating illness is in need of prayers for their physical, psychological, and spiritual well-being. Our Lady of Sorrows, ora pro nobis.

  • “Empathy” [Einfuehlung] is one of those German make- believe emotions; an attempt to displace the more obvious and traditional word “sympathy”.

    It’s a faker’s word. As in Mr. Clinton’s “I feel your pain”.

  • This analysis makes vastly more sense than Kmiec’s article, and you didn’t even get to the part where he explained how lacking in “meaning or lasting effect”–not to mention empathy–is “coerced morality” of the sort some villainous people propose as a solution to the problem of abortion in America. It’s too bad your analysis can’t also be printed in America, but it seems they only accept submissions from prominent pro-life Catholics like Douglas Kmiec.

  • Isn’t justice supposed to be blind anyway???

  • Pingback: How Long in the Wilderness? « The American Catholic

Catholic Democrats Attack Glendon And Run Into Father Z

Wednesday, April 29, AD 2009

catholic-democrats1

Father Z plays whack-a-mole here with the attack on Mary Ann Glendon by Catholic Democrats, a group which has experienced a ferocious fisk from him before.   Jay Anderson at Pro Ecclesia has some perceptive thoughts in his post “… Dollars to Doughnuts …” regarding the attacks on Mary Ann Glendon now coming from some elements of the Catholic Left.

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7 Responses to Catholic Democrats Attack Glendon And Run Into Father Z

Catholic Democrats Come to the Defense of Notre Dame

Friday, April 17, AD 2009

catholic-democrats

Catholic Democrats come to the defense of their leader in regard to Georgetown and Notre Dame and run into a buzzsaw named Father Z here.

Update:  Good analysis of why Catholic Democrats and other Obama-philes are so concerned about the fallout from Notre Dame is given here by the always readable Damian Thompson across the pond at his blog Holy Smoke.

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10 Responses to Catholic Democrats Come to the Defense of Notre Dame

  • Isn’t Fr. Z the man whose writing verges on pornography, whenever he muses lyrically on his intense love for certain U.S battleships?

  • Obviously Mr. DeFrancisis you know nothing about Father Z. Enjoy the fisk. I know I am!

  • Isn’t Fr. Z the man whose writing verges on pornography, whenever he muses lyrically on his intense love for certain U.S battleships?

    Only in the perverted imagination of a couple rather odd bloggers. He just likes naval architecture. Many people have worse hobbies.

  • Mark,

    And you wonder why I call you a dissident Catholic.

  • He just last year salivated in writing over the armored appendages of one US battleship, one that he pointed out delivered missiles in the (unjust)U.S military aggression on Iraq of the early 90s.

  • Mr. DeFrancisis, doesn’t it get tiring dragging red herrings across the screen? Deal with the substance of Father Z’s fisk and stop babbling about battleships.

  • Tito – Opposing war makes one a “dissident” Catholic? Someone better notify the Pope.

    If find it outrageously funny that you people did the same thing to Bush and yet you’re criticizing Obama’s folks when they rush to defend him. Are you surprised? I’m not.

  • Tito,

    Fr. Z is a phenon in an obscure corner of the Catholic blogosphere. His pronouncements have no authority over me, as he is neither a bishop nor a priset in my diocese. Additionally, despite all of his clains to Catholicity, his views on the liturgy and other matters are mostly the predilictions of an ideologue and an aesthete, not ones which mirror the necessary pronouncements of Mother Church. I wish him all the cyber-success he seeks out, but, otherwise, we have nothing to do with each other.

  • We should pray for Fr. Z. He will surely lose a lot of sleep over Mr DeFrancisis’ poor opinion of him…

  • Pingback: Catholic Democrats Attack Glendon And Run Into Father Z « The American Catholic

6 Responses to Congratulations American 'Catholics'

  • Do I see little pentagrams on the altar tablecloth? How appropriate.

  • By the way, Casey cast a pro-life vote in the last week. Perhaps he heeded his Bishop’s advice and repented.

    Just in continuity with my already mentioned (I think) desire to be more optimistic, I think we should spend twice as much time praying fervently for these people than we do criticizing them because the latter involves a huge temptation of succumbing to internal negative energy and focusing on the faults, however grave, of others and doesn’t reap as much good for humanity as the other option.

  • Perfect example of why this blog cannot be taken seriously.

  • Michael,

    Please, if you cannot find anything positive to say, none whatsoever, perhaps you should refrain? What does it gain you? It only manifests as negative energy and people fight and argue, throwing ad hominem attacks and calling each other pseudo-Catholics while we all say we’re so in love with Jesus.

    Resist the temptation. If it’s so horrible, then pray.

    I also think that you should potentially reflect on your words — for if they were true, ask yourself, why then do you frequently visit and feel compelled to not only engage, but occasionally — not always — do so in a manner that is negative, which seems to be something that you’re condemning at the moment.

    I would happily discuss criticisms with you constructively.

  • Eric – I don’t know what you mean. My comment was positive.

  • I agree. They are all Republicrats first. For Brownback, being from Kansas is 2nd. Catholic is so far back in distant 3rd place, it doesn’t register unless it’s election year.

    We’ll know Brownback is running for national office again when he shows up at a pro-life rally.

Res & Explicatio for A.D. 3-4-2009

Wednesday, March 4, AD 2009

Salvete AC readers!

Due to popular acclamation I’m returning back to using Latin in my column title (mostly).  I think I’ve settled on a format so thanks for bearing with me.  I’ve wanted to do this type of column for a while and I believe I found the right balance, now if I can only be consistent in my posting.  So here we have today’s Top Seven Picks in the Catholic world:

1. Catholic News Agency has reported that a coalition of American Catholics calling themselves Catholic Advocate led by Deal W. Hudson have created a website opposing President Barack Obama’s choice for Secretary of Health and Human Services, pro-abortion Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas.  The website is called www.catholicsagainstsebelius.org.  Governor Kathleen Sebelius is a dissident Catholic notorious for her direct and explicit support of abortionist George Tiller “the Killer”, whose known for executing late term abortions of innocent children.  Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City has met and counseled Governor Kathleen Sebelius on several occasions on her pro-abortion stance and has asked her to refrain from receiving Holy Communion.  However Governor Kathleen Sebelius has refused to obey and has openly opposed the good archbishop on these points.  Here is the link: http://www.catholicsagainstsebelius.org/

2. Kevin Knight (of New Advent) somehow found a little blurb buried in a long article that Newt Gingrich will soon convert to the Catholic faith as reported by the New York Times (7th paragraph on page 7 of the article ‘Newt. Again.’).

Updated: For a quick and eas(ier) read of the NY Times article go to Fr. John Zuhlsdorf’s blog here: http://wdtprs.com/blog/2009/03/fmr-speaker-gingrich-to-become-catholic/

3. When I click on my browser to go to InsideCatholic.com their web page takes quite a long time to download relative to any other Catholic website or blog that I surf.  I don’t know if it’s all the links or dense code, but my best guess is that their Content Management System that they ar using, Joomla, may be the cause of the slowdown.  The second longest page in the Catholic web to download is Damian Thompson’s Holy Smoke, but you place the blame of the downloading delay to his employer London’s Daily Telegraph (which is the best english language newspaper in the world in my humble opinion).

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2 Responses to Res & Explicatio for A.D. 3-4-2009

  • So good news all around in spite of the lingering chest cold that I expected to lick Tuesday but caused me 1.5 hours of sleep and more time off Wednesday. catholicsagainstsibelius is good stuff. Best to remind our pro-abort friends and family- so you support someone who has a good friend generally known as Tiller The Killer? Her Jeremiah Wright, so to speak? Meanwhile, delighted to see news that Newt is swimming the Tiber. Always thought he was at least three to five years ahead of his time and that politics was too confining for his talents. Perhaps more like him will do the backstroke as well. Meanwhile let’s make life really miserable for La Sibelius. Might as well find some fun in these difficult times. Kaff, kaff.

  • I think Newt is sincere in his conversion.

    I also believe that he is probably the best man out there to represent the Republican party come 2012. He carries the baggage of leaving his 2nd wife while she was on her deathbed, but he has sincerely apologized for that. He certainly seems to have matured a lot since his days as Speaker of the House.

    I have a feeling that he is prepping for a run. But it’s only a feeling.

News & Notes for A.D. 3-3-2009

Tuesday, March 3, AD 2009

Salvete AC readers!

OK, I junked the whole Latin title since I figured it wasn’t coming across that well as to what I wanted to do with this bit.  So now I’m calling this particular column ‘News & Notes’ (for now).  Here is today’s Top Seven picks in the Catholic world:

1. A great new blog by Pat McNamara about Catholic history titled appropriately enough, McNamara’s Blog.  I’ve been thinking of starting something like this for the past three years, but never got around to it.  I’m happy to say that McNamara’s Blog has great short stories on famous and little known figures in Catholicism as well as stories on non-Catholics and how they interacted and viewed our beautiful Catholic faith.  Here is the link to McNamara’s Blog: http://irishcatholichumanist.blogspot.com/

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9 Responses to News & Notes for A.D. 3-3-2009

Dissidents & Mainstream Media Attack Papa Bene

Tuesday, February 3, AD 2009

flagellation-of-christ

Updates below ?, Hans Küng accuses His Holiness of being “egomaniacal” (more below).

A dissident Catholic theologian from Germany is calling on the Pope to “resign”.  Hermann Haering is the “theologian” in question who is asking for His Holiness’ resignation.  Even the German Chancellor, Angela Merkell, has asked the Pope to strongly rebuke Williamson and distance himself from it–which he has already done though many in the secular world fail to recognize.  What do they want, Richard Williamsons’ head on a stake?
 
We should always take what the mainstream media reports with a grain of salt.  The mainstream media has more times than not, reported with a bias against the Catholic Church.  With dissident Catholics such as Hermann Hearing, anything they say will be grasped upon quickly for a cheap shot against the Catholic Church.  The smear campaign has begun in full throttle just as Fr. John Zuhlsdorf forewarned us about;  Anti-Catholics and dissidents are coming out of the seeping cracks to take potshots at our Pope.

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3 Responses to Dissidents & Mainstream Media Attack Papa Bene

  • Tres Saint Pere bien aime,

    Ne soyez pas discourage’, mon tres cher Papa. Le Media est toujours bruyant, c’est leur nature. Me voici, votre fille qui vous supporte, vous aime et vous admire . L’amour est avant tout. Vous avez raison de pardonner les gens. Bien entendu, il a commis des fautes , mais c’est
    parce qu’il avait des fautes qu’on le pardonne ! Je vous remercie infiniment d’etre notre Pape . Je prie pour vous chaque jour .Je prie aussi pour les pretres . La plupart d’eux sont des bons pretres. Quelques uns ne respectent pas suffisamment leur Ideal. Je vous prie de donner l’ordre de bien organiser L’Adoration de Blessed Sacrement d’une facon serieuse , et
    une fois par semaine au moins .Et surtout, il ne faut pas tout simplement ouvrir la porte du Tabernacle pour que les gens puisse prier en regardant la boite contenant le Host consacres,soi disant ainsi l’Adoration quotidienne . Non, ceci diminue la vraie valeur et la grandeur de l’Adoration , ce qui, a mon avis, n’est pas acceptable. Et, le Pretre de la Paroisse organise la vraie Adoration seulement une fois par mois !
    Je pense qu’il faut payer attention au travail des pretres qui received la formation du vieux temps o`u les pretres etaient une sorte de Seigneurs avec des priorites et qui travaillent comme des fonctionnaires, ni plus ni moins. Au contraire, j’ai vu des pretres qui sont tres devoues, qui font de grands sacrifices pour L’Eglise et pour les gens, qui cherissent leur Ideal .

    Grand Merci, Papa. Que notre Bon Dieu vous protege chaque jour !

    Bien bien affectueusement, Votre fille en Jesus, Mary Cong

  • Mary Cong,

    Merci pour ces mots gentils concernant le Père Saint.

    Dans Jésus, Mary et Joseph,

    Tito

  • It may be a good sign that the Holy Father suffers these slings and arrows. The Church tends to be at her best when she is not respectable. Screwball Williamson is just a useful idiot in this matter. This too shall pass. Meanwhile, prayers for our Chief Shepherd as this adds to his infinite burdens.

Trust Us, We Were Lying!

Wednesday, December 3, AD 2008

One of the arguments I’m starting to get very tired of is that when Senator Obama addressed Planned Parenthood and promised that the first thing he would do as President would be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act (thus cementing a more drastic pro-abortion regime than has ever existed in the US to day) he was obviously just scoring partisan political points, and that Catholics are not only ill advised to worry about FOCA passing and being signed but that if they do so they are actively behaving in bad faith by accusing Obama of supporting something he never really meant to do.

I don’t think it’s news to anyone that politicians often pander, and to anyone who doubted it in the first place it’s increasingly clear that the only difference between Obama’s “new politics” and the old kind of politics is that the “new politics” involves Obama being president. But even if it’s common knowledge that one of the good ways of knowing that a politician is lying is to see if his mouth is moving, I don’t see how we can even discuss politics if we don’t assume that the promises which a politician expressly makes on the campaign trial represent something which the politician at least thinks would be a good idea.

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9 Responses to Trust Us, We Were Lying!

  • It is an odd phenomena. A candidate makes a campaign promise, the promise is cited, and then the people citing the promise are accused of dishonesty for repeating the promise.

    At the same time, I would say there is a hierarchy of plausibility in campaign promises, and the promise to sign FOCA is on the lower end of that spectrum. It was made 1) To a particular interest group once (rather than repeatedly), 2) When Obama still was scrambling for the nomination by running to Hillary’s left. Additionally, Obama, as far as I can tell, is a pragmatist. He wants to be re-elected, and knows that whatever marginal increased appreciation from his base he received from signing FOCA would more than likely be outweighed by a backlash among moderates.

    BTW nice turn of phrase about the ‘new politics’. I’ve thought the same thing but hadn’t seen it phrased that way.

  • I agree that FOCA is probably fairly unlikely to pass. Now that Obama is out of the left-wing bubble, he’s having to find ways to please more than just the sort of activists one runs into in Chicago politics.

    I’d see the most likely situation for it doing so being a situation in which flagship administration priorities are going down and it finds itself in need of shoring up its base. Then we could potentially see a certain amount of cultural left stuff rammed through.

    But it was a massively stupid promise to make in the first place. (I have difficulty thinking of a GOP example extreme enough to give a comparison, but I think the “Pure America Act” suggestion comes close.) I suppose now that we’re stuck with him as president we must hope that he’s gaining wisdom, but color me unimpressed.

  • Start the betting line in Vegas- which bishop is first to close the Catholic health care institutions in his see. Chaput is always a favorite. Brusky of Nebraska, natch. I could even nominate our Cardinal Rigali of Philly- got on phone with City Council in a flash over some meaningless Pro-Choice City Proclamation, removed next session. Been reading that our hospitals constitute one-third of U. S. of A. health care institutions. Would not be a good idea to institute nationalized health care with swamped public and other E.R.’s. Ball’s in your court, Mr. Obama. FOCA or hospitals- choose.

    (Also- can’t wait for first video of bishop dragged off to jail on FOCA protest charges- at hospital, abortuary, etc. Can cut to sound of air flying from balloon, signaling end of Obama Presidency if it occurs.)

  • I’d say the election in Georgia makes passage of FOCA much less likely, and not just because there is one more vote to sustain a filibuster. A President is never stronger than after he is first elected, and the defeat by a wide margin of Martin in the Senate runoff makes the election of Obama seem a bit less like a realigning election and a bit more like a fairly natural party switch after a two term presidency, especially with the economy in the tank. As a President is perceived more as a conventional politician and less like a political tidal wave, his influence diminishes. However, I do think there will be an attempt to pass FOCA, even if it appears unlikely to prevail, and I do anticipate that the Obama administration will always be a staunch foe of the pro-life movement, as they will amply demonstrate by Obama’s judicial picks. The election of Obama was a disaster of the first magnitude for the pro-life movement, and pro-lifers who voted for Obama obviously have, for them, much higher priorities than seeking to stop the legal slaughter of children within the womb.

  • The promises we make speak of who we are.

  • Appointments matter – to the S. Court and lower courts obviously, but also throughout the federal branch. There are a whole host of policies that need advancement and protection…notification, military bases, wait periods, federal funding, forcing clinics/professionals to do or provide x or y……

  • You cite a blog I write for, I would hope you would honest about us.

    I have always admitted that Barack Obama is pro-choice and that I disagree with him and consider it a legitimate reason not to vote for him.

    I am all in favor of opposing pro-abortion legislation and supporting pro-life legislation.

    You make the statement “FOCA is probably fairly unlikely to pass.”

    That is all I have said as well. And certainly there have been others who do not agree with us and make claims that passage is days away.

    Equally there is no right to lie about what FOCA would do. The great bluster was by the bishop of Arlington suggesting civil disobedience. To do so would first require his diocese to actually open a Catholic hospital, a ministry he has heretofore not maintained in his jurisdiction. Second, using the most extreme possible understanding of FOCA, he would have to file false Medicaid claims. Really, not the TV action that is suggested.

  • Kurt,

    So tell me again why you support Obama (and vote for him)?

  • Obama just signed today a reversal of the abortion policy, now forcing our tax money to fund international abortions. So, the Obamanation has sadly begun. And sure, I’ll bet Hillary will make it a pre-condition that countries seeking aid be willing to provide this murder service. God have mercy.