Who Says No

Thursday, August 20, AD 2009

People at various points in the ideological spectrum have pointed out it’s a little odd to see conservatives objecting to the idea of the government deciding what medical procedures ought not to be covered, when they’re apparently okay with insurance companies deciding what procedures ought not be covered, or with people not being able to afford procedures because they lack good insurance. However, it strikes me this difference may actually make a fair amount of sense, both for some pragmatic reasons and some emotional/ideological ones.

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6 Responses to Who Says No

  • Mark Steyn:


    Right now, if I want a hip replacement, it’s between me and my doctor; the government does not have a seat at the table. The minute it does, my hip’s needs are subordinate to national hip policy, which in turn is subordinate to macro budgetary considerations.

    You’re accepting that the state has jurisdiction over your hip, and your knee, and your prostate and everything else. And once you accept that proposition the fellows who get to make the “ruling” are, ultimately, a death panel. Usually, they call it something nicer — literally, like Britain’s National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE).

    After my weekend column recounted the experience of a recent British visitor of mine, I received an e-mail from a gentleman in Glasgow who cannot get an x-ray for his back — because he has no sovereignty over his back. His back is merely part of the overall mass of Scottish backs, to which a government budget has been allocated, but alas one which does not run to x-rays.

    Government “panels” making “rulings” over your body: Acceptance of that concept is what counts.

  • After my weekend column recounted the experience of a recent British visitor of mine, I received an e-mail from a gentleman in Glasgow who cannot get an x-ray for his back — because he has no sovereignty over his back.

    See, I’m instinctively opposed to greater government involvement, but I can’t see it ever happening in America. X-rays aren’t that expensive, and he would always be able to buy an X-ray on his own dime. X-rays aren’t that expensive. It’s not a conservative principle to demand that government welfare programs pay for everything imaginable.

  • I’d say it is when the government program forecloses other options.

  • But I don’t see how a government program here could even conceivably prevent anybody from getting an X-ray on their own dime.

  • “People prefer making hard choices themselves — even if it’s not much of a “choice”. “”

    I hope this is true!

  • Bonus, if your insurance company sucks and you go buy something else, you don’t have to keep paying the old insurance company.

ObamaCare Update

Tuesday, August 18, AD 2009

Government Health Care

[Update at the bottom as of 7:39 pm CST for 8-21-2009 AD]

President Obama’s Health Care push has suffered a couple of setbacks.  First they removed the end-of-life provision and Obama Joker Poster Artist Exposed As Liberal-Leaning Palestiniannow the President has removed the public option.

The Democrat and Liberal attempts at demonizing the American people having failed, President Obama could be beginning to understand that we don’t want socialized medicine.

Now come reports that the Obama Joker poster artist is a left-wing extremist, and a Dennis Kucinich supporter to boot.  Not the white, conservative, racist that the mainstream media was accusing the artist of being.

In other news CBS News has reported that the liberal-oriented A.A.R.P. has lost approximately 60,000 members since the video showing an A.A.R.P. representative belittling members at a town hall meeting.  The American Seniors Association has gained 5,000 new members, a rival organization to the A.A.R.P. and significantly less liberal.

CBS News reported that the A.A.R.P. response to the exodus of members as ‘with 40 million members that adds hundreds of thousands each month, losing 60 thousand is just a drop in the bucket.’

Update I:  I forgot to place the American Seniors Association weblink here.

Update II: The 60 Plus Association is experiencing a spike in members following A.A.R.P.’s endorsement of ObamaCare.

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2 Responses to ObamaCare Update

We Are Americans, Not Europeans

Friday, August 14, AD 2009

Isn’t it obvious that most of our American ancestors came over from Europe because they wanted life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?  They fled totalitarian regimes, socialist governments, and anti-Christian repression for the freedom that is afforded all Americans.

We have the best health care in the world precisely because it is not operated by the government.  Private industry drives innovation, government regulation or government-run health care eliminates innovation, awards bureaucrats, and ultimately leads to marginal health care in the long run.

We are Americans, not Europeans.  Yet President Obama, Congressional Democrats, and well-meaning liberals and progressives want to emulate European health care programs.  What Europeans have is not necessarily right nor good.

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42 Responses to We Are Americans, Not Europeans

  • My ancestors from Norway came here because they wanted to farm, and the soil where they lived was rocky, and the seasons short. My ancestors from Germany came, we think, because they were younger sons who were cut out from owning the family farm in the Rhineland. My Quaker ancestors from England and Wales were indeed escaping religious persecution, although if they had landed in the wrong colony in America (anywhere but Pennsylvania or Rhode Island), they would have encountered it again.

    None were escaping government-run healthcare. Most were not escaping any form of statism. It could be argued they were pursuing prosperity in the freedom of America, but it should be noted that most immigrants to the U.S. supported the state-led reforms of the progressives and Democrats in the first half of the twentieth century (although that was less true of the Scandinavian and German farmers of the Great Plains, who tended not to care about urban issues like that, although they did support populist initiatives like North Dakota’s central bank). In other words, your narrative of American history is certainly uncomplicated, and not unrelatedly, quite inaccurate.

    Why does it matter whether public health spending increases as a percentage of GDP if overall spending as a percentage of GDP is decreased? Why consolidate vastly different government healthcare programs – what does Medicare have to do with NIH?

    When you win an election for economic reasons, generally it’s because people think your policies will help address the economic situation. When part of that economic situation is healthcare (concerns about its costs, and about losing your coverage), presumably it’s not absurd to think there’s a connection. For years a greater percentage of people have trusted Democrats more than Republicans on healthcare. That suggests that maybe the “We’re Americans, so don’t try to learn from other countries” argument doesn’t hold as much sway as you think.

  • Zak,

    Excellent points.

    But if I were to jump into the details for every European ethnic group that moved to the US it would have ended up being a novel.

  • Ha! In and out of moderation. Hope you are having fun, policeman!

  • Not *all* of us come from European stock. 😉

  • Tito – Interesting that you deleted all of my comments here EXCEPT for that one. What is the point of that?

  • Michael,

    Your less than charitable comments are being deleted. And not only by me.

    Unlike Vox Nova, where I have been banned due to my comment that I am an American first and Mexican second thus destroying the myth of the American left that minorities need to be self-empowered by adding a “hyphenated” prefix attached to “American”, we have charity at this website, so many of your comments do get approved.

  • You know you were not banned for that comment.

  • My comments were moderated before, but that was the first one that got deleted, while the others were in moderation and then approved.

    So apparently that was the final straw that destroyed the delicate liberal world view that all minorities need to be pampered and told how to talk, think, and vote.

  • We have the best health care in the world if you are at a certain income bracket…

  • Proud to be an A-mer-i-can…

  • Eric,

    When I ‘had’ health care insurance, I got the cheapest plan available and ended up having the best orthopedic surgeon in the country repair my damaged knee.

    And I made less than 6 figures.

    Mark D.,

    Me to brother.

  • “Nationalized” and “socialized” health care programs (they are the same thing, which anyone opposed to the “nation-state” should recognize) “work” much better in small, homogeneous places with high average healthy behaviors and human capital – like say, the Scandinavian places many (rightfully, often) praise.

    Will it work here? Not according to the CBO, and that is just on the estimations of financial side.

    Why don’t we do this instead?

    PROMOTE HEALTH. Cut carbs – go against the destructive status quo (which the government has done a lot of damage on – remember that food pyramid?) Do something like this

    TORT REFORM. Add high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts. Equalize the tax laws so that that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits. PORTABILITY. Let people view plans across state lines. Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover. Enact Medicare reform…NOW. And REVISE tax laws to make it easier for individuals to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren’t covered by Medicare, Medicaid or SCHIP.

  • Tito – Believe what you want. Make things up if it turns you on.

  • “We are Americans, not Europeans. Yet President Obama, Congressional Democrats, and well-meaning liberals and progressives want to emulate European health care programs.”

    I’ve seen it suggested that “blue state” America, especially college campuses, looks so much like Europe because American academics helped rebuild the continent after the war and made themselves and the like-minded into the uncontested establishment. Is there anything to this?

  • Tito,

    Would you forego governmental assistance in the form of medical care and martyr yourself, if need be, for the principles of your America?

  • Nationalized” and “socialized” health care programs (they are the same thing, which anyone opposed to the “nation-state” should recognize) “work” much better in small, homogeneous places with high average healthy behaviors and human capital – like say, the Scandinavian places many (rightfully, often) praise.

    Will it work here? Not according to the CBO, and that is just on the estimations of financial side.

    Why don’t we do this instead?

    PROMOTE HEALTH. Cut carbs – go against the destructive status quo (which the government has done a lot of damage on – remember that food pyramid?) Do something like this

    TORT REFORM. Add high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts. Equalize the tax laws so that that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits. PORTABILITY. Let people view plans across state lines. Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover. Enact Medicare reform…NOW. And REVISE tax laws to make it easier for individuals to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren’t covered by Medicare, Medicaid or SCHIP.

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  • Kevin,

    It happens sadly in red states as well.

    Mark D.,

    There is the emergency clinic.

  • Touche

  • Nationalized” and “socialized” health care programs (they are the same thing, which anyone opposed to the “nation-state” should recognize)…

    They’re not the same thing if there are no nation-states. Socialized health care could also operate on the state (in the u.s.) or provincial level (as in Canada) as well.

    …“work” much better in small, homogeneous places with high average healthy behaviors and human capital – like say, the Scandinavian places many (rightfully, often) praise.

    There you go with your “homogeneous places” stuff again. “If only we could keep all the races separate, everything would work great!”

  • Mark D.,

    I just want to be clear that I want Health Care reform as well. Just not as drastic in some portions of the bills that are floating around in the House with possibly an addition to including tort reform.

    We need health care reform, but together as Americans, not as a strictly Democratic bill.

  • To all you people who care so much about the uninsured, I have two words for you: PROVE IT! Spend your own money, not someone else’s. Last time I checked, when the Good Samaritan helped the man on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, he did not spend another person’s money. He spent his own.

  • Just because an idea or system is not American, does not make it automatically bad (or good). After all, most of us on this blog really like the social and moral ideas promulgated in the last 100 years or so by certain Italian, Polish, and German guys who wear funny hats 😉

  • To all you people who care so much about the uninsured, I have two words for you: PROVE IT! Spend your own money, not someone else’s. Last time I checked, when the Good Samaritan helped the man on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, he did not spend another person’s money. He spent his own.

    Presumably those who are in favor of universal health care are willing to have their taxes raised in order to pay for it. So, um, they would be spending “their own money.”

    Your me, mine, all mine attitude is sub-Christian.

  • When does society begin to look at itself to curb the healthcare problems? Obesity, smoking, drinking, STD’s, unwanted pregnancy, abortions, elicit drug use all put demand on the system in overdrive. Seems easy to say let the government take care of it so all share in the cost, but we are not eager to curb our own appetite for vices. There can be no true social justice that is not rooted in virtue and our Government does not respect the dignity of life so it is really a farce to think they care about the quality of life. If we as a country do not respect God as our creator, no government program is going to save us.

  • Ray – Sadly, not all health problems are connected to “virtue.” Aside from the fact that accidents happen in real life, your comment is the same old blame the victim nonsense.

  • Michael,

    While forcing the rest of us to pay for something we already do through charity.


  • While forcing the rest of us to pay for something we already do through charity.

    This doesn’t make any sense.

  • Tito, you had a good health insurance plan. That does not mean the entire system is not deeply flawed.

  • Mikael,

    Cost is a product of demand; the demand is greatly increased by health care administered to people who made a choice to engage in risky behavior. US Policy Makers have done nothing to slow the erosion of this immoral behavior, but now have a plan to reduce cost. All hollow without morals in the driver’s seat. You will not contain a fire by putting a fire hose in the front door and a gasoline hose in the back.

    And don’t take this to mean I am not compassionate. I am not in favor of a GOVERNMENT run plan. Private and faith based working together with the government will provide greater success. What is the purpose of keeping their body alive if you are not trying to save the soul?

  • Michael, a portion of health care costs are the result of affluenza, the indulgence of appetites in ways that previous generations could ill-afford. That is just a social fact.

  • Today’s reading and Gospel summed up my thoughts better then I did.

    “But when the judge died,
    they would relapse and do worse than their ancestors,
    following other gods in service and worship,
    relinquishing none of their evil practices or stubborn conduct.”

    We are quick as a nation to anoint blame and seek fixes for our problems and concerns, but we are slow to admit there is a divine plan at work here. This country does have a lot of Greed, Does have a lot of Lust, Does Kill it’s unborn, and we are trashing the Mother/Father family structure. Now as you listen to our elected policy makers we “must” do something about the broken health care system; Some what being sold as a moral obligation to the poor and a “must have” to prove we “love your neighbor”. Poppycock if we do not relinquish our evil and stubborn conduct.

    The way we are asked to help the poor is Charity given from the heart, not policy given by our babbling law makers.

  • zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  • Hey thanks for reminding the Sloth in our country has too.

  • Another difference with Europenas is their lifestyle – they tend to be healthier in diet and exercise (lots more walking). Of course that has an impact on health care costs. Not to mention their defense budgets are a heck of a lot less than ours.

    But we are Americans, dang it. If we want that custard filled donut with bacon and eggs for breakfast to help us sit at our cubicle for the next nine hours before we go home and plop down in front of the tube for 3 hours while we wait for the pizza delivery guy, then by golly, we’re gonna get it.

    On the other hand, why the rush to pass this particular bill? Why so hurried – if health care reform is worth doing, isn’t it worth doing right?

  • “Presumably those who are in favor of universal health care are willing to have their taxes raised in order to pay for it. So, um, they would be spending ‘their own money.'”

    Actually, the Administration proposes that very few people pay for it.

  • C Matt,

    It’s our choice to eat what we want.

    Granted it is excessive, but God gave us free will.

    (For the record, I agree with you that Americans don’t eat very well).

    As far as defense budgets are concerned, the US pretty much is NATO. If they were ever to be attacked by Russian or the Arab states, you can be well assured that the Americans will rush quickly to their defense.

    It’s how NATO works.

  • Michael,

    To your reference to “dufus”, I apologize about that.

    I should have been more careful.

    In my defense, I thought it was a silly word appropriate for you, but when I looked it up in the dictionary, it went to far where you didn’t deserve to be called that.

  • 1960 Flemming v. Nestor the Supreme Court ruled “The noncontractual interest of an employee covered by the Act cannot be soundly analogized to that of the holder of an annuity, whose right to benefits are based on his contractual premium payments”. The decision means that since no one has any legal right to Social Security benefits, Congress can cut or eliminate benefits at any time.

    Keep this in mind as Baby Boomers retire. Early on SS was a trust fund that was eventually raided in 1965 to offset the deficit. When the retirees payments exceeds the collections taxes will skyrocket, benefits will get cut, or they print money and inflation runs rampant.

    Flemming v. Nestor will have the same impact on a public option healthcare, it is not a contractual right and they can cut or eliminate benefits at any time. With a private option you have a contract and legal rights. Private payments that are deductible for the poor is a much better solution.

    As far as who is paying? It does not pass the squint test that this can be paid for with only a handful of wealthy people footing the bill. Hence the panic that the “end of life” counseling session will turn into nothing more then trying to talk the elderly into NOT accepting advanced and costly treatment. So why reinvent the Living Will? Promote everyone to write a Living Will; don’t replace it with another system which will open decades of new legal questions already established by Living Wills.

  • Michael,

    That’s between you and Donald.

    While we’re on the subject, look up the word charity and read the Holy Gospel of St. Matthew, chapter 5, verse 39.

Sleeping Giant Awakes and Democrats Blink

Thursday, August 13, AD 2009

Today Senator Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said that senators are excluding a provision on end-of-life care from the House bill.  This is a major victory for ordinary Americans.

As senior citizens voice their displeasure with “death-panels” and other provisions in the House bill, the Democrat leaders are grudgingly realizing that maybe, just maybe, some provisions in their House bill will not pass with the American public.

The most recent polls show that the demonizing tactics of President Obama and Speaker Pelosi have failed to cover the growing grassroots activism that is rising among ordinary Americans.

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28 Responses to Sleeping Giant Awakes and Democrats Blink

  • Taco Man,

    Kindly correct “Nazi’s” as “Nazis”.

    I’m not entirely sure why you happen to have employed the possessive in this context.

  • Ill see your 2010 and raise ya a 2012.
    Nice echo in here. Im Catholic, Im an Obama supporter.
    Again, tell me why the vocal majority here wants to penalize the sick?

  • Master C,

    What penalty?

    You mean why are Americans tired of being over taxed and regulated? Why having to pay for such great government-run success stories like “Cash for Clunkers” and “FEMA” have inspired lack of confidence?

    Geeee, I don’t know what you mean?

  • I guess you have never been sick.denied coverage, or been out of a job and had to pay like crazy for COBRA.
    This country, the richest in the world, cant seem
    to help the least of us [THAT penalty]

  • I have been deathly ill, been denied coverage, and I am out of a job as I type this. And I refuse to pay COBRA (kind of helps when you have no money to pay for it).

    So I guess I will be demonized as well since I’m not being payed nor have I been contacted by any Vast Right Wing Conspiracy™ machine.

  • Demonized?
    I asked why the vocal majority here wants to penalize the sick.
    ….and I still havent heard the reason.

  • I asked why the vocal majority here wants to penalize the sick.

    See, this is what’s known as a strawman argument. The reason no one has answered your question is because your premise is logistically flawed. Please prove you’re not some 17-year old troll and actually attempt to argue in good faith, otherwise the rest of us will continue to ignore your moronic assertions.

    Hope that clears that up.

  • Since you have a taste for demagoguery, mc, why do you support government-funded abortion?


    [For the record, I support universal health coverage. But not this monstrosity.]

  • Nobody here wants to “penalize the sick.” However, we would like to find a way of helping the sick that DOESN’T involve running up vast amounts of debt for future generations to pay with crushing taxation, or the government paying to kill unborn children, or a gigantic bureaucracy deciding what kind of treatment we can and cannot have.


  • So interesting,
    I am asking why we would penalize the sick, and if that is moronic, so be it. I have had 12 years of Catholic school education and have attended church all my life and consider myself well versed in what Jesus chose to spend his time talking about. The status quo protects INSURANCE companies not people. I am asking why you all would want to keep that in place. I know change is scary, but I believe that taking care of our people is important.

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  • master c has decided to don troll garb. Do not feed the energy creature.

  • psst.. The ‘evil’ insurance companies are made up of people. Like me. And my Mom. Evil healthcare companies are made up of people, too. Like my Dad and many of my cousins.

    Personally, I always viewed insurance as a sort of capitalist socialism..

  • master c:

    I find it curious that even with a seemingly extensive education, you still suffer from what apparently are cognitive deficiencies you are unable to remedy in spite of your professed years at academia.

    To make the remarkably bold, outright assertion that anybody opposed to the Obamacare death squads as actually the ones penalizing the sick; I take it when such a hideous plan as in its original conception were actually implemented, you would have been amongst the first to dance for joy when the lives of your loved ones are truncated simply to promote system efficiency and cost savings.

    So, if anybody is doing any sort of penalizing, it is your much favored fiercely Pro-Abort administration seeking to extend the tentacles of its Culture of Death principles upon the general populace.

    Extra credit points, though, for your (albeit futile) attempts at making the proponents of evil as actually the advocates of good.

  • Master C: Read chapters 2 and 3 of B16’s Jesus of Nazareth and then come back for some big boy discussion of social justice issues.

  • How about reading the Caritas in Veritate encyclical?
    Does that qualify as big boy enough for you?

    I’m Catholic, Im American, yet Im a troll.

  • “I’m Catholic, I’m American, yet Im a troll.”

    So, you mean to argue that since you’re Catholic, you’re American; therefore, you cannot be a troll?

    Don’t get it. at all.

    “How about reading the Caritas in Veritate encyclical? Does that qualify as big boy enough for you?”

    It only qualifies as “big boy” enough if you read it thoroughly and with sufficient comprehension so as to discern exactly that what the fiercely Pro-Abort administration seeks to advance in such policies stands completely opposite to the very Christian principles essentially enshrined in such encyclicals.

  • what about the fiercely pro social justice part?


    a little something for all us!

  • So since it contains a pro-social justice part; therefore, adopting and, even further, implementing policies that would most certainly advance the Culture of Death must somehow be alright then.

    After all your comments, I seem to have gleaned an insight into just what you’re master of.

  • OK gentlemen,

    Enough with the “troll” comments.

    Just argue the substance, not the person.

  • Can we argue the source of master c’s understanding of the Church’s teaching:

    The pope’s social encyclical
    by Richard McBrien on Aug. 10, 2009

  • A guy who repeatedly asks “why the vocal majority here wants to penalize the sick” and dodges questions about his support for abortion doesn’t offer much substance to address.

    But, OK:

    mc–Caritas in Veritate condemns abortion three times. How does the Obama “health care” plan that pays for abortions [see the link to the Associated Press analysis I provided above] square with Catholic social teaching as set forth in the encyclical?

    I await your next change of subject.

  • Respectfully, here is the link from the lead post:


    That list of what conservatives seek or support doesnt entirely square with my Catholic beliefs, that’s all. That’s what Im here to say, not dodge, demagogue or demonize. I know your one issue that trumps all is abortion. I know lots of Catholics who let that determine how they vote.

    Dont know if it matters, but I am a woman.

  • “I know your one issue that trumps all is abortion.”

    I’m sorry–have we met? I have no idea who you are, so I doubt I’ve informed you as to my political beliefs. If it’s one thing people here will gladly testify to, it’s that I resent to high Heaven people who label me and assign opinions to me that I do not hold.

    So, speaking of demonizing, you’ve done it and not apologized for it, stating authoritatively that I (and others) want “to penalize the sick.” That was uncalled for, and still unapologized for, and now you make more assumptions. For the record, I have voted for pro-choice candidates in the past (regretfully, but there was no other options). Thus, your second assumption about me is false. I respectfully request that you cease and desist.

    And, yes, you’re dodging and changing the subject again, pointing to the Wikipedia link this time.

    Back to the question: how can a Catholic square support health care that funds elective (i.e., not for medical reasons) with authentic (as opposed to purely secular) social justice principles?

    The basic problem is this: we don’t help the hungry by knowingly giving them loaves of spoiled bread that won’t kill most of them outright (even though we know some will die from food poisoning). “But they’re hungry and we have a duty to feed the hungry” doesn’t cut it. Likewise, we don’t help the sick by giving them “health” care we know–KNOW–will result in the deliberate killing of human life. It is really as simple as that.

  • The link was from the original post [see the top], and prompted me to reply in the first place. Im not sure if you actually read it, it is not from wikipedia. It was provided as support that this is a conservatively plural nation. As it was a set forth as a basis for this discussion, Im not sure how it is “dodging and changing the discussion” I apologize for all the demonizing. I respectfully cease and desist.
    Not sure what qualifies as on topic around here.

  • Since “conservipedia,” like Wikipedia, can be freely edited by anybody who logs in, it’s a Wikipedia for conservatives, mc. It even rips off the template. Nice try.

    At least it was better than your canned apology for slandering everyone here as a “penalizer of the sick.” And much, much better than your third evasion of the abortion/health care question.

    I have no interest in talking with you further.

  • Dude, the link came from THIS post by the author of THIS BLOG!
    get a clue.
    I am glad ypu wont be talking to me anymore

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AARP Vice-President Denies Problems With Members

Tuesday, August 11, AD 2009

The American Association of Retired Persons, A.A.R.P., Vice-President Drew Nannis refused to apologize for how his organization treated their members in a recent town hall meeting.  In that town hall meeting, the A.A.R.P. representative refused to listen to the members and abruptly ended the meeting after what seemed to me as frustration on her part.

Drew Nannis referred to those A.A.R.P. members that voiced their disagreement with A.A.R.P.’s support of ObamaCare as “a bunch of people yelling.”

If you take Mr. Nannis’ word, he did say that they recently had another town hall meeting, which he refers to as a listening tour, in Dallas where the same moderator and many of the same members did meet and have a much more cordial exchange of views and ideas.

Philip Klein of The American Spectator noted A.A.R.P.’s cozy relationship with President Obama:

Its CEO, Barry Rand, who was a major Obama donor, has gotten cozy with the administration, and along with the rest of the top brass at the Washington headquarters, has decided to support liberal policies.

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Blueshirts, Pelosi, and Mobs, Oh My!

Saturday, August 8, AD 2009

It’s been an interesting week in the world of American politics.  With the arrogance of congressional Democrats and the White House attempts at discrediting a grassroots movement, the passions will certainly continue to climb after the weekend is over.

Here are some highlights from these past few days:

1. At a town hall last week in Dallas, an elderly “mob” with “manufactured” outrage questioned AARP’s support for nationalized health care, asking: “Do you work for us or do we work for you?”

There were no swastika-wearing grannies at Tuesday’s meeting, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi might claim. Nor were they “taking their cues from talk show hosts, Internet rumor-mongers . . . and insurance rackets,” as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said.

But they were mad as hell at the perception that AARP was selling them out in the name of government-run medical insurance. That perception was not helped when the AARP town hall on the subject was shut down by the seniors outfit once the members dared to ask questions. The AARP representatives did not want to hear from the members at all. Just send in your dues, granny, and be quiet.

To read the rest of this IDB Editorial click here.

2. You’ve heard a lot about this crazy, scary, vicious mob on some shadowy GOP payroll. By the way the DNC, Rachel Maddow, and President Obama talk, you’d think it was a motley crue of Hell’s Angels.

Let me introduce you to the mob:

scary mob 1

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20 Responses to Blueshirts, Pelosi, and Mobs, Oh My!

  • A superb roundup Tito! You have a real talent for putting these together!

  • It’s funny we hear Republicans say that they do not want “faceless bureaucrats” making medical decisions but they have no problem with “private sector” “faceless bureaucrats” daily declining medical coverage and financially ruining good hard working people. And who says that the “private sector” is always right, do we forget failures like Long-Term Capital, WorldCom, Global Crossing, Enron, Tyco, AIG and Lehman Brothers. Of course the federal government will destroy heathcare by getting involved, Oh but wait our military men and women and the Senate and Congress get the best heathcare in the world, and oh, that’s right, its run by our federal government. I can understand why some may think that the federal government will fail, if you look at the past eight years as a current history, with failures like the financial meltdown and Katrina but the facts is they can and if we support them they will succeed.

    How does shouting down to stop the conversation of the healthcare debate at town hall meetings, endears them to anyone. Especially when the organizations that are telling them where to go and what to do and say are Republicans political operatives, not real grassroots. How does shouting someone down or chasing them out like a lynch mob advanced the debate, it does not. So I think the American people will see through all of this and know, like the teabagger, the birthers, these lynch mobs types are just the same, people who have to resort to these tactics because they have no leadership to articulate what they real want. It’s easy to pickup a bus load of people who hate, and that’s all I been seeing, they hate and can’t debate. Too bad.

  • If you don’t know who Rick Scott is then you don’t know who is duping you. This is the false prophet. Scott is the money-changer you let into your temple. Scott is a big health care CEO (whose company by the way was fined $1.7 billion for fraud) who is financing the disruption of the town hall meetings. He is the temptor who has cause you to stumble into the gospel of hatred for your fellow man. His “salvation” (money) is to get you to serve corporate profits instead of your fellow man.

    One Master said “Feed my sheep,” “As ye do to the least of these my brothers, you do unto me.” Perhaps you can appreciate how that would be served by universal health care?
    The other “master” says, “shout them down,” and “voice your anger.” Does that really serve your mission to be the spreader of the Good News?

    I truly feel sorry for good-hearted people who have been drawn into the hatred of political extremism and who honestly think they are serving Christ, when in fact they are serving corporate lobbyists. What a shame!

    Check it out: http://thinkprogress.org/2009/08/06/rick-scott-sanchez/

  • Paul,

    Those were very hateful elderly people in those posts.

    I guess the GOP Hate-van picked them at an early bird dinner and bussed them over to these town halls.

    It’s called grasping at straws.

  • I really don’t care how great the proposed healthcare bill is, even if it give cradle to grave care to all at the same level Congress enjoys (don’t mention the military, our healthcare isn’t all that great). I don’t care if B.O. & Company summon up a genie to pay for it all with no expense to the taxpayers. I don’t care if there is absolutely no provisions for funding abortions in it.

    If it doesn’t expressly forbid coverage for abortion and euthanasia it isn’t good enough. Period.

  • The health care plan on offer provides for government funding of abortions. Pointing to shady corporate lobbyists doesn’t change that gruesome fact. Who’s the temptor who put that murderous, needless and revolutionary language in the bill? Mr. Scott may be a fraud, but he hasn’t snuffed human life on the scale contemplated by this health bill.

    It has no place in a “health care” bill. Demand that it be taken out and I’ll stand with you, CL. Ignore it, and I’ll ignore you.

  • Paul,

    Do you have a citation for your assertion that the military receive the ‘the best health care in the world’?

    I am not aware that anyone has asserted that private enterprise is infallible, merely that it generally performs more efficiently in the provision of merchandise and services unless the good in question is one that cannot be vended on a market (e.g. law enforcement, or natural environments) because the costs and benefits of the provision of the service are very poorly aligned, payer and recipient being different parties (for the most part). A secondary problem you have is that often the use of markets to provide certain goods and services leads to a distribution of same that people find unpalatable. Medical services is one of those goods.

    People’s demand for goods and services (including medical services) is invariably going to exceed the capacity of producers to supply these services. From the perspective of the consumer, if you spend more on x, you have to spend less on y. Rationing of the fruits of productive capacity may be done through price systems or through administrative controls, but it must occur. Neither the individual household, nor the commercial insurer, nor the government have unlimited resources, so some party must be in the business of ‘denying coverage’ (i.e. refusing to pay for it). The commercial insurer charges you a premium which is derived in part from an understanding of a particular benefits configuration. If you change the benefits configuration post hoc, the insurance program is not actuarially sound and eventually goes bankrupt.

    The program as proposed is hideously rococo, is proposed to be enacted when there are severe demands on public resources from the banking crisis, and is being enacted when simpler alternatives that allow for more decision-making by consumers and providers are available. People also tend to be rather risk-averse in these sorts of situations, preferring a devil they know. That there is opposition is unsurprising. Get used to it.

  • Paul,

    the plan at offer bears no resemblance to the plan which congress generously offers itself, it’s more akin to medicare or the veterans administration. Active military enjoy excellent trauma care, but their “routine” medical system leaves a lot to be desired.

    ChristianLiberal (an oxymoron),

    and your well-crafted talking points are financed by George Soros. Whatever the agenda of Rick Scott’s organization, they fund NOBODY to attend any townhalls, they, along with many other conservative groups help to analyse the proposal (it’s >1000 pages for legalese and Orwellian “newspeak”) and communicate their findings. It’s the well funded SEIU that is far more in line with what you’re accusing us of.

  • Advocacy groups, at ALL points on the political spectrum, exist for a very good reason: because most ordinary people cannot take the time to thoroughly perform completely original research and personally lobby their legislators on EVERY single issue of interest to them.

    That’s why we have issue-based organizations that do it for us — National Right to Life, the NRA, AARP, the Sierra Club, etc. If they organize an event and provide transportation, meals, etc. for people to participate, does that automatically mean that every individual who attends is being “manipulated” or “bought” and therefore their views don’t deserve consideration? Do people’s views “count” only if they happen to find out about an event completely on their own and attend totally at their own expense, without using any arguments or “talking points” that have ever been used by anyone else?

    The mere fact that an advocacy group organizes an event or actively invites people to participate (no one has, as far as I know, claimed that anyone on either side was ordered or forced to attend) does NOT mean that the views expressed by those attendees are insincere or not worthy of attention. I think that applies just as much to SEIU as to any alleged GOP political operatives — if they care enough to show up for an event, they have a right to be heard AND a responsibility to let others be heard as well.

  • Elaine,

    you’re right of course, but in the case of the townhall ‘mobs’ the only support provided has been information as far as we know, and that’s generally the case with conservative causes. On the other hand, there is a LONG history of leftist groups using all sorts of enticements, including cash payments to individual protesters. Furthermore, it’s curious that the SEIU is showing a lot of interest in this matter, since union negotiated health care plans are largely exempted from interference under this law. Also notable is the special treatement afforded SEIU and other democrat activists at these supposedly “open forums”.

    I remember SEIU “protestors” involved in a janitorial contract dispute a couple of years ago marching around Cincinnati. I asked one of them what it was about and after a short discussion he acknowledged that he had no idea what it was about he just got paid to come out.

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  • I probably should have added that I have very little if any sympathy for SEIU, since they were among the biggest supporters of and donors to Illinois’ disgraced Governor Blago, and also among the most strident groups now pushing for a massive tax increase to cover the state deficit. I believe their efforts to organize home health care workers and demand taxpayer support for them are doing more harm than good to their cause and those of the elderly and disabled people they are supposed to be helping. Also, it is true that completely original arguments offered by someone acting on their own will carry more weight than canned “talking points”.

    What I take issue with, however, is the notion that participating in ANY kind of organized effort or campaign regarding an issue somehow invalidates one’s point of view or makes it less genuine.

    Also, Pelosi obviously doesn’t know what “astroturfing” means. In my experience as a journalist, it referred to instances in which an advocacy or lobbying group creates fake grass roots support for its point of view by getting its own members or clients to write a bunch of letters to the editor, op-ed pieces, blog posts, etc. in a way that makes them APPEAR to have come from ordinary citizens moved to write purely out of personal conviction — with NO mention of the authors’ group affiliation or personal or financial interest in the matter. However, the mere fact that a letter-writing campaign or public event is organized by some group does not make it “astroturf.”

  • Tito Edwards, Art Deco, Matt McDonald: It is very American to want to help our fellow countryman. I believe in my government especially our men and women in our military, firefighters and police. You, not so much. Lets face it the previous administration did nothing (except start two wars of choice that are bankrupting our country with all the “war profiteering” contracts to Halliburton) well you and I will just have to agree to not agree. I did not believe any of the Republican rhetoric before the last election and I do not believe them now. I do not believe that your sentiments are in line with the majority, but your comments, funny stuff.

  • Paul,

    Tito Edwards, Art Deco, Matt McDonald: It is very American to want to help our fellow countryman.

    yes, and we do. In fact, if you are a typical liberal, and we are typical conservatives then we do far more to help our fellow countrymen than you do… shame on you.

    I believe in my government especially our men and women in our military, firefighters and police. You, not so much.

    I believe in God Almighty. I appreciate and thank our military, firefighters, and police. The FEDERAL government bureacracy which you worship, not so much. State and local governments I appreciate and trust more because they are closer to the people.

    I do not believe that your sentiments are in line with the majority

    based on all the liberals you hang out with it’s not surprising that you have no idea what the majority think. Check the polls buddy.

  • “I believe in my government especially our men and women in our military, firefighters and police. You, not so much.

    And this comment was meant to prove what exactly?

    It reminds me of a corrupt company when faced with possible prosecution for dumping toxic wastes into rivers; they all of a sudden introduce the rather conspicuous red herring: well, our company, as you know, believes wholeheartedly in the greatness of these United States and, in fact, donate regularly to charitable causes!

    Well, quite frankly, much like the Demo-n-Caths and other like-minded felons who capitalize on the veneer of societal goodness, professing such remarkable love of country and their fellow man, all the while, advancing deterimental policies that only hinder and even injure the common citizen; I don’t buy the seemingly noble facade even for a second.

    Go sell your liberal goods elsewhere; while McDonald might play gracious host to you, I, on the other hand, see you for who you truly are: an actor disguising sheer demagoguery in mere sentimentalism but, as even evident in the agenda and actions of the current administration, nothing substantive or even noble where the average American Family is concerned, which policies as these can only prove injurious as regarding any purported benefits such policy claim to advance and can prove even fatal, especially in light of end-of-life issues which will certainly be truncated — not so surprising given the fiercely Pro-Abort administration bent on only advancing the merits of the Culture of Death.

  • e.,

    very eloquent!

  • Matt & e: Sticks and Stones……. Stick and Stones

    I do not believe that your sentiments are in line with the majority, but your comments, funny stuff.

  • Paul:

    I do not believe that your sentiments are in line with sanity; but, hey, such is the sorry state of the world.

    All things besides, interesting that you should flaunt your views as being the right one simply because you make the rather tenuous claim that it happens to be the majority, which doesn’t necessarily make them right even if so.

    That notorious ad populum is an old fallacy that even your own ignoble confreres have used time and again.

    Please do visit us again should you have something more substantive to share. Thanks.

  • e: Snore….Snore

Government Funded Health Care Open Thread

Friday, July 24, AD 2009

In light of Zach’s stellar posting which generated over 240 comments ranging from anarchism to Oscar Romero and which inspired a posting by Michael Denton.  These comments, although informative to a certain extent, may have detracted from the original intent of the posting.  Henceforth in regards to said activities being done on Zach’s posting concerning Representative Chris Smith, I am starting a new tradition here at American Catholic, the open thread.

So feel free to comment to your hearts delight that isn’t related to any other postings on this website.

The comments policy is still in place so don’t forget to treat each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.


Marxist Health Care

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12 Responses to Government Funded Health Care Open Thread

  • I do not oppose a health care bill that extends coverage beyond the narrow concerns protected under Medicaid, Medicare, and SSI. I object to bloated bills that have not been read. I object to rushing to publish a bill, any bill, for purely political reasons. I object to “stealth” measures to hide within larger bills truly controversial legislation like FOCA. I object to the blackmail that this process creates, diminishing debate and deliberation to little more than key points, without the detail necessary to analyze the effects. Most of all, I object to a President, ANY President, telling the legislature what kind of legislation to pass, what it should do and say, and when it shall be completed. This is bullying and strikes as the core of the Separation of Powers.

    In the instant debate, I am THRILLED to see this rush to cobble together a bill delayed. Now, maybe, we can come up with something that specifically addresses the issues as hand without delving into issues that should be addressed as separate bills.

  • G-Veg,

    I agree to most of your points except the need for government run health care. Which both violates subsidiarity and distributism.

  • I forget who pointed out. Appropos of your cartoon, it appears the right has an unhealthy obsession with anal penetration, specifically anal rape.

  • M.Z.,

    What gnostic class can I take to follow your line of thinking?

  • Tito,

    I love you, man, but you are better than a post with that cartoon as its header.

  • Frankly, the cartoon was a lot more innocuous than M.Z.’s rather inflammatory response to it.

  • Why does it violate subsidiarity?

  • The principle of subsidiarity is that matters should be handled at the most local level as possible and if it cannot adequately at that level be taken care of, it can move up to the next point. The problem is, I think most Democrats will argue, is that the states do not have the resources to address the matter sufficiently because it is fixing a regional problem within a intricately more complicated problem. So, I don’t think one can simply say it violates subsidiarity as if that is some obvious objective fact that cannot, rightly or wrongly, be disputed.

    All Democratic proposals aside. I have read criticism after criticism, but I have read very little by way of solutions to the problem. I have seen what I think are credible starting-points amending parts of the system, but nothing comprehensively to address the whole of health care in America, while restraining the government. If this were really a serious problem, I’d almost expect a solution. The closest thing I’ve seen is the Patients Choice Act which has earned about every stripe of Republican criticism and has incorporated by and large waves of Democratic ideas.

    I think the *structure* of the health care markets is deeply flawed and I don’t see them re-structuring unless it is via the legislative process. I’m sure we won’t agree on details. But it seems opposition to Democratic health care proposals almost always opposition (indirectly) to reform, which ends up not happening — to the total chagrin of the people who need it the most.

  • Eric,

    Were the Federal Government to provide a straightforward and unrestricted subsidy to state, county, and municipal government determined according to a formula taking into account population and per capita income, the principal structural impediment to state authorities acting as medical insurers would be removed. Why not leave general income redistribution, macroeconomic stabilization (e.g. unemployment compensation), and public works implicated in moving people and goods across state lines to the center and other services to the periphery?

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  • Eric,
    I have read very little by way of solutions to the problem.

    have you checked out the Republican proposals? John McCain’s policy is a great starting point. I believe it’s the brainchild of an actual physician.

    Here’s the key points without getting into the nitty gritty:

    1. Tort Reform – liability insurance and payouts for exorbitant claims account for 20% of healthcare costs.

    2. Equal Access – eliminate preferential tax treatment of employer sponsored plans vs. private plans. Accomplished by eliminating the employer’s deduction, and giving a tax credit to all Americans with which to purchase health care as they see fit.

    3. Open Market – allow individuals and employers to purchase any plan authorized by any state.

    4. Encourage Health savings and catastrophic INSURANCE coverage instead of pre-paid health care.

    These actions will drive down the cost of health care while maintaining the motivators for continued advancement and excellence.

    Now, you can never again say haven’t heard any alternatives.

"Taken" Some Life Lessons

Saturday, July 18, AD 2009

I saw the movie with Liam Neeson entitled “Taken”, the other night. It is the ultimate ‘Dads protecting daughters’ fantasy. It plays on a whole lot of primal emotions- particularly the temptation to give oneself over to extreme violence to protect the lives and sanctity of one’s children. Every father wants to imagine himself capable of defending his beloved children from any and all threats- and the father in “Taken” was that ultimate fatherly force. He represented more of a divine Angelic father who slays spiritually evil forces, than a realistic earthly dad- and as such I was able to excuse the incredible violence as something of a parable of ultimate accountability for those humans who perpetrate the evils of human trafficking and slavery.

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3 Responses to "Taken" Some Life Lessons

  • I think you make a key point here about how deeply pornography is connected with the breakdown of the family and the exploitation of women in our society.

  • Can you tell me what definition of “consumerism” you’re applying to the sex-slavery industry which is thousands of years old?

    It seems a stretch to me, but I’m interested to hear.


    Clementine Hall
    Saturday, 13 June 2009

    “Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
    Distinguished and Dear Friends,

    Thank you for your visit which fits into the context of your annual meeting. I greet you all with affection and am grateful to you for all that you do, with proven generosity, at the service of the Church. I greet and thank your President, Count Lorenzo Rossi di Montelera, who has expressed your sentiments with fine sensitivity, giving an overview of the Foundation’s work. I also thank those who, in various languages, have wished to express your common devotion. Our meeting today acquires special meaning and value in the light of the situation that humanity as a whole is experiencing at this time.

    Indeed, the financial and economic crisis which has hit the industrialized, the emerging and the developing countries, shows clearly that certain economic and financial paradigms which prevailed in recent years must be rethought. Therefore, at the international congress which took place yesterday your Foundation did well to address the topic of the search for, and identification of, the values and rules which the economic world should abide by in order to evolve a new model of development that is more attentive to the requirements of solidarity and more respectful of human dignity.

    I am pleased to learn that you examined in particular the interdependence between institutions, society and the market, in accordance with my venerable Predecessor John Paul II’s Encyclical, Centesimus annus. The Encyclical states that the market economy, understood as: “an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector” (n. 42), may be recognized as a path to economic and civil progress only if it is oriented to the common good (cf. n. 43). However, this vision must also be accompanied by another reflection which says that freedom in the economic sector must be circumscribed “by a strong juridical framework which places it at the service of human freedom in its totality”, a responsible freedom, “the core of which is ethical and religious” (n. 42). The above-mentioned Encyclical appropriately states: “just as the person fully realizes himself in the free gift of self, so too ownership morally justifies itself in the creation, at the proper time and in the proper way, of opportunities for work and human growth for all” (n. 43).

    I hope that by drawing inspiration from the eternal principles of the Gospel it will be possible, with the research inherent in your work, to elaborate a vision of the modern economy that is respectful of the needs and rights of the weak. My Encyclical dedicated to the vast topic of the economy and work is, as you know, due to be published shortly. It will highlight what for Christians are the objectives to pursue and the values to promote and to defend tirelessly, if we are to achieve a truly free and supportive human coexistence.”

    Consumerism, as I use it, is not the positive business economy that is supported by Catholic social doctrine, but the destructive misuse of business models that overemphasize the commerce angle at the expense of the human beings who are on the giving and receiving end of some business transaction. It is the inadequate juridical framework that allows for such things as pornography and adult entertainment businesses to flourish under a false idealism associated with “Free Speech” and corporations being legally defined as “persons” with rights we normally associate with actual human beings. These modern-day abuses of what true freedom is really all about, help foster the modern situation of sex-slavery/human trafficking. The legal pornography helps to fuel the destructive fires of lust in boys and men of all ages, the freedom of advertisers to use sexual appeals to the lowest common denominator in human- particularly male human nature- also makes the pursuit of sex seem to be an overriding concern in everyday life. The rise of female entrepreneurs in the adult video industry and prostitution lends to the notion that women are getting good money for lending their bodies to men for illicit sexual purposes- so there is no victim in the process, when in actuality everyone involved and women in general and humanity at-large is harmed by the social sins associated with the weakening of public morals, and the encouragement of promiscuity with all the physical and spiritual damage that that entails.

    One could say that “consumerism” is that approach to economics and business that tries to separate the Christian Humanism of which the Pope speaks, with the freedom of individuals to pursue many kinds of “businesses” which contribute to the market demand for young girls and boys to be available for sexual exploitation- which is what drives the sex-slavery “market”. I found this to be the case when I attended local city council meetings where the topic was responding to the demands of adult entertainment business owners to have certain areas of town zoned for adult entertainment lest they take the city to the higher courts, where the findings have been in favor of the adult businesses via the “free speech” rationalization. The small cities must come up with ample sites for adult entertainment or else they risk heavy legal fees to challenge something that right now favors the purveyors of porn in the higher courts. Even though the numbers of speakers from the community who were outraged and against such businesses was very substantial- the juridical framework isn’t developed to address the morality questions in these areas. If we have the human person as our primary consideration in determining how to regulate businesses and their affairs, then this would be something more or less easy to fix. But our system is not set up with the common good/natural law as the guiding light for legal renderings- which is what is lacking in the juridical frameworks so often called for by the Magisterium.

39 Responses to Obama's World Apology Tour

  • Yeah, the apology shtick is getting old. That’s not nearly so bad as his string of gratuitous insults against the British, though. It suggests he’s carrying his dad’s grudges.

    And treating Zelaya as some kind of Christ of the Americas has been gobsmackingly awful. Here’s hoping Oscar Arias can rescue us from our efforts in Airbus Diplomacy.

    OTOH, his diplomatic chops in Russia were very good and I thought he handled the Armenian Genocide issue about as well as he could have during his visit to Turkey.

  • Agreed Dale, on all counts. I thought freeing the Iranian “diplomats” captured in Iraq in 2007 was a mistake unless he has a quid pro quo from the mullahs. I think they have been behind the uptick in bombings in Iraq as a way of attempting to warn Obama from taking advantage of the meltdown underway in Iran.

  • Could you please enumerate all the ills that Obama has blamed the United States for, in which the United States had no responsible hand, that justifies your wording, “all the ills of the world”?

  • You do have to give credit where it is due and President Obama handled himself well in Russia.

    But I’m not sure anyone noticed as the mainstream media heckled Governor Palin relentlessly.

  • Global warming and American values such as freedom and liberty.

  • I know Obama never misses an opportunity to complain about his predecessor, but I confess I’m not sure what specific events the cartoon is referencing.

  • JH,

    Our arrogance of freedom.

  • If the truth about American foreign relations and policies is oftentimes a story of imperialism, power politics, superpower abuses, elitist self-interest, geopolitical gain at the expense of human rights, and service to something other than the universal common good- then I would expect that any American from the top-down should be willing to acknowledge those instances in history, or those ongoing abuses- if they are someone of solid character and good will. Zealotry and “my country right or wrong” nationalism is not the stuff of Catholicism to be sure. It is interesting that whenever someone goes public with criticism of American foreign policies, wars, coups etc.. they are labeled as blame America First anti-patriots, just like Jewish voices who are critical of Israeli policies and wars are labeled as self-loathing Jews- they usually are not called liars, interestingly. Of course the Christian ideal of taking the plank out of one’s own eye first is conveniently placed to the side.

    The truth is not always a happy one, and to mock those who acknowledge or apologize for past private or social sins that have harmed and killed people is simply not something I will stand on the side of the road for. One can claim ignorance of these sins I suppose, but for the well-read and the well-travelled, it just isn’t an option. It is hardly an excuse to point out the greater sins of other people, other nations- that is something I encounter all the time with teenagers- but it is totally unacceptable in adult religious community.

    I would love to see Obama apologize for every abortion ever sanctioned or encouraged in this country and every country where it was promoted by American governmental or organizational operatives. President Bush should have gone to some of those Third World countries and apologized for the past and present American promoters of abortion as a right to kill the innocent and “save” the planet. And I want to see all the crimes against humanity and international law, and the universal common good committed by American “interests” to be brought to the light. Every life harmed or killed as a consequence of my nation’s willful intent to do something self-serving and/or just plain awful or evil- I will take some measure of blame for. I expect any leader of this country to be of a similar character- but I have yet to find such a leader who I could put my full support behind.

    As reference books for the various charges to be made against the history of American relations with the rest of the world or those continued in the spirit of the colonizing Europeans through neo-colonial machinations I recommend the following writers: DAvid Fromkin, Tim Weiner, William Blum, Chalmers Johnson, Chris Hedges, Stephen Kinzer, Stephen Schlesinger, Robert Dreyfuss, Said Aburish, Edward Said, Greg Grandin, Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, John Perkins, Ron Paul, and Pat Buchanan are some of the authors I can see as I look at my book cases. Other books on the Rwanda genocide and Clinton/Congress passivity, and the cases of Mobutu and Lumumba are books that I don’t have in front of me but linger in my thoughts.

    I expect some or many may be tempted to throw out some personal attack or some obscure quote or misquote from one or more of the authors here listed- it is so easy to hide behind name-calling like “leftist” “liberal” “populist” and all the rest- but I would include Pope John Paul II’s landmark encyclical “On Social Concern” written in 1987 as an excellent back-drop to this history these international relationships. I am Catholic, I am not beholden to the gods of liberalism or conservatism, I am subject to one God, and He does not seem to fit in the narrow boxes of American political ideologies. I served my country for six years in the National Guard, I believe in a strong, well-defended America, but I am not proud of my own personal sins and I am not proud of America’s collective sins- and I infer from Scripture that we are to some measure judged as nations. I believe that if you have the opportunity to apologize for something you have done personally or by association, you should go for it. To humble oneself is not a sign of weakness but of strength- at least in the Kingdom of God where I am aiming to spend the lionshare of my time someday.

  • I’m not so sure the role of the United States is to go around the world and say this is the way it’s got to be. We can help. And maybe it’s just our difference in government, the way we view government. I mean I want to empower people. I want to help people help themselves, not have government tell people what to do. I just don’t think it’s the role of the United States to walk into a country and say, we do it this way, so should you.

  • Tim,

    I don’t apologize for being a Catholic first and an American second. I love my country and when someone apologizes for the rising of the tides or for Muslims killing Muslims, then I am offended.

    President Obama is a charlatan and a foreign policy weakling. If he thinks that apologizing for every “perceived” offense done by the United States will make everything better, then I still believe in the tooth fairy.

  • Furthermore, if we’re an arrogant nation, they’ll resent us; if we’re a humble nation, but strong, they’ll welcome us. And our nation stands alone right now in the world in terms of power, and that’s why we’ve got to be humble, and yet project strength in a way that promotes freedom.

    I think that is all President Obama is trying to do.

  • Awakaman,

    You and I and every other conservative can understand to certain degrees what President Obama is trying to accomplish, but to publicly make it a policy of the United States thinking that the dictators of the world will turn around and become benevolent is short of ignorance and closer to ineptitude.

  • Its one thing to apologize where there are clear wrongs. It would be good if it was not constant. Otherwise it seems false and self-loathing. Excessive love of oneself is not good. Neither is excessive self-criticism. Especially if it is not done in a constructive spirit.

  • Tito:

    The two statements I put in the com boxes above were made by George W. Bush during the 2000 presidential debates with VP Gore. I don’t believe that GWB circa 2000, or any other conservative denouncing US arrogance around the world, e.g., Ron Paul, believed that being a more humble nation would cause dictators themselves to become more democratic, rather our humility as a country is meant to impress the masses within those countries.

    Nothing would inflame Americans more than a foreign government trying to tell our country what to do . . . which is many feel such animosity toward international organizations which try impose jurisdiction on the US and its citizens, such as the UN and International War Crimes Tribunal.

    Likewise, nothing is going to cause North Koreans to support Kim Jong-il or Iranians to support Ahmadinejad more than direct foreign intervention into their countries’ affairs. If you want to move Ahmadinejad from a corrupt 70% victory to a 99.9% honest victory then let Israel drop the first bomb and the “green revolutionaries” will all be joining the Iranian Revolutional Guard.

  • Awakaman,

    Reread what I wrote.

    I’m not disagreeing, I just don’t like the way President Obama is doing it and his reasons.

  • Yes- I do agree that only things that are truly moral wrongs should be apologized for- I was speaking more to the principle that being humble and apologizing from the heart for real wrongs that have actually hurt or killed people- that is something we should encourage our representatives to do. I won’t say that Obama has all his priorities in line- obviously- I would write the same piece if it was Bush or Obama in the presidency.

    I think there is also a false-sentiment that can be part of a leader apologizing- Clinton came across a bit like that- you can apologize too much or too easily, like it was nothing- all for show- so it is important to do the right thing for the right reasons- I won’t make a claim either way for obama- I always hope for the best, and my wife and I pray for obama and his wife to have deep pro-life conversions for example.

  • Tim,

    This is where you and I are in complete harmony of agreement.

  • By the way Tito what did Obama do in Russia that was so great? Continue to give Russia the finger by insisting that it was right and proper that they be surrounded by NATO/US client states? Tell them to back off from intervening in Georgia and the Ukraine when the US’s intervention has been just as eggregious? Is it his insistence that the US has the right to surround Russia with its weapons systems (because of Iran . . . right)?

    Again, if Russia or any other country tried to do this in the Americas we’d be screaming to high heaven and threatening to bomb the hell out of them.

    Don’t worry with his poll numbers dropping Obama will soon create some external enemy that we must fight and will cause American’s to rally around the flag and their illustrious leader.

  • I still believe in the tooth fairy.

    Hard to determine which is the more ridiculous: Obama’s World Apology Tour or Tito Edward’s Magic Mystery Tour? *wink*

  • This is sick.

    I wish Obama had actually apologized for the ills of his country. I wished he would go to Hiroshima, get down on his knees and beg forgiveness for what the US did there in 1945. I wish he would apologize to the Iranians for deposing Mossadeq and imposing the shah in 1953 (more than anything else, this would embolden the resistance). I wish he would apologize for the support for the thuggish regimes in Latin America, most notablty under Reagan, that saw so many Catholics being harassed and killed. I wish he would apologize to the Vietnamese, to the Cambodians, to the Iraqis.

    But he will not to any of this, because the swell of nationalism is too strong – it overwhelms our common humanity. Genuine repentence takes courage. John Paul had this kind of courage. Over and over again, he apologized for every ill the Church had committed over the years. He was in no way personally responsible for any of this, but he stood up as the representative of the Church and — in doing so — he bolstered its moral authority. Perhaps you think that John Paul’s “apology shtick” also got old?

    If you cared about the moral authority of this country, you would do the same. And to trot out such rubbish as this is “blaming America for every ill” in the world makes as much sense as saying that John Paul blamed the Catholic Church for every ill in the world. As I said, the pope showed courage. But nationalism is the ideology whereby small men hide behind big guns, isn’t it?

  • I agree with MM on this, though very re-worded.

    “…American values such as freedom and liberty.”

    Our values don’t always square well with the natural law. Our consumption rates and vanity does not square well with the Gospel.

    I think America has done great things for the world. But, there are many things, we as a society should repent for that I believe many refuse to because “they” did this or “they” did that — the one thing about politics is I think it blinds us so much to social sin and this tit-for-tat nonsense really has to stop.

    So, I’m going to cordially disagree.

  • Tony, for you it is always blame America first, last and always. Your hatred for this country and its inhabitants knows no bounds. Pointing out flaws in America is one thing; yours is a tiresome, endless venting of your spleen against this country. If I were you I would find another country to live in more suited to your sensibilities. I am sure that Erehwon is accepting immigrants if Utopia has met its quota.

  • Tony is the blogger now known as Morning’s Minion. He and I have been dueling for years, back to the time when he blogged under the name TonyA.

  • Tony,

    I wish he would apologize to the Iranians for deposing Mossadeq and imposing the shah in 1953 (more than anything else, this would embolden the resistance).

    Interesting you neglect to ask Carter to get down on his knees and apologize for the far worse dictatorship he brought to Iran, Islamic Fascism….shows us were your true sympathies lie.

  • Ahh — Thanks, Don!

  • Typical “hate America” leftist hyperbole.

  • “Typical “hate America” leftist hyperbole.”

    Yes, if you can agree that there is such a thing as “typical ‘yay America’ right-wing hyperbole?” 🙂

  • Eric,

    I can agree to that as well.


  • For Tony, just in case his blood pressure is a little low today!

  • Tito,

    This is why we’re friends 🙂

  • Very fun, Donald, but I prefer the version by the south park guys, even if it does use rather crude language!

  • You are a good sport Tony! Bravo!

  • If the state of Virginia can apologize to its own citizens for its compulsory sterilization laws, surely the US can apologize for some of the things it has done to other countries over the years.

  • “awakaman”: how dare you talk about the dangers of “letting” Israel drop the “first bomb”? Israel is a sovereign nation that is responsible for its own national security and safeguarding the lives of its people. While true that Israel and the U.S. are strong allies, Israel cannot and will not allow Iran to threatent genocide and then gain the capability to carry it out. Do you care so little about the lives of Israelis that you would express the immoral view that they do not have the right to defend themselves against Iran, or whoever threatens them with annihilation for that matter? You sound like an Islamist shill. Moreover, Obama is a fool if he thinks he can bargain with an Islamist regime. Is it his ignorance of the nature of evil, or is he just a cold, heartless shade who would lie to Israel in order to cater to Islam?

  • I fail to understand how an apology from someone that hasn’t hurt me helps.

    The Congress resolved to apologize for slavery. OKAAAY… And this helps because?

    Isn’t the blood of Americans that died to free their fellow man a tribute for that wrong? If not, why are mere words, spoken by those who did not do the wrong to people long dead, any better?

    I don’t think apologizing for the wrongs committed by one’s country is the place of a President… Maybe a Congress, but certainly NOT a President.

    Besides, much of what has been posted here is about posturing. This is to say that those who want the US to apologize more speculate that it will advance our foreign policy as much as those of us who believe that such apologizing damages it. Posturing is posturing and it has no more moral authority because it wears the mask of humility.

  • I believe apologies have been made for both the Potato
    Famine and the Trail of Tears. I doubt if they matter much to my deceased Irish and Cherokee ancestors. On the other hand if anyone is suffering from an excess of guilt about either of these events, perhaps a large sum of money paid to me would help assuage these pangs of conscience? I know it would help me feel better!

  • What about the clearances of the Scottish Highlands??? Can I get something for that? Oh, and the Fenian Raids??? The attempt to annex Canada during the War of 1812 (mind you, there was payback with the burning of the White House, heheh)?

  • Matt,

    Canada doesn’t know it, but they are our 51st state.

On Liberalism, Equality and Positive Freedom

Tuesday, May 12, AD 2009

Listening to this week’s EconTalk interview with Alan Wolfe, author of the recently released The Future of Liberalism, I was struck by the following quote from the book, “Modern liberalism promises equality through what [Isaiah] Berlin calls a positive conception of liberty. It is not sufficient for me merely to be left alone [which is negative liberty]. I must also have the capacity to realize the goals that I choose for myself. If this requires an active role for government, then modern liberals are prepared to accept state intervention into the economy in order to give large numbers of people the sense of mastery that free market capitalism gives only to the few.”

In discussion with host Russell Roberts, himself quite libertarian, Wolfe says that liberals do and should concede that at times empirical evidence will show that such government intervention actually reduces personal autonomy, in which case he advocates changing one’s position. He cites school choice and welfare reform as to examples of traditionally conservative positions he has adopted because he considers that these were both cases of alleviating dependence created by government programs.

But the examples that Wolfe provided of intervention to assure positive freedom struck me as interesting, and provided me with some insight into how thoughtful liberals view the world.

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29 Responses to On Liberalism, Equality and Positive Freedom

  • There is modern positive liberty like Wolfe’s, which is materialistic, and there is classical positive liberty – classical republicanism, and of course, Catholicism.

    The Catholic conception of liberty has always been positive. Freedom is the freedom to do good, freedom from sin. True liberty is not found in license but in virtue.

    It was the point of my last entry here. And according to the social teaching of the Church, there is much that can be done to promote positive liberty.

  • I would agree that the Catholic understanding of freedom has always been a positive one in that freedom is ordered towards the end of doing good, and it only good to the extent it is thus used.

    However, I’d question whether anything other than negative liberty is necessarily implementable politically. The law can leave me free to do the good, but if it forces me to do the good, then I am no longer free to do the good but rather acting under compulsion.

    Indeed, isn’t law generally much better at negatives than positives? For example: It’s fairly straight forward to punish child abuse, but next to impossible to successfully force all parents to be good parents.

  • DC,

    you nailed it there.

  • Darwin,

    Why does the word “force” have to make an appearance?

    There seems to be a knee-jerk assumption, sometimes, that positive liberty necessarily entails the use of force.

    I’ve always seen positive incentives as a way to promote positive liberty. And a measure of social equality is necessary for the survival of political democracy and republican institutions.

    I wrote more about this at VN today, in fact. Pius XI wrote, for instance,

    “First and foremost, the State and every good citizen ought to look to and strive toward this end: that the conflict between the hostile classes be abolished and harmonious cooperation of the Industries and Professions be encouraged and promoted.”

  • Why does the word “force” have to make an appearance?

    Heh. Well, what can I say, Joe. You are talking to an fairly old fashioned conservative, and as such I’d tend to say that one of the distinguishing marks of a state is that it has a monopoly on the legitimate use of force.

    I would agree with you that positive incentives are a way to promote positive liberty. (And I’d also agree that a measure of social equality is necessary to maintain political democracy — though I think it’s once again getting hard to maintain, as if it were ever easy.) But even so, that can only “promote” positive liberty, not assure it.

    I do think that we can promote positive liberty, but the only liberty we can assure is negative liberty. And if we’re to have liberty at all, we invariably end up leaving some room for it to be misused rather than used rightly.

    (I saw the VN piece, but I didn’t have the chance to read it yet because I was in the middle of writing this one. I’ll finish tomorrow, I promise.)

  • All of politics is the use of “force” in a sense. The state exists to get people to do what they otherwise might not.

    On the topic of the role of government: I haven’t listened to Wolfe’s interview, but I’d say that there isn’t a simple “algorithm” for determining which activities are best left free and which need to be done by the state. One place to start — at least with economic policy — is to look at technical questions of market failure and public goods. That’s the easy stuff. Of course there are moral considerations and considerations of incentives. There’s also the law of unintended consequences and the reality that even the best-intentioned policies have a way of creating perverse outcomes. Sometimes doing nothing is better than all the alternatives.

  • I want to add that the libertarians who argue for nearly total negative liberty on moral grounds are obviously misguided from the Catholic point of view. We are social animals, not autonomous consumer-individualists, and there is such a thing as the common good if you’re intellectually honest about it.

    But the conservative in me is wary of “overdefining” that common good, developing it too broadly, so that the compulsion of the state is behind every good deed. There is truly something damaging to charity when that happens. This is what the give and take of politics is about: the community defining what is acceptable to relinquish to state power. Right now, Americans seem to be demanding ever more goods and services from government, all the while cursing high taxes. It will be interesting, to say the least, when the unstoppable force and unmoveable object collide.

  • Given the way things have been going in this country, with the Patriot Act and all, I don’t believe negative liberty can be ensured either.

    America has just been lucky. Two oceans separated it from both the wars and the ideologies that started them that devastated so much of the world in the 20th century. And yet, even then, we had COINTELPRO in the 1960s. I won’t even include things like Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus or the internment of the Japanese.

    On civil liberties – leaving out economic theory – I am a libertarian, though I am quite disappointed with the ACLU’s secular bias against Christian communities. Anyway, it is hard for me to take conservatives seriously, unless they are consistent paleocons or libertarian-ish (i.e. Buchanan or Ron Paul), who go on about ‘the size of government’.

    So many of them supported the Bush administration’s erosion of civil liberties in the name of fighting terrorism, trading liberty for security in a war without any clear objectives, a war against a concept, a war against a particular military strategy (which is what ‘terrorism’ is) a war that by definition cannot be won.

    So many of them cheered as riot police employed violence against anti-war protesters and other left-wing dissident movements.

    So many of them are willing to see the boarder and entire states militarized to keep out future immigrants and deport or punish the ones that are already here – all 12-20 million of them. Such an operation will require nothing less than an Orwellian police state.

    In short, so many of them are willing to make a Faustian bargain with the powers that be, assuming that they will never be the targets of government repression. Get the Muslims, get the commie leftists, get the illegals – and then they’ll come for the home schooled kids, the outspoken priests and ministers, the gun owners. We all have a horse in this race on both sides of the spectrum.

  • Joe, it is necessary to win wars so that we bloggers can be left to bloviate in peace. I have absolutely no problem with the government taking stern measures against those who give aid and comfort to enemies pursuing the defeat of my nation. That Lincoln’s administration, for example, tossed quite a few people into jail during the Civil War I find infinitely preferable to having the nation split into two countries. I do have a great deal of a problem with the government taking any action against groups who are not giving aid and comfort to our enemies and who are not engaging in domestic terrorism.

    As for freedom, my views on that subject are nicely set forth in the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist papers, Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France and Lincoln’s writings.

  • Donald,

    The bottom line is, I don’t trust the government with the powers it has granted itself to fight ‘the war on terror’.

    The Civil War had a clear end in sight. The so called war on an emotion/military tactic has no end. Terrorism will always be possible, from now until the end of human civilization. To say that powers must be expanded and liberties curtailed to fight
    ‘terrorism’ is to say they ought to be so forever.

    It is absolutely tyrannical that the government can now imprison anyone without charges at any time, for virtually any reason. Our fourth and fifth amendment rights have been effectively nullified. Protest is still legal per the first amendment but the police are finding new ways to attack, intimidate, and arrest as many people as possible.

    Cop worship on the right, and gun control fanaticism on the left, are two currents that will rip the liberty right out of our hands if they aren’t checked.

  • So many of them supported the Bush administration’s erosion of civil liberties in the name of fighting terrorism, trading liberty for security in a war without any clear objectives, a war against a concept, a war against a particular military strategy (which is what ‘terrorism’ is) a war that by definition cannot be won.

    So many of them cheered as riot police employed violence against anti-war protesters and other left-wing dissident movements.

    This diatribe would be better suited if it was based on fact. I keep hearing about this supposed erosion of civil liberties, but I have yet to see any evidence that there has been any such substantive erosion. As for this little fantasy about the police coming in and clobbering on all the ole peaceful protesters, can you document one incident in the past 8 years when the police came in and arrested protesters who were not, in fact, breaking the law. Considering I live in the DC area and have seen my fair share of protests, I have a hard time buying this exaggeration.

    Get the Muslims, get the commie leftists, get the illegals –

    If it feels better to caricature those you disagree with, knock yourself out Joe.

  • It is absolutely tyrannical that the government can now imprison anyone without charges at any time, for virtually any reason.

    Joe, this is not even remotely true. What alternate reality are you living in where you can be arrested without charge or habeas corpus? This is not 1862.

    Again, it would help your argument out tremendously if you were decrying things that were actually taking place.

    Protest is still legal per the first amendment but the police are finding new ways to attack, intimidate, and arrest as many people as possible.

    Again, do you have any actual evidence for this, or is this all just supposition?

  • I’m not caricaturing everyone I disagree with, Paul.

    Maybe you’ve never met people who believe these things. I have.

    And as for fact, I mean, I don’t want to be rude but can you use a search engine? There are dozens of documented incidents, people rounded up by the hundreds at lawful protests after being charged by the police.

    I’ve seen video footage of riot cops paying off agent provocateurs, footage of them laughing and calling protesters ‘cockroaches’. You think they respect your first amendment rights? They’re only interested in preserving ‘order’.

    Finally, even if there wasn’t a single documented instance of power being abused, we have a duty to resist infringements on the Bill of Rights, which is precisely what the Patriot Act and related legislation are.

  • And NY got lucky with this one:

    “The New York State Court of Appeals yesterday disagreed with Wisconsin’s second-highest court in ruling that police may not use Global Position System (GPS) tracking devices without a warrant.”


    I’m relieved that the police were put in their place, at least in NY – poor Wisconsin. I’m unnerved in the certainty that they will continue to push the limits of the law until they get what they want, nation wide.

  • I could post these all day.


    It’s a whole world of information out there. For now.

  • Joe:

    “Use a search engine” is not a particularly compelling form of documentation. The onus is on you, the person making the argument, to prove your point. I’m not your r.a. That said, I will follow your links.

  • Joe:

    First of all, I will give you credit for actually attempting to prove your arguments through documentation. That’s more than can be said for some people.

    That said, I don’t believe what you’ve offered is compelling proof for the widespread accusations that you’ve made. They point to either single abuses, or are concerned with at best debatable uses of technology. For example, I am not necessarily comfortable with the use of cameras, but I’m not going to make a leap here that it indicates we are living in a police state. I would probably oppose the use of technology described in the last article linked to, and as someone who just received a fairly bogus camera ticket, I’m inclined to oppose all traffic cameras on general principle (I keed, I keed).

    You made a couple of very specific allegations which you haven’t come close to backing up. First of all, you indicated widespread abuse of first amendment rights with cops arresting people without cause. I’m willing to concede that cops can get carried away, and that they have certainly made improper arrests. I am not an apologist for the police, nor do I think they are incapable of abusing the system. At the same time, I’m not exactly just going to accept your say-so that the police regularly have unjustly arrested scores of protesters. It is possible to have a lawful protest, but for someone to engage in unlawful conduct during the protest. The first amendment is not a license to do whatever one wants. So, yes, the burden of proof is on you as the one making the allegation.

    Second, you made the far flung claim that all of us can pretty much be arrested for anything at any time, something for which you did not back up save with what looks to be a pretty bad case in a local community, and even that doesn’t follow from the example. So again, you’re going to have to do better.

  • Joe’s links are lame. While I disfavor the use of photo ticket cameras, this is a prudential judgement call. Just not a big deal, unless you are a criminal I suppose. The passion with which people worry about such things is akin to the 1950s and flouridization and the 1990s and black helocopters. And the story about the boy is also less than disturbing. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,519570,00.html

  • Thanks, Mike. As usual, I assumed there was another side to that story.

  • I do agree with Joe on the Patriot Act. Even though the Bush administration used it benignly to root out terrorists in our midst, President Obama is now using it as a club against alleged death threats as Joe pointed out in the Patriot Act abuse.

    That brought a chill down my spine. That is not what the Patriot Act was made for.

  • OK, I just did some quick research and it seems that the story of the kid being arrested because of the Patriot Act is unsubstantiated.

    I retract part of my previous statement, but the potential for abuse is out there.

  • Paul,

    There are literally hundreds of links to follow, though. You say you aren’t my “ra” – as if I need to do the research myself, lol. All you have to do is google something like “abuse of patriot act”, you’ll get dozens of links to mainstream news stories. Am I supposed to do all that, here?

    Also, there is the matter of looking for relevant information. For instance, in that camera article, the real point is that they want to do here what they have in Britain – the modern surveillance state. Not only are there cameras everywhere – there are people behind the cameras who speak to you through mounted speakers. If you litter, for instance, a polite British chap will tell you through the speaker, identifying you by your clothes or other characteristics, to please pick up the trash.

    And the GPS tracking – that doesn’t bother you either? It doesn’t bother you that they want to know where you are, 24/7, without a warrant, if they just suspect you of something?

    If you guys don’t see it as a portent of something far more dangerous, that’s your prerogative, I guess. Some people say, “if you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to worry about”.

    When it comes to the defense of civil liberties, history, common sense, and morality tell me to be vigilant. Nothing bothers me more than the flippant skeptic unwilling to take historical patterns seriously. Bringing up previous examples as if they are invalid because they didn’t lead directly to a police state is hardly convincing.

    By what logic are they excluded as links in a chain? Or if they really are absurd claims, by what logic are they associated with valid, documented claims? It’s guilt by association.

    As for the arrest of anti-war protesters, you have to read the stories. There are too many to count.

  • As for the arrest of anti-war protesters, you have to read the stories. There are too many to count.

    Yes, you’ve said that multiple times, as though repeating something simply makes it true. Sorry Joe, you still have not produced evidence. If there are so many stories, then you will kindly produce them. You see, I have a life and a job and I don’t feel like hunting around google all day looking for the stories that are supposed to convince me that, hey, Joe was right all along.

  • Oh, and Joe, you still haven’t even come close to justifying this whopper:

    It is absolutely tyrannical that the government can now imprison anyone without charges at any time, for virtually any reason.

  • Well, when you have time, check it out. You think I don’t have a life?

    I may not be around to do it anyway – my computer has viruses and I think it’s finally time to get a new one. Might be a few days. Surely you’ve got 2 minutes to do a google search and just look at the headlines… if you had time to write that last post, you have time to do that.

  • On a side note, I’d submit that the reason for the Orwellianly named “Global War on Terror” is that no one wanted the very un-PC but more accurate title, “Global war against a rag tag network of Islamic extremests who want to destroy US assets and kill US citizens”. There were a number of conservatives who pointed this out at the time — though sometimes because they wanted to use a term with more “fight” such as “Global War on Islamic Fascism”. (Itself a poor term, I think, since the terrorists aren’t really fascists and if some Islamic countries are fascist, that’s not necessarily our problem.)

    I’m somewhat split on issues such as the Partiot Act. On the one hand, so far as I can tell it’s not nearly as nefarious as many people think. On the other hand, I think that we often kid ourselves as to how much ability we have to protect our citizens. All this foolishness in the airports with taking our shoes off and confiscating eyedrops is not keeping anyone any safer, it’s just an extended kubuki show so that if there is another massive attack on US soil we can all tell ourselves we did everything we could. I’m in favor of giving law enforcement legitimate tools to combat terrorist organizations — that’s what our leaders have a responsibility to do — but we do want to make sure we don’t give them too much power in the process. Europe is already far more spied upon and locked down than we, and we can see from their example that it’s still quite possible for people to carry our terrorist attacks in the UK and on the continent.

    Going back to the general point, it sounds like we probably have a fair amount of agreement on how the state should give negative liberty — and probably a good deal more than it currently does. I would imagine that we might differ a fair amount on how successfully the state can encourage the positive use of freedom, and how successfully it can shape equality, which allows greater positive freedom.

  • Bah. The idea that the War on Terror (such as it’s named) is taking away our civil liberties is in my mind a slippery slope argument akin to the cry that Obama is going to take away our guns. Lots of smoke, but very little fire. Nations can take reasonable steps to protect their citizens, just as they can take reasonable steps to ensure economic justice.

    If I were to worry about a slippery slope erosion of liberty, I’d be much more concerned about “rightthink” when it comes to gay marriage, abortion, and religion in general. People losing jobs and being threatened for their opinions on these matters is already happening… *cough*MissCalifornia*cough*

    And you can Google *that* stuff, too. : )

  • The US is geographically larger than Sweden. Using the same math, Bill Gates controls 20% of the GDP of Washington state. These are meaningless shock stats. Well, maybe not. I find it a great indictment of US economic policy that despite a single family controlling 1/3 of the GDP of Sweden, the US still has greater income inequality!

Obama Wants Living Constitution Theory For SCOTUS Nominee

Saturday, May 2, AD 2009

With the announced retirement of Supreme Court Justice David Souter President Obama wasted no time in addressing the issue of what he’s looking for to fill this vacancy.  In so many words he clearly stated his desire for an activist judge with an eye towards reengineering America [emphasis and comments mine].

“It is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people’s lives [meaning he wants a Justice who holds fast to the Living Constitution Theory,ie, an activist judge finding invisible law where none existed], whether they can make a living and care for their families, whether they feel safe in their homes and welcome in their own nation.”

The following excerpt clearly reveals President Obama’s contempt for legislative history in effect eliminating a potential nominee that adheres to the theory of original intent.

“I will seek someone who understands that justice is not about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a casebook.”

One thing is for sure, it will be an extremist liberal and pro-abortion nominee.

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13 Responses to Obama Wants Living Constitution Theory For SCOTUS Nominee

  • Obama’s nominee is unlikely to be an originalist, and they will certainly uphold Roe. This does not mean, however, that Obama has contempt for legislative history or the judicial record. For starters, it’s justices like Scalia who dislike legislative history (because it’s easy to find support for almost any position in the congressional record). As to the judicial record, upholding Roe at this point is respecting the principal of stare decisis. Originalists care about the original understanding of the Constitution, and less about legislative history and the judicial record.

  • John,

    I’ll take your word on it since you’ll be barristering soon enough!

  • John,

    I forgot to mention that they do use legislative history, but not in all cases.

  • Just to be clear, ‘legislative history’ is a tool of statutory interpretation which involves looking at the Congressional record and statements from bill sponsors, etc. Scalia, as a ‘textualist’, thinks only the text of the statute should matter. Obama’s nominee is more likely to favor ‘legislative history’ than a Scalia-type nominee.

    ‘Original intent’ or originalism has to do with Constitutional interpretation; and the theory of the living constitution (which, imo, all justices adhere to in practice to one degree or another) is another theory of Constitutional interpretation.

  • Stare decisis-“To stand by that which is decided”-when we feel like it.

    Stare Decisis tends to be invoked by judges who like a prior decision and ignored by judges who believe the prior decision was a piece of judicial idiocy. Of course when a court is dealing with constitutional issues stare decisis plays less of a role because the constitution, and the correct interpretation of it, is more important than prior decisions of any court. As Roe amply demonstrates however, too often the tool of Constitutional interpretation used by the Supreme Court and many other courts might rightly be called “making it up as they go along”.

  • The doctrine of stare decisis is of limited value in constitutional matters, since erroneous court decisions cannot be rectified by subsequent legislation. While this judicial doctrine has value, the weight it merits should be inversely proportional to the degree of wrongness and degree of importance of the prior decision to which it would be applied. From the standpoint of actual legal reasoning all that Roe has in its favor is stare decisis, given that its rationale is ridiculously deficient, and that is not much. But for the reasons Don suggests, that will be enough for any Obama appointee who favors abortion rights on policy grounds. He will find the scoundrel’s refuge in stare decisis for sure.

  • As Donald and Mike describe, stare decisis tends to be arbitrarily invoked and ignored depending on the judge and the issue. The post originally read ‘Obama’s contempt for legislative history and the judicial record‘. In response, I was pointing out that Obama’s nominees would be unlikely to show contempt for the judicial record (i.e. stare decisis) with regard to Roe, rather than expressing a more general opinion about the importance of stare decisis.

  • I had never been to this blog until now. Why does this blog look so shamelessly like Vox Nova? Couldn’t you guys find another theme? Come on… 🙂

  • Katerina,

    You guys have a beautiful set up and have the best theme. We couldn’t’ find another one that was better. You guys chose the best template out there!

    Imitation is a form of flattery you know!


  • Cannot fault anyone for having good taste.

  • Yeah, the reference to “legislative history” doesn’t make sense here. “Legislative history” is a term referring to how Congress enacted a statute — committee reports, House reports, and the like. It’s not a term that refers to the Constitution. And moreover, Scalia (who is at least a “fainthearted originalist,” as he describes himself) is a huge opponent of looking to legislative history . . . his opinion is that Congress enacted whatever is actually in the law, and that it’s dangerous for judges to go beyond the law to look at what some Senate committee might have said that’s different.

  • Obama’s judges will be interested in stare decisis ONLY until they run into a case … such as what happened in Lawrence v. Texas … in which they suddenly decide to overturn precedent.

    This Weekly Standard piece from a while back explains the left’s new-found affinity for stare decisis:

    THE HEARINGS on John Roberts’s and Sam Alito’s nominations to the Supreme Court featured a Latin phrase most people hear only in connection with Supreme Court confirmations: stare decisis. Stare decisis is the legal doctrine holding that in general, an issue once decided should stay decided, and not be revisited.

    Nowadays, it is liberals, not conservatives, who talk about stare decisis in committee hearings, generally in the context of abortion. Oddly, though, it’s also liberals who want nominees to agree that the Constitution is a “living document.”

    How is it that liberals have become, simultaneously, the champions of both fidelity to precedent and an ever-changing Constitution?

    Part of the answer, of course, is that the left’s commitment to stare decisis is selective. Many of the Supreme Court’s iconic liberal decisions overruled prior case law. Brown v. Board of Education (1954), overturned Plessy v. Ferguson (1896); Gideon v. Wainwright (1963), which established the constitutional right to a free public defender in felony cases, overruled Betts v. Brady (1942); Mapp v. Ohio (1961), which applied the exclusionary rule to state court prosecutions, overruled Wolf v. Colorado (1949); and so on. Nor need we reach far back into history for such instances. Just two years ago, in Lawrence v. Texas (2003), the Court found a constitutional right to perform acts of homosexual sodomy, thereby overturning Bowers v. Hardwick, which itself was no historical relic, having been decided in 1986. Yet none of the liberals who now wax eloquent about stare decisis criticized Lawrence’s violation of that principle.

    When liberals talk about a “living Constitution,” what they really mean is a leftward-marching Constitution. Liberals – especially those of an age to be senators – have spent most of their lives secure in the conviction that history was moving their way. History meant progress, and progress meant progressive politics. In judicial terms, that implied a one-way ratchet: “conservative” precedents can and should be overturned, while decisions that embody liberal principles are sacrosanct. To liberals, that probably seemed more like inevitability than inconsistency.

  • Why does this blog look so shamelessly like Vox Nova? Couldn’t you guys find another theme? Come on… 🙂

    We had the ‘Kubrick’ theme for the first five months, but Kubrick doesn’t have the sidebar on individual posts. This made navigation less convenient and, as it turns out, meant the sitemeter was only catching about 40% of the visits. This format was the easiest to transition to from Kubrick. Plus, as Tito said, it looks good and there’s nothing wrong with flattery through imitation from time to time.

20 Responses to Spirit of '09 – Part II

  • Oh, let the “Palin people” have their day in the sun. It’s all rather quaint — the last gasps of a fading natovist culture… But let’s not pretend they have the slightest clue what they are talking about.

  • This purportedly grass roots stuff is corprate manufactured astro-turf. I know, for instance. that Fox News really pushed–almost advertised for– this event, showing itself once again as beyond the bounds of legitimate news. This also says something about the event itself.

  • Man, the established media and government must just HATE Youtube and the internet.

    Mark “the Great Oz” DeFrancisis just “knows” this is all corporate manaufactured. Just like the CNN reporter’s on-air comments were just completely objective reporting.

  • I see the Usual Suspects are out in force, not including c matt. Good to see you sweat gentlemen.

  • I’m new to this blog – first time commenter. I’m not into protests like this in general, but I don’t understand the venom, Morning’s Minion and Mark. You will ALWAYS find loony toons at these things (whether they are “conservative” or “liberal” causes). I know a LOT of very moderate, normally quiet people who are at their breaking point – some protesting for the first time in their lives. They have a point to make that would not have included repeating “he’s a fascist” over and over or waving a sign portraying President Obama as Hitler. For the main stream media in general and this hostile reporter in particular to completely ignore the regular people here who had something to say and focus exclusively (when they reported on it at all) on the uninformed and radical ones….well I would say that’s pretty suspicious. What is one to conclude but that they had an agenda to begin with? Do you really believe they couldn’t find a single normal person to interview to at least throw into the mix on TV w/ the crazies? I don’t, since we saw one in the video above. There were ignorant people in this crowd, no doubt, but this is very blatant media bias.

  • CT- it makes good teevee. That’s why they do it. The effects of Tea Bag Day continue to reverberate among the Chattering Classes. Given their universal condemnation of Fox News, would appear this news organization is This Week’s Lib Boogie Man. Postscript- Fox News ratings soared this week, particularly on April 15. Its 5-11PM lineup- Beck to Van Susteren- is virtually impregnable. How delightful- just following this monolith in numbers was…… Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. According to Drudge, career funny man Jon Stewart beat so-called journalists like Keith Olbermann. As for Ms. Rosegen’s employer- for the moment- sinkingsinkingsinking. Another report surfacing that Ms. Rosegen attempted twice to secure a gig from Fox News, to no avail. Note- then Teevee Division head Kevin Magee- who gave her the first brushoff- is old bud of mine from Enormous City U. Way to go, Kev.

  • I don’t understand the venom, Morning’s Minion and Mark.

    Because it’s all they know, CT. Once you begin on the road of becoming a political mouth piece, it’s hard to turn back.

    I know a couple who went to a Tea Party protest. Good folks who don’t even watch FOX News. They were just tired of pork, politicians who speak out of both sides of their mouth, and what they perceived as a federal government that’s become out of touch. They aren’t hateful people, and certainly aren’t hacks for the rich. But that’s what the media, and folks like Mark and Minion will portray them as. Honesty takes a back seat when it comes to the Party.

  • “Honesty takes a back seat when it comes to the Party.”

    Which is why you have to misrepresent them, right? But I see no answer for Jesus’ words about taxes. Seems like you answer to greed instead of Jesus. Mammon – can’t serve it and God.

  • God is not served by my tax dollars funding abortions.

  • Agreed Karen, and, I would contend that neither God nor the taxpayers are served by much of what our tax dollars are used for at all levels of government. God said render unto Caesar. Since we elect Caesar in this country, I don’t see why it is worshiping Mammon to make sure that he doesn’t waste the money, or that he takes more than is absolutely essential for the proper functions of government.

  • Karen

    Jesus said render that which is Caesar… to CAESAR. You know, the Roman Emperors. They were doing quite a bit of evil with the money, but as Jesus also pointed out, that money was ultimately theirs anyway. The same is true with American dollars, ultimately. What names is on it? The United States. This is why your answer in itself doesn’t respond to the question. We could go into more detail about St Paul and public authority, but you know, I doubt you want a Christian discussion on this.

  • CT,

    You are quite correct. When these dissenting Catholics froth at the mouth when their beloved lies are exposed, it is only venom which they articulate.

  • Tito,

    I am sorry you are having such a bad day.

  • God’s name is also on our currency ;)…

    I believe everything I earn/own is from God. It is given to me and is my responsibility. Since I do have a voice, unlike the people of Caesar, it is also my responsibility for my voice to be heard when our government is causing more harm than good. It would be nice if the media, which purports to be fair and balanced, really was. It has nothing to do with greed or worshipping mammon but with responsibility.

  • Mark,

    I’m actually having a good day. Though your powers of perception are underestimated.

  • Tito,

    Again, I am just trying to save you from your ridiculousness.

    This is a thread on national teabagging.

    It has nothing to do with Church dissent, as our Church has taken no stand on the matter.

    But if you want to run around making false claims about the condition of my assent to Mother Church, go right ahead. Realize, however, that at best you will be misguided, and at worst, an outright liar.

  • Mark,

    Your humility is astounding.

  • Karen,
    Your response betokens far more charity than your detractor deserves. I salute you.

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The Great NYU Kimmel Food Court Occupation comes to a bloodless end. (Or "how NOT to spend your college tuition")

Thursday, February 26, AD 2009
[I’m aware we have just entered into the Lenten season and should be reflecting on more serious matters, but this was too good to pass up — bear with me.]

Last week a group of “student-empowering, social-justice-minded” students and assorted ragamuffins and rabblerousers from neighboring colleges (many affiliated with TakeBackNYU) had the stunningly-brilliant idea of barricading themselves in a food court in New York University’s Kimmell Center, “in a historic effort to bring pressure on NYU for its administrative and ethical failings regarding transparency, democracy and protection of human rights.”

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7 Responses to The Great NYU Kimmel Food Court Occupation comes to a bloodless end. (Or "how NOT to spend your college tuition")

  • One expects some idiotic behavior from college students. Heaven knows that I engaged in some during my time at the University of Illinois. However these mopes were abusing the privilege.

  • Oh blessed be the Lord of Hosts. My new fave RC blog includes mention of my co-favorite story of the previous week- ranked with the unfortunate demise of Mr. Travis T. (for The) Chimp. Loads of fun to watch these spoiled underedjumacted brats perform a community theater version of 1969 Student Takeover. With modern props- cell phones, laptops, sleeping bags. Loaded with their fourth rate Marxist rhetoric. Their solidarity with the Palestinians- which I assume does not work well with the university’s loyal Jewish donors. Yet I see this pointless exercise as a valuable expose. As Mummy and Daddy are paying 48 large per year so little Johnny or Susie can stage their hissyfit in the cafeteria- We Demand Vegan Meals, of course. The whole exercise serves as a horrible failure of the university’s mission. Badly planned, horrifically executed, ended with whimper and nothing resembling bang. If their esteemed professors are experts in the art and science of thinking, their charges have been badly trained, or sleeping off last night’s buzz in 8:30 class, or lack the wherewithal to adjust to these academic requirements. Regardless- NYU exposes itself as a bigtime scam. Start to bad comedic end of demonstration.

  • Meh, you can send your kids to UF and pull a “don’t taze me, bro!” for much less $ and get a lot more airtime out of it..

  • They live in the age of Olbermann rants, Starbucks overloads, and liberal claptrap.

    I can just see how Vatican III would look like with guitar strumming-non-clerical wearing priests and nuns staging a protest in Mother Teresa’s mess hall inside the Vatican. Bring in the Swiss guard telling them that they need to leave in order for the homeless and destitute can be served.


  • High-larious.

    I’m glad that we have brave minds like this willing to facilitate when conformity oppresses.

  • Pretty funny and a sad commentary on what the scions of the elite classes seem to believe exercising their ‘rights’ and being ‘socially responsible’ mean.

    Don’t taze me bro

The Death of Liberaltarianism

Friday, February 13, AD 2009


Robert Stacy McCain has a brilliant column here on the death of the idea of a liberal and libertarian alliance.  Libertarian sites are noted for their scorn of traditional conservatives.  It will be amusing to see how much their economic and small government ideas need to be trashed before they decide that government sanctioned hedonism is not satisfactory compensation for paying for the socialization of America.

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15 Responses to The Death of Liberaltarianism

  • I guess I’m missing something here. I consider myself a little “l” libertarian, but myself and other libertarians I know and read about are hardly Obama supporters. Lewrockwell.com scorns Obama just as much as they scorned Bush.

    I suppose there must a class of political thinking that calls itself liberal/libertarian and supports Obama.

  • Most libertarians I know are fairly conflicted. They are repelled both by social conservatism (particularly the creationist strain, but sometimes also by the pro-life/defense of marriage strain), and, of course, by Obama/Pelosi style big-government liberalism. As Bush blurred the lines between what Republicans are offering and Obama/Pelosi style liberalism in terms of fiscal policy, many of them naturally gravitated towards the Democrats last election. Granted, nearly everyone gravitated towards the Democrats last election (at least relative to 2004), so that may not mean very much.

    I think at this point we have at least a partial answer to the rhetorical question, ‘How much worse could government spending get than it did under Bush?’ It remains to be seen how libertarians (and liberaltarians) will respond next election cycle. It also remains to be seen whether libertarians are really numerous enough to matter. As delightful as they are as bloggers, there seems to be an all-chiefs-no-indians quality to the libertarian movement.

  • I don’t find myself conflicted in terms of conviction.

    Democrats and liberals are the “cool” people. You don’t mind hanging out with them (well, most of them…they have their fair share of “creepy”), and they certainly at least put on the aura of intelligence. But scratch just a little and you’ll find a philosophical undercurrent to their thinking thats positively loathsome. So, no problem abandoning them at all.

    With the GOP its quite a bit more complicated. There’s plenty I “agree” with, but of course thanks to the last 8 years I don’t trust them to actually follow through on their political philosophy. That, and the strain of militarism and foreign interventionism unnerves me quite a bit. The militarism especially. It borders on state-worship to my mind. The GOP at times seems down right trigger-happy, which is quite a bit different than defending 2nd amendment rights!

    I still think there’s “hope” for libertarianism long term. If the GOP continues to be broadly defeated and the Democrats ruin everything like they always do then perhaps their might come a tipping point were people across the spectrum will say “you know, lets actually give liberty a shot again”.

  • “As delightful as they are as bloggers, there seems to be an all-chiefs-no-indians quality to the libertarian movement.”

    That is very true as to the all-chiefs-no-indians quality. The charm of their bloggers, I confess, has mostly eluded me.

  • Anthony,

    the GOP at times seems down right trigger-happy

    you may have forgotten that there was a bipartisan resolution in congress authorizing military action in Afghanistan and Iraq, 70% of the population supported it. While you may have been among the 30%, it was hardly an unpopular move. Getting bogged down was unpopular.

  • “you may have forgotten that there was a bipartisan resolution in congress authorizing military action in Afghanistan and Iraq, 70% of the population supported it. While you may have been among the 30%, it was hardly an unpopular move. Getting bogged down was unpopular”

    I haven’t forgotten, I just think its a bit irrelevant. Thats not to imply that the Democrats/liberals don’t love their wars. I’m confidant Obama will demonstrate in due time.

    Military action in Afghanistan was quite a bit different than Iraq. Afghanistan is an undeclared war in reaction to a specific event done against the United States. In the case of Iraq its an undeclared war of choice and aggression, which distinguishes it in a bad way.

    What does that have to do with my feelings towards the GOP? Everything. They turned their back from a “humble” foreign policy and instead abandoned all common sense in favor paranoia and political opportunism. The idea of invading Iraq being “popular” shouldn’t have had any bearing on whether or not it was a moral thing to do.

    And getting bogged down in what was unpopular?

  • In the late ’80’s I started to shift to the right – quite against my will, I might add. I lived in Washington DC. I was a paralegal at the time and worked for various law firms, but most of my friends were staunchly liberal government workers. I thought I was too cool for school in the 1980’s – a “cultural Catholic” (i.e.: Mass at Christmas and Easter) who knew better than to express my private qualms about Roe v. Wade in polite company. I loathed Reagan and thought the Washington Post was the true word of God.

    And then reality started setting in. I started shamefacedly buying copies of the National Review and to my horror, I found I agreed with many of the articles. I began calling myself a libertarian, because I could not bring myself to admit that I was becoming a *gasp* conservative. Conservatives were Republicans and everyone knew the Republican Party was made up of wealthy, middle aged, WASPY white guys like William F. Buckley (I didn’t know then that he was a Catholic) who belonged to country clubs and looked down on everyone who wasn’t a wealthy WASP. That was the image I had of them, at any rate, and it horrified me to think I might be morphing into something that seemed so alien to my sensibilities. (A decidedly non-WASPy Republican co-worker from South Philly pointed out the obvious fact that the many millions who had voted for Reagan in ’80 and ’84 were not all country club WASP’s. He also pointed out WASP’s we both knew – Groton, Harvard, lockjaw accent types – who were indisputably flaming libs. But prejudices do die hard.)

    I called myself a libertarian for a long time, despite the fact that I find Ayn Rand unreadable. Why? Well, I still had all those lib friends. When I said at parties, “I don’t believe in big government any more” – a dangerous sentiment to voice in Washington DC, no matter who is in the WH – and eyebrows were raised, I found that following it up with “I’m not a conservative, I’m a libertarian” was somehow socially acceptable. And then I discovered the reason for that – all the libertarians I met seemed to be mainly concerned with drug legalization. And on abortion, they were no better than the liberals.

    I am back in my hometown now, and although I live in a very left-wing neighborhood (ah, but I am a block away from Lake Michigan, and I love the lake dearly, and the Art Museum and any number of good restaurants are a short walk away), I am now a middle-aged woman and coolness does not concern me any more. So I freely admit to being a conservative and (since 2005) a Catholic revert.

    And I do wonder if libertarism isn’t, for some others as well as for me, a phase one passes through on the way from the left to the right, an attempt to maintain hipness at an age when hipness still matters.

  • Anthony,

    sorry for not being clear. I was responding to an accusation you made apparently singling out the GOP as down right trigger-happy. It wasn’t moral defense of the Iraq war. If the GOP was trigger happy, so were the Democrats, and the typical American. That’s all. There’s no need to hijack the thread on the question of a just war.

    They turned their back from a “humble” foreign policy

    A fair enough point.

    and instead abandoned all common sense in favor paranoia and political opportunism.

    No basis for this. The US had been long escalating it’s response to Hussein’s refusal to submit to the terms of the ceasefire agreement he signed during the first Gulf War… and his periodic attacks on US pilots enforcing the UN sanctioned no-fly zone.

    The idea of invading Iraq being “popular” shouldn’t have had any bearing on whether or not it was a moral thing to do.

    And it doesn’t.

    And getting bogged down in what was unpopular?

    I don’t understand what you’re confused about? My response was referring to the Iraq war, you’re surely aware we got bogged down until a change in leadership, strategy, and tactics.

  • Nice biographical detail Donna. I am certain that when young more than a few people adopt the political attitudes of the friends that they admire. Then time passes, friends change, experience accumulates and analysis and thought begin.

  • I became acquainted with Ayn Rand and Objectivism via my husband, who had had a brief flirtation with Objectivism in his youth and had several of her books. (By the time I met him, however, he had discarded that and had reverted to his Catholic faith.)

    I will give Rand credit for pointing out that ideas matter (see “Philosophy: Who Needs It”), and that there is such a thing as objective truth, falsehood, right and wrong. She also did a great job of skewering some of the pretentions of the ’60s counterculture crowd.

    However, I think a lot of her ideas — particularly the notion that “altruism” is bad and “selfishness” is good — were simply overreactions to the oppression she experienced in Communist Russia and her disgust with Nazism. Objectivist philosophy leaves no room for God, for the family, for the virtue of charity or for any notion of a common good. In fact, Objectivists will argue until they are blue in the face that there is no such thing as “common good.”

    I got a kick out of watching hard core Objectivists on You Tube, several months ago, try to explain away Rand disciple Alan Greenspan’s admission that the economic policies he’d been following for most of his life just might have been a bit off the mark.

  • This blogpost doesn’t make sense to me. As there is no term that is called ‘liberaltarianism’ and Libertarians in general despise the [American] liberals (as the term is very different from what it means in Europe), maybe the poster is just upset that some people that aren’t proclaiming themselves to be conservatives nor liberals voted Obama. Not sure. In either way, the only one to vote for in 2008 for a Libertarian would have been Ron Paul…which sadly didn’t reach above some collective 10% in the primaries. Americans still have a long way to go in adopting their for-fathers whishes for a free nation.

  • As there is no term that is called ‘liberaltarianism’

    The whole point of this post and the one linked to it as that there is a group of American libertarians who coined the phrase and who have called for an alliance of libertarians and the Democratic party.

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  • Paul>> Thanks for that explanation.
    One thing in the OP however: “Libertarian sites are noted for their scorn of traditional conservatives. It will be amusing to see how much their economic and small government ideas need to be trashed before they decide that government sanctioned hedonism is not satisfactory compensation for paying for the socialization of America.”
    Here the author fails to make a distinction between the supposed minority of some Libertarians wanting to form a ‘Liberaltarism’-group and real Libertarians. Hence part of my confusement.

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Bragging Rights

Monday, November 24, AD 2008

Goodness knows, there are lots of ways that liberals and conservatives manage to annoy each other. Still, one that has struck me recently is an odd sort of bragging rights.

One of the main divisions between these groups at this point in time is over how the less vulnerable in society are best provided with care. The liberal view is generally that comprehensive government programs should be set up to assure that everyone in society has a certain basic level of food, income, medical care, housing, babysitting, rice pudding, etc. The conservative view is generally that guaranteed government handouts create dependency and hurt people in the long run, and that short term help for those in trouble is generally better provided by family, church or private charity.

The problem comes when members of these two groups get together and start arguing about how to help others.

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9 Responses to Bragging Rights

  • There’s probably an entire book that could be written about this topic. One way I’ve often thought about it is to describe it as first order vs. second order thinking. Taking the cue from math, you can take the first order derivative of something, and it can tell you one thing. But you have to take the second order derivative to know where you really are — local maximum or minimum. It’s that second order condition that completes the picture and gives you a fuller sense of where you are.

    I would characterize a lot of progressive thought as first order thinking. It often correctly identifies the problem, usually out of a conscience that is rightly ordered toward sympathy and justice, and the emotions they arouse. Unless you dig a little deeper, the immediate temptation is to resort to policy that has coercion as its underpinning. Coercive policy might or might not be warranted, and a technical review of the problem can help find the answer. (And this is true not only of economic policy, but a lot of “progressive” social policy as well).

    Second order thinking isn’t very popular, though. If it takes more than a soundbite to describe a problem and its possible solutions, it won’t get much air time. Hence the corner the conservative is often backed into: not supporting the easy fix, he looks like a curmudgeon at best. The second order inspection often reveals deeper truths that aren’t “convenient,” to coin a phrase.

    In fact, Darwin, one thing you left out from the conservative’s proposed toolkit of solutions that REALLY raises the ire of the Left is morality. Blaming the victim is not what I mean: rather, it’s a general verdict on the nature of mankind’s relationship with God that is at fault. This is a complete non-starter in most cases, and yet – religion aside – how are we ever to cease being moral creatures? We still need the language to talk about morality and rescue it from non-judgmentalism and vapid “tolerance.” There needs to be a way to salvage that tool from the kit, because so many of our economic and social ills have moral causes at their root. (Not entirely, of course, but enough to warrant at least a discussion.)

    We have to move beyond ideologies and soundbites to solve our problems. Serious, sustained thought is necessary to get at the root of the issues. The solutions will not always fit neatly into our worldviews — which is why, even as a conservative, I readily admit that there is a strong role for government to play in many areas of public policy. What the Left also needs to admit is that there are valid arguments to be made for charity, local solutions, market-based approaches, and (yes) “cultural” change on morality. I don’t think these two worldviews are mutually exclusive, yet our rhetoric almost always treats them that way.

  • There’s probably an entire book that could be written about this topic.

    There already is one.

  • Arthur Brooks and I went to the same graduate school, but I doubt that’s why we share some opinions.

  • I think that American conservatives get into trouble when ideology seeps into their solutions, because ideology implies totality – in effect, a denial of the trade-offs that do and will always dominate life. This is to say that policy gets mixed up with ideological principle (Bush’s idea that all kids can be above average in school, and that Wilsonian adventurism made up as spreading democracy to grateful peoples is a-ok). What policy should be mixed up with, instead, is conservative sentiment – against utopia, realizing that trade-offs exist, against ideology. The solutions should be flexible, and we should not be “running people out” of any center-right coalition, which is always shifting and always full of contradiction.

  • I enjoyed this piece for many reasons, not the least of which was the authors frank discussion of the obvious flaws in both viewpoints. I can see agreement with both sides but can’t help remember the frustration I felt trying to help an 18 year old with no medical insurance having an allergic reaction but not wanting an ambulance because he knew he couldn’t pay the bill. Some things may not be rights according to conservatives but how do you explain that to a self reliant 18 who in just another minute or two may not be able to breathe? In other words, theoretical discussions are nice but don’t help many people if they need help right now. Ideaologies are nice but don’t solve many problems, progressives may use coercion, but there solutions to help people.

  • “I felt trying to help an 18 year old with no medical insurance having an allergic reaction but not wanting an ambulance because he knew he couldn’t pay the bill. ”

    You call the ambulance and the 18 year old worries about the bill later. With Universal “free” Government Health Care the thrifty 18 year old will soon find that his paycheck has a lot more to worry about than an ambulance bill.

  • You missed my point. I was on the ambulance and he needed to be transported and didn’t want to go. I understand that he would have more to worry about from taxes but conservative ideology is very easy to advocate in the abstract and sometimes very difficult to advocate in the specific. The progressive ideology is just the opposite, very easy to advocate in that kind of a situation but very difficult to advocate in the abstract. This is why most people can’t answer the “what about” type arguments of most progressives.

  • “This is why most people can’t answer the “what about” type arguments of most progressives.”

    I think that’s right. It has struck me in arguments related to the automobile bail-out. Progressives are arguing ‘what about all of the people that will be out of a job?’ And conservatives are responding ‘what about the larger number of people you can’t see who will lose their jobs because the bailout involves making a terrible investment with scarce resources?’ The conservative argument is perfectly sound, and, in my view, is superior on policy grounds. But it does have the disadvantage of being more abstract (like the argument about mediating institutions and health care).

  • Micah,

    Good point.

    Another element, tying specifically into the point you make about the ambulance, is the inability of many people to think longer term.

    There was a point back in college when I specifically skipped paying health insurance for a year, on the theory that the student plan was a thousand dollars in spending that I never got anything for. It figured that that would be the year I managed to injure myself — and so spend six hundred dollars out of pocket on some doctors visits in town. It took me several weeks of kicking myself over this to realize that:
    a) I’d still actually spent less than the 1000 for the insurance
    b) I would have been able to spend much less if I’d shelled out the $120 for a doctors visit right away when I injured myself, instead of walking on it for a couple weeks and showing up when I had a badly healed wound and a tenacious infection.

    That’s one of the things that often strikes me when people talk about the, “By not having health insurance, you force people to get treated in an emergency room for the flu,” argument. It’s certainly true that what many people end up doing without insurance is waiting until things get so bad they end up having to be taken to the ER — but its a self defeating behavior.

    And yet people naturally want to avoid spending the smaller amount of money to get treated when its not an emergency yet.

Video: Senator Obama Praising Jeremiah Wright

Saturday, November 1, AD 2008

Kerry Picket of NewsBusters posted a 1995 video of Barack Obama talking about his book, “Dreams From My Father”.  In it Senator Obama says of Reverend Jeremiah, “wonderful man” and “the best of what the black church has to offer“.  In the video excerpt Senator Obama gives high praise and further positive commentary to the bigot Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

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8 Responses to Video: Senator Obama Praising Jeremiah Wright

  • S_T_A_L_E_ D_E_S_P_E_R_A_T_I_O_N_!

  • Oh no! He said LIBERATION!

    So do the documents of the Catholic Church.

  • Listen to the words of Obama (hear them yourself at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpzHQ_PC1uI).

    “I’ve got to give a special shoutout to
    • my pastor
    • the guy who puts up with me
    • counsels me
    • listens to my wife complain about me.
    • He’s a friend, and
    • A great leader (not just in Chicago but all across the country).”

    But who is Jeremiah Wright?
    • Pastor of Trinty United Church of Christ, the church that gave a lifetime membership to the racist, anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan, who has said that “Hitler was a great man” and ”White people are potential humans; they haven’t evolved yet.
    • A man who encourages blacks not to say “God bless America” but rather “God damn America.”
    • A man who INSPIRED Barack Obama TO TEARS (according to Obama’s own book) with an epiphany at the first sermon of Wright that Obama heard. In this sermon Obama spoke that Wright spoke of “white folks’ greed runs a world in need.” Clearly Obama (despite his disingenuous disclaimer) was fully aware of Wright’s anti-white rants from the FIRST SERMON HE HEARD.

    Can America really afford a President, who is so enthralled with a man who “counsels” him, is a personal “friend” and a “great leader.” Yet he was fully aware of the fact that the man he praised so was actually a vehement racist.

  • We know so little about Senator Obama it’s frightening that he’s close to being President of the United States.

  • I’d take Wright over a neo-conning clergyman any day.

  • I wouldn’t take either.

    I’m so glad I’m Catholic.

  • I wouldn’t take either.

    Riiiight. You prefer neo-conning lay persons. I get it.

    I’m so glad I’m Catholic.

    Yes, it’s nice being safe and perfect and right, isn’t it?

  • Michael I.,

    Yes, you know me so well.

Is Obama a Socialist? You be the Judge.

Monday, October 27, AD 2008

“If you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the court. I think where it succeeded was to invest formal rights in previously dispossessed people, so that now I would have the right to vote. I would now be able to sit at the lunch counter and order as long as I could pay for it I’d be o.k. But, the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society.

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6 Responses to Is Obama a Socialist? You be the Judge.

  • David Bernstein at Volokh has a fairly balanced take on Obama’s remarks:

  • Pingback: Redistribution and the Court | The Cranky Conservative
  • I think the post fus01 links to nails it pretty well, especially with its closing:

    It’s true that most Americans, when asked by pollsters, think that it’s emphatically not the government’s job to redistribute wealth. But are people so stupid as to not recognize that when politicians talk about a “right to health care,” or “equalizing educational opportunities,” or “making the rich pay a fair share of taxes,” or “ensuring that all Americans have the means to go to college,” and so forth and so on, that they are advocating the redistribution of wealth? Is it okay for a politician to talk about the redistribution of wealth only so long as you don’t actually use phrases such as “redistribution” or “spreading the wealth,” in which case he suddenly becomes “socialist”? If so, then American political discourse, which I never thought to be especially elevated, is in even a worse state than I thought.

    Not to sound like an elitist, but it’s one of the odd contradictions of the American voting public that although many essentially socialist (as in European stype social democrat) ideas are moderately popular with voters, and yet the concept of socialism is seriously unpopular.

    Or more cynically, perhaps it’s that Americans like free stuff, but don’t like the idea that their earnings might actually be taxed in order to give others free stuff.

  • Well said — DarwinCatholic and David Bernstein.

  • My opinion resembles the Volokh writer’s. Obama’s mention of redistribution is too vague to be scared or excited about. I’m not sure why Drudge got so excited about this. Why would he think it to be a bombshell?

    Government always redistributes wealth. This is most obvious in the case of, say, Social Security. But military spending, foreign aid, and domestic improvements channels wealth to government employees and contractors.

    I guess it’s the redistribution from private citizen to other private citizen *without pretense* that gets some people nervous.

  • Of course, the Christian Democrats in Germany accepted many of the same principles as Clement Atlee regarding the state’s duties to enforce positive rights and not just negative ones. I would agree with you that Obama is a social democrat, but on economic issues he shares a lot of ground with at least one branch Christian democrats as well.